Do it Today

Do it Today

I drank for many years after knowing I shouldn’t. Alcohol slowly started strangling everything important to me, like a creeping, sinister vine. I let it take my self esteem, my work ethic, my sense of responsibility, my hobbies, my peace and my joy. For a few years, I could somewhat control my alcohol use. I’d go weeks without drinking. But once I took the first sip, I couldn’t control how much I drank.

The crazy part? The days I woke up without a hangover were the best days. I started the day with a little energy, not feeling so sick, and proud of myself for not drinking. I’d be productive and active. But the obsession to drink would come back and eventually win out. And I’d be thrown back into chaos and shame.

My sister and I talked today about what it was like when we were in that purgatory state with alcohol-hating it and being disgusted and ashamed…. and then still drinking. The absolute worst. I quipped, “It’s like picking at a scab.” (These things just roll off my tongue. It’s a blessing and a curse.)

I used my body like a science experiment for decades. Decades. And my behavior like a sociological study. My insane thinking was for the neurologists and psychiatrists to dissect. It’s like I was detached from myself, like I was just watching someone else go through life. Like I wasn’t real.

And I kind of wasn’t real. I was a walking, talking, smiling mannequin, somehow miraculously human-like, but something’s just not quite right.

I have known all of this for years and been so scared of what it meant that I drank more to try to protect myself. I tried detaching enough, medicating enough, to not fall apart.

Then the drinking caused most of the crises but the only coping skill I had left was drinking. This could have gone on forever until one day I made a decision, one I shared with loved ones, that there could be no more empty promises of “tomorrow.”

If I were reading this while still drinking, I would indignantly think, “This is bullocks. This is the WORST time to quit drinking because [every excuse in the book].”

It is ALWAYS the worst time to quit drinking for people with drinking problems. Which, when you think about it, makes you realize it’s the best time of all. Or even the only time.

If you want to stop drinking, do it today. If you’re a heavy daily drinker, get to a medially supervised hospital detox. If you’re a problem drinker who doesn’t get significant withdrawal symptoms, dump it down the drain (if there’s any left). And go get the rest of the hidden stash too. And even the emergency stash. This is the hard part: after all that, DO NOT BUY MORE. And stay away from it until you feel stronger. That’s how I had to do it, anyway.

Always Have an Exit Plan

Always Have an Exit Plan

Tonight I could be celebrating an old bestie’s milestone birthday at the cutest getaway cabin, with women I’ve know going on 17 years. But instead, I’m staying home. I’ll go to a recovery meeting, do regular mundane mom kind of stuff, baby my dog who has a little injury. I’ll work, getting my business ready to reopen in a pandemic. I have a mammogram.

I could have ditched it all for a reunion. For sure. But I’ve been trained in sobriety to check my motives before making any decision. This celebration was going to be just girls, in a cute cabin far from home, getting shitfaced. That’s just the kind of situation my alcoholic brain craves. I love these girls, but watching people get loaded isn’t fun. Plus the addict in me could easily cave-who would know? Just this once. No big deal. And there goes years of sobriety, circling the drain. “Staying stopped” is WAY easier than starting over.

I ALWAYS need an exit plan. Sure I’ll go out to a birthday dinner, have a piece of cake, support and love my friends. And then I’ll go on home, sobriety and dignity intact. Any time I go where there’s alcohol, I think it through, and decide if there’s a valid reason to go. And I plan my exit IN ADVANCE. The FOMO will pass. And I’ll be here, strong and serene.

I’m Too Good For You

Happy FRIDAY Sisters and Friends!
Friday used to be the day I woke up feeling wretched but also the day I didn’t make a solemn promise to myself to cut off alcohol- that soul robbing bastard. That wasn’t a promise worth making because I just KNEW I NEEDED to drink at the end of another long, hard week.
No one knows, I’d think, no one knows how hard I work and how many responsibilities I have and how I have to parent these kids alone and juggle all the activities and run a clinic and manage operations and people and try to look good doing it.
Don’t get me started on the clinical anxiety. Even though I already know how the brain and body works (from my professional training). Even though I KNOW alcohol makes baseline anxiety so much worse. Because I was focused on the temporary numbing. I came to depend on it and couldn’t see past the need to numb.
Here’s what it took for me. It took my daughter looking me in the eye and telling me (with my son present): “You were drunk last night. You were walking into the furniture.” And I’d already been desperately trying to cover up my “forgetting” things we’d already discussed. 
That’s what it took for me. That’s my bottom. The moment I knew deep in my gut that I had a problem I couldn’t hide anymore. 
So I made a decision and never questioned it. And I have NOW stopped feeling shame and regret and sadness. I don’t want to live there, in fear of the monster coming for me.
I’m going to live like today’s my last day on earth. And embrace everything I love. And nurture myself. I will not forget that I’m a nondrinker. I just am. Because that bastard alcohol isn’t going to trick me into giving it another shot. Fuck you, alcohol. I’m too good for you.
❤️ Nicole

Bye Bye Barriers

Hello Friends and Sisters!

I was just thinking about why it took me so long to become alcohol free when I knew deep down I really had a problem. 

People talk about this ad nauseum. Why do some people (let’s stick with women) who clearly need help not just go to rehab or AA already? 
Some common answers include: she didn’t hit her bottom yet; she’s not willing to admit she’s an alcoholic; and she refuses to give her life over to God. I fit all of these at one point. 
Good news, ladies. There are still places for you if you don’t identify as an alcoholic. If AA isn’t your thing. If you’re not sure you want to stop drinking. Resources. Groups. Books. Podcasts. Blogs. You can always start here with the Sober Sisters. Or you can drop by, decide it’s not quite right, and keep searching. 

My thought for the day is I believe we all know, deep down, what’s right for us. That we can take what works and leave the rest. That not conforming to one recovery program or another doesn’t mean failure. On the contrary. It means we are reclaiming ourselves. 

Nowadays I trust myself. Well maybe not my thinking all the time. But my gut? The seat of my knowing? That, I trust. And the way I carved out to live alcohol free? The way that isn’t exactly like anyone else’s way? I trust that too. 

Thanks for being here! Happy Wednesday!

Take A RIde on The Soul Train

Happy SUNDAY Sober Family!

I wanted to just write “fam” but my teenage son would call me “cringey” all day if I did that and I just don’t have the energy to fight that battle. Not today, Satan. Not today.

One of the shows we used to love in the 70s was Soul Train. Those people could DANCE. And the style? Don’t get me started. Bad ass.

Nicole and I have been talking about our childhood so much these days and Soul Train came up. We then started discussing how we actually are listening to our souls (or instincts) now that we’re sober and we don’t have alcohol telling us something we may think we want to believe. We listen to our guts now and actually PAY ATTENTION.

It can be scary to start feeling the feelings you’ve masked for (in our cases) DECADES. The first step is to listen to your soul. That leads to becoming more spiritually fit.

I always knew in my soul that I could be so much more than I was. In active addiction I ignored it. I numbed my feelings. I physically felt so sick every day that I couldn’t live the life I should have. I slept too much, ate like shit, NEVER exercised, and never took the time to listen to my instincts. I know now that it was all fear based. What was I scared of you ask? That’s a blog for another day because it’s quite too much to get into this morning.

Once I stopped numbing these feelings and started listening my life has been so much better. I’m no picture of zen or grace. I’m not a supermodel or fitness ad chick. I am, however, learning who I am and making progress on a daily. I’m genuinely happy.

Catch a ride on the soul train with us. It’s so much better on the other side. At least today, maybe listen to your gut. It hasn’t failed us yet.

Keep it simple sisters

Show Yourself Some Love ❤️

Hey sisters!

I was just thinking about how giving up drinking was a huge gesture of self love. And that can be so hard, loving myself. My inner critic can be mean. And unforgiving. This was especially true in the pergatory I found myself in- when I KNEW I had an escalating drinking problem and made a decision to stop drinking. A promise I made made single day. And then I failed to stop, over and over again.

So how did I finally succeed? In 2015, I had an alcohol-related disaster that snapped me right out of denial and right into a 12-step program. I stayed sober for a couple years, then convinced myself that circumstances were stacked against me, that my drinking problem was a result of medicating over truly hard life problems. So I drank again. Never mind that drinking always made things worse overall, it still obliterated the pain temporarily. Then I just had to suffer extra when I wasn’t drinking. With real hangovers. And emotional hangovers. And shame.

In early 2018 my kids called me out on acting drunk the night before. And that gave me the push I needed to stop again.

The trick is staying stopped. I’ve quit hundreds of times! But I value my life and what I can contribute to my family and community nowadays. I love myself sober. Until I got to this place, I realized I had to be brave enough to tell someone I needed help. Once it came without having to say it. On account of crashing the car.

There’s a lot of practice and planning and lying that goes into living a double life. For me, it was a relief to finally tell the truth. It helps keep me accountable. I tell the people in my life that I can’t and won’t drink. So that’s the first part. Admitting to myself and other people there’s a problem I can’t fix and I need help.

The next part is just get through another day without a drink and keep up honest relationships. I had to want to do this for me, but I really wanted to do it for my people too, especially my kids.

Even the bad days are much better now. Because if I get through a day sober, that’s something to be proud of.

💋 Nicole