Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Drinking, PTSD, and Milestones

**Submitted by MN

I remember one of the toughest ideas to digest in my first weeks of sobriety was that I wouldn’t be able to drink when I got married. Mind you, at this stage marriage was nowhere on the horizon, but I was the type of alcoholic who liked to be prepared and worry about things that weren’t current problems. However, at my wedding this past June 30, I’ve gotta say that drinking was the last thing on my mind. In an ironic twist, I ended up marrying a fellow whose family operates a winery in France, but my higher power has always had a sense of humor.

I’ve been part of this community since my first month of sobriety and in almost 3 years I have commented on and have been moved by many stories, however i've never written a post. I suppose I was waiting for that perfect moment when I would be able to reflect on my experience and say something truly wise, but I figured a story from the heart would be more authentic and would come way earlier than any wisdom :)

My 3 year sober birthday is less than a month away and when I think about what has changed the most, I’ve got to go with hope. I was utterly hopeless when I finally had the willingness to stop drinking. I had tried for 4 years and figured if I with all my brains, support networks, and what I felt was a true desire to quit had failed me, what could any lame recovery program serve to teach me. Also, the idea of going to meetings and having to talk about my problems with anyone was too scary to face. 

I suffer from PTSD related to trauma and alcohol was both an integral part of my problem and what I thought was my solution. I drank because terrible things had happened to me and when I drank to excess, more terrible would happen. It was a vicious cycle of self-destruction. Like any perfectionist, as the inside continued to deteriorate, I felt the need to make it look like I was only improving on the outside. I kept up this charade for a few years, but like any unhealthy behavior, cracks began to form in my guise and those cracks only got bigger over time. By the end, I had lost jobs, friends, had a DUI, was drinking in the morning, entered into unhealthy and destructive relationships, and so on. 

I started drinking heavily at 18 and in 5 years had gone from only drinking with friends on weekends, to struggling every day to try and resist a drink because once I started, I couldn’t stop. I wanted to drink myself to that place where I didn’t feel and only then did I feel like I could act “normal”.Thankfully I hit a bottom where my family told me it was get sober through the help of other people or leave. I was still convinced that if I could heal the wounds of trauma that normal drinking would be restored to me. I had a brilliant doctor who suggested I try AA and just see what I thought about it, what did I have to loose? 

While I initially thought AA was a scary place where old white men talked about Jesus, when I showed up and listened, my world changed. I remember hearing the story of a girl, not much older than me, and I saw this look in her eyes and I knew that it was sincere happiness. I had long thought I was too broken and damaged to ever have such a thing, but after hearing her story, I was just hopeful enough to give the program a try.

I’ve had ups and downs during my (almost) 3 years in AA. I’ve seen beautiful miracles as well as lost loved ones to the disease. I’ve had words in the rooms move me to tears or irritate me with its structure. Recovery, much like life, is a journey that we really have very little control over. I just show up and do the work every day whether I like it or not and little by little, the program has helped me reconnect with myself and the world around me in a way that has led me to exactly where I need to be at each moment, whether I know it or not (and I often don’t)

Since choosing sobriety, I have met, dated and married the most amazing man in the entire world. I never saw it coming and never thought I would be loved this deeply by someone who knew both the good and bad about me. I also love that he’s never seen me take a drink. I’m in graduate school and am building a long-term career in a field that I didn’t even know I could do. I’m in therapy and have finally faced my fears and been able to treat the PTSD. I’ve restored the relationships I had challenged during my addiction and have moved on from the ones that were unhealthy. 

Finally, I’m sincerely happy. 

Life isn’t always easy, but I begin and end each day with this overwhelming peace that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be and that if I keep doing what I’m doing, this bliss will only continue. 

I am so thankful for the strong beautiful women in recovery that help me have the courage each day to be my most authentic self, and to live life one day at a time. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Struggling So Much

***Submitted by Anonymous

I’ve gone from being able to stay away from the ‘drink’ for a couple of weeks at a time to now I can’t stay away for more than a day. 

How did I get here? 

How did I become so broken?

Why do I use alcohol to self-medicate? 

I need to find peace in being sober. I have so much in my life to be grateful for and so much to lose by letting this disease of alcoholism overtake me.

I am afraid of what my life will be without my crutch of having a drink, then, 2,3,4..... until I don’t feel the stress of my life.

But then I awaken from my sleep for another day, just this morning, feeling heavy-headed and sluggish.

I don’t remember what it was like to feel good, to feel healthy. 

I am afraid all the time.

I am afraid of failure, of disappointment, of embarrassment, of the quiet.

I don’t want to feel like this anymore. 

I need help.

 I am crying out to God to help me to find someone who understands to help me.

Monday, July 16, 2012

5am Confession - New Mom, Newly Sober

-Submitted by Anonymous

I woke my husband up at 5am this morning and told him that I wanted to stop drinking, and I needed his help.

He held me and said how pleased he was that I had made this decision - and what did we need to do to make this possible.

Since having my beautiful baby daughter 7 months ago I have been drinking pretty much every day.  Why wouldn't I? there has to be some perks to not being able to breast feed? surely.

There have been far to many nights when I have fallen asleep on the couch (passed out), not remembered going to bed, slept in my clothes - or half dressed since my darling girl has been alive.  There have been times when my husband could not wake me in the night to help out with crying newborn - if we are meant to be a team approaching new parent hood, I certainly have let my side down.

I have fought with him, cried at him, screamed at him - all the while chugging down the chardonnay or vodka.  I have been a really lousy wife.

I don't like how drinking makes me feel after the drinking is done - the anxiety, the self doubt, the disappointment in myself that I can't just have a drink to relax.  I drink to be drunk.  I like being drunk.  I drink because I am bored, doing the washing, cleaning the house, cooking the dinner is all the more enjoyable with a couple of drinks on board.  But that is not normal, not the way to live life.

I want to be present in my life, I want to have a clear head and be rested in the mornings, I don't like 4am anxiety worries.  I choose my family over booze, I must, there is far too much to lose otherwise.

I have been doing lots of reading on the net - I identify with so many of the women's stories on blogs like this.  I am pleased to know I am not alone, there is support out there that doesn't involve labelling yourself in front of others.  I have always had my issues with drinking, have made a fool of myself on too many occasions to remember (even if I could) - this is not a new revelation for me.  But admitting it and saying it out loud to the only other person in the world who has as much invested in me as me, means I can't hide behind the rose tinted wine glasses anymore.

I am not a social drinker, I am a drinker drinker.  I can't have one glass of wine, I have to have a whole bottle.  I cannot take or leave alcohol, I am not indifferent to it's charms. I love it, but it hates me.

It is going to be a tough time ahead, I know that, there is nothing I look forward to more than the drink at the end of the day.  But I am just going to have to find something else to look forward too, like my husband coming home from work, or cuddling my baby daughter.

I am going to buy myself treats, get massages, facials, buy new shoes and handbags - I will reward myself in a non liquid way.

I will get support from the man I love, and blogs like this.  I will give this a darn good try and take each day as it comes.

Sunday July 15th 2012 is the first day of loving myself just that little bit more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dealing With Anger and Resentment at 18 Months Sober

***Submitted by Julie

I was hoping to submit some writing to your site. I just love it and wanted to share some of my story.

Recovery has been one of the most challenging things I have ever been through in my life. I just celebrated my 18 months of sobriety about 3 weeks ago. Even though I have come this far in the journey, I still feel so fragile and unsteady in this world of sobriety. 

I starting blogging a while back. I was amazed at all the support I received from others. In a way, though, it makes me so incredibly angry at myself that I waited 15 years to do something about it.

At this juncture in my sobriety I still feel pretty fragile because of some lingering anger and resentments. On one level, I feel like there were people who knew very well what was happening to me and never intervened because they needed me sick. But, on the other hand, I think these same people didn't know what the heck to do with me because I was so out of control, volatile and quite unpleasant to deal with drunk or sober. I really need to forgive them, forgive me and move on. They sure have, and look at me, still stuck back at square one wondering what happened.

I am standing at the doorway of my 4th step of recovery. People have told me this is the step to identify and get rid of all my resentments and anger.

Sounds wonderful, right?

 Actually, it sounds like change, and I do not deal very well with change. I get stuck in a comfort zone. I swiftly and quickly got addicted to alcohol. Although I was miserable, I drank anyway because I knew what was going to happen, this was my routine. 

Now that I have been sober for 18 months, I sort of feel like my resentments and anger have started providing this same rut/comfort zone. The resentments do make me happy, but it is sure comfortable to stay here. What happens when I am not mad anymore? What if I forgive people? 

Anger is righteous to me. It motivates me. It gives me energy. Makes me totally loony at times but at least I am connecting with the world around. Kind of reminds of the reasons I still convinced myself to keep drinking....sigh.....

On the very basic level of things, I feel like I am still trying to find my place in the world.

I drank from ages 15-33. I accomplished a lot in those years, especially since I was drunk almost every day for the last 10 years of it. But, I still don't feel settled into a life of recovery. 

A life of alcoholism was easy to slide into only because I didn't have to feel anything for 10 hours out of the day. I am just restless and unsure of myself.