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Get SMART: What’s Working for Me

No one knows the stats on how many people just quietly quit drinking on their own, but some readings suggest that that it a very common occurrence.  This shocked me a little.  I guess I thought the only reason to quit drinking was because you’d hit the bottom, and the only way to quit was through AA.  I didn’t consider so many people quit on their own, or know that other methods and programs abound.

Like a lot of folks, I shied away from AA because I just don’t see myself as an alcoholic.  Drinking too much, yes.  Wanted to quit, yes.  Additive behaviour, yes.  Alcoholic, no.

I know AA to be a wonderful program, and I have been helped enormously by many people involved in AA who have shared their wisdom and insights through comments on this blog, emails, and other connections.  In fact, my own father went to AA as a young man, before he was married.  He was only 24 when he quit drinking, and although he quit attending meetings after he was married, he has always been proud of his sobriety.  I’ve always known my dad to be an abstainer, and he’s open with the fact that he was in AA as a young man.  I’ve always considered it to be a positive force, and I have had the best example of the results lived out right in front of me.

I felt I still had a choice, and I wanted to change my life while I held the power to do so.  I could see it was only a matter of time before my drinking patterns swallowed me whole and recovery would be out of my control.

I’ve discovered a recovery support program called “SMART Recovery” (SMART being an acronym for Self-Management and Recovery Training).  It is a program for recovery from various types of addiction through learning tools and techniques to support four main points:

  • Building and Maintaining Motivation
  • Coping with Urges
  • Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviours
  • Living a Balanced Life

I am benefitting from the program through its literature but have so far not opted to take part in any meetings.  There are online meetings as well as local ones, and podcasts of meetings are available as well (I’ve downloaded several).  There are free newsletters on the website: www.smartrecovery.org and a bookstore to order literature and support materials.

What most appeals to me about this program is the notion that the recovery process is not eternal.  Hold on, hold on – some of you are getting upset just reading that and are mentally preparing a scathing comment.  AA teaches that alcoholism is for life, that you are always a recovering alcoholic, never a recovered one.

I don’t dispute that point.  I don’t know anything about being a recovered/ing alcoholic.  I only know what it’s like to be me, and as I said earlier, I don’t believe myself to be an alcoholic.  In an addicted pattern, yes.  Hating my life and wanting to change this stupid, horrible, self-destructive pattern I’d engraved, yes.

To say, “The change is complete – I am now a non-drinker and I will continue to be” seems entirely achievable to me.  In fact, I feel I am almost there.  9 months and 2 weeks into recovery, and it is starting to feel normal.  I feel I have shaken the addiction itself, but there is still other work to be done.

There is so much more to recovery than just the simple (albeit difficult) act of keeping booze from your lips!  You really have to do a lot of soul searching and come clean with yourself about what you do and why you do it.

This past year, I have worked hard to understand why I am such a pleaser.  Why do I work so hard for approval from everyone including the grocery clerk, cousins I never see, and total strangers on the street?  Isn’t it interesting that I found my way into the performing arts, where approval is granted at the end of each song with a round of applause and maybe even a standing ovation at the end of the show?  And more ironic that I also have myself on a hamster wheel running a business where sales, profits, and awards motivate my every move?

Who am I if I’m not on centre stage?  Who am I if I’m not a top competitor in business?  What would it be like to just lay low for a while? To just tow the line and only do things because I either need to or want to, not because I feel obligated to in order to make others like me?

So back to the 4 points of SMART, I built my motivation to quit and now, having quit, I have to work on staying motivated.  (Going back and reading my earlier blogs sure helps!  I never want to be in that place again.)

I have learned to cope with urges and have adapted some great strategies.  I have found other ways to comfort myself and have good support in place.

Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours is a work in progress and thank goodness!  I feel I am a better person because I am spared the humiliation of pulling the wine bladder out of the box and squeezing out every precious drop.  That alone is reason enough to have quit.  Beyond the obvious benefits of abstinence and sobriety, there is the fact that I am becoming a calmer, gentler version of myself.  I am finally being kind to myself.  I am getting better but have a long way to go.

Finally, living a balanced life.  This is the goal, really.  To balance out your comforts and pleasures short term and long term.  To be surrounded with good people, engage in positive activities. Be your best you.

I don’t want to get into a debate about which program is right or better.  Different programs work for different people.  The more options the better, as far as I am concerned!  The goal is to get everyone back to sane town, so let’s illuminate as many paths as possible.

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About UnPickled

I am learning to walk without the crutch of alcohol. As I begin I am 1 day sober. Gulp. I drank in private and hope to quit just as privately. The purpose of this blog is to help make me accountable - just by following you will give me enormous support and encouragement.

Posted on January 5, 2012, in Getting Sober and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. Day 1 for me. It’s day 1 again. This is always the easiest day because it’s the one fueled by humiliation, self loathing and all of the other feelings that come along with an extreme hangover and inability to function. I too plan to quit “in secret”. I will be using the “I’m giving up all liquid calories for the next 30 days to see how much weight I can lose”. I figure if I can make it through the 30 days then maybe I can speak more openly. Night #3 is usually my breaking point. That’s as far as I ever get. By then I feel physically better, emotionally better enough that I fool myself into thinking I earned a bottle. It’s also so hard to sleep when I’m not drinking. Maybe having a place to express what I’m going through will help?! I really want to be a more energetic, reliable, less moody mother. I’m so tired of hating myself.

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    • Good morning and welcome to Day 2! Maybe a shift in perspective could help you get over the hump and have more success staying alcohol-free. Could you give yourself the gift of sobriety our of self-love rather than self-loathing? Could you perhaps direct your hatred toward the alcohol instead? You matter, you are valuable, you are not awful, and you’re not alone. Addiction to alcohol is not your fault, but recovery is now your responsibility. It’s okay to try sobriety in secret – it has worked for me and many others – but if that doesn’t work out for you then you just need to adjust your plan by adding more: meeting, therapy, dr supervision, an accountability partner, some more, okay? Plan lots of lovely self care and distractions for the witching hour, and reach out online as much as you can. Try posting a comment here every evening, ask for help if you need it, and also take a moment to encourage someone else. One more thing that’s super helpful: gratitude. Start every morning writing down three things you’re grateful for, and do it again before bed (maybe a nice little journal would be good to pick up today, along with some nice bedtime tea, bubble bath, foot lotion, and trash to read?). Be good to yourself. You can do this, and you deserve to be well and strong.

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  2. I’m not out to dis AA. I know it has helped a lot of people. I have met some incredibly kind, supportive people in AA. That being said, the AA message never resonated with me. The idea that you have a lifelong disease that bars you from alcohol was just something I couldn’t wrap my psyche around. Mostly because I think dependencies, of any type, are more complicated than that, and…every person’s experience is different. I believe that my reliance on alcohol was situational: work-related. I was having a crappy work year that was hard on the heels of similar, crappy years. I was super busy and, it must be admitted, somewhat out of my depth. Alcohol helped me to relax. But, I was drinking way too much for it to be both mentally and physically healthy. I stopped drinking, relapsed, and have stopped again. It feels right, and I hope really hard that I can keep it going. So far, so good.

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  3. Love your blog 😉 thanks for sharing & being so honest. I can’t wait to read more!

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  4. irishcolleen

    Hi Unpickled! And everyone else. Thank you from the botttom of my previously-soused heart for being honest and forthright. And I follow with interest the developing story of Coming Clean 🙂

    So…Two days sober. A small amount of time in the scheme of things, yet I am proud. Feeling twinges of my old self. I don’t have to plan my days around vodka (which I got into so I could dr normal drinks whenever I wanted and be an alcoholic genius like that). I think I’ve shot right to pride because i have wanted every single day for over 2 years to stop drinking. The fixation is exhausting. The lie disgusts me.

    I know I can do this. I was convinced it was folly to attempt it secretly, but as much as it is a problem, I feel it must be approached like anything else personal. On my terms, in my time. Discovering as I go. Thanks for all the resources you’ve named, as well.

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  5. Dear Unpickled,
    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’ve made a conscious decision to hit the reset button with my drinking. I’m not sure if that means forever or right now….. right now. I tried an AA meeting tonight, and I’m just not so sure that is the route for me. It’s a little too “church” like. I’m spiritual, but have always had a hard time believing there’s one way to do something. That being said, I find this leaves me with little to no support – I’m single, my kids are grown and I have no non-drinking friends – Any suggestions on a good way to create a support system that works for me? Thanks! MidwestTF

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    • There is so much online support – every day I discover another site or blog! That said, your experience will be much easier and even enjoyable if you share it with people in your daily life. My biggest supporters have been my closest girl friend (is it old-timey for women to call each other girlfriends these days? Should I call her my bestie for modern reference? lol) and also my husband – and both of these two people drink. The important thing is, they are support me 100% and never undermine my sobriety. Is there someone you trust in your life to talk about it with? If not, consider a behavioural therapist who could give you insights and support, and might also direct you to other forms of sobriety meetings. Another idea is to get involved in activities that do not involve booze – things like volunteering at the library or hospital or a Sunday morning walk n talk club. You will meet others at these types of things that are also interested in more than drinking – it’s funny how we narrow our views and social circles down to revolve around our drinking and then forget all the amazing non-drinking activities that occur in the world! I am going to ask my readers to chime in here with their suggestions for building a support network. xo UnP

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  6. I am now in my fifth week sober!. I am strong and happy. I have been to stay with my elderly father who has dementia. I was so happy that I was able to give him 100%. the last time I was with him I had my own stash hidden away. When I say my own stash I mean that my father who is in his late eighties has his own red wine which he helps himself-to all day. I was becoming like him. He plays hide the bottle and is able to pretend that he hasn’t had a drink. He has had years of practice. My mum who doesn’t drink had a couple of days away. I am pleased Kat was able to see similarities to me as per her blog above. I have very few cravings. I am clear headed, better company, guilt free and am planning to stay this way. I had a lunch with girlfriends today. They all shared wine and I ordered a lemon squash. I was in control! One of my friends was telling us al how she thinks she drinks too much. I just kept quiet and smiled.

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  7. Like everyone else I thank you for your blog. It is inspiring and all too familiar. Today is my Day 1 and I know I have a long path ahead of me. It really helps to know there are others who have gone through the same struggles as me. I’ve increased m drinking from 1 bottle a night to 2 bottles and hide the bottles from my husband. Like Coming Clean I wake up in the morning and worry about whether be hidden the bottles properly, did I slur much, who might i have called for a chat. My children notice that I drink to much and the guilt is all consuming yet I don’t stop. I forget things that I said the night before and cringe when I hear some of the things I’ve said or have to pretend that I now remember promising to take my daughter shopping today instead of going to school. I am a terrible role model. I plan my days and weekends around drinking and wake up every morning foggy and hungover. My withdrawals are so bad now that my hands shake so badly I can’t write, eat without shaking or even sip a drink without my shakes being clearly visible. I find myself in a rut where I drink to get rid of the shakes and to get rid of the hangover. I can’t sleep without alcohol but then of course I wake up at 2am and can’t get back to sleep. I have been in a high performing job for 15 years and I’m now taking leave to try and sort myself out before my colleagues worked out that I was starting to struggle to perform due to excessive drinking. I may be kidding myself and they already knew but I am wanting to quit drinking secretly.

    Thanks again for your blog and wish me luck!

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  8. The important lesson is one that I didn’t face up to. That is trying to live with shame and guilt every day is too difficult. From the moment I got up until I went to bed the thought of the next drink, where did I hide last night’s bottles, how much did I slur when I spoke to my elderly mother, my children, my sisters. The most important lesson is that coming clean is soooo liberating.

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  9. Hi UnPickled. It is now coming up to four weeks since I decided to give up alcohol ( I had one night of alcohol at the end of the first week). Everything has settled down with my husband. He is now feeling relieved that I have continued with the sobriety. The household is much calmer.I am feeling less anxious and have almost lost the craving. I have noticed that I can actually have a good belly laugh without a drink. I know that social situations will be my next challenge. I am preparing for it and I am sure that it will be ok. I think I have drunk enough alcohol since I was a teenager that there is no need for any more. I am enjoying my old self. It is like catching up with an old friend and recalling happy memories together. I love waking up clear headed and I love lying in bed at night with a book or laptop. After a bottle of wine those things didn’t happen! I have lost so many years of clarity!
    I enjoy reading everyone’s journeys.

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    • I am overjoyed to hear that you are well and strong and carrying on. It’s it a wonder to get to know yourself all over again? And to rediscover the many wonderful pleasures and indulgences of life? What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

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  10. Thankyou so much for your big HUG response Unpickled. I really needed it today. My husband came home from work tonight and I told him that I am trying really hard and that I wanted him to be more supportive of me. I told him that many many people have similar problems to me and it is nothing that I should be ashamed of. He agreed and apologised for his reaction last night. He needed to be made aware that the first few weeks are the worst. I am looking forward to waking up tomorrow to a new day and new hope. I have loved what I have heard so far with the bubblehour. They all sounded so like me. I think I am a really addictive personality and that losing one vice will probably lead to another. I am hoping it will be fitness and trips to the gym! Wine has given me an extra 10 kg mainly around my middle that I need to shed. I have also cleaned out my study today and realised that it is years since I have done it. Wine stole so much of my time.

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  11. I too have just got onto your blog in the past two weeks. I reached a crisis point in my life where I had to be honest and admit that I had a problem. I was a high functioning alcoholic, in my fifties with a grown family. I have been drinking heavily for the past ten years. I was secretly drinking over a bottle of wine a day. I would plan my drinking to fit in around my time at home. At a function I could drink multiple glasses of wine to every one of my husband’s. I was getting worse and I knew it would only be a matter of time that I was caught red handed so to speak. My husband threatened to put me into detox if after a week I couldn’t give up. I gave up on Jan 6th after the confession and lasted a week without a drink before Jan 13th night at a friends BBQ where I drank a few champagnes and one red wine. He got quite cranky on the way home and said I shouldn’t drink at all . I have gone through the whole week since the BBQ managing my sobriety. I know if I start again he will take drastic action and threaten to leave me. He is a doctor and knows that the only way to stop the drinking is to never ever touch it again. We had another argument last night where at dinner I asked him if he was proud of me having given up drinking at home and how would it be if I only ever had a drink occasionally when I go out to a function. Well he hit the roof and said that I was mad and I had to stop thinking about alcohol. I said that I am happy now to give up for good and that I want to be able to at least discuss it with him as being sober is sometimes a lonely and confronting path. I am now into my third week since initially giving up. I will be much more calm this week. I have found the joy of going to bed and reading and waking up clear headed make it all worthwhile.I know my husband wants the old me back and is terrified of the alcoholism coming between us again.

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    • I wish I could give you a great BIG hug right now. Stop by any time to give or take inspiration. Or email me directly if you prefer (picklednomore@gmail.com). Don’t be frustrated if your husband does’t have patience for talking about it as much as you’d like him to – it’s on your mind constantly and takes continuous, strenuous effort so you probably are dying to talk to someone, whereas he just wants this to be better already! (I’m guessing). If you don’t have anyone in recovery to talk to, check out thebubblehour.com which is an amazing weekly podcast from women just like US and their voices will warm your heart – I promise. Listen to “The High Functioning Alcoholic” and see if you recognize yourself. There is so much support here for you – anytime. Stay in touch. And don’t drink!

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  12. I love your blog. I am also a member of smart too! Thank you for blogging. 🙂

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  13. I found this blog through SMART & am just starting my journey. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog. I like SMART’s philosophy that I’m in control of what I do & I’m not diseased, powerless or some sort of wretched person. I have a problem & a really shitty habit.

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  14. I feel so stupid, I thought ya know, ill keep watching this blog but I don’t really need to quit drinking…… I screwed up five days of being sober. The first night I drank four glasses of wine and was just fine. The next, lost count of how many vodka drinks. I don’t even drink vodka!!!!!! Was a total bitch to my boyfriend, drove home…..same old shit. I’m telling him my “secret” plan to quit drinking today……as we leave for vacation. Yay!!!! Lol Thanx for letting me vent.

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  15. This is a fascinating and inspiring blog. What amazing human beings you all are!

    Drinkers are not defective, it is the alcohol that is the problem.

    We have, unwittingly, fallen into a nasty trap. Anyone who drinks has been lured in by social and cultural brainwashing (not to mention a £multi-billion (or dollar in the US) industry) and an addictive drug called alcohol.

    I would like to inspire you to seek out and read Allen Carr’s “Easy way to Control Alcohol” for a different perspective on this issue.

    It makes complete sense to me and has inspired me to see alcohol from a very very different perspective.

    One of the most important instructions given in the book is to ‘keep an open mind.’
    This is imperative as current conventional ‘quitting’ advice and guidance is turned on it’s head.

    And… as the title suggests, an EASY WAY is available to all. This is not about maintaining willpower……for the rest of your life…

    Allen Carr is most famous for his quitting smoking work and also works with over eating and anxiety issues.

    and for the record…. I am not in the employ of the Easyway empire just a very satisfied ex drinker. I bought the book for £7.99, about the price of a reasonable bottle of wine. It has saved me a fortune!!

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  16. Yes I agree with so many here, this is a wonderful Blog and hope you dont mind if I do the same. I am giving up drinking today. I have been to rehab once and it lasted for three months, and didnt seem to be a big deal, that is until I started drinking again. There is a little ad here in australia for giving up cigarettes , and it says that every time you manage to give up for a while you are closer to being able to do it successfully. And I found that true with Cigarettes almost 18 years ago and now I hate them. In the last few months Ive been abstaining from alcohol a night or two at a time, and now is the time. to stop , but I have so much I want to say about it. My turn around this morning is something I have been thinking about for these last few weeks and it is this: This over bearing need to drink is for me a legacy from both my parents. It killed them by the time they were 59. It killed my sister at the age of 68. It killed my husband at 62.. along with Cigaretts. I turned 58 this week and I am damned if this legacy will be mine. I reject it. I will not let them, their genes and their lifestyle take my life from me any longer. I hope to keep in touch with you and figure out a way to get the blog going.
    All the best and thankyou so much for what you have done .
    the big A.

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    • It has been five days since your comment – how are you? Hanging in there? Carrying on? Starting over? I am thinking of you and cheering for you. Every day is a new day. Every moment is the next moment. I’m turning 45 soon and one of the things that excites me most about sobriety now is that I am going to KICK ASS as I age! Please stay in touch and keep going.

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  17. I was curious to know where you are today unpickled! 🙂 Glad to know that you are still sober! Congratulations. And yes, there is a distinction between a craving and an obsession. It’s good to read about that here.

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    • Thank you for asking – I’m doing great! Dare I say it all feels normal? Yes. No calamity, no exhaustive efforts involved. It is work to keep my thinking straight and to stay motivated, but it isn’t hard. It has become part of me now. I still have the odd dream of accidentally sipping a drink with alcohol, and last week I caught myself distracted from a conversation by the overpowering smell of the red wine nearby. I still host gatherings and manage just fine to pour wine for friends and then serve myself something appropriate. I can’t believe it is me – can’t believe it’s closing in an a year. It is an incredible relief to be free!

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      • Sorry to piggyback on to this post, but for whatever reason, it won’t let me create my own separate reply. Your blog is a total and complete inspiration to me – yep – you are my role model. I have found several blogs over the past few days and read voraciously and yours really really spoke to me – kinda like looking in a mirror but not having all of your sobriety time. Hope you come back soon to offer up more of your life and advice.

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        • Wow – what an honour it is to help inspire you as you begin your journey. I’ve been thinking about you all week – how are you doing? As I recall I felt like jittery sh** for the first while so I send you love and encouragement if that’s where you’re at. Hang in there. And please know that your comment inspires ME to keep going! It is much, much easier but I sure do have moments of weakness and it helps to know there are others out there like me on different points of the same path. Stay well and stay in touch!

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  18. I am so relieved that I found your site this morning – thank you! As I struggle to stop drinking I have been searching for people with a story like mine. On December 1 I decided that I must quit drinking forever. Two months later I am still drinking 4 – 7 drinks per night. I have been to talk therapy (been there done that), talking with my doctor (he wants me to quit but has not provided much guidance), have been to three AA meetings in the last week, (I fell like I have not fallen hard enough to fit in). I know that stopping is just the first step and that recovery will be the journey, however I am afraid of withdrawal symptoms. I will be checking out the resources you and others have posted and I will be soon having my last drink.

    Thanks again for some hope!

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    • Just so you know I am rooting for you! Please email me any time: picklednomore@gmail.com – I’d be more than happy to do what I can to help you on your journey. My early posts about the first few days have helped me a lot – re-reading them is incredible motivation to keep going. I am not going to lie – quitting will be hard. Your brain and your body will fight you but you can shut them up with sleep and sugar and your determination to change. It becomes easier within a few weeks and worth the effort. Now, months later, I am strong and so so PROUD of myself. The secret shame is gone. I am free from the guilt that hung over me constantly and it is WONDERFUL!!! Hang in there and please stay in touch, even if it takes you a while to get to the point of actually quitting. “Ramping up” can take a long time. I am curious to know where you are at today.

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    • I’m so glad I found “unpickled” too! I have been dealing with my own battles. I drink/drank (day 4 of not, still have to make it through the night) about the same amount as both of you every night. So many times I wake in the morning feeling like crap and saying, “I have to stop drinking or at least during the week” I quit smoking cold turkey, no problem, set the date, and quit. Why is it that this seems more difficult? Maybe because my boyfriend is right there with me and I don’t think he has any desire to stop, my sister too. But sometimes I’m alone, so it’s not their fault. For some reason for me I feel better doing it on my own and not telling them. So far the last three nights I have not had a drink and he has still been drinking, but tonight will be tricky because my daughter has a soccer game and after the game my sister always comes over and we have a drink and it’s not just A drink! I’ve been without a drink for three days before, but not 4 that I can recall in a really long time! Not sure where I’m going with all this, am I quiting for good or can I indulge on the weekends? I don’t know, but I do know that I like feeling “clear” I always look at people and wonder, do they go home and drink every night too or is the cocktail they are having their first all week? Do those people that I hang out with at the superbowl party that are drinking way more then two or three drinks just doing it on this rare occasion? I mean is it really possible that they don’t go home every night and drink like that? I wish that I didn’t!
      Hoping to stay focused on not looking through the bottom of my glass! I’m reading your posts from the beginning of your journey and there is soooo much of it that I can relate too, that I’m living now and here I thought I was so alone. Thank you for sharing! When I googled “miseribly trying to quit drinking” I was looking for someone else like me. AA was not really a thought to me, but quiting always have been and since I get smoking all on my own, even though my boyfriend didn’t, I knew I could do this on my own. But it gets hard and frustrating. I keep telling myself that before I can expect change in others around me I need to change myself. I’ll keep reading and posting. Please let me know how you both are doing.
      Thanks again.

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      • It’s been a week since you posted your comment and I have been sending up little prayers for strength and encouragement for you. How has the week gone? You are in a tough position if everyone around you is unaware and/or unsupportive. You may find that you need a confidant to help you get through. Someone who will hold you accountable and who cares enough to not let you go back. Isn’t it AMAZING though, when you start reading blogs and realize that what you have fallen into is completely NORMAL and you are not a screwed up freak? When you hear that plenty of other good people have found themselves in a similar place and have pulled themselves out of it and suddenly you realize you can do this. It’s do-able! I am rootin for you!! No more misery, right?!

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      • PS – I still do exactly as you said about the Superbowl party – look at people having one or two cocktails and wondering how they do it, IF that’s really all they have. It is a mystery to me. I still want a whole bottle of wine and three margueritas! Which is why I have NONE. I laughed out loud when I read your comment because I have those exact thoughts every time I see people drinking.

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      • I’m so glad you commented back to me! It’s been 12 days now of me being sober. Well not drunk, not even close. I did have a glass of wine last Saturday night which I nursed for over an hour and felt ok with just that. My drink was/is vodka, club soda with a splash of cranberry. I have not had one of those nor do I feel comfortable having one. I have always wanted to be the person that could go out to dinner and have a couple of drinks and be done with it after that. Not go home and finish it off till I was drunk Or drink every night after work. I’m getting there….. I don’t drink after work when I get home anymore or at least I haven’t so far. I’m scared to, I’m afraid I will fall back, it’s too easy. My boyfriend still pours himself nice big multiple glasses of vodka crans. Now, when I get home I take the dog out for a nice long walk, I need to get out to break the habit. Then when I get back home I hop on my exercise bike and ride for 30/40 min, still trying to break the habit of pouring that drink. It’s been working, by the time I’m done I feel great and I’m strong enough to NOT want that drink. When I get in bed I read a blog from you. I’ve started from the beginning. Your words help me stay strong and remind me that I’m doing what’s best! I love how I have been feeling, refreshed, clear headed and even my eyes are whiter and my face isn’t so puffy. This is going to make my journey to lose weight so much better. I crave the workout now like I crave a drink. Oh but yesterday driving home the sun was out and the sky was blue I just wanted soooo bad to make my cocktails and drink drink drink!
        Last weekend I was out of town like I am this weekend. My daughter’s soccer tournament. This has always been a big drinking event for me, and my boyfriend or my sister which ever one would come with me. Everyone hangs out has dinner and drinks, but no body drinks like I did, at least that’s what I’m noticing now since I’m not looking at them through the bottom of my glass. I was always the only one that was hungover and that is such a shitty feeling early in the morning on the side of a soccer field. UGH! Last week I didn’t bring my drinks and I sat with everyone drank my water and then I did it I had one glass of wine. Soberity is coming in different stages for me I guess. I think that for now I shouldn’t have any drinks, not sure I’m as strong as I’d like to think, but if I do and I don’t get drunk that is such a plus in my book. I have to stay away from drinking at home during the week and weekends as well I believe. If I don’t I will fall back I’m sure of it. My neice asked me what I’m giving up for Lent, I said “drinking” she looked surprised cause her mom, my sister, is my boozing partner. So there it is, I said it out loud, even though Lent is my excuse, it’s out there. I’m in a different place this time. Something just clicked in me that Sunday night after superbowl and boy was I drunk. Not sure what, but I want this bad, I need this, but I want it more. Now when I forget something I know I really just forgot it not that I was drunk and I don’t remember it being told to me. It’s nice to feel clear. I’m going to keep walking this path, at least keeping trying. It is very nice to know that I am not alone on this journey. I’ll keep reading and posting. Please keep in touch.Thank you for sharing your stories they have helped change my life.
        ~Ready

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      • I’m not sure why the post I left earlier said that it was from Anonymous, but I apologize for that it was from me, Ready.

        Like

  19. I love a good dialogue whether people agree or disagree… thoughtful discussion and even (gasp!) disagreement are GOOD!
    I partied WAY too hard as a teen and had loads of consequences. I went into treatment and got sober. I didn’t drink for 17 years. I thought of myself as an alcoholic. At the 17 year mark I tried a sip of beer or wine or a appletini once every 6-12 months. Nothing happened! I didn’t go off the deep end and become a skid row resident living in a box. i didn’t run out and start sleeping with strangers. I didn’t fall off the deep-end and start sleeping all day and not working. At 20 years I decided I was not an alcoholic and could drink, which I do now. If I start having consequences, I may have to stop again. We will see.

    My husband, Mr. M, on the other hand, is a full blown alcoholic. He is not just a mere problem drinker or addictive personality. This man has a SICKNESS. He cannot EVER drink again and be OK (not to say he won’t, just that he will never be able to drink like a normal person). He works a 12 step program and when he is working it, he stays sober, when he starts flaking out, he drinks. He will never be able to stop the program and stay sober. I am sometimes sad, lonely, and resentful that he has to be gone 4+ nights a week, but I guess that is the price we pay for his sobriety (so he can work & drive & walk without falling down or running into things & not vomit or urinate on himself or the furniture).

    Thanks for your share… thought provoking.

    Like

    • I’ve read over your comment many times in the days since you posted it. One of my motivations for abstinence is my fear of being a burden. I love my family beyond words and am a proud (budding) matriarch – our sons are now young men, beginning their lives. I want to be that strong, steady mother/in-law/grandmother that they and their families can look up to and trust. I knew I was on the wrong path. I couldn’t get there if I continued to drink. I was terrified of damaging my brain and organs in a way that would see me in premature extended care, rather than skiing with my future grandchildren.

      Although your husband is not a burden to you, perhaps his alcoholism is – the time away, the relapses, the uncertainty. Yet you find the balance and go forward from there.

      I am asked sometimes if my abstinence is forever. For now my answer is, “Absolutely” because I still want to drink a whole bottle of wine, not a sip. My urge is to yank a bottle out of the ice bucket at the next table in a restaurant and run for a quiet place to enjoy it alone. I never, ever want just a sip. I want it all!

      Every one is different, though, and you have managed to find what works for you. I wish you well as you carry on. Thank you so much for sharing. Please stay in touch.

      Like

  20. I go to a wonderful women’s AA meeting on Saturday mornings, and someone said almost that exact thing…she was at 8 months and couldn’t understand why she was still struggling. The uproarious, loving and knowing laughter that filled the room made things better for so many of us. including the woman who said it.
    No matter how you’re doing this, 9 months and 3 weeks is nothing compared to how long you did drink. It takes a while to get comfortable in your new skin, your sobriety. I don’t think it needs to be hurried or expectations put on it. I look at it as I am 9 months and 3 weeks sober (also…my sobriety date is March 21..yours must be very close!) and that is amazing and wonderful and good enough for now. Cravings still? Sure..the holidays were hard, But the obsession to drink is gone. I see those two things very differently. Craving is just a feeling, feelings pass. The obsession that used to be there kept me drinking, left me unable to stop.

    I agree with you…whatever works! The SMART program has helped many, as has AA and religious groups and many other ways of getting/staying sober. Grateful for them all, because you’re right, getting back to “sane town’ is the goal.

    Glad you’re posting again!

    Like

    • Thank you so much for this comment. Your words have brought me great comfort these past few weeks – the ability to distinguish between “craving” and “obsession” is an epiphany! You are so right – cravings pass quickly and are but a blip compared to the raw gnaw of obsession. Obsession used to drive me to plan my day around when and how to have my drinks. Everything led up to (and then drained away from) that moment my day stopped being about everything else and started being about feeding my little monster inside. Thank you for pointing out the difference!

      Like

  21. As someone who quit drinking without a program(and who is 26 months sober today!!!) I totally relate to your post today in all aspects. I believe that most things in life are not”one size fits all” and I don’t believe in labels either. I used to drink too much, it was interfering with me being the best I could be, I chose to stop! Congrats on your continued journey. keep posting, I LOVE your insights.

    Like

    • Congratulations! That’s over two years – wow! I will get there….I will. Tell me something, do you still have cravings? I seem to have lost the demanding tick of wanting wine, but once in a while I’ll see a chilled bottle across a crowded room and I just want to meet it in the back and have my way with it. I am 9 months 3 weeks sober and didn’t think that would still occur. What is your experience now?

      Like

      • I don’t get craving per say anymore….what I do experience is when life gets crazy , I am the type of personality that looks for a release from that stress. I used to numb myself with wine. I am such an all or nothing personality that now I am so much more into exercise than I was even before> Some would call it an obsession, but the endorphin kick works for me. Also I can honestly say with 2 1/2 years looming on the 9th of May, the craving for wine does not exist. I can be around it and not be bothered. What still bothers me, but not as much, are peoples busy body ways when I refuse alcohol.

        Like

  22. Thank you so much for this, and all your posts. Calling myself an a a alc alcoholic (how I loath that word) has been weird for me. Even a former therapist and my family dr. downplay it, when I have questioned my drinking most honestly with them. Because of this though, I sometimes looked at it as an easy out, a permission to drink. A disease? I still don’t know. Addicted? Yes.

    Like

    • I get the feeling that a few of the people who know about my situation think that quitting forever is going too far. I can’t buy into that mindset. It must feel even more isolating to have your therapist (no wonder former!) dismiss it. I know there are alcoholics, I believe the addiction is real, but if the first requirement is to be powerless then I don’t qualify. So then what? I’m glad I didn’t until I became powerless – surely I was on my way. Thanks for your blog, and for staying in touch!

      Like

  23. I agree with your idea that recovery can have an end point, a nice, natural point where it is sealed and signed off on.
    Sometimes clinging to titles and categories is not helpful and I guess your father moved on constructively. Great post, and I appreciate your honesty in not posting for the sake of it, something we can all learn from.

    Like

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