It’s Been Too Long

Screenshot_20190727-091720_CleanTime Counter.jpgHello to the interwebs and all you beautiful struggling/sober siblings!  We are all in this together. A Facebook friend (an amazing person who is on the brink of realizing how amazing they are) has decided to take the sober plunge and I remembered that this blog existed. I shared the link and then read the whole thing.

After nearly 2100 days without drinking, I still think about it occasionally. It’s a fleeting occasional thought but it’s still there.  I doubt the feeling ever totally goes away.

My life has continued to get better. My agricultural job became full-time and I work anywhere from 40 to 80 hours per week. My income has tripled and I totally believe it’s because I finally got my act together and realized that I could do great things and others saw that in me as well. I enjoy my job most days and find it challenging. I could have never done this job if I was still binge drinking.

Things with the boyfriend of almost 10 years have changed drastically in the last couple of years. After 8 years of living an hour apart, I allowed him to come and live in my home. He was still drinking but I told him he was not allowed to drink in our house. He followed that for the most part except when I was away for my job. I came home unexpectedly a couple of times and found him drinking which pissed me off. I decided I couldn’t change him and that I can only control my own feelings about what it was doing to our relationship. One year ago he ended up getting a DUI. He spent the night in jail and I spent the night wondering if he was dead in the ditch or if he was in jail. This all came about a month after I came home unexpectedly for the night and found him completely out of his mind. He immediately started screaming at me and then physically and verbally abused me. I was able to collect my things and get out for the night and went to a hotel. I felt more broken that I had in my whole entire life. The worst part is that he remembered none of it, so it was like  he felt it never happened. This was a breaking point. I gave him an ultimatum that it was me or drinking.

So when the DUI thing happened two months later (to the day), I was done. He tried contacting me from the jail but I didn’t answer. I was fuming when he finally made it home. I’ve never seen him look so defeated in my entire life. He knew his life was going to change. He ended up getting out of the DUI pretty easily with 6 months probation and alcohol testing randomly twice a week. This made me wonder if he would learn his lesson since things were taken pretty lightly by the courts.

I’m happy to report that one year later he is still sober and realizes that his whole entire life has been ruled by alcohol. He said he never knew different because everyone he knows drinks. I think he’s very proud of himself. there are still days where he says that he’s not an alcoholic because he’s been able to not drink for the past year. I still wonder if he gets it and worry every day that he may take another drink. But again, this is not my problem. I need to work on myself.

I have been working on my weight. I’m down 84 pounds and feeling pretty darn good about life. I’m still overweight but getting my act together after too long.

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Lap Full

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I’m begrudgingly still sober.  After two years one would think I’d finally forget about drinking.  Most days that statement is true. There’s still fleeting moments where the thought crosses my mind.

I miss being able to binge drink my way into oblivion, not caring about anything other than my next drink. I don’t get to check out anymore and some days it really sucks.

One of my jobs has drastically changed.  I have a new boss and several new coworkers.  The new boss part has been great as he gave me my own office  (I’m a part time temporary employee of 6 years) and left the others in their cubicles. He also gave me a 28% raise. I hadn’t had a raise in 5 years.  My old boss (whom was demoted after serving the company for 29 years) claimed it was impossible to get.

With the new coworkers comes challenges.  One is working with a 23 year old college graduate who knows everything and believes she has the power to change even the most dour personality into Susie Sunshine. This woman is the same age as my oldest daughter. I’m trying not to mother her but it’s tough.  I’m sure I was exactly like her at that age but it’s annoying most days.  I gave this person a year before she became  hardened to the corporate way of life.  It took her less than six months.

We have to work closely so we spend a good deal of time together.  This girl will not give one inch if she thinks her way is better. It’s hard for me not to want to bang my head on the wall as I say,  “sometimes experience knows more than education”. I never dreamed I’d be the old lady (I’m 47) giving wisdom to today’s youth.

This young woman is very much a loner in life. She doesn’t date and doesn’t have many friends. She prefers to do everything alone. She only tries to get to know people if she feels it will benefit her in some way.  She has no interest in my personal life and has gone so far as to leave mid conversation.

We are polar opposites.  I love getting to know people and work hard to earn their respect. I’m a people pleaser and have always put others before myself.

After 8 months butting heads with and observing her, she came to me for advice. I was shocked.  We had been on a business trip together where I saw her vulnerability.  She asked me to go out for drinks.  She had only half listened when I told her that I don’t drink anymore as I showed her my sobriety app that read 800 days. She tried to convince me that it would be ok for me to drink with her for just that night.  She proceeded to tell me how much fun I’d be if I drank.  It really pissed me off. Not because she wasn’t thinking about me as I knew how self centered she is,  but because I realized that I can never just go have drinks with anyone.  Sure I could go along and drink water but it’s not the same.

Every day,  I try to remember that this person was put here to teach me something.  I have decided it is patience.

Baby Steps

This morning I was thinking back to those early days of sobriety. They seem so far in the past.  I felt fragile, like I was walking on glass shards or that at any given moment my life was going to come crashing down.

New sobriety was like becoming a first time parent. You had this beautiful new gift from God but absolutely no clue of how much your life would change and even fewer ideas about how to go about making this life change work.

So,  to be cliche,  you take each day moment by moment just trying to get through the next hurdle, from trying figure out why this tiny human is wailing in those first months of a child’s life to wondering how you are going to make it through your first weekend without drinking.

I’d like to say I’m so much wiser having two years of sobriety behind me but I’d be lying. The challenges get further apart but you still have to be aware of them or they come back to bite you.

Have you noticed that sober anniversaries seem to bring back that old voice that tells you is OK to drink now? Your mind says “Look, I did this so I deserve to drink”. This is dangerous territory. This line of thinking proves you need to buckle down more than ever and stay vigilant of this stupid fight that you never wanted to be part of.

Stay sober,  my friends.

2 Whole Years

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Staying sober is easier than getting sober. That saying brings me back to the numerous times I decided I wasn’t going to drink again.  The first couple of days were easy because I was still in the throes of the hangovers from Hell. The kind that make you want to crawl out of your skin and beg to be someone, anyone else who wasn’t feeling that way. I’d  be dehydrated from a three day binge and not be able to eat until day three, which was the day my physical self started to feel better but I had to deal with anxiety for at least the next 5 days. Before my own episodes of anxiety,  I had always thought anxiety was something that could be controlled if you put your mind to it.  I found out that it’s one of the things that could bring me to my knees. It was devastating to have my mind so out of control.  Most of my frayed thoughts revolved around how horrible of a person I was because of my drinking episodes. I would panic as I tried to replay what I had said and done while black out drunk.

My resolve to stay dry usually lasted two weeks.  By the end of that second week I would be feeling better and decide I could moderate my drinking.  The first drink would go down pretty slowly so I would convince myself that I was in control.  I would spend the next couple of drinks feeling pissy because I knew I was close to the limit I had set.  Once I passed that limit,  all bets were off for when I would stop.  The vicious cycle of my binge drinking continued. If I stopped,  it wasn’t long before I had to start again because my body would be nauseous,  shaking and begging for just one more drink because that was going to make everything better.

I don’t know why I stopped binge  drinking on November 2, 2013. I mean,  I know why I stopped after that last binge but I don’t know why this time was different from any other.  Maybe it was because I gave myself enough time away from drinking to realize how much better I felt staying sober. 

I still have days that suck. Every day doesn’t feel like the best day of my life but it’s better than the hell that I was living.

Even after two years of waking up sober, I haven’t committed to never drinking again.  For now, I’m happy with,  “I’m not drinking today”.

Another Rambling Post

I need to vent.  I have been working really long hours between the sign shop and my agricultural job.  I’ve been walking 7 miles a day in corn fields for the ag  job and my body is tired. I now have plantar facitis.  Thursday,  I worked 9 hours in the sign shop and went to the other job to put in three more hours.   I was carrying a box into the field (wearing my tennis shoes instead of the regular hiking boots) and tripped on a rock and went flying.  I immediately felt pain in my left rib cage but landed on my hands and knees.  I worked Friday but was in severe pain.  I rested most of the weekend.

When I awoke yesterday,  I couldn’t take a breath without intense pain.  My mom talked me into going to urgent care where they immediately did an ekg. Their machine was  old and the tech had a hard time getting the machine to respond.  She kept pushing on the leads to make it work. The medical assistant came back and said there were suspicious readings and that I should go immediately to the emergency room but I should be ok to drive.  All the way there I’m thinking that no one on either side of my family has heart problems and surely this can’t be a heart attack because I’m driving myself. 

The ER gets me in quickly after I get through the metal detector (I live in a rough city). They do another ekg which takes all of one minute and put me in a room after getting a urine sample.  They then take blood and a chest xray.  They put me back in the room and hook me up to a heart monitor and make me wait 6 hours while the machine beeps the entire time.  My mother insisted on coming up and entertaining me. She said it was
obvious I wasn’t dying since no one was coming to check. 

Next thing I know,  some young student comes in to say he’s putting an IV in and says I’m being admitted.  I’m like,  “Whoa,  hold on there.  I haven’t even talked to a doctor. I need to speak to someone.” I’m completely freaked out because I know that I have a pulled muscle in my rib cage and don’t need to be admitted. 

Before I know it,  the nurse comes in with a shot of muscle relaxer, takes off all the equipment and tells me to get dressed because I’m going home.  I still hadn’t spoken to a doctor. 

The doctor finally comes in and says everything is normal.  She wants me to rest a day.  She tries  to give me pain medication but it’s limited due to the gastric bypass.  I opt for Tylenol and Flexoril and go home. 

I’m just really pissed because this was all so unnecessary.  The worse part is that I’m the safety technician at work where we have over 4000 days without a reportable injury.  Because I went to the doctor and received treatment,  it’s considered a reportable accident and if I report it there will be a big investigation which I’ll have to conduct.  I did tell my boss I fell after it happened but I don’t want to be the one to wreck the record.  I’m such an honest person that this is killing me.  I have a call in to my boss to see how he wants me to proceed.  I feel like this was my fault.  I’m not a litigious person so I’m not going to sue the company.  I just want this all to go away.  I don’t want to lose my job.

None of this has anything to do with staying sober other than in the old days,  nothing would’ve felt better than drowning my pain and sorrow. But I won’t because in two weeks,  I’ll have two years sober. 

Drain Bamage

At nearly two years sober, my brain has decided to take a vacation. I’ve been having trouble stringing a complete sentence together these last few days.  I’m chalking it up to peri menopause.  I’m nearly 47 and assume that it won’t be long before I begin that journey.

I felt like I had my life more together when I was drinking.  I suppose that’s because I had to work at making my life look organized.

My divorce has been final now for 6 years.  I spent most of the 20 years I was married staying home with my daughters.  I worked cleaning houses and did other odd jobs when my then husband had mornings or days off. My girls never went to daycare and I pride myself on how well rounded and intelligent they are.  Their teachers always remarked about their manners and educational abilities being well above their age groups.  I’ve nothing against daycare and realize it’s something almost all families have to do in order to make a living.  I consider our family blessed because of the time we spent together.

Because I chose to raise our daughters,  I never finished my education.  I’ve worked in our family business as a graphic designer for the last  14 years.  I truly enjoy my work there.  After the divorce,  I had to take on a second job. I fell into a part time position with one of the largest agricultural companies in the world as a safety technician  (having no prior experience) for a research site. I’ve been there almost 6 years and feel I am doing a pretty great job. My supervisor tells people he wishes he had 10 of me. He can’t however,  give me a full time job because I don’t have a degree.

I’ve spent the last 6 years inserting myself into learning jobs other than my own in an attempt to make myself irreplaceable.  If it comes my way,  I’m going to learn it.  Everything from weekly office cleaning,  yard care,  becoming certified to train people for forklift operation, handling all of the occupational health pograms, hand labor in the fields and labs and also anything my job description requires. All this while also running the family business,  sometimes from a corn field. I have no idea how I managed all of this while suffering debilitating hangovers.

The last three weeks have been tough on me physically. I’ve been working 50+ hours with only one day off a week.   I’ve been working at hand harvesting crops for research which entails back breaking work and walking around  6.5 miles in a day.  We have now moved on to machine harvest where we must take field notes before the crops are taken off. During this time,  my foot decided to have plantar facitis.  I could barely walk for a few days but I’m learning how to treat it.

It’s possible that all this physical labor is causing my brain to short circuit.

Two years ago when I was still drinking at my worst, I would do this back breaking labor knowing that I was going to stop on the way home and buy enough booze to make me pass out cold.  Then get up and repeat. It was what I thought kept me going.  I realize now that I was slowly killing myself.

Thankfully,  my family job is flexible at the times I need it to be for the other job. I’ll have to write more some time about that job.

This post is all over the place. I suppose I better get to sleep so I can wake up and start all over again.  Tomorrow my first thoughts will be of thankfulness for being sober.

700+

702 days sober to be exact.  I will celebrate 2 years of no hangover mornings in less than a month. I never would’ve guessed that I’d still be sober today  when I had my last drink. Something clicked in my mind and I’ve resolved myself to continue on this truly great path.

Ambivalent About Labels

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Like most people who struggle with alcohol,  I take issue with the ALCOHOLIC label.  I know I have an issue with drinking too much and my ability to stop once I start.  I didn’t drink every day and went years not drinking without ever giving it a thought.  But,  something changed in my brain once I started drinking more often.  I found myself looking forward to the numb fuzzy feeling you get after those first drinks. In fact,  the only thing positive booze ever did for me was allowing me to forget stress which in turn helped greatly with a nasty disease that feeds on stress. I went two years without an episode but once I stopped drinking, I’ve had an episode every month like clockwork.  I have to remind myself daily how much worse off I was with 7-10 day hangovers that were more debilitating than this disease.

I prefer to think of my drinking as problematic. The rock bottom I experienced was nothing compared to others. My eyes were opened to the fact that what I was doing to myself couldn’t possibly continue. I was headed to becoming one of the stories  you hear about.  The one where the person drinks,  drives,  causes an accident,  goes to jail,  loses job, house, relationships and home.  I couldn’t see my life getting better with alcohol remaining as part of my life.  After a few months of debilitating alcohol induced anxiety, I made the decision to stop.  Not forever but at least until I thought I could handle drinking like a normal person. 686 days later and I don’t believe I could drink normally.  I’m not an alcoholic.  I have a “drinking problem”. It all boils down to Symantics.

678 Days

I need to let that ^ sink in a bit. I haven’t been here to read or write. I have recurring dreams that I’m drinking only to wake up terrified and then relieved.

Being sober lately has brought me to the realization that my not drinking is keeping other people away. I think it has something to do with them seeing me and not liking what they see about their own drinking. I don’t talk to anyone about not drinking. It makes them squirm. That’s never my intention. I’ve got my own issues to deal with.

I’m still in a nearly six year relationship with no real commitment other than saying we like being together. (It’s my decision not to marry or live together.) He is a bi polar alcoholic but I love him dearly. He claims that my sobriety has helped him drink less. He makes it about 28 days and it all comes crashing down. He finally admitted to me that he believes he may have a problem. You’d think that after 2 stints in rehab (many years ago) and a couple of DUI’s, you might realize you may have a problem.

He doesn’t drink around me which is good because he is my trigger to want to drink. We drank the first four years of our relationship away. He was my best drinking buddy. I rarely drank before him. I’m not blaming him. He was a gateway for me. I will say that when I did drink before him, it was almost always to excess but may have been once a year instead of every other weekend.

He’s spent the last 3 weekends choosing booze over me and that feels pretty shitty. The only time he shows positive attention is when he drinks. Part of me wants to enjoy that but the other part knows these are not his true feelings. He’s been drinking during the week (I should point out that we don’t live together because I can’t deal with this exact issue) and trying to hide it. I have to keep repeating, “Not my circus. Not my monkey.” He can’t get far enough into sobriety to see it’s benefits. I’ve been there. Wanting to break free but something always pulls you back.

I tell myself that maybe I’ll drink again someday but know I can never be a normal drinker. I’m thankful to still have a clear memory of the feelings of self loathing and the physical pain of hangovers. So for today, I’m not drinking. Lather, rinse, repeat.