Month 1 – Retired from a 40 year drinking career

Gone are the times of counting days or planning ahead for when I am done my ‘challenge’ or AF stretch. This time it’s for good! Since I started this blog back in 2013, I have been trying to change my habits with booze. Since the age of 12 – when I first tasted alcohol and through many variations and levels of drinking, after 40 years of allowing this habit into my life – I gifted myself with a retirement from my drinking career! Moderation simply did not work for me!

In the first month I have experienced the usual wonderful euphoria feeling that comes once the fog clears after your last drink (which can vary from 3 to 10 days depending on how heavily one drinks). Since it wasn’t my first time going without – this last time came relatively easy. And the benefits seemed better and brighter with the knowing that I was done for good this time!

Releasing the thoughts of drinking completely has been the most liberating feeling ever! When I was doing stretches – there was always this little voice in my mind whispering … and on occasions or moments when cravings would call I was being drawn back and tempted… Saying maybe is saying yes when it comes to booze.

When you completely take it off the table – it’s a no brainer. The option just is never there and so you find yourself reaching for other coping mechanisms – much healthier ones at that and as a result you of course feel so much better. Very quickly the self-confidence and self-esteem comes back.

You see – leading towards my last drink on August 12th, I was feeling very low and insecure in my work or my abilities. I was second guessing myself and doubting or wondering about my worth. That was the booze talking (even though I was sober at work). But how the booze robs you of your confidence and because of the guilt you feel for not sticking with your AF plan it erodes at your own belief in yourself.

Things are going so great at work!! Our communications/PR person told me yesterday that she nominated me for “Excellence” in service for all the work I’ve been doing to help make our workplace healthier for staff with the activities I organize for the Fit & Well Initiative. Whether or not I win is not the point – the fact that what I was doubting or feeling guilty about doing (as I do this as a ‘side’ from my regular job as an admin for a team that is all about healthy active living) – I am making a difference for others at work!

Booze robs us of time, confidence, capacity to do more and chase dreams that we used to spend our time ‘thinking about’ with drink in hand or watching life go by. I am LIVING life now! I am enrolled in a program to become a Certified Wellness Coach and hope to make my niche relative to helping others to Lose ‘da Booze in their lives!

Health wise – I’m finally back to my regular daily workouts (something I was skipping out on or too lazy to do when drinking). I’m eating much better (the cravings for junk food have gone – whereas with booze it was like they went hand in hand). I am down 7.5 lbs. I’ll take a photo to compare the face to face and update it here later…

My group Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Success is going strong – it’s a secret group but you can join in if you message me/add me as a friend. It’s now over 225 members strong and has been going since January of 2016 when I asked others to join in my 2nd 100 Days AF. I also lead a group called Healthy4Life on Facebook. It focuses on support and accountability and I post inspirational or informational items there.

These are all #sobertools that get you on the path to freedom from booze. I can’t wait to see what this next month will bring! I’ll be posting month to month… so stay tuned!

Here’s a face to face comparison for Month 1!

Day 365 of 365 – End Experiment – Start of Sober Retirement Life

On August 12th at 9pm – my drinking career came to an end. On September 3rd 2017 I intended to do this one year ‘experiment’ – well actually I said I’d go a full year without booze but my mindset wasn’t quite there. In February – I broke my streak at day 174 and allowed myself a drink… and then it seemed to slip back into ‘allowing’ myself drinks again here and there – for 102 days total in that one year period. So while I finished the ‘year’ with 263 days AF (same as my entire year in 2017) – I was feeling like it wasn’t good enough.

As you can see from this blog – that dates back to 2013 – I have been trying to cut down on alcohol and moderate and what I have found is that it’s just not enough. What I have now decided is that after 40 years of having booze in my life – I’m ready to break up, give it up, retire it for good!

Thus my Sober Retirement Life begins! I am looking forward to what the months ahead will bring and excited that I can let go of this internal battle in my head about thinking ‘when can I drink again’…

I’m DONE! I used to say never say never – but in this case – I’m done and giving up – on booze that is lol!

Never quit quitting is another motto I guess. When it comes to booze – it’s one thing I can say that truly no longer serves any purpose in the life I want to live going forward. I have many great new aspirations that I want to pursue and there’s just no room for this in my life!

So Happy Birthday to me! Best gift I could give myself right here… and so thrilled that I am not doing it alone and that the Sober Movement is picking up momentum in our communities … with my group Lose ‘da Booze and Annie Grace’s groups (This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment).

I can’t wait to see what life ahead will look like! Stay tuned!

I Want to Finish the Year off Proud!!

I had a victory yesterday – went out to see a guy friend and he had bought some alcohol for me (which was a really nice gesture) but I told him I had to decline as I was not drinking. He asked why and I explained the ‘light’ side and just said I wanted to lose weight and couldn’t when I was drinking. We know there’s more to it, but no need to divulge the details to everyone (especially those who don’t really know the truth of our issue with alcohol).

Interesting thing in saying no  a few times as he did suggest since I achieved 30 days I should celebrate – I didn’t feel tempted in the least.

Today – I’m feeling a bit different again (that internal voice/battle I guess). I met with my co-organizer for the event and contemplating how I might like a drink since I have a complimentary room, no worries about kids and really my first night out to myself. No need to drive home so I could have drinks… but then I’m pulled back to NOT wanting to go back to day 1!!

I keep blogging different intentions in terms of forever sobriety or just achieving certain milestones and I think for now, for peace of mind I’m going to say that I’m going for the 100 days sober as a first milestone and see how I feel then about where I go from there. It is true that I have about 30lbs to lose and I know I can’t do it with the level of drinking I was at (which often included binge eating).

I am finally seeing what Belle spoke about in terms of allowing enough of a break to be able to change my mind set because even after the 30 that battle in my head is still there – although a bit quieter. I read other blogs too from those who have a year or many months and how this battle continues. I do look forward to having a bit of a break on this front, but I know this is all part of the process.

I honestly want to finish the year feeling PROUD of where I stand as I close off 2013 and welcome in 2014. I do want things to change and be different, which means I can’t keep reverting to old habits or patterns of drinking.

Writing this out helps me get a bit clearer on where I want to go and how I will handle Saturday. I acknowledge it may be harder to say no, but I can do this!! I will be checking in more with my supports leading up to the event.

It’s all part of truly celebrating – without alcohol. There is life after alcohol and I’m going to prove that to myself. Last night was a perfect example. I didn’t drink and yet had a great time (even though I watched him have his drink). Just have to keep rolling in this sober car! Looking forward to making December another full month sober (November is almost done and the stars on each date are telling and a great visual for me).

Striving to be MY Best

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I loved this poster and love Dr. Dyer (got to meet him in person on an I Can Do it at Sea Caribbean Cruise 2 years ago). It reminds me that this journey of mine is my own, and while I may compare myself to others in terms of where they are at in their days of sobriety, their success – and my own slips, trips and re-starts (too many to count)… I am in fact making changes and improvements. 

I am better than I was before and while I may not be at my best just yet, with each passing day things are getting better. 

Today was rough in terms of dealing with more issues with my 12 year old who missed school – again (due to being sick but we ended up getting in to a text war anyways about other issues). It’s truly been draining me and dragging me away from my focus at work. I feel so bad about it. After work I went to meet with her counselor for ‘me’ as a parent to work on parenting strategies and debrief on the session he had with her yesterday. I told him how discouraged I was because despite all the work and time I’m putting into this – it doesn’t seem like we’re making progress, but then I’m reminded that SHE too is likely doing the best she can at this time in her life. She has mental health issues (anxiety, depression, eating disorder/body image issues, bullying stuff at school, etc.) – and her coping skills are not great in that she is self-harming but … like me, this may take some time. 

My drinking habits were a form of self-harm even though I was using it as a coping mechanism to soothe away the stress or numb the pain and fuzz away the problems I had to face… when in fact it only delayed me having to truly deal with these situations. Now 22 days sober, I’m seeing this more clearly and accepting the challenges with more strength. 

I was very emotional last night and felt ‘blah’ but when I turned in, like it was out of the blue I started crying – not for any particular reason except maybe everything lol. It felt good and I had a good night’s rest. I woke up today feeling better.

Tonight – I dealt with addressing another financial woe/worry and ended up cashing in some old broken gold jewelry items. I didn’t get much but it was stuff that was sitting around doing nothing and it got me enough to cover the bills I wanted to cover. Now I have 3 other pieces that I will bring in to a jewelry store to see about selling those – part of my cleansing and letting go as it was stuff my ex got me and I’m ready to rid myself of it to make room for the new. 

De-cluttering my mind in every way – this sobriety is making space in my head to do more and I’m very grateful. Let’s see what tomorrow bring as I continue to strive to do MY Best. 

Daily Practice

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I’ve been saying NO to booze daily for 17 days now. I still have moments and fleeting thoughts about wanting some and the whole ‘romanticizing’ of how it would be so good. Then I keep doing that comparison of alcohol to those shitty relationships I’ve had with men in my life and how, while it was hard to let go, now that it’s done and over with, I see how it was the only way to go – to get to where I am today. Living a healthier life. 

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Those voices in my head still toy with me telling me I won’t do this again – that I’ll cave in. I still have dreams about drinking waking up feeling shitty about it. Amazing how even in a subconscious state the booze makes me feel so bad. Yet I still find myself thinking of the ‘good times’ and good feelings those initial drinks gave me. 

I have to keep reminding myself that I can only do this one day at a time. I have to remember not to look to far ahead and let go of the past slip ups and believe that YES this time is different! I need to build my confidence. As I blogged about on Soberistas – it takes 6 weeks before we can instill a new habit. I am almost now 3 weeks in so halfway there. I have another weekend coming up with the infamous Friday start tomorrow – and my new acronym of choice OFIF (I’m sure you can figure it out). Last weekend was a hard one with cravings. I’m hoping this one will be slightly easier as it’s my 3rd. 

Weekdays are no brainers and I don’t have any urges because I’m simply too busy. I guess the plan is to stay just as busy on weekends – and there sure is no lack of things for me to do. I just have to stop procrastinating and thinking of all the to do’s I have and just get to them! 

So here’s to believing I CAN do this and not listening to that devil’s voice, Mr. Unsuitable, Wolfie – whatever you call it! 

Change…

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Today started off well – I woke up feeling good about not caving in yesterday and was on a roll getting things crossed off my to do list. Then I got a call to go babysit for a friend – one who really needed to get out as her daughter had been hospitalized for a month and she basically had a melt down needing a ‘date’ out with her hubby. While it didn’t fit with my plan for the day, I couldn’t say no. So I went and they told me to help myself to whatever – beer too… and I said I wasn’t drinking. 

I was fine for a bit then I guess that afternoon itch came again and I was not in my own place. There was beer in the fridge there. I blogged on Soberistas … because it’s more ‘live’ there and got support and worked through the urges again, wrapping up day 13 AF.

And so this poster above… I want to say goodbye to the old me and hello to my new life but I fear it too. It’s unknown territory and that can be scary – well frankly it is in some ways and also promising of course. I know that things could not go on as they have been – that endless cycle of sober periods followed by days of drinking. It was just draining my spirit. However, I still am fearful of the ‘sober forever’ term and so I keep trying to pull myself back to just for today, I will NOT drink and do that, one day at a time. 

It’s time for a change and the only way it can happen is by doing things differently. That means no more giving in to those cravings and working through them like I did yesterday and today. It wasn’t easy though. I’m feeling very drained and tired now so I’ll be in bed early and looking forward to the work week when it seems the voices are quieter. My 2nd weekend AF here in the new home was successful. Onward and forward!

12 Days Booze Free

Today was a close call… The voices came calling to me in my dreams. Making me think I had caved in and I woke up feeling real crappy, guilty, like I had done something wrong – but it was a dream. I woke with a headache too and it lingered with me all day – another trigger for me to crave booze oddly enough – to dull the pain. I have had headaches this week for a few days – and I attribute it to the weather changes. It SUCKS!

So I had to figure out how to cope today and work through these feelings I keep getting around this stage… I’ve got 11 days AF in and on my 2nd weekend of working on staying sober but I swear it was fucken HARD today. I had those feelings today about how good it would feel to just relax and have some drinks. Especially since my 12 year old is out for a sleepover and my 17 year old is out too – peace at last. But how would I feel if I caved in?!

My confidence level is not so strong right now about whether or not I’ll pull this off or if I’ll slip up again and yet, I know that I can’t slip back to it – not so early in the game. I need more time away from that devil, Mr. Unsuitable. I swear it’s like the shitty men I have had in my life – they would come back to woo me… tempt me and tell me how great it would be this time, that everything would be better and ‘ok’. I’d take them back and then BAMM!! Back to square one. I took this abuse over and over again. With booze I have a choice – and I have to break out of this cycle of abuse in my life. This is self-harm… and I can’t stand to see it when my daughter self-harms… which I just found out this week she did again last week. This is her coping mechanism – to cut and when I saw the cuts on her legs, too many to count, my heart was aching. I thought how could she do this to herself?! Well it’s the same with us and booze I guess. I’m sure that sometimes they might have looked at me while I was drinking and wished I wasn’t doing so.

I know it’s going to take time for my brain to get re-wired. I know I can’t do this alone. I am going to gather strength from my friends here in the sober blogging world, get the rest I need and not be so hard on myself in all other areas of my life (as I am also trying to moderate my food intake to lose some weight). For now – the most important thing is to get rid of the vice that booze is in my life! If I eat that sugar treat or a bit too many calories on the days I’m craving – so be it. I need to not overwhelm myself or I will throw my hands up in the air and feel like quitting quitting – and that’s not where I want to be.

So 12 days booze free is in the books… Tomorrow is a new day and I pray that Mr. Unsuitable stays out of my head for the night and into my dreams.

Information Overload – So much to soak in…

I just finished reading The Sober Revolution and continue to read posts/blogs on the Soberistas website. I’m reading blogs in this world here as well. And the articles keep popping up like this one today 7 Tips to Go Easy on the Booze Over the Holidays (with links to other articles too). It’s certainly not for lack of information out there and to read the stories of peoples successes, trials and slips. It’s incredible.

I was feeling a bit low yesterday and today I’m up again – but my mind is buzzing with thoughts of things I can now do that I’ve decided to be 100% AF. I have so many aspirations including reading more (I do love to soak in the information but need to span out to other self-help areas in terms of moving forward), thinking of new classes or hobbies I can take, pursuing a dream of starting my own business (to help others in the form of coaching or speaking). My ultimate dream is to have a job that would allow me to travel the world and speak / help people … but I’m getting ahead of myself – or am I?!

They say when you dream to dream big and I am. Without the booze in play, there’s just so much I can do now. I am re-reading Marianne Williamson’s “The Age of Miracles” and I am truly ready to finally be a grown up and make the latter part of my life the BEST years of my life. My mom used to say life begins at 40 but I’m 7 years late… however, they do say 50 is the new 40 so maybe I’m 3 years early lol. When you think of it, now that I have all this experience under my belt – I know the heartaches and I’ve ‘been there and done that’ – I can make much wiser choices.

My mind is absolutely buzzing and so thankfully I have my meditations at night to ground me again. This is only a small part of my life too – because there’s work, and family issues and the counseling I’m attending for my daughters.

Again – trigger point for me … used to be when I got overwhelmed, I’d fall back to the pattern of drinking to calm myself down or rather slow things down. No more of that. If I need to slow things down – I just need to make that choice and it does NOT have to involve alcohol.

I’m on day 8 today – very new still, but different because there’s no end to this count. I joined the 100 Day Challenge, but I’m challenging myself or rather just simply accepting that I’ll be 100% sober – period! No more internal mental tug of war about when, why, how much for that next drink – it’s no longer part of the equation! I’m DONE!

The Sober Revolution – No More Mr. Unsuitable!

I’m partway into chapter 4 of The Sober Revolution which I started this morning and I’m already loving it!

I think what really clicked with me is how my relationship to alcohol is very similar to those negative relationships I’ve had in my life with men. The analogy provided by Lucy is bang on for me… I was that girl who always wanted the thing or man I couldn’t have or shouldn’t want. The bad boy syndrome. Me being the rebel and going after something I really shouldn’t allow in my life. I believe this is why I have had such a hard time letting go because if you tell me I can’t have something – then I seem to want it even more.

But things have changed now. I’ve matured and I’m learning. With the readings, the blogs and learning from others’ experiences, I feel confident that I can and will walk away from this BAD relationship. I want Mr. Wonderful in my life!! Sobriety… the one who will make me feel good, treat me well and encourage me to live my life to the fullest. Mr. Unsuitable keeps trying to call me back… he knows me since we’ve had this relationship now for a few decades. 28 years to be exact. That’s even longer than my marriage/relationship with my ex-husband of 13 years so I know this isn’t going to be smooth sailing all the way.

It’s true that at times when I’m feeling vulnerable Mr. Unsuitable will try to lull me back by bringing up some of the more ‘fun’ times we had together – but I need to stay focused on the overall negative effect he has had on my life, and so many of my experiences.

Sobriety is what I’m after now. And for now I’m ok to be ‘single’ for a while longer until I work through all of this and build a solid foundation for a healthy future with Mr. Wonderful. Again – the analogy provided in the book is BRILLIANT… I used to do a lot of work searching for a soul mate – tired of being single (now almost 11 years) – but I now realize that I have to FIX myself first and love myself most before I can have anyone else love me. Self-love is what will heal me and guide me to doing good things for myself including this journey to sobriety.

I know my words are strong today because the voices (or Wolfie or Mr. Unsuitable) are far away for now… but I also know that so long as I keep building up my tool box of resources and arm myself, I’ll be ready when they come knocking at my door and I’ll happily tell them NO – I’m not going back to that relationship – We Are Done!!

No more of this – maybe I can give it another try and see if it can be different. Shit – it never worked in my relationships with men either. I swear this lesson learned right here, right now – it will be key in my truly finding a fulfilling and healthy relationship… once I’ve achieved my goal of sobriety.

I feel encouraged by this new view point. By looking at ‘da booze as that shitty asshole partner/boyfriend that I’m DONE with. I am better than that and I need to focus on getting on with my life and living it to my fullest potential … SOBER.

Worth the Fight

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This journey for me is not easy. I finished reading Lisa Newmann’s book Sober Identity and while I had some difficulty following parts of it the end really rang true for me in so many ways. The trial and errors about my getting to the ‘sober’ status and how perhaps because my mind is still not fully committed – that’s why I’m falling more than not.

I have a lot to work out in my head about the WHY I need to do this – even though it may seem pretty obvious too. I guess I need to get more sober days under my belt until my sub-conscious mind or the devil or wolfie or whatever VOICE name you want to call it quiets down. Today was easy and I had no cravings or wants for it. I felt much better too and finishing off the day on a good note.

The power of our sub-conscious mind is so incredible and reprogramming it is going to take time and I have to allow this to come. I know it’s not going to be easy – but it’s definitely going to be worth it in the end. I want a different life for myself, for my kids. They are also struggling with the ‘young’ experimentation of drugs (marijuana) and their taste or curiosity for booze too… and it kills me to see it because I know it’s a slippery slope. Thankfully with counseling I hope that we can address it and teach them better coping mechanisms and provide them with the right tools. The other part is my being a better role model – but I know it won’t happen overnight. It’s like they will need to see proof that THIS time is different.

I thought the answer was to tell more people about my intentions, but now I think I spoke too soon and now I’m just going to fly under the radar on the issue as long as I can and avoid discussing it outside of this sober blogging world where I know people truly understand what I’m going through. I’m not even going to say much to Belle either until I have more sober days ‘done’ since I’ve fallen off the 100 day challenge so often (so much so I feel embarrassed).

I was reading some blogs over on the soberistas website tonight and one lady talked about how one day turned into many … story of my life but worse, how I would actually go to bed early, then wake up once the kids were in bed and drink more so I could do it when they were not awake and I could ‘hide’ it a bit more. There was also a comment there I could relate to in that when I get into these binge modes it’s like I take in all I can because when this is done this time – I’m done… and yet it doesn’t always work that way. I was also reminded by the post/comments about how much I give up when I drink and basically withdraw and ‘hide’ from the world. I don’t want anyone to see me this way and so I put up a facade, make excuses and lie – to them and to myself.

I still hesitate calling myself an alcoholic and I’m not sure if I have to truly admit this to get beyond this addiction. I guess when I think alcoholic I think of a different picture than what I’m going through – the person who can’t go without or they get extreme shakes and tremors – that’s not me. I can stop – and sometimes I do for a month or less – it’s when I start back that I seem to go into ‘days of drinking’. And so, the decision has to be made that total abstinence is probably my best bet and yet thinking that scares me too. I know AA is not for me either – because I refuse to believe that we are powerless in this journey – I know I am stronger than this and I will eventually beat it.

In Lisa’s book she speaks to change and growth and how it’s not comfortable or easy and she’s right – this SHIT is HARD! I’m reaching out for support as best I can with my means and definitely tuning in to my writing because that’s something that has always helped me.

And so now I take a few new lessons learned on this path and get ready to turn in and begin again tomorrow. Moving on to the Sober Revolution book for my next read. Tools tools tools … must soak my mind with thoughts about changing my addictive patterns … and practice more meditation too. Today was a GOOD day!