My Ninth Life

I haven’t written for months. I had to take one more trip into the lions den, then I had to get myself out. Both take all of my time and energy. Both are a full time job.

I had to prove that I had an addiction to alcohol. I didn’t fully believe it, nor did I want to. I wanted to be able to drink. I wanted to be able to have fun. I was afraid to live a life without booze. So I tried.

The more I drank, the worse it got. I was on a terrifying hamster wheel. I felt awful after I drank, but the only thing that took the anxiety and sadness away was the booze. I could not imagine my life with or without booze. When I was drunk I wanted to be sober, and when I was sober I wanted to be drunk. The only thing I ever thought about was where my next drink was, even if I had a full drink in my hand. And then the booze stopped working. I felt awful all the time. I kept trying to drink my fears and pain down, but I couldn’t. I was more scared and lost than I had ever been. I was circling the drain, holding on so tightly to anything I could hold onto.

Then I let go. I was too tired. I could not fight anymore. And to my surprise, I didn’t go down the drain. I floated to the top. I knew 3 sober people. I reached out to all of them. They all suggested the same thing. Go to a meeting.

I had avoided that plan. I didn’t want to go. I can tell you all of my excuses. But the truth is, going to a meeting made it real. But I couldn’t live the way I was. So I went.

I was so nervous. I had 3 days between me and a drink. I sat down and almost immediately started bawling. I hadn’t planned on or expected to react that way. I couldn’t stop. So I stopped trying. I listened to what everyone was saying to me. I related. I felt safe. For years I felt judged. I felt pitied. At that meeting I didn’t. I saw how they looked at me. They had been where I was. They had felt what I felt. And they let me cry. And I left that meeting feeling exhausted and cleansed. I had needed that.

So I went back, and cried again. And again. Then I found my home group. And I found a sponsor. And this time was different. I accepted my addiction to the bottle. I admitted my life had gotten out of control. I admitted I could not do this by myself. And I listened. Even when things didn’t make sense or sounded stupid, I listened. I did what the group said would work. And I have yet to prove them wrong.

So now I have a sponsor that I respect and talk to regularly. I go to meetings, which I enjoy. I love that I found my people, the same kind of crazy as me. I have found my higher power. I pray. I have found a way off of the hamster wheel and I am moving forward.

And last week I got my 90 day chip. And I must say, it feels fucking amazing.

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A Little Bit Mad

I will not say this out loud. At least not in certain groups. I know that I am being petty. I know that it is childish.

But I am mad at my son. He is fourteen. He does not deserve my anger. But I am mad. I am mad that he is choosing life at his real moms over what we have given him. I know, that is immature. But I am mad.

I am mad that he hurts his dad, my husband. It is not intentional. He loves his dad. But he does not appreciate, or even know, everything his dad has done and sacrificed for him.

I am mad that he doesn’t think of how his sisters feel. The sisters that have been his for the last seven years. They have loved him like true family. He has left them behind like they weren’t even there.

I am mad that he clings to her. I have been there for him constantly. I have raised like like he was mine. It makes me mad that the credit I deserve from him, now goes to her. I am mad that he only thinks of his own happiness and has just left us behind. I am mad that I have watched him cry his eyes out over her for years, and now he chooses her.

But he is a fourteen year old boy. He is finding his way. And I have to be the adult and allow it. That is why I would never say it out loud.

But the truth is, I am mad. And hurt. And now I wait. Hopeful that he will come back.

 

Refocused

I haven’t written for awhile. Like, over a month. I haven’t been inspired. No motivation to write. And quite honestly, I have been struggling.

Struggling to accept this disease. I have read countless articles and stories and studies. They all point to the same thing. Addiction is a disease. A disease that will ruin your life and then kill you. I have always struggled with this concept. I know that booze and drugs kill people, I have just always had a hard time believing people have no control. But because I drank regularly and excessively, I bought it. The truth is, I drink to get drunk. I drink more than most people. Does that make me an alcoholic? Maybe. Probably. But I don’t believe it will be my demise.

I believe I can retrain my brain and develop a different way. Now, this might be an unrealistic goal from a delusional drunk. If that’s the case, I will admit that I am wrong. I will restart my journey to sobriety. The truth is, I don’t want to drink every day, or even every week. But I do enjoy catching a buzz. I don’t want to have rules I have to follow and create a world that is only black and white.

I have also been struggling within. I have never accepted myself, loved myself. I have rarely looked in the mirror and been happy. I almost also replay every conversation I have to question if I made myself look stupid. I avoid people because I think they are judging me. And this attempt at sobriety only escalated that. I was nervous what people would think of me if I didn’t drink, or if I did. All of my insecurities became overwhelmingly real, and in my face.

And that made me think. Perhaps I have a drinking problem, but maybe my problem is with myself. Maybe that should be my focus. And I know I have preached that we should all be confident and strive to be happy. Way easier said then done.

So from this point forward, my one day at a time will be focused on something else. I will strive to fall in love with my self. The way I look, the way I am and the way I feel. My opinion will become the most important.

My Letter to You

To the Future Addict:

You are about to start trying new things. You are probably young, which of course means that you know everything and my words will mean little. Read them anyways. I will be honest, getting drunk and high is fun. My mind has been altered by many different chemicals, so I know. Its a feeling you have never had, and you will probably enjoy it.

And maybe you will be one of the lucky ones that don’t fall into the depths of addiction. Maybe you will be able to put it down when the fun is over. But maybe you won’t.

No form of high starts as addiction. Nobody starts at rock bottom. That’s how it works. It will be fun for awhile, then it won’t. And the problem is, there is nobody that recognizes that they have a problem until its gone way too far. And then you have three choices: death, jail or claw your way out of it.

The best alternative is to escape the addiction. But here’s the kicker, you will never escape. Once that demon has gotten a hold of you, it will never let go. You have to learn how to constantly stay ahead of it and live with it in your brain. It will never let you live a normal life again. It will always be there, waiting for a moment of weakness. Waiting to take back your life.

Out of all of the drugs I have tried, booze is the one that sunk its teeth in. And no matter how I want it to be, it will be the devil in my head for the rest of my life. I will never be able to have a beer at a barbecue or have a drink with dinner. I will have moments of intense craving that I will have to fight. And I can never escape. I am forever fighting a battle that is in my head.

Now, I am telling you this to scare you. I am telling you what might happen. Maybe you’ll be ok, maybe you won’t. There is no way to know unless you try. And that, my friend, is a dangerous gamble. Because if you do get addicted, it will take over. It will take everything you hold close, and convince you to put them second. In fact, it will do so and make you believe that it is acceptable. It will convince you to put yourself in terrible situations with dangerous surroundings. It will take you to places of despair, then make you feel like your addiction is the only thing that will save you. It will make you think in a such a distorted way that nobody around you will be able to make sense of it. It will break the hearts of the people you love. It will make you do awful things. And when its done, it will happen all over again. Before you know it, you will look up and see the wreckage that was your life.

But by that time, its almost too late. You’re almost to the point of no return. And now you have to fight a battle you have never imagined. You feel alone and defeated. The people you have been friends with are not going to help you. You’ve probably even buried a few of them. And some of them are in jail. And you have to dig yourself out of this hole you’ve been buried in. of course, this is all after your body goes through a detox so miserable you consider inviting death.

And everyday after you chose sobriety over death, you have to fight. You have to constantly keep your guard up. And if you relapse, you have to do it again. Because if you don’t, you will die. That becomes your life, it once was getting high or drunk for a good time. Now it is fighting for your life. Daily.

I know that you are young. I know that if I would have read this at your age, it wouldn’t have stopped me. I know that it probably won’t stop you either. The demons of addiction are far more persuasive than I am. Keep my words in mind though. At least you’ll know what to expect.

Respectfully,

Jen

Until Next Time

I once read somewhere that before we are born, everyone writes their own story. Our souls return to this world with a goal to achieve. With a lesson to learn. In our story we write our spouses, our children, the whole thing. Within this story, we also write ways out. I am not a religious person, so I like this theory. I think about this whenever someone dies, or comes close to dying. That was their ticket out, if their soul was ready to leave, they go. If they had more to learn or contribute, they survive. This theory has always brought me comfort, especially when people die young.

This has been on my mind lately because of a local suicide. I did not know him, but the loss of this man rocked many lives. From what I understand, he was an amazing sound guy, a good friend, good to his woman and a loving father. Now, I could be wrong. But the overwhelming sorrow and love shown for this man makes it seem right.

Suicide is one of the most tragic events this life can see. Some people say its selfish. That is ignorance talking. People who do this are drowning in a sea of their terrible thoughts. They are hurting beyond belief, often times unnoticed.

My sadness for everyone who loved this man runs deep. I am sad for the people who were close to him. I am sad for the people who saw him often and didn’t see it coming. I am sad for the people who lost touch and were in shock.

I have known people who have taken their own lives. And in hindsight, there may have been signs. But for the most part, they seemed happy. They had so much to live for. But they wore a mask and they wore it well. And that’s what makes it so devastating. If I had only known. If I could have talked them out of it. But the truth is, they were fighting a battle within themselves. A battle that they didn’t know how to fight. A battle they didn’t want to bring anyone into because it was too scary and painful.

And that brings me back to my point. Maybe this was part of the story they wrote. Maybe they accomplished what they needed to and went back to write another story. Maybe this tragedy was part of your story, your lesson. And maybe, hopefully, your stories will overlap again. It may be in five years, or a thousand years. You will see each other again.  And that is what gives me comfort.

And to anyone involved in this, or any loss to suicide, I wish you peace and hours of good memories. You deserve both.

Sober Insomnia

Nights are one of the hardest parts of sobriety. I can be exhausted to the point of falling asleep in a chair. But once my head hits the pillow, my brain goes into overdrive. In the dark silence, I am stuck with nothing but my thoughts. It is difficult to shut it down. That is probably part of the reason I drank so much. Booze was the only thing that could shut my mind up.

It wanders to things I have to do. Things I should have done. Things I could have done better. It wanders to a place of worry. Am I a good mother? Wife? Person?  It wanders to things and people I have no control of, but desperately wish I did.

It was recently brought to my attention that my way of thinking isn’t entirely productive. I have the mindset of an alcoholic. And I always will. Now, this seems obvious. That’s because it is obvious, and it makes sense. But life is far more confusing and foggy when you are living it.

I don’t want to relapse again. I don’t want to crave a drink or live through another hangover. But my thought process will lead me straight to it.

When I shut my eyes, I have to shut my brain. I cannot allow myself to think about things I have no control over. I cannot think about anyone else’s problems. I have to learn to accept the things I have no control over. I have to live and let live.  Most of the stress in my life is caused by the thoughts and the what ifs that I make up in my head.

I have to push thoughts out. I have to become stable in my sobriety. I have to become calm with my own thoughts. I have to become confident with myself and my decisions. I have to go with the flow and let others help me. I am learning the difference between being sober and being in recovery. I had no idea I have been on this merry go round, but now its time to get off and get to work.

Because the same reason I picked up the bottle is the exact thing I have to deal with before I am happy putting it down.

All or None

I am not the type of person that can easily give half of my effort to something, especially when it comes to my kids. That is why I am having such a hard time with my son not living with me. Not only do I have little say in what happens with him, I have to watch another woman (his real mom) do what I am used to doing. And, in my opinion, she is doing it wrong.

When he left our last visit, I was in a panic. I feel like he is back sliding. I am watching him revert back to old negative behaviors. I have to listen to how great of a mom she is, both from him and her. And there is nothing I can do. Just watch and wait.

It is hurtful and frustrating. It hurts because, regardless of the intentions, it feels like everything I have done has gone unnoticed and unappreciated. It feels like the woman that was never there, has become the woman of his life and I am second best, if that. Now I know that he is a child. I know that these feeling are a bit selfish and irrational. But they are my feelings and I am entitled to them.

And then I step back. They are in a serious honeymoon stage. Everything they do together is for the first time and it is exciting for them. Right now, she is the woman he always wanted, needed her to be. And they deserve that.

And he is backsliding. And she will have to learn how to deal with that. Being a mother is hardly about having fun all of the time, and she will soon learn that. And he will too. Their relationship will continue to change. Either for the better or the worse. That is up to them. It is so hard for me to not parent him, even though it is her turn.

So I have talked to my husband. I have decided to take a serious back seat. I will become the woman who loves his dad and sees him every other weekend. I will be there for him when he needs me. I will not constantly obsess about how he is doing. I will separate my time from hers. I will let them have their glories and make their mistakes. This will be extremely hard for me, but for the sake of my sanity, it must be done.

He loves me. That will not change. And he knows I love him. That will also never change. Him and I have a bond that cannot be broken by anyone or anything. And he knows that I am always here for him with open arms and a loving heart. So, for now,  I will enjoy my time with my husband and my girls, and let him enjoy his time with her. I will appreciate this time and always be here when he needs me.

Backsliding

We spent another weekend with our son. It reminded me of the boy I first met, not the boy I sent to live with his mother.

When I first met my son, he was 7. He had been living with his dad since he was 3. He was never properly potty trained, and during that stage of his life he lived with his biological mom. From what I understand, this was a time of drug use and abuse. At a young age, he started holding it when he had to go to the bathroom. When I met him, he was a 7 year old kid that held his poop in all day and wore pull ups at night, because he had accidents in bed every night.

It took years of working with him, and doctors, and researching this, but we finally got it. He never had accidents and he had stopped holding it for years. But, this became his stress mechanism. When he was stressed, his body would naturally become constipated. Then, if not addressed, his issues would come back. He would have accidents and start to pee the bed again. I could tell when issues were coming back. When they did, he would drink miralax for a week and it would not become an issue. He even was getting to the point where he could recognize it himself, and he would take the miralax on his own.

This weekend, I could tell he was having issues. He smelled bad. Like he did when he was 7. Like he did when this issue started. It was confirmed when I found dirty underwear buried in the laundry basket.

When he was younger, he was angry. His temper would go off too easily. He would attack first and think later, sometimes not at all. He blamed everyone else for his actions.

After years of dealing with this with him, he was starting to try to control his temper. He was starting to understand that he was responsible for his action.

This weekend, I saw him lose his temper over a lego. His sister took a lego off the table, he screamed, tried to grab it out of her hand and lost his temper. He has not reacted to anything this way for years. When I tried to talk to him, I saw him shut down. He had nothing to say. He took no responsibility. Just like he did when he was younger.

It is so hard to watch. It is so hard to not step in. There is nothing I can do. He lives with his mother now. If I say anything to him, he will not take me seriously. And what can I do 4 days a month. If I say something to his mother, it will start a fight. She has no interest in co parenting. Or parenting at all. So I have to watch this 13 year old young man backslide. He says hes happy there. He says things are great. He may never come back here. He may back slide, he may make horrible decisions. He may not ever gain anything that from what his dad and I have tried to teach him. Or he might. I can be hopeful for his future, but right now it is devastating to watch.

Blessed

Six days ago, I jumped off a ladder. Let me explain. I was on a ladder helping my husband. I was holding up a board, with terrible form, and it slipped. As I saw a board coming towards my face, my instincts made me jump. I did not, however, properly land it. I instantly had two feeling. Extreme heat, and nausea. I hobbled into the house, thinking I was fine. Then I looked at my ankle. Instant swelling. Damn.

Since I work for a doctor, I texted her. We decided that icing it overnight and an evaluation the next morning would work. An x ray showed no breaks, lucky. It did however show a grade 2 sprain. Better than a grade 3, not as good as a grade 1. My big prize is a walking boot for a month, followed by some physical therapy.

As I said, its been 6 days. In that time, I have felt physical pain, I have been exhausted from a lack of sleep, I have been bored from spending a fair amount of time on the couch, I have felt sorry for myself and I have grown impatient every morning when I wake up to more pain and new bruises. That’s the lame part.

And in my six days, I have also felt insanely blessed. First of all, I have been sober through all of this. And I’m so blessed to not have to deal with being hungover on top of everything else. I am so lucky to have the husband I have. He lets me throw my little tantrums. He takes care of me and makes sure I have everything I need. I am blessed to have my girls. They get me a blanket if I need it and cheer me up with their love and jokes. I am blessed to have the boss I do. She is my boss, my friend and my doctor. She is always available to give me advice and is a wonderful woman. Maybe my life needed to slow down, maybe this was to help me get back on my sober mission. Or maybe I am just a fucking klutz. Either way, a lot of my routine chores are taking a back seat to sitting on the couch and thinking about my life.

So will I throw another fit over this? Absolutely. Will I feel sorry for myself? Fuck yes. I have at least 24 more days of this. But of course, it could have been worse. And my time of reflection on my couch has reminded me how beautiful my life is and what amazing people I have to love. I am blessed.

I Am

I didn’t write a lot in April. I was occupied. Mostly with my own thoughts and dancing with my personal demons.

I have had this monkey on my back for a long time. I have wanted it gone. I have loathed it. I have claimed to be a fighter. I thought I could just make it go away because I’m strong. Because I’m smart.

But alcoholism beats me every time. It is stronger and smarter. It runs the show.

Many times I have said out loud that I am an alcoholic. I have told people that. But I have never personally believed it. I have been so mad at people for being alcoholics. I have accused people of using it for an excuse. I didn’t want that title. I suppose the other reason was my demons holding on to me. If I admit it to myself, then its true. Then I have to admit that I can never drink again. Ever.

Recently, I had to take a good look at myself. I have never been a social drinker. I drink fast and I drink a lot. I drink to the point of sloppiness, and even then want more. I drink when I say I wouldn’t. I can manipulate my husband into drinking. I can rationalize it to myself. I would never drink at a dinner or small gathering, because I know it would never be enough. There is no way there would be enough booze, and if there was I would surely make an ass of myself. I don’t drink for fun, I drink to get fucked up.

I put myself in countless dangerous and stupid situations. I have driven without even knowing where I was. I have broken promises. I have woken up so many times, not knowing where I have been or how I got home.

I have lived a double life, nobody knew how much I drank. They might have known that I drank, but never how much or how often. Hangovers were my normal day.

And the overwhelming obsession. It would get it my head and nothing else seemed good enough. I could not stop thinking about booze. Then when I got booze, I just thought about getting more. It ruled my brain.

For years, I felt like a failure. A loser. That was the alcoholism keeping its hold on me. So, I have to let those thoughts go. And the only way to do that, is to believe that I am an alcoholic. I cannot drink at all. I have an illness that has had so much control over me. This is how I have to outsmart it. By acknowledging it. I am sick and alcohol want nothing more than to kill me. This is not an exaggeration. If I continue to let this disease run the show, it will kill me.

My name is Jen, and I AM an alcoholic.