Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Had Enough And Trying To Stop

***Submitted by Anonymous

I’m 34 years old, married with three children, aged 5, 7 and 10.  

I’ve been drinking since I was 14 years old.  I’m a survivor of two broken homes while my mother moved onto a third.  I regularly witnessed my brother being beaten up by my step-father, a man who, incongruously, I loved deeply and unconditionally as only a child can.  Considering all my brother went through at the hands of our step-father, while to me he was only sweetness and light, is a guilt I seem destined to carry my whole life through.  My mother and I were so close when I was a child growing up that I would make myself physically ill if I was apart from her for long lengths of time.  

So when I was 14 and she left my step-father and moved in with her new (third) husband, I guess I never really got over it.   I started using alcohol as a means of escaping the misery of this home-life.  I have memories of those early years of drinking that can only be described as horror stories.  A car accident while I was driving blue-face drunk, 5 of my friends in the back, all of us lucky to escape with our lives; Losing my virginity and regaining consciousness on the floor of the grottiest toilet in the grottiest hotel nightclub in town with my “boyfriend” nowhere in sight.  And that was just the early days.

I briefly got things under control in my early twenties, when I got married and began having my babies.  In fact I never even gave alcohol a second thought back then; I felt sure I would never again succumb to its beguiling qualities.  But after my third child was born alcohol slowly began to creep back into my life.  Socially at first - dinner parties, bbq’s and the like.  Then a glass or two of wine became part of my daily routine in the kitchen while cooking dinner.  

Times were tough financially, my husband and I were struggling.  New cracks appeared with my mother, step-father and brother, leading to an all-out war.  Binge drinking once more became a feature of my life, as did the vomiting that usually goes with it.  And now, all of a sudden, I find I’m a woman who drinks to get drunk every single day.  I conceal my drinking.  I often have black outs.  

The Doctor says my blood pressure is higher than he’d expect from a 60 year old woman let alone from one half that age and in reasonably fit/trim condition.  The horror stories from when I was 14 are coming back with a vengeance.  This time the stakes are on my marriage, my life, and my children’s future, possibly with[out] either.

I’ve wanted to quit drinking before and I’ve tried many things - from counselling to cold turkey.  I’ve never stayed with anything the distance.  I like drinking too much.  My resolve doesn’t even last the length of a day.   Alcohol is my barbed companion whom I love and hate with equal ferocity.  I love him for carrying my baggage.  I hate him, because he is always opening the contents of those bags and waving them around in front of me.  

Alcohol is both my savior and my accuser.  Salve and poison.  Liberator and jailer.  At the root of it all?  I believe I am a failure.  My demons are guilt, shame, doubt, low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, obsessive compulsive tendencies, sadness and, on occasion, a tidy measure of self-loathing.  If I could JUST get this right, or that right, then I wouldn’t be such a bad person/failure/disgrace/loser.  These posts have made me appreciate how tragically common these thought patterns are among people who abuse alcohol.  I’m a neglectful mother.  I’m a spineless, unfaithful wife.  I’m a callous daughter.  A disloyal sister.  

On and on it goes.  Alcohol momentarily lightens this load; unshackles me from my mistakes and my shame so I can be free - free to love, and be loved.   But alas it never lasts.  I once drove my head into a column heater while my children just watched on in confusion.  I don’t always understand what I do, and I certainly can never explain it, but there is something about knowing that alcohol is hurting, even killing me, that is mildly satisfying in some part of my brain.  It’s like I am taking the punishment I deserve.

The layers of this complicated beast seem almost impossible to peel back.  And yet in wanting to write this post I began to feel as though maybe, just maybe, it might be possible - even worthwhile - to try.  In fact, what I discovered was that once I started writing/peeling, I couldn’t stop.  I knew I had to keep my post to this forum under 1000 words but I hadn’t a hope!  Writing has always been an outlet for me, so turning pen to paper to write myself sober seemed both natural and necessary.  I therefore started a brand new blog, called "Writing Myself Sober - getting out from under the influence".  

My first post is called “Had Enough. ?”, and is dedicated to all the brave, strong and inspiring women who have motivated me to do something to help myself.  

Thank you so very much.

Monday, May 14, 2012

40 Months

***Submitted by Jamee, who blogs at Off Her Sauce

It has been 40 months since I took my last drink. Over 1,200 days. Nights and weekends. So am I cured?

I'm afraid not. I had a scare just last week, twice I justified taking pain pills when they were not exactly necessary and not for the pain they were prescribed for. As I was sitting at the ball park, texting a friend, I shared that I had just recently gotten the pills back after giving them to my sponsor to hold on to during a rough patch. I was bemoaning my lack of willpower and she offered to hold on to them for me.

She said, but if you give them to me I'm not giving them back.

I said no thank you. I wanted to keep the pills. Even though both times I took them my attitude got worse. My irritation with myself grew exponentially. I was not more patient with my children. And I am not even sure my hip pain lessened. So why hang on to them?

Why was I holding on so tightly to something that really wasn't working for me?

Because I am an addict. My counselor explained it to me in this way: a part of my brain is looking for the euphoric feeling I had once or twice with the pills. Nevermind that it doesn't happen anymore; somewhere, somehow, my brain thinks it can get it again. Which is why I took two instead of one on Saturday.

And my counselor also told me that it is not a character defect that causes me to want the pills, there is legitimate brain chemistry at work. Though I think it WOULD be a character defect if I didn't recognize my behaviors and do something about them. Especially dangerous behaviors that have the possibility of hurting myself or others. And taking pain pills falls into that catagory.

So I changed my mind. The next morning I left my prescription bottles and a short note on my friend's desk. And I feel so free. I am not having to fight myself to take or not take the pills. I am not thinking all the time about the pains in my hips and if they hurt 'that badly' or not.

Sheesh.....at some point I am praying this gets easier. But if it doesn't, I have faith that He will give me strength.....one day at a time.

and there IS hope.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

12 Hours Since Her Last Drink

***Submitted by Leigh

Last night my husband sat me and down and talked to me about my drinking. This is a day I had feared would come but hoped would not. What pushed him to confront me was an embarrassing display at a party where I flirted with the husband of one of my best friends. And here’s the scary part: I don’t remember any of it.

I took my first drink when I was about 12 and even from the start, I had a hard time “pacing” myself. Over the next 3 decades, I have convinced myself that my drinking was normal. College is a blurry haze, but isn’t that the way it is for everyone? I would go long periods of time without having anything to drink. But at the next social event or mom’s night out, I would overindulge. I don’t remember things that I have done while drunk and quite frequently end up on the floor of the bathroom throwing up. Stomach issues are common for me and I’ve always said that I must have IBS. I’m not so sure anymore.

Since becoming a mother, I have found a wonderful new set of friends. And just like others I have read about online, the play dates would often include a glass of wine (or three) starting well before the socially acceptable 5pm mark). How many times have I said “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!”? That old joke.  Whenever the kids are acting up or the pressures of marriage get to be too much, we would joke to each other about needing that glass of wine. Never stopping to think that it was a problem. After all, we were not homeless and disheveled. Our kids were clean and smart and loved. How could this be a problem?

But now my drinking has gotten excessive. On a recent trip to my parent’s house, I went out and bought a few bottles of wine to get me through the visit. They don’t drink so I would wait until they were in bed, and then I would open a bottle and settle down with a movie. I wasn’t driving or going anywhere and my son was safe in his bed, so what was the harm?

I’ve also been mixing pills with alcohol, telling myself that I’m not taking enough to cause a problem. But I’m a healthcare professional. I know better.

I’ve been wondering if I drink too much for the past few years. But that is as far as I would go. Just wondering. I have never said it out loud, but when my husband brought it up, I knew it was true.  The reason I started wondering about it in the first place was Stefanie Wilder-Taylor’s story. It was as if I had written that story. I couldn’t believe the similarities. And I really didn’t realize until that moment that my behavior was a problem.

So I know now that I do not have the ability to have just one glass of wine. And now I’m scared. I feel alone and frightened and I don’t know where to turn. I’m so grateful that my husband said something to me before anything worse happened. And I know I need to stop. I’m tired of losing whole days of enjoyment with my family because I’m hung over. I’m tired of being clammy and irritable with my son just because I’m coming off a bender. And I’m especially tired of the guilt I feel the morning after. It’s a guilt so deep, I feel it to my bones.
But I don’t know how to get past it. I don’t know how to live with myself and the awful things that I have done without medicating it away. I don’t like myself very much and I can detach easier when I drink.

It’s been about 12 hours since my last sip of alcohol. I have no doubts that I should never drink again. I just don’t know what to do now. AA doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not a Christian and so I don’t think I would feel sincere standing there during the Serenity Prayer. I’m sure it’s a good program; just not for me.

I’m hoping that if my story appears on this website, that someone out there will reach out to me. I really feel alone and awful and guilty and ashamed and embarrassed and horrified and any other negative feeling a person can  have. I really hate myself right now and even though I don’t think I deserve support and help, I need to ask for it.

Thank you for listening.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gestating Elephants

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

18 months ago a sober friend told me it takes 18 months of sobriety to feel somewhat solid in recovery. That's the same amount of time a baby elephant is in the womb.

Well, tomorrow is my 18 month anniversary. Much has occurred in 18 months. I'd say I've experienced something akin to the miracle and power of a baby elephant.

I am more at peace and am facing Stage II breast cancer with more equanimity than I would have thought possible 18 months ago.

In fact, I'm falling in love with myself.

This is a revolution for me that would not be possible without sobriety.

Years ago I heard the following story from an Ojibway medicine woman.

She spoke of once seeing a well respected Navajo medicine man for some health problems. She had anticipated this session with great anxiety and earnestness to "be a good patient." After he made the initial preparations, he told her he needed her to do one thing or the healing wouldn't work. She waited to hear her instructions, anticipating something terribly demanding, determined to deliver. After nodding her head, he gently said:

"I need you to sit beautifully." 

She erupted into tears at this, as did I when she said it.

I don't even know what this means exactly or why it makes me cry. But I have been remembering this story a lot lately.

Such simple and yet incredibly profound instructions for healing. There is so much permission to be beautiful, to let go of shame - pointing to some regal avenue to heal.

She needed to feel her worth to heal.  He couldn't do it for her. He needed her to sit beautifully - with grace, self-love, compassion, power.

Sobriety has allowed me to realize my beauty, my grace, and my power.

So as I sat on the examining room table today, listing to the surgeon discuss mastectomy vs. lumpectomy, I sat beautifully. I was there for myself. I did not beat myself up for what may have gotten me to this point. I felt and practiced self-compassion, for I am suffering and in dire need of kindness.

I do not know how to wrap this up. I wish I could kiss you on the forehead, so just kiss your hand and pat your head gently. You are a beautiful child, wonderfully amazing, no matter where you are at with your drinking.