Thursday, March 6, 2014

Turning 40...Past, Present, and what will the Future hold?

*****submitted by katlulu with 3 days


I am turning 40 in one month.  

I own my own business.  I have been with my partner, H, for nearly 10 years; we have no children by choice.  We are both well-educated.  We have created a cozy home, through my endless joy of re-purposing and design.  We cherish our beloved pets.  We are fortunate and do not stress about finances. We have beautiful friendships (only a few true ones), and we have close relationships with our families.  We often say how grateful we are.  Life seems pretty dang swell, no? 

The problem is that:

I am dependent on alcohol.  I abuse it.
I have an unhealthy relationship with food.  I abuse it.
I am dependent on nicotine.  I abuse it.

They all play into a paralyzing, vice-vicious cycle.  They feed each on and off of each other.  I learned and practiced them all together, for the last 25 years.  But first, I think that I want to get sober.

My first taste of alcohol was at a restaurant with my Dad and my stepmother.  I was very young. My Dad ordered a fancy dessert parfait just for me.  It came in a pretty glass dish that sat elegantly, on a white doily.  It was served to me with a long, graceful spoon.  Bright green, creme de menthe, poured over these little perfect scoops of vanilla ice cream.  It was so creamy and minty! And I loved and savored every last milky-green drip and drop, with my special spoon.  That night, my Dad chuckled the whole way home because I was being so funny and hyper.  I loved making him laugh! It became our tradition. 

Fast forward to high school.  My friends and I were bound and determined to be older, so we smoked and drank, experimented with drugs, and had sex.  One time, I woke up after drinking vodka, with a guy on top of me and no recollection.  Freshman summer, I slept with a guy one night, who was a sophomore in college.  The next day, he told me I had left my earrings on his nightstand.  He and his friend came to pick me up.  His friend drove a white van with only a driver and a front passenger seat.  I had to sit on the sophomore's lap. We went back to the friend's house and I remember red flags...I felt nervous being there, as the only girl with two college-aged men.  They opened half-warm cans of Busch pounders, and handed me one.  They wanted to play strip poker with me.  I played, but I felt so humiliated and ashamed.  Finally we were finished, and I just wanted to go home.  But first, the college sophomore pinned me down, and while I said no repeatedly, he assaulted me.  His friend, "wanted some too", and laughed and pounded on the locked door.  But I was only his.  They drove me home, right after.  I had to ride on the sophomore's lap.  I don't remember if I got my earrings back.

In college, I partied regularly.  Lots of beer, shots of liquor, bong hits, cocaine...blackouts.  Many sexual encounters, many I don't remember.  I was thee party queen! The sex goddess! I thought it was fun, the parts that I remember.

By my 30's, I had been married and divorced. I moved to Brooklyn, and worked and schooled in NYC.  One night after a happy hour I fell on some ice, knocked my front teeth out, and broke bones in my face.  Crazy thing is that I didn't realize that my teeth were truly gone, until the morning.

Today, nearly 20 years later, while I've calmed down significantly, red wine is my drug of choice.  I still blackout regularly.  I cringe in the mornings when trying to recollect what I did, or said the night before.  I rebuff plans, so I can stay home and safely drink.  I don't usually make or take calls after 5 o' clock.  I have to eat a chalky antacid before drinking, so my stomach doesn't feel like fire.  I wake in the night, hurting, like I've been poisoned (I have).  I can't sleep, I'm cold, then I'm sweaty-hot.  I lay there, promising myself, begging myself, no more wine.

H got a DUI.  He is recovering, and has hardly drank for the last 8 months.  I love him, and I'm so proud of him.  He has inspired me, but I couldn't stop with him, I couldn't support him the way I wanted to.

Today is my Day 3. My head hurts and it's spinning with anxiousness, my palms are wet, and my pupils are like black saucers. I've tried so many times to get it together.  I am so sick of not living bigger; there is so much more to my person, than this.   And while I so wish that I could finally grasp moderation, I am scared that will never happen.  Should I just try to stick to one or two glasses, just one more time? The thing is, I think I'm finally too tired to try it again.  Tired of the insanity.

I think I am ready for my 40th birthday...sober.  At least I am today.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Cry For Help

***Submitted by Anonymous

I need help!!! I had not idea so many woman had a problem with drinking! Until a couple of days ago,  I thought I was alone with this problem and every one else was coping with their lives just fine. I've been so very, very ashamed and confused why I can't stop.

I've been drinking wine, almost every evening, for almost 30 years. 

I never drank as a teenager or young adult. It started when my (ex) husband left me and our three small children. I was an immature 28 year old RN, orphaned at 16, completely on my own and terrified.

I clearly remember the night my life changed. I was crying on the kitchen floor, had no idea how I was going to raise three children on my own and found some wine in the refrigerator. I had a glass of wine and immediately calmed down. I was able to sleep through the night for the first time since my husband left.

I've been drinking almost every night since, never involved with any trouble, do not drink socially and never drink and drive. My beautiful daughter does not like me drinking in the evenings and I don't blame her. She is concerned about me and loves me very much.

Now I drink because I'm single, very lonely, work too much (out of my home) and use it to help me on the terribly lonely and boring evenings I face every night. I know this is my making, but I want to change and need help. I don't seek a relationship because I think my drinking makes me broken and I don't want to be with a man who drinks, because I will get worse.

Thanks for listening

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When Getting Sober Feel Like Grief

*** Submitted by Andrea, who blogs at Your Kick-Ass Life

Recently I’ve had the privilege of helping out a friend who is trying to get sober. It’s been a while since I’ve been in those early days, and as I’ve helped her and listened to her fears about sobriety, I remember.

And something struck me—something I’ve never thought of before. The grief process many of us go through, as we get sober.

They say in recovery, it works until it doesn’t. When I got sober in 2011 I came to a point when drinking just wasn’t working anymore. And I so, so wanted it to. I tried to make it work exactly like I would in a relationship with a lover. The one you have that intense connection with. So much history. But, you know you’re not good for each other. You know in your heart the relationship should end. But, you can’t even for one minute image your life without that person. It’s too painful to even think about. So you spend day after day with that person. Trying to make it work. Trying to make it fun again. Trying go back to the way it used to be. Reminiscing about old times when things were so good. So desperate for it to work again.

And it never does.

That’s what drinking alcoholically feels like.

And when we finally make that decision to get sober, at least for me, it absolutely felt like I was leaving a relationship. One that had protected me from all my fears in the world. Or so I thought. In the end of these relationships that are falling apart we do everything in our power to paint a picture of love. But, in reality it’s far from it. The relationship is causing us more sadness and anxiety that we can bear, so we hold on tighter to try to make it better. And the cycle starts all over again.

And I know because I’ve been in that intimate relationship with that real-life person when it fell apart and we split up. We were together for 13 years, had so much history and were bonded intensely. The grief I experienced was unlike any other. I was lost without him. I didn’t know who I was without him in my life. It was as if I had to learn how to “be”. The fear and grief were at times unbearable.

And after more than 2 years of sobriety I’ve suddenly realized getting sober feels like same thing.

Heartbreak. Grief. And fear.

I grieved and was heartbroken over the loss of alcohol. I grieved the loss of who I was when drinking actually did work. I grieved the fact that I now identified with a group of people that at one time I judged—at one time I swore I wasn’t one of them. I grieved that I would have to work hard at recovery—because just abstaining from alcohol wasn’t going to be enough for me. I grieved the loss of a part of me.

I feared facing my life without a means to numb and hide from the hard times. I feared that alcoholism really was something that was out of my control. I feared that for me, there would be no turning back once I knew for sure and admitted that I was a true alcoholic.

All of this isn’t to say that there isn’t so much to be gained from sobriety. I have a beautiful, sober life now. But, I write this post for anyone who might think that their feelings of grief and sadness are wrong. You need to feel what you feel. And if you feel grief about getting sober that’s okay. I’ve been one to over-think almost everything and this is one of them. I’ve made up that it has to mean something if I feel sad about it all. Am I headed for relapse? Shouldn’t I always feel happy now that I’m sober? Fear and grief are real feelings that we all feel. In my experience, having a spiritual connection has greatly reduced these feelings and I still turn to that connection every time I feel fear and grief come up. But, I remember in early sobriety, they were quite common feelings.


So if you’re in those early days please believe me that all of your feelings are normal. 

And that it does get better.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

TIME TO SAVE MYSELF

    

*** submitted by Anonymous


My last drink was 48 hours ago.  I'm a full time nurse getting ready to complete my final semester of a nursing master's program.  I've been a nurse for 20 years.  I used to work on a drug and alcohol detox unit.  I know what alcoholism is.  My mother, brothers, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were all alcoholics.  Alcoholism creeps up on you like the boogyman.  I've been drinking for about 15 years.  Daily wine (3-4 glasses/night) during the week, heavy vodka on Friday and Saturdays.  I black out once per week.  I don't treat my 3 children right when I'm drunk.  My friends are beginning to complain about my behavior when I drink.  And my husband, the angel, has had to spend many nights getting me home safely, cleaning me up, and reporting my antics the previous night that I could not remember.

It's getting too much.  A couple of years ago, I fell in a hotel bathroom injuring my head and face and did not realize it until I woke up the next day and looked in the mirror.  I have come to the realization that if I intend to complete my degree and continue having a successful career and intact family, I must stop.  I've tried to fool myself too long, "I can handle it.  I'm gaining so much weight because I'm peri-menopausal.  I'm highly functioning-right?"

I have to save myself from myself.  I am an alcoholic.  I'm destroying myself, my family, and soon, my career.  I want to stop before I lose everything.  It took several years for me to get to this point of heavy drinking and I know I am in imminent danger of losing everything.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A NEW LIFE

*** submitted by Anonymous


When I was a little girl I always felt different than everyone else.  I would often day dream about what it would be like to be the "popular" girl, or prettier, or more talented.  I remember sitting in a stairwell at a family party, listening to my relatives chattering and laughing over clinking glasses, and feeling like I just didn't get it.  I didn't fit.

When I took my first drink of alcohol at age 14, it clicked.  I got it!  Now I could understand what all the fun was about.  I loved talking with everyone and anyone who would listen, I could be funny, I was pretty and I simply knew every guy wanted to date me, and I felt like I could accomplish anything.  Until the next morning when I would be hit with the worst hangovers and accomplish nothing being bed ridden all day.

By age 20 I had figured out the solution to my hangover problem, I would take a drink the following morning after a late night.  It took the edge off, my hands were no longer shaking, and my "personality" came back.  I felt better when I was buzzed, and learning to maintain it became the goal.

It was around this time that I became unexpectedly pregnant with a man I'd been dating about a week, and was forced quit drinking.  Honestly, it was not very difficult to stop as my obsession with alcohol was replaced by the obsession of a new baby.  A hurried wedding took place, I purchased my first home, and before I knew it another baby was on the way.  I had two boys 12 months apart, and had spent almost two years being pregnant.  Drink time came once again...

My days blurred together as I felt trapped in a house with two babies to take care of, and the stress mounted.  I turned to alcohol as my nanny, my helper to keep me sane as I changed countless diapers, fed, bathed, clothed these children, and did endless laundry.  I was certainly justified in my drinking - if you had my life you would drink too!  But soon I just couldn't sit in the house with two toddlers all day.  We had to get out and go run errands, go to playdates, have fun at the park, and learn to swim.  It was then that I turned the one drink who would lead to the end for me - Vodka.

I believed that Vodka didn't smell - now I know so many in recovery are under the same delusion.  I would poor Vodka mixed with juice, soda, water, whatever I could mix it with into a water bottle, and off we would go.  My boys and me.  I would drive all over the town, attend parent meetings, exercise, go shopping, make dinners, all in a drunken haze that I became very clever at hiding.  Not.

People around me started to suspect I had a problem long before I did.  My mother in particular questioned my choices and behavior.  I believed my husband was the problem, he was the alcoholic one.  So I packed up the boys and left.  Left my house, my belongings, everything.  We moved in with my mother and within six months I was a divorced, alcoholic disaster, and tired of making up new alibis and reasons as to why.

My journey in recovery began one night when I took my two year old son to the grocery store after a night of drinking and making cookies.  I had run out of green food coloring, and I just HAD to have that!  No matter that I was drunk, I was headed to the store with my toddler in tow.  I vaguely remember the cashier eyeing me as I struggled to enter my pin number and swayed back and forth.  She then leaned in and said, "are you drunk?"...  I was humiliated, frozen in fear that I had been found out.  I turned away in a hurry and never replied, just got the hell out of there with my bag as fast as I could, carrying my son who was innocently playing with his new lollipop.

On the drive home it poured rain and I could barely operate my windshield wipers.  I realized I was putting my son's life and mine in danger.  I realized, for the first time, I was powerless over alcohol.

After a few more days of drinking to dull myself from the humiliation at the store, I had finally had enough.  I crawled on my hands and knees into my mother's bedroom one night, knowing she mysteriously had a copy of "The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous".  I didn't know what was in it, but I knew I had to read it and opened right up to the stories in the back of the book.  I began reading and realizing I could identify with every single story - I knew I was one of them.

The next day I went to my first AA meeting and my life was forever changed.  That was four years ago, and today I have 11 months of sobriety.  I never thought one day would be possible, let alone almost a year.  I relapsed plenty of times, always with good excuse - I was offered a drink and couldn't say no, I was depressed, I was trapped with drinkers at a party, the list goes on.  But the truth is nobody can make me drink today, if I drink its because I want to - period.  And the miracle today isn't that I don't drink, the miracle is that I DON'T want to!

I have learned a way to live sober today, and it includes working the 12 Steps of AA, having a sponsor, and giving back to others.  I have replaced alcohol with fellowship with women in recovery, and that is what has worked for me.  I pray every morning, and I thank God all day, not just at night.  I write a daily gratitude list to remind myself to be thankful for something even when life seems dull, and I send it to my sponsor.  I attend meetings and share what it was like for me to drink, I pray I never forget.

I am so grateful for my sobriety today, and the recovery journey has healed inner wounds I never even knew existed.  My growth as a person and ability to help others is a treasure, and I give all the glory to God for intervening in my life.  God speaks to me through other people, and that is why I share my story and continue to hear other's stories.  Perhaps someone will read mine and know its God speaking to them, this message.  Life is not perfect today, but it’s nothing I have to drink over, and if my head hits the pillow each night without taking a drink its better than my greatest day I ever spent drunk.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

ENDING A 20 YEAR AFFAIR WITH ALCOHOL

*** submitted by Anonymously by a 43 year old, professional single woman


3 days ago I arrived at work, a little late and a lot hung-over.  It was my first day back after an unintended 4 day weekend.  The previous 4 days consisted of one very hung-over day and 3 drinking days.  I called in sick Monday (I have over 100 hours of sick time...what will it hurt?) and had a scheduled day off on Tuesday.  I was a little late that morning (13 beers the previous day-it was my day off!) but the day proceeded normally, we had just finished a very busy 3 or 4 weeks so it was pretty slow (another justification for calling in on Monday).  At about 3 pm I was called into a meeting with my VP and my direct boss and was informed that not only was I not getting an annual bonus but was being placed on a 90 day performance plan.  This was without a warning, I had made a few mistakes in the previous weeks but felt that I had contributed a great deal during the busy time and the previous 11 months.  My lack of consistency was cited and that I made more mistakes and missed more days than anyone else on the team.  The VP looked me straight in the eyes and told me she couldn't understand why I was sabotaging myself and that if I was really honest with myself I would understand why this was necessary.  With tears in my eyes, I said that I understood and was sent home for the rest of the day.  

I cried the whole drive home, feeling like I had been found out, feeling humiliated and embarrassed.  My normal reaction after such an upsetting encounter would be to pick up a six pack on the way home and spend the rest of the day wallowing in self-pity and getting drunk.  A voice inside of my head shouted "NO!" and I listened.  Something clicked in me and I knew that exact behavior landed me in the situation I found myself in.  

My resolve to end my 20+ year affair with booze is fairly strong, but I know it's a slippery slope.  Many times previously I have experienced consequences after which I swore to myself that I would stop.  I think the longest I have abstained was 30 days, I felt great, but that nagging voice kept at me "you can have just one...you earned it, had a rough day..."  

So here I sit on a Friday night, feeling the sting of the last few days, but I am not drinking.  The thought of drinking leaves me a little queasy; I can taste the sour bile of the next morning, feel the headache and upset stomach. 
I am feeling physically sick at the thought of taking that first sip and I officially have 3 days sober.  Reading your blog and listening to some episodes of The Bubble Hour (www.TheBubbleHour.com)  has been so helpful to me.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I WANT MY MOTHER BACK

*** Submitted by Sue, daughter of an addict/alcoholic


I am deeply sad and sometimes I feel hopeless too. The rest of time I am just cynical and I can barely believe in change. I am the daughter of an addict who wasn't violent, wasn't of outrageous behavior, but on the contrary … she was an angel for me. She was so gentle.  So full of love and kindness that I used to think during my childhood that I could actually see her gentleness and kindness. It was like an aura - in her hands, her voice, and in her face. I still find her unique, but she doesn't even resemble the woman who is the mother I remember.

She has been in active addiction for 20 years now.  I see that she is choosing her addiction. She is numbed most of the days in a week. She gets furious without reason.  What hurts the most is that she doesn’t seem to care about the fact that she is slipping deeper into this vicious illness. I feel she just wants to stay with her drink.  She does not care if we are around, if we are happy or sad, if we want her to stop, if we have a life to live and want to share it with her.  I just can’t believe that I am losing her, but I am. 

And there is me: I feel so impotent.  I can’t speak about this with her although I would like to.  I have to try to rescue her but I’m paralyzed.  It’s like a trauma that will not allow me to speak. I think the fact that I have these two pictures of my mother – her being a perfect parent (that she truly is and was), gentle, sweet, kind.  My addicted mother: not caring, choosing a life without us, a numbed life. I am caught between these two pictures - and I can’t act to help her. I can’t talk to her about her addiction when she is lucid because it feels like I would hurt her, I would offend her and she is so different when she doesn’t drink.

I want my mother back in my life but I feel her so far away and I don’t have the power to go get her …