On Friday, I heard news about my older son that I have been fighting and waiting for. It has everything to do with the trauma we suffered this summer which I’ll write about it in the future. The point it, I received the best possible news accompanied by a very persistent and nagging desire to drink. The good news brings with it much uncertainty about how things will work, and the “crazy” mental health bureaucracy that I need to navigate ASAP. I immediately felt a sense of overwhelm while also feeling hopeful and happy. It did not help that this news came in the late afternoon when I was hungry and tired. I did not drink. Thank God. Again, I reminded myself that I could not accomplish anything by drinking. Drinking would only make things more difficult. I went straight home, ate a snack, got into my pajamas, and ate a not so healthy meal. I did make a few phone calls to get things moving, but I focused on taking care of myself. It worked.
Today is Day 36 for me. Overall, I feel great. It feels wonderful to sleep through the night and wake up without a throbbing head. It’s even better to wake up without the shame, guilt and self-judgment that accompanied the hangover. Every morning that I woke up with a hangover was the day I swore I would never drink again. But I always drank again.
Last night, I went to my neighbors’ home for dinner. Another neighbor, a good friend and former drinking buddy came, too. I was genuinely happy to go. All of us have had difficult times in the past few months, so we haven’t been together since early January. I brought my raspberry lime sparkling water. I wasn’t worried at all about drinking, and I did not crave anything, even when the bottle of red was opened. It was a wonderful evening, and I was so happy to be with my friends. After dinner, we moved to sit near the fireplace to chat and relax. By this time, my friends were working on their third or fourth drink, and they were getting livelier and more talkative. I was getting tired and irritated. Even if I had wanted to jump in to the discussion about the upcoming “apocalypse” (thanks Donald Trump and lots of wine), I couldn’t. They were too busy talking loudly and interrupting each other. I gratefully thanked my friend for the delicious meal and walked home.
This morning, I am judging myself about being irritated by my friends.. I’m judging myself for judging my friends! I am SLOWLY learning that I have to stop judging myself before I can extend that nonjudgment to others. This shit isn’t easy. Today, I am going to tune in to my negative self-talk and become aware of my inner critic. Changing that won’t be easy, but I have to be aware of it before I can kick that bully to the curb.
Have a great day. Peace.
Today marks 31 days of sobriety for me. Hip, hip, hooray! I have been sleeping well, waking up earlier without an alarm clock, and making time for myself. I feel healthier and stronger. I’m fairly confident that my brain was fuzzy when I was either buzzed or hungover, but now after a month of not drinking, I’m surprised at my struggles with short-term memory, concentration, and organization. I’m all over the place both in my mind and in my actions.
Here is the best example I can give: Yesterday, after showering, I grabbed my body lotion to add some moisture to my dry winter skin.. At first It was cooling and soothing. Then it felt sticky and hard to rub in. I was momentarily confused until I realized I was rubbing firm-hold hair gel all over my arms. Hit the Restart button. After I washed and dried my arms, I squeezed out a big glop of real body lotion and proceeded to run it through my wet hair! I didn’t laugh about it until many hours later when I told my best friend. We shared a few moments of true belly laughing, including snorts and tears. (Very healing practice, btw.)
I know about P.A.W.S., and the many symptoms folks experience in early (and beyond) sobriety. But, the perfectionist in me wants everything to be better as soon as possible, and I know that mindset could be a quick road to relapse. So today, I am taking a ‘mental health’ day. I will relax, read, putter and nap and generally give myself a break from self-criticism, judgement and lofty expectations.
Last week, I started a 200 hour yoga teacher training course. I’m fifty-one years old, and I am so excited to take this time to deepen my practice and to integrate all of the bits and pieces I have been learning over the last 12 years. This is something I hoped to do once I retired from teaching. Because of the tragedy we experienced last summer, my employer generously gave me the year off with pay and insurance to heal myself, and to care for my two teenagers. I’m grateful that my employer realized that going back to work during my recovery would not benefit anyone, including my beautiful students who deserve the best teacher possible. In addition to caring for my children, I am working on taking care of myself. The concept of self-care is new to me. Yoga training is only part of the picture. I go for training 8 hours today and tomorrow. I have been given a great gift, and I want to make the most of it.
I am twenty-eight days sober, and I wake up thankful every day that I was able to FINALLY commit to a day one. I don’t want to waste any more time living in a fuzzy hazy buzz, or in a hungover and depressed place.
So even though I am full of snot and congested, I’m going to show up and do my best. I can’t wait!
The last time I posted, I was on Day 3. I’m sure you can guess what happened. I was so mad at myself and ashamed of drinking again, that I wasn’t going to bore anyone who might read this for inspiration and then see that I went back to struggle. It was fine at first, of course. I moderated quite well for the first few weeks (with a few full bottle nights every now and then.) I was practicing yoga when I wasn’t hungover and enjoying my summer. However, I really didn’t want to be drinking. I just couldn’t seem to get any traction to get beyond a few days without wine.
Then, in August, while on vacation with my sons, we suffered a horrible trauma. I don’t want to write about it here, for many reasons. We all nearly died. When I finally woke up in the trauma unit, my friend asked, “What can I do for her?”, the head of trauma said for us to drink wine. (WTF?). And we did, and I did, and I recovered away from home for two weeks before I travelled and I drank some more. Guess what I did when I got home? Yep. Bingo! Even when my wounds healed, I continued to drink, as it was better than dealing with all of the emotional shit I was feeling. I found an awesome counselor, who, coincidentally worked as a counselor for 15 years in a methadone clinic before starting her own practice. I went back to yoga, and did private sessions at first with my teacher, before venturing into a group. There is so much to write about this experience, that I could write for days.
So finally, twenty-four days ago, after much planning, setting up supports, reading sober blogs, changing my schedule, and telling a few friends, I succeeded in getting past day three. I didn’t write here, because I was still afraid of failing. I wrote in my own journal, but I just couldn’t put it out in print. So I am still here, still breathing, and working hard to take care of myself and taking it easy on myself in order to stay sober.
I have been here many times before. I have had quite a few day ones this year. Last year, I went 120+ days without drinking, and I felt wonderful. This spring and summer, I was feeling great, loving my family, planning great things, and then something horrible happened to our family. Something unimaginable to most anyone, certainly unimaginable to me. And yet it happened. My world changed in 15 minutes, and it will never be the same. The first thing I did when I was out of intensive care was drank a glass of wine in my hospital room, per my doctor’s orders. Let’s see how this goes.
Who in their right mind would choose the pain of gum surgery over a hangover? That would be me. Everything went well yesterday, and I was looking forward to chilling out, watching something stupid on Netflix, and icing my face. I look like a chipmunk with nuts stuffed in the left side of my mouth, and my face hurts like hell. It’s strange, but I was relieved to obsess about the pain in the lower left quadrant of my mouth rather than obsess about drinking or not drinking. Thinking about quitting, planning on quitting, resolving to quit, then giving in again and again has been sucking the life out of me. I’ve been caught in this self-centered lonely loop, and I needed something to kick my ass out of it.
So, I’m still self-centered – one thing at a time – but I’m going to continue to chill out, watch Netflix and ice my face. It’s 90+ and humid today, and I’m staying cool.
BTW – if anyone reads this (and if you do, thank you so much), can you tell me how to put up a list of the blogs that I am following? I would love to add them, but I don’t know how. Namaste