Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Countdown

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


Day One


I'd started to feel weak and fuzzy-headed so I took a day or two off from drinking my nightly wine. The physical symptoms of exhaustion and depression the day after became too much to bear last week. And what I've found, as I've discovered on previous abstinence cycles, is that I was more emotional than usual. More sadness, more discontent, more agitation. But what I also realized is how nice it was to feel those things the way they were meant to be felt: in-your-gut and full frontal.

Day One Again

Conversely, I sort of enjoyed feeling again, even if the emotions weren't all sunshine, and so I didn't drink another night, spending the evening on the couch with my husband and kids watching TV. Weirder still, I enjoyed it. I couldn't tell you the last time I've sat without a drink in my hand after 7PM.

The Day Before One

The next night I attended a school fundraiser with my husband. At last year's event, I recall teetering to the bar in high heels, spilling my just-procured wine down the front of my dress. I didn't stop to think I looked like a drunk.

This year, I kept myself to two beers as it seems I can't give up drinking quite yet, but still, I didn't give in to my wine kryptonite. I stayed refreshingly sober and clear-minded, watching the other attendees talk a bit too loudly or trip over dress hems. Do I look like that? I almost asked my husband, but didn't because of course I'm not ready for the answer.

I kept to myself much of the evening, preferring to sit and be. And that's the part for which I'm most unprepared. Drinking buddies sat next to me for a time, several proclaiming that I was "mellow" that night. One couple tried to talk my husband and I into hosting the after-party, and I ignored them and avoided answering, preferring to leave unnoticed instead. I'm discovering that what comes with drinking isn't really for me, in fact, isn't me at all. And I have no idea what to do with that newfound knowledge.

The Day That is Now

I don't know what comes next.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Still Drinking, But Talking About It

***Submitted by Anonymous

I wake feeling seedy and lethargic. Sometimes with a pounding head, usually with a terrible thirst and a full bladder. I can't move. What day is it? I want to close my eyes again.


Sometimes I feel like I never want to open them again. I can't give in to this. I have 2 bouncing toddlers, fresh from a deep slumber, full of energy clambering over me. One cuddling in and playing with my hair, nose to nose. A deep sigh expels my rank breath and I see my little one turn her head. The other repeatedly begging me to 'get up'

"It's a beautiful morning, Mummy. I'm a hungry" says the little man as he pulls back the curtain to reveal the bright light, which makes me wince. I drag myself from the womb of my bed and feel the pain in my back and in my head, rhythmic thumps which cause shoulder tensing, breathless moments, heaviness in my legs, the nausea in my stomach and the urgent call of my bladder. I talk with a cheerful upbeat (disconnected) croaky voice, answering the relentless comments/questions/demands as I walk with the stiffness of a person diagnosed with early Parkinson's Disease. I shake like one too, later.

As I sit on the loo, I lift my head high enough to catch the top portion of my face, in the mirror opposite. I am greeted with a tousled bed head hair do, desperate roots needing some acknowledgement and a full blown puff-fest around my eyes and cheeks. If I care to torment myself even further, I straighten my tortured spine enough to allow the lower part of my face to be seen. Ugh! Bloated, I take a horse piss and wonder if I can make it through ANOTHER DAY!

Every morning begins like this. Then the day takes over. I need to function. Maybe it's Monday and that is a relief because I don't go to work. I only have to get through the day with 2 toddlers. Not easy but more manageable than getting the kids ready for preschool and heading off to work. Every morning I resolve today will be different. I won't drink tonight. I'll drink herbal tea and go to bed early. A 9pm curfew. Perfect. I will feel so good tomorrow, not optimal but better than I felt this morning or the previous morning and the morning before that.

In fact, I'll not drink Monday through 'til Thursday, inclusive, I decide.

I have done so before. Sporadically. It was wonderful. I was in control and empowered. Well slept. Ate well. Less emotional. More rational. More focused on my kids and their needs. My poor depleted soul had more energy to keep up with the unforeseen. I felt like I could achieve anything. Momentarily. Until the voice within acknowledges the horrendous hangover symptoms are abating. Suddenly I'm less paranoid, I have a new lease on life. It's a Friday, woohoo, I made it through another week, time to celebrate. It's a Wednesday, I managed to get to work and get through the day, woohoo, time to celebrate... Oh goody, it's the weekend. Perfect. The hubby can help me deal with the kids and the demands. A nice meal a lovely bottle of wine to celebrate us making it through another difficult week. Time to unwind. All the excuses under the sun and moon.

An ideal world is a world which alcohol doesn't factor into every thought process of the day or the minute of the next hour. Until an emotional trigger sends me to the bottle. And the next. In fact, I'm so convinced it's cheaper to buy 2 for $20 or even 4 for $40. Except I'm fooling myself. It just means more at hand, accompanied by less willpower.

I really admire people who can have a 'bar' in the house. By this I mean a wine rack or 2 bottles in the cupboard, 17 bottles of spirits that they won't touch unless they have company. Unless it's a special occasion. If it's in my house, I will drink it. When I feel I've had enough, I'll have another and another, if there is any left.

I have been drinking red wine as I have typed this. I have paused writing to feed, bath, cuddle my kids. I have read a book or 2 to them, yawning the whole time, tired and desperate for sleep, wishing for them to be asleep so I can grab another red.

I have finally found a place to be comfortable (anonymously - god forbid anyone recognises me, such is the self loathing) to write down my feelings, my torment. All thanks to Edenland.

I have started many a private email to her, only to save or delete. I don't want to burden her with my self distress and my ability to offload my deeply buried realism, that I am an addict. An alcoholic. A pill popper. A day dreamer. A wish/ desire for things to be different. Yet, she is my inspiration. She has dealt with horrendous experiences. 'How can I say this and that when she has this and that going on" Do I really think my inadequacies are support to her in her time of distress'

I want her to know that because of her I am confronting my demons and really, possibly ready to face up to reality which is the desire to reduce my intake or 'quel horreur" go dry. I have posted anonymously to her blog, once. I want to be anonymous, for now, because I am terrified that my raw emotions put in writing in a universal space may somehow affect my truly innocent and deliciously delightful kids. I adore them more than anything. Here lies the quandary. If I adore them, more than anything, why can't I say no to the first and subsequent glass of red or white or vodka or beer or tablet.

It's time for me to stop this post. I am intoxicated with red wine and I took a serepax earlier because I haven't filled my antidepressant script today. My body was tort with anxiety and turmoil. The serepax and red wine have levelled me. I am what I consider blissfully happy and relaxed. I want to see my kids in bed, watch their chests rise and fall. Whisper my love and kiss them sweetly. I'm very grateful to Edenland for posting the link to Crying Out Now so I can safely express the fear and thoughts my husband doesn't want to hear because it "brings me down".

After selfishly taking advantage of this opportunity to offload my thoughts and feelings, I hope to connect with anyone who can relate. I also encourage you to offload whether you are sympathetic, drunk, hungover, sober or in the limbo of will I or won't I have a drink tonight.

Whatever your emotion or state I can reassure you I feel better for doing so. Even though I'm going to have another glass of red. Tonight.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dawn's Story

***Submitted by Dawn, who blogs at Grace Always Waits

Crying out Now was the first recovery blog I found last Fall when I sat down at my keyboard intermittently unable to see the monitor from crying out. For the past (minus three days) four months now, I have been by to read heartfelt, often gut wrenching, entries by women identical to myself. In the same breath that has been both therapeutic and devastating. It has been difficult to read numerous expressions that depicted my very own path, though I had been remiss in sharing. My story has a happy ending, but a harrowing journey to arrive here.


I read your disclaimer regarding anonymity, but promptly knew that it has been the anonymity that has kept me in a cycle of recovery and relapse for decades. This is who I am - I have no need to remain anonymous, only a need to be honest and pray that maybe one thing I might write would keep even one woman sober.......one.........more.....day - I could not ask for anymore.

Funny thing about addiction and matters of recovery back in the 60's and 70's, which is when I was (supposed to be) growing up. My mother's siblings, five out of seven of them, were alcoholics, as were my maternal grandparents. And only when my aunt shared that with me when I was the age of 20 did I draw a connection. With that information, however, I began connecting dots and memories that had benign, if any, meaning, began taking on a whole new kind of recollection. While my grandparents lived in the same town, which had a population of only about 7,000 people, it was a rare occasion where I was taken to my maternal grandparents for a visit. But after the discussion with my aunt, I immediately focused in a clear image of these small narrow glasses with roosters on them, an image with acute explicability. Looked like apple juice to this impressionable young girl, but we knew not to take a drink of it. With curiosity and this overpowering sense of enlightenment, I was able to identify so much that had been camouflaged as normalcy. The critical information missing in my aunt's revelation was the pure facts of alcoholism, its hereditary nature.

I returned to college that fall placing all of this behind me.

College. Um, ya. For this girl, college was not where I should have been at that given time. Though I had memorized the drink specials at every bar on a given night - had a tolerance level as high as the 14 floor dormitory high rise I lived in, I only walked away with a handfull of credits. Marriage , kids, four to be exact, and an exorbitant amount of volunteer work ensued; thoughts or memories of those few college years were buried as though it never took place. Busy was the goal over those years. Keeping busy, always busy, focusing intently on the needs of others. Pregnant much of the time, drinking took a back seat. Something, though, to recognize about chemical addition, is that, it is an insidious disease and harbors more patience than you can possibly imagine. So much like a hibernating grizzly bear, the disease lay dormant……………………..until the day my fourth child entered all day kindergarten. When I watched my six year old march up those gigantic steps on the school bus and witnessed that bus whisk her away, my identity rode away with her. I walked back into our home and was, for the first time in my life as a 40 year old woman, alone. The nervous breakdown followed somewhere within the next year or so (hazy memory) Finally diagnosed with clinical depression, I was given the appropriate medication and this became one of the the key turning points in my life.

Wow!! Depression, clinical depression - difficult to identify and treat when I am self-medicating.

It wasn't long, though, and I found my faithful friend with whom I had abruptly abandoned years ago. Here’s another pearl of wisdom – alcoholism is a progressive disease; the rate at which will vary from person to person. I was what the professionals call a "binge drinker". This meant that I would drink a case of beer or a few bottles of wine and then refrain for a period of time. That amount of time, the abstinence, well that would depend upon how much wreckage I had created. The damage all had to be repaired before I would drink again. This went on until my parents, who were in Colorado, decided to fly to MN and stage an intervention. I remember one of my first thoughts when I was unsuspectingly led into the room was that they must have changed their philosophy regarding the discussion of alcoholism, it was clearly no longer "something we do not discuss". And God love them for doing so because this was the beginning of what would be a tumultuous road to recovery. I willingly, and with a great deal of relief, entered an in-patient treatment facility, or rehab, as the celebrities choose to call it. Whatever you call it, this place was terrific in the sense that it was a learning process, I was able to give descriptive names to my behaviors, and reasons, I was learning that there are actually other women out there who shared my dysfunctional thought process - WOW. There is power in knowledge. And if I was going to subscribe to the first step, which deems me powerless over alcohol, then I must have every ounce of information ever written on the disease. With that as my purpose, I immersed myself into the process of recovery and learning everything I could from the history of alcoholics anonymous and the twelve steps and traditions to how I ever became afflicted with alcoholism.

Unfortunately my marriage did not survive these profound life-changing events, but I was determined to press on and challenge myself to fulfill unmet goals. Or put more accurately, to determine what those goals and dreams were. I returned to my profession as a lab tech and learned how to be alone, how to be sober, and how to know who I am without the varying hats I wore as mother, wife, daughter, aunt, Church Board leader, and friend, to name a few. My recovery, in the past ten years, has developed a pattern much like my drinking pattern. I have sustained years together in recovery, only to relapse. The program of alcoholics anonymous tells us that with each relapse, we'll fall further into that dark, cold, damp lonely place, each time experiencing more consequences, and therefore more pain. And so it went. sobriety. relapse. sobriety. relapse.

If you're reading this and you're an alcoholic, I need not explain that insanity to you. Last November though, I ended up in downtown Minneapolis in a women's holding cell awaiting my options, if I had any, that is. It was not by accident that I ended up in there for the better part of three hours, with incoming newly arrested women roughly every twenty minutes. It all of a sudden occurred to me, as each boasted with seemingly proud accomplishment, what they were "in for." There was a day when I would have not even considered myself "like them." But this experience was different..............

I "am" those women, the girl who was in for prostitution, the girls who were brought in when the car they were riding in was pulled over - they each had warrants, oh, and the meth/crack head who, by her shared information, seemed to be about my age, but looked twenty years older. These women "are " me - we are one in the same, suffering continuous consequences of our disease, doing whatever we could to perpetuate the cycle while chasing that high.

I'll never forget the smells, the feelings, the women's faces, the rude, imposing, and insinuating jailers, the experience in its entirety. I keep a photo out of the crashed Passat from that night. A much needed vehicle my father bought for me after my divorce. A gracious gift, more than I deserved. More than I ever deserved...............

That photo is a constant reminder that all that is left for me is to die along with that car. I've had my last drink. There are no more relapses left in me. None.

Today my college age children hold one of my medallions, a 24 hour, 30 day and a 60 day respectively. They know that as long as they hold that coin, I am sober, as I promised that should I relapse, I will request to have it returned.

I have no intentions of ever holding those medallions again.

The disease of addiction is not prejudice and does not discriminate. The false image of the drunk lying in the park with the brown paper sack must be erased from society’s minds. It is a cunning and baffling disease that requires honesty, willingness, and an open mind in order for it to be placed in remission. In a few months I begin graduate school to become a chemical dependency counselor. If I could save one life by telling my story, I'll have served my purpose on earth.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Talking To My Disease

***Submitted by Anonymous

I am eleven days away from one year of sobriety and I'm scared. I'm scared because the conversation in my head, the looped one that just goes round and round, has been on repeat for the last two days. It goes something like this:


If I can not drink for a whole year, then I'm not an alcoholic.

The fact that I can't stop thinking about this means that I am an alcoholic.

No one would know if I drank.

You'd know.

But I don't care.

Yes you do.

I could buy a bottle and stash it. Late at night when I'm alone, I could have some. It would help me relax, help me get to sleep. It would taste so good. It would FEEL so good.

No it wouldn't. It would taste terrible. It would make you feel ashamed and guilty.

You're wrong.

No I'm not.

What about your family? They're so proud of you.

Fuck them. They're the only reason I'm not 'allowed' to drink and I resent them for that.

How can you resent them for loving and needing you? For wanting you to be healthy and sober?

Because I do.

That's your alcoholism talking.

No, that's me being honest.

You're delusional.

No, I'm pathetic--there's a difference. And my angry, sad, miserable and pathetic self would really like a drink.

You realize that there's no such thing as "a drink" with you, right?

Shut up.

Have you forgotten the hangovers? The black outs? The shaking hands? The waking up every two hours soaked in your own sweat?

Shut up.

The "vodka shits" every other day? The twenty-four hour a day headaches? The inability to think about anything but the bottle? The shots added to your coffee at seven in the morning just to stop the shakes and ease the pain? Is any of this ringing a bell?

SHUT UP.

No. Let's keep talking. Let's talk about the look in your daughter's eyes every time she looked at you during that month after you woke the whole house up by passing out cold and cracking your head on the floor, causing her to rush out to see what the loud noise was and finding her MOTHER drunk and unconscious. Let's talk about how THAT FELT.

I don't want to talk about that. I don't want to think about that.

If you drink, and she finds out, that look will come back, but this time it will be so much worse. Because this time she KNOWS what you are. And she KNOWS that you've been sober for a year. And she's proud of you and she trusts you again. She believes in you. And if you go back to where you were, she may never, ever trust you again. That look may never leave her eyes.


I know. But. I don't know if that's enough to keep me from drinking.

I know it should be enough. I want it to be enough.

Most days it is. Today it is.

Good. Today is all that matters.

We'll talk tomorrow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sober St. Patrick's Day

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

St. Patrick’s Day is always a time of reflection for me.

Silly really, but this seems to be a holiday that is celebrated almost exclusively by drinking. Sure there is the wearing of the green and a shamrock here and there, but mostly when you think of St. Patrick’s Day you think of green beer and Jameson’s. And in a big city like Chicago, with bars that don’t know when to close and lots of people of Irish heritage (both real and situational) there are drunk people every where you look starting on the Friday before the holiday.


Towards the end of last year I began working in an office again. I was in an office of sorts for two years before now, but I was usually the only one in it. My current place of employment is, however, fully populated. There are 100 or so people on my floor alone. This is my first venture back into corporate America sober and, while I am on the higher end of the age spectrum, I have been invited to my share of happy hour events. For whatever reason, I haven’t been able to attend any with the exception of the holiday party and the more I decline the less I will be invited to. Part of me would love to go and socialize minus the cocktails, but I don’t enjoy being around drunk people anymore.

It is amusing to me that not much has changed since I first entered the workplace twenty cough-cough years ago. And if I were still drinking, I promise you my age wouldn’t stop me from joining in all the reindeer games. I can tell you who my drinking buddies might be and who I would probably have to watch out for. It is like an alternate reality that I can picture clearly. Sometimes it makes me a little sad that I miss out on all the fun and camaraderie. But the reality of this particular alternate reality also involves me embarrassing myself on a regular basis and dragging my dry-mouthed, bloodshot-eyed sorry ass in to sit miserably at my computer each day and I know what that feels like. So yeah, never mind.

The other thing that I am acutely aware of now is the behavior of my younger colleagues. I have been them and I am not judging, but on Monday morning when they shared their weekend war stories, all in the name of St. Patrick, I listened (OK eavesdropped) mostly without envy. When someone announced casually that he “blacks out all the time”, I paused. I assume that this is just your garden-variety twenty-something binge drinking, but it gives me a window into why I took so long to question my own behavior. No one bats an eye when someone says they black out in this environment. No one suggests that this is dangerous or out of the ordinary. On another occasion when a married colleague circulated the office trying to piece together his evening in the same clothes that he had worn to work the previous day, it was a joke, a funny anecdote. This was always how I was treated when I was over-served, as an amusing casualty of post work cocktails. My professional environment enabled me for the longest time.

As my husband and I were running errands last weekend we saw throngs of Kelly green people shuffling from one bar to the next. There were trolleys filled with revelers and leprechauns painted on every bar window. Lines extended out of random bars and cover charges were charged at places where none ever are. This was all, mind you, at 2:00pm in the afternoon. We watched as one young lady clung to her date as she valiantly attempted to put one foot in front other. Her struggle was painful for me to watch. When we passed the couple at the intersection I saw that her head hung as she waited for the light to change; just to have a quick nap before trying to make those damn legs of hers cooperate again.

“Who could get that drunk?” Bob asked incredulously. “And this early in the day.”

“Me, remember?” I answered.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You Are Only As Sick As Your Secrets

***Submitted by Amy

A note from Ellie:    Amy's latest book Best Kept Secret is due out on June 7th.  It is a timely novel about a mother whose life falls apart when she descends into alcoholism, and her battle to get sober and regain custody of her son.    I applaud when a book addressing women and alcoholism is published; the more people who learn more about this disease, and the unique ways it impacts women's lives, the better.  You can pre-order Amy's book on Amazon by clicking here.  


~~~~~~

My secrets keep me sick.


I didn’t understand this concept when I first got into recovery – I thought my only problem was a physical addiction to alcohol. I figured I’d remove the alcohol and thus, remove any illness. I assumed once the substance was gone, my life would resume as it was before - only without the daily consumption of a bottle of wine (or two) and endless hours of self-loathing.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it worked. As I began to do the mental and emotional work of sobriety, (which for me, is where the true blood and guts of recovery lies), it became clear that the secrets I carried had sprung malignant roots inside me. They were a swelling, black ache that wound through my soul, choking my every breath. I drank to relieve that ache, only to discover that the drinking made the pain worse. In fact, after I stopped, I was in more pain than ever. I couldn’t numb it out anymore. I had, as the saying goes, used up my right to chemical peace of mind.

The secrets I kept are not unique. At the time I thought they were. I believed I was the only woman who had ever poured red wine into a coffee mug first thing in the morning, sipping at it to ward off the shakes as I cut up toaster waffles for my kids. I believed I was the only woman who lied to supermarket checkers about the dinner party I was having that night as an explanation for the ten bottles in my cart. I thought I was the only woman to stare in the mirror, not recognizing what I’d become, hating how far I’d fallen, feeling shame so intense I wanted to die.

Still, I held my secrets close. I’ve always been able to keep them. Growing up, whatever I needed to hide from other people, I could. I became what those around me needed. Even when I was drinking, I knew how to play the part and act “as-if” – to convince the world I was a confident, happy woman. (Later, I would call this particular practice “shape-shifting.”)

Of course, I didn’t do this consciously. Morphing into whatever a situation demanded and disguising my suffering from others was something that simply seemed part of my internal make-up, something I sensed was necessary to my survival and came as automatically to me as breath. Any negative emotion I experienced, I pushed down, down, down - always smiling, always laughing. I was the girl I thought everyone wanted to see.

It wasn’t until I got sober and worked up the courage to start talking about the secrets I kept that I actually began to experience some semblance of relief. I told my story and other people in recovery nodded their heads in understanding. Tiny silver threads of connection formed between me and women with whom I shared a common affliction. There was no judgment, no disgust at the things I’d done. There was only compassion, and gradually, I’ve learned to show that compassion to myself and others who have endured the same kind of pain. I’ve learned to be vulnerable, to tell the truth instead of pushing it down. I’m no longer plagued by secrets, and I understand that if I begin to keep them again – from myself or others – I’m teetering on the slippery slope that will lead me right back to the bottom of a bottle of wine.

My secrets keep me sick. My fear of the possible stigma I’d face as an alcoholic kept me from getting help for much too long. I speak loudly now, about my recovery, because I don’t want another woman to suffer the way I did. I want to reach out and speak the truth, to show those still lost in their addictions that there is a life on the other side – a life more amazing and rewarding than I ever could have dreamed. Is it perfect? No.

But it’s mine, and I intend to live it as honestly as I can.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Last Frontier

***Submitted by Dawn, who blogs at Recovering Dawn

Despite the obvious benefits, I sometimes find being a woman in recovery extremely tiring.


It’s mostly good. I love having a program to work (the steps) and a community of women (in particular) and men who “get” me, right off the bat. I don’t know if I would have found my higher power (I call her Mary) without finding a 12 step program. I wouldn’t have the wonderful life partner I have today if I hadn’t run into him at a recovery convention 22 years ago. We wouldn’t have raised our beautiful children in a recovery-oriented home where honesty, open-mindedness and willingness were principles that were regularly encouraged, although not always practiced. We wouldn’t have even had a home or family, I suppose, if we hadn’t both come into recovery.

As someone who dropped out of high school because of drugs, I wouldn’t have gone back to university and completed a handful of degrees. Without recovery, I never would have learned that having initials at the end of my name did not raise my value as a human being, that all that I really ever needed to learn was to believe in my own worth. If I hadn’t cleaned up, I wouldn’t have known to take my sister to a meeting when she hit bottom, and she might not have six years clean today. I don’t take any credit for that, it was the rooms that I brought her to that saved her life.

Without our foundation in recovery, my husband and I wouldn’t have known how to deal with one of our children’s brief foray into the world of drugs when said child was sixteen, and that child might not have become the amazingly healthy and happy twenty-something person that said child is today. If I weren’t an addict in recovery, I might not have survived cancer five years ago – clean. If it wasn’t for the third step, I never would have learned how to let go of the things that I can’t control, or that aren’t my business. I practice that step daily.

What my business is today, is taking care of myself. I seem to have caught myself a case of work addiction, coupled with addiction to busy-ness. I have hit the wall from driving myself too fast, for too long. For the past five years, at least. I realized when I was critically ill that I wanted more than anything to keep living, and somehow I thought I had to work harder and do more than anyone around me to show the world that I was okay. My health has suffered, and my spirit has suffered more.

Time to regroup, rethink, recalibrate. Time to recover some more, discover some more. Time to take things back to one day at a time. I can do that. I know how.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why I Write About Recovery

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


I’ve been writing about my sobriety for nearly as long as I’ve been sober.


I write about the pain, the struggle, the freedom, the beauty, the ups and downs and in betweens of being a recovering alcoholic.. All on my blog. Openly, for anyone to see.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. But I don’t do it for the response.

I don’t put my emotions and feelings and my life out there for others to read to get something from someone else.

I don’t write about the hard parts for sympathy.

I don’t write about the good parts for congratulations.

I write and put it out there for me, yes. To record my memories and thoughts, to say my truth out loud {in a matter of speaking...}

And I do it to give others a little bit of hope. And empathy. Knowing you’re not alone is powerful. And if we don’t speak our truths, we can’t know if we’re alone or not. We can’t give ourselves the opportunity to be understood and to be around like minded people, who are going through similar struggles. We don’t give ourselves a chance to be heard. And really, sometimes that’s all we need. Not to be patted on the back with sugar coated judgments, or given insincere comments masked with smiley faces.

I write my truths because they need to be heard.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Freedom

***Submitted by Jamie

I get up at four or five in the morning now and not to suck down some water and aspirin in an attempt to be able to function when it is time to really get up and start my day. I get up because I wake up and feel good. I feel good because I have been sober for almost 8 months. No more familiar feeling of opening my eyes and trying to remember exactly what happened last night, discover just how badly I am hungover. What a horrible feeling to try to shift through vague memories clouded with too much beer or wine.

From the first time I drank I loved it. Vividly remember standing in a friends bathroom in 10th grade drunk and loving the feeling. Thoughts running through my head at that time were "I love this feeling, I could drop out of school and drink all the time and feel like this and it would be fantastic. . Never mind that some other high school memories of drinking involve being so drunk that I threw up and wet the bed at a party when it seemed like a good idea to lay down for a while and having to be carried out of that party. Throwing up at numerous parties in the bathroom. College was great because everyone drank...some more than me! Beer was readily available and I loved it. Again though many many memories of passing out in the bathroom, falling and hitting my head at times giving myself black eyes. I remember several times standing in a bathroom and falling back into the tub hitting my head on it....very hard....then getting up and drinking some more.

From the start I wondered if I had a problem. I graduated from HS with honors and college with a great GPA. I had held the same job since my first year of college even though I called in sick at times and came to work hungover more often than not....but then so did many others who worked there. I went back to school to work on my Master's degree and got it. Got my first professional job and was successful at work. Still drinking though. Get up in the morning and count how many beers were in the fridge so that I could figure out how many I drank. Too many....always. I remember being giddy one day b/c I was going to get to drink that day. I literally made up a song about how it was a drinking day....I was that excited.

Many attempts to moderate drinking. Have had several different jobs now. I left them all for better jobs....I can truthfully say that there were very few times that I let drinking effect my professional life. My guess is that the people that I worked around would have never guessed that I was a functioning alcoholic. I could be wrong but I was always at work, I did my job and then some, took on additional duties, stayed late etc. I even purchased my own home all by myself in a great neighborhood.

One of my favorite things about the neighborhood was that I could walk to the bars and walk home. I was drinking more during the week now because there was no one around to tell me not to. Made few feeble attempts at stopping that would last a few days tops. Then I got pregnant....best surprise of my life. Day I found out I had been drinking and had just stocked up on more wine and cigarettes b/c it was a Friday.

I stopped drinking and smoking while I was pregnant...it was hard but I was not going to harm my baby. I even had a very horrible loss during my pregnancy and wished like hell I could drink but didn't. Thankfully she was healthy even though I drank heavily the first 9 weeks b/c I didn't know I was pregnant. She is born, I breastfeed so I don't drink for several more months. Stopped breastfeeding...went 6 months which was my goal...so now I could drink more freely. Now when pregnant I had promised that I would not drink around my baby but it seemed harmless enough...she didn't know what was happening. Keep it somewhat under control for a while then of course drank more and more when I did drink and more and more in front of my baby girl. Kept it up until she was two...old enough to say "Mommy, you want a beer"......I always made sure that my husband was around to take care of our daughter. He never said anything...even would I come home wasted on a regular basis and be the obnoxious drunk that I could be.

My husband and daughter do not deserve me to be a drunk.

SO I read books, I pray, I tell my friends and hubby that I am done. I have tried to quit before but never shared that with anyone so that when I failed I was the only one who knew. When I told my wonderful husband he seemed to think that I was exaggerating my problem, my friends pointed out that everyone gets drunk sometimes but really didn't disagree that I took it too extremes too often. It sucked and still does at times, there have been days that I spend the entire day thinking about drinking. There have been times that I have decided to have a drink....just one no big deal. But by the grace of God I haven't. I couldn't moderate drinking for 20 years why would I be able to now. SOOOO I have been sober since July 11, 2010.
 
Almost 8 months and I am so grateful for that.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day One

***Submitted by Anna, and originally posted on her blog, Chardonnay No More on Feb. 22, 2011


Today is day one. Day one of not pouring a glass of my favorite beverage, Chardonnay – a beverage that has become my best friend and enemy all in one savory sip.


Tonight my mind won’t get fuzzy and my nerves won’t be calmed by a bottle.

I won’t have that warm feeling come over me as I sink into the couch.

I will remember tucking the kids into bed.

I will have to be mentally and emotionally present when my husband fondles me and tells me he loves me while climbing on top.

I will not sweat all night, wake up having a panic attack or drink a gallon of water trying to flush my friend/enemy called Chardonnay out of my body.

My head won’t hurt in the morning and my eyes won’t be glassy. I won’t have to consume minty gum, mouth wash and suck on candy to cover up the fruity alcohol sent that could linger.

I will wave to the police officer that circles the school road without my heart jumping out of my body in a panic.

A hangover isn’t drunk driving – is it?

Today is day one of figuring out how to live sober without Chardonnay in my life. To figure out who I am again without the bottle to relieve tension, make me smile and laugh or cope with heartache and stress.

Today is day one and each day will be a new start. A fresh start without my friend Chardonnay, Chardonnay no more!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One Year Anniversary Video, and a big THANK YOU

One year ago, I launched Crying Out Now, with little more than an idea and a whole lot of hope.

I didn't know whether women would come and share their stories of addiction and recovery; I wasn't sure if people would feel comfortable sharing their truths, even anonymously.   I didn't know if the world was ready to come with open minds and hearts to offer support to people actively struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction.  

All I knew was I wanted, somehow, to spread some of the comfort, hope and inspiration I felt when I heard other people bravely telling their truth and found myself nodding along, thinking: I'm not alone.

I wasn't sure if it would work, but I thought it was worth a try.   I never dreamed Crying Out Now would get the response it has, and I am so grateful.   

Some women who post here are opening up and telling their truth for the very first time.    I am always humbled and inspired by the courage and grace it takes to chip away at darkness and denial and write.   

To all of you who have told your truths here over the past year, thank you.   I wish I could share all the emails I get from women who are out there quietly reading, drawing inspiration and hope from your words.    You are reaching thousands of people, some of whom will never comment or post, but who are feeling comfort and kinship,  sometimes for the very first time.

To all of you who comment, offer your words of comfort and empathy, thank you.    Women who post here are brave, to be certain, but they are also vulnerable, and your supportive comments mean so very much.  

And to everyone who helps spread the word through your Tweets, Facebook pages and sidebars - thank you, thank you, thank you.

Crying Out Now isn't about telling someone they need to get sober.   We aren't about telling anyone how to stay sober.   Our mission is to share our stories; to create an open, supportive community that shines a beacon of light in the darkness and isolation of addiction, hopelessness and shame.  

Every meaningful journey into self-love and freedom begins with one simple thing:   the truth.   Shame hates the truth.

And so, with gratitude in my heart, I made a video honoring the power of our hearts and voices.   

This is for all of you:




You can also watch the video on YouTube by clicking here (larger screen, no logo imposed over the video).


***A big thank you to Maggie, whose amazing work at Violence Unsilenced inspired me to start Crying Out Now. And make a video.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Curious Breed of Angels

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

In a recent Crying Out Now post (Remission) the author writes about how she knows she is an addict by how her mind responds to certain circumstances. She gives the example of a friend who went to the dentist and didn't take any of the Vicodin he was prescribed. She couldn't conceive of NOT taking it.

Ditto for me. My brain doesn't work the way non-addicts brains work.

Here are some examples:

I can't conceive of not polishing off a bottle of opiates, of any kind, post haste.

When I get sick, my mind gets giddy at the prospect of getting cough syrup with codeine.

A torn rotator cuff is a reason to get opiates, not physical therapy.

When others offhandedly mention pain meds they don't take, I wonder how I can talk them into giving them to me.

Driving home each night after work, my primary thought was about what kind of alcohol was in the house. If there wasn't any, I would get some. I would make up other items I "just had to pick up" to justify the stop at the store.

On camping trips, I would have to make sure there was alcohol readily obtainable. If not, I didn't want to camp there.

I didn't want to go to any social events if alcohol wasn't served. I kept track of how much wine was left and got nervous as it dwindled.

If there was alcohol in the house I would drink it. I always knew exactly how much wine was left and how many beers were in the fridge.

Non-addicts brains don't work this way.

These unsettling truths resolve the question once and for all as to whether or not I am an alcoholic/addict.

I am grateful for these reality checks. I picture them as a curious breed of angels. They serve as guideposts to the unquestionable fact of my disease.

It is odd to be grateful for something so disturbing. But when it comes to gratitude, I'll take it anywhere I can get it. I have a friend who is fond of saying: "All the really good stuff is hard." So I bow to the angels who are terrifying. Once again, back to Rilke.

"For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror we can just barely endure, and we admire it so because it calmly disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrible."

— Rainer Maria Rilke

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A note from Ellie:   You have until March 2nd (tomorrow) at 7pm EST to submit a photo for Crying Out Now's one year anniversary video, which will be posted here on March 3rd.   Please consider submitting a photo (you can do this anonymously if you wish).    Click here or look at the post below this one for more information.   Thank you!