Life After Quitting

When I decided to let go of alcohol for good, I was pretty focused on just not drinking. I set up new routines and committed to them. I told my loved ones and asked them to support me. I went to lots of meetings, read books and articles, counted and celebrated days sober.

When I felt solid, I started chipping away at my underlying issues bit by bit. I prioritized my self care, met shame and fear head on, and nurtured the best parts of myself.

I feel transformed, and also exactly like myself. I’d lost my connection with my most authentic self forever ago. I didn’t think I was worthy of a great life. I was wrong.

The longer I live in alignment with my deep knowing of what feels good and right, the more calm and happy I feel.

That includes accepting the parts of me I tried to shift around to make other people happy. It was too exhausting, trying to play different roles in the same life.

Cutting ties with an addictive substance and staying stopped for some time gave me the mental clarity and physical/emotional well being to grow.

It’s so much better on this side. ❤️

The Witching Hour

The Witching Hour

Quitting alcohol wasn’t the issue for us. We did it all the time. The problem was we kept quitting on quitting. The problem was the witching hour.

The witching hour is that time when we routinely poured the first glass of wine or cracked open the first beer. By 5pm, after another busy day of work and parenting, it was on. If there were activities or responsibilities that delayed that first drink, we were irritable and crabby.

What we personally experienced and hear from all our AF sisters is that we’d feel like we needed that drink (and the ones after) to get through the night, and we’d put off quitting for good until tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Those tomorrows added up to years.

There will always be an excuse today. A stressful day at work, bickering children, bad marriages, arguments, birthdays, holidays, family problems, vacations, happy hours, girls’ nights out…

We couldn’t control and enjoy our drinking anymore though. If we had to control it, we didn’t enjoy it. If we enjoyed it, we weren’t in control of it.

We decided to stop and just focus on getting through the witching hour for another day. Here are some things we tried that helped: taking a bath, going to a recovery meeting, taking long walks with the dogs, running errands outside of the house, doing sit-ups or pushups, gardening, working on a vision board, organizing the closet, and physically removing ourselves from our usual drinking zone.

We woke up sober and gave it a go the next day. And all those sober days added up to years too. We aren’t looking back. Life is so much more manageable now.

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.

Show a Little Class

Show a Little Class

My sister and I have been talking about how we would like to show more class and grace. Kindness and manners are always in style. That doesn’t mean you won’t hear the F bomb drop from our lips on occasion. Sometimes it’s just called for.

What isn’t called for is getting fall down drunk. It’s really not cute at any age, but it’s just a ridiculous state of affairs for professional moms with teen kids. I mean, REALLY. Ladies. Come on.

How do we drink with class? We drink water and sparkling water and coffee and an occasional tea. Maybe we throw a splash of juice in the seltzer when we’re feeling sassy. Because, make no mistake, we are no ladies with an alcoholic beverage. That one drink is gone in about 1/2 second, so fast either one of us easily could say, “Oh, I believe you forgot to pour my drink.” I can confidently say neither one of us has ever been satisfied with just one. Our motto was always, “Why waste the calories?”

We retired our drinking career, choosing to treat our bodies as the temples of our lovely spirits. We still aren’t exactly models of decorum, but fuck it. It’s a start.