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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sober Definitions

I've been giving a lot of thought to how I count my days now that I tried wine again last Friday and then went back to not having any.

On the one hand I don't want to detract from those who are counting the total number of days they have gone without alcohol.  But I also don't want to detract from the number of days that I have!

A lot of people refer to this "no alcohol" thing as sobriety.  To me, sobriety used to mean never drinking again and having no alcohol.  Now I define it as not drinking unhealthy amounts and not getting fucked up.  To put it bluntly.

I saw someone else's post and it made me google some definitions.

SOBRIETY:  The state of being Sober.

Okay, well then what is SOBER?  I found:

Adjective:  Not affected by alcohol, not drunk
Synonyms: Not drunk, clearheaded
Verb: Make or become sober after drinking alcohol

Definition of DRUNK:
a. Having the faculties impaired by alcohol
b. Having a level of alcohol in the blood that exceeds a maximum prescribed by law
c: Having drunk so much alcohol that normal actions (such as talking, thinking, and moving) become difficult to do

If I take these literally, then every morning one could say they are sober after going on a bender the night before and being drunk.  Or one could say that as long as they weren't drunk, then they were sober.  I'm not sure if it's as clear as that.

I guess it depends how we define "not affected" by alcohol.  Because I wasn't feeling all the negative things after drinking a glass last Friday night, I feel I wasn't affected.  On the other hand, by the end of the 2nd glass I could see where this could lead so I was feeling "something".

I think it boils down to interpreting this however I want.  Each of us needs to navigate our own way towards our usable definitions.  So here is my version.  (I need something to measure against for me going forward.)

The HD Sober Definition system:

Tier 1: Alcohol Free - no alcohol in the system
Tier 2: Drinking - having some alcohol, lightly affected (blood pressure, relaxation, flush)
Tier 3: Drinking too much - drinking at levels to be concerning in some way, perhaps definition "a" above for DRUNK or even just "Drinking" at more than the recommended amounts for health.
Tier 4: Drunk - definitions of "b" and "c" above.

My statements of self go something like this then:

Until I quit drinking in April I had very few instances of being truly ALCOHOL FREE.  I had daily instances of DRINKING, around 5 times per week of DRINKING TOO MUCH and occasions of being DRUNK...(I categorize blackouts as drunk even though I appeared functioning and didn't make a scene.)

Since I quit drinking in April I have had 129 days of being completely Alcohol Free, one day of DRINKING some, and NO days of DRINKING TOO MUCH nor being DRUNK.

Way to go self.  That's a pretty good turn-around!  My goal is to keep to this forever.  This I think I can do!!!  Blogging today to remind myself.

I think this whole process is a balance between what we think is acceptable balanced against what we think we can do.  Some might think Tiers 2 - 4 are totally unacceptable and stick with Tier 1.  Some might think Tier 2 is totally fine, even with the occasions for Tier 3 and possibly even random, maybe yearly Tier 4 occurrences but realize this isn't sustainable for them and must stick with Tier 1.

My point is that nobody wrote rules for this..... there is no right nor wrong.  It's just doing what is right for each of us.  At least we are "doing".....

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing."  - Theodore Roosevelt
(not exactly the context in which this quote was meant but I thought it applicable nonetheless)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

4 women

In followup to my post yesterday in regards to inebriated girl, I have been struck thinking about strangers banding together.

For years I have been sporadically walking with my friend in the mornings.  If you have read about my distress towards exercise, you will understand the sporadic description.  We have been getting better of late but we will do really well, be very consistent in our walking, then go for a month without doing it and then usually take off during the hot summer mornings.

But also for years we have been passing a jogger going the other direction.  I will call her PL for pink lady...She must wear pink a lot as that is how I think of her.  One time we didn't see her for awhile.  We never really say more than hi since she is running.  Then we saw her again and she stopped to chat.  Said she had been in a horrible accident and was just now recovered enough to run again.

Admittedly, we both felt kind of horrible for not really noticing we hadn't seen her in 6 months.  We had passed her yesterday and she didn't say anything.  Then we had our experience with inebriated girl and the other jogger.

Today PL came by and stopped us and asked us about the inebriated girl.  She said she felt horrible the whole rest of the day for continuing on but she didn't have a cell phone, ID, cash or anything on her to assist.  PL hadn't warned us about her yesterday but today asked if we had seen the girl.  We said yes, that we had gotten her connected with the local police.  PL was so relieved to know that but told us the girl's cell phone and shoes were still there in the bushes.  She said she felt she shouldn't move them.

We hadn't seen them yesterday, didn't even think to look around too hard.  Duh!  Dang! So today we grabbed them and after dropping my son at school today I drove them to the police department and turned them in.  The lady at the desk said they would make every effort to find her and they knew the hotel where she said she was staying.  I had charged the phone enough at my house to see there was a passcode so I couldn't get any information about it's owner,  but didn't really want someone to do "find my iphone" and end up at my house looking for it.... so I thought it best to turn it in.  (Note to all:  Put those text messages on your phone that say whom to call or email if your phone is lost.  They will show up without a user having to type in a passcode if someone turns it on.)

What struck me is how this event has bonded 4 women who get out at the same time in the morning.  Now there will just that "something more" in the way of a connection when we pass each other.

Not unlike this sober universe.  While strangers, we have all bonded over a common issue.  We check in on each other's lives, tune into each others challenges, offer support and advice where we can and really worry when someone drops off the radar.  (RFW if you are reading this, I would love an email. I worry about you!)

It's a great tribe to belong to even if we are a bit ashamed of what brought us here!!!  Hugs to all and have a great day!


Monday, August 29, 2016

The Irony...

The good news is that I resumed my morning 3 mi walks with a friend.  School is back in session and since we have to get up early anyway, we can both get motivated to go.  We spent a lot of time catching up on the summer.

The irony of our walk this morning was friend, who really doesn't drink a lot, said she got hammered yesterday on their boat.  She was very honest about it but I think felt bad about it.  She doesn't struggle with alcohol per se, but does have serious yo-yo weight issues.  Her weight has been a struggle ever since I known her.

She is a beautiful gal whether she is 100lb in either direction but she does struggle with that difference.  So to her the feeling bad about the alcohol was more calorie related.   She knows that I gave up drinking so we have talked about alcohol in the past.

I was just sharing my trying the wine again from Friday when we came around a corner.  A jogger had passed us and we looked ahead and saw her sort of walking back toward us.  Turns out she was walking back toward a woman she had passed on the sidewalk who was facing away from us and grasping herself, sort of tucked in a sitting ball.

As we got closer we could see this beautiful young woman, dressed in a laced up revealing black top that bared her midriff and then black stretchy pants from below her belly button down to her ankles.  She had on no shoes and had a little bloody lip.  Her back side from hair to feet was as if she had been rolled in hay...I realize the inadvertent wording of this but literally she had straw up and down her backside....there are no farms near us...

The jogger was talking to her as we came up.  This girl was completely fucked up, for lack of a better word.  From what we grasped she was visiting from the east coast, had gone to a nightclub and had somehow gotten over to our part of town.....about 10 miles or more from where she had started.  She said some guy had dropped her off.  She had no money, no phone, no ID.  Asked us to call Uber to get her a ride back to where she had a room.

Well, we couldn't just throw her in a cab when she had no money and we didn't have any as we were walking.  Not to mention the liability of doing so if anything happened to her.   We didn't even know if where she said she needed to go was the right place.  We were also about 2 miles from our own homes.  So we got her to walk with us toward a McDonalds.  I walked with her incoherent self, keeping her stumbling on the inside of the sidewalk so she didn't fall out into traffic.  My friend and the jogger stayed back a bit and called the police.

She hadn't wanted us to call the police.  She said she was pyscho and had already been to the hospital twice in the last week for getting wasted.  We got her in to McDonalds where the manager was kind enough to buy her some food.  As she was eating and sitting with the jogger, my friend and I went outside to talk to the police before they came in.  Only our town would send 3 police trucks......

Anyway, the police (cute young men!) came in and took over.   We had to leave and get going so I don't know what happened but they were being very nice to her.  I'm sure they've seen this before.

I don't know why I felt compelled to blog about this other than it did not escape me that both my friend and I were talking about alcohol before we saw this woman who appeared to have just been dropped in front of us from a spaceship!

I think on our last walk, in June, my friend had been talking about a friend's daughter who had gotten drugged at a club.  It's so scary what can happen to someone.

If this girl truly didn't live in town, then she now had no ID or anything with which to fly home!  I remember a time I was at a club and left my purse.  Wouldn't you know the whole thing was turned into security and I got everything, phone, ID etc.  But I had to go down the next day with my son and explain that I accidentally left it when mommy was out to dinner with friends the night before.  Scary.

So glad I'm not putting myself in a place to be like that.  I am so done with not acting 46.  I finally feel grown up and at peace with myself, for the first time in a long time.  I know that giving up alcohol as the norm is what has allowed this.

I might still have a glass of wine when people come into town, but I know it's downside and will avoid that at all costs!  No more will I sit at night and numb myself to not avoid some emotion!!


Saturday, August 27, 2016

I had to know!!!

Warning:  Do not read if you are struggling with sobriety.  Only read if you are glad you are sober and in a good place.  Please.

After my post yesterday of viewing through different lenses, I have to admit, I really wanted to try wine again.  Not from a craving perspective really, more from a really strong curiosity.  Would it feel different after 125 days of not drinking any alcohol?

I'm not sure I ever want to try moderating again, I'm not sure I could.  I think the idea that I can drink every evening to relax will not be in my future.  Nor does it need to be.  I just wanted to see what it was like and then get on with my sobriety until I have really worked on more things in my life.  I still have weight to lose and other things to fix.

But...I'm so frustrated with the "letting myself down" feeling that I had, about how I drank previous, that I wanted to experiment to see how I would do.  I needed to feel accomplished in this area for some reason to continue to move forward.  I don't want to need to drink any more......ever again!

I never want to meet another hangover, meet my self-loathing self in the middle of the night, meet my fatter self, nor meet myself with a redder face!  I never want my child to ask me again..."mommy, you were funny last night...were you okay?"  NEVER!!

I've been a little annoyed at hubby who beelines for the bar the minute he gets home from work.  Even though he manages himself okay, I had a bit of attitude about it last night.  This is important because my evening arose from my trying to control him, not because I had a particular craving.

I told him that if he had a drink then I was going to need to have one as well.  That it was too hard for me to watch him run for the bar every evening.  (Not really, but it got my point across.) He said he would just have a Diet Coke.  So then, of course, I said "Honey, I have successfully gone 125 days as of today without a drop and it hasn't been that hard....why do you think I can't have a glass?"  After some "ahem"-ing he said "Okay, let's have a glass then.  If you want to just drink socially maybe you can".  See the dynamic here?  We were calling each other out!  I smiled, smugly, as he went to open the wine.

I decided to have two glasses of white wine last night to see how I would do.  White being the hardest for me to resist.  (I know, it's like I was in masochist mood...)

But.....What a letdown!  I took my first sip - blek, tasted horrible!!!  I think I have gotten used to the alcohol free sweet wine.  It tasted as if I was drinking gasoline....not that I have....but I speculate...

My hubby and I sat outside and enjoyed the sunset with thunder clouds rolling in.  I forced down more sips.  We chatted and admittedly I didn't feel much different.  I really wasn't sure how I could stomach getting the full glass down because of the bitter taste.  It took me about an hour.

What jumped out at me was we had the same easy going type of conversation we had been having over the last 100 or so days.  No different.  Alcohol wasn't bringing me anything special.

However, I noticed that after the hour I had a pleasant flush.  My hands, which ache constantly, didn't hurt as bad.  I felt really happy and content.  But then, I've been feeling pretty happy and content the last few days anyway.

I started on my second glass.  Hubby went to pick up food and I started jotting down my reactions so that I could blog about it today.

I switched to milk with dinner but I had begun to sense the danger zone, how easy it would be to have more.  My "off" switch was in danger of turning off, no matter what my resolve/thoughts.  I even had a thought that if hubby poured another, maybe I would.  He opened a Diet Coke.  (He knew I was watching him.) I never poured another.

While I was sipping, I had a great conversation with hubby about all the personal introspection I've been doing and what I want to do further with me and my life.  I don't want to use wine any more as a maintenance medication as I was before.  I'm not even sure it really should play a role in evening relaxing for me.  I just don't want to be afraid to have a glass if out with friends or having a glass at a wedding.

So there I was....with a pleasant flush.  The wine really tasted pretty much like shit but I could feel it's effect.  I now understand how I overlooked the taste of my $5 wine.

And you know what?  I got the beginnings of a headache.  Who needs this??  My sleep was fine but my mouth had an icky metallic taste in it this morning.  I am thirsty today, for water.

The wine isn't fixing anything, folks, it's just numbing.  We don't need this on a day to day basis.  Hats off to those who have chosen sobriety 100%.  I'm not sure I'm there yet but, strangely enough, I am actually closer after last night than before.  I recognize that I have to control the whole drinking process, so closely, or I can see how I would lose control.  It is so much easier to not even have to try.

I feel cleansed.  I even worked out this morning before I published this.  I'll say that again, I worked out!!  Wow, first time in many, many weeks.  Feel soo good.  It's like I needed last night as a kick start to moving forward.  I needed having a night of trying it.

I don't recommend my approach necessarily.  The circumstances of the evening sort of aligned to let it happen for me but it easily could have gone the wrong way, I know that.

Reading other blogs has hit home how hard it would be to stop if I really started again.  To those who posted about their struggles, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I really have tried to learn from those words. I don't want to go down that path and I really think you have saved me from it.

If you are still struggling, please don't try what I did.  I think how this process goes totally depends upon our mood, our physiology at the time of trying.  I've been saved by those who have gone before....that's the only reason I didn't go off into the abyss last night.

I needed to dip my toe in this ocean but that's what it is! An ocean that at times can seem benign and relaxing and at other times can whip up waves and, frankly, can kill you.

Strangely, I feel cleansed.  I'm going to continue with no drinking as a rule.  I'm struggling with how to count one sense I feel like I'm just on Day 125 again.  But then, I worry that takes away from those who have done straight time.  Yet, by counting all over I would present differently than someone at a first time Day 13. I just count to myself I guess.

Mrs. Mac commented about strengthening sober muscle.  That's what I feel like I did last night....and I may have just ordered my new lenses to try on!!

Not sure my husband is going to order new lenses but that's okay.  Trying to control him was wrong.  He knows he shouldn't drink as much but he needs to work through this on his own time, his own way. As long as he isn't affecting me I need to back off.  (Reinforcing this to myself by writing.)

Never underestimate your power to change yourself
Never overestimate your power to change others
Wayne W. Dyer


Friday, August 26, 2016

Viewing through different lenses

When I was little I used to love those little viewfinder toys where I could look through the world in different colors.  Sometimes I could make the world blue or rose colored.  I love kaleidoscopes for the same reason.  Depending upon the light in the background, the designs look different.

So much of our life depends upon what lens we are viewing things from.  We have the power to change out our lens but that isn't always obvious.  We get stuck viewing the world through foggy, chipped and maybe even broken lenses......why don't we just buy new glasses?  Easier said than done.

Yesterday I was emailing a gentleman about a sports program for my son.  He had posted a flyer, along with an early bird registration fee and a normal registration fee.  But they hadn't yet posted the actual dates/times/locations of the clinics and the early bird timeframe ran out in two days.

I decided to email the coach and mention that I had my son in another league as well and wanted to be sure it wouldn't conflict.  Could I back out later once the schedule was out and still get the early bird rate now?  (For a $25 difference I probably shouldn't have bothered but I was not really thinking this through, so I emailed my question.)

The response I got back was "we wish your son the best."  Huh?  What?  What did that mean?  Did I piss off the coach somehow by asking?  Did I screw up my chances for my son playing someday in this better league?  (I didn't think this better league had teams until later in the year so I was just going to have son take adavantage of the clinics and play in the lesser league for a few months, waiting until the better league organized for the winter.)

Oh, I agonized for a few minutes.  Felt stupid.  Bad mom.  Kicked myself.  Then I decided to pick up the phone and call the coach.  He answered and I started with "Coach, I am so sorry, this is ....and I have been emailing with you....Did I offend you in some way?  I totally didn't mean to."

Short ending version:  He hadn't read my email thoroughly to understand my question and thought it great that my son was doing the other league for now.  Turns out that the clinics I thought were the once a week clinics I had seen in the past, don't actually start until October.  These were more for kids who have been involved in the program for awhile and whom they are organizing into travel teams, so they want to see how they do.  These clinics are 3 times a week and not appropriate for my 8th grader.  Coach was wonderful, looking forward to having my son at the other clinics in the fall and just told me to sit tight until that flyer came out.  Then, after he does those clinics, he can become a part of the team for the Jan - May season.  Phew.

My point is that if I hadn't "attempted to change my lens" by picking up the phone to essentially validate or invalidate the lens through which I was looking...I wouldn't have known.

I saw this happen a lot in the corporate world.  I think it's more prevalent with email because it's hard to determine tone.  We can all get our panties in a wad and develop a pre-conceived notion of what someone meant.  We can then respond, if we aren't careful, in a way that may put that other person's panties in a wad!

I use this lens metaphor in my thoughts on drinking as well.  When I first quit drinking I viewed drinking through the lens of "it is a relaxing thing, it makes me feel good, oh goodness I am depriving myself".   Once I had a month or so under my belt I had changed my lens to "I don't want to drink because it makes me feel bad, I feel so much better now"  even if I still had some cravings.

At this point, at day 125, my thought is "I may drink again someday but not until I view drinking completely different, through a new lens."  I can't drink until I have that lens in place.  That lens would be one that allows me to acknowledge the relaxation that may occur with glass or two of wine per night.  It would view drinking as not in my best interest if I have more than two glasses and that I would need to still have some nights with no drinking.  This lens will not allow me to view drinking as a form of complete escape and numbing.

I honestly don't know if I can ever get there.  Time will tell.  I really wanted a glass of wine last night with family here but deep down I am not ready.  So I said I would re-evaluate after dinner and then once I had a full belly, the desire had passed.

This whole thought process of a lens came to me via a conversation I had yesterday about my inability to work out.  As I have said, when I am actually doing it, I like it.  It's the "doing" it that I have issue with.  My starter is broken.

Haha, with drinking my "off" switch is broken, with exercise my "on" switch is broken.

I realized that I have a lot of hang ups about exercise that come from my past.  So, duh, if I don't feel adequate about exercise and who I am as a person in regard to it, then no wonder I don't want to do it.  My lens through which I view exercise needs to be changed.  

So I'm going to spend time exploring and working to change the lens through which I view exercise and then also how I view the life I am in.   I know from a logical standpoint that I have worked hard and I have nice life.

I just need to find a way to change the lens through which I view myself.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Realizing deep-seated inadequacy

I've been mulling over prior blog post comments and thinking about my post of yesterday.  This has been a very introspective process for me. I've redrafted this post 5 or 6 times to get my thoughts down accurately.

One comment from yesterday was that maybe I need a reason to hate myself.  Lol, I can see where that perspective can come from.  However, I think I am still just trying to find a reason that I drank!  Maybe there just isn't any true excuse!

Today, I've boiled it all down to this:  any unhappiness I have in life at this moment really comes from not living up to my potential.  I'm not who I envisioned I would be/could be.  I'm okay, don't get me wrong, and still a happy person in general.....but when I get moody, a little down, a little edgy or a little irritable, I think it really has to do with this......feeling like I failed myself as to where I have ended up.  And then I take it out on everyone else!

When I'm feeling good, this doesn't bother me.  When I'm low, it's there, niggling at my self-esteem.

I have always loved who I am, still do.  I just have these emotions that bubble up from time to time, that I suppress and push back down below the surface.  I don't feel that I hate myself....more like I have some issues that I have chosen to ignore but am now, finally, needing to address.  I believe these issues from my past affect my life in the present and I need to put them to bed.

When I say I have a problem with physical fitness I really mean something deeper.  If I put my mind to it, I can exercise.  I just tend to start and stop it.  Sure I can try different things to shake it up a bit, avoid boredom.  And, when I'm exercising, I do that.   I actually like exercise.....when I do it.  I feel good about myself while I'm doing it and after I do it.  You'd think I'd want to feel good about myself so just would keep doing it.

I've been reading through Sober Revolution by Sarah Turner and Lucy Rocca at the suggestion of some blog post I read.  There was some line that went something like "as long as you have an emotional or physical dependence on alcohol, then you won't be able to moderate and drink normally." I probably didn't get it fully correct but that's what I took from it.

It's the same for me with exercise.  I have an emotional issue with physical fitness which leads me to not do it consistently.  More than just needing to be determined.   I'm sure a lot of people don't really like exercise (and some really do) but they make time for it.  Like taking out the trash.  You just have to do it and it's part of life.

I think that I feel VERY inadequate whenever I exercise.  I'm never working at it as hard as I can. I quit on it.  Whenever I exercise it forces me to address this huge feeling of failure so that even while I feel good doing the exercise, I never feel like I did enough, did it right, etc.  I have tried personal training and I dread working with the trainer.  I feel like I'm made of lead and all my emotional energy is sapped when I meet with that person.  I suffer through the workout.

What a mind game I put myself through eh?  I know now that this mind game comes from the past.

I've been blocking out a massive feeling of inadequacy that I don't want to admit.  I was an honors student in high school, I had my pilots license at 17, I volunteered, I held a job, but I wasn't very into sports.  My parents worked growing up and I wasn't exposed to sports.  They certainly never had time for it so they never brought that into my life. I never saw them "work out" other than take some walks.  It never occurred to me to run or lift weights.

By the time I got to high school I realized I was kind of behind the power curve.  I didn't know how to work out to keep in shape.  I thought I could swim like a fish so I tried out for the swim team....turns out you had to do a flip turn....what was that?  I could swim, throw, and run.....but it was like taking a cold water bath as I came to understand that, while I thought I was fairly athletic, I couldn't keep up with others.  And yet, I wanted to go into the military....

Oops, that made sense, hmm?  I worked out enough to pass the entrance tests.  Then I was suddenly surrounded by gung-ho physical fitness crazies who liked to, holy cow, run for fun!  At 6am and yell songs!!  They enjoyed that shit and it was a stress reliever from the rest of the military system.  It was not for me.  I hated that part and enjoyed the rest!

My feelings of inadequacy in this area took hold.  I gained weight as I got older and the uniforms never quite fit right.  I always wanted to be fitter and look better than I did.  I really struggled through my years in the service in this area.

How did I deal with this?  I left the military.  I have to be one of the few who ever left the military primarily because of a feeling of inadequacy over physical fitness and uniform appearance.  I wasn't even fat.  I swam my physical fitness tests so I could get out of running but I always passed, could do the minimum of whatever was required....which is still a lot more than being a couch potato.  But it was always the minimum.  It wasn't as if I tried to do the minimum either!  I agonized and stressed out over every test.  I wanted to do better.  I couldn't or, should I say, I just didn't.

(There is another post brewing here.....about not pushing myself.  Not being competitve even with myself.  I work to keep my life incredibly balanced but I don't push myself beyond my perceived comfort zone.....hmmm..)

I made a life choice that I "think" I shouldn't have made just because of "how" I made it.  In retrospect I think I should have stayed in, made the military a career.  I've always said to others that I wanted to leave for this reason or that reason....but I really didn't.  It was perfect for me in so many ways.  I loved the job itself, loved dedicating myself to my country.  I left because I didn't want to wear a uniform any more, I couldn't cover up a 5lb gain in a tailored pant, and it was getting harder and harder to keep up with exercise.

This is the first time I have EVER admitted this out loud.   Getting out of the military put me on a different course.  I took a different path.  On the one hand I own all my decisions and would say, most of the time, that I have a very nice life.  On the other hand there are times, usually when I'm stressed about something, where I beat myself up for where I am, the choices I have made.  And it's not like I've really even made any bad choices!

I just need to learn to accept how I got here and stop grieving for lost opportunities...and stop letting some deep rooted feelings hold me back from wherever I need to go next.  I've stopped drinking away those feelings but now I need to deal with these feelings. That is what I am trying to tackle.

That's what this whole exercise thing is about and I just wanted to try and clarify....more for myself than anyone else.  I have drunk for years, I believe, as a means of not addressing the grief I feel over decisions I made based upon something that seems, when I try to articulate it, so petty, so inconsequential.  When I let myself think about why I left the military, I feel ashamed.  Not proud of myself.  I couldn't live up to my expectation for myself.

I also need to learn to feel comfortable pushing myself.....not sure why I don't.

I suppose this is just a lesson in forgiveness.  We can't change our pasts.  We all have to forgive ourselves but we CAN address things, face them head on NOW and keep them from holding us back in the future.

I don't want my physical fitness to influence my self esteem anymore!  I just want it to nicely fit into my life where it belongs, a part of the whole.....not a shameful part.



Sunday, August 21, 2016

My REAL problem

Well, that old cliche....the first step toward fixing a problem is admitting you have one.....

My last blog post mentioned that I needed to fix other things in my life before I go back to drinking.  Exercise was listed first and then I mentioned some other things.  However, I realize now that I intentionally diluted the importance of #1 by mentioning the others.  I didn't want to admit how much of a problem exercise is in my life.  But then.....I read something the other day online that stuck with me and made me focus on this issue for what it is.

So here, to all of you, I am fessing up. My BIG problem is exercise, lack thereof, and general physical fitness.  I HATE myself for this.  I am so ENVIOUS of others who can exercise regularly.

I was even in the military years ago and, still, I hated the exercise part of it.  Honestly, I might have stayed in the military had it not been for the physical fitness emphasis. How lame is that? (Gosh, admitting that makes me cry.)

I was able to limp by for years and look relatively fit.  (I can walk/hike pretty far.....that doesn't feel like exercise and it has probably been my saving grace for not wasting away, but I can't get motivated to do it consistently let alone do more.)  I don't have a huge appetite so I never had a real problem with weight although I would like to be thinner.....don't most of us?  I've generally been able to eat (and drink) like crap and get away with it.

As I've gotten older and saw this lifestyle catch up with me, I decided I better tackle something.  Do you think I tackled this primary issue?  No.  I chose to tackle alcohol first.  But that's okay, gotta start somewhere.The problem is that fixing alcohol in my life was a decoy, a distraction from what I really hate about myself!!

The drinking got to be a problem for all the reasons I listed, but I have been really wondering why it has been so easy for me to stop.  I had years and years of saying I would stop but never really putting my mind to it.  Every evening, or every few days, I would be back to drinking.  I think, deep down, I knew, that if I stopped drinking, I would have to focus on this other element of my life.

When I first seriously tried to quit because of all my "reasons", I did so for 2 weeks.  Then I decided I could moderate....but I couldn't.  Okay, try again.  This time I have come this far with relative ease.

I haven't started drinking again, simply and only, because I feel that I won't be able to I keep questioning why do I feel that way?  Why won't I moderate?  What is my underlying reason for thinking this? Something was niggling at me.  The further along I have gotten, the more depressed I have become.  Maybe depressed isn't the right word, more like just really bummed.

The first few months were such an accomplishment but, now that I've succeeded, the underlying feelings of being "low" have been bubbling up.  The self-loathing is still there.

This morning I realized why.

My issue really isn't the alcohol.  Some of you may be saying "duh" at this point.  (I have a feeling many of us have underlying issues and we use alcohol to mask them.)

My issue is exercise.  I hate it.  I will do anything to avoid it.  I am blogging now when I should be moving other muscles instead.  My feelings of self-loathing because I don't work out enough were dulled by alcohol.  Without it in my system, I am having to admit that I have a real problem with exercise.

I'm not sure where this has come from but I am going to stop focusing on drinking and focus instead on my issue with exercise.  I go through phases where I do well but then I always quit.

The same struggle I see people going through with alcohol has been what I go through with exercise!!  Those who have seen my comments can sense my envy when I read about people working out, eating better.

You could be a person who works out, eats well and still can't stop drinking.  I read your blog and am in serious envy about the exercise and diet!!!  That's all I can focus on.

I needed to write this down to get going in the right direction.  You won't believe the way I rationalized not walking the dogs this morning.  I struggled about the need to get out the door.  Husband is away until tonight and he normally runs them in the morning.  I was motivated to take them for a walk...until I wasn't.  So I'm going to swim them and play THEM exercise, not ME!!  :-(  I really hate this about myself.

I over-accomplish in all other areas of my life to compensate for how poorly I feel about my attitude toward exercise.  My job runs smooth, my house is tidy, my finances are good, my family is cared for, I'm super organized, etc.  I'd rather pay bills than exercise!!!

So I decided today that I need to approach a change to this as seriously as I did to quit drinking.  When you are going to quit drinking, the advice seems to be....plan for it!  Pick a date to quit and plan how you are going to do it.  I'm not sure when/how I'll make this change regarding exercise but at least I'm admitting the problem and I shall begin to plan for the change!

I'm going to write my lists and add them to this blog.  Why I need to exercise, why I like not exercising.  Sort of like why I need to quit drinking versus what I like about drinking.

It is time for another change.  So this blog is going to turn into a reason to change my attitude toward physical fitness, and, optimistically, eventually, diet as well.   It's going to morph into a "start exercising" blog.

I quit my ALCOHOL habit, now I'm going to quit my ANTI EXERCISE habit.  If I ever decided to try alcohol again, I'll let you know but right now I don't even want to!

Wow, how strangely good it feels to unload this onto my blog.  Blogging kept me accountable to myself when quitting alcohol, I hope it works that way for exercise.

Wish me luck on ending habit #2.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

SHOULD I or CAN I drink again?

Day 117  (had to count on calendar!)

I haven't decided on forever.  I just like how I feel right now.

I've been reading another blog about contemplating moderation.  I still want to, hope to, as well.

Maybe I have to try know once and for all.  I've never had an extended period without alcohol other than a two week period where I went back to drinking.  Previously, I tried to moderate daily amidst drinking.  That didn't work.  The question of "am I ready to try again" plagues me daily even though I don't really have cravings.  I just wish I could partake along with my husband.

I was able to quit this time... and I love many things about not being who I was before the last 117 days.  I love reading my lists and saying "nope, not me anymore."  I desperately don't want to go back to where I was.

The problem is that I do believe there are some health benefits to relaxing the body with some alcohol.  It is a drug, yes.  But I'm just not at the point where I think it's horrible and that it's so bad for me that that is the reason alone why I should not drink.  Trust me, I've read hundreds of articles on both sides of this argument.

I am a Libra.  Any other fellow Libras may understand the huge problem/blessing that I have.  I can see ALL sides of any issue.  Politics stress me out because I can see everyone's viewpoint.  I can make decisions but I like to have all the facts.  I never feel like I have all the information I need when it comes to voting.

I like to understand everyone's viewpoint and then I can decide upon a course of action.  Strangely enough, I do make decisions easily and stick with them.  I'm confident in expressing my view when I'm sure of it.  But I often don't like debating because I constantly want to say, "well, yes you have a point....".

I think the reason I was able to quite this time is that I finally had enough information to make a decision.  All the reasons in my list laid it out for me.  It was time to stop.  I couldn't drink anymore the way in which I was.  Wine had a become a problem.  I needed to change.  Bam.  Easy.  Then quit.  So I did.

But...the internal (and external information) debate about whether I SHOULD drink or not is stressful.  The debate about whether I CAN drink is a bit more black and white.

Should I?  I think, yes, I should. IF I can drink moderately, I should drink a glass of wine at night while relaxing with the hubby and talking about our day.  Then be done.  Switch to something else.  I think having a glass socially at a bar, or while having dinner with friends, can be relaxing.  I think I have a better relationship with my hubby if I relax a bit in the evening.  I do feel there are some health benefits to the body by relaxing it.

Can I?  That's a whole other story.  I'm so stressed about whether I "can" that it's anxiety causing.  I'm afraid to try again and fail.  I'm afraid to come to this blog and admit I tried again.  But I may need to. I'm not sure.

The fact that I'm waffling tells me I'm not ready now regardless.  It's as if "drinking again" is at the bottom of the list of all the things that have to be done in my life first.  I suppose that is a safe enough spot and I'll just leave it there.  It takes the stress off me when I think of it that way.

So I won't even contemplate drinking again until I have done the following:

1) Incorporated exercise back into my life
2) Made some dietary changes to gain more energy
3) Incorporate some relaxation techniques into my life - meditation/yoga/somesuch
4) Lost some more weight
5) Worked through some personal issues with ex
6) Become more relaxed about my life in general

Then, I'll contemplate it again and go from there.  But I will stop thinking about it right now in terms of "should I" or "can I".  And.....I can re-evaluate the "should I" once I think I can.

There.  Feeling better.  Onward with my day.  If you read this far your head is probably spinning. Welcome to my life.  :-)

Friday, August 12, 2016

The craving switch

Day 111

My husband has the cutest expressions after drinking. Tonight he came home and had downed 4 large glasses of red within about an hour and fifteen minutes.  It was interesting to watch how his facial expressions changed with each glass.....brows became more furrowed, jaw a little slacker.  Speaking seemed to become slower as if he was trying harder to enunciate.  He was more smiley and looser.

He wasn't what I would call drunk in any meaningful way.  He was coherent, tracking what I was saying, and holding up his end of the conversation.  I had fed the kids early so he was going to get himself dinner.  After these 4 glasses he nonchalantly stopped drinking, got up and went to the kitchen to prepare chili for himself, cutting vegetables without cutting himself, not spilling on the floor, not tripping on his feet.  But he was visibly relaxed.

I was envious enough to jot this down tonight.

He had the majority of these glasses sitting with me (and my alcohol free wine) in the living room, chatting about our day and what went on for each of us.  He was giving me time and sharing his life with me.  He was petting the animals and enjoying his evening.

Before I quit drinking I would have woken up in the morning thinking "I won't drink today."  Then, by cocktail hour I would have said "oh I will just have one".  Then after one glass, "oh, I will just have one more."  Then, screw it, this feels good, might as well keep pouring.  If there was only one bottle I would get dinner made.  If I opened a second...... hubby usually made dinner.  He has never complained when that happened.

I sat here tonight wondering "why am I able to not give in to the wine witch now, when, time after time, I was not able to?"  For me I think it boils down to this:

1) Early on it was all grit and determination.
2) Then, it was still grit and determination but also I had days under my belt.  I didn't want to start over.  I told myself I could just moderate someday when I was ready.
3) Then, when I wasn't craving wine as much anymore, I focused on how I felt when I had been drinking.  I knew I didn't ever feel good about myself the next day.  Still some determination to just not try it and a lot of time behind me so that relapse wasn't worth it.
4) Then, I started thinking about whether I really even wanted it anymore and realizing I really didn't. Perhaps I didn't even want to moderate, didn't want to risk going back to where I had been.
5) Now I am in the phase of wondering why I ever wanted it. But... I KNOW why I wanted it. I just wanted to tune out.

Tonight's envy toward my husband was simply wanting to tune out and relax as easily as he was.  He can use alcohol this way.  I don't think I can anymore.  I no longer associate my evening "cravings" with a craving for wine.  It's just a craving to tune out, to chill, to relax.  But I know now that alcohol can't be that mechanism and I'm learning to turn to other things.

Reading blogs is helpful.  I have gotten to know so much about people based upon their blogs that I find myself checking in just to hear what's up.  Not so much about the alcohol role in their life but about their stresses and how they resolve them, reading about entertaining pet and children stories, and living vicariously through their travels.

I also read books, organize things, surf the news online, etc.  There is always something I can be doing to distract the "numb out craving" as I am coming to call it instead of a wine craving.

I feel as if I "switch" has been flipped.  I think I mentioned this awhile ago but I've switched out other things in my life.

I switched from Pepsi to Diet Pepsi all at once and never looked back.  I switched from using sugar to sweetener and from one sweetener to the next in search of the "least bad for you" option, without ever looking back.  I've switched from white bread to grain bread.  (Don't jump on me for these poor food point is that I switched!)  I knew I had the complete freedom to go back to Pepsi, sugar and white bread but I don't feel deprived.

I feel the same, sort of, about wine.  I have just switched.  I drink my "unleaded" wine and others drink "leaded."  I can go back if I want to, but I don't want to.

Now I just need to swap out:
1) Lethargy for exercise
2) Alcohol free wine for a less caloric and less laxative-like option such as...hmm...water??
3) Chocolate for carrots

Somehow I fear the first 111 days might have been easier...........

Friday, August 5, 2016

Beyond 100

I haven't had much to say to myself (or you all) this past week or so.  I've been busy so I have spent what free moments I have just checking up on other blogs and commenting when I am able.

I don't have anything particularly deep to say but I wanted to record my thoughts about getting to Day 100.  I haven't set any further goals.  I still don't think of myself as a non-drinker, just someone who isn't drinking right now.

The further out I get, the thought of drinking again gets fuzzier and fuzzier. I thought I would try to delineate the phases I have gone through and then I can add to them later.

Days 1 to 30:  Seriously motivated to hit 30 days.  Head down, trudging along, trying to be positive.  I just didn't give myself the option to drink even a sip.  I was motivated to exercise and enjoyed getting a full nights sleep.  At first I tried to avoid the things I did while drinking.  Then, I pretty much realized that everything in my life involved drinking... then I reinvented how I drank and still did the same things, but with alcohol free drinks in hand.  Blogging kept me on the straight and narrow as well.  I professed my goals and couldn't bear to have to report to all of you that I caved on those goals.  I still think blogging is 100% related to my making it to Day 30.  For me, that was the difference from prior times I had tried to quit.  I can't even write strongly enough about what the support here has done for me.  Thanks to all who commented and encouraged me, especially when I needed it most!

By Day 30 I had perfected my stash of non-alcoholic wines/beers that I learned to mix with sparkling lemon, tonic, Perrier, etc to make them less sweet and more dry.  I'm okay with the various beers and those are great for afternoons but, for cocktail hour, Ariel Chardonnay wins hands down for me as a replacement.  It's not a trigger for me, just allows me to partake in the social aspect of drinking.  I can drink 2 full glasses and be done, feel mellow even from just the motion of drinking.  So I'm still spending money but I only drink 1/4 or 1/2 of a bottle per night, and not every night, so I figure I'm still saving some $$ overall.

I learned that alcohol dulls the "satiated" meter in us.  I don't eat 5 donuts at once because I know they are bad for me.  I don't drink right now because I know it is bad for me.  I also know that likely after 2 donuts my body would say stop.  I know that alcohol turns off that mechanism for me and if I start, I won't stop!

Days 30 to 50 were sort of a pink cloud of accomplishment.  Exercise was going well, I lost a couple of pounds.  I still needed my blogging although I was yearning to stop thinking about quitting drinking as much.  I found myself getting distracted by following blogs, commenting and coming up with my own posts.  I was preoccupied with thinking I could moderate and just didn't know when the right time would be.  I thought that I must not have really had a bad issue with wine if I quit so easily.  (Had to go back and re-read my earlier posts to remind myself this was not the case!)

Day 50ish was a turn to the blah.  Exercise went out the window.  I've gained back a few pounds but overall I'm still a pretty happy person.  I've been grieving the losses in my life that I never had the proper chance to grieve.  Hence I think why I have had the blahs.

Day 75ish became medical issues.  Funny enough, my headaches have greatly subsided on their own despite my doctor still doing testing.  I had hot flashes for about 2 to 3 weeks and now they are gone.  Odd.  I may have experienced medical PAWS, not sure.  I also had an "aha" moment based upon another blog.  I really do think alcohol manufactured emotions in me that I don't really have... as opposed to just opening up a vent for me to blow off steam about suppressed emotions.  I would be agitated in ways that I'm not now over stuff that, looking back, didn't make much sense.  I used to feel justified if I argued under the influence....knew I was right....apologized for the behavior the next day but not my underlying gripe.  I don't have the gripes anymore that I used to.  Life seems easier to navigate.  Hmmm....

At Day 106, I'm just still continuing to not drink.  I'm no longer pre-occupied with moderation.  I'm actually now not sure it's worth the risk.  Continual reading of others' stories has changed that perspective for me.  The odds seem so high that I will go right back to where I was that it doesn't seem worth it.  I've found my drinks that work for me so I don't really feel like I'm missing out.  If I go to the airport to pick up someone, I can still sit in the bar if I want to....I just have an O'Douls. Occasionally I feel the need to just "tune" out but understand that it's not the wine I need, it's the escape.  So I just focus on finding a different spaceship to blast off a book, a walk, a tv show, etc.

What's ahead?....I will be VERY wary, don't worry, but I feel like the alcohol habit has been forever long as I avoid it.  So now I can go focus on the exercise, putting the past to rest, and identifying goals to move forward toward.  Step by step, day by day.  I also look forward to continually reading others' stories, to connect on that level that I choose not to with anyone in my day to day life other than select family members....and to blog myself when the urge hits!

I'm sort of also toying with a goal of 365 days......sort of.....  :-)