NQTD: I’m A Believer

NQTD, NQTD, NQTD. NEVER QUESTION THE DECISION. I want to join some others that I know of and have this tattooed on my body when I reach one year of sobriety. I just don’t know where to put it, but I have a bit of time to figure that out. Which brings me to the topic of this post: Fucking Relapsing, or the more palatable word Research. Back in the days when I was a chronic relapser there was a pattern to my failures. I’d wake up day after day, enjoying the hangover free mornings, the feeling that I was finally getting my life together. I’d be all cheery and sunshiney, and have the very best intentions. But somewhere around mid to late afternoon something bad or something good would happen. It really didn’t matter which. I’m sure if you are reading this you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. A tiny crack in my armor would let a few thoughts in, and these thoughts started romanticizing drinking. I would ruminate on what happened during my day, and then I’d want to elevate that mood or even depress that mood, and make it all so much more grandiose than what it was. Maybe to add a little more spice to it, to live in my head instead of forcing myself to be brave enough to actually create more meaningful experiences……

So that thought, that need for a different feeling would permeate my afternoon and I’d see myself stopping at a gas station and buying a pack of cigarettes and a soda. Smoking all the way home from work. I’d imagine the hurriedness of buying a bottle of wine at the store. Which store? The creepy liquor store by the gas station? The local CVS or grocery store? Then the relief of coming into the house, switching everything off, and finally slipping into the ruminating thoughts and making them something they were not consumed the rest of my evening.

I’d love it if my husband wasn’t home and it was just me, the wine and the cigarettes. I could create the scenes in my head without judgment, without interruption. After an hour or so I’d want him to come home. I’d be buzzed by then, and maybe ready for someone to drink with, to share my wine soaked grandiose day with. All more dramatic and full of feelings and words that weren’t there in the moment, but developed as I created the story I wanted. None of it was lies, but it was intensified with my feelings that I stifled during the day, and then unleashed in the evening with the help of wine.

I’d resist going to bed, because even though I was most likely drunk or at least really buzzed I’d hate it to end because then I’d have to live with the damage I’d done to myself. There was no way to get the alcohol out of my system, the smoke out of my lungs. There was no way to be clean again. But I sure would try. I’d take a shower after the drinking, trying wash off the foulness of my evening. But of course that didn’t help. It was all inside me, and the water and soap and lotions could not get it out.

I most likely wouldn’t have eaten much for dinner, so I’d wake up in the middle of the night, so so thirsty and hungry. I’d stumble downstairs, grab something to drink which might be a Vitamin Water if I was lucky, and if not a glass of water or even a soda. I’d warm up some leftovers, and if that wasn’t available I’d throw some snacks in a bowl. I would take all of this upstairs and eat it in bed. Gulping the drink, eating the food, and then taking a Xanax. Hoping, praying that all of this would take away my hangover that was coming in the morning.

The Xanax put me back to sleep. I’d wake up, barely able to open my eyes, and I would see the dirty dishes next to my bed. I’d see the stains on my sheets from the feeding frenzy in the middle of the night. I’d wonder how I was going to get ready for work, and how I was going to hide what I had done to myself the night before. I’d think about how I can’t possibly keep this up, and it was all just too much for me to get ready for my day. I’d pretend I was okay when my husband woke up. I’d be falsely cheerful, and act like nothing was wrong. But pieces of me were dropping off everyday as I relapsed. The pieces of me that made me feel worthy and wholesome, deserving, confident, kind, capable and all the other words we all strive for in the world. They were laying around at my feet, and I couldn’t bend down to pick them up.

That was a long way around how I started this with NQTD, but I’m getting to the point. Somehow along this sobering journey I gained some self awareness, and realized this is where all the trouble started; ruminating and romanticizing the shit out of my day. So I stopped. Every time I’d start my little daily fairytales that ended up to be nightmares I put an end to it by saying 3 times: NQTD, NQTD, NQTD. I’d then say my affirmations:

I am happy, healthy, and in control of a life I love.

I do not drink or smoke, and I care about my physical, mental, spiritual and financial health.

I am powerful.

I am shining.

And that my friends, is how I got through those first few weeks. I never believed in affirmations before, but as the Monkees say, I am a believer.

Happy Sober Monday,

KB

WHAT I DID YESTERDAY BECAUSE I DON’T DRINK

I am 132 days alcohol free! I’m so very thankful for these days. They haven’t been easy, and I’ve spent years trying to figure it all out, and it’s so damn frightening. I’m scared every day that the happiness I have found can end. So I’m trying desperately to make sure this does not happen. Even when people urge me to have a drink. Even when my husband seems lonely. Even when something really good happens and even when something really bad happens.

But along this journey this time I’ve worked really hard at having the famous sober tools in my tool box that I’ve learned from so many. Thank you everyone! One thing I do is write in my journal, and I’ve stumbled upon a little practice that I wanted to share. As I’m journaling in the morning I found myself starting to create lists. Lists with the theme: WHAT I DID YESTERDAY BECAUSE I DON’T DRINK. They give me an instant hit of pride, and they begin to tell a story about how much fuller and richer life is because I’m not drinking. Trust me, these lists are not earth shattering and full of incredible spiritual experiences. They have included things like: I rinsed out a yogurt cup before putting it in the recycle bin. I created a new playlist. I cleaned out the lint trap. I put the suitcases in the attic. I bought nice white sheets. I brushed the dog. But sometimes the lists include important things like: I spent quality time with my mother and sat with her at a picnic table at the beach. I brought my husband coffee in bed, I made a mammogram appointment. I talked to a friend that is worried about her drinking.

When I’m feeling weak, or the crappy wine witch decides to visit I can look at my lists, read them quickly and instantly see how my life has grown and improved. How it carries more meaning, and provides contentment. On the flip side I have fun making lists of what my day would have looked like if I WAS drinking to provide a comparison. That list typically includes things like gulping water at 3AM, having an anxiety attack on my way to work, silently telling myself I’m a piece of shit, looking like a piece of shit, and eating greasy food. Funny, my WHAT I DID YESTERDAY BECAUSE I DON’T DRINK lists are all different with different experiences. My WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE IF I WAS DRINKING lists are pretty much all the same.

Happy Sober Tuesday,

KB

Central Park

I’ve sat on a bench in Central Park.

Admiring the atmosphere around me.

Why am I here, and what am I doing?

Do I belong, or am I an imposter?

Living in a world I don’t know how to fit in.

But people walk by, and I think, why not me?

Am I deserving and don’t realize that I deserve?

Am I a lost soul, looking to be found?

There are rocks and trees and ponds.

There are lonely souls, homeless and wholesomeness all mixed in with humanity.

How do we differ?  Yet differ we do.

Still all human. Struggling, reaching for something called peace.

But peace comes in moments, and is impermanent.

It is a slice of time, and a slice of life.

It holds no substance, other than where we are, right now in this moment.

But then the moment is gone, and we are left with yet another moment that flies away.

Just like the words I wrote a moment ago.

And each moment builds a life built, a surge of being alive.

At the end life will leave. But the energy of moments are constant.

Whether they belong to us or not.

All we can do is dream, love, and drudge on.

Carelessly, foolishly, not giving thoughts to moments.

Keep moving, keep being, keep loving and keep seeing.

The moments keep us willing to live.

 And then we return to dust.

But our moments are etched in history.

Time

Quickly goes time and slowly it goes

All depending upon the day.

Or what time of the day it is.

Or what mischevious things rounded the corner in the day.

I peeked around the corner, and felt shame.

I’ve peaked around the corner and found relief.

I’ve peaked around the corner, stumbled, fell, and slurred my way through a day.

And then I’ve moved my body, nourished my mind, my soul.

I’ve peaked around the corner, stumbled, fell, and slurred my way through a day.

But then I’ve awakened on a winter’s morning, and looked at snow outlined trees on a similar winter’s day.

I made the first tracks on that heavenly snow, that offered its virgin ways.

I stood breathing in the soft cold air that held no wind, but calmly stood in place.

Holding me up, then letting me go. Like a mother teaching a child to ride a bike.

I raised my hands to the sky, stretched my body to the heavens, and felt it all in a day.

Felt the feelings I would have missed.

If I was swollen in bed, swelling with dread of facing another day.

Of pollutants and pollutions, oozing from within and stuck in the air.

Of smelling the rot that surrounded the bed.

As I tried to lift my head to try to live another day.

Quickly goes time, or slowly it goes.

All depending upon the day.

Or what time of the day it is.

Day 14

I really liked yesterday. It started out rather shitty as I was posting yesterday’s post on my online support group, but accidentally put it on my public Facebook page! It was early morning, but still a distant friend read it, and messaged me words of support. I felt punched in the stomach as I desperately, clumsily tried to delete it. Well, I deleted it but have no idea who may have read it. Was it work acquaintances’ up early like me? Maybe my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother? Or perhaps some close friends? So I spent most of the morning waiting for others to message me, imagining somebody messaging my husband words of concern and him going crazy on me, etc. But none of that happened, and I turned to my online group for support. And boy did I get it. Many had made the same mistake, and they had felt the same as me. But many said they didn’t care anymore, that it was freeing.

I’m kind of feeling that way too. And now that a slip of my secret has entered the unprotected world I feel that it is protecting my sobriety. Like I don’t know who may have read the post, so I certainly can’t go out and have a drink. I’d be paranoid thinking that everyone would be looking at me, “Look, she’s gone back to drinking poor thing.”

But here’s the reality of it all. Most of us spend a lot of time thinking about what other people are thinking about us, but those people most likely aren’t really thinking about us at all. They are thinking about themselves and what other people are thinking about them and around and around it goes. So a bit of me is almost pleased that mistake was made because it gets me closer to feeling like a bad ass. A bad ass for quitting drinking which is such a difficult, major, positive, life changing decision; and for slowly letting the world know what a bad ass I am. And hopefully the post may have helped somebody in some way.

But back to why yesterday was a bad ass day. Before I quite drinking hubby and I would most likely have gone out for some drinks, come back home to where the drinking and cigarette smoking would have continued. We’d wake up Saturday morning, feeling and looking like shit. We’d eat some shitty food, maybe take the dog for a walk and then spend most of the day laying around watching TV and taking naps, trying to recoup. Then we’d go to bed super early. Not much of a weekend huh?

THIS Saturday my husband woke up pretty early for him as I was having my nervous breakdown about the public post, and announced he was going to the gym. Terrific! I could use a distraction and went with him to work off the nervous energy I’d accumulated. The morning continued as I went to yoga. Then we went to the gun range where I learned how to shoot a gun. Then we stopped to get a sweet potato for the steak dinner we planned. We relaxed with the dog and watched a little TV. We made our most excellent dinner, planned our day today, watched a bit more TV and went to bed early. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

And now here I am up early again, well rested. I have another yoga class planned for this morning, plans to go ice skating and lunch, and a hike in the national park. We’ll stop by the grocery store to make a light dinner. LOVE LOVE LOVE. And all because I’m not drinking. And I’m a Bad Ass.

Happy Sober Sunday,

Kelly

Tell Your Umbrella to Pull Up a Seeded Garden

I woke up this morning, super super early once again. 3:40AM to be exact. And I woke up to a dream where I was looking at a picture of an umbrella with the words: Tell Your Umbrella to Pull Up a Seeded Garden. And it is staying with me and not getting lost in the hazy waking up phase of deep sleep.

So here I sit in these early morning hours, wondering what those words mean. I like the way they sound, I’m wondering how they got put together, and I know there is meaning there to be discovered. So I’m going to sit and ponder what the meaning is, and why my brain chose to conjure up these words.

  1. An umbrella protects us from the messiness of life.
  2. An umbrella prevents water from reaching what is below, which prevents growth.
  3. An umbrella shields the sun.
  4. An umbrella keeps precious belongings dry.
  5. An umbrella repels rain.
  6. If you are always shielding yourself from what is natural and life giving, then you may as well pull up the seeds you are planting.
  7. Seeds need water and sunlight to grow and reach their full potential. If you are constantly shielding the seeds they will not blossom into what they are meant to be.
  8. I think I’ll stick to the last sentence because in my rambling thoughts I think I’m uncovering the meaning of the dream sentence: Seeds need water and sunlight to grow and reach their full potential. If you are constantly shielding the seeds they will not blossom into what they are meant to be.

What does this mean to somebody newly sober? To me, in these early morning hours, it means that we are shielding ourselves with alcohol. We are trying to shield ourselves from the messiness of life instead of standing in the rain fully exposed. We are drinking, and by drinking we are missing out on water and sunlight and fresh air as we tragically isolate. Because, we may think, if we can’t stand ourselves, why will others want to stand with us? We are shielding ourselves and preventing ourselves from growing into who we are truly meant to be. So we drink, we try to hide who we really are, we try and pretend everything is okay as we stand dry in a thunderstorm. But the storm is real, and the umbrella is simply a prop to shield us from what is natural and meant to be. And that my friend is our truth. So today, I say let’s ditch the umbrella, let’s get wet and messy. Let’s give the seeds we planted an opportunity to grow and blossom without anything standing in the way. Today I’m going to let the storm come, to rage, and will welcome the gift that is left in its path: Sobriety.

Happy Sober Friday,

Kelly

Layers

There are many layers with tattered edges.

Each ready to be lifted, folded and laid open.

But each is fragile and shy, not ready to be seen.

When lifted the dust is removed and the layers exposed, and then a breath of relief.

Clear eyes and air ruffles through as another tattered layer is peeled and butterflies fly.

An open heart lays exposed as the physical breaks away.

The being replaces ego, and love replaces fear.

What is to fear? We ask these layers of lives.

Haven’t you already lived, traveled, loved and lost?

What happened that was so tragic, because nothing lasts forever.

Not the lover you once loved, or that cabin in the woods where you once stayed.

Not that feeling you had as you breathed the fresh night air while childish laughter laughed with friends.

Nor the babies you held in your arms as you breathed their new scent.

Yet you, dear child, are constant. You are always there through lifetimes. So hold yourself with love and gentleness.

The path and layers of life are unfolding as they should.

And all you have to do is fall open.

Kayb52