The Fog

The last few days I’ve felt as if I am in a fog. Like everything is surreal – I’m just sort of walking through my days not completely tuned in. It’s a really bizarre feeling and I don’t like it at all. I mentioned this feeling to my Twitter Support Group and they all said that it’s not unusual at this point in the process and that it goes away. They explained to me that my body is re-calibrating. I guess years and years of drinking wine every evening tends to screw with a person’s brain chemistry – go figure. Ha. 

I’ve thought many times about how drinking every evening might affect my health – blood pressure, mood, weight etc.. But I hadn’t really thought about what it would be like to experience health, sober. Much less experience emotions. For instance, the other day I had a horrible day. My clients were all having hard times, my job was stressing me out, and my own son was having some mental health issues. My body craved alcohol like it was the only solution. It was like as soon as there was stress, there was a need to drink. And the longer I didn’t drink that evening, the crabbier I became. I sulked, I ate, I cried, and then I went to bed. I had no idea what to do with myself. 

And I still don’t!

We all know that alcohol is a way to self-medicate. That alcohol isn’t the problem, it’s a manifestation of ALL THE PROBLEMS in our mind. All the pain, all the hurts, all the anxiety and stress. Take alcohol away and what is left…ALL THE PAIN AND THE PROBLEMS AND THE ANXIETY AND THE STRESS!!! But what’s more – no coping skills! A brain that’s programmed to receive medication in the form of wine and chemicals being released – or not – with nowhere to go. BRAIN FOG! 

It all makes sense. But it certainly feels like shit. 

The irony though is that since the brain fog, I have not craved alcohol one bit. Actually, the thought kind of repulses me. 

What feels good is going to meetings and connecting with people there. There has been a shift since I chose a sponsor. I’m chairing meetings now, I’m sweeping floors, I’m making the coffee. I’m talking about the things that hurt. And people are listening and saying, “Keep coming back.” And I do. 

 

Advertisements

Things I Did While Drinking That I Wish I Hadn’t

I don’t really like having regrets. I make mistakes, lots of them. And I make choices in the moment, like everyone else. Sometimes, I look back and I’m not happy with some of those choices. But I was where I was. I did what I did with the cards I was dealing with at the time. But if I’m honest with myself, as I’m learning to be in this process, I can tell you that I have some regrets that have to do with things I’ve done while sipping a glass of wine or post bottle-of-wine that I’m not proud of. Or that just plain sucked. I will write them down because I’d like to leave them here for good. 

– Broke my foot

– Broke my tailbone

– Told someone I love to “Fuck Off”

– Put my children to sleep 

– Read my children bedtime stories

– Watched movies with my kids

– Drove

– Started an argument (or 50)

– Fell asleep during movies 

– Left somewhere I needed to be early

– Got home late because I needed to sober up

– Often had a glass of wine in my hand in the evening or on weekends around my kids

– Didn’t say what I meant

– Said what I meant even though I knew it would hurt someone

– Broke up with someone harshly

I’m sure there are more. But these are the ones I’ve been thinking about lately with which I need to make peace. 

 

Thanks for reading, for witnessing, and for commenting 🙂

 

Early Onset Complacency

I didn’t go to meetings for two weeks. I had gone two weeks without drinking which, for the record, is the longest I’ve gone without alcohol since I don’t even know when. And with that, I was fine. I stopped going to meetings. I started a new job, got sucked into some drama at work that left me exhausted, entertained my girlfriend’s brother when he was in town, and worked, worked, worked some more. My job, you see, has the potential to be like a sieve. Bottomless. You can give and give and give and one day you realize that, trite as it may sound, you have nothing left for yourself. There is no end to other people’s suffering. And they teach you to have ALL the boundaries. And they mention self-care in grad school. And still, it’s a practice to learn the balance. I am nowhere near balanced at this time. But at tonight’s meeting I became more aware. 

After a great meeting tonight, I was standing out on the porch of the building chatting with some guys I consider to be role models. Been sober for years and years. Very wise men. I was talking to them about why I had disappeared for a couple of weeks. Just so busy and tired but I was fine. Well except when I had that temper tantrum. And when I almost gave in after a hard day at work. I was fine except I’m craving sugar still and I don’t want to gain weight. Fine except for I have a mole that I’m seriously betting is cancer and I have a newly diagnosed heart issue that has me terrified to exercise because omg mitral valve regurgitation – it feels worse than it sounds. But I’m fine. They were all just looking at me, blowing rings of smoke directly into my face like old men outside of meetings do, and finally, after my whole spiel, my buddy M. simply said, “Keep coming back. You’ll stop bouncing.” And with that, he patted me on the back and walked away. 

I’m everywhere but where I need to be. But Ego has me convinced I’m needed everywhere. 

I’m a reflective girl. I think long and hard on things. And this one is a huge one to swallow, this thing. I need a sponsor and so I will choose a sponsor this week. And I will go to meetings unless there is an emergency. And I will put my sobriety first. And this will not be considered selfish by others or by myself. I will no longer be complacent. Complacency sucks. 

 

 

 

Today I Had a Temper Tantrum

There are few things I love more than swimming. Maybe only 1)being in a pool with my girlfriend, 2)my pups, and 3)wine. Not in that order. And so when I realized I actually had nothing to do today for the first time in weeks and I could actually just hang out in the pool, I was ecstatic. That lasted all of about 2 minutes once I began to crave wine like it was life or death. My girlfriend, ever the rational minded one, tried to make it all make sense. “Baby, no, not EVERYONE in the world is drinking wine but you…” and, “No, hon, you will never just have ONE glass of wine, that’s why you can’t drink, remember?” I honestly have no idea what I said but it went on for about an hour. I was literally in a full out tantrum. Tears and all. Nothing is fair. And the bargaining, oh the bargaining. And the planning for relapse. I, for real, said, “If I find out this mole they are removing is cancer then I can drink!” Hmmph! *crosses arms* It was like that, y’all. 

Then I finally made it to a meeting tonight. And it was all better. 

It’s been hard getting to meetings. It’s been hard writing. It’s just been hard. I leave the house at 6 am and I get home at 9 pm. I’m exhausted. Something’s gotta give and I know it can’t be meetings. I know that after today and tonight. I also need a sponsor. I know that my girlfriend cannot be that person any more. It’s not fair. I’m too fragile right now. Too emotional. Too 4-year-old. 

And then there was this tonight 

 

IMG_20140824_061908

 

My red dabloon 🙂 

It’s not been an easy 34 days, but it’s been a humbling 34 days. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekends Are Hard

I’m not gonna lie. This weekend was hard. It seemed like every post on my social media news feeds were of my friends holding a glass of wine, cheers-ing with beautiful mixed beverages, or on a beach with a beer. I was so jealous. I wanted what they had and I wanted it something fierce. But not enough to break my sobriety. I’m 15 days sober and I knew the first week or so would be easy for me because I can go that long without a drink if I HAVE to. But now, entering week 3, I’m grumpy that I have to.

It’s been a relaxing weekend. We took walks, laid by the pool, floated, cleaned and got organized. All of that felt really good. But my girlfriend noticed that I wasn’t in the pool as much as I usually am when it’s sunny. (I love the pool and it’s not unusual for me to spend a whole day in and out of the water). I told her that it’s not as fun to lounge in the pool on a Sunday without wine or a Bloody Mary. She asked me if I feel like I can’t have fun without drinking. I responded that Yes. I can have fun. But it’s not quite as relaxing. The flip side of this is that I have been SO much more productive these last couple of weeks. This makes sense since I don’t drink wine right when I get home until I fall asleep. I actually do work things and reading things and writing things. But on a Sunday – I don’t want to work. I want to relax in the pool with a Bloody and jazz in the background.

And so now I know. Now I know that Sundays will be harder. And I will have to create a new Sunday morning routine. And now I know that maybe spending less time on social media these first few months is a good idea since I live in New Orleans and I don’t drink.

The good part is that Mer made my favorite meal – spaghetti and meatballs. And even baked a cake today. And I did get a lot of work done. And the house smells fresh and we have clean sheets.

#ODAAT, right?

A Little Bit About Me and My Anxiety Disorder

I have an anxiety disorder and one of the reasons on my TOP 10 list for drinking every day was that the wine helped with my anxiety. And it did to some extent. But I do believe that over the years, it was causing my anxiety to increase when I wasn’t drinking. I started having lots of skipped heartbeats and tachycardia (heart racing) during the day. And my blood pressure, which was always normal, began to get higher in the past year. My anxiety is now centered around my fear of having a heart attack. There’s even a name for it – cardiophobia. A lot of people with family history of heart disease have this due to watching parents and loved ones suffer through or die from heart attacks etc.. My primary care doctor put me on a beta blocker to help with the palpitations and blood pressure and insisted I see a cardiologist since heart disease is huge in my family (And to see a psychiatrist for anxiety issues).

One of the things about anxiety is that it’s hard to rule out what is panic/anxiety stuff and what are actual real cardiac concerns. My friends and family joke all the time that my symptoms are all in my head and that I’m just a nervous wreck. And that is *mostly* true. But the chest pain and heart symptoms finally got the point where I went with my Dad to his cardiologist for an appointment, had a panic attack there in the office because I was so freaked out about being there in the first place, and managed to break out in hives while they took my blood pressure – which was 165/96. Now, no one knows what my blood pressure would have been if I wasn’t FREAKING OUT. But the Dr. heard a murmur and decided to do an echo-cardiogram and a stress test to see what was going on. Turns out, I have mitral valve regurgitation (MVR). MILD. Level ONE. NOT A BIG DEAL. But omg. I freaked. Blood pressure 148/92. (MVP is when the mitral valve doesn’t close all the way and a little bit of blood goes back into another chamber and the heart has to work a tiny bit harder to get all the blood through – many people have no symptoms. I do – which sucks).

Of couse, now, I’ve read ALL OF THE INTERNET on MVR. Apparently I’m not going to die. Well I am going to die, but not suddenly from MVP. They don’t *think.*

But what I do need to do is stay on my beta blocker and keep my blood pressure down. And anxiety doesn’t help – exercise and losing weight does. And limit alcohol (done) and caffeine (now THAT sucks). I’ve been afraid to exercise for almost a year because of the chest pain and palps but now I’ve been cleared to walk, run, swim … so anything but lift heavy weights. So today I started with walking 2 miles. And guess what? I DIDN’T DIE!

All of this stuff is hard. So hard. Removing alcohol and allowing all of my fears, phobias, and anxieties to all just hang out. Sitting in a room every day with strangers and considering all the ways that I’ve been hiding out behind bottles of wine and the lengths I’d go to to make excuses, DAILY, for my non-presence. Absence.

I cannot describe to you the difference just 11 days has made in my relationships with others (another post). I had NO IDEA how gone I really was until recently when I started being there. Here.

And I know there’s so much more being HERE to come. And right now that feels exciting.

Double Digits

I remember being so excited about turning 10 because DOUBLE DIGITS! This meant I had arrived at what I’d likely always have from that point till the end of my life – two numbers. (Yes, I was always an existential ponderer like that. Don’t get me started on my crisis about if ants are so tiny, then if we pour water on them, then, we are like GOD because we made their rain). Ten days is long. I can’t imagine ten years. #ODAAT because in ten years I’ll be 52 and that seems impossible and makes me want to cry. Ten days and 42 is perfect.

I have been cleared to drive (broken tailbone debacle) and so I actually went to my office yesterday and did some paperwork for the first time in three weeks. It’s been a nice little break from treatment planning and kids and trauma and ALL THE PROBLEMS. One day I will write about therapists and self-care. A lot of therapists drink. And I know why. Anyways…I worked. And then I went to an 8pm meeting which was really, really hard for me. 8pm meetings end at 9pm – which is my bedtime. Not only was the timing all wrong, but it was a slow meeting with lots of long-winded peoples. The therapist in me gets really frustrated in some meetings. In my mind I’m like, “Give that guy a talking stick and set the damn timer!” But I’m practicing having a beginner’s mind and so I breathed out my control freak thoughts. More like yawned. A lot.

But I made it there and I made it through the meeting and I ran out of there at 9pm into an amazing thunderstorm. I was tired but it was a good tired. A productive tired. I didn’t need to stop on the way home to pick up a bottle of wine. I just drove straight home where I was greeted by four long dogs and partner who was, of course, sitting on the couch watching Long Island Medium because she’s obsessed. She looked up as I came in, smiled and said, “I’m proud of you.” And that, my friends, is what I call a great day. Maybe ten years and 52 won’t be so bad after all…

 

The Comfort of Old Friends

Oh, right. You have to actually write something for people to read your blog. 

These last few days have been such a gift. Not only was it my first weekend of sobriety, but, my best friend from childhood was in town for the weekend. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nervous about seeing her in my current state – I haven’t seen her in about 5 years and before that, like, 20 years. And, you see, I’m still wobbling on sea legs when it comes to social skills sans alcohol. I had no worries that she’d support me, love me, and respect my sobriety, however, these last 9 days have me sort of in my head a lot. Reading, writing, thinking…in other words, being pretty anti-social. The gift was that my friend and I have known each other for so long and spent so many hours as teenagers sitting in her room doing nothing but listening to The Cure and reading Seventeen that we are still very much comfortable being in each others’ presence while not needing much social interaction. It’s a gift, right?

We didn’t leave the house except to go get a snoball and take a trip to our old neighborhood and to go to meetings. My girlfriend fed us (she’s so Italian), we floated in the pool, we ate ALL THE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, we watched Long Island Medium, Dateline, and Naked and Afraid. We napped and I drank a lot of Diet Barq’s root beer. And I kept saying over and over, “This is so good for me.” Because it was. And it is. 

I’ve now been to 7 meetings out of 8 sober days. I’m pretty proud of that stat. And I have a WHOLE lot to write about meetings and GOD and whatnot, but those words are still stirring around and I haven’t had ALL THE COFFEE yet. But to summarize, I like meetings and never thought I would. So that’s my next post. I actually look forward to going to meetings. I have friends there now! One day I’ll be social again without talking about sobriety. I’m pretty sure of that. But for right now, I’m good with being in my own little world of thinking, writing, reading, and discussing. I mean, hell, I live for that shit. 

I’m sad to see my friend leave today. But I know it won’t be 5 years before I see her again this go round. If there is anything I’m learning right now it’s who my real friends are. And to be oh so very grateful for every minute spent with the people who truly love me. 

pretty much what we looked like all weekend but the human version

pretty much what we looked like all weekend but the human version

 

 

All The Time, All The Things

So many times I’d be driving in my car in traffic on my way to work thinking, “God! I wish I could just have, like, a few weeks of NOTHING to do. Nothing at all. No work, no driving, no deadlines…nothing.” The follow-up to that thought would naturally be, “And I could just sit in the pool and drink wine all day without a worry in the world!” But oddly enough, though that was my fantasy, I guarantee I’d worry. Because I have an anxiety disorder and I treated it with wine. The irony is this – wine did not make me worry less. Wine put off today what anxiety could double up on tomorrow. Dumb wine. 

Now that I have a broken tailbone and I’m on bed and pool rest, my wish has come true. Sort of. I have nothing to do. Nothing to do but think about all the ways that I put off peoples, responsibilities, obligations, and quiet, relaxing, thoughtful time because I was drinking. It never occurred to me that lying in bed with that glass of wine and a book meant that I wasn’t really reading that book. Or that sitting next to my partner with a glass of wine in one hand and my other hand on her leg wasn’t really me giving her my attention. It was me, and wine, and her. And since she hated wine, and I loved wine, she became the third wheel in our little love triangle. 

Now that I have ALL THE TIME to lay around and think all the thoughts and feel all the feels, I’m realizing why we make amends. Because, really??? Did I think I was fooling her into thinking I’d stay awake for that whole movie? Did I really tell her that by telling me she knew I was going to fall asleep 15 minutes into Homeland that she was creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and get pissy? Did I really WANT my partner to choose indifference about my drinking because if she didn’t care (about me) so much life would be easier (for me to continue spiraling)? Shame on me. 

When people say, “Don’t be too hard on yourself” they mean, don’t lay on the shame to the point of drinking again. It’s a fine line. Because when you are suddenly AWAKE and realize all the silly, stupid shit you did, you could seriously use a shot! So you have to go slow. You have to forgive yourself little by little. And by forgiving myself I don’t mean erasing my actions. And I don’t mean continuing to use all the hurts to justify my drinking. I mean, using all this time to be fully present with myself – which feels a little bit like a punishment and little bit like a blessing. And somewhere, in the uncomfortable-ness of those two feelings attempting to create space to co-exist in my sober brain and body, a new me is slowly emerging. Because it has to. Because sober brain and sober body is my new house and I have to find a way to make all the things fit. Big things. 

 

 

 

 

 

24 hr Chip

We call these Dabloons where I come from but, hey, it’s all about accepting things I cannot change…

image

I sat there listening, but I didn’t talk – which for me is pretty much a miracle. I thought about the one other time I’d tried this and how this time is different because this time it’s about me making the choice on my own (not my gf suggesting I need help).

As I was sitting there, my phone began lighting up and buzzing and levitating off the table to the point that I had to check out what was going on.  Whoa!  Overwhelmed with gratitude I watched as tweet after tweet people acknowledging my effort here. People I don’t even know understanding. 

I left the meeting feeling awesome. Me and my chip took our fat asses to Taco Bell and got us a taco and a Diet Coke.  Something I rarely do but I also don’t usually get excited about Dabloons. 

When I got home, my gf congratulated me and didn’t even laugh about the Taco Bell (which isn’t funny in and of itself –  remember,  I ate ALL THE ICE CREAM today).

I texted my family and told them that I’m no longer drinking. They responded with love and support. 

Today I am OK.  And even though my lime seltzer isn’t hiding vodka sleep tonic, I’m gonna read all the blogs till I doze off.  But not before getting up and
turning off my own lights.