the long and winding road: 6 months!

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Holy crap on a cracker. It’s been 6 months since I had a drink.

It seems unbelievable to me. I was reflecting today where I was one year ago. I had just returned from a trip. My sweetie and I travelled in India for over a month. It was a fabulous trip but I was deeply unhappy. I felt so out of sorts. I was trying to control my drinking the entire time, like I have almost every single day for over the last decade.

There are towns in India where alcohol is illegal for religious reasons. Not drinking in those towns was a struggle for me. Eventually we found out that you could still get booze- the waiters in some restaurants would smuggle in beers for the tourists to drink.

Once we found this out, of course, we drank.

I originally had planned not to drink in India. But wherever you go, there you are. There is no magic that will cure addiction. A change of scenery and all the holy rivers in India could not keep me from drinking. I had to put in the daily work.

I was the saddest girl in the world around this time last year. It was a very dark period in my life. I was jet-lagged, drunk, hungover, dehydrated, bored and desperate. I was so sick of myself.

I barely remember this person today.

Thank the universe I stumbled across Belle and the sober blogging world. I wonder where I would have been had I found this all sooner! It’s weird that it never occurred to me that there was such a thing. I am a researcher by nature! I had already read so many books about addiction, found Recovery 2.0, and sought addiction counselling. I had dropped into AA meetings and SMART recovery meetings. I was a member of InTheRooms. I am stubborn as hell and it took me all this and more to get sober. It even took me reading blogs and blogging for 6 months before I could finally stick with it. And I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t checked my wordpress account. It has been my saviour.

On August 15th 2014 I had my last drink. I was quitting again for the millionth time, although this time was a bit different. Robin Williams had just killed himself a few days before. I don’t know why this rocked me so much; I can’t explain it fully. I just knew that if I didn’t change for real my life was in danger. I planned to have my last drink on a Friday night and my partner quit with me for a little while. I attended a few AA meetings for a few weeks. I turned down social events for about 6 weeks. I told myself that I was willing to do whatever it took to get through the cravings, the ups and downs. I had to be willing to feel whatever came up and not drink. I surrendered. I told myself that it will suck for a while but I had faith that it would get easier. I found things to look forward to.

Refuge Recovery meetings started in my city. I told myself that I really wanted to be sober to attend this group. I had read all of the founder’s books and I knew it was a program I believed in. The idea of being part of something- especially from the beginning- really intrigued me.

There have been some real ups and downs along the way, a lot of them I have written about here. There have been highs and pink clouds and spiritual awakenings and insights and true authentic joy. And there have been lows and sadness, confusion, loneliness, and boredom.

I have discovered passions- old and new- that have woken up my soul and my heart and made me remember who I am.

I have come face to face with some of my core issues and of the ways my heart has been broken.

Over the last 6 months as a sober person, I am happy to report that I have somehow managed to survive:

  • A wedding
  • A death in the family and a funeral/celebration of life
  • Christmas and xmas parties
  • New Years
  • Thanksgiving
  • Birthday parties (not mine)
  • Baby showers
  • BBQ’s
  • Dinner parties
  • Dinner out at fancy restaurants
  • Relationship/personal conflict/issues
  • Starting a new position at work
  • Job stress
  • The loss of and changing friendships

I’m also happy to report that over the last 6 months (however most of it in the last 6 weeks) I have lost 10 pounds ๐Ÿ™‚ I have almost kicked my junk food and sugar habit and I have moved to a diet of clean whole foods with tons of veggies and fruit. Being active is a regular part of my life now that I am not hungover all the time and it’s getting a lot easier to make healthier choices.

I went into a liquor store and bought booze for the first time this weekend. I was co-hosting an event for a friend and I did most the food and drink. I was a little nervous but I felt ready. I TURNED DOWN FREE WINE SAMPLES in the store. I opened bottles of champagne for my friends and poured glasses for folks. My friends got hammered- old school style. And I didn’t drink. I had moments of wanting to and at one point I texted my partner and he talked me down. It was funny to watch my friends but by the end of the night I can’t say I envied how messy they got. It was still good to be with them though and be silly. We danced and sang and joked and laughed. There’s a lot of history and connection that comes with so many years of substance filled nights. I wouldn’t give up much of that past because in some ways that kind of wild abandon opened up my heart. I just went overboard with it until it turned on me.

We do keep a little alcohol in our house now… not much, but there’s a bottle of wine on the rack, beer in the fridge, and a couple of spirits around. It doesn’t bother me. The spell that alcohol used to have over me has almost been broken. I won’t say completely because I still have moments when it calls to me, but mostly the illusion that it will make me feel better is gone.

I just know that it makes me feel like shit. It’s hard to un-know that now.

I still don’t say that I will never drink again. But for now, I like this way better. Even though it’s hard sometimes and I feel left out and that makes me sad and I can’t numb myself out anymore, I still prefer it over the way I was.

And I’m going to keep going…

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38 thoughts on “the long and winding road: 6 months!

  1. That’s wonderful. 6 months is great. And it is so nice to have a supportive partner. Who gets you and helps you in a moment of uncertainty.

    It is hard to think back at who I was before I got sober. But perhaps getting to a place of such sadness is part of what makes today so beautiful.

    I wouldn’t change anything, but I also would not choose to go back to that place. I can do that by not drinking.

    Anne

    • I am lucky to have him, he’s a great guy. And he was my biggest drinking buddy so I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out… but so far so good. Thanks for your support Anne! xo

  2. congratulations, 6 months is really awesome, and being able to see the changes and speak them so clearly is great.
    i’m so happy sobriety is agreeing with you!

  3. Ms. Lee, thank you for sharing your story. You are beyond gracious with your story to share it with the rest of us. I look forward to your blog. You inspire me to be true to myself. Thanks.

  4. Yay! Six months!! That is fantastic, Clearlee, and I just loved reading your postโ€ฆ the things you have done over the last six months and the changes you have madeโ€ฆ amazing ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a fantastic day ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

  5. Congrats ClearLee. I didn’t know your full story as I only found you quite recently. It is heartfelt to know that Robin Williams choice change your choice for the good. Our of sadness comes joy. Here’s to the next 6 months ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

  6. Fantastic! It is a whole new world isn’t it? I never believed it would get easier, but as you rack up the days, it really does get easier. I am so happy for you, you sound happy, which is great. Keep up the great work! Happy 6 months!

    • I definitely didn’t think I would get to that point but bit by bit the exposure to alcohol hasn’t increased my cravings. We’re all different and have to do what works for us!

  7. Yay for you! I love your list of events & circumstances you’ve survived without alcohol. For me, the day to day without alcohol is fine (gym, work, home, sleep). It’s the social events where I struggle – when it’s seems “normal” to have a few drinks (and FREE WINE SAMPLES!!!). You seriously Rock the Casbah ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Yep, I can totally relate. The day to day has become fine for me as well, which is saying a lot, because I was a daily drinker. Every evening was an occasion to have a few glasses of wine to me! So I’m glad that most days I don’t even think about it. But the social events are different… still challenging but we’re surviving them aren’t we?? xo

  8. you had me at the first line too ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    a bit like the sober journey – the first bit, the moment when we decide not to drink, whatever, however shitty we feel, because it isn’t right for us anymore. that’s your holy crap on a cracker right there. after that , for me I think anyway, it’s working out how to do it, keeping an eye on the big picture, not wavering from that original decision even when it seems like the stupidest idea in the world.

    and if you keep doing that… then hallelujah, then after a lot of that you get to six months, then you can just keep going and the world is your lobster ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I love your story of how you got here. I love how you relate the changes you have seen in yourself. but most of all I love that you are going to keep going. because it DOES just keep getting better ๐Ÿ™‚

    love and enormous well done to you! Prim xxx

    • Glad you enjoyed it! Yep, you nailed it- keeping eye on the big picture and not wavering. I think you have to know that it’s going to be hard as hell but be willing to go through it. Even tho it’s not all rainbows, I much prefer my low/hard times sober over my low/hard times drinking. Lots of ebbs and flows but I definitely have a sense that I am on the right path. Thanks for you support lovely! xo

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