Day 1,409 – Caturday!

Dear Sobriety,

Couple more Recovery Awareness Month texts to share. Have a meowgical Caturday!

9/19/21

My brother posted this in a recovery FB group we’re both in. Sometimes a visual representation works better for me.
Happy Sunday Funday!!!

9/20/21

It’s funny all the places inspiration can hit you.

I saw this today and it reminded me of perception.
Every time I thought about quitting drinking, I associated it with not being “me”. Drinking was so ingrained in me that it felt like part of my DNA.

It took a long time for me to realize that I’m still me. I’m just me with a shitload of positives!

No more daily hangover, no vomiting in the morning, I started showering daily, my skin began to glow and I lost weight without changing any eating habits! And those are just a few of the physical positives. The list for emotional and mental shifts is continually growing and is too long to try and quantify!!

A change in my perception has made me realize that instead of losing myself, I’m gaining a life I never imagined would be possible and gratitude for the chance to live it.

9/24/21

From my motivation app that pings me quotes throughout the day.

I’m one of the lucky ones who hasn’t (yet) driven away the people who love me. In fact, my parents have given me my recovery coins for the last three years and I have my brother’s one year coin after mine was left at a meeting.

My parents make a point to express their gratitude at my “birthday” meetings and it never fails that someone shares the significance of having the support that I do. It’s truly rare.

My parents and Butthead have each taken me to the ER for detox as well as rehab.

These are the people who have truly seen me at my worst and I can’t thank them enough for not giving up on me.

9/25/21

My fave pic from hiking today. It was about 7:30a, no one was around and this was the view behind me.

It reminded me what I’d normally be doing at 7:30a on a Saturday less than four years ago: either restarting drinking from the night before if I was by myself or beginning my weekend with a blasting hangover and dying for a “decent” time to kick off drinking again.

Just a moment in my day that I thought was beautiful and wanted to share.

Day 1,402 – Fourteen Hundred!

Dear Sobriety,

Few more texts to share…

9/15/21

Recovery has gone from a taboo “anonymous” subject to being a subject that people are openly talking about in the last couple years. This is one reason why I am very open about myself (also I’m an over sharer – I blame my mother🥰).
I consider it an honor to help kill the stigma while spreading the message that recovery is possible.
I love when people feel comfortable to approach me to chat. Whether it’s about themselves, family members or just because they’re curious why I don’t drink anymore, I’m always happy to share my experiences. (And I’ve actually been approached by different peeps for each of those scenarios)
The only skeltons I keep in my closet are for Halloween and if I’m being honest, they stay out all year round!! ☠️🥰☠️🥰

PS Danny Trejo was always a fave of mine, but he gets bumped higher on the list because he’s also in recovery.

9/17/21

Real recovery awareness thought for the day: since we’ve learned the 3 C’s and the hula hoop rule, we know that we can’t control anything outside of ourselves. So another add on is” expectations are premeditated resentments”. And a lot of the time we don’t even realize we’re setting them for a person, place or thing (including yourself) until we’re disappointed or upset.

The next time you get the negative feels, try to step back and ask yourself if you (un)knowingly set expectations.

It’s not easy the first million times, but once you start to get the hang of it, it brings you to an entirely new level of self-awareness. 🤓🤓🤓

9/18/21

I’ve tried not to associate these texts specifically to drugs or alcohol. That’s part of my story, but not part of everyone else’s.

Call it semantics, but I differentiate between the word sobriety and recovery. To me, sobriety = not using my drug of choice. Recovery is learning to live life on life’s terms.

Every day isn’t great, but we’ve all survived 100% of the worst days in our lives and that deserves a celebration. 🥰🥰🥰

Day 891 – Zoomin in Recovery

Dear Sobriety,

Need some recovery this weekend? Curious about history? Questioning yourself? There’s a sh!t ton of sobriety happening online! The best way to dip your toe in is right now! 🥰🥰🥰🥰

Day 862 – Learning Something New

Dear Sobriety,

COVID-19 has affected nearly everyone around the WORLD.  If you aren’t infected by it or recovering from it, your lifestyle has been drastically altered because of it.  I know mine has.  This pandemic had increased my anxiety to a point where I felt like I was walking around in a haze with a brick on my chest.  The moment I decided finances be damned because me and my sobriety are worth more than a regular paycheck was the moment I was able to take charge and start being me again.  Sure, it’s just me in my apartment with my cats doing some creative accounting, reading, attending virtual all day AA speaker marathons (I’ll have info on that below) and following the CDC guidelines in order to hopefully slow this virus down.  But when I think of how that brick felt on my chest felt, do I need anything more than that right now?  I’m going to answer that with a vehement Hell no!  Like I’ve mentioned before and have heard many time over from others:

You must take care of yourself first before you are able to care for anyone else.

One other thing I wanted to mention to those of you quarantined with your partners: take advantage of this time.  Sure, you’re going to get on each other’s nerves from time-to-time, but doesn’t that happen when the world is operating “normally”?  Think outside of the box.  Here are a few ideas that I’ve used during past relationships:

  • Go for a picnic.  We’re all encouraged to get outside right now (and socially distance ourselves, of course), so go visit a park with a lake.  Take a picnic basket, camping chairs or blanket, a couple of books or camera or whatever you’d like and just enjoy the amazing nature that is happening outside.  It’s Springtime in the States, so birds are singing, trees and flowers are budding and while the humans are quarantined, the world outside is becoming more alive!
  • Take any ol’ game (poker, Twister, Battleship, Monopoly) and give them the adult twist by adding “strip” to the beginning.  Change the rules.  Make your own games.
  • Write notes to each other.  If you’re the early riser and get the coffee going, leave a post-it note on the coffee maker for your partner to see when they get their morning cup ‘o joe to start their day off on a positive note.  I was going to say “start their day off ‘right'”, but there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to start a day, in my opinion.  Leave a note under their pillow before you go to bed.  If you’re like me and can’t keep a secret to save your life, then when you two go to bed, you’ll be all smiles and giggles waiting for them to crawl in next to you and find what you’ve left.
  • If you need some personal space, communicate that to each other.  You’re only hurting each other if you’re sitting there seething about your partner being around “all the time”.  Communicate that, set either time boundaries or household room boundaries and quarantine yourself from each other for a minute and respect this time/space.  It’s not like you or your partner are really “going” anywhere.  Also, if you’re like me and you’re the one who requested the space, you’re going to manage to do this for five minutes before giving in and realizing how much you enjoy having that other person around not only to talk to, but just be with.

Enjoy this time and enjoy each other.

Back to sobriety… Check out this link (www.recoverytapers.com) for a whole slew of free, online speakers.  All of the zoom meeting info I’ll post in pics below may also be found there.  Also, all the zoom meetings I’m posting will be recorded and available at the link above for free.  Miss a speaker you’d like to hear?  It will be available.

This is an amazing time for people in recovery.

Be safe.  Be kind.  Be you.  Sending loads of love and good vibes around the world!  ❤

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Day 648 – I Meme It

Dear Sobriety,

I love memes. I’m so glad God and Abraham Lincoln invented them!! Best invention since the cat. I saw this one the other day and it absolutely rings true with me:

The longest binge I have had so far (HP willing, I won’t have another one) was three weeks. I was unemployed living by myself and had cashed in my 401k after being laid off. Lots of time + too many dollars in the bank account = unhealthy activities for me. So when I saw this meme, I knew I had to share.

Addiction, like a lot of diseases, doesn’t discriminate. You can be white, black, Asian, Martian, rich, poor, tall, short, thick, thin, young, old, criminally insane, a househusband or a rock star. Maybe you’re genetically predisposed. Maybe you grew up around it. It doesn’t matter. If addiction picks a fight with you, you’re going to either have to learn to fight back or you’ll eventually lose.

The fact that addiction can essentially affect anyone is very scary. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy openly discussing my disease. I want to do as much as I can to help get the word out that recovery is not just possible, it’s possible in so many different forms. If one doesn’t work for you, try another.

Get your google on!! It took me two stays in rehab, plenty of outpatient prior and finally some real world sh!t happening before I started getting honest with myself.

One thing to keep in mind: addiction doesn’t develop overnight. Recovery isn’t going to either. Start with a decision to change things and go from there.

Day 595 – Then and Now

Dear Sobriety,

So many things about myself have changed as I’ve gotten and stayed sober these last 595 days and at the same time, I am still the same person.  My addiction ripped me apart to my very soul.  I was becoming a monster and was covering up who I truly am with alcohol. Addiction was almost like I was adding false layers to myself that sobriety has helped me peel away.

Addiction is a liar, cheat and killer. At the same time it speaks so sweetly while apologizing for all the wrong it has caused in your life and convinces you that without it you are nothing.  The hold it had on me was so comforting even though it was literally a death grip.  Somehow I had just learned to live without air.

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The first few weeks and months of sobriety were terrible.  I had no idea how to function on a basic level.  No shower beer?  How do I shower without a shower beer?  The hot steam contrasted with the icy beer was so sweet, but really, as I think of it now, the last few years of me drinking, beers weren’t cold.  I didn’t have time for them to chill before they had to be consumed.  

When I brought an 18 pack home, it didn’t even make it to the fridge.  It sat on the floor next to my futon and there it stayed until it was empty and time to get a new one.  Plus, the whole getting up to go to the fridge to get one?  That’s a waste of time.  When and if I ever did that, I would get at least four at a time to line them up nicely next to me.  Who does stuff like that?  Me.  I did.

Getting sober has been the most amazing and terrifying thing I have ever done in my entire life.  Heard of people who are “born again”?  I sometimes refer to myself that way because I literally have had to learn how to live life all over again… in my mid-30s, no less. 

Early on in sobriety, I felt like I had wasted so much of my life chasing this dragon of mine. Honestly, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still think that sometimes.  I just have learned to stop myself and remind myself that this is all for a reason.  My HP has something going on for me in the background and just keeps reminding me to push forward because he has one more task for me to do.  Do I know what it is?  Nope, but I know that I should be dead about ten times over by now and for some reason I’m not and that is one of the things that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other.

There’s no escape from reality for me in sobriety. This was one of my favorite parts of my race to blackout.  Now I see, feel, hear, touch, taste and remember everything.  My mind spins and I ruminate on sh!t I wish I could just run away from.  Everything I was hoping to run away from was life. I wanted to be done playing what I thought was such a wicked, cruel game.

Today, I no longer have that want that I did before… That wish… The wish and hope to die!  To hit the real escape button. Isn’t that insane?  That feeling of waiting for the “next shoe to drop” is gone.  I have good days and I have bad, but now I can appreciate their synchronicities (most days). It’s all because I’ve removed alcohol from my body and started to work on becoming a more positive positive version of myself.

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I don’t have to hide behind a mask anymore.  I’ve just started peeling back all of the layers that alcohol wrapped around me.  All the anger and pity for myself… The feelings of entitlement… Those things are slowly coming off.  It’s not an overnight process.  It takes time and so much patience…

Ugh!  Patience!  I loathe the word!  My ex was very much into distraction from a problem rather than dealing with it.  That may work for him, but I’ve found in sobriety, it absolutely does not work for me.  If there is something that needs to be fixed, I go in, get dirty and fix that sh!t.  It’s not easy.  There are new things I learn every day about myself that need to be tweaked and adjusted to help me be a better me.  A small leak doesn’t seem like such a bad thing until the o-ring finally breaks and the pipe busts.  I much prefer to do preventative maintenance than a last minute, pricey overhaul. Unfortunately, with living life on life’s terms, overhauls are sometimes necessary evils, but I know if I put the effort in, I can do my best to keep them from popping up as often as they used to.

Sobriety Preventative Maintenance 12 Step by Monica:

  1. Don’t drink.  Thanks, Captain Obvious. AND don’t ingest any other drugs. Yeah, yeah. I was hoping you wouldn’t mention that.
  2. Pray.  And that doesn’t mean just ask for stuff.  Prayers of thanks are very acceptable and quite necessary, in my opinion.
  3. Treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated.  Despite the fact that your neighbor is an a$$hole who never mows their lawn and lets their dog crap in your yard.
  4. Do the next right thing.  If you’re asking yourself, “Should I do this?”, then you probably shouldn’t.
  5. Adopt a cat.  Maybe this one only applies to me…
  6. Learn to listen more and talk less.  HP messages come in all shapes and forms.  If you learn how to shut it a bit, you’ll be able to hear them a little easier.
  7. Take care of yourself first.  The more healthy you are mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, the more you can be and will be there for others.
  8. ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED TO!!  It’s ok and does not mean you are weak or less than in any way.  You can’t do everything and be everything for everyone else.  It’s just not possible. I’m still working on this…
  9. Get a therapist.  A good one and be honest with this person.  I go see mine once a month or so.  I stretched it out to two months one time because I felt like I was wasting her time in the prior session.  You know what?  She’s getting paid whether I feel like I’m wasting her time or not.  So just go because you always feel a million times better afterwards. As far as a “good one”, if that person isn’t helping you or you’re holding yourself back in conversation, get a new one. I’ve seen many over the years and have just now found a perfect fit for me.
  10. Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return.  This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of cash. One of my coworkers writes thank you notes for little things and I LOVE THAT!!  Hand written notes are pretty much obsolete anymore and I’m going to try and add that to my repertoire because it really makes my day every time I receive one.
  11. Learn what you like to do and do it.  This was probably the most difficult thing for me when I started getting sober.  I had no idea what I liked to do anymore that didn’t revolve around drinking.  I had to think about things I liked to do before I started drinking and just kinda expanded that list. I’m happy to say the list is still growing.
  12. Learn to let go of unhealthy people and people who may threaten or stand in the way of your sobriety.  They’re only holding you back from the endless possibilities you will learn you have been given as you continue to move forward.  Sometimes this hurts.  Sometimes this hurts a lot.  But no matter how much you love that person, if they are keeping you from improving yourself, they have got to go. Did I say step 11 was the hardest? Let me change that to step 12 is a smidge harder for me.

After reading through this list a few times, there are so many things I want to add: be grateful, enjoy the little things for they add up to big things over time, be kind and not right… This list could go on and on for me for days and I still don’t feel like I would’ve covered everything I use as my “preventative maintenance”.

Ultimately, one of the key things I have to remind myself of is that today I know my best day drunk will never be as amazing as my worst day sober.

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Top pic is active addiction 2016. Bottom pic is three years later to the day. 419 days sober in 2019.

Day 564 – What Is an Alcoholic?

Dear Sobriety,

A few months ago, probably around Decemberish, a coworker of mine asked me how I knew I was an alcoholic.  That’s a great question.  Let me remind you that I am not “in the closet”, so to speak, about my disease.  Because that is exactly what it is.  For me, personally, to be ashamed of something that has sent me to the hospital on multiple occasions and will kill me should I choose to pick up another drink, it’s better for me to be open and honest and kill the taboo of it.

I don’t expect to be treated like a dainty snowflake.  I’m not going to melt when I walk in the rain.  Believe me, I’ve tested that repeatedly.  I’m not afraid of “normies” asking me questions.  Humans are curious.  If I can help dispel some of the rumors about what, who, why alcoholics are alcoholics, I’ll happily spread the message from my experience.

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Anyway, so how do I know that I’m an alcoholic?  Well, I think a good way to measure yourself on the scale of alcoholism, is to try to have one drink.  I mean, I know I CAN have just one.  Am I ok with that?  Absof**kinglutely not.  In fact, if I were still in active addiction and you gave me a choice between having only one drink and receiving a $1k prize over going home to drink how my “normal” was, I am going to get obliterated at home and be pissed at myself the entire time.  That’s just how this works.  You judge me on quickly I drink or the fact that I am fortifying my drinks with shots in order to get myself drunker quicker so that I can slow myself down to keep on your pace?  F**k you.  I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.  I’ll just head home and get smashed because my cat doesn’t judge (verbally, that is).

So how do I know that I’m an alcoholic?  Let’s see… the three week bender that I went on where I ate no food and ended up in the acute cardiac ward for five days?  That’s probably a hint.

But how do I know that I’m an alcoholic?  The constant unrest in my head?  The lack of concentration until I finally get that first drink after work, in the afternoon, when I wake up?

Does drinking in the morning qualify you?  Because, if so, I’m definitely an alcoholic.  Near the end of my active addiction, my FAVORITE time of the day to drink was in the morning.  The sun looked so pretty coming in AND I knew that I could pass out twice and still get a mammoth amount of alcohol consumed.  OR I could set alarms throughout the day in case I passed out that would wake me up and I would still be in a pretty deep drunk, so it wouldn’t take me nearly as long to get redrunk.

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But does that really mean I’m an alcoholic?  Hmmm… how about getting home from work and being pissed to a point of getting drunk RIGHT NOW that you drink so quickly that you vomit everything back up, but the alcohol has already started to give you a slight buzz so you know that the drinks you hurled up weren’t in vain?

Pissing the bed and just rolling over to the other side telling yourself you’ll figure it out later? Sleeping with random people to fill the constant void that acceptance and self-love would easily fill?  Isolating yourself to a point where your parents call the police to make a wellness check on you, but you just ran to get more beer and see a police car parked in front of your apartment, so you drive around to a quiet spot in the complex and settle in with your still cold from the cooler beer and fresh pack of smokes until the cops leave?  Choosing to drink over eat?

I don’t know what qualifies me to be an alcoholic, but I damn well know that I am one.  And that doesn’t make me a bad person or less of a worthy human being. It means I’m a sick person who needs to find a way to get well.

Writing all of that wasn’t too hard because right now, I’m sitting on my deck after having prepped my lunch for tomorrow at work, having dinner and making homemade granola bars for snacks.  And you know why I did that?  Because today I DIDN’T drink… today I am truly grateful to be able to honestly say I am an alcoholic in recovery.

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Day 560 – Pro-Choice?

Dear Sobriety,

I used the title of this blog to immediately get a response.  I’m sure I did.  I’m sure a lot of people will make automatic assumptions on what I’m writing right now.  If so, go ahead and stop now because you’re probably not going to like what comes next.

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Right now I am upset.  I am so pissed off because I saw that Dollar General is now going to start selling alcohol.  Why does this bother me so much?  Am I upset because yet another place of business that I might step into is forcing me to “face my demons”?  One of my brothers texted me one day that I “Gotta face my demons head on!”  I promptly blocked him from my phone and unfriended him on FB. That’s because I was sober and had a choice. I could listen to his opinions or not. I could respond with emotion or not. I chose not and so far I haven’t looked back on that choice. I don’t expect my family to fawn all over me because I am choosing recovery today, but I would like some respect.

Recovery is not about facing demons.  It’s about acceptance.  Alcohol is a legal substance.  People have a right to do whatever they want with it.  Even take a bong up the a$$ like the lovely Jackass crew has shown.  FYI, I think that bit was funny as hell, so don’t think I’m going off on the Jackass crew.  They make their own stupid decisions, just like the rest of us and a couple of them have decided sobriety is a good way to live and I commend them for it.

Where am I going with this?  It’s difficult to get your head together with thoughts are swirling around and mixing up like ice in a slushy machine.

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Aw yes, choice and acceptance.  Today, because I have put my faith in my HP, I have a choice.  Once I take that first drink, that choice is immediately ripped away from me.  I’ll end up dying within a matter of days, I have no doubt.

Acceptance helps me live as “normal” a life as I possibly can in recovery.  It was really hard for me to walk through a grocery store knowing that alcohol was a mere debit card swipe away from hitting my mouth before I even walked in the door, but I gotta eat.  I can’t afford to live on delivery the rest of my life.

For the first few days, weeks and months I made it a point to avoid the liquor section of the grocery store which was helpful, but still, alcohol is everywhere around me.  Restaurants where people are enjoying a glass of wine with dinner.  Gas stations where people are picking up a two by four for the drive home (that means 24oz beer for the layman).  Commercials, movies, pro-sports games, BBQs, festivals, holidays, etc.  In the U.S., alcohol pretty much surrounds us and it’s not stopping.  You hear about a new microbrew or winery opening up almost every week, it seems.

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Today, because of acceptance, I can choose to either be pissed off and resentful because I know that I can’t drink or I can accept the fact that I am an alcoholic in recovery and there is not a damn thing wrong with that.  This is who I am and I’m a pretty damn cool kid, in my humble opinion.  I have seen amazing (I dare even say miraculous) things happen around me since I have stopped killing myself one can or bottle at a time.

I have put in plenty of “research” to see how much happiness and peace alcohol can bring me and the last couple of years, drinking honestly became a full time job.  If I wasn’t actively drinking, I was thinking about drinking or the craziness that revolves around it for me.  How much did I need tonight?  How much do I have at home right now?  What can I afford?  What plans do I have to cancel?  Do I really want to go to work tomorrow or should I just say f**k it and start drinking as soon as I wake up?  Who do I need to apologize to from the night before?  What lies do I need to come up with to keep people from wondering if I’m ok?

So acceptance has taught me that being an alcoholic in recovery is ok.  It’s who I am and I know that I am much better off without it.  I still laugh and do my own stupid sh!t on a daily basis.  Now, however, I have no regret associated with it.

Does it still piss me off to see alcohol is becoming even more available to the general public?  Sure it does because I know what it has done to me and I don’t want other people to make choices like I did.  This is when I take a moment and a breath, remind myself that I am the only one in charge of my story and everyone else has to make their own decisions.  I can’t live their lives just like they can’t live mine.

“Drinking responsibly” was never an option for me.  Not even from the first time I got drunk.  I’m not jealous anymore of people who have this ability.  I have my opinions about the way alcohol is treated so willy nilly, sure, but I know the only one I can “control” is myself.  And that’s only before I take that first drink.

So today, just for today, I choose to not take that first drink.  Today I will take a deep breath when feelings like this come and remember that in order to keep myself sane, it’s time to say a little prayer to ye olde HP and Elsa that sh!t.

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*Editor’s note: after reading this, I could have written this so much better, but if I don’t express my emotions in a healthy way, they could get the best of me. I may do a rewrite tomorrow, but for now, here it lives.