A heart full of love…

I am so incredibly grateful for the love and support I received this week from everyone. The texts, emails and response to my facebook post have all been so heartwarming. It is comforting to hear stories and to have folks share great resources. I love the sense of community that is coming together for me around this topic.

Writing this week has been such a gift as well. I feel like I could hide in my room all day and just share so much. I will continue to write and connect. Maybe this won’t be as hard as I think it will be. (Fingers crossed).

There have been so many positive side effects so far and I feel that will keep me going. I will say, there was a beautiful summer night a few evenings ago and ALL I WANTED was to sit outside with Matt at the fire pit and sip wine. Instead, I went to bed earlier and got up with the sun to get my workout in. There was a bit of sadness with that but also joy in feeling good when I wake up.

Anyhow, I did want to say how much I appreciate everything and everyone that has reached out. It takes a village and I will forever be grateful.

It’s not their fault, but it is a part of my story.

When I look back on my life, on all the things I’ve done, and how I got to the decision to drink less/go sober or whatever Sobertown will look like to me, I have to honor my past. I firmly believe that I cannot move forward and make a change without acknowledging what I witnessed and experienced as a kid. It is part of me. It’s in my DNA. 

One of the dearest people in my life, my Pa Pa (pronounced Paw Paw), was an angry drunk. He got in some trouble over the years. The man was mean as a snake and violent toward my grandmother, Me Me, who just happened to be my BFF growing up. (God bless both of them and may they continue to smile down upon me.) They had fist fights that would rival college bar brawls. They would yell and scream and fight like hell. Luckily, I only witnessed a few of these fights when I was little. I can’t recall when, but Pa Pa stopped drinking cold turkey one day. Never touched another drop. I never saw the mean side of him again and I have to say that he was indeed the best damn grandfather I could have asked for. I know my grandparents “had words” over the years (which is Southern-speak for arguing), but the physical stuff ended when he stopped drinking. Thank goodness.

Pa Pa was a World War II vet and was part of the invasion of Normandy. That man saw stuff that day that I can’t even conceive in my brain. Not that this gives any man the right to be an angry drunk, but I sure have some compassion for him and will put money down on the fact that he was drinking to be numb. In the end, I am glad he gave it up. He showed up in a big way for me as kid, teen and early adult. I loved and adored that man.

It is safe to say my dad liked to drink too. He drank almost every night that I can remember growing up. He would drink some tall boys on his way home from work and then hit the couch with a few more beers while watching TV. He was never angry with us or anything. I mean, my brother and I were annoying teenagers and he would holler if we were too loud, but that was about all. He will admit to this day that he drank to numb the anxiety of a social situation. (Sometimes this was binge drinking).  He is an introvert (which I just realized a few years ago). He quit drinking for good in January of 2016 on the orders of his doctor. In the last few years leading up to his order to stop, dad could polish off a bottle of Crown Royal in a weekend or some Canadian Mist in a night. (None of this is said from a place of judgement. Lord knows, I have don’t my fair share of serious consumption is a short period of time.)

It’s been hard for dad over the last few years, but I am so proud of him. I am a lot like my dad and I’m glad I will be able to chat with him about this and we can reminisce about the good ol’ days when we could slam beers while eating crabs or drink a great wine with steak…and just be goofy as hell.

So, my love of drinking comes easily. My mom always warned me that alcoholism ran in the family and I should be careful. I know I have the capacity to be an alcoholic. I hesitate to label myself, yet. For now, I will choose to live in the gray versus the black and white. I know for sure that I am a binge drinker. “Stephanie” and “drinking in moderation” are not usually said in the same sentence.

All of this information is good to have in my pocket. I can sit with it, process it and make better lifestyle choices. I share my past with you as a means of honoring it. It is a part of me and did play a role in where I am today. But by no means do I place blame on anyone. We all do our best with the cards we’re dealt. All we can do is love and practice compassion toward ourselves and others.

How has your past affected your choices? Can you honor the past and let it go?

What in the world are you afraid of anyway?

Making a big change is almost always accompanied by a boatload of fear that can stop you in your tracks. I mean, if you want to stop smoking, start exercising, eat better, practice meditation or lose weight, there is an uncertainty of the unknown that comes with making a big change. 

Just so that I am honest as I can be, here are some of the fears that run through my head when I think about not drinking…

1.      Will people still want to hang out with me?

2.      Will people feel uncomfortable around me if they’re drinking and I’m not? (The very last thing I want is for people to think that I’m judging them because that is not my speed at all.)

3.      At a party, how does one do small talk? (Seriously, I can’t even. Let me sit in a corner with one person for a night versus navigating a room and trying to do the small talk routine. I suck at it. #sociallyawkward #drinkinggavemecourage)

4.      How will not drinking affect my relationship with my husband? With my friends?

5.      Will I still be funny?

6.      How do I eat crabs without beer? (For real, that was a thought and then remembered non-alcoholic beer.)

7.      Can I drink non-alcoholic beer and still call myself sober since it has a smidgen of alcohol in it?

8.      Will I still cut a rug at a party if I’m sober? 

9.      Will I scream-sing “Ohhhhh, we’re halfway there!!!! Oh, oh! Living on a prayyyerrrrrr!” at the top of my lungs if I’m not drinking? 

10.  What happens if I ever visit Napa Valley? Not have wine? (That just seems cruel, so do I just not go?) 

11.  Does this really have to be forever? Or can it just be until I have a better relationship with alcohol?

I realize these may seem silly and small to many. But EVERY. DAMN. ONE. of these makes me shed a tear.

If you made a change, what were your fears? 

The Tipping Point

Since 2015, I have questioned whether or not I needed to slow my roll with drinking. On the one hand, I felt like I drank just as much or as little as everyone around me. On the other hand, we had a family member who was ill from cirrhosis of the liver. Having to deal with a sick family member caused me to pause and begin to really pay attention. (More on this story at a later time.)

Over the last few years, I played around with Sober September or Dry January. Then I played the game with myself where I wouldn’t drink during the week but had fun on the weekends. With all these attempts, I never made it all the way through a month or even the week. But I brushed these failures off. It wasn’t a big deal! Life was meant to be lived and fun was to be had. I wasn’t any different than anyone else.

But there were two specific instances that made me reexamine my drinking. 
1.  This past May, I declared Sober May as a birthday gift to myself. The gift of good health! Nobody was going to mess with me and I was not going to screw this one up! The first few weeks were just fine, I felt strong and in control. I was able to drink non-alcohol beer at a gathering and when I went to my favorite margarita joint, I enjoyed limeade with a salted rim.  Then, there was an evening where I attended a birthday party for a friend and I was with my peeps. I was ready to rock and roll and had a game plan. I was gonna kick some ass at the bowling alley, soda would be my friend and I was going to savor every last damn mozzarella stick. The good news:  I did not have a drink. Win! The bad news:  I had a mild panic attack because, as the night went on, I realized how much I used alcohol to help me feel at ease in social situations. I literally had the realization while at a birthday party that I may have a drinking problem. Then my thoughts spiraled, I could hardly breathe and I was a bit teary. It was all I could do to smile and keep going with the night, but inside, I was like, “Holy smokes! What does all this mean for me?” I mulled this over for a few weeks and really started to pay attention to how I felt and started dealing with the emotions of not drinking.

2.  Fast forward to the end of the month. Full disclosure, I made it Memorial Day and had a beer at a cookout we hosted. Not a full month, but damn near 28 days. (Sigh!) The following Friday, I went out with a friend and enjoyed a few glasses of wine. The evening was going beautifully and then I came home and for some reason that I will never understand, I went a bit nuts. I got angry as hornet and just started carrying on. One of my closest friends received a Marco Polo from me ranting and cussing (I was trying to be funny, but the anger came through). The next morning I woke up, deleted the post to my friend and just felt like a big old ass. I got a text from my friend asking how I felt. My response was “ashamed and embarrassed.” She giggled and wrote back, “I just meant do you need Matt to get you a McDonald’s Coke?” Ha ha!

Needless to say, the month of May allowed for some insight and as days passed, I got more and more serious about cleaning up my act and perhaps making some big changes. These two episodes served as my tipping points. It was time and I was ready to take action.

“Daddy, It’s Time!”

Greetings, readers!

Thanks for taking a moment to pop in and read Road to Sobertown. This blog is 44 years in the making—even if I didn’t know it!

This week, I was inspired to go public with what I’ve been going through for a few years (in my head) when a dear friend shared an article from the Washington Post about women being “sober curious,” or taking a break from alcohol. The article hit me like a ton of bricks and I was like, “Holy smokes, this is me.” 

I know this is often times a very private matter. For better better or worse, I have never been one to shy away from talking about a tough subject. In my opinion, it’s time to have this conversation openly. I know there are more people out there who feel the same way. My recent Facebook post about this topic gave people a chance to respond to me privately and openly. What a gift to read what friends from all times and areas of my life had to say! (To each of you, I am grateful.)

For the last four years, I have questioned if I have a problem with alcohol. I’ve had conversations in my head, with my therapist and with my family and friends. Still, I played hard and—admittedly—had a whole bunch of fun. I feel like my life revolved around how much I could drink at night and still do what I needed to do the next day. It wasn’t every night, but it was often enough for me to notice. However, in recent months, it’s become clear that it was time for ol’ Steph-dog to make a change. The image in my head this week has been of Julia Roberts in the film Steel Magnolias saying, “Daddy, it’s time!” And indeed, it is time.

This blog will be a place for me to reflect on my past and my current journey. A place to share the thoughts, feelings, emotions and everything that comes with changing a big part of who I have been for the last 20+ years.

This is a place where I want folks to feel connected and lifted up. There will be NO SHAMING here. Here, we can talk openly about our successes and struggles as well as share things that help support one another.

Welcome to Sobertown.

I am in no way a therapist or social worker. Please know that first and foremost. I am simply a wife and momma who’s just trying to do her best each day and live her best life.

A little about Stephanie

What a privilege to get to connect with you, reader! Thank you for taking time to read this blog. 

My family is my world. I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, coach and friend to some wonderful humans. 

I am passionate about helping people feel good from the inside out. My background is in health and wellness and I own and manage a small personal training business. I love to swim, bike, run, teach fitness classes, read, cook and talk all things self-care. In recent months, I have decided to improve my relationship with alcohol which may ultimately mean going sober. This blog is about how I came to this decision and the journey ahead. I hope to connect with others in the same place and share strategies or tips that may help. May we talk openly about the hard things like our emotions and feelings and lift one another up by sharing our love and strength.