Just Checking In

Hi, kids! Here I am, chugging along in my little sober car. Life has thrown its challenges my way, but at 846 days, using booze to cope is just a distant, hazy memory.

First of all, the election. ‘Nuf said. The old me would have gotten VERY drunk election night and would have used the results as justification to “escape” our new national nightmare whenever necessary afterward.

Instead, I subscribed to Yogaglo and hit my mat pretty hard in the days afterward.

I got through Thanksgiving without a hiccup; my husband and I have the routine down pat. There’s a shit-ton of rearranging and “thinking things through” to be done (how to arrange all of the side dishes in an order that makes sense for people to serve themselves, buffet-style; where to set up the auxiliary dining room table, etc.) and then of course, putting the house back together before we can relax after everyone leaves….

But here’s the thing – this is what NEVER gets old, after my third sober Thanksgiving: my stress level is SO much lower. Unbelievable. And I’ve transferred my anticipation from looking forward to drinking with impunity to being excited about having two helpings of my favorite foods at dinner and then treating myself to not one, not two, but – THREE helpings of dessert. Oh my God I was flirting with sugar shock by the end of the day.

If you follow my blog, you’ll remember that I have a difficult relationship with my mother. Well, she’s been having some health issues and, after about five days in the hospital, has been placed in a rehab facility. Her first few days there were a nightmare of poor sleep, inattentive staff, and miscommunications about meds and medical equipment to make her comfortable.

Those issues seem to have been resolved, but I am one of four daughters in close proximity. The others don’t have the same baggage with her that I do (which isn’t to say that they don’t have their own) – and two share health care proxy responsibilities. Due to those circumstances and family and other obligations, I am able to spend far less time with her, by comparison. I struggle with feelings of guilt for not “pulling my weight” and concerns that resentment toward me may be simmering just below the surface.  We update each other via group texts and it’s difficult to read “tone” sometimes.  And, as women, we tend to overthink things.  .

What I have discovered is that my Mother seems to save her best behavior for me.  She’s on medication that makes her extremely loopy and  she talks constantly at an almost manic pace.  I spend most of my time with her giggling at her silliness.  She’ll be there through the holidays. Hopefully, she’ll  be home and back to her normal routine (which consists of pretty much doing nothing all day) by the first of the year.

Anyhoo.  My wish for all of you is a peaceful, memorable, sober holiday season.  It really is SO much easier once you have a round (or two) of sober holidays under your belt.

Take good care, friends.

My Word for 2016: Health

Well, friends… now that I’ve got enough sober time under my belt, it’s time for me to focus on my health – mental and physical.  Starting this week, it’s back to counseling.  My therapist has recovered sufficiently to begin seeing me again.  I have so much to catch her up on, in the four months that’s elapsed since our last chat. I feel as though I’ve been in an emotional state of stasis since I saw her in September.

And I see my primary physician early next month to discuss physical therapy for a strained left shoulder,  and golfers’ elbow in my right arm.  Super frustrating as I tried cold laser therapy for the elbow, which was a gigantic waste of money and time. And I love to incorporate weights in my workouts.  Now I can’t even lift a 6 pound dumbbell comfortably.  I used to curl 20 pounds! Ugh.

The fridge and freezer are both stocked with healthy foods: fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy.   Breakfasts and lunches are prepped and healthy dinners are planned for the week. Time to tame the sugar monster: bowls of berries and cut-up fruit will replace ice cream for evening treats.  This is my year to focus on getting in the best shape of my life.

The second set of sober holidays was much, MUCH easier than the first.  So much more comfortable and normal feeling.  I’ve also noticed that the “drink counter” in my brain seems to have taken a hike.  I no longer notice, with such glaring focus, what everyone else seems to have in their glass.

Another new experience? Handling some pretty overwhelming worry sober.  One of my kids has a health issue that is almost positively minor, but I had managed to work myself into a near-frenzy over it. It cast a pall over much of my holiday break. I’m typically not a worrier and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t “talk myself off the ledge.”  Until I realized that this is the first time I’ve experienced something like this without any anesthetic.  I did work my way through to the other side, but – boy, howdy – it sucked scissors. But it just goes to show that we can handle the hard shit that life throws us, stone-cold sober.

And continue to grow, and learn, and evolve.

 

Is That All There Is?

Ugh. I’m really struggling these past few days. The entire world seems to be awash in cocktails, celebrating and partying and having fun.

And here I sit, with my stupid decaf. Feeling like a big fat loser.  Wet blanket. Stick in the mud.  As my mother-in-law used to chant teasingly to any of her children in a bad mood, “Every party has a pooper – that’s why we invited YOU!”

Last night, I was having dinner with my husband and daughter. They’re both in my “inner circle.” Daughter is eight years clean after a horrific couple of years on heroin. Hubs understands very, VERY well that I was heading toward big trouble with alcohol.

So when I took a deep breath and said something about sobriety being boring and missing out on all the fun – there were two very stricken faces and four big brown eyes locked on mine.

My husband has told me before that he would do everything in his power to prevent me from drinking ever again. And I’m really grateful for that additional layer of insulation. Because I just feel……. blah.  Like a big fat martini sounds reallllly good.

And then my daughter chimed in. She said that quitting alcohol is way harder than getting clean for her was, inasmuch as she couldn’t imagine being surrounded by people snorting and shooting heroin all around her and resisting it.  She reminded me that booze is just about everywhere you go these days, and – what’s more – there’s a societal expectation that everyone joins in! Non-drinkers are truly the odd men out.

I’m fifteen months in – and I have no idea if what I’m going through normal or not.  It’s just what I feel.  Sometimes the thought of never joining in the ‘fun’ again makes me so, so sad.

But I know that feelings aren’t facts and that this too, shall pass.

I’m not going to drink.  And after a long, tough week at work and a long day yesterday full of chores, my instincts are telling me it’s time for some good, old-fashioned self care.  So that’s definitely on the docket for this week.

I’ll let you know how it goes….

Second Sober Thanksgiving

Wow.  What a fantastic day. Eighteen people this year, but Mother Nature smiled on us and it was in the mid-fifties and sunny. We even had a few windows open to keep the house comfortably cool; there were no muddy or snowy boots and shoes to contend with. Overall, I give it an A -.

There was just one little moment of tension, and that was between my husband and me. He was helping clean up after dinner and I let my passive aggressive bitch flag fly. I sniped at him for no good reason and immediately regretted it.  He was super annoyed with me and I don’t blame him. There were a couple of moments of tension but we worked it out and then everything was great for the rest of the evening.  But boy howdy, I’m ready to pass the hosting torch.

I realized the next morning that, even though there was all manner of booze flowing (none in excess), there wasn’t a second of wobbliness or craving or “oh poor me.”  Not ONE. As a matter of fact, I walked into the room just as my sister-in-law and her new boyfriend poured themselves glasses of white wine. I peeked at the label, out of curiosity.  It was Riesling, and my first thought was actually, “yuck.”

And here’s something else that’s really cool: we finished most of our holiday shopping the day after Thanksgiving – AND – we’re working together today to put up the tree and decorate it.  I’ve never – EVER – been so far ahead of the game. Or felt so calm,  prepared for, or excited about the upcoming holiday season.

Life is so good.  Sobriety is the best gift,  and it just keeps on giving.

A Conversation with a Friend

The other day at lunch, a friend of mine who knows about my decision to stop drinking, asked me how the holidays went without booze. I thought for a minute and said, “Great. Really great.” Which they did. The thing that I learned that surprised me the most was that I always thought wine helped me unwind during the stressful times. Having gone through it sober, I learned that – yes, there’s still stress associated with the holidays, but that it was much more manageable WITHOUT alcohol.

The more sober time I accrue (today is day 148, I believe) the more clearly I see and am able to admit the problems booze was creating in my life.  I shared that with her in conversation the other day and she listened thoughtfully and intently.  I told her that for me, the bottom line was this: I knew it was time to quit when the thought of continuing the way I was going was MORE terrifying than the thought of quitting (which scared the absolute shit out of me, truth be told).

She thought for a second and said, “That makes a TON of sense.”

I think I’m getting to the point where I can selectively be more honest about my reasons for quitting.  And being a person who is not overfond of secrets, it’s pretty cool to be getting comfortable with my truth.