I Took the First Step

I set the appointment with my doctor for this Friday. I already feel a little better, just knowing that help is on the way. Sometimes you just can’t fight it alone. I urge others that may be reading this post, if you’re battling depression, no matter how great or small – it’s ok to be vulnerable and seek help. It’s more than ok. It’s brave and right, and the best decision you could make.

What am I really fighting?

The depression lingered this week. It started to get better, and then something personal knocked me back down a few pegs. But still, I don’t feel like drinking. I wonder…perhaps the alcohol was a manifestation of a bigger problem: mental illness. Not that I’m not genetically prone to be a drinker, but that going to the drink was a result, rather than a causation, of my emotional state – depression. And that drinking soon became a causation as well. It became a vicious little circle.

Why am I saying this? With depression, I also try to fill the void, just in other ways now, other than readily handy wine. I love to read. Reading makes me happy. I’ve read 6 books in 2 weeks. Is this normal for someone with a full time job and two small children? I found podcasts. I listen to them all the time now. Most of them are about other people – talking about hot topics that are things I wish I could talk about. But I can’t put the headphones down…unless I am reading. Not normal. I have a hard time being around my family right now, idly. I can’t sit still. I can’t just listen to them. I’ve been very testy. I yell a lot. Even my sister, who I love so very much, called me the other day, to bitch about something, and I just couldn’t take it.

I’ve been taking my medication daily. It scares me to think, if things are heavy right now, what it’d be like without it.

I bought coloring books, and pencils. And drawing books, and watercolor. I used to love art and be good at it, during my teenage years. All was lost once I started college. Trivial things, in my untrained eyes. I’ve lost creativity. It’s creating a crack in my foundation. And now that I am feeling it, I desperately try to cling to it in my spare time. The problem is, I don’t really have spare time. Not with a demanding job, and a demanding young family (that I love, but can’t seem to handle right now).

This is brutally honest, and sounds very self-absorbed, and that makes me feel ashamed, and I’m sorry. I have come to the realization that maybe I really need some help. Like therapy. I never considered it. It always seemed somewhat like a luxury – something rich people do, that want to sound fancy. But nope, I think I need counseling of some kind. I can’t seem to keep a controlled measure on anything right now. Maybe I kept the bubble in the metaphorical level in the middle when I drank (or at least to my intoxicated eyes, it looked level). It made me too lazy to get up and do, and allowed me to sit with everyone. Even though I was numbed.

I love my children so much. I want to be a great mother and wife. I feel like most days I am a great mother and an ok wife (I need to be emotionally present, and I struggle with that). I want to do great at my job, and by most outside counts, I’m told that I do, even though my soul is not satisfied. But ultimately, I want to be the best me I can be, and maybe then, all of these things will be encompassed under that umbrella, and right now, I’m not there.

I think I am going to set an appointment with my doctor this week, and see if she can help me get help.

I Fought the Dragon this Week

Last week, I went through a fog of depression. I fought it at every turn, and felt every emotion, and let myself accept it, and push through it. It sucked, but it was very present, and I was too. I am sure the ever-presence of my low dose Lexipro helped me tremendously, and it also reminded me that, although I’d like to, maybe I’m not ready to phase that out yet.

Triggers to it:

  1. Political climate – this god-forsaken election and all the trouble it brings. The fact that certain sections of my family believe in voting for someone that I strongly believe sends the message that women are beneath society, and that rape culture is acceptable, and that we are laying this groundwork for our daughters and sons. This led to fighting the instinct to hate or resent them because of it. Understanding that I’m not even sure what I believe, and doubting my own instincts as to what I believe is right for the country. Dreading November, and dreading what  messages our culture is sending to our youth, and adults alike, and to the rest of the world. Truly, from both sides. I just can’t navigate through it right now. So I’ve given it up to God.
  2. The heaviness and exhaustion of work, combined with full time momming in my spare time, to two beautiful, but complex individuals who need me more than I can provide, this week especially – where I wasn’t emotionally present, even though I really wanted to be. My daughter asked me yesterday, “Mom, why are you so sad?” Who knew four year olds were so intuitive? I asked her, “Why do you think I’m sad?” She said, “because you are talking very quietly.” I smiled, and reassured her I was fine. Maybe I lied a little. But I need to be strong and provide her stability. Plus, fake it till you make it, right?
  3. Needing more time to myself, and not receiving it; more sleep, and not getting it. Wondering if I’m on the right track in my life, and questioning every decision I’ve ever made regarding my career and whether I’m doing what’s right for my family, or not. In other words, OVERTHINKING EVERYTHING.

It was a heavy week, and it was all due to the stress I was creating in my head. I really think that a lot of people that have the tendency toward drinking too much, do it because they can’t slow their mind down naturally. It really is a practice. I’m working on it. I’ve been reading a lot lately. It’s my new self-medication. I read whatever piques my interest, and for the past few weeks, it’s been Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. 

I was amazed to find out that she is sober too. That like me, there was no real “rock bottom,” it was more of a “high bottom,” and a desire to live her full life and FEEL everything. Recognizing that numbing the pain is not working. This, once again, reassured me that in order to really live, we must always be present in our minds and hearts. Even when it’s really hard.

“I definitely believe that genetics and neurobiology can play a critical role in addiction, but I also believe there are countless people out there struggling with numbing and taking the edge off because the disease model of addiction doesn’t fit their experiences as closely as a model that takes numbing processes into consideration. Not everyone’s addiction is the same.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to outrun vulnerability and uncertainty. I wasn’t raised with the skills and emotional practice needed to “lean into discomfort,” so over time I basically became a take-the-edge-off-aholic.

and finally – When we numb the dark, we numb the light.“*

It was a cloudy week this week – both outside, and in my heart. But I chose not to numb the dark. Today is the first day the sun came in the morning. I feel it in my heart as well. I fought the dragon this week, and I’m coming out victorious. It won’t be my last battle, but each battle makes me stronger, and more ready for the next one.

God bless.

*Brown, Brene, The Gifts of Imperfection (Hazelden Publishing 2007), p. 71-74.

My Sacred Place

I have this fantasy where I own a cozy coffee shop in our small hometown, and I roast my own beans, and have a plethora of miscellaneous mugs, and a small fire place, and my dog comes in with me and lies on the rug. I serve a small assortment of pastries, sandwiches and yesterday’s soup. It’s a haven for people who want to come in and think, surf the net, write, connect.

There are places like this everywhere. It’s not an innovative concept. But I guess it’s my vision of peace and comfort, and productivity.

Currently, I am a mid-level successful executive, working 55-60 hours a week. I work hard, it’s fast paced, and sometimes relentless. But I also understand the importance of growing and representing women in executive roles – even more so, moms in executive roles.  Teaching my daughter that she can do and be whatever she wants. Teaching my son that he can do and be whatever he wants, while collaborating with and supporting women in the work force.

But right now, I am just so tired.

I don’t really feel the tug to drink (other than coffee), but with the amount of stress and exhaustion, I hold onto my vision, and retreat to my inner coffee shop, when I need a break from it all. It’s a sacred place in my soul that I hang on to.

September has come and gone

I hope everyone is doing well in their sober journeys. I’ve been busy GOAL’ing, and also working like a freak. The apex of my labor is next week, where I will be doing 7am-10pm days for 3 days. I am hoping all the hard work pays off. Lots of social “cocktail hours” during the in-betweens of sessions. As a sober liver (double meaning accidental but intended), this used to stress me out. Now it’s like water off a duck’s back. And you know what? I had some high-up work folks visit a few weeks ago, and we had a cocktail hour in our office. I asked for a bottled water, and noticed that’s also what most of the execs were drinking. When you think about it – these are very high functioning professional individuals – more so that I am. They get it. Alcohol holds them back from getting shit done. It made me feel good, not to be alone in a drinking crowd.

In other news, September is almost over, and I like to at least do one post per month to make sure that I am touching base with my on-line friends who are on sober journeys as well, and also to continue the declaration that I am still not drinking! Has life gotten easier? Nope. But has life gained more clarity? Absolutely. I hope the same for everyone else.

I think alcohol is a way to ignore the purpose we are put on earth to fulfill. It’s hard for us, as humans, to acknowledge when we need to do something, and just do it. The easier path is to ignore. But things don’t come together when we fall into the fog, and live in oblivion. They actually just fall apart. I had a great quote this morning in my email feed. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.” It’s attributed to Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmons). Who knows if he really said it, but who cares? It’s like this – I’m not there yet with the day I find out why, but I really feel like I’m more on my way than I ever have been. And maybe that’s the fun part. Maybe we really don’t know the why until we meet our maker. So I think I’ll enjoy the path, just in case.

Another quote that I loved, by Glennon Doyle Melton (awesome new book, Love Warrior, btw, and also a recovering individual) says, “We must do what we need to do. Those who disapprove will either come around, or stop coming around. Either way, lovely.” I feel like I could have written this myself. It’s perfection and 100% truth. The main question I get asked is, “Are you done drinking forever?” My answer used to be an uncomfortable “We will see…” because I worried about what they thought, if I’d lose them, if I was being judged, etc. I realize nobody can predict forever, but I have a new response now. “That’s my goal, and what I strive for.” And that is my truth. And if they come around, SUPER. If they vaporize, SUPER. I’m good either way. I have to live my truth now, and so do you. So stand solid in your decision, and know I am right there in the trenches with you.

God’s speed, and happy October!

Get Out and Live

I just heard a really cool acronym. GOAL. Get Out and Live. New life philosophy terminology. I like it. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, which is why my blogs have been few and far between lately. I’m so appreciative of members of the community checking in on me, to make sure I’m still doing ok. That’s awesome. In fact. I am doing great. Getting Out and Living.

Lots and lots and lots of work travel lately. Fun places too! San Diego for the first time. That was really cool. Major drinking test came when we took a dinner cruise around the area. There was a dance floor. Definitely not ready for the sober dance floor. But I visited with friend/colleagues, and ate great food.

I’ve been working out a lot, and am getting in the best shape of my life. If I could just kick this carb addiction. That’s next. But never the chocolate. With me for life. I love exercise, and now that I’m not reeling from a prior night of drinking, it’s so much easier to get to the gym, and actually look forward to it.

My husband took a much needed daddy trip this weekend, with some of his buds. God bless him – being home with the kids single-parenting it, with a full time job, while I’m out being a road warrior. Much needed and deserved. So me and the kiddos were left to our own devices. We had a most excellent day. We started off this morning, as we do every Saturday morning – with pancakes and cartoons. Then we decided to Get Out and Live. We headed to the zoo. I let the kids decide where they wanted to go, what exhibits they wanted to see, and rides they wanted to ride. The almost-4 year old really led the show, while the 2 year old obligingly kicked back in his stroller seat with his sippy cup, and enjoyed the ride.

We all took great naps when we got home. Then we woke up, ate a quick bite, and headed outside to ride their little vehicles, and draw stuff with chalk in the driveway. It was a glorious day. We Got Out and Lived.

What’s everyone else doing to GOAL?

A Series of Upcoming Events

Everything has been going really well with this no drinking deal. I even did the ultimate step in accountability and let my facebook network know I made this lifestyle change. Received nothing but support. And for me, this made my choice even more real.

I have had a few cravings lately, and I’ve noticed that I tend to react to them poorly – becoming short with my husband and kids. It reminds me of when I get PMS (I am a terror), but it’s not that time of month. I call it the “time of month when I want to unzip my skin and step out side myself, and run far, far away, like the rest of the people around me do” syndrome. In other words, I am completely unbearable – even to myself. So apparently drinking cravings do that to  me too. Bless my family’s hearts. Bless my heart.

Trying to work on how to coast through those clouds, and resurface a nice human. In the meantime, I am getting a little anxiety. Summer is coming to a close. I’ve had a lot of travel for work, and this will continue through August. Labor Day brings our first vacation to my husband’s mother’s home on the water near Seattle. I look forward to the time off, but there will be a lot of people visiting, in a small space, with our 2 year old son who does not (DOES NOT) sleep away from home. I anticipate some serious wine cravings then. Plus, I really LOVE pumpkin beer. Love love love it. Bye bye my love.

After that, of course, my first “dry” Thanksgiving. Plans are up in the air right now. And then Christmas, where, thankfully, we will be home, and I believe no guests. I really like calm, quiet Christmases. No pressure. But oh Lord, the holidays. Bad eating and bad drinking go hand in hand. Parties, egg nog, etc. etc. Open to holiday sobriety fun ideas. Please share.

We booked a trip for our family to Maui in February. I am so excited, because it’s our first real vacation since our honeymoon. I say real, because my folks are coming too, and there will be times where we can get away from the kids and actually go be adults. Another ultimate sobriety test for me. Beach…vacation…part-time kidless. So excited, and such a privilege to get to do this, but I pray I keep my commitment in tact.

Sometimes I get that urge where the little voice in my head says “one glass of wine won’t hurt,” and honestly the only thing that prevents me from having one is starting over. All these days under my belt…it gives me strength. And, I’m scared of the slippery slope. I don’t know if I will have the control or not, to have just one drink, and then go back to nothing all the time, because I started this journey on a whim, when my problem was more of a developing habit than an actual medically diagnosable addiction.

Anyway, enough musings for tonight. These are the upcoming challenges, and I’m putting them out there, in the universe, so that they are not the dark secret looming inside of me gaining control. I’m hoping by releasing them, they no longer can touch me.

Thanks, as always, for reading and caring.

Into the Light

Simply speaking the truth out loud is healing in and of itself. When people courageously voice a true, hard thing, they’ve already stolen some of its dark power before we offer one word to fix it…Life and light are greater than the darkness…Pulling something difficult from its dark hiding place and into the light is innately healing.  – Jen Hatmaker, from her book “For the Love.” 

This quote really resonated with me. How often do we chew on something and let it terrorize us, until we can’t sleep at night, can’t think straight, and beat ourselves up. But once we hurl it into the world, in an admission to ourselves, to everyone, we start to be able to walk away from it.

I’ve been openly telling people that I don’t drink anymore. It gets easier and easier with each person. Depending on the person, sometimes it’s a “health choice,” other times it’s “it was becoming a habit…” and still other times, “well, I think it was leading into addiction.” All of the above are the truth. Some just more in depth than others, and as you can imagine, the responses vary depending on the level I know the person on the receiving end. And all of these are ok. “Just because,” is ok.

It’s actually liberating, and the more I tell, the easier it is to avoid the alcohol. The phantom accountability it creates is powerful. I say phantom, because really, they have no control over me, but what they think matters to me (at least the ones I care about). And in addition, I don’t want to let myself down.

I’ve been reading this book called Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project), and in a study of Self Knowledge (something that fascinates me to no end), she talks about The Four Tendencies – which are basically four separate ways people tend to be. I am an Upholder. An Upholder responds readily to outer and inner expectations – that is, “they want to know what’s expected of them, and to meet those expectations. They avoid making mistakes or letting people down – including themselves.” Typical insecure overachiever, for better or worse.

I make lists – and they encompass what I want to do and what everyone else expects me to do. I strive to accomplish them all. However,  I do what everyone expects me to do, on my list first, and what I want to do last. For instance, I will knock out all of my work assignments given to me by others, before I work on a project I select for myself. Or I will clean the kitchen and dishes, get the kids ready for bed, and let the dog out, and then go to bed, and wake up early to read and have some alone time.

Having said that, I’ve created a double whammy of accountability for myself, based on these habits. That is, I don’t drink because I don’t want to anymore, but as an added layer, now, I also don’t drink, because people expect me to be sober, and I don’t want to let them down. I know myself well enough to know that this makes it easier to continue my quest and achievement of a sober life.

I think this ties well with the quote in which I started this essay, because I’ve pulled something difficult about myself out of the dark. Now that the light is shining on it, it doesn’t seem so large or scary anymore. And because more eyes have seen it, it has lost all of its power over me. I have nothing to hide.

 

My Heart is Heavy

This is not a drinking post.

I keep thinking of the two men shot yesterday and the day before. The ten officers shot tonight. Everyone these individuals left behind: The poor little girls in the back seat of the vehicle while their mother live-streamed the murder of her partner. The children served lunches by a good man who knew them by name. The 14 year old son sobbing into his mother’s shoulder as she did a press release on the death of her husband. The people on the streets of Dallas tonight, unable to get home, knowing there are active shooters out there.  The families of the injured and deceased Dallas police officers.

I sit here feeling helpless. Helpless for the black men killed for no reason. For the officers, protecting peaceful protest of these men’s deaths. For the fact that there is no such thing as a “peaceful protest,” this day in age. The guilt I feel, that I’ve never faced oppression so deep, based on something so shallow. The guilt that I want to do something about it, but I’m SCARED.

There is no answer. But there has to be an answer. The hate has got to stop. We have got to come together. We have got to parent our children better; raise them to be kind, trust, have faith in their brothers and sisters, be inclusive, be loving. In the same breath, I want to fiercely protect them, shield them, never let them leave my sight.

I am on my knees tonight, giving it to God. Praying for all of them. Praying for an answer. Praying for courage to do something. Praying for a solution that I can offer to help. Praying for the safety of my children. Praying for the safety of our citizens. Praying for the revival of love.