Tuesday, December 24, 2013

1 Day Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 1

Day 1

1st Good Reason to be Sober

I am deeply thankful for my sober community.

The Sober Community

Y'all might know or probably remember that sober blogs shored up the first six months of my recovery. My one connection to the world, to people who got what I was feeling and talking about was the sober blogging community. It's this magical place where all you have to do is show up, write a little SOS, and then out of the great blue beyond some words of hope or comfort appear.

The sober community has so much to give, and asks only sobriety in return. And then forgives if you don't even have that. My sober community has expanded from lurking on blogs to emailing to having my own blog. It has given me people like Sherry, Lilly, and Annette, Paul, Mrs D, Belle, Carrie, and Jen. It has given me a therapist who believes in me: I know she does because she says so, and she means it. It has given me a recovery group that isn't always easy or fun but that builds me every time I go. It has given me friendships that will last. I haven't been to an AA meeting yet, but Universe Amy and I are going on Saturday and so I will add that to my list.

I am so grateful that anyone reads this at all, and that I get these messages of support and love and encouragement still blows me away a little. Thank you so much for reading, for commenting, for emailing me. Thank you for letting me listen and try to help. Thank you for helping me. That makes me feel a part of a thing bigger than me and my own sobriety, alone- it makes me part of a chain of helping hands, all who have been there, and stay sober, together.

I am so proud to be a part of such a beautiful thing. I am so proud to be sober. There are so many many many reasons to be sober, but my very first one is this: I have said that I am. So I must be so. Because of sober mornings, better coping skills, care-taking, humility & grace, helping hands, feelin' it, sense of self, heart connections, forgiveness, trust & truth, a life.....forever, and the sober community I will continue to be sober.

Merry Christmas.

2 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 2

Day 2

Well, we're almost there, although I could probably write a good reason to be sober every day for the rest of my life.

2nd Good Reason to be Sober

A Life.....Forever

Being sober has saved it. It has made it into something I never ever found in all of my years searching for it in the bottom of another bottle.

Being sober gives you life. It gives you life where before you were just existing. It has given me something to claim, something to hold onto. Being sober is a huge part of my life, but after a while it just becomes part of it, not all of it. I never forget, however, that without being sober I would not have been brave enough, or fortunate enough to be doing all this living.

Monday, December 23, 2013

3 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 3

Day 3

3rd Good Reason to be Sober

I never trusted a word I said when I was drinking.

Trust & Truth

One of the biggest lies I continually told myself when I was drinking was that I was going to quit. Another one I told myself, and always at the end of the day, was that my drinking was not a problem, everything was OK. I lied to myself every day for years.

But no matter what I told myself I knew. I knew that I was not telling my truth. I knew that I might make guarantees at 7 AM but that I would never keep those promises. I knew that I was a liar. Not to be trusted.

Telling the truth is hard. But trust doesn't stand on a liar's foundation. And once you start telling the truth it gets easier and suddenly you have two feet. And you are standing. The truth is like the hike to the top, and the trust is the view.

Now I can trust myself. I have never felt a feeling quite like it before. Because I finally stopped lying to myself about hurting myself I feel safe with myself again.There's something about seeing your eyes in the mirror and knowing you can trust the person looking back at you. There's something about looking inside and knowing that you can search around your soul for some help and not come up with a stick.

Being sober keeps me honest. A truth-teller. A woman of her word. Counted upon. Trustworthy.

4 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 4

Day 4

4th Good Reason to be Sober

I'm behind on my days of Christmas posts. Forgive me.


There's all these things I did when I was drinking that I really regret. That I can take out and shake a stick at and make myself feel pretty bad about.

I had to forgive myself or go batshit crazy.

It hurts to carry around so much mad-ness in one body. I had to forgive myself so I could keep going. It's a continuous process that I continue to do. I open my arms to my sweet self and stroke my hair, cradle my head in my hands, and say it's ok. I do it with the love I would give a stranger because I know it's so hard for me to be nice to myself, but since I am still sometimes a stranger to me I can let her be forgiven.

I am trying to forgive other people. Most I can, or find my own blame and forgiveness and move on. One person was really awful to me last year and I can't all the way shake it. It escalated my drinking to a critical point, it brought me to the crest of my drinking hill. That situation helped make me decide: fly or crash. So I'm ultimately very grateful, and still hurt. Holding on to old hurts only keeps them around, so I'm trying to forgive, but dang. I might need more time on that one. So I forgive myself for that.

Forgiveness is a part of sobriety that never ends. It gives me the opportunity to be charitable with myself, and also to let go of my need to be right and perfect all the time. It lets people around me know that they can be human and I will be too.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

5 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 5

Day 5

5th Good Reason to be Sober

I have made (and lost) some amazing connections in my first sober year.

Heart Connections

When I first got sober I felt really alone, like no one would understand what I was going through. And that if they did they would think I was a total loser fuck up loser, and also that I was fat.

You know how, when you drink with people, and then you feel like you are just the best of friends because you get drunk together? That you don't really remember what you talked about, but you're pretty hungover so it must have been good, especially since no one is looking at you with that funny look you get when you did something or said too much while you were all bonding being wasted. I love you, man. I don't know what I love about you, but man. I do.

It's awkward to be new friends when you don't drink. You actually have to take the time to get to know people rather than be instant best friends and then stay that way as long as you drink together. There are uncomfortable silences, and times when you bring over cookies with nuts and your new friend is deathly allergic. Or maybe you are brand new friends and someone's father dies and you don't know what to say so you just blunder through and speak from the heart and hope what you say is OK.

And then months pass and you end up with a few people in your life that actually really deep down care about you. Who care enough about you to learn about you, and continue to learn about you. You take the time and you connect. And you care back. And there's effort, and laughter, and tears. Actual friends.

I have made many connections over the course of my sobriety- some that will last forever, and some that only last a few emails. I have given up relationships that I needed to, and some have just naturally fallen off along the way. There is strength in connections, real connections. Heart connections.

6 Days Until Christmas:Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 6

Day 6

6th Good Reason to be Sober

There's something that happened for me over the course of me getting and staying sober- I discovered my sense of self.

Sense of Self

Pretend like you live with a stranger. And every day you come home, and every day there is this stranger, here, in your house. They are unpredictable. Dishonest. Full of shit. You wake up and here, in your bed, is this stranger. A liar.

And then realize that stranger is actually you. Oh, no. Me? Who the hell am I?

Being sober gives me a sense of self I haven't had since I was about eight years old. I know what I like. I know what I can deal with and what I can't. I make decisions. I take care of myself. I have an identity and that identity is not just being me wishing I wasn't me.

I can remember when a new girl moved in next to my best friend when I was in third grade. Her mom was divorced, she had two sisters. She had dark beautiful hair, and was new and different. I could tell that she was confident and sure of herself and I was already getting teased for who I was. She lived right next door to my best friend and I was up the street around the corner. My best friend became her best friend, then we moved in the middle of fourth grade which pretty much solidified the fact that I was awkward and not cool. Which lasted until I started drinking around fourteen, and then I wasn't any cooler, but at least I didn't know it for a while. I wasn't any less myself, but when I drank at least I felt like what I thought everyone else must feel. And I was included. Part of something.

I ache when I think about the what if of if I'd had the courage and purpose to actually be me all those years ago. And then I rejoice when I know that I finally get to be me. Me. Not someone else's version of what me should be, not the version of me that hides behind bottles of wine, but actual real me. Who knows what she needs. Who has boundaries, and hope. Standards! Who knew I even had those!

I am liking me more and more these days. It's nice to look around and see a familiar face and not that drunk stranger who kept hurting me and I kept letting her. One of the best parts of sobriety has been getting to know myself, and then liking myself so much that I actually love myself. That when I look in the mirror and my blue eyes look back I feel like I'm seeing a friend. My best friend- myself.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

7 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 7

Day 7

I never knew how many feelings I had until I started actually having them.

7th Good Reason to be Sober

Feelin' it

When I was drinking I pretty much had three feelings: drunk, hungover, and guilty.

Now, holy moly. There are so many feelings I might have to ask some to just please sit down and wait your turn. They aren't all joy and peace either- some of those bitches grab on with the big teeth and will not let go. Sometimes I feel so gleeful and glorious and whole altogether that I might turn myself inside out with my grin. Sometimes I feel quiet and thinkful, then thankful, then cranky and crazy making. Mostly I just feel pretty dang normal. Divinely normal.

One feeling that never goes away is this: blessed. I don't mean in a grab your book of hymns and march it down to the pews way, or a someone go get Jesus way. (But if you want to go ahead. He's a cool guy. And I do like singing.) I mean it in a deep down wash me in rainbows way. A woot woot woot WOOT! way. In the earnest thank you way that this is now my life. Because I am sober I get to feel it all.

That feels worth it.

8 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 8

Day 8

The value of the help I get and give cannot be measured even with the big ruler. I would never, ever ever have gotten to feel the cradle of a helping hand- whether it be a pen pal, or a friend, or a group, or my own backbone without first asking for help.

8th Good Reason to be Sober

Helping hands

When I was drinking I could never ever ever ask for help. Ever. I just drank and remained helpless. Helpless.

When I quit drinking the one big big biggest thing that made me not jump in the car and buy ninety four bottles of wine to chug while I made dinner was this: I wrote an email to a woman I'd never ever met or heard of and said, "Hey, I'm trying to quit. I'm scared." And then Belle wrote me back and said, "I'd be glad to be your pen pal." And she help save me.

Because I asked.

As I got more sober time I learned something: I could ask myself for help. And then I would show up. Every time. Reliably. I became my own help. I help save myself.

Because I ask.

Then I prayed to the universe for a face-to-face friend and Universe Amy showed up. I call her when I need to say "Gah, life is a plane crash today and my heart is breaking into pieces." and she reminds me that I'm OK. Makes me laugh. Values me. She is help.

Because I ask.

And then I joined a women's recovery group. I cry and laugh it out loud over and over: "Help me. Help me. Help me." All these hearts and hands reach out and save me.

Because I ask.

Some say you gotta sin to get saved. But I think you have to ask to get helped, and when you get helped you get saved more that you ever imagined could be real for your one living life.

You reach out your scared hand and heart and say "Help me. Heal me. Save ME. SAVE ME. HELP ME."

Just ask.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

9 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 9

Day 9

Now here we are on the day it really is, unless you're reading this tomorrow then it's the day it really isn't. Maybe I had too much coffee. I had a heart-to-heart with Universe Amy about something I consider one of the biggest parts of my sobriety- humility. There's an art to being humble, it's hard to do in this world of look at me look at me look at me. How to balance being proud and shining without coming across as a know-it-all arrogant asshole.

9th Good Reason to be Sober

Humility & Grace

I have been struggling some with trying to feel this new feeling: pride. You know how that goes- welp, before a fall they say. I am so proud of myself for being sober for a year! For writing a blog people enjoy! For being really good at sobriety. I wonder when we got to a place that says be as good as you can but shut up about it. Trying to temper success, but still be able to show your joy. To be able to be all Dalai Lama about it. To radiate awesomeness rather than announce it. To have the strength to take a bow even if you're the only person in the audience. And then throw flowers too.

So much of our successes depend on what other people think of them. Being sober is trying to give me the ability to celebrate myself from within, and then be able to share that rather than megaphone it. It's hard when you're being sober and you need a parade every day to keep going and then you have to ask for it.

Humility and grace go together. I think as a whole we are pretty bad at accepting praise. "You look so pretty!" "Oh, no, I just rushed out of the house." "What a great shirt!" "Oh, no, I got it on sale for like 50% off." We have to explain why we aren't pretty, or why good stuff isn't true, or how it might be, but only because we got it at a discount.

It has been wonderfully overwhelming to get all the kind messages I have throughout the course of writing this blog. I am learning to accept praise offered and accept it with grace. "Thank you." "I appreciate you saying so." and not have to explain my goodness away as some sort of accident or markdown.

To be able to be humble, but without being meek. To be gracious. To be welcoming, and comforting, and to be proud.


I had my women's group meeting today. My therapist gave me a one year chip. It took my breath away. In that room, tears running down my face, I felt humbled by the simple beauty of that gift, by her belief in me. I managed to say, with all the grace a sobbing woman can muster, "Thank you so much. I was lost for a really long time. It feels really good to be found." I felt humble and heartswollen and proud and full of messy grace. Overflowing of good reasons to be sober.

10 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to be Sober Day 10

Day 10

I was sick in bed all day yesterday which is why we're having day 10 and 9 on the same day. I wanted to post, and then also wanted to sleep a lot. I feel better today, not 100% but better. I had my day 10 all picked out, but now I'm switching 10 and 9, because 9 seems more like it should be where 10 is and vice versa. Without further ado.....

10th Good Reason to be Sober


I debated for an hour before I called in sick to work yesterday. This was around 4 AM. Finally my voice- you know that one, the smooth Sade voice that soothes you and mothers you when you are all chatterbug: "No no no, I have to go. I can, it will be fine, blah blah bullshit bullshit....." And then Mama Sade steps in and talks some sense: "You are sick honey. It's OK to stay home. It's OK to get well. You need sleep and hot tea. It's OK to take care of you. It's OK to take care of you."

Being sober has given me the enormous gift of knowing when I need some lovingcare. It has made it easy to recognize my crazy making self and be able to reach out for her hand and say, "Whoa there. Slow down. Stop all that thinking and breathe a minute. You are OK." It has made it a priority for me to look out for numero uno- me. Which isn't selfish, or rude, or taking anything away from anyone else. Being my own care-taker has made me trust myself again. Who is looking out for me? Me, that's who.

And because I take care of myself I can deal with life. I get to feel strong enough to weather the storm. I get to have faith in me because I give myself love and tenderness and care.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

11 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to Be Sober Day 11

Day 11

It's kind of cool that AA has 12 steps, and I'm counting down 12 reasons sobriety rocks. I'm also reading a great book called A Woman's Way through the Twelve Steps so I have the number twelve on the brain. If you haven't read this book I recommend it. I'm on the fourth step in my reading. There are some things I do not like about AA, but the twelve steps is not among them. I like the thought of measured self search in a logical way. And that they don't have to be in order.

11th Good Reason to be Sober

Better Coping Skills

So, before, when I was a boozer, the only way I knew how to deal with life was to drink. I drank when I was happy or sad, struggle-y or cruising along, you know- breathing in and out, whatever. Now I have to deal. It is not always fun or easy. In fact, this has been the hardest year I've had emotionally in as long as I can remember. But I feel like I've healed more than I ever have. I have gotten to know my wondrous self. I can tell when I'm cranky because I'm PMS. I can feel my hormones gearing up. I can tell when I need sleep, or when I need some encouragement. I can feel my happies. I can lose myself in moments. I can cry from way deep down- feeling that sorrow like a surge inside me well up and spill out and cleanse my aching soul. And then I can be OK.

It feels like I get to have a life because I deal with life. That because I face what comes instead of drowning it I get to feel it, live it, and move on.

P.S. Today I have been writing this blog for one year! :) My blog has been one of my biggest coping skills. It helps me sort things out when I'm stuck, or share some goodness. Thanks for reading. It feels important that I share my struggles and triumphs to keep myself from hiding. I always feel so grateful that even one other person reads what I write. It helps me, really helps me. xoxoxo

Saturday, December 14, 2013

12 Days Until Christmas: Countdown of Good Reasons to Be Sober

Day 12

So, I thought it would be a good idea to have a sober Christmas countdown. Then I realized I'm not sure if the counting goes 1-12 or 12-1. So I'm going 12-1, but you can rearrange as you see fit. You know, much like sobriety. Here's my example of stuff, and then you push it around and hem it a bit or add to it to make it fit just right for you. The we can all sing them at the end.

12th Good Reason to Be Sober

Sober Mornings

Oh, man. This is still one of my ultra deluxe very very favorite things about being sober: no WTF mornings. I used to hate that feeling of waking up at lord knows what time (3AM? 5AM? Late AM?) and having that pit-in-the-stomach feeling of what the hell did I do last night? And then you check your partner's face, your phone, Facebook..... some days I couldn't figure it out and would just force some extra cheerfulness over the hangover to fool myself into thinking everything was OK. Ugh. I don't miss that AT ALL.

Now I wake up rested most days. I never ever ever have to wonder WTF did I do last night. EVER.

An excellent reason to be sober.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dare to Be

It's really, really odd to be sitting here knowing that on this day last year I drank for the last time. That a year ago tonight I opened bottles of wine and smoked and drank and crushed myself with abandon.

I got wasted.

I don't even recognize that woman anymore.

I don't miss drinking. Not a bit. Not a drop. No just one more or full glass could possibly compare to the year I've had.

It seems like getting sober took the longest three months of my life. That never ending five o'clock that tortured me over and over until I just had to go to bed or go crazy. The days that lasted forever and ever and ever and ever. I picture myself, standing in the kitchen hands open at my sides lost and confused. "What do I do if I'm not having wine now?" And then the deafening silence of not knowing.

Somehow I learned to listen to the quiet. I wanted to be sober more than I wanted to drink. I wanted the pain of being sober more than I wanted the pain of where I was. I wanted to suffer so I could shine. I decided I was brave enough and strong enough and even though I felt worthless I was worth the struggle of making it please stop.

The weight of the voice in my head that let me drink and then beat me up all day just got too heavy for me to carry. I just couldn't anymore. I got sober.

I learned to be sober. Because after you get sober you have to be sober.

I don't know about how typical I am or not. People look at me like I have two heads when I say I quit forever with the ease that someone might say "I like donuts" or "Tomorrow is Saturday." But wait! I want to say- hold UP. You can't see me from about 1986 to December 7th 2012. You weren't in the kitchen when I was dying inside.

I am very very very passionate about my sobriety. I work hard at it. Very hard. I am honest about it. I reach out when I want to hide because I know that I need to. I make plans when I want to stay home. I speak up in my recovery group when my heart is racing and I feel like I should be quiet, that no one is interested. I tell people the truth about me and I don't let them dictate whether I like me anyway. I believe in myself. I am proud of myself. I am smart, and brave, and awesome. I make sure that when that pipe-y little voice pipes up to say "You aren't any of that." I say "Yes I am. YES. I. AM."

Because I dare to be.