Escape

I had a few hours to myself tonight so I went out to buy a few new things to wear.  I found a few nice things on sale, so I took them into the dressing room to try on.  As I looked at myself in the well-lit, full-length, tri-way mirrors…I felt frustrated at the fat rolls around my middle.

For a few moments, I wanted very, very badly to escape.  It’s so frustrating to be hungry while trying to lose weight…then be triggered by the sight of your own fat…and then realize that your go-to comfort thing since quitting drinking is food…so the very thing that’s making you fat is also the thing that you crave.

The cyclical pattern of self destructive behavior, although not as immediately damaging, it still reminds me of how drinking was ruining my life…I would need to escape…so I drank…and the drinking would cause more problems… and I’d need to escape those problems…so I’d drink…and on and on that pattern would continue for several years before I stopped.

But I broke that pattern.  I tried and failed many times.  Then I finally got serious enough about quitting to actually stop drinking.  I became determined to succeed and willing to do what I had to do to learn to live sober.

And so I can do this too with food too.   I’ve been on a mission to lose this weight in particular since the beginning of January (I actually started a little before the new year on Dec 27th I think).  Anyway…it’s just hard at times because food was my comfort go-to-thing after I quit drinking.  You could not have separated me from my chocolate in the early days.  But the overeating habit lingered a little too long for my own mental health.

I am doing well…I’ve lost 6 lbs and I’ve been exercising and making healthier food choices.  I’m often tempted to go on some crazy crash diet because I’m impatient and I want to lose it all fast…but I have tried that before and it always backfires on me…so I’m taking the slow, steady, self-loving approach to weight loss and fitness.

Still, I am often experiencing even more raw emotion now that I’m not diving into a pint of ice cream each time an uncomfortable emotion (or general angst) surfaces.  Exercise definitely helps.

So back to tonight…I did end up buying a few new things to wear.  I also thought about how nice it will be in a few months to be able to fit into the kind of clothes I like to buy.   Thinking about this kept me motivated…. I came home, cooked up a healthy dinner, lifted weights and went for a 20 min jog…and here I am.

I am okay now.  Things tend to get out of sorts for me in my mind…but I’m just learning to deal with my feelings as they are.  Getting better and better at figuring out how to live without the constant need to escape in one form or another. Some moments are easier than others.

Jenn

 

 

 

2 years today

2 years

My life has changed, both inside and out so drastically that it’s hard to capture the enormity of it in a little post here before work today.

There’s an AA saying that I’d like to borrow which just resonates with me…it says that in sobriety (with self-work) we will reach a place where we “intuitively handle situations which used to baffle us“.  And I know exactly what they mean.

For me, sobriety did not magically cure all that ails me.  I’m only beginning to truly wrap my mind around all the things in a life..or in my life specifically, that led to me drinking two bottle of wine daily.  Some things from my past,it seems that they damaged me and I drank to quiet the pain, anxiety and disappointment that loomed under my cool exterior.  Then other problems came about because I drank so much.  Then some weren’t caused by drinking, but were made worse because instead of learning, growing and reflecting when life challenged me…as I drank more and more and the wine habit crept up from a glass here and there to a full blown almost-daily need to numb out, pass out and black out…my world became smaller and smaller, I became angrier and more and more incapable of doing much more than spending each day putting out life’s fires and trudging through to that next 5pm glass of vino that promised to wash everything away.

 

Here at 2 years sober…sometimes I just can’t believe how darn wrong I was about almost everything!  I used to spend countless hours trying to control and manipulate things that are out of my control.   And I would totally relinquished control over all of the ways I could make my life better.  God, I had it so backwards.

Lately I often find myself having solved a burgeoning issue (as a mother, a boss, a neighbor, etc) and I pause and think “WOW, that would have just crushed me a couple of years ago and I just took care of that like a pro”.  I love when I can see and feel my own progress.

As a final note today….I don’t attend AA meetings and I don’t use the word “alcoholic” because the whole labeling thing stood in the way of me kicking the wine so I decided to shelf the labels and seek sobriety from a self-managed perspective.  I personally think there are many right ways to get sober, all I can do is share with you what’s helped me:

Self-care.  Relentless self-care.  For me this was therapy, sleep, feeding myself, setting boundaries, catching and stopping the negative self-talk, etc.

Self-honesty. This comes to me in stages.  It was really hard in the beginning.

Willingness to suffer through the time it takes to heal.  Healing from an addiction is hard. Period. It’s also worth it.

Set boundaries. Work-life boundaries, boundaries with family, and friends.  This is vital to my healing and it was very hard in the beginning.

-Actively practice Gratitude

Wake up each day and decide to be sober.

-I read (still do) tons of books and blogs on recovery topics.  Here I learned about things like PAWS, self-care and healing time.

-Blogging and reading other’s blogs.

And now I look at the clock and see that it’s time for work so I need to wrap this up…. I am so very grateful today. More than anything I want others to know that you can do this too.  There are freedom and joy to be found in a sober life.

Jenn

 

 

 

 

Notes from the Healthy Eating journey

Only 4 days into my commitment to healthy eating and I woke up today feeling markedly better.  Refreshed. Less bloated (lost 4 lbs in 4 days). Clearer thinking.  That sense of scattered thought and general feeling of angst is gone.  Amazing.

I cut out sugar, pasta & the like and I’ve been eating meat, seafood, fruits, veggies, yogurt & eggs. I increased my water intake and have been taking a 2 mile walk daily.

The immediate stark change amazes me.

 

Yesterday, after a healthy & satisfying dinner at the Whole Foods Cafe…I had this nagging thought that “something was missing”.  My eyes went straight for the desserts that were nearby.  I guess this is part habit…part compulsion.  Or something like that anyway.

I didn’t even really want one of those sweets so much as I wanted a “treat”.  But why does a treat have to be food…or a sugary food?  (Or wine, etc).  Maybe I could find a non-food treat for us?

So my daughter and I went and rented a couple of Netflix movies…went home and played some music & danced, then watched one of the movies.  I had a glass of kombucha tea and a couple of aged cheese squares.  I love aged cheese and I don’t seem to overeat it. All in all, a very enjoyable evening with my daughter.  It felt like a little victory…to begin to forge a new healthy habit to replace a habit that wasn’t serving me too well.

Jenn

 

 

 

Sobriety is a gift

Now that I haven’t drank in almost two years I find that the pink cloud of early sobriety is gone, and many days life is just life.  It’s easy to begin to minimize or dismiss just how important it is that I stay sober…now that my life seems to be on a stable trajectory without blackouts, bad relationships, drunk driving, anxiety and depression.

In the last couple days we’ve had two celebrities pass away, at younger-than-life-expectancy ages.  And everyone is abuzz with how “2016” is “taking” everyone to the grave…I look at what is known about George Michael and Carrie Fisher and I can’t help but think that addiction had a hand in killing each of them.

I’ve often thought that if I had more money, more support, etc…if life wasn’t so hard than maybe I wouldn’t have drank. (I know better, but I still feel that way sometimes). But these two celebrities, as far as wealth goes, had it all.  They didn’t worry about budgeting and food and how to pay the bills and worry that they’ll not have enough if something bad happens. They could travel anywhere they wanted, they were revered by millions…

And yet they drank, and drank and smoked and used cocaine and crack and overate and lived lives that at times, under the celebrity masks, were rather tormented.

I know that celebrities dying of drug overdoses or as a latent result of past drug abuse…that is absolutely nothing new.

Maybe these two deaths hit me a little harder because they’re a little closer to my age and generation. Or because I’m a former wine-guzzler.

Either way, I have been struck with a deep gratitude that I have found a way to live sober.  By some combination of grace and my own hard work and the choice not to drink I have found a sober life worth living.  I look back at the recent years of my life and I feel like someone who stepped aside from an oncoming train within seconds of being smashed to smithereens.  I may not be a celebrity…but I was on track to drink myself to death like one.

For anyone who’s struggled on any level with any addiction…finding sobriety and a path to healing…these are huge gifts…

I am feeling deeply grateful today.

Jenn

Cookies, cakes and candy…oh my

Had a wonderful Christmas day with my family. We kept it small, exchanged gifts, relaxed and ate a ton of good food. Too much food for me…in fact.

Which brings me to this almost 10 lbs I’ve gained inside of a short one-month span.  The way I feel when I overeat feels like a lighter version of how I felt when I was trying to quit drinking…I have the intention to do one thing, and end up doing the other.  Ouch.

And if I was only 10 lbs overweight that would almost be okay.  But I’m bordering on hitting the number that would make me clinically obese (I’m 183 lbs).  Just typing those words makes me cringe.

But I’m not going to cringe, or lose my mind, or go on a crazy diet, or do anything crazy, rash or self-destructive.

I am otherwise healthy (just had a visit with my MD last month where he gave me a clean bill of health except for the weight I’ve gained).

And as I come upon almost 2 years without alcohol, I am ready to approach this  challenge with self-love, self-care, patience and a positive mindset.

 

I am a little fearful…because truth be told, my cookies and ice cream at times are my comforting go-to things.  But I know all too well that sometimes my comforting go-to things become dark things in my life.  And right now, my inner-self is just screaming for me to do something about this.  So I am.

I’m giving myself today to go grocery shopping and refill my fridge with veggies and fruits and meats and potatoes…and I’m giving away the pies and cookies at work.  And I’m starting my daily walks back up…seems like getting out and getting fresh air goes hand in hand with putting healthy stuff in my body.

I am ready.  I have a sense of calm resolve that I hadn’t had before concerning this issue. And I’m a bit afraid too.  But I can do hard things. I can make changes for the better.  I can handle the emotions that I know will come up when I stop dumping excessive sugar/pasta/candy/chemicals in my body.  And I’m looking forward to the healing,  energy and balance that comes with eating well and getting out to exercise.

I’ll consider this my Christmas gift to myself.

Jenn

FOMO

While I was on my trip, I spent some time around social drinking…which I am not around so much anymore in my day to day life.

I had some pangs of “FOMO”=”Fear of Missing Out”…that dreaded fear that’s usually pretty baseless, yet still creeps up from time to time.  A few thoughts went through my head…”what if I could drink again?”  “Do I even want to, really?”  I have come to learn that a “craving” for things like alcohol, and even overeating…they are often really cravings for something else (like love, fun, purpose, pain relief, etc)…but my brain will, at times, revert to thinking of these “goto”quick-fix escapes since I used them so.so.so.many. times before.

What do I really want in life?  I want financial security. Friends. Family. To make a difference.  To be my authentic self.  To lead and inspire people. To learn new things. To finish my MBA and apply to PhD school. To live without fear of my past or my future.

A drink never, ever brought me anything I wanted or needed.  Evenso, it’s amazing how powerful the “lie” of the promise of what drinking could deliver…it’s amazing how powerful that can be at times in even in the face of all of the evidence to the contrary.

And having thoughts like this on occasion, I take time out to pause, and be humble and grateful.  Every day I wake up, I am grateful to be aware and present and sober.  Some days this is easy-peasy…because sober is my new normal.  Some other days…it’s not easy.  Mostly because some days life itself is not easy…but my wine-brain does still from time to time like to make that crazy leap and suggest to me that somehow drinking would make it better.

I thought about not writing this post because part of me immediately thought that I “should” not be thinking like this after two years sober…and the truth is that even that thought is just ABSURD!  There is no should. There is no sober-school where I have to pass certain milestones at particular intervals.  It’s actually this very type of comparison-thinking itself that I work to let go of.

To end on a positive note today…I am deeply grateful for my growing sense of comfort and peace with who I am and where I’ve been…and my ability to encounter challenges of all kinds with a wisdom and calm that I just didn’t have a few years ago.

Love & Peace,

Jenn

 

 

 

My Thanksgiving Family Trip

The weeks before my trip were busy with run-of-the-mill trip-preparation type activities, with undertones of anxiety in the back of my mind over how I will handle various family situations since I was going to be spending time with people I don’t see every day, but have various levels of closeness, conflict and history with.  What if they are drinking alot?  How do I handle situations which used to end in me killing a couple of bottles of wine? What do I tell people?  I don’t use the label alcoholic.   What if someone asks why I don’t drink?  I can’t say for sure that I have all these answers myself…all I know is that I’m not drinking and I know the act of choosing not to drink daily is a fundamental act of self-love which is transforming my life…

In the days that led up to the trip I doubled up on self-care (sleep, clean eating, walks, positive self-talk, let go of ridiculous expectations) and that self-care helped me immensely to feel balanced and content.

So, here’s how my trip went:

 This was my first long cross-country drive since quitting drinking.  I was pleasantly amazed at how much easier it is to do not-hungover. It’s been almost two years so being not-hungover has become my norm.  There’s a lot of little details that go into driving my crew 1000 miles…and I was able to accomplish all of this with very little effort compared to the past.  Maybe part of it is maturity and experience too.  And part of it is caring enough about myself to get everything done ahead of time as to not create some last minute crisis (think car trouble, things forgotten, arguments caused by short fuses, etc).

(Background: The last 15 years of family visits have ALWAYS had at least one explosive, destructive argument between my mother and I which would set the tone of the visit and send me to retreat each night to at least a bottle of wine. I usually ended these visits feeling so embattled that I wanted to die.)

I set out this time to make this visit good….and not in some oppressive way where I force everyone to be “happy” while they want to kill each other…I’m not even sure how I decided to do this…I just actively decided to be part of the solution where I could.

There are many reasons why everyone’s emotions run deep…over the past 17 years we’ve lost my brother, my father, I’ve gotten divorced, my mother remarried, her step-son was visiting and he just broke up with his girlfriend, my oldest daughter was acting a bit of the putz and trying to make trouble (she’s 22), and to boot…even the location was different because my step-dad’s job moved the family to Georgia (our roots are in Maryland).

Anyway…my big revelation (for my own self and my behavior and attitude) was to regularly take pause and practice gratitude in the moment….

On Thanksgiving day, when an argument was about to erupt over turkey cooking….I made a joke of it and we called the 1-800-Butterball line (not something a group of experienced cooks would do)…we didn’t need to listen to it but somehow everyone found it hilarious because we were pressing the various options for “turkey issues” that one could have and it ended in everyone cracking up laughing.

As for the drinking….I had some internal ups and downs in my mind…there were a few times when everyone had a cocktail (most days, most people didn’t drink more that 1-2 with dinner)…and I had pangs of feeling left out, or like I’d never get to enjoy anything again because I can’t drink like a normal person, etc…it’s important to note that most of this was in my own mind as most people could have cared less that I had kombucha in my drinking-glass and not wine.

I was, however, bothered by excessive drinking.  My own oldest daughter and my step-brother were the heavy-drinkers in the bunch.  Watching people slowy  “check-out” and not be “with us” (seems to be the case with heavy, not social drinking)…that made me GLAD that I don’t drink because I get horrified to think of how I’ve acted the fool, or worse, in the past with my own drinking.  Ugh. And It made me sad for them.  I was able to watch the familiar pattern…oversleeping, hungover, zombie-like and/or aggitated day-behavior, come to life with the first drink”.  I found myself looking at heavy-drinkers with empathy (rather than the envy I felt when I first stopped a couple of years ago)…

I’ve spent some priceless time with my daughters.  Again, I made the solemn promise to myself to practice gratitude, to spend time listening, and to be a good mother, daughter, sister and friend (without respect to the past, or what I think people deserve, etc etc).

I am ever so happy to report that there was not ONE single fight or very-shitty exchange during the entire trip.  While my not-drinking can’t solve the entire family’s problems…I have discovered that my not-drinking (and subsequent healing) allows me to have a central role in leading my family toward healing, laughter and joy…and for that I am grateful.  Here’s a few snapshots of our recent trip:

 

 

Gratefully,

Jenn