Ten Months: Progress Not Perfection

My last drink was May 12, 2014, ten months ago yesterday.  That night, I told my husband, after a few failed (not-so-serious) attempts in March, and three failed (serious) attempts in April, that this was it.  I was doing the 100-Day Challenge and I was going to stick with it.

I had realized once and for all that this not-drinking thing was really not so easy.  And this realization sunk in deep.  Honestly, it scared me.  I was starting to have such a sinking feeling.  I seriously really might have a problem I came to realize.  It felt like I had a rock in the pit of my stomach.

Alcoholism is in my family – mostly with men.  I have seen several men in my family die younger than they should have.  Was alcohol or addiction a contributing factor to their declining health and deaths?  Most likely yes.  But me, could this really be happening to be?  It couldn’t be happening to me; could it?  This was something that happened to the men in my family, not the women.  But it was happening to me, I knew deep-down.

I am a daughter, a sister, a mom, a former star student, college graduate, a professional turned a stay at home mom, who is a good citizen, fun friend, trusted confidant, and loyal family member.  I am one of “the ones” who is always there for other people, who reaches out or is reached out to, when my family, friends, loved ones need help or guidance or advice.  They look to me to be an example of how to navigate life with pride and confidence, how to be responsible and decisive, how to face hardships, and how to have fun again when the hardships are overcome.  (Or at least, that is what I think they think of me).  I probably should ask them at some point.

But going back to last May, without admitting it out loud, I was thinking deep down, “How did it come to be that I had this problem?  Did this just sneak up on me?  Or was I so oblivious and it was here all along?  Why did I think I was immune and that this could never happen to me?”  And I wondered who I could turn to to say, “Hey, I think I might have a problem.”

I couldn’t bring myself to talk with any of my loved ones about this except for my husband.  My husband lives with me so he knew how much wine I drank.  He knew about the stops and starts.  He knew this was a problem for me.  I finally realized it too.

So I turned to him  . . . and Belle  . . . . and sober blogs . . . and initially the BFB . . . until I was able to get into a smaller online gratitude group.  I started this blog under an anonymous name.  I don’t write here as often as I should, and even here, I find myself holding back.  I find myself doing what I do in real life, being upbeat and chipper and positive, and avoiding revealing the tougher emotions of being scared or worried or sad.  Why?  Because: 1) I don’t want to bother other people with my problems; and 2) I don’t want to admit that I have problems.

Recently, I started therapy and that is really helping.  It is helping me peel back the onion so to speak and dig deeper and be honest with myself.  It is helping me learn to recognize and start to deal with my underlying worries and fears and emotions.  I also love listening to Tara Brach’s audios.  They are amazingly enlightening and interesting.  It is like I had an initial waking up last Spring.  Now, I am realizing there is so much more to see about how and why I found myself in the position I was in last May.  I am ready to go there and try to figure it out.  I will likely not share it all here, but I will try to check in at least once a month. That is my goal at this point.  (And I am very grateful to those of you who read my blog and comment even though I have not posted very often or regularly).  And I know how much I gain from reading other’s blogs.

Since I last had a glass of wine, I have watched Spring turn to Summer; Summer turned to Fall; Fall turn to Winter; and Winter is turning to Spring again. Every season is trigger-y in a different way I have realized.  St. Patrick’s Day and baseball season are approaching very soon.  I am hoping my momentum will carry me through, just like I got through our skiing trip in the Winter, and my birthday in the Fall, and being by a lake in the Summer.   I had heard on the Bubble Hour the phrase “Fake it until you make it.”  And that actually works!  For example, I have used this line a few times – “Oh I stopped because I started to realized I am more fun without drinking.”  And I am actually truly starting to believe that now!  I think am probably more fun without drinking!

Now when I want a drink, it is mostly in the sad and challenging times.  But I have learned it is important to feel the feelings, and learn from them and not instinctively react to numb or avoid them.

I am writing today because I realized that it is 10 months since my Day 1, and I actually did not even realize it until 10 am!  For the neurotic day, week, month counter I have been, that was for some reason significant to me – to not even realize my 10-month anniversary was today until well into my day.

I guess that is progress in that I am not as obsessed with counting the days any more.  And now that I remembered I am at 10 months, I decided to ask myself, “How do you feel?”

Honestly, right now, I feel all over the place in this blog entry!  But I also feel content.  I am not overjoyed and I am not down in the dumps.  I feel like there has been progress, not perfection – another great phrase that has really proven true for me.

Taking away the alcohol did not solve all my problems or resolve all my worries.  But I am seeing a lot more clearly now, especially inward into myself.  I feel more in tune with myself.  I feel more honest with myself.  Progress not perfection.  That’s how I feel, and that’s OK.  One day at a time still for me.  I am on my way today.

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14 thoughts on “Ten Months: Progress Not Perfection

  1. bloody awesome. well done and congratulations. I am so proud of you for this and I agree, we don’t need to numb the feelings. just sit with them and let them wash. they are changing constantly.
    Lisa

    • Thank you Lisa! I am always nervous when I hit publish, and seeing your comment really gave me a boost. You’re so write about letting our feelings wash. I am slowly learning to sit with them! Another friend reminded me this week that eventually all things pass.

  2. Beautiful. I wouldn’t bother asking anyone what they think of you. It’s none of your business. And it is just asking for trouble.

    I asked myself the same questions. How did this happen to me? To my family? My husband and I are both well employee professional. We have masters degrees. We volunteer.

    Well, apparently anyone can get caught drinking too much. Is it genetic – probably part. Did it become habit. Yes, that too.

    Whatever. Sober we have found a lot of beauty and joy in our lives. That’s all anyone wants.

    Yay for 10 months. Plan to celebrate at a year. Don’t let the milestone go by. Read and everything afters post today. Her word gave me so much hope and inspiration.

    Enjoy today.

    Anne

    • I really cannot believe it has been over 300 Days for me. Taking it one day a time and coming back here to the blogosphere regularly have been so key for me! You are doing great too!

  3. Happy 10 months. It is hard to come to terms with having a drinking problem when you grew up with people who drank to much and said, “That will never be me.” I am in the same boat with you. It is me, too.
    I am also a chronic people pleaser, add in low self esteem, and bam, may I have another drink please?
    It sounds like you are doing great. Stay strong!

    • So well said. I was so convinced it would never be me. I am so glad I “woke up” in time to turn it around. I love having a clear head. You and your blog have been very helpful to me and I really appreciate it!

    • This is so moving. Thank you. Writing is really draining for me. It’s just so hard to get the words out in a way that truly reflect what I am feeling inside. But, it was really good for me to hash out these thoughts and feelings, so much so that I have come back to re-read my post several times already (for myself). It gives me quite a perspective reading it from the outside in.

  4. Thank you.. as a newer blogger, and just at 7 days in my intention to have this be the final go around, your post was very inspiring and refreshingly authentic. It will definitely help me move forward.. believing better days are to come.

    • Thank you for commenting! I hope it is going well. For me, taking one day at a time has really been the key. I am on Day 359 now. I am planning to put out a blog post for my one year next week, but first I decided to re-read my entire blog (and comments) to see what I can learn about myself, the progress I have made, and the areas that still need work, from my own blog.

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