Well, now that both Canadian and American Thanksgivings are over we move on to Christmas and get ready for a New Year.
I hope you all had a triumphant Thanksgiving and got through any obstacles you encountered. The next festivity, Christmas and New Years Eve! It’s the best time of year for most, but, it is also the most depressing time of the year for some. Christmas is about family gatherings, great friends getting together and so on. With all those parties and gatherings, also comes alcohol. How can I do this? Is the question we ask ourselves.
I’ve put some suggestions below that I practiced in the beginning of my journey and still utilize today, 9.5 years later to get me through such times.
Getting through those parties and gatherings:
First and foremost, PLEASE don’t worry about what people are going to say. You would be surprised at the responses you get when you tell people you are not drinking. It’s utter amazement that your strong enough to do so.
Tip One – The questions: If your not comfortable telling people yet that you are trying out sobriety, then be prepared to have an answer such as, you are the DD, you are taking a break, you need to be up early etc.
Tip Two – What to drink: I personally enjoy sparkling water with some fruit in it, or mixed with pomegranate juice, coffee, but make it a good one, get a specialty coffee, get it on your way to the party and that will be an excuse for not accepting a drink, and of course tea, herbals are the best and most relaxing. When I started out on my sobriety journey I put my choice of drink (water, juice etc) in a wine glass or a fancy glass. It saved the questions of why I wasn’t drinking. Nobody knew there was no alcohol in it!
Tip Three – Escape plan: Have an exit plan ready before you go. It may be a little overwhelming once you get there and you may be filled with anxiety. Have a code word with your date and make sure he/she is prepared to leave the party if you need to get out. If you are alone, have an excuse as to why you need to leave. Like a work meeting, meeting someone or you are not feeling well. Plan before you go!
Tip Four – Buddy system: Bring a friend with you that understands what you are going through and can offer you support and stay sober with you at the events or gatherings.
Tip Five – Dress it up: One of my other passions is fashion. In the beginning of my journey I found that going to buy something new to wear for the event made me feel ready to go and I felt really good in my new digs! You look good you feel good right! It helped a lot. If you can’t afford to shop then ask a friend to borrow something that you’ve had your eye on.
Tip Six – Breathe: Be mindful of your breathing and anticipation for the event. Practice breathing exercises before and during. Take a bathroom break and sit, relax and breathe. 5 times in through your nose and out through your mouth. It does work. Don’t listen to those voices in your head that tell you you can’t do this. Breathe.
Now, let’s make a plan to have a great Holiday…Sober….
Don’t think about what’s ahead, we only have today.
This is, Being Me Sober
The first thing I did when I was home from the hospital and back with my family was find the first AA meeting and actually go this time. It was the most frightening thought. I still hadn’t accepted really that I was/am an alcoholic. I needed proof, proof that I was not an alcoholic. Not like those people. The ones we create in our minds. Whatever image we create in our minds of what an alcoholic looks like. Still denying. I had to try at least, to prove to my family that I was serious this time, and the only way I could have done that was attending/doing every option there was to help me get sober. I knew I needed help and had come to terms with that…..but really, an alcoholic? I walked into AA and was greeted by a very pleasant lady who noticed my tears and anxiety, she just smiled, gave me a hug and welcomed me in saying, “Everything will be okay, you are here.” I felt at home at that very moment. She gave me the literature to go home with, The 12 steps, and The Big Book, sat me in a seat with ladies who also welcomed me and made me feel so comfortable. I sat and listened to the openings and stories of who had been sober for years and ones sober just that day. I received my 24 hr coin and held it so tight. I talked with people, I watched, stared at people and thought, wow, this is nothing like I had imagined it to be. These people don’t look like what I thought them to look like. There were doctors, lawyers, nurses etc. People just like me. People coming together to share their journey and help those wanting a better life. I worked the steps, read The Big Book and related to almost every story in there. I was amazed at the amount of professional well known people who also shared the same “disease” as I do. It gave me perspective and insight of this sickness, weakness.
I stayed on with AA for 9 months until I felt I could do it on my own with the support of my friends and family. I’m heading into my 10th year of sobriety. I did come to terms with being an alcoholic and I am okay with that. It doesn’t change the person I am by acknowledging the medical term or name for it. It doesn’t mean I am tarnished goods, or not worthy of anyone or anything, it just means I can’t drink. It doesn’t do anything positive for me or anyone around me. I’m okay with that too.
AA may not work or be the answer for all who are suffering with an addiction but it did open my eyes to see that, no matter what we look like or do for a living, we/I suffer like the rest. All you have to do is try. Try it out, don’t dismiss something you are afraid of or unknown too. You could be pleasantly surprised at the new you that comes out.
Remember, the only thing that maters is you want to get and be better and this is only one of the options that are out there for you. Doing it alone doesn’t work. Sharing and togetherness, no matter where or when, that’s really the only option.
This is Being Me Sober
As some of you know by following my site, thank you, I have been recovering from the addiction of alcohol for almost 10 years now. Getting here was not easy but I did it! How? I started out by admitting myself to the mental health ward in the hospital because well, I wanted to die. I wanted to be rid of everything and everyone around me because the shame of what I had become and the things I had done and said to the people who mean the most to me. I knew I would die if I didn’t get help but I didn’t know where to go or what to do.
I was headed on foot with tea in my mug, yes tea. I just spent the last 12 hours + binge drinking, raging and acting out. I told my kids and husband they were better off without me. I couldn’t do it. I was an embarrassment to them and myself. I was told my whole life that I would amount to nothing and I had, I thought. There’s that voice again.
I had downed all my anti-depressants in hopes of them just taking me anywhere but where I was. Deep down I knew they wouldn’t kill me but I was making a statement to who ever was watching me. I was screaming on the inside for help. Doing anything to just be gone so I didn’t have to face the questions of why.
I was so scared because I didn’t want to lose my kids, they are everything to me and now I had to go back and beg my husband, then boyfriend to forgive me and give me one more chance. You see this had been happening for 3 years with him. The black outs, the rages and the all day long on the couch Sunday’s. The excuses. He had no idea of how bad I was. When we met I pleaded with myself to not freak out or go to bed early so I didn’t stay up all night drinking and black out. I knew early on that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. He’s the best person other than my children that happened to me. He didn’t understand my past, my secrets, or how I dealt with it, I mean I hadn’t even dealt with it. I just got out of the madness and chaos I was in for the last 34 years.
Spending the 5 days in the hospital made me realize I had to change. I was in a sort of haze the whole time I was there but I was determined to be better and get better. I had to finally deal with my past and not turn to alcohol to communicate or live or even to have fun. I had to stop the circle of abuse.
Slowly my family, by family I mean my husband and children, started to believe in me again. I was starting to feel better. More alive, more valued and more wanted. The issues I had with some people in my life were coming full force and I had to make a choice of who was healthy for me to grow and who was not. It was time to clean house. Mind you it didn’t happen right way but the longer I was sober the more clearly I saw people in my life as they truly are.
I was like a scientist, dissecting everyone and everything in my life. The people I put up on a pedestal were not actually the people I imagined them to be. Some came full circle and give me the love I had been missing.
It was not an easy task, like I said, to get to where I have come. There was a lot of tears, anger, blame and with the right people, the truth and the proper support in you circle, you too can have a life you so desperately want and deserve.
Don’t be ashamed to seek help for what you are going through or have gone through. It follows us and will eat us alive if we don’t deal with the issues that lead us here.
This is Being Me Sober
It is an awful thing to do. Defining who you are because of your past. If I had too define myself 10 years ago it would be pretty bad. I wouldn’t have too many nice things too say about myself.
Today it’s different. I have regained my pride and discovered, me, who I am.
Early on I drank like anyone else, at parties, holidays or with company, but then it got out of hand and it became an escape to the life I was trapped in and just excelled year after year.
I could no longer do what I was doing. It wasn’t working. I hated me. I was forced to deal with my issues, sober, straight, no covers, no secrets. If I wanted the life that I was pretending to have then I had no choice. I learned to keep secrets at a young age. I learned to make it look like all was okay. I learned how to cope with thoughts that raced through my mind. But I was dying on the inside. I was not existing in the world or for my family. I was lying to everyone and myself.
When I found that sobriety was working and I started to sort through my past traumas, started communicating, life was new, it was starting to be fun. Yes, FUN! My happy endorphins were on full speed! I started to love myself and the people that I wanted in my life. The people that only want good for me. The people that supported me to the end. The ones who picked me up so many times and tried again.
If you ask me today to define myself,
I am free
I am happy, truly happy
I love to help others
I’m silly, fun and sympathetic
I am successful and strong
I am the best me I have ever been.
The past does not define you as a person, they’re times in life that didn’t go very well. Learn from them and make better, healthy choices.
Your past is not a definition of who you are meant to be!
This is, Being Me Sober
Let’s face it, when we start drinking no matter what age, we do it because we see our parents doing it or we have a friend that gets access to it and we do it together. Some of us can have no desire to drink and some like us, it’s the taste of a whole different path we drank our way into. We of course didn’t intend it to work out the way it did. We had no idea what was ahead of us.
I think I was about 15, 16 when I had my first taste of alcohol. I went through high school going to all the parties and had parties at my home. Normal teenage experiencing and living out the best years of our life.
I got married at 22 and had my first child just 3 months shy of my 23rd birthday. I had my second child at 25. My life was happy and my main focus was my children, my family. I was able to stay at home with my children throughout their childhood. In year 2002 I started my own residential cleaning company so I could still be there for my kids. I was succcessful at being a mother and running my own company for over 12 years. But things started to change and the alcohol started to take control because of the abusive marriage I was “stuck” in. I had issues from my childhood that I never dealt with because I put them in the back of my mind and didn’t know how to deal with them. I saw therapists seeking help but never gave up the alcohol.
I had become delusional, blaming other people for my black out rages. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t acting out for nothing, I was releasing all the hurt, all the secrets, all the abuse I had seen and lived through since I was 4 until I was 34 years old and, when I drank it surfaced. Little by little, piece by piece, rage after rage. Until I had a break down and was forced to look at myself and give it one last try. I had to, I had children and a man who changed my world.
When our drinking morphs us into someone people don’t recognize anymore, it leaves us and others with questions. We start to make excuses, we become delusional as to why we chose to act the way we did or why we have to drink so much. Funny thing is, we didn’t know the answer to those questions either. Those are the questions we were asking ourselves.
I will share with you my thoughts about why I thought, or what I chose to tell people what caused my black out rage episodes and what I tried to do to stop the rage and black outs so I could keep drinking.
* I didn’t eat before I drank.
* I had a bad day.
* I was fine, they were the ones who made me lose my shit!
* It’s the wine, I will dilute it.
* It’s the beer, I will dilute it.
* I swore off liquor because it was to strong.
There are a lot more excuses and tactics our minds let us believe when we know we have a problem and aren’t ready to give it up.
In all honesty, the only thing we are diluting is our mind into delusion.
This is, Being Me Sober
It is known in all of us. That voice that tells us we will be okay, if….
The voice that keeps us in the hell we are going through. The voice that tells you you can control it, this time. The voice that tells you it’s them that has a problem, not me.
How much I struggled with this voice in my early sobriety and how I had to fight with myself to say NO. We can convince ourselves of anything.
The reason we have such a hard time sustaining from any addiction is not only the environment or people we are around, but the mind. It’s the devil against the angel.
Until we sustain abstinence from the drug of choice for a long period of time we can not see the beauty of having a life without it.
It took me many attempts at quitting the booze but not long enough to see the outcome of sustaining. Until I had the ultimatum of losing everything that is so important to me. I knew I was hurting not only myself but my children and everyone and thing around me. What kind of example was I setting for them. How could I be anything to them if I wasn’t functioning at my best. I was being looked at like a drunk, a person who had a lot of baggage. People asked my husband why he stayed with me. His response, “Kelly is a great person when she is sober.” He could see the good I had in me when I couldn’t.
I was trapped between letting go of the “baggage” or keep chugging away on my pity party train. Never did I feel sorry for myself but I had to release all the hurt and pain I had been carrying since I was 4 years old. The only time I could release that pain and talk about it was when I was drinking and felt that strength from the bottle. Everything from my past would surface and that is when I wanted to talk. If I didn’t get the attention I thought I deserved well, out came the rage and hatred for the people who did me wrong. The devil was poking his head out and giving them a taste of what they all deserved.
Today I do not listen to that voice, as a matter of fact the devil has left the building. It no longer torments me to give in to the drink when things go array, I can function and communicate without substance being the instigator. I have the power of my mind and what I choose to keep in my vault of thinking and what I choose to remember, think about and focus on. I can now sort through the issues I have or had with my past without my mind racing a mile a minute and reaching for my bottle to get me through the chaos. Life throws us into a loop sometimes and we don’t always know how to deal with it. But using to get through is NOT the answer. It makes things so much worse and you end up feeling worse then when you started out. Life becomes distorted and confusing.
The saying is “mind over matter.” It is just that. Take the matter at hand and think of better solutions to help you get through. Don’t listen to the voice that tells you to drink or use to get the answer or to feel better. Be your best and you will have the best.
Put the devil to bed and say goodbye to that voice that holds you back.
One minute, one hour, one day at a time. Quiet your mind if just for a moment.
This is, Being Me Sober
I can still hear my dad saying “Slow down Kelly.” Even into my 30’s he was still saying it.
It seems everything in my life I have done, I have done it quickly, expecting immediate results. When I didn’t get the instant results I wanted I either got very frustrated or gave up cause it wasn’t working. I didn’t know patience.
My mother told me I was on Ritalin as a child that I had ADD. I was into my early 40’s when she told me! I was like, your telling me this now? And then well, it made sense. I can actually feel it in myself at times and it is me now telling myself to “slow down.” I mean even when I drank, I went all the way and FAST!
When it comes to stress of activities such as housework, homework, anxiety, etc,. Or emotions your not use to. You need to allow yourself to stop, and go slow. Take a breathe, relax, it will get done, if not in 5 minutes then 10.
I had to find a lot of patience when it came to sustaining from alcohol. There is no instant gratification, it is a long process and very delicate. You need to take it step by step, emotion after emotion and slow.
When I stopped drinking everything about me changed. I never took notice before because I was depressed and emotionally unstable. I couldn’t deal or recognize any of my emotions.
You hear all the time how great sobriety is and you think, huh, never worked for me, or will it work and how long does it take to feel great again or not have urges anymore.
The answer is in you, you have to have patience to get better. Your body and brain are healing and it takes time.
No matter what you do “slow down“. Don’t give up. Learn to go slow and have patience.
Being Me Sober
There were times I would pack my suitcase, grab a blanket and my dog and go to the kids high school and sleep. That was a place where I thought I could hide and get away from the shame and the embarrassment I felt after a night of binging and black-out. I can’t share with you exactly what I did because I only remember bits and pieces of the night. If I may add, they were enough for me to know I had a huge problem!
When I would run, which I always wanted to do, sober or intoxicated. I was really trying to run from myself, hide my shame of horrible things I did or said, run from the look on peoples faces, run from the horrible person I was. Running was my solution to everything. It was a defense mechanism to save myself the hurt and shame of losing it all. I felt like a useless mother, an undeserving mother, a useless and nothing to offer kind of girlfriend and person. The shame was excruciating.
I ran because I couldn’t face them. The sight of myself was disgusting so how could they ever want to be around me……this. I couldn’t handle them telling me what I had done, I don’t do those things when I am sober. I had to beg for forgiveness and promise things that I did not believe my self. I had to go back and make them believe that I do need them. I had to stop doing what I was doing, but how?
Even though I promised myself and my family I would keep it under control, I never could for very long. There was always something or someone doing or saying something that set me off on a tangent. Once I started I couldn’t stop either the booze or the consequence.
I can not go back and erase the things I did or said, but I can stay sober,to show them how much they mean to me and how I did not mean anything I did or said then, it just isn’t who I am.
Don’t be ashamed of your past, grow from it and make amends to yourself and all you have hurt. Face everything in life head on with grace and sobriety!
This is Being Me Sober
We thought we were strong when we were intoxicated. We didn’t need anyone but ourselves. We could take on the world, alone. If that’s what it took. They never understood us. All this blaming and accusing us of having a problem….wait and see what we can do without them! We yell, scream, fight like we are undefeated.
Then we wake up, sober up and beg for forgiveness. We feel weak and ashamed. Where did that power go? There is no power when we are intoxicated. It is imaginary and our addiction wanting us to succumb to the power of the demons that keep us going back to the bottle or drug.
We all know this courage and can relate to it once we are sober/clean. It is not who we really are. We are fighting ourselves really, and trying to convince all those around us what power we think we have, but having no power at all.
This is Being Me Sober….