Today I’m grateful.

Still here on day 5 today.  This week has actually been pretty easy for me so far because of all that I’ve been going through on the infertility front.  Some of you may have read my previous post (right before my last slip) regarding getting some bad news about being able to have a baby… not a complete deal breaker, just some challenges I would face.  This week on Wednesday I had a procedure to try and unblock my fallopian tubes, so I was pretty preoccupied with that and had zero desire to drink because of the importance of taking good care of myself throughout this process.  

So the good news was that everything went smoothly, my tubes are open, and we went ahead and did IUI (intra-uterine insemination) on Thursday.  So… with all this hopefulness going on, drinking is the furthest thing from my mind.  I’m just grateful that things went well, that we have a shot at having a child naturally, and that I’m addressing this issue now, rather than down the line with a child.  

My husband is out of town, so I’m just enjoying a calm Friday evening to myself with my dog, a couple food and photography projects, and some lame TV.  It feels amazing to just relax and have some down time after all the crazy energy and poking and prodding I endured this week.  So… for now taking great care of myself just feels like the thing I want to be doing.  I have always thought that it would be hard for me to not drink during a pregnancy, but I have heard/read in all my sober blogger/writer reading that most women have no problem stopping while pregnant.  At the moment I feel that same way, like I wouldn’t go there.  But what’s curious to me is then how most say they just picked up where they left off after having the baby… seems like if you went that long then it would be easy to maintain.  But I suppose it depends on your mindset as to why you’re not drinking.  So I want to make sure I’m still thinking of it as a healthy choice for me and my own life, not just something I’m taking a break from solely due to trying to conceive.  

Overall it has been nice to get out of my head about the drinking this week though and to feel like abstaining has come naturally.  What a relief.  Grateful for my dog, my house, my cozy bed and my yummy tea.  

xo

This is not how my story will end.

As usual after a setback, I’ve procrastinated returning here to the blogging world to report another defeat. It’s hard not to feel like this story is getting old, the endless attempts I’ve made to stay sober only to disappear after a couple of weeks (sometimes not even making it that far!), then return and start over with the same, tired intentions. Part of me almost feels like it’s irresponsible to keep writing, to readers who are obviously so much better at staying sober than I am and who are apparently taking it more seriously. What could I possibly say that is helpful to anyone, when I keep failing?

That’s one way to feel. The other way to feel is that I have the power to say, “This is not how my story will end.” Yes, I have let myself down countless times since I started this journey back in November. I have changed my mind about a billion times about whether or not alcohol is a problem for me. (Which is pretty indicative of a problem, all this excruciating thinking.) Yes, after 11 days sober, I had two glasses of wine at dinner with my husband on the way to the airport to New York, and proceeded to drink every day for the past 11 days. But this doesn’t have to be the end. I can pick myself up and try again.

Every time this happens I’m learning about whether I have “a problem.” Every time I pick up drinking again, it’s because I become convinced that I’m simply being dramatic and that alcohol is not a problem for me. That I’m strong enough to prevent it from becoming a problem. That I just want to be normal and that I in fact AM normal, because most of my friends drink like I do. But every time, there are more and more hints that maybe that’s not true. When I’m not drinking, I have a front row seat to actually see people’s lack of drinking. That it’s not as big a deal as I make it out to be.

When I am drinking, I’ve started to notice how fast I drink compared to other people, and that I have to concentrate to get myself to slow down to their pace. I notice that I feel irritated when I have to pace myself in this way, and that I can’t believe how slow people drink and that sometimes their glass of wine just SITS there, untouched, for what feels like hours. I’ve noticed that each time I pick up drinking again, I drink more and more in secret. That the urge to drink secretly is more and more present and seems more and more acceptable in my own head. I’ve noticed that when I am drinking, more and more often I cannot totally remember the night and I have to piece it back together the next day. This morning, it took me about a half hour to remember what happened when we got home from dinner. When I did remember, my stomach turned a bit; I had called my mom and talked to her for at least a half an hour. I’m sure she couldn’t tell I was drunk… right?

One of the things that makes it the hardest for me to embrace that I have a problem is that no one else sees it. My husband will listen to me swear off alcohol, and he’ll promise to help me, but when I decide to have a drink he doesn’t try to stop me. He’ll ask me if I’m sure, and then let me decide. I don’t know what else I’d have him do. And this last time, it was great. We had an awesome date at a beautiful wine bar and enjoyed every minute of it. I am terrified of losing the ability to enjoy wine in that way. Especially when he doesn’t see the problem for me… but he doesn’t live inside my head and feel the inevitable pull towards the daily obsession that happens after even one casual light drinking evening. Once the “I’m drinking now” switch is flipped, it’s like I’m scared to take a day off because I’d be missing out on my drinking days that will have to come to an end again soon. How crazy is that?? So I drank each day, never too much or too crazy, but a little more each day. Until yesterday, when I was happy that my husband took the dog out for a walk around the block, so that I would have time to drink from an open wine bottle I had concealed in the wine cellar, under the guise of doing laundry downstairs. Even though we were going to dinner shortly where I could order wine, and I had already had two drinks at the pool a bit earlier.

images

So yeah. I have a problem. But this is not how my story will end. So here I am again, on day one. Someday I will look back on this and think, “Remember how many times it took me of trying before I quit for good??” And someone out there will be having the same struggle. And I will understand. And I will say to them, “Your story is not over. I get you. Keep trying.”

xo

Fluctuations expected?

So yeah, the other day I was on cloud nine as you could tell from my happy post.  Things were feeling just right with the world.  As I suppose is to be expected, yesterday was a whole different story.  

I’m heading out of town next weekend for a conference, and had booked my flight for Thursday since that was a cheaper option than flying out on Friday and I wanted a day to explore the city anyway.  All good.  Except that I had somehow completely forgotten that I have an important court hearing on Thursday, with witnesses who are expected to testify, that I can’t reschedule, and that’s been on the calendar for well over a month!  Hello??  How could I have forgotten about this?  I mean, I hadn’t forgotten about the hearing, but somehow my brain failed to compute that it was that day, when I was purchasing my plane ticket.  I’m telling you, this brain fog I’m experiencing is no joke.  A couple days ago my dad asked, “Hey, did you guys get a workout in yesterday?”  And my mind was suddenly completely and totally blank as to what I’d done the day before.  I couldn’t even call up a reference point from my previous day with which to unravel whether I’d worked out or not.  It was only hours later that it came to me that I had gone to yoga.  WTH??  

So I got up in a BAD mood, because I knew I’d have to pay to change the ticket.  I also knew that this meant if I wanted to arrive in time to play around on Friday that I’d probably have to take a redeye.  Which I do.  (Insert tiny violin playing here.)  All in all the mistake cost me $377.  Ouch.  The cost of brain fog.  I think what’s bothering me more though, is that this hearing I have to do is something I am Dreading.  (See the capital D?)  I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place with a difficult judge who is not super willing to hear my arguments, and calling a witness who is angry and uncooperative, all the while knowing that even though we are in the right, we are likely going to lose anyway.  And whichever strategy I employ I am not doing it right in someone’s eyes, because the law in unclear in this area.

The amount of stress I’m feeling because of this is off the charts.  Figure in the fact that I’m currently in a career change away from the legal field (this case is my last, but it has proven to be difficult and lasting), that I’m trying to stay sober and feel like I need space and less stress not more, and the upcoming procedure to fix my fallopian tube and all the infertility stress that goes along with that, and I felt like a total wreck yesterday.  Stomach ache, lethargic, cranky, headache, you name it.  Tata, cloud nine from yesterday!  

So here’s what I did.  We put our great dane in the car and drove out to the coast where we can let her off the leash.  I laughed a lot watching her play in the sand even though there were gale force winds out there and we had to retreat after a half hour or so!  The drive back was beautiful and I tried to soak it all up.  I noticed and consciously thanked God that I was hangover free, because I knew that my anxiety level, as bad as it was, would be a million times worse with a hangover!!  Went to one of our favorite Mexican places and had yummy veggie tacos and a root beer (I never allow myself to have soda but for some reason, root beer was calling me and hey, it’s not a real beer, so it’s still a win right?), came home and let myself just lay on the couch and watch TV in the day.  (Also something I never allow myself.)  It felt good just to give in to my fatigue and wallow for a bit.  Later I picked myself up and made myself head out for a jog with my Dane.  By the time that was over I felt so much better.  Exercise really is amazing for lifting spirits!!  Even when my internal voices were complaining the whole first half of the run, by the end I felt rebalanced.  Ate some leftovers and got back on the couch until I went to bed.  

So what’s the moral of the story here, you ask?  I guess what I learned from this is that I can’t expect that I’m going to feel amazing every single day (which is kinda what I was thinking there, on that last post of mine.)  I can’t let myself get mad that things don’t seem rosy every day just because I’m sober.  I still have to take the ups and downs.  I have to breathe.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.  Every time I thought about drinking yesterday (which wasn’t much actually, but the thoughts were sneaky, typical Sheila thoughts like, “what about next weekend?” and “forever!!!???!!?!?” and “you are fine, you are overreacting with this sober thing, now what have you done, you’ll never have fun again, this is so unnecessary,” and on and on), I just breathed and turned my attention to something else.  

I still felt crappy all day.  But I woke up today hangover free so that’s something.  Something big.  As Belle said the other day in an email (quoting another 100 Day Challenger), “Time marches on.  Life goes on.  With me sober, or with me drinking.”  This is so simple but really spoke to me.  Do I want to miss the passing of time in a drunken haze or with a hangover, even a mild one?  Nope.  No room for that anxious paranoia that hangovers give me these days.  No room for the unpredictable mood swings that come with drinking.  So even if I’m not the kind of drinker who does embarrassing things (I mean, there’ve been my fair share, but it’s not that often), or drinks all day, or blacks out, the effects I feel are negative enough that I want to live a life without them.  Because as crappy as I felt yesterday, I know it would have been worse with a hangover.  And for that, I’m grateful.  

Still on the learn over here.

xo

GOTL

 

One week later…

One week ago I couldn’t resist the urge to go out to dinner with my husband after a long work week.  “I’ll order sparkling water,” I thought.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity I saw to sit down, be waited on, connect and have fun with him.  When we got there, I thought, “I’ll just have one glass.”  (Why this thought is ever afforded ANY credibility in my mind, I have no idea.)  One turned into two, then three, VERY heavy pours.  Normally this wouldn’t be all that much for me, but last week I was on a sugar detox (yeah I realize one doesn’t actually do this successfully and still drink wine, but I was “just doing the food part.”  

One week ago when my husband and I got home from the restaurant, I was drunk enough to be stumbling around the house.  Trying to talk to him about our infertility issues (um, inappropriate time to bring up highly emotional topics, much?).  I was immediately angered that he checked his phone during said “discussion” (which was probably me in some sort of exhausting, emotional ramble).  

One week ago, I provoked an out-of-control, emotionally charged, irrational fight with my husband.  And I wouldn’t let it go.  Even when he pointed out that we should sleep on it and talk in the morning when we were both sober.  Not even then.  Even when my dog was cowering at me because I was slamming doors and yelling and crying.  Even when he was yelling and telling me to stop.  Even when he hugged me and tried to comfort me.  Not even then.  

One week ago my husband and my dog both slept on the couch, leaving me in my misery.  I woke up at 2:00 a.m. with my eyes swollen shut and a pit of dread and remorse in my stomach.  My body and mind felt thick with sickness.  Every single time that I had been emotionally and physically abused by boyfriends past came bubbling to the surface, along with all the feelings of inadequacy and rejection those incidents caused me.  All the self-hatred for staying in those bad situations came up to haunt me.  Who I was in those moments, out-of-control rage that comes from the primal instinct to protect oneself, feeling demoralized, hurt and desperate, came right back like she had never left.  Only there was no danger one week ago, there was no abuse.  There was only the shadows in my mind.  

One week ago, I realized how very far I have come in my life since those times.  That I have a husband with whom, 99.9% of the time, I live in complete security and peace.  That I am loved and supported.  That these gifts that come with a healthy relationship resulted from the passing of time and from my slow, slow journey to treating myself with more respect.  I realized that alcohol was the last bastion of those days.  The last thing I have clung to from my time of turmoil.  What I always thought was my comfort and my escape.  What made me funny and confident when my home situation was unpredictable and dangerous.  Only now, it brings the opposite.  It brings that old me to the surface, the one that clung to drama, to chaos, to self-destruction.  It makes what would be a regular fight to most couples a highly traumatic situation for me.  It breaks down my progress.  It tethers me to the negativity of the past.  

One week ago, I prayed as I lay in bed, that I would feel that sick for the last time.  I felt the misery.  Really felt it.  I didn’t want to forget that feeling this time; I didn’t want to pretend it didn’t happen as soon as the hangover wore off.  I realized that I have the power not to bring this kind of negativity into my marriage.  I can choose not to scream at my husband and use emotional drama to manipulate him.  I don’t have to defend or protect myself from danger anymore.  That person has no place in my life now.  And it is so simple.  That person is not there unless alcohol is in the mix.  And finally, I knew what had to be done.  I acknowledged to myself that alcohol does not work in my body anymore.  The miserable, anxious, regret of an incident like that far outweighs the fleeting fun while drinking. 

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One week later, my eyes are clear.  I laugh easily.  I smell things.  I taste my food.  I breathe easily.  I feel free.  I exercise daily.  When I wake up, I feel excited to greet the day.  

One week later thoughts of drinking are easier to manage than they were the last times I’ve quit, because I have an acceptance in my heart that alcohol is a problem for me and that I’m happier and healthier without it.  They are still there, but I can breathe through them one hour at a time and with that awful memory close to my heart.  My husband, who previously questioned whether drinking was really a problem for me, has shifted into being fully supportive of this process for me in whatever form I need it to take.  With love.  

One week later, I have exercised, hiked in our local park, hugged my dog a lot, cooked healthy and beautiful meals for my husband and I. I have seriously considered trying a meeting but have chickened out so far.  I have humbly rejoined Belle’s 100 day challenge.  I have listened to lots of Bubble Hour podcasts.  I have named my wolfie, and her name is Sheila.  

One week later, I choose love.  I choose to accept love from my husband, my family, and my dog.  From all of you fellow kick-ass sobriety bloggers who know what the freak I’m talking about.  From my friends.  Most of all, I accept love from myself.  

Take that, Sheila.  

xo

 

In with the new…

Today is day 4.  Predictably, the wine witch hit me today a few times, in very sneaky ways.  My wine witch, or wolfie, tends to have a whiny voice in my head.  For some reason, she seems like a Sheila to me.  So that’s what I’ll call her:  Sheila.  She is a manipulative one, that Sheila.  She told me all kinds of things today about how I don’t really have a problem.  She also started freaking out about upcoming events, like my trip to New York next weekend (how can we possibly go to New York and not have a drink!!!  Come ON!), the bachelorette weekend scheduled for June 21 in Palm Springs with a bunch of party girls, or our trip to Hawaii later this year.  “You can’t possibly do this to me!”  She whispered in my ear all day, getting louder right around 7:30 p.m. while I cooked dinner (walnut pesto stuffed chicken breast with brown rice and kale!).  

Well guess what, Sheila.  I’m onto your nonsense.  I won’t be “loving you till the morning comes.”  (see link below)  Tell it to someone else.  Out with Sheila, in with the new.  

I’ll have some chamomile tea, thank you very much.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbL2lMn34Oo

And I’ll dance to this funky video with my tea, sober.  Cause I’m that happy about day 4.  

xo

 

Day 3!

Feeling strong. Kept insanely busy today which felt good. Remembered how fucking amazing it feels to have this energy back, to not be hung over and foggy! Did errands, laundry, studied, had dinner with my two best yoga friends who don’t care whether we drink or not. They got me a birthday cake for my birthday which was a couple weeks ago but I had been out of town. All in all a busy day + cake… Perfection. Going to bed feeling very strong in my conviction. This time feels different and I’m considering just coming clean with my intention to quit drinking, meaning just to say that I quit if anyone asks. For good. I have more of a desire to be authentic this time around and do what it takes. Time to get real.

My sober tree

My sober tree

Day two today. I’m trying to make sure I reward myself this time around, and even being on day two seemed worthy of a reward, after having a bunch of day ones over and over. I wanted something I could look at to remind me and that would help me stay cheerful. I’ve never been that good at taking care of plants… or myself. So I thought having a plant to take care of would be a good reminder. Keep the plant healthy and keep myself healthy. Besides, it’s cute and cheerful, don’t you think?
Day two is going well so far. I still, somehow, feel hung over from Friday. Or maybe I’m just detoxing. Either way, I’m ignoring the chores and curling up on the couch, reading blogs, and soon I’ll hit the gym. I’m going to be selfish for a few days and take care of me. And my new plant.
xo
GOTL