Insanity

Insanity

Yesterday, I was reminded of the alcoholic insanity that is always lurking in the back of my mind.

When I first got sober, I remember my sponsor telling me that you are never safe from that first drink. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, in fact, I probably half-listened as I did to many of the things she told me. I didn’t “get” it yet and all I cared about was rebuilding my life, which meant not drinking anymore. I first got sober in February 2012 and relapsed the following July – last summer. It took my relapse for me to truly understand I was powerless over alcohol and I was never safe from that first drink.

Fast forward to yesterday. I’ve been sober for nine months and have been fortunate to have had very few cravings for alcohol. Yet, while I was driving my kids to gymnastics late yesterday afternoon, I had an overwhelming craving for a drink. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The sun was out, the weather was warm and I wanted (or needed) that drink. Remember, I relapsed last July, so obviously these summer-like days are a trigger for me. There was no reason for my craving. I was in a great mood, but somewhere my mind was telling me I would even be better with a drink. Crazy? Yes. This is the INSANITY of alcoholism.

My body was literally craving that drink. I could almost taste that chilled glass of wine. But, why? After EVERYTHING I’ve been through and put my family through, how could I even consider a drink?

Unless you’ve been there, it’s impossible to understand the insanity of addiction. It takes over your body and mind, until it’s the ONLY thing you can think about. It’s awful, it’s horrible – it’s my alcoholic mind.

When I got home, I was irritable and angry. I told my husband I was just hungry and tired. It wasn’t until we sat down for dinner that I told him the truth. I had been craving a drink. While he knows that this is a reality of my disease, I still see the pain my honesty causes him. For those who love us, one of their worse fears is that we will take that first drink.

Tonight, I was tired. I didn’t feel like going to a meeting, but I knew I needed one. And, my husband knew I needed one. I went to one of my favorite women’s meetings and I left feeling renewed and grateful for the honesty that takes place in those rooms.

I know that I will never be safe from that first drink, which is why I have to continue to do the work and stay honest with myself and others. For me, it’s that simple.

Reflections on a Wine Obsessed Culture

Wine

This morning I read an article in the Boston Globe that really resonated with me. In her article, “Women, drinking, and wine-as-reward culture,” Kara Baskin discusses the paradox of wine being celebrated and pushed with wine labels like “MommyJuice” and “Mommy’s Time Out” while “The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention reports that 2.7 million American women abuse alcohol.” She goes on to explain that defining alcoholism among women is often challenging because “not everyone who grapples with alcohol use is a stereotypical in-the-gutter alcoholic. Many are outwardly functional and successful.” If we’re still getting up in the morning, making breakfast, taking the kids to school, going to work, we must be okay.

At least that’s what I thought. How could I possibly be an alcoholic? Most of the women I know drink. It’s our way of letting go after a stressful day or like Baskin says, “It’s a legal mode of escapism, and the camaraderie over talking about drinking is as intoxicating as the buzz itself — especially among mothers.”

But, how much are we really drinking? I was a wino – I loved my wine! Okay, I also liked vodka and gin, but my drink of choice was always wine. And, it was acceptable. Who doesn’t have a glass of wine at dinner? Who doesn’t have a glass of wine while visiting with girlfriends? It was just what people in my world did – and still do. But, I was completely ignorant of how much I was really drinking. According to Baskin’s article, “a ‘standard drink’ is 12 ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol, 5 ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.” When did I ever pour 5 oz. of wine? The answer would be NEVER. Do you? If you still drink, I challenge you to pour your regular glass of wine and measure it. I’m guessing it’s more like 8-10 oz. And, the same goes with liquor. My shots were more like 3-4 oz. in a typical cocktail, but then again, I’m just guessing because I never actually measured it.

The point is, I was lying to myself in order to justify how much I was drinking. If I filled my large wine glass to the top, well, it was still just one glass of wine, right? Towards the end of my drinking, I would have a “couple” cocktails before my husband got home and then a “couple” or a “few” glasses of wine in the evening. Realistically, I was having four cocktails and 4-5 glasses of wine – each day. Seeing that number written, astonishes me. Can you imagine what that was doing to my body? Ugh.

We tell ourselves what we want to hear. In no way, did I want to hear or even acknowledge I had a drinking problem. What kind of person would I be if I was an alcoholic? I sure wouldn’t be the high-functioning-have-it-altogether-type I was known for. The stigma was too much.

People have asked me, and I’m sure others often wonder why I choose to speak out or write about my alcoholism. And, I’m sure there are those who wish I would just shut up already about it. It’s simple. I share my story to help remind myself of where I came from and what I used to be like and to help other women like me who are still there.

 

Stepford Wife…Or Not

Accept Reality

The other day someone very close to me accused me of being a “Stepford wife.” Okay, first, lets back up. From a physical standpoint, if you knew me and saw me on a day-to-day basis, you would know that my “uniform” usually consists of workout pants (regardless if I make it to the gym or not), sweatshirt, tennis shoes, baseball hat and no makeup. If I happen to make it to the gym, I then take a shower and put on my sweats and, again, no makeup. It’s a very rare day that I actually do my hair, put on “real” clothes and do my makeup. You get the picture.

Okay, getting back to the accusation. I’m paraphrasing, but basically this person thinks because I always answer his question of “How are you?” by responding that things are great or really good, there must be something wrong with me. Because, really, how can someone be THAT good?

For privacy reasons I will not elaborate, but I will say that this person has a serious drinking problem. I would go as far to say he’s an alcoholic, but I will let him be the judge of that. He knows about my sobriety, but has done very little to acknowledge it or even ask about it, despite our closeness.

While his accusation was an attempt on his part to get a reaction out of me, I was able to respond with kindness, truth and honesty thanks to the tools I have learned through recovery. I told him that I was truly happy and doing well. I wasn’t just saying I was good, I was really THAT good and a big part of it was a direct result of my stopping drinking. I said, make no mistake, I had to go through a lot of sh*t to get to this point, but I made it and I’m beyond grateful.

I wasn’t angry at him because I understood. See, when I was drinking I couldn’t stand being around people who were happy – really, truly happy. I wasn’t happy, in fact I was downright miserable, so why should others be happy? I was always thinking about the “what ifs.” What if I had that, what if I did that, what if things were this way, what if that didn’t happen – the list goes on. I put on a good “face” to people and always said things were “good” when they would ask how I was, but, really, I rarely felt truly happy.

Now, when someone asks how I’m doing I’m honest. I make it a point to be honest, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Most of the time, I’m doing really good. Despite the ups and downs, I’m happy and content with my reality. If I’m not doing great, I’ll say so. The other day at a meeting I asked a friend how they were doing and she said “good” and then went on to ask how I was. I said I was really tired and didn’t really feel like being there but “here I am.” She then surprised me and said that she wasn’t really that good, in fact, she wasn’t feeling good and might leave early. She said, “But most people who ask you how you’re doing, don’t really want to know the answer.”

Well, the truth is, today I’m doing really good. And, believe me, I have many more “good” days now than I ever had when I was drinking. And, the best part is that I can be truly happy for others who are happy instead of resentful and jealous.

“Stepford wife” or not, I’ll take this sober life a thousand times over my previous life.

 

 

Going Through Life Naked

Speaking Out

I figured that title would get your attention!

The idea of living life naked, being honest, transparent and real, has been on my mind a lot lately. And, then today, a neighbor dropped off a magazine with an article written by Glennon Doyle Melton, author of the blog Momastary and the new book, Carry On, Warrior. I’m sure many of you are familiar with Glennon’s blog and her story of being a recovering alcohol, drug and food addict. She’s an amazing woman with an equally amazing story.

In the article, she talks about starting her blog and writing honestly about her experiences, holding little back. Not long after, her dad called her and expressed some concern with all she was sharing and asked perhaps if some things were better “taken to the grave.” After thinking about it, she responded, “No, I don’t. I don’t want to take anything to the grave. I want to die used up and emptied out.”

When I read her response, it’s as if she put all the thoughts and feelings I have been having and put them into the most perfect words. After spending so many years living with a smile on my face while I was crying inside, I no longer want or feel the need to pretend; to portray myself as something I’m not. For me, getting sober has allowed me the freedom to take the armor off and expose myself for who I am – inside and out.

I realize that everyone deals with life differently. For those of us in recovery, some choose to share their experience while others don’t. And, that’s okay. But, for me there is no other way than to be completely open with who I am. I’m sure some of my friends and family wish I would just shut up and get on with my life, but that’s not me – my story doesn’t end here.

I share my story, my struggle, my day-to-day life because I need to. I do it because writing and sharing my story is one of the many ways I stay sober. And, maybe, just maybe, my story will help someone else – someone who is trudging through life just like me. Our stories are what connect us to each other, what gives us strength when we feel weak and alone.

The truth is, we never know what’s going on behind closed doors. We never know what’s really hiding behind someone’s smile. What would happen if we all started being a little less image-conscious and just started being honest? I imagine we might find we have a lot more in common with each other than we think we do.

I remember how surprised some people were when they found out I was an alcoholic. Well, of course they were. I did a damn good job of hiding it, of portraying the image that I was okay, that I had it all together. But, in reality, I didn’t. I was miserable and empty, yearning for something to fill the hole I felt inside.

I don’t live like that anymore. Today, I choose truth and transparency. I choose to live my life naked, exposing myself to vulnerability and disappointment. But, in the process, I also expose myself to the joy of truly connecting to others, which is a wonderful and marvelous experience.

TheBetterMom.com