***This blog comes fresh from my brain as if it were a diary entry. I beg forgiveness that this entry is not edited for grammar and spelling or even laid out in a way that may make sense. Additionally, I have Hamilton on my brain anytime I think of something to write about, a phrase from a song or song title pops into my head and onto the screen. Sorry! Think of this as a stream of consciousness writing piece. 🙂 Oh, and there is language.***
This feels as though this should be three different entries or blog posts. My mind is swirling with information and thoughts. It has been several days that I have been on information and emotion overload. (I feel like the beach ball of death is spinning in my brain because there are so many open tabs). It feels important to me to share recent experiences and talk about guilt that I feel as well as grief.
Confession…Ok, so this is the ROAD to sobertown. I have not arrived there fully, YET! Presently, I am living in the grey space. While I am not drinking anywhere close to what I was doing prior to May, last week, I did have a few drinks. I never in a million years want to be seen as a fake or not good on my word so I have to own my stuff and share with folks.
Last week, I went to NYC with my daughter and we had a magnificent time. We saw some sites and took in a show. Memories were made and new mother/daughter traditions have emerged. However, on my train ride up to NYC, I enjoyed a cold beer. I did. It was delicious. (A piece of me felt a bit guilty, but I owned it, drank it and moved on). I love the train from DC to NYC. The excitement I feel when the train gets past Newark and I know I am going to see the NYC skyline on my right is as exciting as me going to Disney. It’s exhilarating to me. Then, there is magical feeling I have when I get off of that train and step onto 7th Avenue with my rolling bag and just strut around town. Every damn time, I just smile a shit eating grin because I feel like such a big kid.
Before we got on the train to head home, we enjoyed dinner at a Mexican restaurant. While there, I enjoyed two tasty margaritas. Again, they were delicious. I felt a little guilty about this choice which probably meant I should not have had any, but the were tasty. I enjoyed the darn things and moved on. (In the past, there would have been a few more…that’s right. I would enjoyed more knowing I had a long train ride. I was just happy to stop at 2. So, there is my confession. I feel better knowing that I shared, but there is still guilt.
Guilt…Yes, I feel it. Guilt, at times, can paralyze me. Right now, I am reading The Naked Mind: Control Alcohol by Annie Grace AND (because I feel the need to read “like I am running out of time”) Brene Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t). Reading these books simultaneously has me spinning, in a good way. The Naked Mind is teaching me about the psychological and neurological components of alcohol use while also making me aware of how cultural, social and industry factors have supported alcohol dependence in my life. Brown’s book is helping me work through worrying about what people think of me to realizing I am enough as I am (without booze). This book is helping me to deal with guilt, shame, and judgement that I have placed on myself.
There are many things I feel guilty or shameful about when it comes to drinking. Honestly, that is a whole separate entry. The thing I struggle with the most is the fact that all I want is to be a positive role model for my kids. It is so important for me to teach them to be kind (to themselves and others), practice compassion, be generous and loving with your words, have a good work ethic, lend a hand when you can and so on. I want them to have a positive body image and healthy self image so they don’t obsess about their weight or looks as I have over the years. I have tried to shield my kids from seeing how I have worried about a number on a scale or trying to not look my age (both of these I still struggle with). I want them to know they can do hard things, set goals and work towards them. Anything is possible!
What I did not realize I had been doing for quite some time was showing them my behaviors around drinking. Drinking has been such a part of our family for years…every occasion, anytime we socialize, weeknight dinners, lunches, a way to unwind, name it…alcohol has been there. (Please know I don’t blame anyone for this but myself.) What it feels like to me is I have lead the way or been the example to them that says “hey, you have to drink to have fun” or drink to connect with friends, or your spouse or to unwind. This is the narrative I wish to change. I want them to see that alcohol is not everything to being an adult. I know they will probably have it and do some of the same stupid shit I did, but if they can realize it is not all its cracked up to be, that would be a great gift. Ultimately, by me not drinking, I hope I can be a better role model. This is what motivates me more than anything to not drink.
Grief…Without a doubt, in recent months, I have been grieving the loss of the relationship I once had with alcohol. I told someone over lunch one day that I felt I had lost an old friend. She says “Yes, you lost a toxic friend.” She shared that giving up alcohol is like getting rid of the bad friend who never had your best interest at heart. She was around for a good time, but always led you down a bad path. I agreed. When one looks at stages of grief, I feel like I lived in denial for years that I even had a problem with alcohol. Who wants to own that shit? I thought I had been like everyone else and just drank the way they did. I became pretty angry (stage 2 of grief) once I realized I had some issues and it was time to change and ultimately live a more sober lifestyle. Actually, I was really f%$#ing pissed. I never wanted to get to that point. I had thought I was always in control. Then I realized the alcohol started to control me. I planned things around when I could drink and allowed alcohol to sabotage some goals I have had for myself. Damn it.
At any rate, the third stage of grief is bargaining. That stages seems to be more a part of the past with me and drinking. Like “please Lord, let me not feel horrible in the morning. I promise I will never do this again!” Maybe bargaining will circle back around but I am not seeing that come up for me now.
Then there is good old depression. Well, alcohol doesn’t help depression and honestly I am feeling better about myself now than I have in a long time. I have had to manage some depression off and on for years and for now it seems pretty controlled. That’s not to say I can’t dip back into it at some point, but I sure hope it stays where it is for now.
Acceptance is the last stage of grief. It seems as though I have accepted I have an issue and it is time to change. I am on the right path and it feels good overall. This isn’t to say it won’t be hard. I will likely experience moments that make me sad or angry in the coming weeks, months but accepting the fact there is an issue to me is the hardest part. Here is to continuing on the road to sobertown. Time to “Raise a Glass to Freedom” and by that I mean raise a non-alcoholic drink to freedom from alcohol. Ha Ha!