You Are Not What Happened to You

My anxiety today went from code orange to code red, then zoomed right ahead to flashing sirens. Something happened that triggered unresolved trauma. It’s been horrible, the resurgence of panic and dread, as well as the sort of resigned feeling that I’ll probably never really feel safe again, that there’s always something lurking and waiting to get me.

I’m not trying to stuff it all down, which is huge progress. I didn’t drink my weight in wine whilst furiously drunk dialing everyone in a hysterical spiral.

I did my best to take care of myself instead. Because I finally learned that I’m not broken or unworthy. I have a story, and some of it is dark. That darkness doesn’t have to define me. The fear is my monster. The more I face the monster, the less power it has.

The monster is not me. Facing it down head on reminds me it is separate from me.

The day started great—productive and peaceful. It’s a classic gorgeous San Diego day and I got to Dog Beach with a f*cking amazing new friend, and attended a powerful and humbling support group meeting (you’re all invited, send a DM if you want to join us). And then the trigger. But not the usual crazy reaction—a healthy response! I called friends, I messaged my therapist. I blew off my other jobs on the list and took a lavender salts bath in candlelight, listening to guided meditation and doing loud, embarrassing-to-teens deep breathing. And I just told you what happened too, which took even more of the monster’s power away and separated what happened to me from who I am.

It’s hard sometimes, but true healing usually is. ❤️‍🩹

Thanks for being here, sober family. I’m more grateful than I can say.

Why I Drank, and What Happened

The links between why I drank and what happened as my drinking progressed matches this chart exactly.

I drank to cope: with anxiety (made it worse); a bad relationship (made it worse); work stress (worse); parenting stress (you get it).

The more I drank to cope, the worse care I took with myself. I only managed the bare minimum-clean clothes, basic hygiene, some kind of calories. Risks? Plenty. The worst of them was drinking and driving. I went to jail and everything. Work problems? See ‘jail’, above. I risked my professional license. I also was just phoning it in at work, and my job wouldn’t last long with me doing the bare minimum.

The other motive that fits my story is to “enhance” positive feelings. Basically, I read this as “to try to falsely create some.”

This is the one with binge drinking and blackouts and a primary outcome. This fits. If I’m trying to feel good (in other words, completely different to how I really feel), a slight warm relaxing feeling won’t suffice. But getting wasted, that’s more like it. Let’s dance. Ughhhhhh.

It helps me to work through some of my “whys” to fix what’s really wrong. It helps me to remember what happens when I think the fix for what’s really wrong is at the bottom of a bottle.

Happy Friday sober family! Keep it simple today.

**This is a very simplified snapshot of an NIH (National Institutes of Health) study from 2012, called “Motivational Pathways to Uniques Types of Alcohol Consequences.”

Faking it

I kept up appearances quite well, even when I started drinking heavily. There were a couple slips of course (getting cuffed and hauled to county jail was not in line with my reputation, but you can be sure only my loved ones knew about that). When I felt embarrassed about getting sloppy drunk around certain people, I made sure I didn’t drink around those people anymore. It started getting easier just not to go out so much.

Most people were shocked when I ‘came out’ with my drinking problem. I’d practiced my whole life making sure other people saw me as a capable, intelligent leader. A problem solver. The emergency contact.

I didn’t bother to check in with myself after awhile. After I had kids, I told myself, “That’s what moms do. They put the kids first.” Never mind that I didn’t make time to eat, they have play dates at the park in 10. No problem! Off we go!

I was not emotionally secure. I drank more to try to calm my anxiety and get some sleep. I couldn’t fit yoga into the hectic schedule anymore (glug glug gulp). I skipped book club and walks with friends to say yes to more committees and meetings (chug, slam, repeat).

I’m so grateful that I finally (FINALLY) figured out that I don’t have to spend all my time and energy trying to please and impress other people. Oh, I’ve done the affirmations. I’ve read all about codependency. I could spot it in other people a mile away, and it gets me all fired up. I always want to shake someone accepting and enabling bad behavior. As a very wise sober sister casually said at a meeting last week: “If you spot it, you’ve got it.”

*Sigh*

Ladies and gentlemen. Here’s the truth. Putting everyone else’s needs above my own made me sick. I felt unhappy, fearful, and physically sick. Worry about my reputation almost turned to panic as I tried to juggle more and more while drinking more and more.

The ship was going down and I was polishing the brass.

if you’re unhappy with your relationship with alcohol, I have a suggestion. Don’t drink today. Go to bed sober, and see how you feel. If you got through it, doling it again. And reach out for support. You’re not alone.

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. ❤️

Sexy mama

When my sister and I were little we thought drinking was what made you grown up. We saw our parents drink and have a great time. We watched them and their friends at parties and they seemed so sophisticated to us. They danced, talked, and drank like classy adults. The way we drank was anything but classy. Drunk me sent an email to my former boss telling her that my place of employment had been copacetic before she got there. I think you can guess why she’s my former boss. Drunk me ran over my own cell phone. Drunk me passed out in the street. I made an as$ of myself just about every time I drank. And let’s not talk about weddings. I don’t know how many credit cards I’ve had to cancel because they were lost. I’d either start fights or become best friends with people at bars. The aftermath was horrendous. Anxiety, nausea, and shame. I don’t have to feel that way ever again because I choose to live sober and clean. I’d rather be sober and sexy than drunk and sloppy any day of the week. Happy Sunday, sober family. Keep it simple today.

Let that shit go

The mistake I clung to was alcohol. It was always my drug of choice. I started with it and ended with it and there were other things sprinkled in between. A friend of mine told he once that his drug of choice was “more”. I get it. There was never enough for me. I’d have my first drink and already start to panic that I wouldn’t have enough for the night… no matter how much I had. My sister says she’d bring a bottle of wine to a dinner party and wonder where the rest of the bottles were – like Ok… I’m pitching in, where the hell is the rest?! I clung to my addiction like it was Brad Pitt circa his Thelma and Louise days. I could never get enough. When it was time to stop I hung on tighter. It was like an abusive relationship / I knew it was horrible for me and didn’t know how to get out. I finally did and I work on my sobriety every single day. I had time to get wasted every day so I definitely have time to work on my recovery. Today I cling to sobriety, gratitude, and love. We aspire to leave each place a tiny bit better than when we got there. Happy Saturday, sober family. Keep it simple today.

Killing mysElf

I would do ANYTHING when I was wasted. People would say oh I bet no one would do this (insert something ridiculous, dangerous, or illegal) and I’d happily volunteer. Consequences never crossed my mind. I literally cannot BELIEVE I’m still alive. I’d pride myself on being the badass drunk chick who could drink like a man, sing like gaga, and drive with one eye open. I’d lie and cheat and steal and wake up not remembering or caring, covered in bruises and scabs. I can’t sing for sh*t, by the way. Those poor musicians when I hijacked their stages. At the end of my not so illustrious drinking career I would have moments of clarity. I’d actually google how long it would be until my liver failed. I’d research the amount of alcohol I could drink at my weight before something really medically serious would happen. Why was I purposely ingesting ethanol in copious amounts? I’d get deep in the cups and cry. I didn’t know how to stop and I didn’t know how to keep going. My brain was foggy and my spirit was empty. I couldn’t do it for one more second. I waved the white flag and gave alcohol the win. Happy Friday, sober family. Sobriety gives me more than alcohol ever promised. Keep it simple today.

Not shitfaced

A long time ago my life revolved around alcohol. I didn’t go anywhere alcohol wasn’t being served. I pre-gamed and post-gamed with a drink or five. I always had a few “roadies” to make sure I was sufficiently drunk before I showed up at an event. It seemed that I was always at the store buying more supplies. I’d switch up the stores so that no one would notice the frequency that I was buying alcohol…not like they’d care anyway. I never left the house without gum and eye drops. People could smell the alcohol coming out of my pores. I’d wake up still drunk, knowing that the hangover was on its way. I’d either eat everything in sight or not be able to eat a thing….I could drink, though. After that first drink went down I could “rally” again 🙄. That’s no life. It’s certainly not what I was put on this earth to do. Even my worst days sober are waaaay better than my best days in addiction. Happy Thursday, sober family. Keep it simple today.

Bitch please

I don’t fantasize about drinking anymore. Which is crazy. But I sure used to.

I’d glance at people enjoying a lunch on a gorgeous spring day, with a fresh basket of bread and wine in glasses that catch the light.

Laughing and clinking glasses and sipping while eating and chatting.

It’s weird that I fantasized about doing what they were doing, because the reality is there’s no way I would have enjoyed sipping one dainty glass of wine over a 90 minute lunch.

That would be miserable. If I had to be there, I’d be done with my wine and wondering why no one was ordering more. I’d try to hurry things along so I could stop obsessing about how dumb it is to drink a few sips of alcohol and not even worry about not feeling the effect.

I heard someone say once that she was wishing she could sit in a lovely little French cafe with a friend and a glass of champagne. And then she said the voice in her head said, “Bitch, you don’t drink like that.”

Exactly. I didn’t, I can’t, and I won’t.

For me, it’s just easier not to drink at all.

Happy Saturday, sober family!

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