What’s In A Name?

I’m thinking about switching sites. A few years ago I began a blog called Perfect Little Wagon. It was supposed to be a place where I was going to write about my recovery – starting with drinking. Then I drank and abandoned it. This time when I quit I thought I would start fresh so I named this Sobering Truths. The thing is, I still own the domain for Perfect Little Wagon and after some soul searching (and much podcast listening) I think it is more of a true title for what I am embarking on.

Sobriety is just the beginning. It’s what I have to do first to get to the stuff I have to face. There are years of body image issues I’ve neglected to really dig into. I’ve been anxious since I was very young, depression (well the real dark kind) came more recently. When I named the blog Perfect Little Wagon it was a play on words. Obviously about getting back “on the wagon” but also a bit of sarcasm and a nod to my perfectionism. I feel like it gives me more room to grow in any direction I feel I need to. Even if I feel like being silly or ranty.

So, please come and visit me at www.perfectlittlewagon.com

Oh God, I hope I don’t change my mind again. I literally have 4 domain names. Even this decision makes me anxious. (insert eye roll).

30 Days Sober – It Wasn’t Pretty

So I just read through my last couple of posts. Classic denial. What happened? Well, the same thing that always happens – my drinking escalated. I did drink in Italy and it was okay as I suspected. I was busy, there was hiking everyday, I was with people who didn’t drink much, (fun fact: people in Italy don’t drink rivers of wine every day). In short, it didn’t ruin my vacation, but as Willie Nelson sings…it was always on my mind.

The trouble came when I got back in my routine, back to my boring mundane everyday life. I felt alone. I grieved Italy. There I felt like I really had accomplished something. I did things daily that were out of my comfort zone. I was satisfied with myself.  No pressure. It was freeing.

I drank everyday for at least two weeks after my return until I was so depressed I couldn’t take it anymore and I quit…again.

So its been a month. I’ve journaled almost everyday. I’m reading everything I can and trying to be easy on myself. What I find amusing are those articles that pop up in my Facebook feed;  I quit drinking for 30 Days and this is what happened! They talk about weight loss, better sleep, more productivity and saved money. I would like to know how much the people who write these things actually drink? The truth is when you’re a real drinker getting sober for 30 days is hard and frustrating and all sorts and shades of awful. What these articles don’t tell you is your anxiety and depression? Well, it gets worse before it gets better. My anxiety was through the roof. I pushed so hard on my front tooth with my tongue I swear it was going to pop right out.

I was tired. So tired. Like first trimester pregnancy tired. So more productivity wasn’t a thing a for me. I had no motivation and I watched so much Netflix they stopped making next show recommendations. I guess they figured I was on such a roll I would get to them eventually.

I was a complete and utter bitch to my family. I couldn’t even stand being with myself.

I lost zero weight. Nothing. Zip. In fact, I gained. You would think after eliminating so many unneeded calories from my diet I would at least lose a couple pounds, but instead I think my fat cells are confused and banding together, waiting for the starvation to set in. In fact, as I wright this I feel so bloated I want to drink just to get rid of the awkwardness of being in this body.

I have zits.

I have spent every single dime I saved because, Damn it, I’m not drinking so I can buy that sweater, those boots, that endless supply of organic teas and essential oils.

So the first 30 days? Not fun. In fact every time I quit, it gets harder. Which really makes me think about whether I have it in me to do it again. The good news is, I made it through the first 30. The clouds have begun to part. I’ve lowered my expectations in the productivity department. Instead of painting rooms and organizing closets – it looks more like actually taking my make up off at night, moisturizing, going for a walk, reading more instead of watching TV. Actually writing a blog post…

Sleep is getting much better, my mood comes and goes, but its to be expected. I’m still full of negative self talk but I’m more aware of it and trying to correct it where I can. I’ve joined some great online support groups and am looking into alternatives to supplement my spotty AA attendance . I’m really selective with who I spend my time with. Parties are not for me right now, however the holiday season is arriving which will bring with it a whole new set of challenges.

There are times in the day when all I can do is sit in my feelings of regret and self pity and recognize them for what they are. Fear. I can no longer numb it away. Having to feel and accept those feelings is the toughest part of 30 days and beyond… that little tidbit is what they leave out of those feel good 30 days of sobriety articles.

 

 

Living and Learning

I don’t want to say I fucked up because I’m trying out self-compassion for a change. It’s not easy when you’ve been used to beating yourself on a daily basis forever, but I am paying more attention to how I speak to myself – and it’s pretty brutal I’ll be honest.

I drank. And I’m sure you are saying, “Of course you did…did you even read your last post?” I haven’t binged or gone to the liquor store, I choose to do it in a controlled environment, well except once. I did break my rules, but I also stuck to some very important limits. So not a perfect venture but not a total disaster.

The first came when I went to dinner and a movie with a friend. All the way to the restaurant my inner dialogue went something like this:

“Go ahead if you want to, it will be fine. Just one.”

“Do you really want to just throw away everything you have accomplished so far?”

“You are only there for a quick salad before a movie, there is no time for more than one.”

“Here you go again, you know where this leads.”

“Why can’t you just stop this back and forth. You are normal, stop over-reacting to everything. Have one, be mindful about it.”

“You have been to AA for Christ’s sake!”

By the time we were seated and the waitress came to take our order, I was so worked up and anxious I felt like I was visibly shaking…which doesn’t help when you’re trying NOT to drink.

“I’ll have a Chardonnay.” There is was – just like that.

“Five or eight ounce?”

I paused for so long it got awkward. “Eight.”

I know…it’s more than one drink technically and I’m fooling myself. I get it. But honestly, it was good and it lasted the whole meal. Later at the movies I wondered why on earth I can’t just do that all the time.

Next up, this past Tuesday. I won’t get into it but drama was the theme for the day. By the time I got home I suggested my husband and I go out to dinner. Cooking was not going to happen and if I’m honest – hell, I wanted a drink and since in my head I made a deal that I wouldn’t bring any in the house – out to dinner we went.

Again I ordered an eight ounce and I sipped at it, but the old me was pushing her way through. I was half way through dinner when I noticed my glass was almost empty. In my head I’m thinking I would have another one. A regular sized one. Five ounce only. The waiter came by but didn’t ask – so I didn’t bring it up (score one for me). By the time he did ask I was mostly done dinner so I said no, even though I wanted one badly or at least I think I did.

One the way to the car I took note on how I as feeling. A little tipsy actually. Once I was up and away from the table I was good. I felt satisfied. If I just give myself time to take in the first drink – it might be all I will need.

Cut to last night. The Friday night to start the last long weekend of the summer. Sitting at my desk at work I fought my inner dialogue. Old me wanted to stop and get wine and new me was totally giving into it. After all, this weekend has always been my New Years. I can’t tell you how many journals I have started at this time of year vowing off food and alcohol – writing everyday, yoga, meditation, running…etc. Now I know what I was really doing was setting myself up to fail.

I left the parking lot fully intending on buying that bottle of wine. I was determined, as I have been so many other times in my life to have it last two days. I can do this. But a funny thing happened as I approached the turn off – I thought, “You know if you bring that bottle home you will over do it.” — and I drove right past. I noticed how tense I was, my shoulders, neck and jaw where stiff as rock.

Good for me, right? I did it! Except when I got home the first thing I did was grab one of my husbands beers and drank it. Fast. I meant it was gone in about 5 mins. Then I went to the fridge and got a bottled Ceasar (Canadian Bloody Mary). I brought it outside and that lasted me a bit longer. When I was done, I stopped to think about how I was feeling and knew I was done. Granted if those two drinks would have been wine, I probably would have had another.

I did things to distract myself, walked the dog, looked at flyers, put clothes away. Once I was away from the situation I was fine. I even regretted that Ceasar because I didn’t feel well and really still don’t today. I don’t feel hung over, I feel sick to my stomach.

But I still plan on having wine this weekend. I already have it planned. We have friends coming into town tonight and my husband and I are celebrating our anniversary tomorrow night. The plan is to get go into it with my eyes wide open and really think about what I’m feeling, take a break after one, go find other things to do.

There is a part of me that is really on board with this and then there is the other part of me that says I’m full of shit and just making excuses. Like I said, I’m trying to be more self compassionate so I’m hoping to just do my best and see where it takes me. I’m aware and sometimes that’s the best I can do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Much Confusion

Yesterday was all like, “Yay! Sobriety!”

Today – not so much.

I didn’t drink, I had my first meeting with a new councillor who specializes in alcohol abuse. She knows my whole story…my periods of sobriety, my attempts at moderation. The whole meeting she was taking the position of harm reduction, rather than complete abstinence. Not that she doesn’t think I should be sober – she wants what I want, but she thinks my “all or nothing thinking” is going to get me in trouble either way. She wants to take me through from the ground up and identify my triggers, looking for healthier ways to approach them. She doesn’t want me to think in terms of never again, but come to a place in recover organically.

I gotta say initially, I thought not a chance. I’ve made a million rules around my drinking, and tried to moderate but it only works for a while before I’m back to where I was. But just her suggesting I might drink again was really inviting I gotta be honest.

I told her I was going to Italy next month and expressed a fear of losing my sobriety. This has been on my mind since day one; What will happen there? Should I drink? Will I hate myself for breaking my sobriety?

She is trying to get me to a place where I confront my over thinking with real solutions. She wants to help me put a plan in place before I get there. It might include abstinence but it also could be a plan of action which includes having one glass of wine with dinner and evaluate honestly how I am feeling; putting barriers and strategies in place to achieve this.

Very tempting, but I’m skeptical.

By the time I go, if I remain sober completely, I will have almost 6 weeks. I told her I’m fairly certain I could get through the vacation with boundaries because it’s a hiking tour. Every day I will have to be physically active – which means I won’t want to sabotage it by drinking. Also, I’m going with someone who is not a huge drinker and understands where I’m at. My worry is when I get home. I’m concerned I won’t stop. My inside voice will want to have plenty of drinks before I quit, “again,” and do I really want to quit again?

I understand recovery isn’t black and white. I get it, but I have a hard time allowing myself to fail.  It is true with each attempt I come closer to my goal. I guess that’s the point? To naturally come to the decision? But how do I refrain from beating myself up? How do I stop obsessing about it, whether I’m drinking or sober? The year I spent sober was wonderful but I never stopped thinking about it. I just want to be me, but a calm, recovered me.

If I decide to drink in Italy, I don’t want to carry around the shame when I return of starting again, and I’m hoping if it is what I decide to do, I can do it and accept myself and my decision.

This is a learning process. Progress not perfection, right? Why does everything in my head have to be taken care of immediately? So what if I have been fighting this for as long as I have? Every time I do, I get closer to peace. I can feel it.

Holly Whitaker from Hip Sobriety wrote something today on Instagram:

“The goal we are working towards isn’t SOBRIETY in flashing neon lights, It isn’t measured in days and weighed in abstinence. The goal is self-compassion, self-love; to stop the shaming and the judging of ourselves, others. To loosen the shame; not tighten it.”

I came out of my meeting with the counsellor confused about what my goals are and Holly’s words were on my phone. They brought me a lot of comfort. My biggest problem is self-compassion/love and I often wonder if I could do the work on those things, if I indeed started to (gulp) love myself would I even feel the need to over drink? One thing I know for sure, I need to put the booze down now to do the work.

Will I drink again? I don’t know. I’m not even sure I will in Italy. Although I’m kinda feeling like I just got a free pass. I feel like I have a lot of thinking, reading and healing to do. Instead of letting this circle around in my head, giving me ideas to try to moderate again. I’m going to let it sit and continue on the path I started because I put the glass down again for a reason. I can’t live how I was a week ago. I only have my gut to guide me and it’s saying stay the path for now, keep going.

Don’t think too far ahead.

One Week

I have had so many weeks one’s that to me it’s nothing to celebrate. Besides the blistering migraine, exhaustion and epic irritability, it’s been a pretty uneventful week. The good news is I have had no stress or drama to ignite any cravings and for that I am grateful. Besides physical nonsense like the before mentioned migraines, cramps and then the inevitable menstrual cycle (nice timing universe) it’s been smooth sailing. By now I’m a master at handling the physical reprocussions, after all I’ve worked through many a hangover, showed up at work, slept in my car at lunch and when I finally got home –  took care of it with a drink. All better for a couple hours.

Tuesday I managed to walk my ass back into AA. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it at the moment. Six years ago I attended meeting regularly. I did everything I was told to do, I got a sponsor and worked the steps twice in a year. At first it was a relief just to have a community of people who understood, but after a while the AA speak was getting to me and I found myself taking a step back.

We admit we are powerless over alcohol, and our lives have become unmanageable.

Step one and admitting powerlessness I had a real hard time with. I didn’t like how negative it felt. Now the unmanageability was me all day long. I understood that, but powerless was a challenge for me. Even up until last Monday morning while texting a sober friend who was celebrating 7 years that day, I defended my position. I wanted to be called powerFUL so I could lift myself up to fight the urges.

Cut to 5 hours later when I’m on my way home from work and that same friend was expecting me at a meeting. I fully intended on going and wanted to go. On the way home I thought about the rest of the vodka in the freezer I was supposed to pour out when I got there, (this was my day one after all) except something inside me knew I wasn’t throwing it out. I pulled in the driveway and talked myself into one vodka on the rocks…then I would brush my teeth like a maniac and get to the meeting. So I poured myself a 2.5 ounce shot over ice and went and sat on the front porch with my dog. Now I should have poured the rest out right after pouring my first glass but I didn’t – because deep down I knew I wanted it but I was caught between showing my face at a meeting and wanting to numb myself.

I would be blowing off my friend on her 7th sober birthday to drink vodka on the porch with my dog. It’s an awful thought. Who would do that? Not me. Never would I ever break plans just so I could drink. Remember? I want to be there for her.

I blew it off. It was a conscious decision and at the same time it wasn’t. I didn’t recognize myself, sitting there feeling like a complete asshat (because I was) but doing it anyway because I wanted to drink more. Any chance of me leaving the porch disappeared, and my dignity and self-respect just got up and left me there alone to finished the vodka.

Powerlessness. There it is.

Having been AA trained in the past my guilt would not allow me to keep this to myself. Later I was in touch with my friend and apologized. I told her I get it now, pointing out the irony of me going on about powerlessness earlier in the day and then being schooled by myself to myself. Thankfully she understood (been there, done that) and we had a good laugh at my expense.

The next day I walked into a meeting. I didn’t intend on picking up a desire chip because I had convinced myself a few years ago that they weren’t needed. To truly be sober you need to feel it inside shouldn’t need a coin to validate you. I’ve had a lot of theories.

Anyway, I don’t know what made me do it but I stood up and I took one. Because it was my first time back in a while everyone shared on Step One. I shared my story and by the end I had that same sense of peaceful belonging I had the first time I ever set foot in one of those rooms. I wish I could have recorded all the shares and took them home with me.

Now I’m not saying I’m buying everything they are selling, but I am going to ease myself into it this time. No jumping in with both feet – gonna get them wet first, perhaps that’s better for me. Take what I need and leave the rest my friend said.

Sounds like a plan for now.

 

Sobering Truth #1

Is this the time it’s gonna stick? I quit drinking 4 days ago for it feels like the 100,000 time. If I go back in my journal I started questioning my drinking 14 years ago. I actually managed an entire year of sobriety 6 years ago. A year filled of fear and greatness where I learned how to live differently. I wasn’t overjoyed but life was getting better, things were going well, so you know, why not fuck it up?

Since then I have quit for shorter periods of time but each time has gotten harder and more painful. Right now, I write this with a massive headache I’ve had for two days. I blame it on sinus pain but I’m pretty sure it’s probably my body adjusting. I just got back from a family vacation in which I drank daily and plenty, I was sober for almost 2 weeks before that so I imagine it’s my body saying, “What the hell, woman?”

So what am I doing here now? Well, I’m hoping you will keep me accountable. Which is silly I know because this is my first blog and well, I’m probably the only one reading it – but I just feel I need a space to work it all out privately. I guess I could do that in a journal but I’ve read so many great woman bloggers who say the sober community will lift you up…and, well, you have no idea how much this pains me to say, but I could use some lifting.

I tried before to open up to people in my life, but most don’t get it because I never over did it in front of anyone really. I’m an alone drinker, isolation works best. You can numb the shame, until 3am when you wake up and feel like a loser knowing you did it again even after you promised you would only have one.

I would rarely have more than 3-4 glasses of wine but I would drink those in an hour and half after work. Lately, I would try to hide it as much as possible because I didn’t want my husband or kids to know I was drinking almost daily. I just would keep going to the LCBO (liquor store in Canada) and hate myself – but I would still go. It would be the last time I told myself.

I also started drinking vodka, because, you know…calories, (insert eye roll). I never mixed it. I love vodka martini’s so I would just do vodka on the rocks with a splash of olive juice. 2.5 ounces a pour. Two in an hour. It was my time to wind down I told myself. Unfortunately I’m a fast drinker so sipping drinks never really happened. I tried to distract myself from the fact that technically I just drank 5 drinks before I even started dinner. And I did so because I never drank after dinner throughout the week, THAT would be wrong.

If it was a Friday, I would pick up white, red and vodka because those are my favs and if I am quitting on Monday then I have to say goodbye to all of them. I was quitting every Monday. But then Monday would come, and I would be hungover and come home from work knowing I was going to finish off whatever was left and start on Tuesday. Sometimes I would even get through the rest of the week until that devil of a day Friday rolled around and off I would go again. Rinse. Repeat.

Obviously this kind of behaviour has taken its toll or I wouldn’t be writing or quitting. Perhaps not outwardly in terms of family or job issues (I guess we call that high functioning) BUT inwardly I am a mess. I have depression and anxiety, so drinking is not in my best interest and after 14 years on and off of starting and stopping, things reached a level of darkness that got wicked scary and I just can’t justify it anymore.

No one thinks I have a problem. The bag of empties in my garage begs to differ.