sunrise cloverdaleToday is day 12 of sobriety. This time around, it’s not so hard. I’ve been pregnant, and breastfeeding, so I’ve become used to not drinking. This time, my drinking was relatively minimal compared to what it was a couple of years ago. Most people around me never suspected I had difficulty with alcohol before, let alone recently. My one to two glasses of wine a night were, if anything, encouraged because I should just let myself “relax.” What people didn’t see was that it wasn’t relaxing me at all outside that one hour of false relief. That I spent way too much time wracked with guilt over whether I should be having wine every night, that I hated the way I had started to look forward to my daughter’s bedtime so I could have my glass or two, or the way I would pray for her not to wake up within a window of time that I would need to feed her with alcohol in my system. That every evening when I went to bed I felt stupid for drinking wine when I knew I was facing a night of waking up to care for my baby and I was doing something that only made me more tired.

This time I’m choosing to stop NOW, before I regress back down the road I was on before. I realize I’ve been on a slippery slope and that my thinking had started to rationalize a little more wine each night. I started to recognize the cycle of each day returning, even though I wasn’t consuming too much at a time. The cycle of waking up feeling guilty and promising myself to take a night off, then going through the day feeling good, then evening hitting and being exhausted and stressed and craving time to just unwind and throwing my promise out the window because “I deserve this relaxation,” and “It’s not a big deal,” then having as much wine as I feel I can get away with depending on how long I expect my daughter to sleep before her next feeding, then feeling guilty and stressed about it as soon as I drink. How EXHAUSTING. How insane that my brain tells me it’s relaxing at all!

As my awareness kicked in and my interest in living a dry, sober life returned, I stumbled upon Laura McKowen’s blog and read this post that said something that sealed the deal for me. She describes so beautifully realizing that she would never reach her potential as a drinker, and I know the same is true for me. She states,

“For my entire life, I had this ache in my heart to write, to teach, but most of what I wanted was unnameable—I just knew I wasn’t doing it. And I didn’t know how to get there. It was only after I stopped drinking that a path started to form—both because I had more time, space, energy—but also, and more importantly, because my soul could finally breathe. Without the blunting effect of alcohol, I could finally tap into the energy I’d been dimming out for two decades. I could feel God, my creativity, faith, guidance, intuition, my highest and wisest self—drinking cut off my access to all that….

It’s not that you don’t have the clarity in you, you just can’t access it and you never will be able to, so long as you’re employed by an addiction.

Woah. That’s a truth-bomb right there if I’ve ever heard one. Drinking, for me, regardless of whether I was in a heavy phase, (often in the past twenty-plus years) or a moderate phase (recently), has stunted my ability to see with clarity what it is I really want to be doing. I have the same ache in my heart that Laura describes. I have a vague idea that I want to be writing, but I can never seem to pin down what it is I want to write about. What I want feels unnameable. I can see now that I haven’t given it the space or clarity it needs to emerge.

My tendency is to rush things. To need the answer NOW. To push things through. This time, as I gain more and more sober momentum, my plan is to relax into it. To give myself time. To trust that the clarity I’m seeking will emerge when I’ve had enough time without numbing out and dulling my senses. So many sober women I admire talk about the resurgence of their creativity once they stop drinking and gain time without alcohol.

When I think about what kind of mother I want to be, I think of the me that isn’t stifled or dulled. I think of the me that is confident and creative, reliable and loving, present and aware. I’m so grateful I read those words and made this choice now, while my daughter will never have to know me as the mom who drinks wine every night. We waited too long for the miracle of her birth for me to miss even a moment of her precious life.


Where I’ve Been

DCF 1.0

This photo was taken by ME, in October of 2015 while hiking the Kalalau trail in Kauai, all 11 miles to the beach.  If you have never seen the Napali coast of Kauai, I cannot recommend it enough.  It’s one of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever seen and one of the hike to the remote beach is one of the most spectacular things I’ve accomplished in my life. This trip turned out to be a very significant time for my husband and I, for reasons I will get into in another post. Consider this a poor version of foreshadowing!

I figure since it’s shockingly been nearly two years since my last post, I should say just a couple of words about where I’ve been before I launch into blogging about my daily experiences again… I was surprised to see that my last post here was May 29, 2015, because I actually did stay completely sober until August 29, 2015.  A whole four months.  This may not seem like a lot to some, but for me it was by FAR the longest time I had ever strung together and it felt like a huge accomplishment. For some reason, I just tired of blogging around then. I had opened myself up to new avenues of getting sober, including AA, therapy, real-life sober friends, and just generally being honest with more people in my life. I think I felt at the time that I had let myself down so many times while I was trying to succeed with writing alone, that I needed to let go of this and focus on real life ways to get help. And it worked!  For a long time, it worked.

There is so much I could say about AA, my experience there, what worked and what didn’t. I’m sure I will write more about it later on. For now, the brief summary is that I appreciated and valued the connections I made there, I loved the feeling of community, but it started to get weird for me once I felt pressured to work the steps. I found I didn’t identify with the methodology and the language of “alcoholic” stopped working for me. The tone I felt coming from some people rubbed me the wrong way and unfortunately I convinced myself that because I couldn’t relate to some of the people, I no longer had a problem at all.  On August 29, 2015, I decided that four months was enough and I had wine with my husband when we went out to dinner that night.

Life carried on and nothing bad happened.  I had learned so much during my work at trying to get sober, and during my four months, that for quite some time I no longer felt the”pull” I used to feel.  I no longer drank every night and I just didn’t feel absorbed with it anymore. My business was going well, we had a lot going on with our fertility journey, and I was really convinced that I had over-dramatized the whole problem.  I appreciated that I had needed a break, but after some time went by I felt almost ashamed and embarrassed for having thought it was a true problem and I disassociated with all my sober supports.

Fast forward ~ life went on.  We vacationed to Kauai and hiked that amazing trail with friends. We made critical decisions about our fertility journey that would ultimately lead to our success (another post or ten on this to come!), we moved, we went through another failed IVF cycle, and then we did another cycle… and we got pregnant!  I had a beautiful, healthy pregnancy with no complications.  Against the odds, we chose a natural birth at a birth center and had a water birth ~ bringing our daughter into the world on December 18, 2016. Since then, I have reveled in the miracle of it all, soaking up all the sweet moments with my baby who is three months old today.

So why am I here again?

The old, familiar pull is back.  Despite a long period of time where I felt healthy and happy and thought my relationship with alcohol was healed, things have started to shift.  Since my daughter’s birth, I realized the other night, I have had a drink every day except for a handful of days (like, three or four).  At first, I would have one, 5 ounce glass only after she went to sleep at night and I would drink it slowly. I had no problem sticking to that since I am breastfeeding.  Until I did have a problem sticking to that and I rationalized two glasses as her sleep stretches got longer.  Then two and a half sometimes.

I don’t want to be that kind of mother. We dreamed, prayed, cried, longed and worked to bring this baby into our lives. I want to be present for every second she is with me.  Even if I could keep my consumption to two glasses a night (unlikely, since I have a gnawing feeling that once she weans there won’t be a “good reason” to keep a lid on it), I don’t want her to notice that I need those two glasses.  I don’t want her to sense my drift.  I want to be her role model ~ a self-confident, happy person who doesn’t need a substance to relax or unwind. She has sparked in me the realization that I only have one chance to do things right with her.  At this moment in time, letting go of alcohol is nowhere NEAR as hard as it was for me when I was writing this blog originally, because my habit is currently so under control.  I re-read all my entries the other night and it became abundantly clear that I have two choices:  I can quit now, while it’s relatively easy to do so, or I can wait and see, risking falling back into the same vicious cycle I found myself in three years ago.

I know what I have to do. This nightly obsession with wine has already started to consume more energy than it should and the writing is on the wall (or in reality it’s here, on this blog…).  So I’m facing up and calling it quits.

Today is day 6. I’m so happy to be back. I have many more tools in my box this time. Stay tuned for a recap of my first Kundalini yoga class today ~ it was weird and wonderful and transformative.