Fucking Holidays

As a drunk person, I loved the holidays. I got extra days off work. I got to hang out with my friends and family. I got to eat good food and get presents. And of course, I got to get wasted. I loved getting wasted, then spend my hangover day laying on the couch, watching Netflix and eating leftovers.

As a sober person, November through January has lost its excitement. Mind you, this is my first time sober for the holidays, which is really fucking weird. I used to kick off the season by drunk cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Not anymore. It felt like a friend was missing. It felt incomplete. I felt like just another depressing day.

Now, I know that my early sobriety and change of lifestyle was messing with my head. It did a good job. I didn’t want to drink. I wasn’t interested in eating leftovers, watching Netflix, hungover. It’s a change. Sometimes change is hard, sometimes is easy and sometimes its just fucking weird.

Then Christmas came around. I used to look forward to drinking all day. Watching my kids open their presents then letting them play with their new toys while I drank myself into an oblivion. Or, better yet, I would let them go with family so I could go to the bar. Christmas and Thanksgiving were the best nights at the bar. That’s when my people were there. While all the normies were at home with their families, I was bellied up to the bar , taking shots with my drinking buddies.

This year was different. After Thanksgiving, I was prepared to spend Christmas without my booze. I knew how it would feel. I wanted to treat it like another day. I have kids, so I couldn’t do that completely. So we had presents. Ate delicious food throughout the day. I took a few naps. Watched movies with my family. Spent time checking out presents and visiting with my daughters. It was good. It was low key. It was not exhausting. I was a day full of love and relaxation. Enjoyable.

Despite the fact that I was able to have a good day, I no longer like holidays. I wish there didn’t have to be a day to be thankful, or to celebrate God, or Jesus or whoever you pray to. A day to celebrate new beginnings. To put them on one day makes it feel fake and forced. So, fuck holidays. I’m not a fan. I will try to be thankful everyday. I will pray often and always celebrate new beginnings. And in November, I’ll cook a turkey. In December, I’ll buy some presents and in January I’ll buy some sparkling cider to toast with my family.

So happy holidays, happy life and happy year.

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My Demon

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from my favorite movie. First of all, it is an amazing fucking movie. But mostly, this is the truest quote I’ve ever heard.

I have a disease that most people don’t believe even exists. Alcoholism and addiction carry a stigma that only a true form of evil can create. And if you don’t understand what I am talking about, consider yourself lucky.  There is  a demon inside my mind, deceitful in every way. Even trying to convince me that it doesn’t exist. Now, I know that it does. Trust me, I’ve met this demon face to face. But every time I drop my guard down, even just a little, it will try to dig its claws in.

And if I ever drink, even one beer, my demon will choke me so tight that I would rather die than fight. It will do everything it can to try to convince me that I am worthless. That I don’t deserve to live. That the only way I can live, is with my demons. Always trying to push one more drink. Until I finally drink the one that kills me. My demon does not care how I do it. It doesn’t care if I drink myself to death or if I put a bullet in my head. It wants me dead and it knows that booze is the way.

It will never stop. It will rest. It will lay low hoping that I forget how horrible it makes me feel and how badly it wants me dead. It will sit in the shadows and regain strength. And when it sees weakness, it will pounce. It will try to convince everyone that it doesn’t exist. That I am selfish. That I choose to be this way. That I am the demon. But I promise you, my friend. The devil exists. I have seen him. I have danced with him. I will never again. I don’t exist because of him. I am alive despite him.

Accept, Not Expect

In my recovery, I have learned a lot of my downsides. A LOT of them. This information doesn’t really bother me. It makes me aware. Gives me something to work on.

Lately, I have been working on my expectations. I once heard someone say that expectations lead to resentments. And for us alcoholics, resentments lead to drinking.

Its hard though. Harder than you think. When you do something nice for someone, you expect some gratitude. Maybe even something nice in return. Don’t. Not everybody thinks like that. Do something nice, just to be nice.

When you do a favor for someone, you expect a favor to be returned. Don’t. Do it because you are a good person, or at least trying to become a good person.

I have to remind myself of this almost daily. When I hold a door open, my impulse is to get annoyed when I’m not thanked. When I let someone cross the street or pull out in front of me, I expect a courtesy wave. Why? Because I am giving them something they don’t deserve? Because they should be grateful to me for allowing them to go in a door or cross a street? If that’s not some weird, fucked up sense of entitlement and grandiosity, I don’t know what is.

It applies on a bigger level as well. I have gotten offended when people have forgotten my birthday. Or when people don’t pay enough attention to me and my problems. That good old selfish alcoholic mindset, the world should revolve around me.

But here’s the truth. Nobody deserves anything. Rich people don’t deserve to be rich and cancer patients don’t deserve to be sick. And everything in between. The only thing we can do is accept what comes our way and continue to evolve as human beings. Count our fucking blessings, not our problems.

And when we do that, more good things come. I am so blessed. True, I am an alcoholic. I cannot drink. There are far worse problems I can have. And the things that I have and get to appreciate when my belly isn’t full of booze trump any drunk I’ve ever had. I have the ability to provide for my family. I have a warm house to come home to. I have children and a husband who love me, probably more than I deserve. I am healthy. Have good people in my life. Every time you appreciate and accept life, the more life gives you.

So count your blessings. Hold the door open. Tell people you love them. Be a good person because that’s what you are. And if they say thank you, accept that too. We’re all on this planet together. You know what they say, if you can’t find a kind person, be one.

Letting Me Feel

When I decided to get sober, and I mean really decided, I reached out for help. I reached out to people I didn’t know. To people I do know. And to people I used to know. I took their advice. Some of it seemed crazy and some of it made sense. I didn’t care, I took all of their advice and listened to them. For the first time in a long time, I shut the fuck up and listened.

One piece of advice I took was to read the book “Living Sober”. If you are in recovery, want to be, or know someone who has a problem, read this book. It is an easy read, and has so much value. Especially to to someone like me, who thought I knew everything.

It made me realize it was okay to be uncomfortable. Seems obvious, I know. But alcoholics don’t like uncomfortable.  And I guarantee, there is a lot of uncomfortable in early sobriety. For years, I had drank every emotion and feeling away. If I was happy, i would drink. Mad, sad, depressed, bored, I’d drink. It got to the point that I really didn’t know how to process or recognize any feelings or emotions. Just mad. I covered everything up with mad. I was either mad or drunk.

And when I took the booze out of the equation, I was bombarded with every feeling I had buried. But the first one was uncomfortable. I felt awkward. I felt out of place. And I hated it. My instinct was to drink. Make that feeling go away. I never considered that it was okay to feel that way. I never looked past the moment and recognized that it was a temporary feeling.

So I was awkward. I was a newborn in sobriety. I had to think before I spoke. I had to process what I thought and felt. I no longer had my alcohol crutch to lean on. It was terrifying. I was vulnerable. But I survived it.

Then other feelings came up. Happiness, sadness, guilt. I had to process those as well. That is, after I was able to recognize them. I hid behind booze for so long and drank everything down that I had become a emotional cripple. It was hard. It takes work, still. It requires intentionally slowing my thoughts and listening to them.

Today, I am exactly four months sober. Sometimes it seems longer. I have come so far. I am learning to live on life’s terms. I am learning that feelings are not facts. I am learning to expect nothing and accept everything. I am learning that everything is temporary, good and bad. My brain doesn’t always like my new outlook. If I don’t pay attention, it tries to go back to my old way of thinking. I have to stay on top of it all the time and continue to grow and recover.

Everyday, I am grateful. To the people who have helped. To higher power that leads the way. To the learning process I have finally been able to accept. I am one of the lucky ones that is surviving, even if it gets uncomfortable. One day at a time.

 

 

Higher Power

The term higher power is huge in AA. For most it is God, the way only they can imagine him. For some it is the universe, for some it is energy. For some its even just a faceless nameless power stronger than them. I’ve even heard people say its the group they meet with.

For me it is more complicated, yet extremely simple. I cannot imagine my God as a person. There is not a single man in the sky watching over all of us. But, there is something. The world, in all its beauty, did not create itself. My path was written before I existed. I have gone astray from it more than once. I have fallen more than once. But when I quiet my mind, I can understand my higher power.

I pray. Who or what I pray to, I have no idea. And in my opinion, that knowing is not necessary. It doesn’t matter to me. Because whatever I pray to, it works. It calms my mind. It helps mt find peace in my chaos. I don’t have to put a title or name on my higher power. I just have to trust it. I pause, and listen.

And what a relief it is that I am not responsible for everything. I can hand over any problem or fear to my higher power. Temporarily or permanently. I can breathe easy and sleep better.

I used to answer to booze. My false higher power. I used to give my problems to booze. You can imagine how that worked out. My problems were returned to me ten fold, when I was even weaker and unable to deal with them.

So, I accept my higher power. My nameless faceless higher power that brings me peace in the middle of the night. That opens my eyes to the beauty that surrounds me. That helps me carry my burdens and convinces me that everything will work out, however it is supposed to. I am grateful.

Not Easy

It is not easy to love an alcoholic. Or trust them. Or even associate with them. I know this because I know a lot of alcoholics. And of course, I am one.

There are a lot of things you can learn about alcoholics from books and medical studies. For some reason, we don’t produce a normal amount of dopamine and serotonin, the happy hormones your brain makes. Alcohol mimics those hormones. And once we have that, we crave it. Our minds becomes sick. Insane. We have no control of how much we drink or how often.

There are way more things I know from experience. Things that made sense at the time. Things that are so insane, but when my next drink was my main focus, I could make sense of it.

Like how I fell in love with alcohol the first time it passed my lips. Like how for the first time in my life I felt happy and alive and fun.

I rationalized all of the dangerous situations I put myself in. It was ok, I was with friends and we were having a good time.

And then, as my drinking got worse, I involved people that I loved. People I should have been protecting. I felt like it was ok to leave my small children alone to go drink. I was not the only mother that did that. I provided a roof over their head and food in their bellies.

And my insanity got away from me without me catching it. My thoughts became delusional. I was convinced that I was a genius. My brain was to smart and too creative and booze was the only thing that could stop my constant thoughts so that I could sleep.

Then, the true madness came.  I was stuck in a never ending nightmare. If  I was sober, my anxiety level would go through the roof. I was paranoid. I thought people hated me, judged me. The only thing that made me feel better was the cause of my problems. So I chased that delusion of happiness down every bottle. Insanity. I was in my own personal hell.

It got to the point that the booze didn’t even shut down my awful thoughts. I could not imagine my life with or without booze. I would look at my drunk face in the mirror and hate the girl that looked back at me. I isolated. I had become an embarrassing monster that I didn’t want anyone to see.

I knew I had to find a way out or the booze would do it for me. I would either drink myself to death or put a bullet in my head. I am lucky. I found help. I found a way. I have to put my full effort into it every day. I cannot rest.

I know alcoholics are liars and manipulators and we will break your fucking heart. Don’t give up hope. I know that we relapse. Don’t take it personal. The hell we put you through is only a glimpse of what goes on in our heads. We never set out to be this way. It was not a life goal. It is not right or fair, I know. Pray for us. Pray for the alcoholics who still drink and the ones in recovery. Don’t shame us. Don’t judge us. Trust me, we do enough of that on our own. Just pray that we make it out alive. This is a battle we have to fight and win alone, but having cheerleaders in our corner is the greatest gift you can give us.