Day 854

It’s been a LONG time since I posted here.  I am inspired today to say yes, I am still here, and yes, I am still deciding to live my life without alcohol.  It’s been 854 consecutive days and three consecutive Summers.  Summer always has its challenges – social events, vacations, block parties, where a chilled glass of white wine on a warm night or a warm glass of red wine on a chilly night sound so tempting.  But then I remind myself, I would not only want one, I would want more than one glass.  And I know if I tried to moderate, it would become a slippery slope.  Allowing myself wine on Saturday would probably become allowing myself wine on weekends (or trips), and then how does one define a weekend?  It could so easily become Thursday to Sunday!  So instead of negotiating rules with myself, I have stuck with the hard and fast rule that I no longer drink.  And through bouts of “pre-lapse” that have definitely been there in hindsight, thinking back on the past few months especially, I have made it through to here  – Day 854.

The best thing I did for myself last Spring is do a 6-week workout challenge.  It got me into the habit of eating more mindfully and exercising at a new facility regularly.  The workouts are 30 minutes each.  So while the workouts are very tough at times, 30 minutes is doable!  I try to do the 30 minute workouts 2-3 times a week and hot yoga 1-2 times a week and that was a good balance for me in the Spring.  Unfortunately, in the Summer, I fell out of this routine but hope to get back into it this Fall.

The absolute best thing I did for myself this Summer is order Belle’s book “Tired of Thinking About Drinking” as a treat for Day 800.  That was a great read and this book being available in my nightstand all Summer (between travels when I came back home from various trips and excursions) absolutely became my fallback tool this Summer when I let so many other tools slip away.  Thank you Belle!

With the kids back to school and Fall underway, and passing Day 850 and now shooting for Day 900, I decided I also need to get back to regularly using the basics of my sobriety tools. Today, I have emailed Belle and I have posted with my gratitude pen-pals.  I pre-ordered Elizabeth Vargas’ memoir to be released tomorrow “Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction” as a Day 850 treat for myself.  I plan to listen to some of the new Bubble Hour podcasts later today and this week. I am so grateful Jean (of Unpickled blog) has recorded several new episodes recently.   And I just read the latest entry in one of my favorite blogs  “Mrs. D is Going Without” which so resonated with me!   Bravo, Mrs. D; congrats on 5 years!  I totally agree with you that the messiness of daily life and living it without alcohol is so MUCH BETTER than trying to escape it with alcohol.

And so today I was also inspired to write here after a long hiatus.  There were many tough and challenging days since my last post on Day 613, but so many great days also. Mostly, there were so many memories made, good and bad, and NONE of them were lost to alcohol!   I don’t really have a good reason why I did not choose to write here in Spring and Summer.  And I hope I did not worry anyone.  I am sorry if I did.

Fall has such a “back to school” feel, and I feel inspired at this moment, so I decided to go with it and say hello.  I am still taking one day at a time. I am very happy that I have met the last 850-plus days uninfluenced by alcohol, and that all the emotions that go with the ups and downs of daily life, I have felt for real myself.  I am so happy with this choice. I am going to keep trying to live in the present, one day at a time.  Thanks for reading.

 

Day 613

I sat down for the first time this week to catch up on some blogs and I am so proud of my friends here! I’ve read so many great and inspirational updates and it really made me smile! And it motivated me to post today too.

Today is my Day 613.  I’ve been planning a wrap-up post on my 2015 word of the year (Growth) and on my new word of the year for 2016 (Health) and I will do so soon.  For now, this will be a short post as I head into the weekend.  This January has already been so much better than last January when I was trying to stay motivated to go for Day 300.

Tonight, I will be going to my 12-year-old’s basketball game and there is a team dinner afterward.  Tomorrow, I have a girls night out with friends.  Ironically, both restaurants are BYOB.  I will be proudly carrying in my bottles of sparkling water.  I am not nervous about what people will think. I am not nervous about them wondering whether I drink (new friends) or wondering why I am still not drinking (old friends).  It will just be what it is.  I will be present and enjoy the company and not obsess over what is in my glass and what people are thinking about what is in my glass.  And in the mornings I will feel rested and ready to tackle the new day.

Also, tomorrow in the daytime, I will be attending a new year all-day yoga retreat at a friend’s yoga studio!  I am so very proud of myself for registering for this in early January before the day was filled with kids’ commitments which it now is.  And I do not feel guilty about my husband being the one to take the kids around tomorrow to their games/activities without my help.  I know he can and will do fine.  Again, this is progress for me –  letting go a bit and  knowing my family can do fine for a busy Saturday without me!

This retreat is my Day 600 gift to myself.  Self-compassion and self-care will definitely play into my word of the year – Health.  More later again on this.  For now, I wanted to provide a quick update on my 2016 so far.  Namaste!

The Days Will Pass Whether I Drink Or Not. I Choose Not To Drink.

I haven’t made a blog entry in while.  While I love to read, writing is a process for me that can be draining and overwhelming.  So many times in the past months, I have told myself I need to make time to update my blog. Thanks for your patience.

I am still choosing not to drink and still counting days with the help of a counting app.  I don’t check it very often, but when I feel the need to know what day I am on, it is a click away.  I check more often when I am approaching a milestone. Today is Day 596. I am 4 days away from Day 600.

It is amazing to me that my numbers are in this higher range.  I love seeing Belle’s round-ups, and I always get excited when my time is close, and when I get to see Via51214 in her list!  Counting days has been a tool that has worked for me.  Also, simply taking one day at a time, has been an amazing tool.  In more detail, sitting with the reality that I do not know what necessarily will come with each day, but knowing I can still choose not to drink, has been a successful strategy for me.

I really liked Healthy Jen’s post of today thanking the internet blogging community.  https://healthyjen1.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/blogging-and-internet-sobriety.   I feel the same way.  The blogs are accessible at any hour of the day and night, and reading blogs has been my main tool, at my most difficult moments.  It really helps to know others are out there, who have made the decision to stop drinking, even if we had a high bottom or did not hit any kind of bottom, but we just decided drinking was not working for us any more (did it ever?).

I feel like I am in a great secret that so many others have not put together.  We don’t have to drink.  We don’t have to drink at a party to have fun.  We don’t have to raise a glass of alcohol to celebrate. If we want to join in to raise a glass, it can be a glass of sparkling water or coffee or cranberry juice with a lime.  We don’t have to drink to drown our sorrows.  Instead, we can let ourselves feel the grief.  Instead of trying to escape the gripping sadness over the loss of a beloved family member, we can let ourselves feel it and cry.

One day at a time, we can choose not to drink.  We might have a thought, for example, for me, an occasional temptation to take a sip of my husband’s wine when he leaves the room.  I think, “Nobody will know.  He won’t know.”  But I will know.  And I have realized that just because I had the thought, I don’t have to act on it.

I can choose to do something else.  I can choose to take a drink of my sparkling water or ginger beer.  I can choose to leave the room.  I can choose to just sit with the temptation, and then follow through with the thoughts about how I would feel afterward, if after all these days, I decided on a whim to sneak a drink of my husband’s wine.  I can simply go to bed if it gets too hard.

I have never woken up in the past 596 days thinking that I really wish I had a drink the day before!  It’s never happened 🙂  While there have been may times I have been tempted, I have pushed through the temptation and chosen not to drink.  The next day, I have never regretted making this choice.

Simply put, I feel at this stage in my life, altering my state of consciousness with alcohol is not a good idea.  Some days have been easier than others in the last 596 to make this choice.  Indeed, especially since Day 365, there have been many days when I did not even have to think about not drinking.  But the holidays (since mid-November until now) have again been tougher with alcohol so present. Many times in the last 40 days or so especially, I have had to make the conscious choice that I will not drink.  And with Thanksgiving and Christmas now past, I am happy I made the choice not to drink.  With my Day 600 approaching on January 2, this will motivate me through New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

So I am at a good place right now. I have some regrets from 2015 for sure, but none are related to embarrassing myself by drinking.  That is a great accomplishment for me!

This entry I will close with this realization.  The world will keep turning, the days on calendars will keep passing, the good news and the bad news will still show up on my Facebook newsfeed, whether I decide to drink alcohol or not.  Life will continue to deal its cards – some good, some bad, some incredibly wonderful, some tragically sad. Whatever happens, I can choose not to drink.  And whether or not I drink, the happenings will still happen.

I know I have handled so many happenings better in 2015 than I would have had I been drinking.  It has been a good choice so far.  I won’t let myself worry about forever – that is too overwhelming.  I will continue to worry about today.  Today, Day 596, I will choose not to drink.

 

Day 500 Plus A Few

On September 24, 2015, I reached Day 500.  I could barely enjoy it.  It’s been so busy!  But don’t worry – I have plans to do that spa-day (need to get it scheduled), and to get the new phone (still have an iphone 4 and was supposed to get a new iphone 5s for my birthday last year – which is at the end of October – and I’ll get an iphone 6s now – but need to do so soon – so it does not become this year’s gift)!

Like most Moms with 3 school-aged kids, there is a lot going in the Fall when school starts up and Fall sports and activities’ schedules kick in and every day is a juggle with adjustments after rainouts and games rescheduled and direct conflicts that resolve themselves with rainouts or sick kids or simply saying no.   Hey, how about that?  The beauty of saying no!

Suffice it to say September was a whirlwind.  And I have about 5 minutes here to post before I go pick up my daughter at Girl Scouts.  I wanted to attach the link to Belle’s post mentioning my Day 500.  I love these Friday round-ups, especially when I am mentioned!

I am amazed right now that the most consistent and predictable thing in my life right now is me not drinking alcohol!  That is pretty amazing.  Two Octobers ago, I was getting really scared.  Not this October.  I know I need to slow things down and treat myself a bit better.  And I will do that – it is my birthday month after all.

I am very grateful for Belle.  And I am very grateful to all of you who read here and boost me up.  And I am grateful for my Gratitude Group, and the Bubble Hour, and so many bloggers.  Goodbye September. Hello October!

http://tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com/2015/09/25/roundup-7/

Day 465: 100 Days plus 1 year

One year ago, on August 20, 2014, I reached my 100 Day milestone.  Outwardly to those very few (probably 3 people) who knew I was doing a 100 Day Challenge, I did not proclaim that I would keep going on this journey for another year.  Really, I did not know myself at that time.  What I did do is pledge to Belle to get to 180 Days.  That would take me to mid-November, past my birthday and a Disney trip I had been planning for my family.  180 Days would also give me momentum into the holidays I thought if I decided to continue.  While I felt fairly confident this time last year that I could make it to Day 180, I did not know at 100 Days whether I would pledge beyond 180 Days.  As 180 Days approached, I was still a bit undecided.  I remember asking Belle if I could then pledge to 300 Days.  She responded that the next pledge would be to Day 365.  I pondered and took the plunge.

I made it to Day 365 and it felt like a huge milestone for me. Well because it was!  I had not gone 1 year without drinking alcohol in a very long time!  I carefully planned and drafted 4 posts in honor of my one year mark.  Writing those was exhausting but so worth it.  I have looked back on those entries often this summer.

While this is my first post since then, I have continued to stay alcohol-free.  And while I don’t count the days in my head any longer, I periodically check my day counter app.  I planned to write a post on Day 400 but it did not happen.  (I did change the color scheme of my blog though around that time).  And then I planned for Day 450 but that did not happen.  I did not have the motivation as I reached those days.  But today, I have the motivation to write here.

Among countless other things I have learned in the past 465 Days, I have learned that blogging does not come easy to me.  I feel self-conscious about what I write.  I worry about revealing too much where somebody in my real life would figure out it was me if they discovered this blog. But would that be such a bad thing?  I honestly used to worry about if I died suddenly and my husband found this blog and discovered this secret identity of mine.  So as 1 year approached I made sure I told him about my viatoday blog, my gratitude group, my pledges with Belle, etc., my Via gmail, and yahoo accounts.

He was totally supportive.  He was proud of me for finding something that has really worked for me.  I don’t know if he’s ever come to read this blog but he knows it is here.  He knows that through a combination of online resources, I have been able to string together 465 days of sobriety – my original 100 Days plus an entire year!

And I know this too – I am doing it – I am still on my way every day!  Many of my fellow bloggers have said similar things.  Find something that works for you and leave the rest.  I have found that taking one day at a time as much as possible works.  I have found that being part of a small gratitude group where I can post something quick almost daily really works.  I have found that using this blog as a place where I can post on a less regular basis, but when I am really inspired to share with a larger audience, works.  And this blog has become a place I can come back to myself and re-read my own words and learn from my own journey.  I have found that reading others’ blogs really helps as well as memoirs and books I have previously mentioned.  And while I am not part of a program, I have found that reading the materials of AA and Smart Recovery really helps.  Listening to podcasts (The Bubble Hour and Tara Brach) while doing housework or when I am feeling lonely or vulnerable is extremely helpful.

And I started therapy, which has been such a gift to myself, as there have been some really tough moments in the past 465 Days.

In the past year, there were some unexpected deaths.  Earlier this month, my father-in-law died.  My family and I are still reeling from this.  Before him, in the past year, there were several acquaintances (five people I knew between the ages of 40 and 50) who died.  These individuals were not my best friends – but people I knew – and their deaths affected me because of the closeness in age to me, the young kids left behind, and the cumulative effect of their deaths from various causes – some sudden and some through long sicknesses.  Last September, a friend’s father committed suicide.

While I don’t want to go into detail here on these matters, what I do want to share here is that I am really relieved I did not use wine as a tool to cope.  I am following Tara Brach’s advice of letting the feelings come, riding the waves, feeling the hurt.  And I am following my own advice of taking one day at a time.

I happened to notice on my app day counter the other day that it was Day 461.  In doing the math, I realized that August 20 would be Day 465 and I started thinking fondly back to my Day 100 a year ago.  It has been a journey indeed – and not an easy journey all days – because really so much has happened.  But there were lots of happy moments for sure.  For example, we had a great Disney trip last November and an awesome ski trip in December/January.  My daughter made her First Holy Communion in May and her proud grandfather was by her side most of the day.

I am so glad that none of these moments over the past 465 Days (happy or sad) are forgotten or hazy because of alcohol.  And I am relieved to know that none of my conversations with people or emails to them over the past 465 Days were in any way influenced by alcohol, especially when some of these individuals were in the toughest moments of their lives after losing loved ones.

So this is where I am at Day 465. This is not the most upbeat of my posts I know but I felt inspired to check in to let people know I am still on my way today.  And while I cannot promise forever, and I know my posts here are farther apart too, I am still taking one day and a time alcohol-free and still striving for the many goals I set back in May 2014 and setting new ones.  I have gotten so much better at not procrastinating, although it is still one of my major issues. But in this year of great loss to so many people I know, the question, “Why put off until tomorrow what you can take care of today?” has really taken on greater meaning.   As much as I have wanted to curl up in a ball at times (and some days I did just sleep late because I needed to), and as much as I have wanted to say “F- it” and have a glass of wine other times, I am finding the inner strength to push through these times.  And I am still learning and expanding my horizons every day and attempting to stay true to my word of year 2015 – growth.   So I will try to check in again around Day 500, or sooner, if I feel so inspired.

Have a good day.  Remember every day is a gift.  And today is the first day of the rest of your life!

My Favorite Thoughts For Today! One Year, Part Four

And now for my favorite and most fun entry of my one-year posts.

I love thinking about today and all that it means and all the fun sayings there are about today.

My blog is named “Viatoday,” a word I made up, because Via to me means “on the way” and everyday, I feel like “Today, I am on my way.”   I have also come to really like my self-given nickname Via.

Some of my favorite quotes and phrases about today, all of which I think I have included somewhere in this blog:

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  This was one of my Dad’s favorites!  It is so true!

He also liked to say, “Live every day like it is your last.”  And, “Live for today.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed.”

My kids love these fun head-scratchers: “Today is yesterday’s tomorrow.  And today is tomorrow’s yesterday.”

And finally, here’s my favorite:

“Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift.  And that is why they call it ‘the present’!”

So on this fun note, I am going to keep taking it all one day at a time.  Happy Today everyone!

 

 

 

What Have I Learned So Far? One Year, Part Three

I have been reflecting a lot in the past few weeks – so much so that I had to break my one-year blog entry into 4 posts!  My last post had a more glum tone, so this one will be more positive:  Now that I have reached one year, what have I learned?  What have I gained?  Here’s a few random thoughts put into a list:

1.  I really like myself again.  I have that confidence back that I am funny and smart and caring.  I know again that I am a good person.  I am not perfect and that is OK.  If I make mistakes, there is always an opportunity to learn from them.   “Do the next right thing” is a great slogan.

2. “Fake it till you make it” made me laugh the first time I heard it on The Bubble Hour.  But it really works!  Over time, my favorite line to people who inquired about my not drinking was, “Oh, I have discovered I am more fun without drinking.”  And as it turns out, I am more fun without drinking!  It’s true!

3.  I take better care of myself.  I really love yoga.   And I really love hot showers.  Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right, and showering earlier in the day makes my day better.  I am trying to meditate more.  I started therapy.  I get pedicures when I need some extra pampering.  And I have learned that taking better care of myself is better for my whole family and is not selfish.

4.  “Sleeping is one my talents” has been a joke of mine for a long time. I really do love sleep.  And I am good at it!  I do not do well with sleep deprivation.  When my kids were babies, the sleep deprivation was the hardest part.  When my youngest started sleeping through the night, it was a joyous occasion.  I regret ruining my sleep with alcohol for the years just before I quit drinking.  How could I do that to my precious sleep?  I am so happy now that I am able to put my head down on my pillow every night with full awareness that I have completed my day and it is time to go to sleep.  And I sleep so soundly again.  (Apparently I snore a lot too now per my husband).

5.  My skin is clearer.  And when I look at pictures of myself, my smile is wider and my green eyes are brighter.  My laugh is hearty and boisterous again.

6.  I am able now to address and work on a lot of underlying issues I had and was avoiding – the grief I carry, anxiety in certain situations, insecurities about being a stay at home mom, my tendency to procrastinate and avoid certain tasks until things really piled up and then seemed too overwhelming to tackle.  I am developing with my therapist strategies to deal with all of these things.  I am also learning so much from the podcasts of Tara Brach.

7.  I am loving love again.  I look at my husband again with the same attraction I did 20 years ago.  He is so cute!  At various moments, I find myself just staring at my kids while feeling so lucky they are mine.  I hang on my own mom’s words and her voice so often now when we are the phone.   I love seeing her smile when she is with her grandchildren.

8.  I am experiencing gratitude.  Being part of a Gratitude Group has been monumental.    I am so very grateful every day to have a loving husband and three healthy kids.  I am grateful for our relatives and friends.  I am grateful for this amazing life.

9.  I am less reactive and more proactive.  For example, I don’t panic when it is crunch time in the mornings and we need to get out the door.  I stay calm and it helps my kids stay calm.  Gone are the days when they enter the school building and I stand in the schoolyard with tears welling up because I am full of regret.

10.  I am better at time management and planning out my day (still an area that I am working on though).   Also, I have come to appreciate that being punctual is an amazing thing that can really reduce anxiety!  And it is considerate.

11. I have learned the amazing power of saying no.  I have realized we do not have to accept invitations to every birthday party or other event we are invited to.  It is ok to politely decline.  And just because I am a stay at home mom does not mean I should feel obligated to sign up for every volunteer opportunity at school.  I have learned it is perfectly fine to say no to a volunteer request and not feel guilty about it.

11.  I worry much less about what other people think in many areas, and most relevant here, in regard to me not drinking.  I have learned (and this is one I really had to learn through my own experience instead of taking other bloggers’ word on this) that 99% of people really do not notice and do not care what I am drinking.  They very happily accept whatever pat answer I give in declining a drink.   Or they simply don’t ask and it does not come up.

12.  I am more present.  I am in tune with the goings-on in my extended family without being absorbed by any drama.  I am less distracted.  I feel more connected with loved ones.  I listen better when other people talk.  When my kids are talking to me, I try to look into their eyes and listen to what they have to say.  I make sure I hug them every day.  I don’t even want to think about the time in the future when they are no longer living in the same house as me.  So I am going to make sure I do not take it for granted now.  Making sure I am truly present for them, and my husband, for as long as possible, is my primary goal.

13.  Kindness is powerful. Random acts of kindness and simply being friendly make others more cherry and myself.  Also, instead of getting irritated in certain situations, responding with kindness, compassion, and understanding has been magical.  If I do get irritable or say something I regret, apologizing is also very powerful.

14.  I make sure I get girlfriend time through breakfasts,  lunches, walks or coffee.  While I isolated a lot in the first few months, I now again love spending time with friends when I can.  It’s very important to me.  I also make time for other leisure activities like reading.

15.  Communicating better with my husband has been so important.  I am being honest with him about what I am feeling inside and as of Sunday, Mother’s Day, I filled him on all I have done and all my online tools I have used to get to one year.  He generally knew I was getting support online but now he knows the details of the support I was getting.  I felt relieved to fill him more on this journey because to him and others, it may seem like it has been easy.  And it has not been easy at all.   But it has been so worth it.  And he told me he is proud of me.

16.  I have learned that life is not perfect.  It is unpredictable.  A great deal is out of our control.  All we have for sure is love and today, this moment.  Death is part of life.  Disappointment is part of life.  There are ups and there are downs.  Some days are better than others.  For some reason, it has taken me 44 years to accept all of this!

My word of the year is Growth.  I think I am doing so mentally and spiritually.  (Incidentally, after increasing, and then decreasing, my weight is now pretty much exactly the same as this time last year; so at least I am not growing in that area!  But it would have been nice to drop 5 pounds in my Year 1.  Oh, well – that can be a goal for Year 2!).

Why Did I Quit? One Year, Part Two

Earlier I talked about the two primary keys for me to reaching a year without alcohol: 1) taking one day at a time; and 2) having someone to report to every day that I was not drinking.  Here I want to talk more about why I am doing this.

Looking back on my earliest blog entries, deciding to remove alcohol from my life was part of a larger plan to live a healthier life.  Why?  I want to live as long as possible.  I want to watch my children get older and hopefully meet my grandchildren.  If I die young, before this happens, I do not want it to be because of alcohol – simply put.  I don’t want to die an accidental death because I was intoxicated.  Nor do I want to die a death caused by organs damaged by years of alcohol use.  And while I could certainly eat better and exercise more, two areas I am also striving to improve in, taking alcohol out of the equation finally made so much sense to me.  And it still makes a ton of sense to me.

In my March entry here, I talked about how I was getting really scared.  Alcoholism is a problem in my family.  Was this really happening to me?  How did I reach the point where I was drinking wine on a daily basis?

For probably 4 years prior to last May (it’s hard to pinpoint when it became a daily habit), I was drinking wine pretty much every night.   Why?  I have been asking myself this a lot the last few months.  How did it it come to that?  I think I was drinking wine nightly for various reasons at various times:  1) as a reward for all that I may have accomplished that day; 2) because it had become part of my routine, a habit seemingly harmless at first to have a glass of wine with dinner, and then a few to follow; 3) to attempt to relieve worry and stress; 4) to avoid thinking about all that I had to do the next day; 5) to drown an underlying sadness in me which had grown in recent years because I and people I love had suffered some tragic losses.  I am a very empathetic person, and losing my Dad at a young age, led me to really feel for others when they suffered great losses in their families.  And in late 2012, I lost someone too – someone I was very close with – and it shook me to the core.  I still find it hard to accept his death.  I am working on this but it is very hard.  If I ever started AA, he would be my Higher Power.

In the past year before I quit drinking though, the hangovers were really getting worse.  My headaches and upset stomach were really affecting my productivity the following day.  My sleep was not sound.  I was losing patience with my kids in the mornings and they could not understand why.  For the first time in my life, I was starting to really dislike myself.  And I started to feel like I was not being honest with family and friends.  Nobody knew I drank every day except my husband.  I had a growing feeling of doom in my gut.  I felt alone, until I discovered the sober blogs I mentioned.  And then, last April and May, despite the faltering in April and early May, which also taught that this was going to be hard,  I also started to feel optimistic.  Maybe I could do this, like Unpickled, Mrs. D, and Belle.  I related so much to them.  And I honestly felt like my Dad, and my other loved ones in heaven were talking to me, telling me it was time.

Something had to be changed.  I needed to stop this pattern or it was going to end badly.   I can’t recall where I read it, perhaps at the Soberistas blog, but somewhere I read about “deal-breaker moments” and never wanting to repeat certain episodes that one most regretted.  I started thinking about deal-breaker moments.  I have several of those.  But I narrowed them down to 3 for myself.  When times are toughest for me, and I really want to have a glass of wine, I think about 1, 2 or all 3 “deal-breaker episodes.” I have not been able to bring myself to write about them here; but they are engrained in my heart and mind.  Really, they are typical drinking/blackout stories, but I know they could have ended very badly with me dying.  And I cannot imagine leaving my husband and kids that way, dying because I drank too much wine.  So in times of my greatest temptations in the past year, thinking about the deal-breaker moments has kept me from picking up a drink again.

I know this entry is pretty glum but I felt the desire to write it.  I was scared and that motivated me.  I decided to address this problem, and I am grateful that I would be probably be categorized as having a high bottom.  I am grateful I stopped when I did one year ago.

 

 

365 Days Alcohol Free – One Day at a Time

One Year 365 Days!  I did it. This is a screenshot of my day counter app.  In the beginning, I referred to my counter app all the time, and recently, not as much.  Today I wanted to always remember what it looked like on May 12, 2015.

For the past week, I have been trying to outline in my head the profound one-year journal entry I had hoped to post here, which would be full of wisdom and insight, to help me in the future on tough days, and to help others.  But my thoughts have been everywhere, and they are not flowing in a very organized fashion.  So, even though I have not posted since around Day 300, I am going to make several posts this mid-May, until I can satisfactorily cover all that I am feeling and thinking as I hit one year.

I look forward to sharing here in these entries to come what really worked for me, what I did on the toughest days, what I have learned in Year 1, and what I hope and plan to do going forward.

Yahoo!  I did it – one year!  OK – thanks – I had to get that little celebration out! Last March and April, I had many stops and starts.

In early April 2014, I started reading excerpts from some books (Unsmashed and Dry) and I also Googled “moms and drinking” or something to that effect.  On April 2, 2014, I discovered Unpickled‘s blog.  I was fascinated and so relieved that somebody else, a mom, was out there who had been struggling with a wine habit and had successfully quit.  And she had blogged about it since March 2011.  So there were three years of entries there as of April 2014, which I read in one sitting.  Next I discovered Mrs. D‘s blog, who like me was a stay at home mom with three young kids at home, and Belle’s blog.  I was fascinated and mesmerized and inspired.

I decided on April 2 I was done.  That lasted a few days.   Then April 16 was my next Day 1.  That lasted a few more days until Easter (April 20).  The next few days did not go so well.  April 27 was my next Day 1.  I made it all the way until Mother’s Day weekend when I convinced myself I deserved a drink.   All the while though, during the month of April and early May, I was reading and discovering more and more blogs.  People were so kind and supportive of each other.  And I learned what the 100 Day Challenge was.  Could that be real, that a woman named Belle (Tired of Thinking About Drinking) would keep count for you, and be your sober pen-pal, no strings attached?  And her whole premise, and so much of what I read, stressed “one day at a time” as the key to sobriety.

So what was different about when I decided again on May 12, 2014, that it was my last day of drinking?  Why did it work that time when I failed the prior times?  Here are the reasons it worked: 1) taking one day at a time; and 2) not trying to do it alone any more.

This time, I reached out to Belle, and asked if I could sign up for the 100 Day Challenge.  When I got my spot, I took the pledge.  That gave me accountability.  I followed her advice: 1) that I would email her every day that I was alcohol-free that day; and 2) that I would just focus on today, every day.  The goal in the beginning was 100 Days and then we could see what happened.

I also started to comment on the BFB and other blogs instead of just lurking.  Interacting with others online was huge for me.  And I started this blog.  Even though I was too nervous to make it public at first, it helped to write.  And when I opened the blog publicly, it also really helped to get supportive comments.  I also directly emailed another person who I saw commenting on a lot of the same blogs and the BFB.  She responded and we are still in touch regularly.  Having a direct connection with someone else really helped.  So now I had Belle and I had another friend I had “met.”

Slowly but surely, the days on my app were getting higher in number.  And drawing from the wisdom of my resources, I kept telling myself, “Stay here at today, one day at a time.  I will not drink today.”  I read a ton also – my two favorite books on the topics of women and wine -“Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” and “Mrs. D is Going Without.”

Another blog that was very instrumental for me was the 6yearhangover blog.  He reached a year in April so I am just a few weeks behind him.  It really helped me to read and comment on a blog whose days were close in time to mine.  Plus, his blog made me laugh at loud in May and June, when my mood was pretty low most days, and it was taking everything in me some nights not to cave and have a glass of wine. The best cure for those nightly cravings was to read a blog entry, or a chapter from one of the aforementioned books, and go to bed!

In the summer, John at 6yearhangover offered to start a Gratitude Group for some of his readers.  He was in one already and it was working so he offered to get another group up and running (purely out of the kindness of his heart) for his readers.  I am so glad I responded that I wanted to be included.   He set up the group and helped us come up with guidelines.  In the group, we post daily our gratitudes – another hugely important tool for me – and now 9 months later, I have a solid group of online friends who really understand what I am going through.

In the beginning, I faithfully emailed Belle as promised for the first 100 Days, and then the next 80 Days.   After I got to 180, I had to decide, if I wanted to keep going.  By then I had such a good thing going with my Gratitude Group that I could not imagine dropping out.  And I was really liking how I was feeling!  More on that tomorrow, but I was getting hooked on not drinking!  So I pledged to 365 Days.  And I took the holidays one day at a time and every day since.

In mid-January, I was feeling like I really needed to talk with someone in person other than my husband.  I started to see a therapist.  That has been, for lack of a better word, so therapeutic, for me.  I have not held back with her – I have been honest about everything.  We are really digging deep.  It is so good for me.

I also regularly listen to podcasts, including countless hours of The Bubble Hour.  I laugh along with the hosts and their casual manner makes me feel like I am on the phone with them.  Listening to Tara Brach, suggested by Mrs. D., has been so helpful.  And I joined Mrs. D’s Living Sober site when it was launched.

While I have looked up meeting schedules for AA and Smart Recovery many times, to date, I have not gone to any recovery meetings, except for one which I went to in support of a relative in the summer of 2012.  I can definitely see myself going to meetings in the future.  One of my favorite blogs now is The Miracle Is Around the Corner, and I always look forward to reading Josie’s summary of her Monday meeting that she chairs. Finding a few good meetings to attend, and perhaps working the 12 steps, or working through the principles of Smart Recovery, is something I am seriously considering as I enter Year 2.

I will need to keep my motivation strong.  And I have learned in the past year this was too hard for me to do alone.  Reaching out and interacting with others tipped the scale in my favor.  It gave me accountability and support.  And I’ll never forget what my relative told me way back in the summer 2012.  He said, “They say if you can stay sober for one year, it will change your life.”

I have taken one day at a time, and relied on the kindness of strangers for support, and I am now at a year.  And I feel like my life, how I feel about myself mainly, has changed very much so for the better.  My future is so much brighter.  I will go into more detail on these points in my next post.

This post – the intended takeaways are:  taking one day at a time and reaching out for support were the difference makers for me after May 12, 2014.  365 Days since my original post, I am posting here again on May 12, one year later, and I am so grateful.