Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You Are Not Alone

A note from Ellie:

So many women come to this website who are wondering about their drinking, or trying to stop but just don't know how to take that first scary step.  At Crying Out Now we get dozens of emails every month from women who see themselves in the stories here, but still feel so alone, so stuck.

There is one absolute truth to getting sober:  you cannot do it alone.   In order to stop drinking, you have to open up, ask for help, get talking, get a support network in your life.   For many people this is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) (this is where I went when I finally knew I had to get help).  You can find meetings at their website online, or call their hot line to find a meeting near you.  At these meetings you will find people who have walked the path before you, and who totally understand how you feel.  They are safe, and are as concerned about anonymity as you are.

There are people who won't try AA, for whatever reason, and I understand that.  There are other resources, like Women For Sobriety (see the link in the right hand sidebar).

There are online resources like the Booze Free Brigade (link also in the right hand sidebar) - over 1,000 members strong (mostly women) and growing daily.  The Booze Free Brigade (or BFB, as we call ourselves) is a Yahoo chat group that was started by two sober women (one of them is Stefanie Wilder-Taylor of Baby on Bored) and it is FULL of women who are newly sober, who are still drinking but want to get sober, or who have been sober a while and want to stay that way.  This is a FANTASTIC place to go open up, introduce yourself, talk about how you're feeling, get encouragement from people who are right where you are.  

If you are concerned about anonymity, start an anonymous yahoo email account to join.  It's free.  You have to be "approved" to get in, but this only means a very brief application (keeps out spammers and people who shouldn't be there) - applications are approved once or twice a week so it doesn't take long to get in.  Many of these women have met up in real life,  become invaluable support systems for each other.  They have cheered each other on as they went to their first meeting, opened up to family members, celebrated milestones.  In order to get the most from the Booze Free Brigade, however, you have to introduce yourself and start talking.   I guaranty that just typing out your pain will help.

Stefanie created this beautiful video to show those of you who are out there struggling that there IS life on the other side of drinking, that it DOES get better, but you have to ask for help to get there.  She asked some sober women from the Booze Free Brigade (and elsewhere) to write out a piece of advice that helped them when they were struggling, and then she put them all together in this gorgeous video.  Watch it and be inspired.  Get help.  You're worth it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Becoming The Person She Wants To Be

***Submitted by Anonymous:

Like most people, I’m not really sure where or why my life started to fall apart and alcohol started to take over my life. 

What I do know is that it did and it was a spiral that took over every ounce of my soul. Every day is a battle and prayers to the God of my understanding are continuous in an effort to relieve me of the bondage of self because sometimes, often times, life and all of my problems are simply to big for me.

I am the daughter of an alcoholic Father and a Mother who just struggled to keep the family together and assemble some sort of peace in the chaos of my Father’s drinking and all of the trauma that went along with it. Looking back, my drinking and my life spiraled just like my father. The family eventually fell a part.

I managed my life and was very successful in a medical sales career. I got pregnant with my daughter when I was 34 and at 36 my life had turned upside down. My daughter’s father and I couldn’t make things work and certain life events made me turn to the bottle for support and love. I got a DUI and ended up in treatment, knowing that when I got out I would drink again.

I went to meetings thinking that it would somehow make me feel better about my drinking. Clearly, a half assed attempt on having some sort of serenity in my life. I would stay sober for a bit and then fall right back into old behavior in an effort to relieve the pain. I had lost everything that I ever truly wanted in my life… my daughter, her father, the life that I had always wanted or at least the picture that I had painted for my future.

I had finally gotten my daughter back in the summer of 2011; my ex and I shared custody. I was still drinking and it was only getting worse. I thought that I could continue to hide my drinking but on August 9th, my daughter was taken from me.

I went back to rehab on September 5th, 2011 and have been sober since.

I have seen my little girl 11 times since that day and I didn’t see her for the first time again until early December, four months of not seeing her or talking to her. My ex has temporary full custody of her now and my days are now filled with thoughts of seeing her on Thursday evening for 45 minutes in a child psychiatrist office, supervised. 

The destruction of my drinking and the actions related, resulted in my loosing the one thing that I love and cherish the most in life. Every single day is a battle and my life seems so incredibly overwhelming at times but I couldn’t keep going if I wasn’t sober. Some days are good, some days are bad, and some days I just simply exist not knowing how to clean up the wreckage of my actions. I go to meetings, I do service work, I have a sponsor, I have a God of my understanding but life is hard.

Thoughts of my little girl take up every ounce of space in my head and in my heart, I often cry myself to sleep wishing that I could just go into her room and smell her hair or touch her skin… some days I just can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel but I know that as long as I am sober there will always be hope because my drinking offered no hope at all. 

This journey has taught me about the person that I want to be. 

In this process I can’t lose who I am…it’s like my sponsor told me, being an alcoholic is only part of who you are. The hardest part of sobriety is cleaning up the wreckage of my past.

I continue trying to mend relationships with those that I have hurt, trying to get more time with the one thing that I love most in life (my daughter), figuring out my future, recovering from financial ruin, and figuring out who I am but without a God of my understanding, my sponsor, wonderful friends and family, and my AA family, I wouldn’t be here to tell my story.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tired of This Drinking Game

***Submitted by Anonymous

Once again the bottle is almost empty, and I don't want to buy another one, but I do want to buy another one.  I go to different liquor stores so nobody sees me too often.

I don't know how to stop.

My husband says he wants the old me back, but I don't know who the old me is anymore.

I have anxiety, and the drinking gets rid of it, but I truly don't know what came first.  The anxiety or the alcoholism.

I know all the health risks to my excessive drinking, but some part of me doesn't care, and I can't figure out why.  I have a wonderful husband, two grown daughters who are married to great men, and two beautiful granddaughters.

I was let go from my last job for "causing disharmony amongst the staff."  Something completely not true.  The drinking really went into high gear as I searched for a new job for 22 months.  I have been at my new job for five months now, and I really like it.

I have everything to quit drinking, but for some reason I can't do it.

If you have any ideas for me, I would truly love to hear them.

Thank you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Here I Go Again

***Submitted by Anonymous

Here I go again.  Waking up and remembering most of the evening before, but not exactly everything.  I'm nervous and discombobulated.  My thoughts are of regret and self-loathing.  Why did I do this again?  It's like the old joke - "Doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do that".  "Then don't do that...".

 I went on this website when it was referred to in an article in the Toronto Star.  I was amazed that there are so many women that struggle with this - just like me.  I was also encouraged by the fact that so many of the "participants" were so forthright and not embarrassed to come forth.  You are all amazing; my hope is that I can stand amongst all of you and end or at the very least control this awful cycle of addiction.

I drank on and off, heavy and casually, way before my marriage ended.  My husband travelled a great deal, often out of the country and I was left at home, working a full time job, raising three young children.  I never had allowed myself time for myself, spent money on myself - except for the copious amounts of white wine.  All that money and nothing to show for it.  Ha!

My husband then left me for another much younger woman.  I was devastated despite the fact that I was very unhappy in the marriage.  My bi-polar disorder went into overdrive, drank heavily, spent money on a new wardrobe as I lost weight (my caloric intake was almost entirely alcoholic in nature), started dating in earnest (God, I looked great on the outside, slimmer, well-outfitted but a mess on the inside; men don't care, they just want, well, you know....).

Fast forward three years.  I moved back to my hometown.  Landed a great job.  Brought the kids with me.  Bought a house.  Some of my demons have been conquered, but the largest and most consuming one, alcohol is still very much alive and is it tenacious....  It has gotten in the way of a relationship with a wonderful man.  My kids are beginning to sense that I have a drinking problem.

This is the journey that I begin again, but today, there's an earnestness and urgency I haven't felt before.

Thank you.