Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Little Struggle-y

This has been a week. Life is in one of those sort of weird trampoline moments where it feels up and then down, and then up and then maybe face plant. 

I have been thinking so much about drinking this week. Out of the blue, suddenly and without warning. I almost teared up thinking of a gin martini driving home from work. I keep looking at the back porch thinking about getting it ready for us to use and feeling so so sad that I won't be out there swilling wine, smoking cigs well into the night for the spring and summer. Ugh, I know. Doesn't that sound so...awful? And yet so much like my real life that I want to throw it on like an old sweater then quickly turn my head so I can't see this pretty life over here. 

It's hard to get used to me this week. I'm doing with sweets what I used to do with booze, without the hangover and blackouts which is nice, but still that out of control behavior that makes me so mad at me. Which means something is bothering me, but I don't know what it is yet, and instead of doing some soul searching to figure it out I've been downing cheesecake and cookies and jelly beans. And salted caramel popcorn. And cherry cheese coffee cake.  And maybe helping bite the heads off of chocolate Easter bunnies. 

That's the hardest part too, the part where even though I'm not pounding away at the chardonnay I'm still carrying on with the defeating behavior. It's like I'm eight years old and I'm trying to get away with something. And I know I won't get in trouble because I'm the parent and the child. But then I'm not in trouble, I'm just silently beaten up in my head all day, so I didn't get away with anything. Anything at all.

Deep breath. 

Do you ever get through a week and wonder who lived your part? If it was even you since someone made all these bad decisions and now here you are scratching your head without a clue who it was that thought all that junk was a good idea? And how even though I don't drink anymore I'm still behaving like an alcoholic? How that's not fucking fair because I don't drink anymore

I'm not good at struggle. I'm not good at not looking the part- you know, the part. The one where life is good, everything is fine. I cannot be vulnerable or people will think I'm weak. And if I'm weak then I'm not doing it right. And, hold up. People might see the real me. Who I'm really starting to like, but I'm delicate. I don't need folks tromping all over my fresh new feelings. I mean, it is spring over here y'all. My tender emotions still need time to get middle-of-summer-leaves tough. 

The boys are gone for the whole week on spring break with their grandparents. I've been thinking about going to a...meeting. I adore everyone here (more than you could ever know since you can't see my face, nor I yours) but I also may need some face time. Some real arms to hug and say "It's OK" that don't belong to my husband or my mom. A friend or two who knows what I'm going through and can stand to talk about it for a long time, more than once. I need some reinforcements. Eyes to look into and voices that say, "I understand exactly where you're coming from. There, there."

I don't know how I feel about the whole premise of AA. It doesn't feel "right for me". And by "right for me" I mean, well....the religious thing. I love the thought of love and faith. But do I believe there's some entity controlling all of this? Well, no. No I don't. I'm not a fan of religion per se. This is a hard thing to explain. I could be all about surrender, and be powerless to control what happens except for me and my choices. That is true. I have always loved the singing at church, so maybe I can find a singing AA group and go from there. AA feels sort of brain-wash-y to me. I don't know. I just don't know.

So here I am again. I have to kind of laugh at myself since I've finally taken some time to sit and think. You know, THINK. Work through some shit. Tie up some of the loose ends that have been noisily flapping around in my head all week. Taking a few minutes to batten down the hatches, put down the cookies, and get on with it. 


  1. Amy,
    I have not had a drink in almost a year and a half and I still get those pangs, out of the blue. I'll be driving down the road and thinking about taking a trip somewhere and all of a sudden it hits me that I'll never get to drink wine in Tuscany. It hurts. So I tell myself, "Maybe in ten years, I'll go to Tuscany and I'll let myself have some wine. This is probably not what the experts prescribe, but it works for me.

    I do have pangs for more immediate occasions too, but what I've found is that the pangs come in anticipation of the occasion but I rarely suffer from them when the occasion is actually happening. I hope this turns out to be the same for you.

    Ah, the sugar cravings, I still have those too. You know that they don't all spring from emotional weakness, don't you? There is a physical reason for our cravings. I think now that we've ridded ourselves of the reason (booze) that we used for so long as an excuse not to take control of the other areas of our lives, we think it all should be easier, but even normies have trouble with overeating, or not exercising, or family problems...normal people struggle all their lives with those things. That is what life is, a big obstacle course that we have to get through.

    We have beat, or are beating, an addiction, girlfriend. That is one fucking huge obstacle. Don't ever forget it. In fact, celebrate it every chance you get. Does that mean the rest of the course will be easy? Hell, no, in fact sometimes it's going to seem like now we're going to get even more difficult obstacles than others, because we've already proven ourselves! But don't you think the rewards will be greater too? Already we've got something that others don't have, we have the assurance that we are strong enough and that if we are persistent and if we don't give up we can overcome any obstacle. We are fucking mighty!!

    1. Don't know if it helps any, but when I was trying to drop the sugar thing several years ago, I would let myself have one bite per day of absolutely anything I wanted. My brain knew I could have it, so it tamed the screaming inside, but it was still only one bite instead of the whole candy bar that I would have eaten before. I'd walk to the corner store and buy the best candy bar and take the one bite and dump the rest in a very gross trash can. I didn't keep it in the house at all during that time, so this may not be as easy if you have kids.

    2. I don't think it's "weakness", more lack of control. I "should" be able to say no after three cookies, not just have eight, feel a little sick, and wish I'd stopped. More practice. :)

      I feel strong and proud even when I feel guilty and stupid. Eight cookies is no where near equal to eight glasses of wine.

      It's funny- no one in the house is a sweet tooth except me. The kiddos can take it or leave it. My husband rarely has dessert. If I don't buy it I can't eat it. :)

  2. Such a wonderful post, I can relate to all of it! I've been sober few years now and just the other day I had that "I miss it" feeling! But the great thing about sobriety is that you can make new memories... You can create new ways to spend your nights... nights that you will remember and cherish forever!

    Oh and the sugar carvings are understandable, alcohol has good amounts of sugar, so our bodies crave it. I still have my sugar days, especially when I am stressed, but mostly I "chug" coffee! Lol! Be easy on yourself, at least sugar can't make you drunk!

    And all the things you said about AA, me too! The religion thing was very difficult for me, but it was explained that I can choose a higher power of my choice, just anything that i consider stronger than me, my first HP was a huge, old tree in my backyard :)

    Hang in, really, you are right were you are supposed to be, even if you don't believe it. This is partof growth, it doesn't feel good, it maybe treacherous, it might make you feel uncomfortable and like you are riding a roller coaster! It is very ok to have these feelings. It is ok to struggle.

    1. I think I'm starting to get a handle on the emotions of it, and now I'm looking to connect spiritually with other people and finding a faith and a belief or several to meditate on, to trust, to hold close.

      I love trees too. :) I've been known to hug more than a few.

  3. Love your voice! Heard someone say on the BFB (booze free brigade) recently "been 90 days, getting a handle on being sober, maybe now I'm ready to start healing." That struck me because in early sobriety, as I am (60 days), its everything to just hold on & create a different normal. I think eventually you are ready for something bigger. Maybe AA will be that something bigger for you.I have the same struggles with AA as you do & haven't gone either. Kinda scared that it will be like everything else, I attend once & suddenly I'm the treasurer & I have to host a freaking bake sale every week!
    Can't wait to hear more of your journey. I too am a 41yr. Old mother of 2 boys who loves yoga & running & you feel like a kindred spirit!

    1. We sound so much alike. :)

      I look forward to hearing about what you're up to, too.

      I wonder if we get to a point where we start to trust that self and that's when we start to look deeper, where it stops being all about not drinking and becomes about just being.

  4. Damn ! I wrote the best comment and it disappeared.
    let's re-cap....
    Struggles are good, you are human, you are doing an amazing and brave thing, and it can't all be unicorn farts and puffy clouds.
    Sugar is not your enemy. Booze is. the sugar thing can be handled down the line, but your alcoholism wants you to think you are bad for trying to pay attention to anything else...don't buy it. I am 2 years sober and started addressing my sugar this last January, I am doing well, but it was time,. i couldn't have done it before. You will know, relax. You are doing great.
    AA...i went in sullen, angry pissed off, judgemental and an atheist. i am still an atheist, tho with an HP (hey, it can work, ask your friend with the tree!), What works for me is the connection to others walking the sober path, teaching me how to live in the world sober when that's the last thing I know how to do. Give it a chance..nothing to lose. try a few meetings because they all have different feelings, If you find a good fit you'll know it.

    And give yourself a break. this is a monumental task..just because it has been relatively easy up to now doesn't mean there won't be other struggles..they come and go. It's nice to have face to face contact with people and tools to work when you're feeling this way, which AA will give you.

    You are doing great!

    1. I hate when they disappear. :/

      Struggles are good, and I do feel amazing, and brave. But some days I have to burrow my head in the sand and then try to come up for air. It's like I need to feel sorry for myself. That's a hard thing for me to admit, that I'm sad, or struggling, or feeling like I'm not doing it right. (whatever that is)

      I am too hard on myself. And that's when the disconnect comes and I find myself at the end of the row of cookies kind of blindsided. Like, um...who ate all those cookies? Oh, shit. ME.

      Where this idea of how my life should be came from I want to fling it right back. The smoke is still clearing. A lot.

    2. this part is genius: Sugar is not your enemy. Booze is. the sugar thing can be handled down the line, but your alcoholism wants you to think you are bad for trying to pay attention to anything else...don't buy it.
      i agree a billion percent. cake is good. it will ease. one thing at a time. don't worry, be sober :)

  5. My biggest struggle too is vulnerability. I can't fail at anything. I hate to show weakness, have far too much pride.

    When we admit to having a problem with alcohol then we remove the alcohol and we are not "fixed", it is hugely frustrating. That ought to be enough, come on!! Do they know how hard it is to live without it in a booze obsessed society. Give me a break.
    But really, deep down we have always know that alcohol wasn't our problem it was just what we used to drown out feelings we didn't want to deal with. Now we are peeling back the layers and seeing what we buried, dealing with each one at a time. Some days better than others.
    When I quit drinking I really didn't know that I would be signing up for a naval gazing journey. But I will do whatever it takes not to feel like I did when I drank and to understand what I was running away from.
    I suppose we have to admit that something was already broken before we started drinking too much. When we remove the alcohol, the stuff we were drinking over is still there and ready to come back up to the surface to be dealt with.
    I feel the same as you do about AA. But if doing this without AA every becomes an overwhelming struggle, then I have promised myself that I will go and having that at the back of my mind is reassuring, in a scary kind of way.

    Like sobriety, I am sure that the positives of AA far, far outweigh any negative preconceptions we have about it.

    Big huge hugs from the cyber rehab world (())
    Carrie x

    1. Thanks Carrie, sometimes all the introspection is a little tiring. Or a lot tiring. I often wonder if other people think themselves to bits like I do. I'm trying though!

      I'm still on the fence about AA. Especially after seeing it represented in an episode of "House of Cards"- it seemed very programmed. More time to ponder...

      Hugs back sister! xoxo

  6. Look up Post Acute Withdrawl Syndrome. It sounds like you're right on schedule.

    1. HOLY SHIT!!!! That sounds pretty right on to me! Now I have to read it more.

  7. Pretty sweet comments so far...I really can't add much to what has been said, Amy.

    First of all I think this was a kick-ass post in terms of honesty and vulnerability. That weakness you think others will perceive is not weakness - it's actually strength. When we have dialogues like this (look at the length of comments made - this is heady stuff), we grow. We learn to show each other our hands...the cards that we used to hold tight to our chest. I was the same - don't get a leg up on me, keep quiet, be the put-together one, be strong, etc. But under all that was a wounded kid who never got the chance to heal, to learn to be a grown-up. Booze filled the void instead. And now, as mentioned so well in the above comments, we remove the booze, and we still have that frightened child who tears up at the thought of a gin martini.

    I don't know you other than your writing. What I have seen, and have mentioned this here before, is a sort of growth, of maturity. It's no longer the "f*** off and die" anthem chanting to the inner voice of alcoholism, but a deeper understanding of where it takes you. You are experiencing how cunning, baffling and powerful it can be. It morphs, it changes, it waits...patiently. You are intuitively seeing this, experiencing how it's no longer just a don't drink journey. And *that's* the powerful and amazing thing about this. The journey is the destination, and we live our lives in a way that precludes alcohol and involves growing in our selves and getting comfortable in our own skin and helping others. You help others here with your writing and support.

    So as far as the AA - you know I am an AA dude, so that makes me happy to hear. Go - with your conceptions and ideas...that's totally cool. I don't think there is one person alive who went to AA without conceptions and ideas. I did. And if it's your bag, then rock on. If not, then that's your journey as well. Just go with an open heart and open mind. I try to get through my day with those all my affairs and endeavors. But what you said about open arms, very important. I love my blog buddies, and my recovery forum mates and chums, and my email pals...but I need human contact. i need hands to feel on mine, eyes to look into, voices to hear crack or cackle...a hug when I am feeling good or not so good. An arm around the shoulder. You understand that, and that alone will be worth the price of admission (nothing) at the meeting.

    Sugar? ha ha - we're alcoholics, and it's my opinion we're sugar addicted. I know I was, and like you, I was starting to use it like alcohol. And it got worse for me. Not to say it does for everyone, but it did for me, and I had to strike it from my life as well...been about three months for me. It's about a 99% no sugar diet. Anything with 5 grams or less of sugar and I can have it. I don't always, but I can. And that works for me. it was another coping mechanism for me, and I had to eliminate that, to peel the onion further, as was mentioned.

    Wonderful post, wonderful responses.

    Good thing I didn't have much to add, eh? ha ha.

    Blessings to you,

    1. Paul, you are awesome.

      And hilarious. With not a lot to say. ;)

      Helping others, and helping myself. I feel like I'm at a new stage- where I have stopped worrying about whether or not I will drink (I won't) and have started to really feel the emotions coming to the surface. I got my back porch ready for reading and contemplating this afternoon in preparation. I have the feeling it's going to be an interesting spring and summer.

      Cheers friend. :) and blessings back at you. :)

  8. You might check out Women For Sobriety. AA wasn't a good fit for me at all for several reasons. But the WFS program changed my life; it gave me the knowledge and support to learn to live a sober life :)

    1. I've thought about that too, but haven't looked it up. I will. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

  9. You'll never know if AA is for you unless you give it a shot. Go to a meeting! What have you got to lose? An hour? You don't have to say or do anything...just listen.

    If you think you might want to go ten you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.

    And don't worry about the God thing. That part is totally up to you. Your higher power could be a doorknob if it makes you happy.

    1. Exactly- nothing to lose. Except my nerve!

      Dear doorknob, please bless all my sober friends. :)

  10. Change of season still a lot of discomfort for me. The change from winter to spring especially was when my drinking became more front and center. It passes, sure, but that doesn't mean it's not hard.

    I also recommend trying out some AA meetings. I found a lot of support there in my first year or so of sobriety. I know these reservations you mention because I had them too. But you control how often you go and what you put into it. It's a pretty preachy program, but yet it's laid back. It's hard to describe but if you find some meetings that feel comfortable to you, it can lead to another great support system for you.