Day 72: Recovery and Reflections

“I pushed everyone away.  I wasn’t protecting them, I was protecting my addiction.  I knew that if I let anyone get close, they would start to question what I was doing.”

Last night, a member of a meeting I’ve been regularly attending celebrated 1 year.  She spoke about her journey of the past year, starting with rehab and continuing with 12 step. The above piece of her speech resonated with me.

I’m lonely because I’ve pushed everyone away.  I convinced myself it was because I didn’t want them to worry.  I didn’t want to put my problems on them.  Everyone has their own lives to deal with; it would be selfish of me to add my problems on top.

Now I’m realizing that it wasn’t so much to protect them from my problems, it was to protect my addiction – to keep it alive.  There were a couple of times when my sister confronted me when she knew I’d been drinking.  So I simply avoided her and other family as much as possible.  Even with my husband, I would rebuff casual hugs and kisses because getting physically close enough to hug him would risk him smelling alcohol on my breath.

I’ve isolated myself and I don’t know how to change it.  I think the answer is “slowly”.

I’ve been really struggling this past week about whether or not 12 step is for me.  I’m glad I went to lastnight’s meeting, if only for that little nugget of her speech that stuck with me.  Perhaps that is what these meetings will do for me right now: show me the truths about myself through listening to other people’s stories.

And that’s enough to get me through Day 72.

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Day 70: Recovery and Reflections

Smurf - ColecoVision CaveIn my desire to document my sobriety, I am forcing myself to reflect on Day 70.  However, I’m having difficulty putting my thoughts together.  I’m struggling.  Not in an urgent, can’t-go-another-hour-without-a-drink kind of way, but I am starting to see the pattern begin to repeat.

I’ve played this game before.  In the ColecoVision Smurf game of life, I’m in the dark caves, jumping the stalagmites.  The next landscape will show Gargamel’s castle in the distance.  This, in my side-scrolling life, is alcohol on the horizon.

I will give in and have a drink either because I reach a point where I believe that I can drink without sliding into old habits, or because I give enough power to a stressor in my life to be the excuse to drink.  Either way, it’s just an excuse to give in.

In the early days of sobriety, I was all-in.  It’s typical for me to be eager to start a new process.  I’m the queen of planning – I’ll rock a spreadsheet with agendas and targets like no one else.  I’ll then immediately lose interest.  Excitement turns to apathy and the spreadsheet gathers proverbial dust.

Up until last week, I was making healthy choices.  I was excited to have a new process: regularly scheduled therapy, gym visits, blogging…  I’m slowly sliding away from those choices.  I have been eating terribly and I haven’t been to the gym in over a week.  I just don’t care enough to do either.  When I’m doing well, I want to eat healthy and I want the energy I get from going to the gym.  In depression, I can’t imagine doing positive things.

That’s where I’m at on Day 70.

Day 64: Recovery and Reflections

Depression swung in quickly today. Sobriety suddenly became harder. Day 64. I considered skipping NA to drink. Didn’t. Driving home after meeting, had serious urge to buy a bottle. Looked at the clock: 9:10 – nothing open on a Wed past 9:00.

One woman’s share at NA was about comparing your addictions to another. Another shared that because of addiction, she went bankrupt and was without a car for several years.

I feel like a fraud at NA. I’m not even a narcotics addict. I own a home, 2 cars and have a 10 year marriage. The fact that I’m calling myself an addict, when I compare myself to their stories, I’m an absolute fraud.

One woman’s share is that her parents refuse to have contact with her since her most recent relapse. I still see my parents at least 4 days a week. How can I call myself an addict? What could it hurt to have a few drinks? Even if I return to my worst, would it really be that bad?

I’m sitting in the parking lot at the gym. I don’t think I’ll be able to go in tonight – I’m too emotional. There’s about 15 restaurants between here and my home. How nice would it be to sit in a booth sipping vodka and soda with lime and nibble on an appetizer? The thought of it has relaxed me. It would be wonderful alone time. As cliche as it sounds, Continue Reading…

Disappointment

I need to feel needed.  This is, however, in stark contrast to my social anxiety and inability to maintain relationships.  Therefore, when I lose an opportunity to be needed, it’s overwhelmingly disappointing.

My teenaged nephew was going to stay with me for 2 weeks next month.  The plan was to stay with me on the weekdays and with his grandparents on the weekends.  He’s now decided to stay exclusively with his grandparents.

I don’t begrudge him the decision: they live closer to his friends and having just one home base for the 2 weeks will be less chaotic.  It really does make more sense.

That said, I’m ridiculously sad.  

A part of me (the self-berating part) believes my sister (his mom) has encouraged this decision because of my history with alcohol abuse.  I don’t think she trusts me.  In truth, she shouldn’t trust me with the most important thing in her life.  I saw her on Monday and I wanted to tell her about the positive steps I’ve been taking: 60+ days sober, seeing a therapist weekly, attending regular NA meetings and I’m back on mood stabilizers to balance the bipolar.  I wanted to tell her all of this to ease her mind while he stayed with me, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to her alone.  Now I regret not forcing the opportunity.

Ridiculously sad.

Day 62: Recovery and Reflections

Bike Ride - RiverLast weekend I went camping with some family at the Pinery.  It’s a spectacular park with beautiful scenery.  We rented a one-room cabin with an enclosed porch.

Compared to my fellow cabin mates, I’m an early riser.  Not wanting to disturb my slumbering campers, I stealthily grabbed my Kobo in the dark and went out to the porch to read.  My plan was to curl up on one of the Adirondack chairs and submerge myself into The Shining until everyone stirred.

Within moments of sitting on the porch, I realized that it was far too chilly to sit still for any amount of time.  I mean, it was only 3°C for Christ’s sake!   The bright idea that I had when I woke up was clearly influenced by the snug temperature of my bed.

The combination of not wanting to disturb my family and the near-zero temperature spawned another idea: bike ride!  The exercise would keep me warm and given the time of day, it would undoubtedly be a peaceful ride through the park.  I quietly grabbed a pair of gloves and set off along the river for an early morning ride.

It was spectacular.  The park was remarkably still, giving me an opportunity to reflect on the pure enjoyment of flying along the trail without a single thought about “real world” problems.  It was precisely the reset button I needed at that point in my life.  I later blogged about this reset and the importance of finding the button once in a while.

During this time in my life especially, in the early days of sobriety, it’s important to escape the things that typically cloud my mind.  It’s very easy for me to become overwhelmed with mental lists, self-hatred and worry.  Whether the cloudiness is coming from the bipolar, ADHD or anxiety-ridden parts of me, it’s something I need to regularly escape from.  If I don’t, I risk returning to alcohol.  I know this because I’ve been through the cycle of recovery many times.  My old tricks for sobriety haven’t worked, so I’m trying new things.

This long weekend, I’ve taken an early-morning ride each day.  I’m lucky to live only a couple of blocks from an entrance to a city-wide path.   Each ride this weekend has been a mini reset.

That is how I will get through Day 62.

May 2-4 Memories

May 2-4.  It’s the symbolic beginning of the Canadian summer.  The irony is that the weather is rarely summer-like.  Camping over the long weekend used to be a given for me.  It meant 3 days of bonding with friends through laughter, music, food and beer.  Lots of beer.  I remember one rainy morning when we were all sitting around the picnic tables in the dining tent.  We were all in various states of hungover, ranging from mildly to don’t-talk-about-food-or-I’ll-vomit.  Someone casually asked “I wonder who will be the first to crack a beer this morning.”  My best friend and I looked at each other briefly and the race was on!  We climbed over tables and friends in a race to the coolers.  That moment was such a cartoonish scene, that it’s stayed with me all of these years and still makes me giggle.

Of course, the added humour isn’t lost on me, that I won the race to the first beer of the day and fast forward 15 years to today where I count each day of sobriety.  Although, this memory isn’t about my life today, it’s about the beauty of past May 2-4’s.

My husband and I began dating 14 May 2-4 weekends ago.  Although he absolutely detests camping, he was a good enough sport to visit our camping gang that year.  He slept in his friend’s car that night, so I’m hesitant to say he “camped” that weekend.  It’s more like he “visited.”  He did camp with us one more time, but that was the end of his outdoorsy career.  Although he never says a negative word when I camp without him, so I think that’s a reasonable compromise.

While the weather was rarely ideal, and some of our camping spots were less than optimal (we all woke up one year to very soft ground beneath our tents because a septic tank overflowed through the night), the overall memory is that of a lot of laughter shared over campfires.

In June, the core group of ladies from these camping trips are all coming together for a concert.  It’s been 13 years since I’ve seen some of these friendly faces and I can’t wait to see them again, reuniting over Tom Petty and a beer (club soda with lime for me).

Day 60: Recovery and Reflections

60 Balloon

60 days sober. There were many times when I couldn’t imagine being sober for more than a couple of days in a row. To someone who’s not an addict, it’s hard to understand. In fact, I even have trouble understanding it most days.

The past 60 days have been easy. At the risk of using a cliche, the most difficult is the first day. The first day that you’re not vomiting, the urge to drink is powerful. After that, it’s easy… for a while.

I’ve tried staying sober before. It’s always the same cycle: get excited for a new way of living, follow a routine of healthy choices, lather rinse repeat for a short period of time, use any excuse to allow myself to have a drink, immediately return to the cycle of 20 oz a day until my body violently rejects the poison.

I’m currently in the “lather rinse repeat for a short period of time” phase. This is the easy phase. Staying sober becomes difficult when my brain starts working against me.

“I’ve been doing so well, there’s no way I would return to the old way of drinking”

“I can handle a couple of drinks for fun tonight – it’s no big deal”

“I am so frustrated right now – I deserve a drink to get through this”

My rational brain tells me that it is a big deal and I can’t handle a couple of drinks and I don’t need a drink to endure frustration. That’s why I’m putting these words out there: for when my rational brain takes a leave of absence, I can return to this post to remember the truth.

Now on to enjoy the rest of Day 60 without a hangover and without the cycling thoughts of how/when/where to get more alcohol…