April & May

April was a successful sober month. In addition to staying sober, I continued what I has started to do in March: Exercise and watch my food intake. I know there is a lot of controversy over doing this in early sobriety, but I feel it ultimately helps my cause as opposed to hurting it.

Exercise gives me a natural high that makes me feel good and encourages me to stay sober, and watching my food intake helps me feel better about myself as I am caring for my body and not eating to numb feelings.

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This may appear a little over-the-top and perfectionistic, but it’s how I roll. I kept outstanding notes when I was a student and have always been a highly organized and detail oriented individual.

To summarize, in April I worked out 13 times. I ran 10.3 miles. I only overate 4 days. I lost 3 pounds. And 100% of the days I was sober.

I am happy to say I am only continuing to improve and continue this plan of action in May. I am slowly increasing my miles of running, as this is a true joy of mine and something I stopped doing when I relapsed.

I am registered to run a 5K this Sunday. It will be my first race since a half marathon I did in January 2016. It is a small step back in the direction I want to go. I will not break any personal records (I’ll be happy if I can do it in under 30 minutes!) but it is a good starting point for the trajectory I wish to follow.

On that note, I continue to keep a calendar this month that is capturing the same data. While weight-loss is not a top-priority, it is something that I am monitoring as well (as you can see). It’s a little added bonus. But the biggest priority, and mother of all bonuses, is my sobriety.  That comes first and foremost.

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Three Months

This past Sunday, Mother’s Day, I celebrated 90 days. On Monday I went to a noon meeting and received my coin.

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This past week was a noteworthy one. First, 3 years ago, my mother died in her drunk driving accident. In addition to the anniversary of her death, I would have celebrated 4 years sobriety on the eleventh had I not relapsed.

But what is done is done. And as you can tell from above, I am moving forward. I am grateful to have come this far after struggling for so many months to gain traction.

I am grateful I went to Monday’s meeting, because I met a  group of ladies who were obviously well-acquainted with one another. We stayed and spoke after the meeting and they were very friendly to me. The discussion eventually turned towards the question of whether or not I had a sponsor.

I explained that a lovely lady had briefly taken interest in helping me back in December, but  I haven’t heard from since the holidays, so I technically did not have a sponsor. That is when one of the ladies said she would be happy to sponsor me.

So this upcoming Monday my new prospective sponsor and I will be meeting for coffee and getting to know each other and share our stories. And I will once again be on the right trajectory of having someone to mentor me and hold me accountable.

I haven’t really been working “the” program, or any program for that matter; I’ve just been going to meetings and not drinking. But I still feel a pull in my core, quite frequently of late, to pick up. As of this moment, I’ve had drinking dreams the past three nights in a row.  So I know this is an important step in the right direction.

Oh, the bottles

Oh the bottles. So many, many bottles.

Bottles on the bottom of the bedroom closet. Hidden in bags and purses. Bottles in the kitchen. Hidden behind the mixer. Bottles in the coat closet. Hidden at the bottom underneath a fleece. Bottles in the car. Hidden in a bag. Bottles in the bathroom. Bottles in my purse. Bottles in the dresser drawer. Bottles…

Empty bottles in the recycling bin. But, oh… too many. Empty bottles in the garbage. Hidden inside a cardboard cereal box. Wrapped in other garbage so the bottles won’t clink with the other bottles. Empty bottles in the car temporarily, to make a quick intentional trip to that fast food restaurant that has that drive-by garbage pail. Empty bottles in my purse, discreetly discarded in random public trash receptacles. Empty bottles…

New bottles from the store. Paying in cash for new bottles so there will be no traceable evidence of acquisition and consumption. New bottles from a different store, because the store I just went to might notice I am coming by to soon for more. New bottles from a non-liquor store, disguised with the purchase of non-bottle items. New bottles from another store, another store across town. New bottles… gone too soon. Only to need to go and acquire more new bottles…

Other peoples bottles. Visiting my in-laws, so many, many bottles. Take a little bit from a variety of different bottles so they won’t notice any decrease in the volume of  one particular bottle. Visiting my father, bottles in the freezer. Drinking a little from a bottle, just enough so that it won’t be noticeable, but it’s not enough and end up drinking to the point where it is noticeable. Add water, so dilution is not perceptible. Drink more. Add more water. Realize it is no longer unperceptible. Run to store to replace bottle. Drink original watered down bottle and discard, and drink new bottle down to level of previous bottle. Promise not to drink from replacement bottle. Break promise. Repeat. Other people’s bottles…

Oh, the bottles.

I do NOT miss the bottles.

Two Months

Today is Thursday April 19th, 2018. I reached my two month milestone on Friday April 13th.  At the beginning of this week, on Monday April 16th, I went to a meeting to collect my sobriety coin and then went out for celebratory ice cream with a sober girlfriend afterward. The ice cream I got was called the Perfect Storm.

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Here is my two-month coin, displayed in the flower bed in our yard that is now covered in April snow. This has been the never ending winter.

In spite of the less-than-springlike weather, my overall well-being has taken a turn for the better given the longer days and more daylight. It is in hindsight now that I see how much this past winter was a struggle for me. It is also in hindsight I can understand why I struggled so hard to achieve and maintain my sobriety during those difficult months.

The past three years, even if I had suffered low mood or seasonal depression (which I typically do to some degree), I had the momentum and sober-time on my side to help me stay on the right path. This fall and winter, I entered in a state of relapse, and coupled with my struggles with depression, it created a Perfect Storm for continued relapse.

I am grateful I have now found my way out. At least for today. Always only for today.

A Weekend “Alone”

I’m never alone. I’m a mom of three with what could be considered a small zoo inhabiting our residence. But when my other half goes away, I consider myself “alone.”

When I used to drink, this would be considered a prime opportunity to really indulge. I could really let loose and not worry about being judged. Children and pets, after all, aren’t as critical.

So, being 39 days into my sobriety, this is a good test of commitment and resolve.

My other half left yesterday (Friday) morning. I’m pleased to report that as I write this on Saturday evening, I am going strong and doing well. I have not been able to make it to a meeting this week, but I have checked in with my online groups for accountability.

The main group I utilize for support these days is the BFB. It’s a secret group on Facebook that supports people who don’t want to drink anymore. When you post on the main feed, you’re certain to get feedback fairly quickly, and from people who are quite sincere. So it is a great resource to go to for feedback and support, or to turn to before you pick up that first drink, or just for general encouragement or congratulations on your journey.

More recently I joined another support group via Catherine Gray’s Instagram feed @unexpectedjoyof called “Sober Spring.” About a thousand of us replied to her post, expressing interest, and Catherine grouped us into smaller groups (each named after a type of tree) that could support each other via email correspondence throughout the entire spring – March 20th through June 21st  (93 days of zero hangovers)!

I belong to the Monkey Puzzle tribe which, admittedly, I didn’t even know was a type of tree until I was assigned!

I like it, partly because I was born in the year of the monkey. So I’ve nicknamed myself The Sober Monkey. On that note, on this sober weekend “alone,” I will leave you with a picture of a Monkey Puzzle Tree and wish you all things wonderful.

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Bottoms

Car accident. A serious fall. Broken tooth. DUI. Stove left on. Forgetting to pick up your children. Arrest. Waking up not knowing where you are. Debt. Injuring someone else. Homelessness. Cirrhosis. Divorce.  Hospitalization. Job loss. Death.

These are some bottoms. Some lower than others. Not everyone hits bottom in the same way, and not everyone hits a ‘low’ bottom before they decide to stop.

I’m probably what would be considered a high bottom and formally a high-functioning alcoholic. I never got a DUI, never got arrested, never got into an accident, never got hospitalized, never lost my job.

I think there are a lot more people out there who fit this description and are struggling. And I feel because of my outward experience and lack of serious consequences, I had a hard time getting help in the past.

The first meeting I ever attended was called a SMART meeting, and this was back in 2004 when I lived in Tucson, Arizona. I’ll never forget that meeting, because someone actually came up to me before it started and said, “You know, you have to be addicted to something to come here.” Talk about awkward. I feebly said back, “I am.”

Clearly I didn’t appear to fit the bill.

Some have a preconceived notion of what an alcoholic should look like, the problems they should have, the consequences they should have experienced.  Some people might even question or dismiss the authenticity of one’s addiction because they haven’t experienced dire enough outcomes.

But here’s the thing.

You don’t have to decide to stop only when you have hit bottom. You can get off the elevator at any floor you like. And the sooner, the better.

All because someone quit sooner doesn’t mean the person is not an addict, or less of an addict, or any of these other ridiculous judgements. They just got off before things got worse. And that is how it goes. It doesn’t get better. It just gets worse. It’s only a matter of time.

So forget about the expectations for “bottom.” Define your own. Pick your time to stop. You don’t have to end up in one of the aforementioned circumstances. You don’t have to have a crazy story to tell. You don’t have to have a catastrophic bottom to be accepted. And remember, don’t judge others, because you don’t know what their bottom is and it doesn’t matter. What matters is they stopped. And they are committed to staying stopped.

A Month

IMG_9270February 13th 2018 through March 13th 2018. It’s been one month. One month of consecutive sobriety. One month of freedom: Freedom from shame, memory lapses, guilt, anxiety, binge eating, nightmares, nausea, stomach cramps, dehydration, wasted money, lost time, squandered memories and so much  more.

Technically it’s been 28 days. February was a short month. So this one month milestone comes a little early. But is it ever welcome! I am looking forward to picking up my  one-month chip at this Thursday’s Women’s meeting. The first chip of many, many more.

I am still on shaky ground and have much I need to do, but I feel good. I feel strong. And I feel confident this time. But I won’t get overly confident, complacent, or lazy. I will stay vigilant.

Luckily, this time around, I don’t have to drive to my father’s after this milestone, like last time. Newly one month sober back in October, I had to drive home to bury my uncle and my mother. And being around my father, who drinks, was a recipe for relapse.

Nope. This time, at one month sober, I’m staying put, and controlling all the variables I can, and letting go of the things I cannot. I am eating well, exercising, going to therapy and doing everything within my power to make this stick.