Happy A-Ha Holidays

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 1 year, 4 months 4 days

It seems I naturally come back here each month. I obviously am no longer holding myself to a particular schedule, and this is working for me.

This time of year is always tricky, but this time I know exactly why. It’s not all the booze everywhere. It’s all the socializing. Something I have finally really accepted about myself is that I’m an introvert. Putting myself in social situations is not comfortable for me. At all. I can do it, but it’s really difficult for me, especially mustering any motivation to go (which may be the worst part). Generally, I will find some pleasure in it, but for the most part, it’s just not comfortable.

So now, here we are again. That time of year when I have to be social (and I do have to be social – this is a requirement). I am still an introvert, only now I am an introvert that doesn’t fit in. I realized recently that THAT is the part about drinking that I actually miss the most at this point. It’s bad enough being an introvert in a social setting, but let’s add onto that the fact that I’m one of only a couple, but usually THE only one, without a drink in my hand (and wondering if they’re wondering as to why).  I miss feeling like I kind of belong.

It’s a small price for all the positive things not drinking does for me (like being alive at all) and I will get over it, especially now that I have figured out that it’s that that has me feeling so uncomfortable. Being able to name it helps. I’m an introvert who sticks out a little more because I don’t drink. Yay. Again, I’ll get over it.

As an aside, I finally read the entire “This Naked Mind”, and I have to say, I found it a little infuriating. In the beginning, I was really excited because I could relate to what she was describing as my drinking. As it went on, however, she states over and over that everyone is in a different stage of alcohol dependence, and then periodically denies she said that. I have lived with a man for 20 years that I can count on 1 hand how many times he overindulged.  It hasn’t gotten progressively more. He drinks every day, and he never drinks too much. He has an evening ritual, but I’ve watched him not drink if he’s sick, not drink at parties, etc., etc. Now maybe it was true in her experience that everyone in her life has a problem. That’s just not the case in my life, and I found the book irritating because of it. That and her continued contradictions about it. That said, in true dialectic form, it was also useful to read. I also had a renewed appreciation for DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy).

Speaking of…

I continue to go to a weekly class with my daughter, and I finally determined I really must meditate every day, so that’s something I am doing. I have associated it with my morning coffee. I meditate before I can pour a cup. It’s working. Today was day 24.

Homework:

I watched this yesterday and found it super useful.

Happy Holidays!

– Heldy

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Observations at 1 year, 3 months sober and DEAR MAN.

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 1 year, 3 months

I am feeling contemplative because of how I feel about where I am today as a non-drinker as opposed to some more euphoric folk. I said I wanted to not feel one way or the other about alcohol, and I’ve mostly arrived at this place. I was speaking to my mother about this the other day. About the “why me and why alcohol”.  I’ve come to the conclusion that quite simply it was how I learned at a very young age to cope with distress. It worked really well at that. It’s a pretty simple answer, but it feels absolutely spot on. So with that said, and knowing the brain does heal from the alcohol abuse; recreating healthy neuropathways given enough time, and if one has learned how to cope with distress with healthy methods further strengthening those neuropathways, what would stop me from trying a drink again someday in a social context? The simple answer is why take that risk? Why, if I have indeed learned how to cope with distress in healthy ways, learned how to socialize without it, replaced so many negative aspects of it with positive or at the very least, lack of negative, why would I risk it? She talked about how many years it’s taken for her to heal her gut and that she felt the same way about gluten (granted that is a far less complicated substance). Why would she risk trying it again after achieving balance without it?

And that is basically where I am.

I see my sister who got sober about 5 months after I did, and she’s euphoric in a lot of ways about her decision. I can’t say I’m there. I am so grateful to no longer be hiding and living in constant terror of being caught while trying so hard to disappear every day, but I’m also not necessarily happy about being sober. I’m ok with this. As I said, I wanted to be indifferent. It does get easier. I still think about it, but never without the adjoining thought of the terror I mentioned.

What I’m working on: Currently the class is working on validation and recovering from non-validation. I was gone from last week’s class as I was out of town. This was an interesting class though and especially interesting after the day I’d had. It was a rough one. I’m under a tremendous amount of stress with work, with my daughter, with my son, and I’m still jet-lagged from my trip. I kind of lost it a couple times. I sobbed from sheer exhaustion and frustration, and I found myself self-comforting myself saying it was ok to lose it. It was ok to be sad. It was ok to not feel ok. Total self-validation, even though some part of me was saying, “C’mon now! Put on your big girl panties – you should know better.”. That thought though didn’t have much of a chance. It felt good to attend class and to look at recent instances in which I naturally did quite well with this, as well as ponder where I could have done things differently and gotten a more pleasing result.

Number of recovery meetings this week: Just DBT.

Success? I’ve gotten a shit ton done. I’m pretty pleased with my time management.

Challenge? My diet and weight. I did keto before my trip for 6 weeks. My sister has dropped over 50 pounds this year with it and is such a fucking inspiration. In the 6 weeks of keeping my carbs 20 or under with the rare couple of days I popped up to mid 20s, as well as keeping the calories between 1000-1500 a day, as well as walking 30 minutes a day about 5 days a week (I know that isn’t much, but it’s what my back will tolerate), it didn’t make a difference. I didn’t weigh myself throughout but just before. My clothes didn’t change how they fit on me. While on this trip, I allowed for the occasional treat because of where I was and knowing I wouldn’t see that food for another year or so. I went to the doctor on Monday and told her my tale, asked if it was possible to try HCG again which has worked and worked really well in the past (I was able to lose 55 pounds and keep it off for 6 or so years) which she seems to think would be ok to try again, and we weighed me. Same as what I was before starting keto. So, I’m back to eating clean, but will start HCG again as soon as possible. It would be nice to drop 52.6 pounds, according to my scale this morning. I’m in no big hurry but over the next 8 months or so. New goal. New focus.

Have you felt triggered since group? For about 3 seconds after falling apart. Nope.

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework:

Are you open to feedback? Yes

– Heldy

This Naked Mind, Freedom from Drinking, DBT, Radical Acceptance

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 1 year, 1 month, 19 days

Before I go into my regular check-in, I am compelled to let you know that I’ve discovered a couple alcohol related recovery resources that I wish, wish, WISH I had had when I first stopped drinking. It is PURE gold. I will update my links with it too. Whenever I feel the need to connect to someone else who “gets it”, this does it for me. I still have yet to step foot in any real-life meeting since I stopped drinking over a year ago, and I feel the only thing that may be missing is a crew of people who get it, however, this satisfies that for me completely.

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This book, which I haven’t even finished yet, is a total game changer. As I said, I wish I had had this from day 1. It’s seriously so good. The intro alone had me feeling so NOT alone. She gets it. She gets me. I listen to it on audiobook as I don’t have time to sit still and read:

Here’s an article from Forbes on it: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jesscording/2018/01/15/annie-grace-this-naked-mind/#56c55d15dea3

For some, a temporary break from alcohol (aka #DryJanuary) can reframe their relationship with drinking, but some may find avoiding it entirely helps them have a healthier, happier personal and professional life. In her book, This Naked Mind, author Annie Grace shares her story of quitting alcohol and uses psychology and neuroscience research and a “no scare statistics” approach to empower readers to do the same.

Secondly, her podcast. It’s PURE GOLD, people.

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Go. Subscribe. Buckle in. Not a bad place to start would be episode 100 where she goes over 100 things which improved since she stopped drinking.

I am feeling ah-ha duh-ish because last night was our 4th DBT class and this one introduced radical acceptance. Radical acceptance has been, by far, the most profound thing I have ever learned in how to just live. And yet! When she asked us to think of examples of things we’re dealing with in which we are willful instead of willing, it was so silly obvious that I wasn’t practicing this when my daughter has her meltdowns. I have in past, but I haven’t lately. Our teacher used her own daughter’s meltdowns as an example and she described her exhaustion of “here we go again”, and my eyes got big. This is how I’ve been feeling, and I haven’t stopped, truly accepted, and leaned into what is. I’ve been resisting and frustrated, and feeling so guilty for not being able to fix it. I’ve been exhausted and angry. It brought tears to my eyes when I acknowledged this.

My daughter has been participating, and even pointing out things in our day to day, showing me she is listening and really taking this in. I am so relieved. I really love our Tuesday evenings. It’s us time, and we are both learning so much together.

What I’m working on: Radical acceptance! I also learned it’s okay if I don’t choose this; radical acceptance is a choice. So is being willful. So is being self-destructive. We all have choices in how we handle things, and that is true freedom. We can choose to do something, we can choose to accept, we can choose to do nothing, we can choose to make things worse.

Number of recovery meetings this week: I am definitely changing this. Number of DBT classes, 1. That’s all there will be too. I may just eliminate this question altogether.

Success? The progress with my daughter is huge. Personally, I’m doing ok. My daughter and how I choose to react to our situation is both my biggest challenge and success.

Challenge? See success.

Have you felt triggered since group? I’m getting rid of this question. After I hit the 1 year mark, things actually quieted completely in my head. I didn’t realize how much I felt I needed to get to that milestone, and how much noise that caused in my mind. It was somewhat all-consuming for a time, and once I got there, it was like I could relax and breathe.  I’m still counting the time to that 1.5 year date, as I’ve given that some meaning. It falls close to my birthday as well. I will for sure drop this question as well as the time counting once I get there, as it no longer is meaningful.

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework:

Why not listen to “This Naked Mind” podcast #100?

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Are you open to feedback? Yes

– Heldy

Feeling happy. Changing things here.

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 1 year, 29 days

I am feeling happy because I think this may be helpful to my daughter. As I mentioned in my last entry, we were just starting a DBT skills class for adolescents. Had I checked in with you a week ago, I would have told you how exhausted I was and utterly defeated. I walked the walk though and chose to radically accept that my daughter might not find this useful the way I did. She told me after the first group that it wasn’t for her. We had a long evening of expressing our frustration with one another. She didn’t believe anyone was listening to her when she said school wasn’t for her, and this simply wasn’t going to work. I expressed my frustration that she hadn’t given it a proper try. In the end, she agreed to go for 4 sessions and after which, I agreed to explore other options for her for school. Mind you, school hasn’t even started yet. In the end,  we both felt heard, and I think that was the most important thing.

Last night was our 2nd group. It was totally focused on distress tolerance and emergency skills. She really responded to this, and even participated. As we left, she said she really only needed 1 more session (something she had tried to bargain down from 4) to realize that this was a good thing. Off to dinner out we went, and I mentioned again how happy I was that we could do this once a week and try a new restaurant we probably never would have otherwise, just the 2 of us. It was a great evening.

I’m changing part of my check-in. Some of these questions just don’t match what I’m doing anymore. I think once I hit 18 months sober, I’ll remove that part too. I am not in AA, and the recovery programs I followed don’t really count sobriety that way. By their accounts, I have almost 6 years of sobriety. That said, I’ll keep the count until 18 months when I believe my brain has safely healed from the abuse.

What I’m working on: DBT skills (mindfulness, distress tolerance)

Success? My daughter feeling good about this class

Challenge? Currently, just making sure I keep everything straight as far as things that need to be done. Work is incredibly busy. I feel awful as I agreed to meet a new client tonight. I felt strongly I was forgetting something. I had. I had previously agreed to let my sister park her car at our house and I was to take her to the airport tonight. She insisted she will just park there – it’s a short trip, but man do I feel like a putz. I offered to have my son drive her or get her an Uber – I just can’t blow off a new client last minute, but I could arrange something else for her. I still feel terrible about this.

Have you felt triggered since last checking in? No.

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework:

Funny, the video I posted in the last entry was supposed to be a TED talk about humor. It was a 30-second ad and I still don’t know what for. Oops! At least I know no one really reads this thing! Hahaha!

This was the video shown at our first DBT skills group:

Transitioning from alcohol focused to just life. 1 year, 21 days.

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 1 year, 21 days

I am feeling excited because my daughter and I will begin our DBT skills class today. I actually don’t have as much time as I’d like to check in, but I wanted to share this. It’s been a year since DBT was introduced to me and it changed my life profoundly. I give so much credit to the skills I implemented for my continued sobriety.  The skills gained have been so powerful, it has allowed me to do all my recovery meetings online, remain anonymous, and to honor my introvert nature (not to be confused with isolating – fine line). I had talked about getting into a DBT group ever since leaving treatment, and here it is. It will go for about 4-6 months, once a week. At least that’s the hope. My daughter is giving it a chance, which is all I can ask for.

What I’m working on: Back to basics – mindfulness, emotional regulation

Number of recovery meetings this week: 0 – I’m going to be changing the language on these check ins soon, as they don’t really match my world right now. I will be attending DBT skills class. I can’t remember the last recovery meeting I went to. Honestly, at this point, it’s been helpful to just be living my life. I don’t crave, and the break from thinking about it and feeling more like I’m just living my life has been really refreshing.

Success? I’m coasting and doing pretty well.

Challenge? Yesterday was one of the most challenging days for me work wise, and I realized I really must get back into the habit of mindfulness. Doing it!

Have you felt triggered since group? No

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework: 

I’ve not seen this.

Are you open to feedback? Yes

– Heldy

Drug of choice: alcohol – Days sober: 359 – If you think alcohol is the problem, you’ll never find the solution.

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 359

I am feeling curious because with my year sober date just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about what my plans are. I plan to re-read this blog from the beginning, as well as pull out the materials from the treatment center I attended. I am curious how I will feel. I assumed it would be like “playing the tape” in stereo and on an IMAX screen, blasting back all the reasons I never want to go back to where I was when I so desperately sought out help. This morning it occurred to me that rather than viewing the information as a loud and clear cautionary tale, I might actually see the perfection in it. Part of me has been dreading this date because I absolutely feel it is vital I go through all of this material again and I didn’t want to relive the feelings that may invoke, but it really hadn’t occurred to me that perhaps something softer and sweeter will be experienced. Either way, I know it’s important I do this. I don’t plan on checking in here with much on the day. I plan on taking that day to myself to go through this all and reflect. Meditate. Radically accept. Observe brilliant sanity.

I also feel so strongly that if you think alcohol was the problem, you’ll never find the solution. Everyone I know “checks out” in one form or another. Whether it’s a screen binge-watching TV, getting sucked into video games, politics, food, facebook, religion, exercise, drugs, alcohol, shopping, work, you name it; we all do it to some extent (some in more harmful ways than others). At least I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. These things aren’t the problem, at least not initially. Learning how to face the world – to radically accept – is the key. I absolutely 100% believe this. If you don’t fully embrace that, you will spend time escaping in one form or another. I also 100% believe that.

What I’m working on: Radical Acceptance. I picked up the book by Tara Brach titled “Radical Acceptance” and am listening to it, and finding comfort in how universal the need for it is.

Number of recovery meetings this week: 0

Success? I have not missed a day of walking since I last checked in. Diet could still use improving, but it’s better. I’ve only missed my vitamins twice.

Challenge? I have to finish 2017’s taxes.

Have you felt triggered since group? No.

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework: So last time, I posted a video on harm reduction for drugs. It wasn’t the info I was looking for. I did agree with it. I had almost forgotten about Portugal. There is so much about the way we treat drug and alcohol use disorders in this country I absolutely do not agree with. I am grateful for much of what I learned in treatment, especially about how the brain changes under chronic use, how it can heal, how to meditate, DBT, and communication skills, but I will admit I found it troubling how marijuana was addressed (not my thing at all, but I know it has been a miracle for many people – yes, it can be a psychological crutch not my thing at all, but I know it has been a miracle for many people –  I know people personally who really struggle/ed with it and I am in no way saying it doesn’t cause problems for some people; I just found the way it was addressed as always a bad thing as harmful), and how every issue that was brought up, there was a 12-Step “solution” offered. I personally believe, and believe strongly, that 12-Step programs offer more harm than good. As I mentioned in my last post, one size doesn’t fit all, and I think it’s harmful to so many many people to treat it like it is.

I’ve not watched this:

Are you open to feedback? Yes

– Heldy