A Great Reminder

I just read another great post by Soberistas, “Why You Shouldn’t Fear Taking The Alcohol-Free Leap”. I wash’t planning on posting in my blog today but want to so I can quote and link to this great writing.  I want to be able to come back to it in times of doubt, and remember how wise this decision is to go alcohol-free. This is especially helpful as I start a vacation, and tonight, as a gift from my in-laws, am spending a night in a beautiful lodge.  I am sitting in a charming room, about to head to a spa, followed by a romantic dinner.  A lovely breakfast reservation is made for tomorrow.  I am excited to wake up and do some yoga before breakfast, remembering every moment of the night before with my husband, and feeling rested and energized.  The sound of a waterfall is in my ears as I type.  It is going to be a great 24 hours. This helps so much:

http://soberistas.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/why-you-shouldnt-fear-taking-the-alcohol-free-leap/

“Funnily enough, the drink, which many consider is helping them to cope, usually turns out to be the very substance that’s capping their ability to deal with things rationally in the first place.

The false confidence we believe to be intrinsically ours when out socialising often serves as an unflattering mask, and when it falls away in the morning we are left with nothing more than a series of half-memories and a niggling worry that, in the boozy heat of the moment, we acted or spoke in a way which now fills us with remorse and shame.

Whether we choose to drink alcohol or to abstain, life will remain the same; convoluted, at times tricky to navigate, and an emotional roller-coaster. We will be subjected to the same occasions of sadness, exuberance, anger, reluctance and disappointment, no matter if we turn to the bottle or turn the other cheek.

What are revolutionary are the concepts of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and a rational mind.” Thank you Soberistas for this great reminder.

Advertisements

Alcohol and Kids

I have mentioned Humans of New York (HONY) before. This was one of the site’s posts from yesterday:

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/92666030316/she-was-filled-with-regret-before-she-died-she

The compassion here is so inspiring.  (If  you can’t access the comments, you would be able to on the HONY Facebook page).  The post and responding comments were so moving, and HONY’s posts reach so many people – over 8,000,000 people like the HONY Facebook Page!

And this article a few days ago in Huffington Post was interesting.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-radigan/an-open-letter-to-my-teenage-son-about-drinking_b_5609429.html

Why does it have to be a “given” that teens will drink?  It does not have to be.  As Anne Dowsett Johnston (Drink), Mrs. D., The Anonymous People, The Sober Señorita, and this article capture, alcoholic consumption does not have to be a given in our lives. When and where I grew up, it was a given that everyone would start drinking in high school, then binge in college, then continue to drink into adulthood. Why? I agree with the above-mentioned, it’s time to change the mindset.

My oldest child is 11. I am mentally preparing for a conversation somewhat similar to the one in the Huffington Post article in the next year or sooner.  I doubt if I will handle it exactly as the author does (ex., I doubt if I will say I will not allow you to have any alcohol in my presence before 21) but I agree with her that we don’t have to just assume that teens will drink.  I agree with her that kids today are hearing a lot more about healthy choices than we did, and parents should continue with this discussion about making good choices, drinking responsibly and the reasons behind a drinking age.   Like the author mentions, the years are flying by.  While my three kids are currently all under 12, I really do dread the day in the not-so-far-off future when they will likely be offered alcohol.

So in the not-so-far-off future, I will need to talk with them about the risks of alcohol and the fact that alcoholism is present on both sides of their family.  I want to have credibility with them when I do so.  I started to feel I could not keep on the path I was going with drinking wine daily and then try to talk with them about these issues without feeling hypocritical.  And the daily wine habit was starting to take its toll in many ways on me.  My 11-year-old may have already been noticing.

So, back to the present, I am on Day 73.  I have not talked with my children about my 100 Day Challenge.  I don’t know if they have noticed that I have not been drinking.  I hope when the time comes for serious discussions with my oldest, I will have at least 6 months to a year alcohol free and will be able to say that.   If I ever choose the moderation route, I want to make sure I have it mastered.  Is that even possible for me anymore?  I don’t know.  But right now, I do know it is actually easier for me mentally to completely take the choice away – no drinks for me!  This is easier than the days in the Spring when I would struggle with the decision of whether I will drink today or not, or at this or that event, or not.  And I am liking have 70-plus consecutive days too after the Spring I had!

Specifically, I did tell my 11-year-old almost five months ago that I was thinking of giving up wine for Lent (March 5-April 20, 2014). He gave up candy (successfully). I did successfully give up Facebook for Lent, but failed on my intention to give up wine.  I also observed myself choosing my words very carefully – only including wine and giving myself an out saying I was “thinking” about it.

I feel saddened and embarrassed that I was not able to do it.  (The past 2 years I also tried to give up wine for Lent but did not tell anyone).  This time, it honestly also mortified and scared me because I verbalized it out loud to my son and did not accomplish it!

By mid-March, I filled him in that I would be just abstaining during the week and only having wine on weekends. But I did not even accomplish that!

On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, I was terribly hungover after too much wine the day before (a random Tuesday – again breaking my newly revised Lenten promise) this time ironically on April Fool’s Day (yes I was a fool). As I was lying on my couch feeling a bundle of emotions about myself (Shame, Guilt, Disgust, Fear, Loneliness), I googled “Moms and Drinking” or something to that effect, and I discovered Unpickled. It was such a revelation. There were other Moms out there like me, whose wine habit had gone haywire!

By the close of April, I tallied 20 days alcohol free and 10 days where I drank, but my motivation was really building. And my way of thinking about alcohol as something I needed to relax, unwind, celebrate, etc. was changing. It is not needed for any of these things at all. It does not have to be a “given” in my social life or my home life!

I am a sentimental person.  So I did my goodbyes to some of my favorite drinks.  In early May, I had what I planned to me my last Margarita. On another day in late April, I had my last sip of Champagne. I had my last Corona on another day.  All these days I followed up with wine – I was not simply doing one drink and done of course.  I never squeezed in my last Guinness.  Oh well. I have good memories of those in Ireland from a few trips there. Wine (red wine) was the hardest to say goodbye to though.

On May 12, 2014, I drank my last sip (there glasses full in truth) of red wine. I saved the cork of the Silverado bottle we got from Napa. I marked it with the date. It is in the drawer of my nightstand.

And since then, like so many others, I need to keep reading and reinforcing and learning and remembering why I am doing this. My 2014 Lenten resolution failure is one big motivator. I think the HONY post brought that memory to the surface. God Bless this man for being able to separate his mother from her substance abuse after her death. I want to separate myself from the growing alcohol problem in my life on my own (so my kids don’t have to after I am gone)!  And I want to do it early enough in their lives, and before it truly became a physical health problem for me.

My 11-year-old may have already figured out this past Spring that drinking wine was a problem for me though and I know that. I sensed disappointment from him and confusion as to why I had not gone through with both Lenten intentions.

All of this (and more which I do hope to write about going forward) has helped me stay motivated these past 73 Days.   There have been some really tough days though; this is not easy.  But I keep coming back to my kids.  I want to be a good mother and a good example and I way to be truly present in their lives.  These links above reinforce and are helping me remember these reasons.

Gratitude on the Internet

So 6yearhangover started a Gratitude Group and I am so excited about it.  After I made my first post there a few days ago, it felt great.  Yesterday, I made my second post and today my third.  It feels so good to think about and write out what I am grateful for!  Thank you to 6yearhangover for this wonderful idea and opportunity!  (It just started this week and we will post in the group Monday through Friday; you can visit www.6yearhangover.wordpress.com if you want more information).

Today is also Day 60 of not drinking any alcohol for me and I am grateful for that!   And we will see how this goes, but at Day 60, I think I am ready to open up this blog in case any of the members of the Gratitude Group or others are interested in reading it.  I am going to let some blogosphere contacts know I have changed the setting and on Monday, I will post the link in the Gratitude Group.

And I have  a friend in the UK who I have “met” through this whole process and I am going to let her know.  She and I have really connected and I am so grateful for that!  I feel like I have come in contact with some really amazing people in the last 60 Days.

So if you have decided to visit, welcome!  I am still nervous about changing the setting from private here.  I know the writing is a bit boring guys!  I so admire the writing of 6yearhangover, Unpickled (www.unpickled.wordpress.com), Mrs. D. (livingwithoutalcohol.blogspot.com), Belle (tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.wordpress.com), and so many others!

But I guess it is not about the quality of the writing; it is about letting things out and getting some thoughts out of my head and on paper (or more accurately onscreen). I have been doing this all alone in this blog for 8 weeks.  I started this blog for me to get going on some goals, following the example of some very brave people. But I was too nervous and self-conscious to have it be accessible (who would want to read it anyway I thought?).

And to be honest, internet safety is one of my things.  I preach to my kids about this a lot.  So it felt strange to then start a blog for all the world to access if anyone so desired!  But I have learned in 8 weeks that the community of people who visit these blogs are generally very kind and genuine and helpful.

Sometimes I laugh though when I think about a book I enjoyed so much, Where’d You Go Bernadette?  In it the main character was a quirky unemployed architect with some social anxiety issues.  She ended up hiring a virtual assistant from India, and for a very small fee, the assistant (through email instructions and the power of the internet) would “run” lots of errands from India for Bernadette in Seattle –  i.e, make dinner reservations, research a trip to Antarctica, and various other odd jobs.  The virtual assistant became a friend and confidante to Bernadette; she became the “person” she confided in the most!  (Spoiler alert):  Unfortunately, and this was just a subplot in the book, the virtual assistant was part of an identity theft ring and ultimately the FBI got involved.

So again, I kept going back to internet safety.  And also, every time I thought of changing the setting, I felt even more vulnerable.  Wouldn’t it feel strange to have personal thoughts and feelings recorded that can be accessed by anyone via the internet?  Luckily for me, none of you are part of an identity theft ring or work for the FBI, right?

On the flipside, I am seeing some amazing things happening at some of my favorite blogs.  Reading from start to finish one day, it was amazing to see how Mrs. D’s blog grew from the exciting day she got her first comment, to gaining lots of followers, to now publishing a book and helping so many people!  And I remember the day I found Unpickled’s blog, and starting reading it from the first post to the current post.  And now we get to hear her lovely voice on The Bubble Hour.  And I can’t say enough about Belle and her kindness and how much she is helping people.  With the 6yearhangover blog, it is so refreshing to read about someone who is going through early sobriety now.  He likewise is so kind and giving and funny!  It feels really good to laugh because, sometimes, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry!

So going back to my little baby blog, to be even more honest about why I had this private, I was also afraid to make it accessible because of my fear of failure.  If nobody knew about the blog and I changed my mind on some things, I could just delete the blog, right?!  So I originally set this up as private.

You will read in the posts that I have been very conflicted at times, because I have wanted to share and get feedback.  And again, I know mostly it will be a similar community of wonderful people, whose names I see commenting on others’ blogs, visiting here.  And I am sure the comments will be incredibly helpful!

Until today, however, I have not gotten my nerve up enough to change the setting.  It just took some time to let it sink in. Sometimes, I would lie in bed thinking, “Is this really real, this amazing internet community?”  Or is this some scam and I am becoming Bernadette?

Ladies and gentleman, believe it or not, it is real!  People are so kind and genuine here, as I talked about back in May, there really is kindness on the internet!  But I am a big city girl (not New York, but another great City in the U.S .A.), so I felt like I better take this slowly.

But now, 60 Days later, I have gained a lot of trust in this process too from the amazing things I have seen happening at other blogs.  This has motivated me too to change the setting.

Wish me luck!  I am excited too because I may actually help somebody else out there in addition to myself, and that would be a really good way to give back!   I don’t expect a lot of traffic, but just maybe something I said or say going forward will help somebody .  I do believe that the theme of this blog, thinking along the lines of “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!” will help somebody forgive himself or herself for some regrets.  Today and every day is a new fresh start!

And I think I knew this long ago, but I am re-learning that it really does help to write things out.  And it helps to share.  I don’t post every day or even every week.  But it is nice to have this place to come and write.  And it is nice to have a record of how I have been feeling and what I was thinking at certain times or on various days.  And it will be great to get some feedback now.  I don’t get too specific about people in my life at all or even anecdotes.  It is more about what I am thinking and feeling.

Now, if you know me and/or happen to figure out who I am, or if you are a person in my real life who I end up inviting to read this, or you discover it somehow and realize you know me, (could I be more anxious about this?!), please, as Jean said in Unpickled, “please tread lightly through these pages” and be open-minded about why I have started a blog. I have seen it work with so many others I have mentioned above!

It is not an easy decision to open myself up to the world, but I know from everything I am reading that it will help keep me stay motivated as I continue “on my way today!” i.e, Viatoday.  I am grateful to the bloggers and the ladies of The Bubble Hour who opened my eyes to so many different ideas on how to accomplish the many personal goals I have.  And they did this without even knowing they did – but by simply writing and sharing in such an altruistic manner.  It is am amazing world in 2014.

Happy Friday everyone!

My Name In Lights (Belle’s Red Font)

My “name” was in lights last week!  Well actually, it appeared in Belle’s big bright red font on July 3. I was so excited to see from Belle “Happy Day 50 to Via51214” among her other congratulation messages that day in her blog!  Yahoo!  I want to be able to access it in the future so I am attaching the link here.  Belle, (God Bless her!), has a lot of people to keep track of so I knew it might not necessarily appear on the exact 50th Day (July 1).  But I knew I would see it soon. And sure enough, on July 3, there it was, as an addendum to her regular post that day. It is amazing how as Day 50 got closer, knowing I would be mentioned motivated me! So here is the link: http://tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/a-bath-or-a-coma/.  And now I am 3 Days away from Day 60!  Day 100 absolutely seems in reach!  Because of all of this, and as a result of the more I read also, I think I am getting close to changing the privacy setting here.  I know I am ready to put myself out there more so to speak.  For example, today at the 6yearhangover blog, he talked about starting an email gratitude chain and asked if anyone would be interested.  I said in a comment after several others that I would like to participate. This is another big step for me because I have been quiet lately on the BFB; I have not commented much lately on others’ blogs, even though I read them regularly; to date I have kept this blog private; and I am even guarded in my daily emails to Belle as part of the 100 Day Challenge. But I have a lot “bottled” up inside of me lately, and I am too hard on myself very often. So allowing myself to feel what I am feeling, which is also something I am trying to do, but also thinking daily of things I am grateful for, and expressing them in writing to others would probably be really helpful. And in general, I think I need to be more of a part (active) part of a community. Doing this online is preferable to me at present. So I am excited about the possibility of the email gratitude group I just expressed interest in joining. And I may open this blog up on Day 60 . . . or Day 75 . . . or Day 90 if I get too scared on Day 60.

Today Is The First Day of The Rest Of My Life

Today is the first day of the rest of my life – yours too!  And it is the first day of a new month – a totally summer month – July.  And with the close of June, July 1 is the mid-point of 2014.  We are six months through the year and we have six months to go.  July is the month we celebrate our freedom in America!  I feel free and ambitious and excited today!

I so look forward to the next six months.  Everyone in my daily life is healthy and happy.  My kids are enjoying the leisurely life of summer.  We will have a low-key week here and will be surrounded by friends this weekend over the 4th of July.  Lots of families are going away together.  The adults and the kids will have friends to hang out with and it will be really fun.

Today is also Day 50 for me alcohol free!   I am very excited about this!  I look forward to seeing my “name” in lights – well red font – in Belle’s blog.

And I will use this momentum and acknowledgment to motivate me through this holiday weekend. Unlike as Memorial Day weekend approached, I am not even really that nervous about feeling awkward in anticipation of when I am offered and will decline a drink. I have been able to practice at a few occasions keeping it low-key, casual, “No thanks.  I’m fine.” or “No thanks. I’m not drinking today.”

Like so many other bloggers have mentioned, people don’t really care what I am drinking once we get past me simply politely declining.  I need to just keep it simple (no need for big explanations and excuses), and then I can easily change the direction of the conversation, or move on to speak with another person.  I am chatty and I can use that to my advantage through simple re-direction of the conversation. That is something I have learned to be able to do in the last 50 Days.

And, as a 50-Day gift to myself, I am going to order Mrs. D’s book today Mrs. D is Going Without.  She is an amazingly talented writer and her words in her blog (same name as her book) really motivate me. It is amazing how much has happened in the past 50 Days in the sense of my self-reflection and goal-setting.  I am sure my friends notice nothing because, well, I have not told them any of this that is going on in my head.  But today, thinking back on the days since May 12, 2014, I am feeling like I am accomplishing a lot!

Cheers All (with Pellegrino)!