on shame.

I am here and not here at the same time. I read blogs every day, but I haven’t been writing much. I am in a phase of just wanting the days to pass by, to build up more sober time… in order to get somewhere? I’m not sure. Just to feel more secure or something. I can’t explain the feeling.

I have had many more sober days in 2016 than not. Truth is that I’ve only had a handful or two of drinking days since January. After my last post, I drank on a weekend when I was visiting my family. I didn’t “set myself up” to be sober, instead I took it for granted and in doing so I compromised myself. My family maybe had 2-3 drinks over the course of a mellow evening- dinner and playing a board game. I had no fewer than 7 drinks. Of course I felt horrible.

It’s just kind of boring now, I suppose that’s why I don’t write about it. I will keep repeating the same mistake until I learn the lessons I should: I can’t drink like a normal person; I can’t moderate my alcohol intake; I have an addiction to alcohol and I need to treat it.

Anyways, I think I’m done now. While on the topic on counting: today marks 52 straight days. I had about 45 before I drank last time. And 3 weeks before that, and 3 weeks before that, and on and on. I do feel that I am getting somewhere, again. Last year I had nearly 11 months sober and I felt so good! I’ve been struggling to get there again, but slowly and surely I think I am.

I turn 40 in a month’s time and this is a catalyst for me to get sober. I gave so many years to alcohol and I want to enter into this chapter in life sober and healthy. Just as I didn’t want to go into my 30’s smoking, I don’t want to go into my 40’s drinking. I want to live with vitality and lucidity, things I don’t feel when I’m drinking.

I’ve been doing lots of reading still about recovery lately. Right now I’m reading The Naked Mind (Annie Grace) and also Integral Recovery (John Dupuy). It is fascinating to me how many books and perspectives there are on the subject of addiction and recovery. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts (Since Right Now and HOME being my favourites). I’ve joined some online groups and I will be attending a yoga and recovery retreat in June. In a way I feel like recovery and sobriety are becoming all-consuming. Not that this is a bad thing, I just didn’t expect it. I’ve tended to compartmentalize things in my life, and I’m not sure this is working for me anymore. Part of me has wanted to keep sobriety in this tidy little box that I can visit once in a while but put out of sight when needed. Kind of like how I kept my problematic drinking secret for the most part.

Shame kept my drinking hidden in a corner and I feel like it’s this same shame that keeps my sobriety out of sight as well. I’m starting to question this a lot. It’s different for everyone but I’m not sure I can stay sober if I am secret about it. It’s starting to feel inauthentic when I’m in a process of becoming more honest with myself about the cost and causes of addiction in my life. I’m tired of keeping things in tidy little boxes, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to do so.

I hate feeling separate from other people, but in reality not talking about my addiction and recovery creates even more of a chasm. Last year I told a lot of half-truths while sober. And while I don’t think I need to bare my soul to everyone I meet, I feel like I’m cheating myself by not being more honest with my loved ones. I’m cheating myself of building more support and connection. Of genuine relationships. I’ve thought that by lying about my recovery I’ve been protecting myself (from judgment? embarrassment?) and protecting others (from feeling awkward around me or worried about me), and I’m now starting to see how I’ve been doing a disservice to myself. I’m shutting people out because I don’t want to tell them. And it’s shame based.

I would never tell someone who came to me for support that they should be ashamed by an addiction or their quest to get sober. Indeed, I would tell them precisely the opposite- how brave they are for coming forward, how proud I am of them for taking steps towards wellness. But I can’t seem to offer myself the same advice.

This is my next big goal in sobriety: to come out. It feels like the next step I need to take, the one that has been holding me back. I’m ready to face and shed the shame.  I’ve already started to be more honest with some of my friends- and it’s been so positive for the most part. I’ve had offers of support, people saying they won’t drink around me if it would help, and it just feels so freeing to be honest. My family is the hardest for me to tell, they are the ones I have the most shame around. I guess because I have hidden my addiction so much around them. And created a facade of someone who has it all together.

But no one has it all together. And I am tired of pretending. Wish me luck 🙂

on the mend.

After many starts and stops, since last fall, including two 3-week periods, I have finally managed to make it to well over a month alcohol-free. Today marks 41 days.

This is significant to me because it takes 40 days to change consciousness and create new habits, according to yogic philosophy and other schools of thought.

My relapse lasted a very very long time. I have been trying to get sober again for almost 6 months. My recommendation for others who think they may want to check out drinking again, is not to do it. Of course, we all have to experience things for ourselves and some of us need to learn the hard way. But, if you can take my word for it, please do yourself a favour and DO NOT DRINK.

I haven’t written for a long time, I think I’ve been waiting to see if I can get a good chunk of sober time in. I went to Mexico for two weeks early February and I really thought I had set myself up to have a good sober vacation. I visualized myself on this vacation, being well-rested, going to bed early and waking early, taking long solitary walks on the beach, reading a ton, doing some art, and writing.

What I didn’t imagine was all the happy hours, cheap drinks, and booze infused touristy places. My husband drank every day (not to excess but a few beers every night). I cracked sometime in the middle of the trip when I got a strong whiff of tequila (tequila was my go-to drink for a few years). I drank some tequila, then some wine.

And I was devastated the next day. You know how it goes, it’s like a seal that is broken and hard to secure again. However, I only drank a few more more times. I had one hangover, and that was enough. I couldn’t stand it. I absolutely hate being hungover. It just feels like such a waste of life to me. So, I climbed back up on that wagon and kept on.

This time feels a bit different than last time I got sober- in some ways easier because I have been here before, but in some ways harder because some of the romance of early sobriety is gone. All of those “firsts” are challenging but they are also so rewarding and exciting. I haven’t experienced the pink cloud this time around (yet?). And I feel tired all the time.

Still wouldn’t trade it! I am growing calmer. I’ve had an extraordinary amount of anxiety over the last 9 months or so. Since we moved homes. Then I changed positions at work and I hated it. So I started drinking again, which I’m sure was to quell the anxiety but, of course, it only made it worse. Then my friend and godson moved, which turned my world upside down.

To top it all off, I broke my arm at the beginning of this year. I wasn’t drinking when I did it but it was enough to break the camel’s back, as they say.

Since then, things have been getting better. The neighbour which was making my home feel unsafe moved away! I changed positions (again) to a much more calm and civilized  department. My cast is off and arm is healing. I’m getting used to my friend being away. I have a good chunk of sobriety now. I am on the mend!

Bit by bit it’s all happening. I have started to move my body again, spending a little time at the gym and doing some yin yoga. I am looking forward to green smoothies and eating healthy. I’ve started meditating a few minutes at a time again. Spring is here and it’s time to feed my soul by spending time outside in the woods and by the sea.

Being sober is everything.

 

a sober mess.

A solid two weeks of sobriety under my belt. I’m trying not to beat myself up for falling off the wagon this summer- I would have had 16 months by now if I had stayed the path. And I wouldn’t be navigating all these sober challenges again.

However, part of what is keeping me sober this time is the knowledge that I have done this before, I have navigated events and holidays and hard times all without a drink and I can do it again.

That doesn’t make it easier though. Yesterday I struggled a lot. Thought about drinking in the morning- which I wish I could say I have never done but that would be a lie. Back in my 20’s I definitely had boozy times that began (or kept going) in the morning.

I went out for dinner and to a game last night and fought cravings and the “fuck-its” the entire time. But as much as I wanted a giant glass of alcohol, I was also terrified to give up on these last two weeks. It has been so hard and I don’t want to have to do it all over again. I’m already doing it all over again and I regret relapsing this summer.

I know that if I drink again, I will have to get sober again. There’s no fooling me. There’s no magic way I will become a regular drinker. Those days were over for me many many moons ago, if they ever existed at all.

I’ll admit I’m having a rough go in general. There aren’t any pink clouds right now. In the last few months life has been feeling difficult. I’ve been feeling very unsettled about where we live and the kind of life I want to have. So, in the last couple of months my husband and I decided we’re going to move closer to my best friend and my godson and our families. It would be a big move because my partner might not be able to work much there and will have to be away a lot for work… but this was going to be okay for me because I would be closer to my godson and help to raise him. Well, my friend has just decided to move across the country with my godson to be closer to family. They will be leaving before Christmas.

It is the right decision for her and her kid, as I know how much she is struggling as a single mom. But it hurts like hell. I realize I was trying to fill my own void of not having kids by being closer to them, and maybe that’s not the right thing to do, but I love them very much and I am human and need that kind of connection in my life. I guess I thought I was building my own unique family.

I’ve cried a lot in the last two weeks, since she told me. I also knew I couldn’t deal with this still drinking and it was kind of the catalyst for me to get sober. After she told me, I had two nights of heavy drinking and then found myself in tears at work. My job is very stressful and tough- and I’m not enjoying it but that’s a whole other story- so there is no way I can be hungover AND sad and depressed.

Anyways, it’s a bit of a mess right now. I don’t know if we are going to move now and I’m sure I’m driving my husband crazy with my flip-flopping back and forth. I hurt a lot and I want to drink to numb the pain. But I know it would make me feel so much worse. For now, this is what is keeping me sober. Knowing how much worse I would feel tomorrow. I also know that I will get through this. And that being sober will help me through.

how to relapse.

Hello bloggers.

I’m back. Wish I could say that I’m better than ever, but sadly, that’s not true.

Not exactly sure how I feel about the word “relapse”, but it’s one easy way to say what happened while I was gone. The short version is that I stepped away from all my sober supports, thinking “I got this, I am a normal person now”. I went through some stressful stuff this summer, but just normal life stuff. Then I thought, whilst on the “normal train”, that perhaps I could drink again like a regular person. And, actually, to my surprise, that lasted a little while.

My first drink I didn’t even finish. I thought “what the hell is all the fuss about, it doesn’t even taste good”.

I didn’t crave another one. But, about two weeks later, I had another. It tasted a little bit better. For a while I just had a drink or two on the weekend. Then, occasionally with dinner on a weeknight, but just one. Then, it was two. I kept this up for a time.

Things started to change about a month ago. I started to look forward to having a drink in the evening, and a few nights I stopped at a bar on the way home from work (which I never even did when I was drinking big time). Then I started buying wine every other day from the liquor store. And the old tricks started back up, of which I won’t go into detail here because I’m not fully ready to admit them.

Actually, scratch that. I need to admit them… I started hiding how much I was drinking.

I have still been able to take a day or two off from drinking, and I can’t say that I’ve been “drunk”, but I’ve definitely drank too much and felt like shit at work.

I know too much now to not realize where I am heading.

I don’t feel as low as when I did when I stopped last time… but I could well be on my way. The negative thinking has creeped it’s way back into my life and it’s probably only a matter of time before I can call myself properly depressed.

I know it doesn’t have to be this way.

You know what the funny thing is, is that it’s not that I want to stop drinking so much as I miss being sober. There is a difference and it’s hard to define but I miss the path I was on before. I feel a bit lost.

So, here I am. Still on this journey. I don’t know quite how I will get back to sobriety but I am determined to.

Hope you are all well- I’ve been checking in from time to time and it’s good to see some people are still here- brings me hope that I can be here again too 🙂

Taking leave.

I’m pretty much already gone. I have not written for some time. Life got kinda crazy! The move itself went well, but we immediately started having problems with a neighbour and it hasn’t been pleasant. It’s getting better now but needless to say it didn’t make the transition very smooth or welcome.

I’ve also been uber involved with family and friends, namely my new godson. Life has just been full on! And I’ve had another job change on top of it all. Admittedly, I’ve had a lot of stress and anxiety. But things are okay now. Things are good.

I’m leaving for Europe soon for a family vacation and I am pretty stoked about it!

I feel I’m in a new phase in my recovery journey, and for now I am taking leave from writing my blog. It just feels like the right thing to do, to sit with where I am and not express, for a while. Not think and process too much.

Just be.

I will still check in and want to see how everyone is doing. I still get so much support from all of your words. This writing and blogging process has changed me, deeply, and for the better, and I will always be grateful for this.

For now, so long, until we meet again!

in this house.

images-5

It feels like there has been a heck of a lot of change happening in my life lately. Or maybe it’s always that way. They say that change is the only constant in life, and this, I know is true. If I don’t like how I am feeling usually all I need to do is wait a few hours or go to sleep, and sure enough, it will shift.

But really. There’s been big changes and small ones. In the last year or so, I have started a new job/career, I have gotten sober, I have made peace with important struggles, and now I am moving house. I have been in my current home for over 8 years, the longest time that I have ever lived in one place.

We have built so many memories in this place, both good and bad. Almost my entire relationship has taken place in this house. We moved into it when we had been together for less than a year. I completed my master’s degree in this house; we have both hated jobs and have changed jobs; we went through some very trying financial times; I learned how to cook and appreciate food in this house; I have hosted bbq’s, work celebrations, birthdays, baby showers, new years parties, thanksgiving, themed dinner parties, a wedding reception, and sadly, hosted a wake in this house, we were once pregnant and imagined growing our family here- and then we didn’t; we housed dance parties and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning; I’ve wailed in this house because I lost people that I love way way too early; I’ve had my book club over every few months for over half a decade, sitting around the kitchen island eating home made treats; I’ve learned how to can and pickle in this house; I’ve practiced a ton of yoga and meditation in this house; I’ve savoured my view of the mountains every single day from this house; I’ve spent countless nights awake in this house; and I’ve drank more wine in this house then anyone will ever know.

If these walls could talk they could spill my secrets. They could tell about all the evenings I spent alone, drink after drink, hiding and replacing and covering. The nights I cried myself to sleep because I was so sick of drinking and I couldn’t stop. The mornings I spent staring at myself in the mirror, wondering what had happened to my life and how I had gotten so out of control. All the times I threw up. All the times I couldn’t get out of bed or off the couch. All the wasted moments.

I never want to forget what I went through to get here because I never want to go back to that.

I battled addiction in this house.

I got sober in this house.

It’s been a time of reflection for me, sorting through old belongings, photos, and clothes- packing the details and stuff of our life. I do feel like a new chapter is opening. I will move into my new home a solidly sober person! Those walls won’t know the me who drank so much and cried so much. But I won’t be a new person. I still believe I am still the same person as I was when I was drinking myself to death, but the positive side of myself is much much stronger and the negative side is smaller.

I know joy on a much deeper level than I did before. I had glimpses of it while I was drinking but it never got the chance to stick around for too long. I battled depression for many years. I don’t know that I won’t battle it again some time in the future, but I do feel as though I have healed. Or at least, I am healing. I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions, so I drank them away and as a result, I caused myself many more problems. The more time that passes, the clearer my addiction becomes.

I was reading today about a concept called radical acceptance. It means to fully accept this moment that you are in. It sounds simple but I think we spend a lot of time resisting our experience and wanting it to be different. No one wakes up and says I want to have an addiction. So we dance around it and make up stories and negotiate with ourselves to deny it. We can not change the past or what has happened to us. We may not understand the reasons why, or, maybe there is no clear reason why the things that happen happen. It doesn’t change the fact that it has happened. We don’t have to like it, want it or appreciate it but accepting it will help us to adjust and move on/forward/through.

The simple plain truth is that I was/am addicted to alcohol and it was ruining my life. Once I accepted this truth, fully and completely, I was faced with the choice to fix my problem. My life was never going to get better without fixing this.

I did lots of therapy and I studied yoga and meditation and health and healing for years while I was drinking but, like joy, these teachings never sunk in because most of my energy and power was enslaved to my addiction. I could never heal my emotional wounds or grow as a person because I was actually poisoning myself for years. How can a wound heal when you neglect it? How can you grow when you are drowning yourself?

So I am raising a toast to this house, these walls (edit- a non-alcoholic toast, obvs). They have been through a lot with me, they have seen me at my very worst and thank god they have now seen me coming into my best. I am leaving this house now, and I feel free.

8 months free

Young woman meditating outdoors

I’ve stopped counting single days of sobriety. I didn’t do it on purpose; one of my sobriety counter apps stopped working. I have another one that counts in months and days- and as of today I am 8 months and 7 days sober. I could probably do the math and figure out how many days that is pretty easily, but I don’t really have the desire to.

When I was drinking I had a weird thing with numbers and dates and days. For a long time Monday would always be the day I stopped drinking, then it switched because I felt like the pressure of Monday was backfiring on me. So I would pick a date that I think would have special significance… like it mattered that I got sober on the 12th or the 18th, as if those numbers in and of themselves had some kind of special power to keep me sober.

When I failed to stop it was in part because the date wasn’t right and I would find a new date that I thought mattered. It wasn’t just the date of the day but the month too and how this coincided with the year as well. This stuff really mattered to me, I spent a lot of time thinking about it. No, obsessing. Turning it over and over in my mind. This is the insanity of addiction.

In the beginning of my recovery, counting days was really important to me. Building a consecutive stint of alcohol free days was something to focus on, something that I could hang on to and strive for. Always trying to beat my last attempt helped to give me fuel to fight this thing. Having goals to reach- especially 30 days, 50 days and 100 days, allowed me to feel successful and like any addict knows, this is crucial when you are so used to letting yourself down all the time.

But when my app stopped working I found it simply didn’t matter to me anymore. Enough time has gone by that single days are not my focus anymore- months are. And hopefully, I will feel the same way about years in time.

I am entering my forth season of sobriety. I quit drinking in mid-August, well into summer. That was a difficult time to quit as summer is usually a time of debauchery, but I didn’t have much choice in the matter. I was so miserable that it really didn’t matter what time of year it was.

Fall was a beautiful time to be in the beginning of my recovery. It was so damn gorgeous out and I experienced the beauty of my surroundings intensely. I was so moved by the changing colours of the leaves and trees, the fog, the crispness in the air, and the stillness in the woods without the tourists and crowds. It helped me to remember who I am without this addiction, that I am a creature of this earth and universe and so much more than my twisted thoughts.

Winter, my least favourite season, brought it’s own special challenges, holidays, and characteristic lows for me, but I got through it without a drink. Now, entering spring, it is getting warm out, green again, and the flowers are blooming. I sometimes feel the call of patios and happy hour drinks, but the clarity I feel in the mornings when the sun peaks through my curtains is too much to give up. I’ve written before about the illusion of the drink- it’s really hard to give up that feeling of anticipation for the first drink, but in reality that feeling is so fleeting it’s really not worth risking everything I’ve gained in sobriety.

I mean this in all honesty. And I never thought that I would be here. But my life is infinitely better for becoming alcohol free. It is still hard at times, and it’s tricky to put into words but I feel healthier. And not just physically. I feel healthier emotionally, spiritually and mentally too. I still have bad days and struggle with some negative thinking but I am oceans happier than I was when I was drinking. Things were dark when I was drinking. I didn’t like who I was because I was controlled by my addiction. I hid and lied about my drinking to my loved ones. I drank much more than I wanted to almost every single night. I had several terrible hangovers a week, was horribly dehydrated, I slept like shit, ate crap, and worst of all I felt like a fraud.

I was sick. And I’m not fully recovered- don’t know yet if that ever happens- but I don’t feel sick anymore. I have been taking anti-depressants on and off for about 8 years. And I am almost completely weaned off of them. And I feel really good. I don’t think they were having any effect on me anymore as I was drowning myself in alcohol and was extremely depressed. I have been a heavy/regular drinker for over 20 years so I am curious to see what my brain is like not on alcohol and not on anti-depressants. And yes, I am working with my doctor and weaning very very slowly 🙂

It has taken me a long time to figure out how to beat this thing. YEARS. I wouldn’t wish addiction on anyone. It is absolute hell. My advice to anyone struggling is to reach out reach out reach out. Keep trying keep learning keep working towards wellness. Do not give up and be willing to go outside of your comfort zone.

Really, we must be willing to get uncomfortable because it is our aversion to feeling things that are uncomfortable, whether that be anger, sadness, loneliness, boredom, anxiety, fear that drive us to our addictive behaviour. So the day we are willing to DO IT DIFFERENTLY than what our brain would have us do, we are making some headway.

I am filled with gratitude for this sober community and all of the people and tools that have supported me along the way. I am so thankful to have made it this far and experience life sober. I am not numbing myself anymore and I feel wide awake. I used to want to disappear sometimes and now all I want is to live my life to the fullest. Life feels like it is wide open for the taking. Things feel possible in a way I couldn’t perceive them before.

I climbed a mountain the other day, by myself. It was a beautiful sun filled day. I meditated when I got to the top. It felt a little cliche but it felt so good at the same time. There is a quiet confidence and peace developing in me. I feel like I am growing into myself, becoming more me, if that makes sense. Like I have always been there but have just been too messed up to fully realize myself.

I am excited about life again, and the darkness is fading away. Recovery is sweet.

Blessings.