Thursday, February 24, 2011

Your Voice Matters - Come Show Your Support

Hi everyone.  Ellie here.

It's hard to believe, but we're coming up on Crying Out Now's one year anniversary.

We're so grateful to all of you - the strong, brave, honest women who post their truths, the comments of support and encouragement and those of you who help spread the word through your sidebars, facebook pages and tweets.  Thank you to each and every one of your support.   

For Crying Out Now's one year anniversary I'm cooking up a video honoring the power of bringing our hearts and voices together to help each other heal.  

If you would like to participate, please email me a photo of you holding a sign that says "My Voice Matters".  

If you are concerned about anonymity, you don't have to show your face; you could write it on your arm and take a photo, or hold the sign up so only your eyes are showing, or write the message on a post-it note stuck to something meaningful.    Be creative!     Here's my photo:



I really hope I get enough photos to create the video - anyone who reads, posts, comments or helps to spread the word about Crying Out Now can participate.   Even if you've never commented but you read along, please submit a photo.   You don't have to be sober.   You don't have to be in recovery.   All you have to know is that Your Voice MATTERS.

Please send photo submission to me at onecraftyellie@gmail.com.     And please, PLEASE help me spread the word about this. 

Photos submissions are due by MARCH 2nd.   Sorry for the short notice.  Procrastination is one of those character defects of mine that is slow to improve....

I want to thank the lovely Maggie of Violence Unsilenced for the idea for a one year anniversary video.   If you've never checked out VU, please do.   Amazing, courageous women are using their voices to change to world over there, too.     And go see her Two Year Anniversary video - for ideas, for inspiration, for hope.

Thank you - from the bottom of our hearts - for all your support, courage and truth.    Together we are breaking down the stigma, darkness and denial that surrounds addiction.

Together, we can do anything.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dirty Truths

***Submitted by Melissa, who blogs at Leaving It All Behind

Recently I was having a conversation with a very close friend about her brother, who is addicted to opiates. We were discussing how he can't seem to get his head in the right place to find a solution - he thinks he's on the right track sometimes, he talks of getting away (hello, geographical cure), and of straightening up - but it's just... all wrong. Poor guy. Anyway, she was telling me how I am not the same as him because I was strong and knew what I had to do to stop drinking. I recognized that I had a problem and I did something about it.

And while I know she was saying that kindly and lovingly and she meant it, I also knew she was wrong. I am no different than he is. No different than any addict. Not then, not now. Put a drink back in my hands and I will turn right back into what I was: a sick, active alcoholic.

When I see other people out in the world struggling with alcohol, drugs, food, cigarettes, on and on and on, I remember to never look at the differences between them and me, but to look for the similarities, to practice infinite compassion. Because I must. Because I know we are all fighting the same fight. Yes, some addictions are a bit more grave than others, no doubt. And some of them wreck our lives harder and faster than others.

But the deep down uncomfortable truths of our lives are, in all likelihood, the same.

The truth is there was a lot of lying. A lot of daily white lies about why I was so tired, why I was so cranky, about how much I drank or didn't drink.

The truth is I carried around a massive amount of shame. Crippling shame. I could never look anyone in the eye when I spoke to them because when I did, I thought they could see right through me to what I was... nothing more than a sick, worthless, disgusting, stinky alcoholic. I felt ugly all the time, inside and out. Certainly not like a valuable human being. And most certainly not like a woman.

The truth is I was abusing my body to a horrific degree. I had sleep problems. Obviously. And skin problems due to constant dehydration. And respiratory problems from all the smoking I did along with my drinking. Stomach and digestive problems so painful they kept me out of work for two-day stretches. Kidney infections and bladder problems. And of course there was the panic and worry over all of those issues, compounding them, making them even worse.

The truth is that sometimes I would get so drunk so fast on any given night that I would throw up and pass out and wake up wondering how I got in bed, if I ate, if I got on the phone with some unfortunate friend and talked their ear off. I probably had dozens and dozens of blackouts in the course of a few years. I blanked them out. I made myself not think about them because when I did, I was immobilized by anxiety.

The truth is I used to bring home alcohol in the evenings and be itching to get into it, and I would drink and drink until I was head-spinning drunk, stuff my face, go to bed in a daze, wake up in pain, promise myself I would stop, berate myself and beat myself up mentally all.fucking.day.long., go home from work... and do it all over again. To paraphrase Tara, it was like living in a nasty version of Groundhog Day. Living the same day, the same awful day, for years on end.

I am constantly spouting joy in this space - and yay! there's nothing wrong with that! - but just because I have had, in my estimation, a very lucky, happy time of it being sober, that doesn't mean I have forgotten these truths. Like I said in my previous post, The Reality Of It, I have to remember the reality so that I have armor against the "I can just have one" mentality, if and when it surfaces in my consciousness.

And if I have to tell the truth now, I am putting them down here in this space not so much for me as for anyone who knew me before, reading this now, who didn't know how bad it was. Which is everyone, really. I was actually angry about that at first, that no one seemed to get it. But then, how could anyone get it? No one was here to see it.

But those are the dirty truths of what my life was. So yeah, I wake up happy as hell every single day now because you can't imagine how damn thankful I am that those are no longer my truths. I feel worthwhile now. I feel feminine. I feel healthy. I feel full of hope and love and laughter. And I am free of shame.

And I will keep fighting the good fight for myself, every single day, to make sure it stays that way.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jigsaw

***Submitted by Deb, who is a regular contributor at Crying Out Now

I am three people.   One, the person before she has a drink.   Two, the person who takes that first sip.   And three, the woman waking up in the middle of the night panicked that she's circling the drain.   The one who vows at 2AM to be a better wife, mother, liver of life.   A liver of life who doesn't try to fade away every evening.

This is a relatively new split personality for me.   Oh sure, I've always drank too much when I drink.   One glass of anything?   Not worth it.    It's so much more fun when the glasses are endless.     Conversations are more fascinating, kisses deeper, music louder.    When I drink, it's as my life grows sharper, in technicolor, not fuzzier, as the truth may be.

Then, there's the fact that I'm a happy drunk.    Life seems easier, so much simpler; so much less boring.    My laughter is full and real.   I get you, you get me.   Things are better.

Or at least they were. The last two years, I've sat in a movie theater watching me on the screen from a seat in the distance.    Seeing a woman who was flailing and grasping at alcohol; making it her lifeline; instead of making her life.   This was about the time I began to drink every night.   Only wine, you know.   Only wine.  One, two, three glasses.  Never more than one bottle.   But I was alone.   I wasn't laughing.   Life stopped appearing easier under the guise of alcohol.

That was about the time I realized I had a problem.

And still do.

But it's only wine. And never more than one bottle.

But I am alone.

I don't feel strong enough to put an end to it.   To say no more.   No more drinks at book club, no more wine with dinner, no more toasting at anniversaries, no more cheering at reunions.   Alcohol is so intertwined with my life as to make it impossible for me to see my life without it.

This is where I am now. I am still three people, unsure how to make herself just one.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I. Cannot. Control. Alcohol.

***Submitted by Susan, who blogs at Writing My Way Sober

I just read another woman's blog post about the day she chose to quit drinking. Damn it's good. Here is the link: Hi my name is Heather.

While reading Heather of the EO's post, I was struck by how helpful it was to me personally, how her description fits me too. The seemingly normal mom, who has never had a DUI, didn't drink a ton but felt in my soul that it was wrong. Snuck more vodka into my glass when no one was looking, disguised the sound of more ice cubes clinking into the glass. Slid a slow ride up over weeks from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 drinks. Waited until 5 o'clock and breathed a sigh of relief when it came. Ahh... just take the edge off being a mommy after a full days work.

Reading her post helped me because, lately, I have considered drinking again. It's 4 months tomorrow and my life has not changed significantly. I'm still the same person with new addictions to replace the old big one. But her entry made me see that I am the same kind of alcoholic she is. I can go for weeks and even months at a time without drinking (once even two years) but I cannot control it when I start back up again.

I. cannot. control. alcohol.

I saw in the comments how many other women said they didn't feel as alone because of what she confessed. And she used to be a therapist too. So now I really don't feel so alone.

I have to say I have often heard the echos of shaming, judging voices of readers thinking ugly thoughts like: She's a therapist? But she's a drunk. And this morning: Should a therapist be blogging? Brene Brown would think this is horrible. Just now: Doesn't motherhood make her happy? She must not like being a mother.

These are MY judgments. These are MY demons.

I'm wondering as I write this if I belong in AA. Maybe I need to be "working a program". It has become apparent to me that there is far more to recovery than stopping the intake of booze. 4 months - I've been pretty damn cocky. Add another shaming voice: She's going to relapse. Maybe it just starts getting really hard at 4 months. I'm in baby recovery, a sober infant, still in need of diligent supervision.

So this is the power of blogging: Heather of the EO has helped me and maybe this has helped someone else. That's the reason for doing this blog thing - not to be clever, or cool, or become "blogging royalty" - but to connect and heal.

So I head into month 4 tomorrow. Whoever out there, if you are just starting to quit, quitting today, or are 10 years into it, you are not alone.

At the least, Heather of the EO and I will be sober with you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Remission

***Submitted by Diana, who is a regular contributor to Crying Out Now

Even after five years of sobriety, I harbor no illusions that I am cured. It is more like my disease is in remission.

I don’t consider picking up a drink because I know I don’t drink. That is just the way I live now. The way I react to certain circumstances, however, and the way my brain processes some things remind me all the time that I am a card carrying member of the addict community.

Last weekend we watched the movie “It’s Complicated” with Meryl Streep. It was a cute romantic comedy; kind of predictable, but I enjoyed it. I also had a very strong desire to get high after watching it. There was a scene where Meryl Streep’s character smokes a joint with Steve Martin’s character before attending a party at which they have the best time ever had at a party. Even the physical act of smoking looked good to me; the ritual of inhaling, holding in the smoke, exhaling and then feeling the buzz. Man, it sounds pretty good to me even as I write this. I suspect the un-addicted mind wouldn’t get quite so warm and fuzzy over this tiny fraction of a 90-minute movie.

Recently a coworker had his wisdom teeth removed, all four at once. When I asked how he was doing a colleague said that he was fine and hadn’t even had to take the Vicodin the doctor had prescribed. My response was, ”Just because he doesn’t have to take it is no reason not to”. To which I added, “But that thought is precisely why I am in recovery”. I even had the thought that all that Vicodin was going to be wasted. As if there are people in real need of Vicodin who are being deprived of it (think the “there are children starving in China” argument) as opposed to me just lusting after someone else’s pain meds.

I watch Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” religiously. I find myself sort of in love with Edie Falco’s character and not just because I relate to the juxtaposition of a strong intelligent woman who is both overwhelmed and flawed. I live vicariously through the multitude of pills she pops and snorts. A marital conflict? Pop a couple of the pink pills. A work related catastrophe? Crush up the white pills, inhale and call it a day. I was never into pills, but my reaction to her and hers proves to me just how easily I could have been.

I don’t act on these impulses nor do I really mind them. They serve as a constant reminder that my disease is always there, trying to peer pressure my brain into making the wrong choice. But my brain, while always tempted, remembers too clearly the helplessness of active addiction and won’t give in.

In recovery I have learned to identify my flawed thinking process instead of just acting upon it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy Birthday and Anniversary to ME!

***Submitted by Chris, who blogs at Doggie Lover Has Hope

It’s all about me today!!! Well, isn’t it always?

One of the main characteristics of an alcoholic is self-centeredness, or at least mine!!!!   Anyway, today is about me!!! I am going to be HAPPY!!! I am not going to let the rainy crappy weather, my crazy family or the fact that the hubby left me without gas in my car & I almost didn’t make it to the meeting this morning bring me down!   I forgot my wallet in another purse and I only had $10, well my car said 5 miles to empty and when I put my $10 in the tank the notification didn’t even change, I still had 5 miles to empty, LOL!!!

I had my 8:30 beginners meeting, LOVE THIS MEETING!!! Then I had the 10 meeting after, so I called the hubby, who was still sleeping and told him my dilemma, funny thing is he knew he was SO BAD for not filling the car when he had it that he would have done anything to not have me be upset, but I wasn’t. I just said, my meeting is over at 11, please meet me at the parking lot and follow me to the gas station with some money, and you can pump my gas!!! If I were drinking, I would have lost MY MIND!!!! I actually got a little bit of pleasure out of making him come to help me!!!  I could have just borrowed some money from someone else, but it was more fun to see him squirm, HAAAAAAAA!!!! I am allowed the simple pleasures, right???


So today is my 37th Birthday, I am so thankful to be sober and able to enjoy this day. I am really blessed, and I know life sucks sometimes, but I have what I need for today and I have my sobriety. Would I want to be prettier, thinner, richer….HELL YA!!! Not an alcoholic????.............I ‘m not sure. I feel like I am learning so much from my involvement with AA, my sponsor, my fellow AA friends, all my sober-online friends. I am learning how to become a better wife, daughter, friend & HUMAN BEING!!!   I may not get it right all the time, but when I am wrong I know it, and I try to acknowledge my part in the situation. I am learning how to live life on life’s terms, how God wants me to live!! I am learning how to do all of this SOBER!!

Today is also my 5-year wedding Anniversary. I’ll be honest with you, on April 26th 2010, if you asked me if I would still be married I would say I’m not really sure. Today I am 100% sure that I am married and SO thankful!! I have a super supportive husband, who understands that I am an alcoholic!! Sobriety has given me a completely new marriage & relationship with my husband. A new relationship that is built on the foundation I found in my AA program.

I am NOT a perfect wife, and he is NOT a perfect husband, but we are imperfectly perfect for each other!!!

I may sound like I am on a pink cloud...... maybe I am!! But today I am loving that I am soaring above all the other junk in my life. I am riding a pink cloud of love and gratitude, and I am truly happy today, maybe even tickled PINK!!!

I hope if someone is having a bad day they can look and see that sometimes the bad days can lead into great ones!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

'Fessing Up

***Submitted by Kristin, who is a regular contributor to Crying Out Now


I'm having trouble telling people in my real life I quit drinking.


I haven't had a drink. I've poured out drinks handed to me.

I just can't find how to tell them.

Which is shady and gross. I don't really like that. It makes me feel like I'm ashamed. Or like I'm making sure they won't call me if I slide a little.

But I struggle with what's more productive. Telling them so I can't reason my way back into drinking or hearing them tell me I don't really need to quit.

Many of the people in my life don't know how dangerous I can get, what a thin line I'm dancing on. And I don't think that all of them need to know.

All of them have seen me have one drink and be fine. All of them have seen the brilliant smile on my face after three drinks. They like seeing me happy. They like the happiness I bring them when I drink.

That makes me worry that they won't believe me when I tell them it's bad. There will be plenty of people trying to convince me to drink again, that I don't have a problem and that makes me terrified of telling them. Terrified that they'll convince me they're right.

It's happened before.

These people are not all drunks. Some of them are. No one wants to see themeselves reflected when I acknowledge my disease. But many of them just don't understand. They argue with me that I could manage it, I could be ok. I no longer believe that they're right. But that doesn't mean after three or four of those conversations I couldn't be persuaded to talk about it over drinks.

So I'm worried and caught in the middle, not really knowing what's the best move.

I don't want to let myself be persuaded by someone else to drink. But I don't like hiding this realization either. It seems too cowardly. It seems weak. It seems like an easy out some dark day down the road.

Do I really need to live my life explaining to every single person why I stopped? Why must they argue with me? Why can't they just believe me that this is what's best for me? Why do other people want me to drink so badly?

I'm so intimately frustrated by those questions.

So for now, I wait.

I will explain.

But for now, I wait. Until I have some more time and under my belt.

Just not too much.

It's a balance.

I'm still dancing on a very thin wire, trying to decide which side is less dangerous to fall onto.