surviving parties sober.

The last week or two I have had a lot of social events. Last Saturday night, and last night, I went to parties. Since I’ve quit drinking in the last 3.5 months, I’ve been out for dinner at restaurants with friends, and to a couple of bbq’s, and now I’ve been to a couple of parties. Both last Saturday and tonight were 40th birthday parties. Both were are rented out bar/cafe spaces with food, DJ’s, lots of people, and of course, a bar full of booze.

The first rule, I think, about surviving a party sober, is to get a drink in your hand as soon as you get there. Last night I had two drinks. A limonata san pelligrino and a regular one. The bartender put it in a mason jar (aka a hipster glass) with lots of ice and it looked just like any other cocktail. So no one knew I wasn’t drinking unless I told them.

There are actually quite a few people at the parties that know I am sober. My close girlfriends are starting to tell me how proud they are of me, which feels awesome. It is also getting easier to talk about it with other people besides my closest friends, and I am enjoying the authenticity this allows me. I get overwhelmingly positive remarks about being sober.  I don’t usually tell people the whole story and the gory details, but I don’t feel like I need to make things up either. I usually say a version of I didn’t like how alcohol made me feel and I felt I was drinking too much. I find that people are interested but not nosey about it. I have had a couple of people talk to me about how they have concerns about their own or someone else’s drinking. Because I am so new to sobriety I don’t feel that I have any answers, so I just listen and let them know that I am here if they want to talk more about it.

I had my first non alcoholic beer the other day, and it was no big deal. I haven’t really wanted to go down that road because I’ve been scared that it will make me want to drink, but honestly it didn’t. I am not a big beer drinker anyways and although I enjoyed it, I couldn’t even finish it. That was funny to leave a glass not empty! A first for me. Luckily, it did not increase my craving for alcohol. But I was out at a pub meeting a few friends and my friend who is pregnant was having one and I wanted to give it a try. I don’t think it’s something that I’ll do very often but it’s nice to know that it’s there as an option. It did make me feel less conspicuous about not drinking.

Right now I feel really good about my sobriety. I am happy I’m not drinking and I am seeing the positive impacts of it in my life. Every weekend I’ve been going for beautiful hikes. I’ve been getting to yoga classes. I’m doing my Refuge Recovery and getting more into Buddhism and meditation. And my newest passion is Zumba- I am in love with it. Such a good workout and so fun! Work has been really challenging and stressful lately, and I am so thankful that I am not hungover at work. I am sure I would be doing a poor job and be hating every minute of it and myself.

My partner and I have been going through some struggles, but I at least feel present to deal with it now. Before when I was drinking I didn’t know my head from my butt at times so everything seemed pretty dark. Now I am starting to tease out who I am and what I want. In some ways it is scary because there are times when I’m not sure if my partner and I want the same things in life. But on the other hand I feel capable of making better decisions because I have a clear mind and can sort through my emotions. I am lucid all of the time! Before I was between tipsy, drunk, hungover, exhausted, and disappointed in myself the majority of the time. What a way to live! Cringe worthy. I am so grateful that is not my life anymore.

I have an overactive mind and I can see why I wanted to drink to make it slow the fuck down. But I now am learning to do this through mindfulness. I have studied mindfulness for years but it was pretty much impossible to be serious about it when I was drinking. Same with yoga. I was always on the surface with these things because I couldn’t really absorb the benefits. I was too confused. Too dehydrated. Too sick. Trapped. Now I am really practicing these tools. Growing. Changing. Slowly, but surely.

I am becoming more confident and I think that’s why I can go out to parties now! I don’t care so much that I’m not drinking- I feel good about it. I do find it challenging to talk all night long so I leave early. But no one seems to mind.

And I am happy to leave early so that I can get up and out to enjoy these incredible days…

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i heart trees

glorious sun

glorious sun

winter wonderland

and the snow came!

glistening snow

winter wonderland

These pictures were taken on my last two hikes on the same trails- the first two last weekend it was sunny and almost warm. The last two were from yesterday- only one week later and winter has arrived! Both hikes were absolutely gorgeous.

My heart is full.

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100 grateful days!

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I feel a sense of joy this morning as I write this. Today marks my 100th consecutive day sober. I never thought I would get here!

I first stumbled across Belle’s 100 day challenge last February, when I was desperately searching for support to quit drinking online. I think I found Belle’s challenged mentioned somewhere on Soberista’s. I remember that time with a deep sadness, but also with fondness as it was a turning point for me. I remember feeling so lost. I had just returned from a trip overseas and was struggling with jet lag. I couldn’t sleep and was exhausted. I could not stop drinking and it was driving me insane. I was losing control over my behaviour and ended up doing something very inappropriate. That time was kind of a bottom for me, and I started Belle’s challenge the next day.

I was very excited to start the 100 day challenge and thought it was the answer for me. Getting connected to another person who was going through the same thing as me, even though it was online, gave me hope that I could do this. I didn’t feel as alone anymore. I had previously been trying to control my drinking for almost a dozen years. I gave myself every rule in the book- only drinking on weekends, only drinking wine, only drinking after 7pm, only drinking 2 glasses, only drinking when I was with other people… you name it, I tried it. And I failed. Every time. In the last year or two, I was trying more concerted efforts, including trying some AA meetings, seeing a counsellor for addiction, taking an anti-alcohol medication, and trying an outpatient detox program, but was still failing miserably to effect any kind of true change. I would quit for a few days, or maybe some weeks before falling back off the wagon.

Through Belle’s site, I became aware of and connected to the world of sober blogging. Since I had already tried blogging myself, about a year earlier, I resurrected and renamed my blog and began the journey that I am currently on. This has been life changing for me. Just as it has taken me time to get to the 100 day mark, it also taken me time to find a voice and consistency with this blog. I am not the most frequent blogger, but that’s okay. I am what I am. I don’t post everything that I write either, preferring to keep some posts as private journal entires. This blog has given me a space to record my thoughts and feelings as I stumble along this sober path.

I am enormously grateful for those who read and comment on my blog- your support has been incredible to me.

I am even more grateful to other sober bloggers. You have carved out a niche in cyberspace that has helped to save my life, and the lives of so many others. There is a space for everyone here. Some bloggers attend traditional recovery programs, some attend alternative ones, and some attend none at all. But equally, everyone shares their knowledge, wisdom and sobriety tools. Everyone shares their not only their triumphs, which is infinitely inspiring, but also their struggles and their pain, which I see as a revolutionary act. When we know that others struggle like us, it gives us the courage to be honest and accept ourselves. It is only through this acceptance, that change can really happen.

I thought this post was going to be about me, and where I’m at in my journey, but as I type, I realize that I am only here because of all of you. My gratitude is endless for all sober bloggers and sober blogger readers out there.

So thank you for continuing to be there for everyone trying to get sober! The words you type inspire me to keep going every single day.

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I have a lot more to report about how my life has been going but I think I’ll leave it for another day. What I really want to express today is how happy I am that I have reached this goal and that I truly could not have done it without all of your support and experience.

I also want to dedicate my 100th day to all of the folks out there who are still struggling to get sober. I know how hard it is. While my “bottom” might not seem that bad- I hadn’t lost my home, job or family (yet)… what I did lose was myself, and I was on the path of losing my life. I could not live another day the way I was living. The pain inside me was all-consuming.

Since I have stopped drinking, that pain is going away. I am healing. It takes some time and it’s not always easy but my life is improving. The craving to drink is so much less and the freedom I feel can not be replaced. I am getting excited about life again. I am getting into things, figuring out who I am and what I want to do.

If you are still struggling, know that you are not alone. And know that a sober life and a better life is possible. And do not give up. Ever. Keep reaching out, keep trying. You’ll get there. I believe in you. You know why? Because I finally believe in myself.

That’s one of the gifts of sobriety.

And I’m going to keep going! This is only the beginning.

Love and blessings to all.

a close call, and reaching 90 days.

Well the days just keep creeping up. I have moments where I am truly astounded that I’ve been this long without a drink and other days when I realize that I am still in the very beginning of my sober journey.

I’ve taken the booze away but I haven’t made a lot of other changes in my life yet. I have started attending a support group called Refuge Recovery but it is only every 2 weeks and I don’t think it’s quite enough support for me. There are 2 other Buddhist oriented recovery groups in my city that I haven’t got the courage up to check out yet. I still occasionally drop in to AA meetings but have yet to dig in. I am sort of floating along in my recovery right now. I read a lot of sober blogs and books. I have slacked with exercise and nutrition some over the last couple of weeks as I have been under the weather. So, overall I haven’t been feeling over the moon.

Yet, I am still extremely happy that I am sober. I don’t crave alcohol too often- I have thoughts of drinking or wanting to get drunk but it’s mostly about wanting to numb out or alter my reality somehow. Oh how I loved to get a buzz on! It is becoming so evident to me that I drank to escape. And then it became an ingrained habit. Drinking is just what I did every night. It was my hobby, my past-time, and sadly, it became my best friend. Until it became my worst enemy, of course!

I had a great 4 day weekend this past weekend and spent it visiting my brother and his family. They live in a small coastal town, in an area full with parks and beaches. The sun was shining every day and it was glorious. I am very close with my brother and his wife. They have been together for over 16 years so his wife is a sister to me. They have two small children- 3 and 5 years old- whom I adore more than anything. We hiked, went to the beach, read books and played games, and ate amazing food. It was magical.

My bro and SIL and my husband drank good wine the whole weekend. It didn’t bother me the first night, but after the the second day I struggled some because of an unfortunate event that happened. We went out for lunch and my brother and his wife ordered hot chocolates. I asked for a sip. Something didn’t taste quite right so I asked and…

THERE WAS ALCOHOL IN IT! Bailey’s.

I honestly didn’t know that they has asked for Bailey’s in their hot chocolates. I was mortified. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it as we were with some of their friends, so I kept quiet. My husband looked at me with big eyes and I just shook my head. It was so confusing! I felt like I had relapsed and my brain went into overdrive telling me that I’d ruined my sobriety and I may as well drink now. But logically I knew that it was an honest mistake. The choices were that I could make a big deal of it and sabotage my recovery, or, just pass it off and not pay it any further attention. I went back and forth between the two for quite a while. Really I was just very shocked that it happened to me.

When we got back from lunch, I crashed for a little while in bed. I never nap but I felt extremely out of it and had to lay down. It was only one sip, so it doesn’t make sense that I could have had a physical reaction to the alcohol, and there must have been other factors contributing to how I felt, but I felt just terrible. Exhausted and gross.

That evening when they were pouring the wine for dinner, I heard myself say “maybe I’ll have just a little glass”. My husband immediately said no and crushed that idea. I don’t think I was really serious, but it was an eerie reminder of how powerful and quick that addictive voice can be. My SIL had bought some fancy flavoured syrup to mix with soda for me, so I made myself a nice drink and relaxed.

I eventually convinced myself that the one sip did not have to mean a lapse and it wouldn’t change anything. This sobriety journey is what I make it. I was so close to 90 days and 100 days and those numbers were stuck in my head as goals I really wanted to achieve, so I was able to override the drinking thoughts. The thing is, is that I know that I would be right back to where I left off if I started drinking again. I may be able to moderate for a week or two but I am sure the booze would take over again. I know this because the desire to get buzzed is still there in me. Even though I am learning to get used to being in reality and being authentic, the pull is still there. I am abstinent but the addiction is still present.

I really wasn’t willing to give up what this sober time has already done for me. Waking up every morning feeling rested is almost enough, but the gains I am making are more than that. I no longer feel like I am living a life that is beneath me. I no longer have to hide. I have integrity. I am learning to accept all the parts of me, even the parts that I don’t enjoy very much. I am learning what I like to do, how I want to spend my time on this precious earth. I feel more in control of how I react to situations. I feel more alive. I feel like I have more options.

Sobriety has not made my life perfect, but there is no perfect to be had anyways. What it has done is give me the ability to deal with and manage my challenges. I have bad days. I still struggle with some pretty big negative thinking and some other life circumstances that are difficult. I feel like with the clarity that sobriety brings, I am better able to tackle the hard bits. This is still a work in progress and I am sure it will always be!

One of the things I am working on is being in the moment. That is easier to do when I’m sober because I’m not always planning my next drink or regretting drinking the night before. It is easier to access a calm and clear state of mind. I am only in the beginning of this journey and I am so excited to keep going. My primary goal for each day is to stay sober. It is becoming a lot easier and now I’m able to start focussing on other goals.

I’m so grateful for the space that is opening up in my life now that I’ve kicked the booze out.

90 days today!