We’re Not SUPERstitious, We’re Just a Little Bit Stitious

My sis and I don’t mess around when it comes to signs from the Universe. We’re a bit superstitious and maybe that’s how we survived our drunken years. We hold our breath driving past graveyards. No WAY do we not find wood to knock on when needed. We pick up our feet whenever we drive across train tracks. My 16 year old son forgot to lift his feet last year and I said “OOOOOOOHHH YOU’RE GONNA GET IT!” A week later he snapped his femur (along with a tree) in two snowboarding. I’m not the type to say I told you so but 😬. Here’s the thing. The universe, the people in my life, bartenders, Uber drivers, and strangers used to tell me to stop drinking so much. There were road blocks to getting as much as I wanted. Car accidents that left me for almost dead. No money. Anxiety. Isolation. Self sabotage. Somehow I didn’t see the blocks. Maybe I was in a black out but it was really that I didn’t want to stop. All I wanted yesterday was some big sugary unhealthy donuts. The road had flooded to get to the shop! Did I stop? Welp. No. And the flooding could have been a sign to stop being such a sugar afflict. I got the donuts. And loved them. My jeans didn’t. Anyway. Signs are everywhere. It’s just a matter of opening our eyes. Happy Friday, sober family! Keep it simple today. 

Reflections

This seems to happen to almost everyone I know who has made a decision to cut alcohol out of their life. They tell us about how some of their best friends or family members tell them that they’re fine and don’t need to quit. They say that we all do stupid shit and just “tighten up”. We have a few sober sisters in Ireland who say they’ll be cut off from their family if they quit. For me, no one said I was ok and didn’t need to stop🤨😵‍💫🤪but even my sister heard that she didn’t have a problem with alcohol. Here’s the thing. If you do or if you don’t, no one should feel like they can tell you what’s best for you if you’re telling them what is. How the f do they know?! I know I lied about the amounts I was imbibing and the consequences of my actions when I was drunk. If you want to stop, that’s for you to decide. If they can’t handle it, that’s on them. Maybe they’ll just miss their party pal. Maybe when you’re so wasted they think they’re not so bad. Maybe they’re scared to level up themselves. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. You can say that you’re doing it for your health. That you’re on a cleanse. That you’re in a diet. You’re pregnant. You developed an allergy. Or tell them your truth. Whatever you have to do to keep you sane and sober is key. Happy Tuesday, sober family! Keep it simple today. 

Tahiti


If I had a penny for every time I was going to quit but didn’t because of an upcoming event I’d be writing this post from my glass bottom house in Tahiti. Maybe Bali. But I digress. How many countless times have we all done that? Oh well I was going to quit but I have a reunion coming up! Maybe next month. I wanted to stop but then I had to cope with a breakup! How could I!? About five years ago I remember texting my two bffs and saying I’ve had enough! From now on I’m only going to drink if there’s a reason! My friend Amy said isn’t there always a reason? Mind you, hers is the wedding where I took off my dress in front of her grandparents at the bar supposedly because I’d “never been so hot in my life”. 😵‍💫

We can always find a reason TO drink. I’ve found about ten thousand reasons NOT to. I’ve proven it to myself countless times. Alcohol and I don’t mix. Oil and water. Tigers and gazelles. The two families from Romeo and Juliet. Our mom’s wild dogs and squirrels. We just don’t do well together. If you do drink successfully, good! We tried. Oh how we tried. We got tired of blowing up our lives. Took long enough. Happy Monday, sober family! Keep it simple today.

Streamers, Please

I’ll never forget the day I got out of rehab and went to a recovery meeting. I wanted the world to give me balloons, cake, and streamers. Didn’t they realize that I’d been sober for 28 WHOLE DAYS?! Where are all the props? It eventually dawned on me-why should I be celebrated for something that “normal” people do daily? They didn’t need a treat when they drove past the liquor store without going in. No high fives for making it through one more happy hour without a drink. I thought that people just didn’t get it. They didn’t get how hard it was for me. I’ve been drinking since I was 12, for fucks sake. And just like that I got it. Everyone I met in recovery was the worst of the worst (drinking wise) of their family and friends. I wasn’t special. There are more people like us than we realize. And when we get together we can relate. We can even laugh about it now. But today I want to tell you that you’re incredible. If you’ve gotten through three hours without a drink you’re killing it. And we’ll celebrate both your little and big wins with you. Happy Tuesday, sober family! Keep it simple today.

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.

People Pleasing and Binge Drinking

I. Introduction.

I’m Nicole. I’m a professional, middle-aged, single mom living in San Diego. I’ve got incredible people who love me and I love them right back. I have a fulfilling, rewarding, challenging profession where I come home every day honestly feeling I’ve helped some people. I have friends who are so hilarious and solid that even on my worst days, I’m laughing. My teenagers talk to me. We’re all really close. I’m best friends with my little sister, my ride or die, the only one who knows everything about me. My fur babies are fun, I’m outside working out by the beach all the time…

So basically, living a dream life.

And it’s the life I came this close to losing. All of it. My drinking was getting more important to me than any of my loved ones, work, or responsibilities. I was neglecting it all. I’d spent my whole life believing that the most important thing, the critical thing, was to be a good girl and don’t rock the boat and make people happy.

I spent my whole life anxiously trying to make everyone else happy. Why would what I want matter? If you’re happy, I’m happy.

So I wasn’t really paying attention to how miserable I was, how I made everyone else matter but me. Sometimes I ate my feelings, sometimes I starved them, sometimes I worked them to death, but mostly (especially at the end), I drank them. I kind of thought of all that wine as medicinal. Drown the sorrows, and all.

Somehow I realized if I didn’t save myself, reclaim myself, my kids wouldn’t have me to count on. Somehow I knew I had to take care of myself and prioritize my physical and mental health. I knew alcohol had to be the first thing to go.

If I hadn’t gotten sober, I wouldn’t have had the will to leave a bad relationship and nurture my good relationships. I’d have let my business slide. I wouldn’t have this amazing community I love so much. Join us on zoom, listen to our podcast, connect with sober sisters. 🖤

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. ❤️