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

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Drug of choice: alcohol – Days Sober: 353 – One Size Does Not Fit All

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 353

I am feeling scattered because I have been meaning to update here, but today my husband is home, my son is home, and I missed the window to post alone, so I’m not as focused as I’d like to be.

I had a couple things I’ve been pondering. Nothing new, but it’s come back around. My health has been much on my mind. When I was drinking, I took supplements, my vitamins, and the rest of my diet was squeaky clean – it had to be because I was damaging myself daily with wine and I really wanted to make sure I protected my health in other ways. I’m creeping up on a year sober, and that means I’m also creeping up on a year of crap eating, skipping my supplements, my vitamins, and with my back pain for the last 9 months, I’ve also skipped my walking. I actually feel less healthy now than when I was drunking. How about that!! Yesterday I took my pills, drank my green drink,  and I walked. My diet wasn’t perfect, but it was better. I decided that a daily requirement has to be my supplements, my vitamins, and the walking. The diet will improve a lot with just those tweaks.

I know it doesn’t mean anything but what meaning I give it, but it’s now my goal to be at a healthy weight and in a healthy routine before I reach the 18 months that my counselor said it may take to totally heal my brain from the alcohol abuse. That’s a tad over 6 months and that is doable. 12 months sober is doable. My birthday is also right around that mark. Timed goals make me feel more empowered, so here we go.

On another note, I was reading a blog entry at SMARTrecovery.org (I hate I’ve forgotten who wrote it, I’m sorry) that mentioned a podcast called Hip Sobriety I searched for it on iTunes, but it’s not there. What I did find was an interview of the woman from Hip Sobriety on another podcast called Harm Reduction Radio. I’ve since subscribed to that podcast, but I’ve not listened to anything other than the interview of the Hip Sobriety person 2 years ago. It was really good. It covers the spectrum of alcohol abuse, and goes into the need for a not one-size-fits-all solution, because one-size-DOES-NOT-fit-all.  Here’s the interview – I highly recommend it (in the preview it shows that you can play it directly off this page but when I save it, it shows only as a link – my apologies):

//percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=175797&episodeId=8225399

Number of recovery meetings this week: 1 (I’m in a Life Ring meeting now online – I’m only half listening though).

Success? Walking the healthy walk, not just planning for it.

Challenge? Taxes are looming… I need to get on that.

Have you felt triggered since group? No

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework: I’ve not watched this, but I want to learn more about harm reduction. I don’t plan on ever drinking again. I am also not ruling it out. That said, I think being fully educated on this is a good thing.

Are you open to feedback?  Yes

– Heldy

The final death throes – Drug of choice: alcohol – Days sober: 343

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 343

I am feeling excited because I’ve had time to do some serious processing and what I’m feeling now and where I’m at feels like victory.

I took a road trip with my husband last week on his motorcycle. I’ve done day trips before, but nothing this intense. Let me tell you when you’re on the back of one of those things, you have a lot of time to think. When you’re going through spectacular countryside, it’s a moving meditation.

We weren’t alone on this trip. It was a planned group ride. I’m a somewhat socially introverted person until I get my bearings, but it didn’t take too long. The first evening we arranged to all have dinner together at the same restaurant. There were three couples at our table. The subject of wine came up. The other two couples knew each other previously, discovered they all enjoyed wine and had arranged wine tastings together. I mentioned someone in my family working in that industry and threw a couple names out there of places they may have visited. I was then asked if I drank wine. It was funny, because I had been rehearsing this answer for almost a year, and here it was, the first time someone asked me. I answered that I used to, but I had developed hideous migraines and didn’t anymore. The answer is perfectly true, even if it wasn’t complete. There it was and there it went as quickly as it came up, it was over.

Did I wish I could have joined them in tasting the wine they picked out that evening? Sure. Did it haunt me? Not at all.

I do think, as A Good Wife pointed out in the last entry, wanting a glass of wine with dinner or people is perfectly normal. I’ll never forget my counselor at the treatment center I went to saying of all the addictions to beat, alcohol was the hardest, not because of the physical hold on someone, but the social one. You don’t get served a cocaine menu, or are casually asked if you like heroin. You don’t see crack ads on television (though opioids are another story). You don’t have a meth aisle at the grocery store.

As I have found, with a little patience and reflection, I get my answers. This time was no different. I realized that for me, the peace I sought around this subject was one of indifference. That’s what I want around the subject of alcohol, particularly wine.

While riding, I thought about my marriage and how far we’ve come. I thought about who we were when we came together as a couple so many years ago, what baggage we brought with us, what attitudes we identified with, and I thought about how each of us had let things in our own personal lives get out of control and harmed the other and our families with it, and how we both recognized those things, fixed it, and came back together, wounds and all, tighter. We had both really hurt each other, and the hurt perpetuated itself with our destructive forms of dealing with that hurt. I realized it had to have come to a head like that for both of us. It felt like beautiful completion. I felt a sense of serenity I hadn’t before. The larger picture becoming clearer and really quite beautiful, darkness and all.

I also thought about where I am with my relationship to alcohol. I do want to not care, but I need to be patient with me as long as I do. That was Sunday I had that thought. Yesterday while bathing, the indifference hit me. Just. Like. That. Maybe the last bit of struggle I’ve been feeling was the death throes. I don’t have that “maybe I can drink again someday” feeling in me, even if that is possible. It’s a very odd feeling to have, but it’s oh so very welcome.

What I’m working on: Motivation to exercise this body and feed it all the good stuff.

Number of recovery meetings this week: 0, but 1 since the last entry.

Success? Equilibrium

Challenge? Balance and motivation. I have a lot of work.

Have you felt triggered since group? No

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework: I’ve not seen this, but the link was shared at the Tool Time meeting for SMART last Thursday:

Are you open to feedback? Yes

– Heldy

Drug of choice: alcohol – Day 336

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 336

I am feeling disappointed in myself because I feel like I should be further along in this whole sober thing. On the way to a dinner with my husband and daughter, I found myself wishing I could have a glass of wine with dinner. What the hell? This made me angry I’d had this thought, but mostly because I am damn close to a year sober and it pisses me off that the woe as me attitude slipped in there.  Shouldn’t I be in a place where I don’t even think about this anymore?

Then again, how many times have I heard people talk about the statistics and how many people don’t make it a year. I have to believe that this isn’t totally abnormal. Further, I have to quit comparing myself to others. I have to accept that the thought buzzed through my head and it is what it is.

I was thinking last night about how easy it is for me to fall asleep now; something I had struggled with and alcohol had solved. I go to bed and fall asleep without fear. I tried to imagine what my body would feel like with 1 glass of wine before bed. I remembered the sensation alcohol gave me. That first glass filled me with anxiety; the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. The first glass was the one that had me wondering, desperately, where and when the next glass was coming and could I get more than that and could I do that without being noticed. I felt my body tense up while imagining having a glass of wine. I felt really pleased that I could remember that what alcohol does for most people, it doesn’t do for me. The calming sensation that it provides most people eluded me. It was another reminder that having a glass of wine with dinner isn’t really a pleasant thought. It’s not something really being withheld from me. A glass of wine wasn’t pleasant, and the alternative was a disaster.

I watched part of the final episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown in Bhutan. They were welcomed by a spiritual leader who served them a very potent alcoholic drink and I briefly wondered how many would feel awkward in refusing this very old ritual and before my thought was complete, the spiritual leader who served them excused himself from joining them in the ritual as he was “a retired alcoholic”. It made me smile and reminded me this is ok.

So I don’t know why I’m thinking so heavily about this now. Maybe it’s because I am inching up on a year. I looked at my collage  the other day, and noted how much of what I had laid down was true. “It’s better”. “Your future just got more beautiful”. “Make time for those you love”. “New Normal”. “The choice to live differently”.  This IS what I want. I just want to not be thinking about it. Maybe I’ll get there.

What I’m working on: Self-care

Number of recovery meetings this week: 0

Success? I put my daughter on a plane for her first solo trip and I didn’t completely freak out.

Challenge? Procrastination. I know I need to work on my taxes, I know I need to work on my diet, I know I need to work on moving my body, but I tend to follow the shiny object instead.

Have you felt triggered since group? No

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework: I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t complete last post’s homework. Oh well. I’ve not seen this. I’m taking a stab in the dark it’ll be good.

Are you open to feedback? Yes

– Heldy

Redefining success. Days sober: 325

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 325

I am feeling grateful because I’ve been struggling lately with my feelings and I feel now I have made another breakthrough. I really hope I can express this coherently.

I have said that I could see through becoming someone who is connected and mindful in all areas of their lives that it seemed possible to me that with time for the brain to heal and these practices in place, mindful drinking could be a possibility. I still believe that may be true. What I realized today, however, is that somewhere in my mind I believed that that was the goal. That equaled success. That equaled pure healing in its highest form. Contrastly, that must mean that not achieving this was somehow less than. Though that was never what I was saying, I felt conflict. It’s what I’ve been struggling with, even if it wasn’t totally at the surface. I felt uncomfortable all the time when I was actively drowning in alcohol. To feel a struggle, again alcohol-related while sober was disheartening. Realizing it’s because I have to some degree believed that real healing meant being cured body, mind, and soul to a place where I could safely drink again has been quite freeing. I can heal and reach peace and happiness without feeling I need to prove I can safely drink again. I would love to feel completely at ease in my life that I feel my brain is well and no longer addicted and where I am navigating life in the most mindful way possible, but that doesn’t have to mean I can drink again. The artificial struggle this introduced in me was depressing. I feel better now that I can name it.

I am also thinking a lot about what about my addiction brings me joy. I don’t mean active addiction, but the healing from it. It’s connecting to others who are struggling or have struggled the way I have and sharing that I’ve been in that dark, dark place and have found my way out with a lot of help. That feels good.

What I’m working on: Wise mind

Number of recovery meetings this week: 1 (by the way, SMART on InTheRooms.com is no longer happening. All SMART online meetings are on http://www.smartrecovery.org). I hit a LifeRing meeting today that was just perfect.

Success? Remember the homework from last week’s entry (breathe to heal)? It really spoke to me. His voice is so melodic. I enjoyed it so much I looked him up, bought his audiobook, and his Yoga DVD. OH, and my back is healed enough now that I got on the treadmill a couple times this week! Now if I can just do that every day…

Challenge? Listening to the audiobook and trying out the Yoga DVD. I really need to get my rear end in gear.

Have you felt triggered since group? No

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework: I’ve shared this speaker before and found she had another talk that I wanted to hear but haven’t had the chance to yet, so I’m making it easy on myself and assigning it today.

EXTRA CREDIT!

Are you open to feedback? Yes

– Heldy

Die before you Die – Days sober: 318

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 318

I am feeling overwhelmed because I’m not sure where to begin. I’ve been mulling over a lot that I wanted to process and was prepared to do that this morning, only to see the news that Anthony Bourdain had taken his life and his body had been discovered this morning. It knocked the breath out of me, which in and of itself is odd having never met this man, but still feeling a kinship with him.

I’ve been feeling uncomfortable in my skin again, and it should come as no surprise. A lot of major changes are happening right now. My son just graduated high school this week, and the emotional impact was much larger than I had anticipated. There’s a shift in energy, and a clear realization that a new phase in life is being entered into. It’s positive and beautiful, but it’s overwhelming. I am feeling that full impact of how fleeting these phases are.

I’m almost positive that the uncomfortable feelings are due to all of this. Although these are positive things happening (work, my child’s graduation, financial stability), it’s different than before, and it’s seemingly happening all at once. Couple that with my previous musings of the possibility of someday being at a place in my life where I could be mindful in all things, I feel that thought in and of itself made me feel unbalanced (ironically).

I watched the DBT addiction skills videos.  I think they are really geared towards people just entering recovery and really just scratch the surface of the skills themselves. I’m not going to lie, I wish it had been more in depth, and I was disappointed it only mentioned AA for socializing with others in recovery. AA at this point is more harmful than helpful to me, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I know that’s not going to win me many friends in recovery circles, but it’s how I feel.

One thing that did stand out in the videos was the concept of safety. I don’t ever, ever, ever want to go back to the way it was before I got sober, and though it’s possible someday I may be able to drink without drunking, I know there will always be a level of risk. Is it worth even tempting that? It isn’t to me now. I must always remain aware of that risk.

It’s made me think of the Sufi saying, “Die before you die”. In this case, “Relapse before you relapse.”. It’s more than just playing the tape. It’s swimming in it.

Last night I dreamed I had hidden bottles of wine and was sneaking drinking again. Half-way through the bottle, I realized I was doing something I absolutely didn’t want to do. I was also sad that I hadn’t made it to a year sober, and I thought about all the statistics of how many people who don’t reach a year. I went to tell my husband. I brought him to where the bottles were, but they weren’t there. I realized I had dreamed it all. When I woke this morning, I felt off-kilter, but not surprised about the dream. Relapse before you relapse.

I have been thinking a lot about what could happen if I try again, and that dream fast forwarded to the very worst of the what-ifs. Trying and failing.

Before I got sober, I thought an awful lot about the pros and cons of drinking, however, I was never formally introduced to the Cost Benefit Analysis Tool of SMART recovery, which really takes it, deconstructs it, and reconstructs it. It’s powerful.

So I’m dealing with large endings and large beginnings and I’ve not been watering my garden (meditating, exercising, eating well, drinking enough water). It’s no wonder I feel overwhelmed and off balance. The good news is it’s really very easy to water your garden.

What I’m working on: Getting back to basics with self-care and mindfulness.

Number of recovery meetings this week: 1

Success? Too many to mention. Things are flowing in a really beautiful way in my life.

Challenge? Remembering to breathe.

Have you felt triggered since group? No.

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework: OK, I’m doing this on the fly. Obviously, I’ve not watched this:

Are you open to feedback? Yes

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” – Anthony Bourdain

– Heldy

Name: Heldy Drug of choice: alcohol Clean date: 7/24/17 Days sober: 308 – DBT duh.

Name: Heldy
Drug of choice: alcohol
Clean date: 7/24/17
Days sober: 308

I am feeling excited, curious, silly because I’m meeting a girlfriend I met in treatment for coffee today. We have tried to connect since she left, and we never manage to do so. Lately, it seemed like we would actually manage, but we’ve rescheduled 3 times these last 3 weeks. I heard from her Friday that she wasn’t sure if we’d have time to meet today because she’s checking back into treatment (a different place) and this morning is her evaluation. I felt terrible for her. I knew she’d ventured “out” again, but I didn’t know she was struggling, and that hurt my heart. I’m so glad to see her today. Nothing like other people who get it.

I was thinking about the things that had really made a difference for me and I had mentioned SMART and Refuge meetings to her, but I completely spaced (how???) DBT. I had thought about telling her that I was going to be going to classes with my daughter, and then in the middle of the night, I remembered that I had found Marsha Linehan’s online DBT series specifically for addiction! Duh! So I am going to gift it to her, and further, I am going to sign up and start watching the videos myself. They are $30 to own or $13 to rent for 30 days. I can’t believe number 1 that I hadn’t thought to recommend that and number 2, that I hadn’t yet done them myself. I know it’s important to me to give back to others who struggle the way others gave to me, and this is my way. I won’t be a SMART facilitator (I am so grateful for those who do that though – angels), but I can spread the word about one more modality that has been gold to me, and that is DBT. I’m nearly a year now sober and I have yet to step into a physical room since leaving treatment for a meeting. I know that isn’t for everyone, but I want to be an example that it can be done, and I owe so much of that to DBT and to SMART online. Pre-Op day and Yippeeeeee!!! was where I had all the info on this series. I have since updated the blog pages Videos that helped meIntro to DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), and Online Help including Virtual Meetings to include that link.

What I’m working on: DBT for Addiction Skills (finally)

Number of recovery meetings this week: 0

Success? I’m still kinda high from paying off my credit card debt, but beyond that, we hosted a large party at our home on Saturday. There was a lot of wine and beer (beer never triggered me, but wine… my old abusive relationship wine!).  I wasn’t triggered. I didn’t feel sorry for myself. It felt completely normal not to drink. I even poured a couple of glasses for guests when my husband wasn’t around to do so and it didn’t trigger me at all. Not at all. I remember when I entered treatment and my counselor said to me, “Welcome to your new normal”. I remembered feeling both relieved and resistance when I heard her say it. Saturday was my new social normal, and in all this time, I have yet to be asked why I’m not drinking. I’ve seen people look puzzled that I was drinking water, but I’ve not had anyone ask. This was just normal. That was a great success to just feel good in my skin in that kind of situation.

Challenge? Clearly it’s getting online for a meeting. Work and politics have been taking up that space. Today I sign up for the online DBT course! I have another political meeting tonight.

Have you felt triggered since group? Nope

Do you intend to harm yourself or others? No

Homework:

YouTube knows me so well it just starts suggesting these videos. I’ve not seen this. I’ll watch this and then one of the DBT videos.

Are you open to feedback? Yes

Heldy