9 months

Today is my 9 month anniversary! The term “9 months” instantly conjures up pregancy images, so I may as well run with it. I have given birth to a whole new way of life. A way ofΒ life that always seemed impossible or meant for other more disciplined people.

My sober journey over the past few months has felt like it’s been divided into trimesters just like a pregancy. The first trimester lasted 90 days and really was all about the physical change in my body as the alcohol finally left my system. My skin, hair, sleep patterns, and weight all began to change. Mornings were different… instead of morning sickness or angst, I had morning clarity! I read everything I could about sobriety and recovery and how people manage. Β The theme of everything I read was basically What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Stay Sober πŸ˜‰

My my second trimester lasted about 2-3 months… these months were spent adjusting to new social realities. I was able to hibernate most of my first trimester, but the next couple of months coincided with Christmas/New Years, and all the necessary parties. I got to test my sober legs and see how well they withstood peer/family pressure and questioning. Every dinner or party invitation caused great stress because I wondered if Id have the strength to get thru them with my sobriety intact.

This last trimester is when I really feel like I hit my stride. I was able to confidently pass up drinks and explain that I don’t drink anymore. When asked, I generally only need to say I got sick of hangovers, and all but the nosiest are satisfied. Most people go on to tell me they wish they could do it too, and that I’m an inspiration. I have also come to a strange acceptance of my body being less than perfect, and stopped the compulsive dieting and exercising in the past couple of months.

I’m starting to give myself a break and look at the big picture: I have a whole new sober and clearheaded life ahead of me. No more shame hangovers or rough nights. Just life unfiltered and uncloudy. It’s precious, scary, sweet, and challenging… Just like a brand new baby πŸ™‚


a new drink of choice

Next week, I will be 6 months sober and I’ve never felt better. Life has taken on the quiet hum of simplicity. I no longer battle my drinking demons that craved a drink daily (or hourly!!), and I’ve come to accept a much quieter social calendar. It’s been nice to just relax with my family on weekends, and put some energy into them and the house.

With all that strength and success under my belt, it’s time to work on bringing that belt in a few notches. I’ve decided I am finally able to tackle my next big goal which is to lose some weight. I don’t have much to lose, thankfully, but who wouldn’t mind losing 8-10lbs for good??

In truth one of the reasons I stuck with the early days of sobriety was to see if the weight would just fall right off as my liver became a finally tuned machine. Although I did lose the bloated dehydrated look and a few pounds left in the beginning, my nightly ice cream and/or cookie habit nixed that progress in the bud. I thought the calories from ice cream would take the place of the missing alcohol calories and sorta be a wash. Well… that didn’t quite happen. Add into the mix that I’m not as hard on myself and neurotic about exercise that I had been for the past few years while drinking, and a girl’s mid-section can take a small hit.

That’s what brought me to try juicing. A friend told me about a juice cleanse she did and suggested I google Joe Cross. I did that last week and watched his documentary this weekend. It’s called “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”. If you haven’t seen it, I HIGHLY recommend watching it. My husband showed up when I was 15 minutes into it, and he watched the remaining hour with me. As soon as the movie ended, he said, “I’m doing it. Let’s start tomorrow.” This is the first time my husband has EVER wanted to join me on one of my many (often wild!) food journeys. I think doing it together will make it easier and more rewarding. It’s never fun to watch him eating pizza or pasta with the kids while I’m choking down some kale. This will be a whole new ballgame! πŸ™‚

Although this is still a blog about my journey to sobriety and out of the proverbial onion patch, I hope you (if anyone even reads this!!) won’t mind if I share a bit of this experience as well. I’ve taken some pictures that I would love to post if I can figure out how…. my shopping haul, my juice prep, the resulting juice, and of course, like any good weight loss story, some “before” photos. That will require some bravery (and hopefully some awesome “after” pics!!), so I’ll hold off on that for a bit.

In the meantime, I’m off to drink my lunch. And wow what a difference 6 months makes, because not too long ago that would have meant it’s time to open a bottle of wine!! πŸ˜‰


A few highlights from the year I broke up with alcohol…

I woke up one morning and said I’ll never drink again. I’m done. And I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in the 135 days since

I no longer snore

I haven’t cringed at something I did or said in 4+ months

I do not end every night in a bitchy fight with my husband. Our marriage still needs major work, but I’m not the volatile lunatic I had been for so long

I am no longer the mom that only drives TO the party. I’m now the reliable ride home

My skin became dewy and brighter within a week of that last drunk

I hosted Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Boxing Day for 20+ each night. Each meal was memorable not only because it was delicious, but because it was prepared without a single meltdown from the hostess! A rare and new treat for my guests, for sure

Going off the Facebook grid took away a great deal of angst. I do less window shopping of other people’s lives now, and just focus on my own

My obsession with failed relationships has diminished. I no longer fixate on the past and what I could have done differently. That had always gone nicely with a drink or 10, but I have much less interest in it now

I’ve made deep wonderful friendship with fellow sober soldiers. We make each other laugh and are there when it all just sucks. My old circle wouldn’t understand or relate to most of what binds us, and keeps us sober and grounded.

Waking up without a hangover or shame 135 mornings in a row. Arguably the greatest gift of all.

Being able to attend 7am meetings, volleyball tournaments, or Pilates classes without having to factor in how shitty I’ll feel from the night before

A whole new love affair with pajamas and slippers at 7pm

Sleep. Glorious unadulterated long stretches of healing sleep

Learning the difference between true friends and drinking buddies. At 44 years old, this can still be a sad and tough lesson to learn.

Being PRESENT. Not zoned out, angry, isolated and irritable. But present for my kids and in my own mind. The need to dull and numb it all has left me

While I don’t like being studied and quizzed by friends and family, I no longer really give a shit what they think about my CHOICE not to drink.

I’m currently on my first ever sober vacation. Just my husband and three kids relaxing in a far away place with not much to do. I feared being bored, squirrelly, and tempted to drink. But quite the opposite is happening…. I’m relaxing and enjoying my family and the blessed rare downtime. It is heaven.

The obsession with sobriety and if I’m really an alcoholic has lifted. The first 6 weeks or so, it was all I could think about. All I could read about. Am I or am I not? Am I overreacting and does the label really fit? I’m not as far gone as that one in the meetings, so maybe I don’t belong here? Bottom line: the label or name for it doesn’t matter. I drank too much and for the wrong reasons, so it was time to stop. End of.

I’m sure as soon as I hit publish, I’ll think of 17 more things to add to the list. It’s just been that amazing of a ride so far.

Time to put on some sparkly clothes and ring in the new year in a new style. I’m out of the weeds and ready for all the great things to come in 2015

Holiday hangover

This is going to be a rambling post, so apologies upfront.

Even tho I just had my first sober Christmas since I was a teenager, I seem unable to shake a nasty hungover feeling. I’ve read about emotional hangovers that come after being around alcohol, but had never experienced it until this past week of unending gatherings, drinkers, and small talk.

At a neighborhood party last weekend, I faked a cocktail by filling a glass with tonic and lime wedges as soon as I walked in the door. Still, two meddlesome friends quizzed me on what I was drinking. Do normal/non-wolfie friends do that?? I endured grilling from one friend that would make Katie Couric proud… She left no judgmental stone unturned. After one too many passive aggressive comments, I excused myself politely, then grabbed my coat and left the party unnoticed. My husband (still drinking) didn’t even know/care that I left.

I decided I don’t really enjoy spending time with that group of people, so I don’t plan to do that again anytime soon. It’s hard not to notice that the circle of people I want to be around is shrinking. Am I isolating or just thinning the herd down to just the few people who matter?

It hit me that my relationship with the girl I considered the closest of these friends is not what I always thought it was. I thought we were close because of the amount of time we spent together, but in reality I think we were just drinking buddies. The only time she contacts me is to see if I want to get together for drinks or dinner (which always meant lots of drinking). She never calls or writes just to see how I’m doing, or to share what’s on her mind. It’s only to make plans for drinking. I can’t lie and say that this revelation doesn’t upset me. Now I just need to decide if I’d like to work on making the friendship more meaningful.

Being sober on Christmas Eve and Christmas was wonderful. Normally I pass out angry and my husband and mom put the gifts under the tree. This year, I was wide awake and in a great mood. Waking up Christmas morning without a hangover was a nice little gift to myself and kids as well!

I hosted dinner on the 25th and 26th for about 20 family members each night. I declined the special pear martinis my sister-in-law brought, which caused a bit of a stir. In a snarky tone, she asked if I was “still anti-alcohol”. I said I wasn’t anti-alcohol, just not drinking today. She remembered that I didn’t drink the last two times we were together, so she asked how long it’s been. Her interest in talking about me lasted approximately 60 seconds, then it was back to her … which was fine by me!

My dad and his wife came on the 26th. Between my dad, his wife, her son-in-law and my husband, 2 large bottles of bourbon were gone within 2 hours. Maybe everybody drank that much all along over the years, but damn that was a lot of booze! My wretched step-mother looked wild eyed and talked way too loudly, and my dad just seemed distant, sad, and old. It really bummed me out. He’s changed a lot in the last few years. He no longer even hides the fact that he’s not much of a family guy and doesn’t really care to have deep relationships with his kids and 9 grandchildren. I always considered myself daddy’s little girl and easily his favorite. Now I just look at him as a sad distant friend that I’m not so close with anymore. It has nothing to do with my decision to quit drinking, but in the past we often bonded over a bottle of wine or five. Take that away, and again I’m left wondering if there really is much meat in the relationship.

Add in my pain-killer addicted sister, my emotionally stunted mother, my socially awkward brother, and a host of self absorbed teenage nieces/nephews and you have my personal recipe for an emotional hangover! They all left Saturday morning, and I’m still trying to shake the crappy lonely feelings it all stirred up in me. Luckily my little family of five had a trip planned to Hilton Head, SC this week, so I’m able to clear my head a bit over the next 6 days. I plan to get some control and peace back to my daily routine. I began today with a three-mile run… It wasn’t pretty or fast, but I did it!! I will do the same thing everyday this week, along with eating healthier. I really leaned on desserts and salty carbs to get me thru the month of December. My stomach and bottom are living proof that it probably wasn’t the smartest idea! I need to right the ship and make better choices before it gets too difficult to undo the damage.

One thing that I won’t do is drink. It hasn’t even been a temptation. This is my first vacation since being sober. Normally I’d be drinking as soon as we walked int the door last night. And then again this morning after I came in from my run. Certainly I’d have had a bottle of prosecco before we left for dinner this evening. This time? We didn’t even buy alcohol when we stocked up at the local grocery store. There’s not a drop in the house! Times they are a changing!

I hope the icky feeling of being let down by family and friends passes soon. I don’t like how isolated and alone it’s making me feel. I’d rather just enjoy the clear headed happy feeling I get when I go to bed knowing I have one more sober day in the books! The rest will hopefully sort itself out in time.

day 111

It’s been so long since I’ve written, but I wanted to check in and say I’m doing really well. as the title states, I’m on day 111 which is just incredible. πŸ™‚

the obsession with alcohol has lifted and I very rarely think about or crave a drink. there are definitely times that I feel the pull to a drink… usually when I’m doing something that I always did with a cocktail in hand. chopping garlic for example. I was like one of Pavlov’s dogs with the first mince. cooking with fresh garlic usually means we have company coming over and I’m making guacamole, a marinade, or some other concoction from the Barefoot Contessa (my muse!) with a bottle already opened beside me on the kitchen counter. even if it was 11am on a tuesday, if i knew friends were coming later in the day, that gave me license to start boozing. it has taken some adjusting and lots of flavored seltzer to break that association, but for the most part I have.

this was also my first sober thanksgiving as an adult (aside from my pregnancies). I thought for sure I’d be dull and a real bore at small talk. turns out I was able to be a better conversationalist, showing interest in others rather than waiting for my chance to escape the conversation or top it with some witty bit of snark. there was also the added bonus of not waking up wondering what I said or regretting comments I might have made.

as for AA, I’m scaling that back a bit for now. I did “90 in 90” which absolutely gave me a firm foundation and support network. I don’t think I’d have stuck with sobriety if I hadn’t walked into a meeting that first time. however, I have decided to just attend the 3-4 meetings a week that I always enjoy. I’m dropping the ones at the clubhouse which always depressed me a bit. if I’m going to a meeting, I want to be fairly certain it will be uplifting, inspiring, and worth the two hours it takes up in my day (I still travel outside of my town for meetings, so it’s about a half hour each way to each meeting).

I feel like my fitness, housekeeping, and Christmas shopping was not getting enough attention, so I’m making the change. if at any point I start to feel weak or that my progress is unravelling, I’ll go back to daily meetings. but for now, I feel strong, confident and secure in my sobriety so I’m ok with letting up on the reins a bit.

my family/home life has taken on a lovely hum of quiet and comfort. instead of craving getting home to crack open a bottle of wine, I now eagerly anticipate changing into my pajamas and slippers at 7pm πŸ™‚ I don’t go to sleep that early but I find that it is way more relaxing (not to mention healthier!!) than a bottle + of wine nightly.

in other news, I survived a 40th birthday pub crawl last weekend by ordering mock-tails and leaving early. only one couple seemed to fixate on what I was drinking all night. they kept asking what I was having and if there was alcohol in it. I lied and said yes each time they asked, but it was bizarre and unnerving. the husband even asked if he could have a sip of my drink at one point and I flat out said “get your own fucking drink” ha… the saucy girl inside me isn’t completely gone!!

needless to say I am looking to minimize time spent with that couple. it’s a shame because they have been close friends for years. Unfortunately they lack discretion and the husband fancies himself to be Dr Phil, so I know they won’t just drop the subject. it’d be too juicy for them to pass up. my only option right now is to be unavailable when they ask to get together. I’m in no hurry to have to open myself up to them.

all and all, life has been good. since the obsession lifted, so did the need to blog about it I guess. I’m aiming for a certain level of indifference toward alcohol/sobriety, so I don’t want to always write about it. I do however lurk and read the blogs a few times a week. I get so much wisdom and inspiration here. I am so happy to have found so many like minded people trying to regain some sanity and peace in our lives. we’re doing alright πŸ™‚

big mouth strikes again

Ever since I decided not to drink, I’ve feared being found out by my family and friends. I don’t want to confirm what I’m sure has long been their quiet belief: that I have a drinking problem. I figured I’d either hide out at home on weekends, claim I’m on a cleanse, or just meet friends for “coffee” for the rest of my days, rather than brave the discomfort of being a new-non-drinker in a crowd of friends. I don’t want to be under the microscope and I loathe the idea of giving certain acquaintances the satisfaction of knowing I’m an alcoholic.

My biggest social worry has been that someone would make a big deal of it, draw attention to me, and ask a bunch of prying questions. My husband, my sponsor and many people in meetings have told me that it would never happen. That “it doesn’t matter to those who matter” and “nobody really notices or cares if you’re not drinking”.

Well guess what? That was a load of crap, because my fear was fully realized this weekend in front of my entire family… my kids included.

On Saturday night, my mom hosted a small dinner party for my nephew who had just returned from serving in the Middle East for 8 months. There were about 15 of us at her house, mostly my teenage nieces and nephews.

This was the third time I’ve been with my older sister since I quit. She’s not a big drinker, so it’s been somewhat easy not to drink when she comes to visit. On Saturday night, she was holding court with most of the kids in the dining room when I walked in with a glass of seltzer.

Sister: “You’re STILLLLL on the wagon?!?!? Oh my god!! Mike, can you believe it??? Petunias still not drinking!! (Marine,) did you know that?!? Aunt Petunia’s no fun anymore… she’s been on the wagon!!!!”

All I could say was, “Even tho I’m not drinking, I’m still a hell of a lot more fun than you”, and i walked back into the kitchen.

But she wouldn’t shut the hell up. In her big loud obnoxious voice, I heard her saying to my 13 year old daughter, “Susie, did you hear??? Mommy’s on the wagon. Mommy doesn’t drink anymore!!!”

It was like having my pants pulled down in the middle of a crowded room. I felt so exposed and naked.

The fact that I didn’t rip her fat head off her shoulders right then truly is a miracle of sobriety.

I walked back in as each of the kids (ages 13-22) simultaneously was asking questions….

“Oh no, Aunt Petunia!! Why??? What happened???”

“Really Mommy??? Why?? Are you okay???!!”

“What made you do that?? I can’t believe it!!”

“Wow. Aunt P, congratulations. That’s awesome.” (from the marine who has seen enough of the damage alcohol can do)

I wanted to cry/slap her/run to my old bedroom and lock the door/tell her to go F herself and focus instead on her obvious prescription drug problem. Any of the above. But, I chose D, none of the above. Instead, in a voice full of as much venom and seriousness I could muster, I said “It’s not something I need to talk about when my kids are here.” I’m pretty sure the look on my face let her know I’d have no problem laying her out if she said another word. I just told the kids it’s no big deal and I’m not talking about it.

That was the end of the conversation. A few minutes later, she mouthed “I’m so sorry,” but too late. The genie is out of the bottle. My kids now know that I’m not drinking and it’s a big newsy deal. Who the hell does that to someone tho??? What the hell would prompt someone to be so damn tacky and invasive?? It truly was a scenario I feared coming to life. Right in front of my children!! Awful.

Just tonight, I received an invitation to dinner with about 6 couples later in the month. One husband in particular is the same breed of loud mouth as my sister…. no tact, loves to be center stage, fancies himself to be Dr Phil and asks prying questions. Now that I’ve endured my sister being such an ass, how can I not expect this guy to do the same hung???

Any ideas on how to handle this dinner party? I’m tempted to skip it, but I have made excuses for the last 3-4 get togethers. I’d like to get out of my self-imposed social timeout, but I do not want to be studied and quizzed like some carnival freak. If anyone has experience with this sort of “friend” or family member, I’d love some pointers. In the meantime, I’m adding this one little resentment to my list πŸ˜‰

day 69

I’ve been silent for weeks, but I wanted to pop in to say all is well!! I am miraculously on Day 69. That means I’ve laid my sober head down on a pillow 68 nights in a row. Truly unheard of and unbelievable in my little world.

About 6 weeks ago, I read two books that were on Mrs D’s reading recommendations: Dry by Augusten Burroughs and “Kick the Drink Easily” by Jason Vale. i think those two books, together with almost daily AA meetings, helped me turn a corner in this thing. “Dry” was just a great story with a message that if that dude could stay sober with all that he had going on, so could I.

The Jason Vale book was probably what did it for me… the style of writing was pretty redundant and almost childish, but his message really broke through to me. I don’t want to attempt to paraphrase and therefore butcher his thoughts, but basically it made me look at being sober as a choice I’m making for my overall health. That if I were to quit smoking or shooting heroin, friends and society would congratulate me. But something about not drinking makes me feel like a misfit. It’s utter nonsense. That just made so much sense to me and took me out of my non-stop pity party.

I’ve also made some nice friends in AA. Women who don’t judge me, but totally get me. People whom I feel like I can trust more than my average neighbor. Last week I was sitting in my usual spot in the women’s meeting: silent, back corner, back row. As women were coming in, I would smile to myself and generally feel a warm happy feeling when I saw each of them. Their familiar faces brought so much comfort and I was also just happy that they were sober for today as well. It’s little things like that which make a big difference in my world.

I’ve come to realize that I have walked around in fear for so many years. Fear that I’ll get breast cancer, fear that my child has a horrible disease, fear that my husband will find out how awful I am, fear that my neighbors and friends will see I’m nothing but a fraud. What I never heard or thought of was something so simple… someone said this in passing at a meeting and it changed everything I thought I knew… Fear is the flipside of faith. They are two sides of the same coin.

I never have faith in anything working out well, but I’m ALWAYS willing to have fear. Both faith and fear give power to the unknown. If I’m willing give power to negative feelings and thoughts, wouldn’t it be healthier and just as easy to give power to positive ones? As soon as I thought about it this way, I began to change my pattern of thinking and looking at situations. I stop myself when I begin to feel fear, and say what would I be saying to myself if I just had a little faith instead. So simple. Try it for yourself and see what a difference it makes in your mindset.

So that’s where I am and where I’ve been. I feel good and am no longer constantly obsessing over my choice to be sober. My family and friends still don’t know I’m done for good, but I figure that info is on a need to know basis. For now, all they need to know is I’m alright. Really alright.