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3 Years Sober: What It’s Like for Me

I had lunch with 3 beautiful sober ladies yesterday, new friends whom I met through this blog and the “Booze Free Brigade”.  What an incredible joy it is to connect with others who understand the journey. I never imagined I would laugh easily for hours with people I’d only just met, and I certainly never thought my recovery peers would be so very much like me.

I also never guessed that I would still be blogging after three years, still be working to change my life, or still be a work in progress. In all honesty, I thought I would be “done” quitting: recovered, emphasis on the “–ed”.

For the most part, I have nailed the “not drinking” part of this deal. My fridge has a selection of non-alcoholic choices I enjoy, and I breeze through most social situations. I order with confidence in restaurants, decline gracefully when offered booze, and generally speaking living alcohol-free is now second nature to me.

I think something clicked partway through the second year; likely the cumulative effect of repeated experiences. Trial and error of what to say, how to act, situations to either embrace and avoid have all added up to a high level of comfort with my new alcohol-free life.

Two of my new friends at lunch yesterday are in their first year of recovery, and to me they seem yonks ahead of where I was at that stage. Ah but we all know better than to compare out insides with someone else’s outsides, right?

The “insides” are the focus of my efforts now. Once we tame the behaviour of drinking we turn our attention to understanding the reasons it was ever necessary. It’s not that hard to see, not that difficult to understand, how things can go sideways. The tricky bit is learning new ways to act and react so that life doesn’t become so painful that we require constant numbing.

This is much more difficult that it might sound. I can intellectualize that I am overly critical on myself; I can understand the root causes of the criticism and identify the patterns of behaviours involved. The real challenge for me is to do things differently moving forward.

It’s not as if I can just say, “I am going to stop being so hard on myself” and BOOM, be gentle. It takes an effort towards awareness.

For instance, last week as I was cleaning my house I could feel my agitation and anxiety rising. The usually euphoric scrub of a toilet was done with resentment; my normally light step was hurried and panic-driven.

In the past, I would have allowed myself to feel righteous anger at everyone else for dirtying the house. This time, however, I was able to realize I was being motivated by a fear of criticism. I was preparing to host a gathering and one of the guests in particular worried me.  I was anticipating her critical eye and imagining words she might say if she saw a dusty baseboard or spotted fixture.  I was expecting cruelty, bracing for it, resenting it, and allowing myself to feel badly.

On the surface, I was being bitchy about cleaning the house and I was working myself up into a lather. As one of the women said at lunch yesterday, “I just thought that was normal, I thought how I acted was just me. Now I realize I can do something about all that.”

You see, if we just quit drinking and make no other changes, we are stuck with all those old ways of interpreting, internalizing and acting out. This is sometimes called being a “dry drunk”.

If we are going to go to all of the effort of getting and staying sober, we might as well muck through a bit more and change things so that we don’t just end up miserable from some other broken crutch (shopping, gambling, sex, food, and so on).

So while drinking is a long way in the rear-view mirror, I am working on all the other “stuff”, specifically:

 

Anxiety:

I once would have DIED before admitting I suffered from the A-word. That was for weak people.

Oh that shaking? That’s just nerves. Sweating? I am excited. Chest pains? Yes, I have a really stressful life but look at me handling it! Look at me, look at me – look at all the amazing things I can do while I shake, sweat and ignore the pains in my chest!

Now I can call it what it is: AN-fricking-XI-E-TY and I am learning better ways to identify and handle it.

 

OCD

I have had (and hidden) a form of OCD called “dermatillomania” since my early adolescence. It is gross and embarrassing and apparently rather COMMON among those susceptible to addiction.

Please read more about it here: http://www.thefix.com/content/pick-me-baby-one-more-time .

I use behaviour modification and relaxation techniques to deal with it and have had great success.

Many readers may identify with this problem. If this describes you, please understand that the condition has a name, there is help available and, as always, you are not alone.  Email me at picklednomore@gmail.com if you want to chat about it and are uncomfortable commenting publically.

 

Eating behaviours

At different times in my life I have fallen into disordered eating patterns – I think that is the right language these days. This partly stems from perfectionism or  fear of criticism, and mostly from a desire to exercise control at times when life has felt unmanageable. I have cycled between binge/purge, starvation, and obsessive exercising – all behaviours I expect to leave in my past.

 

Over-achieving

What is the difference between being a high-achiever and an over-achiever? In my experience, it is that an over-achiever is never satisfied because we are driven by shame and fear. I just never felt good enough and thought I needed to do more than everyone else to be worthy of the same level of acceptance.

 

Anxiety, OCD, disordered eating behaviours, and an insatiable need for success were just other presentations of the same old problems. I had accepted them as normal, as me. I never expected them to change because I never knew they were the outcomes of my own misguided efforts to comfort my old wounds.

So when I talk about recovery, I am talking about getting back to the root of our problems – drinking, yes, as well as other things you and I no longer have to accept as “just us”.

We can do better for ourselves, and just knowing that brings a world of relief.

This is where I am at after 3 years, 3 months, and 10 days of living alcohol-free.

Emphasis on the FREE!

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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 July 1, 2014, in Getting Sober and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. I am a member of the BFB and have been trying to find their Facebook group without any luck, any ideas how to join it?

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  2. Hi Chef Jenn. There are lots of other recovery groups and support programs that let you keep religion (spirituality, call it what you will) out of it. Check out SMART Recovery or Life Ring – both have great websites with lots of resources and meetings either online or in person (depending on where you live). I’d love to hear more about what supports work for you. Thanks for being here and sharing.

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  3. I’m sitting at a Starbucks on a Saturday night. I never do this. I had to get out of the house though because being at home is where I did most of my drinking. My husband and I would drink at home every weekend (me every night). So I was sitting at home watching tv which is what I did every night that I drank but I’m not drinking anymore. I quit just over 8 weeks ago. I’m very proud of myself but I do have bad days. Today was one of them. So anyway, I needed to break the pattern of the triggers of my drinking (being home) and come out to Starbucks. It’s nice actually. I had been drinking for over 30 years, since I was 14 years old. Alcoholism runs in my family, both sides, and it’s rampant. I tried quitting 11 years ago just before I got married but I after 3 weeks convinced myself I could control it. Fast forward 11 years and I was drinking daily, at least a bottle of wine a night but usually more. Anyway, I could go on and on about my drinking problem. I think I need to find a support group. Don’t want to do AA only because I’m a non-believer and 6. Of the 12 steps involves praying and believing in God. Anyway, I read a book called Drinking, A Love Story. I thought I was reading my own autobiography for the most part. It’s a great book for anyone who thinks they have a problem or who recently quit. Now I search the Internet for other people’s stories and journals through recovery. I’m babbling. Overall, I’m much happier not drinking. It’s challenging but worth the fight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AA is a spiritual program, not a religious program. It’s your higher power of your understanding, not anybody else’s……good luck, but remember….the same person will drink again and that’s a fact

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  4. This blog is fantastic!
    The hardest part is admitting to the problem. I’m very much an over achiever. Career women, kids, phd, running marathons…etc. My life has become my ‘resume’ and to maintain that superficial drive I drink! And to think I am so ‘weak’ that I have a problem with alcohol is incomprehensible. But I do… I score ‘high risk’ with the online tests and certainly use it to deal with anxiety and stress. It has a profound impact on the negative end, ie I become riddled with guilt about being a bad mom, depressed and then drink more to numb these feelings. I fear the boredom of stopping…what will I have to look forward to when my life is so busy and stressful!? And I decide to quit most days but never do, or last only a single day.
    And why can’t I be the person that just doesn’t drink monday through to thursday. Surely with all my other ‘life successes’ I could achieve that!?…but of course i never do.
    Does one ever feel ready to stop? The red flags are there but accompanying the red flags are an array of excuses and justification.
    Why is it not enough to say that for my kids I should stop? I know I will be a more engaged parent if I’m not tucking into a wine to deal with ‘witching hour’ with two kids under four.
    And I hate the idea of my life focus becoming ‘I don’t drink and there is my greatest success’. Why does it have to be all consuming and can’t one just be the quiet achiever….tackle the issue with compassion and then continue on more efficiently and affectively with life’s other pursuits. And I’m certainly not passing judgement on those dedicating substantial time promoting not drinking, it truly is a social (and personal) poison for most…but i don’t want to have to make the change and that becomes my new ‘all consuming focus’. Ultimately I just want some inner peace and contentment without the side effect of guilt and depression (and a nasty hangover).
    ….first time blogger and still drinking, but asking for help in an aggressively defensive way (sorry!).
    PS – well done to all of those who have stopped drinking. I respect and admire the resolve to do so (albeit from a nervous distance).

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    • It sounds to m like you already have an all “consuming focus” on something right now, so don’t worry about shifting the focus to not drinking. For the first year or so your focus is completely different, but in a good way! Getting healthy, loving on your kids, letting feelings come through….Like all things that become ordinary, not drinking just becomes your life. And what a wonderful way to live! Trust me! I did it with a 2 and 4 year old, demanding job, Big party friends, aggressive workout schedule, etc…etc… My life is much more complete and rewarding without the drink.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Louise,
      I am almost 5 months sober, and I am loving life!!! I drank every night, a single mom, who owns a great business, and am financially fine. I was a closet drinker, as most never knew, but I knew and that’s what mattered. I bought a bracelet n put a charm on it every month I am sober…nobody knows but I do, ( my kids n immediate family,) and that’s what matters. I have lost another size (now 8), and I have such high self esteem of myself. My immediate family has noticed a change in my personality, I am high on life!!! Lol
      If I can put the wine down,.anybody can, and after a while, you won’t even miss it. I am around people who drink and it doesn’t bother me, it’s their choice just like not drinking is mine. Sometimes I have mentioned that I don’t drink anymore, and nobody has ever tried to push a drink on me.
      I use to have some blemishes on my face, now my skin looks amazing.
      The first week is tough, no bs there, but if you give yourself a goal, you will achieve it, but you have to want the change. The rewards from being sober will be amazing!!!
      The best success doesn’t come from how many plaques or awards you have,or your bank account balance,.. But from your being the best you can be that comes from within….and being sober will give you the utmost inner happiness of success you will ever feel. And when you achieve that… Life will be grand. Avoiding alcohol is probably the toughest of all things,.cause its everywhere you go.
      Let today be the first day of your new happiness and your new life!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love what you had to say. I totally agree with you and I’m at the same time frame as you. I don’t count the days but the fact is it has been that long. Unbelievable! If I can do it everyone can have hope that it is possible.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I did not expect a response….but how lovely to see that a few people took the time.
          I read the response when I woke up (in Australia) and felt a spark. My day has unfolded substantially different to how I could have predicted. I proceeded to read more of the blog, listen to the bubble hour podcast on quiting whilst living with a partner that drinks, downloading a ‘ days sober’ app to keep count for motivation, moving from ‘not drinking will be my secret’ to opening up to my husband (after the bubble hour podcast), many cups of tea and more chocolate than my calorie counter app can handle …. And my ‘days sober’ app says 1hr 59minutes – Day 1 and counting….so thank you for responding to my post. It was the catalyst for change!!! Whilst I’m realistic about what challenges lay ahead in the near to medium term, for the first time (with many Day 1s achieved before) I feel nervously excited about lifting the fog and seeing the landscape that lays ahead.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. I’m wide awake mulling over
    my life and thought I’d check in here. I can’t believe what I just read. I’m a problem drinker who by in large has stopped. I’ve hit a few road blocks, but I’m on the right track. I do not feel controlled by alcohol and have admitted it has been a problem for me at different points in my life. I’m thankful this is the case. But when I read this, I realized that my underlying problem of addiction is still there. Even at this moment, I have a throbbing cuticle from peeling it. This has been eye opening for me. Thankyou for braving your fear to share it.

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  6. Thank you for your very honest post. I suffer from all of those too and until recently never thought that plucking ingrown hairs out of my legs was anything but a quirk!?! Today in particular, shortly after celebrating 60 days and feeling extreme PAWS related anxiety, I needed to be reminded that I am not alone.

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  7. How Long Should I Stay in Sober Living?

    Your length of stay in a sober living home depends largely on you. While sober living communities can indeed strengthen your resolve and provide you with valuable skills to move forward, your continued success in recovery will always be a lifelong journey.

    If you or a loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, or any co-occurring disorder, A Step in The Right Direction offers a vital solid solution for you.

    http://on.fb.me/1ylato5

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  8. Awesome blog! Thanks for sharing and helping all of us who suffer in silence. I so relate to everything you shared. Thanks again!

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  9. Awesome awesome post! I’m not alone!! Ha ha! Thanks for sharing and being your authentic self!

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  10. I didn’t know there was a name for it.
    It used to be much worse, where I would pick at the callouses at the bottom of my feet, and just keep picking/peeling until they bled. I didn’t do it all the time, but it was enough to cause an issue. Now i bite and rip at the skin around my nail beds (not entirely sure if that’s the same thing, but even when I let my nails grow out, it’s not about “biting my nails”, it’s more about the skin.)
    It makes perfect sense though…in a cruel, cruel way.

    I do appreciate as the days tick by, I am rediscovering things I used to enjoy. And forcing myself to get back into a routine. And writing again. I am grateful to have found this little community.

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  11. I find the distinction you’re making between abstinence and sobriety here so useful. I’m doing a training module on substance use disorders for a group of interns at the University of Maryland next week and plan to use your blog as a resource for them–to give them a thoughtful insider’s view of the different concepts I’ll be introducing. I very much admire your insight and your writing.

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  12. I, too have 3 yrs and 3 mos sober!! I like that you recognized your other behaviors. Mine is an obsessive need to keep my house immaculate. I live alone now so it’s not so hard to do, but my sis has come to stay with me for awhile and I’m very proud of the fact that I have ” let it go” so as to not make her feel bad about it…it’s helped me to see that I CAN change this behavior without having anxiety about it and the world doesn’t end if things aren’t neatly in place(lol) Thanks for your blog…really gives me confidence to continue my sober life.

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  13. notesonananxiouslife

    UnPickled, you are incredible. After flirting with the idea of sobriety for a long time, I found your blog eleven days ago. Today, I am eleven days sober and eleven days into Belle’s 100 day challenge. I would never have jumped if it hadn’t been for you and the community you have gathered. I feel like such a nervous sobriety newbie, but I’m taking things one day at a time and recording the journey on my own blog. A sincere thank you from a muddled twenty-something who thought alcohol would make it all better and is realising that being sober is pretty fucking glorious.

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  14. I’m trying to find inspiration as i only started my journey 3 days ago. I think i will read you’re blog from start to finish and everything in between as i so need to do this. 5 days is my record in who knows how long, but already i feel part of a community and i don’t need to do this in silence or alone. Gonna crack this!

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    • Leave the Fade

      Congratulations! I have been on this journey for a little over a month and the first few days were the hardest part. Here are a couple of things that worked for me.
      1. I wrote in my journal every day, twice a day. In the morning I reaffirmed I would not drink. Before I went to bed I celebrated how I made it through one day.
      2. This awesome blog and all of the links.
      3. The bubble podcast was great.
      4. With the suggestion of one of the people in this community I read an article about how alcohol affected my body and the nutritional steps I needed to take to heal from the inside. Nutrition in Addiction Recovery
      by Rebecca Place Miller, Science Writer
      5. And I was gentle with myself.
      Good luck!

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  15. I’m still here. When I say that, I mean that I’m reading these blogs, but I am struggling. I’ve just been away on holiday, and I drank throughout. I thought it was a brilliant thing to do, but deep down I knew it was hollow. I did 60 days sober a month or so ago, and now I’m back to where I was before. Back to so many bad habits, and miserable with it, but somehow still convincing myself that drinking is a good idea and that I like this way of life! Not sure where to turn now, or what to do. Annie x

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    • Annie-myhatsoff to you to being able to state the fact! It is hollow, you think it will be kinda fun but it feels shallow & alone. I amtiredoffeeling alone. Hope you can read this

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  16. Hats off to you for 3 years! Well done, I’m on month one so far.

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  17. I found this blog today, while I’m feeling embarrassed about how much I drank last night and if I made a complete ass of myself. I’ve quit for short periods of time before, but now face the realization that it must be forever. Time to cancel the wine club membership, and get rid of the three bottles in my house. I wonder how my life will change? Day 1…….

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    • Hi Mere
      I was constantly showing myself up and last weekend was the final staw, I’ve managed not to drink all weekend whilst visiting friends away from home and today spent 6 hours in the pub catching up with friends and didn’t touch a drop! I feel so much better knowing I can remember the conversations I’ve had. This weekend sober has been like a weight off my shoulders not worrying once I’ve woken up what I have said or done. You can do it , keep reading and down load podcasts because your defiantly not alone on this, take care x

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  18. I am on day 2 of sobriety. Your blog is wonderful, thank you for writing 🙂

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    • no more wine thank you

      Congrats on day two!!! Iam almost at a month n half…never thought i could have ever gone this long to be honest…there is so much more to life than a glass/bottle of wine. Every morning i wake up i feel so so amazing..no hangovers!!! And soon your two days will turn into four days…than a week..your on the right track…just like myself!!! Keep up the great work, and pat yourself on the back for making a change in your life for the better!!!!

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      • Thank you! Wow! It is so great to get support. Thank you thank you thank you. I’m on day 10 right now, and i’ve been inspired by all the writers out there. So I started a blog too. I find that writing about all of this has really helped me begin to process it.

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  19. Jean~ what an awesome post. I am learning that getting sober has so many different meanings. It isn’t just putting the drink down and it isnt something that is fixed over night. I am so happy I am on the right track and so lucky to have you, BFB and all the other women bloggers out there. WE are all in our different stages in recovery and it helps to see all the different aspects, outcomes, struggles, triumphs. Thank you for still blogging after 3 years, 3 months and 10 days! Hugs!!!

    “The tricky bit is learning new ways to act and react so that life does not become so painful that we require constant numbing.”~ my favorite line!

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  20. I’m on day 17 and I am so happy about my choice to get sober. Your blog has been so helpful because I have hidden my trouble from everyone for so long. It has been a blessing to not feel so alone in this process. My family and close friends want to be supportive but they didn’t know a problem existed in the first place. The tell me, just slow down or once you’ve had a break you’ll be okay. Luckily for me I’ve tried this before, allowed myself to believe them and suffered enough not to talk myself into denial anymore. And it is really hard right now to explain to them all the inner troubles I have hidden from them for so long. I am really tired right now and have found very few sites that talk much about a vitamin regime that helps with energy. I know I could contact my doctor, but that is just another person I have essentially lied to that I’d have to tell. Eventually I will but like your earlier post, this is a fragile thing that I am keeping a little close right now. I’d appreciate any insight anyone may have. Thank you!

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    • Hi there I am on Day 29 and still feeling great I too have been given the just take a break and maybe you will be ok with spirits advice. Like you I have been there done that and have learnt to politely agree to disagree As far as diet,vitamins etc goes I recommend Nutrition in Addiction Recovery by Rebecca Place Miller It is a free download Should be able to google it and find it Let me know if you have any problems and I will email it you All the best, Polly Garter

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    • You are not alone in this but it can feel like it when the only people you have to turn to are “normies” who can’t understand that your experience with alcohol is vastly different than theirs. I encourage you to dig in and connect with other people – real life support is pure gold but if you are not willing to go to a meeting or confide in another person in recovery then you will find lots of support online. Comment here and engage with other readers, sign up for the bfb (link at right), and check out the many resources and other blogs I’ve posted links to at the side. I am cheering for you and I want you to keep commenting here so others can learn and be encouraged by your experience.

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      • I am so moved by this site ! You are all truly insporational x

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      • How does one have the strength to stop if most people…. family…. in your life drink a lot regularly? Seems impossible.

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        • From all of the many people I’ve heard from, being surrounded by drinkers looks like this: either they’re “normies” (normal drinkers) who don’t really care thatch whether you are drinking with them or not, because normies don’t really care that much about booze; or they are problem drinkers and your recovery would be a threat to them. If it is the former, you shouldn’t have too much trouble quitting, at least not from them (your internal struggles another story!). If they are more the latter, you will need lots of support and that’s where going to meetings and building a network of support is helpful. (It’s helpful either way but perhaps essential for those who are surrounded by dysfunction). A recent episode of The Bubble Hour podcast dealt with getting sober when you live with a drinker – perhaps listening to it is a good place to start.

          >

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  21. Anxiety and overachieving…that resonates with me! What have you found to help health the part of you that uses overachievement to deal with fear or shame? I can identify the problem intellectually but have problems making real change.

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    • Great question – I could write a thousand pages on this topic. I have been learning to distinguish between high achievement and over achievement. When I am caught up in over achievement I find myself constantly aware of what others are seeing instead of what is actually being accomplished, and I am never satisfied with anything. I can never do enough, never sit back and appreciate an accomplishment when I slip into overachieving. I am now able to catch myself though, and ask myself what is really going on. Do I really want to be doing this? Is this important? Why? What else is going on that makes me feel vulnerable to criticism? The best thing I have done is to seek the help of a therapist who has given me a few new insights and tools to get me through some areas that I just couldn’t seem to change on my own. How about you?

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  22. I just found your blog and look forward to reading it tonight! I am 6 months sober and just started thinking about how unbelievably critical I am of myself. It just occurred to me that this doesn’t have to be the way I look at myself and it was quite a revelation. Now am trying to “catch” myself when I think bad thoughts and not let them grow by focussing on them. Trying.

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  23. Wow that’s amazing that youre so far into your recovery! I definitely relate with the anxiety, disordered eating, and OCD. Im on day 3 now of sobriety (which seems a bit stupid because im only 21 but alas) and the anxiety is definitely strong right now! Im trying to face it head on rather than numb it like I always have.. reading blogs like yours really helps though!

    B
    xx

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  24. I have read so much of your amazing blog today, and now I am reaching out. I have got to stop living like this. I need all the help I can get.

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    • You can do it. Today can be day 1!

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    • I am so glad you are here and that you are ready to step out of a pattern that doesn’t serve you. I want you to know that there is freedom and joy ahead. Help is everywhere so don’t let your addiction whisper that you’re all alone and don’t matter, or that it is too hard or not worth it. Those are lies our brains tell us so that we will go back to the old way. Addiction is a tenacious little weed that does all it can to survive, so stay on guard and accept all the help that you can. Better days ahead.

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    • Biggest thing that has helped me is reading Unpickled’s blog everyday since day 1! (Now day 34.) I’ve even sent Jean a personal email to ask for help in a particular situation, response was immediate. His has been a God sent gift to me! Keep reading! Lots of us out here to help, just ask. 💗

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  25. Hi Jean and all, I am just checking in with a progress report. Still sober after eighteen months. I have not had a relapse and don’t intend to. The most wonderful think for me was hearing my grown up daughter (who has recently become a mother) say how proud she was of me and the will power I have not to drink. I have done a lot of plane travel recently and it has not been a problem. I tend to be more aware of my surroundings on the plane and am more relaxed not waiting for the drink trolley to go down the aisle. I love the alertness and the methodical way I now conduct myself. I am no longer all over the place. I still read these blogs every three of four days. Unpickled keeps my spirits up and makes the decision to stay sober stronger.

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    • HELLO COMING CLEAN!!! I am so happy to hear form you and a big jumpy cheer for your fabulous life! You are an inspiration. A big hug and tears of joy. Look everyone! Look! See that beautiful sober lady up the road? That’s Coming Clean and she wants you to know that the way ahead is fine and clear.

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  26. I can so relate to this post! The “dry drunk” phrase resonates with me. It is so true that it is not enough to stop drinking. We must keep working in ourselves, what drove us to drink uncontrollably in the first place, what are we doing now to change ourselves, beliefs and coping mechanisms. I have had all of those conditions you listed at various times in my life, including the whatchamacallit skin condition! Didn’t know there was an official medical name for it! It helped me a lot to read about all of this. Thank you for putting it in such clear perspective. The anxiety (and sometimes depression) seems to be a constant for me. It’s pretty interesting and ironic to me that most people who know me see me as being attractive, smart, successful, funny and having all of these great qualities that I don’t actually see in myself and actually aspire to be. I am so damn self critical! I am working on all of these things.

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  27. no more wine thank you

    Well, I like many of you have tried to quit time n time again. Looking back I won’t say I failed,as thats such a strong harsh word, rather I wasn’t ready or serious enough about it. Wine and I don’t get along…even though I may have thought otherwise. I knew drinking everyday wasn’t a smart thing to do…feel like crap the next day,can’t remember some text messages…and to top it off its an expensive habit that has no rewards it gives back to me.
    I would consider myself a smart determined business woman, raising two beautiful girls on my own. I met a great guy last year and hid my closet wine drinking….however, knowing all along I would have to make a change.
    I tried numerous times since January to quit…as we talked about moving in together….can’t cover up closet wine drinking if we move in.
    A few years ago the longest I ever went was 14 days and it was a struggle every day….the feeling of not having a glass of wine..oh my that was tough!!!
    I can’t say its been a year or even months…but this time it just feels different…it has been a glorious 18 days…of which I am very proud of. To prove to myself how determined I am…I got a tattoo (first one lol)…on my right wrist thats the one that I would drink from..lol
    the date june 23, 2014 (in roman numerals)
    And under it la vita è bella (life is beautiful).
    For every month I conquer I will add a small bracelet to that wrist…nobody needs to know..its my own personal meaning.
    This blog is amazing….thank you for telling us about your personal journey showing success is possible…and for everyone else who is like me…keep your head up high and you will conquer the alcohol demon when you are ready…but never give up..sometimes it takes a few hits before the lightbulb comes on.

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    • OMG this is so fantastic!!

      ” To prove to myself how determined I am…I got a tattoo (first one lol)…on my right wrist thats the one that I would drink from..lol
      the date june 23, 2014 (in roman numerals)
      And under it la vita è bella (life is beautiful).
      For every month I conquer I will add a small bracelet to that wrist…nobody needs to know..its my own personal meaning.”

      I LOVE IT!!! What a fantastic gesture. You should patent it because everyone should do it!

      Like

    • I think that’s a great step! Action is required for change. And you made a big one.

      Like

  28. Dear Unpickled,
    I don’t really know where to start, this is my first time posting on any kind of sobriety blog. I started drinking when I was 19 (now 31) and it was all just fun and party drinking. I would sometimes binge at a music festival or duing a particularly party filled weekend but felt my weekly life was pretty much in control. Things took a sharp turn about 6 years ago and alcohol started becoming a daily part of my life. I rationalized that there was no problem, I never drank in the mornings, never had a “hair of the dog” drink, I sometimes drank alone but I lived alone so that was OK right? This pattern had become firmly established when my life came crashing down around me almost two years ago. I had been living in Spain for 6 years and was forced to return to the States because of residency issues. I was completely lost, my life and career that I had built for six years was gone. I felt afraid and out of place in my own country and with my own family as well. I was/am intensely lonely but feel very much like a spoiled brat when I try to articulate my feelings. Things started to get really bad really fast. I work in the restaurant industry now which means long hours, high stress and access to lots and lots of booze paired with a mentality that bingeing is normal behaviour. I know I am drinking way too much, that I am hurting myself and that I’m only deepening an already pretty dark depression. I feel very trapped. Last week while visiting my family I had way too much to drink (surprise) and ended up terrifying my mother by trying to explain that I didn’t necessarily want to kill myself but that I wished I could somehow stop exisiting. I feel like a terrible daughter and a terrible person. I really want to make this change in my life though I am not overconfident in my own personal strength. I found your blog a few days ago after the incident with my mother while I was searching for tips on quitting drinking. I appreciate your honesty and commitment to your path. I’m hoping to start on my own path and I want to be honest as well and say that I’m pretty freaking terrified.

    Like

    • scaredbutready

      You got this- I am only on day three but I find any bit of encouragement is very helpful. Very helpful. That being said, my husband is being extremely supportive and I really really really don’t think I could do any of this without him. Find yourself someone close for a support system. You’ve done the hardest part by admitting to yourself, and on here to others that you may think you may have a problem. I too, started around 18/19 and it was all fun and games and just binge drinking till one day you’re drinking every day. And you will justify it, others will justify it. I knew what I was doing was wrong for quite some time but then I could see it ruining my life in small but really some pretty huge ways. You got this, if you want to quit, and you have that gumption to so now, make an effort to find a support system, because i will say I would have already failed today if i didn’t have my husband. BEST OF LUCK to you, my friend. you’re not alone.

      ps- check out the bubble hour- podcast, I listen to it in lieu of music in the car and while exercising. not too cheesy and about women like us.

      Like

    • Hi Dani, Thank you for sharing your story and for opening up – to be vulnerable takes great courage so you obviously have it in spades. Courage it what you will need going forward so draw on that strength as you being to rebuild your life. Don’t withdraw from your mother now that you told her you are struggling – let her help you and keep talking. I really encourage you to go and see a counselor or join a recovery group. Because you work in the service industry, you will need to have people in your life that can help to support you and keep you accountable. You are not trapped – there are numerous pathways out from where you are and you are the only person who can get your butt moving into a better place. Life can be sooo much better for you and you will never regret taking these steps. xoxox Lean on me and the readers here for support and encouragement, and find some real life people who can help, too.

      Like

    • I also suffered from depression that was deepened by my drinking. Stopping the booze was a step towards overall recovery. I also have a good therapist and doctor to help me.
      You have opened the door with your mom. Call her while sober and ask for help. I know it’s scary and overwhelming, but those first steps always are. There is a great life waiting for you to live it.

      Like

    • Hi dani
      Your story resonates with me I started drinking at 18 now 34 just going out then as I moved out on my own, I would need a drink with any social situation and freak if it ran out or if it was time to leave I’d be the one saying just one more! I too am struggling with the thought of never having another drink but keep telling myself it’s got to be better than depression, anxiety and the thought of ending it which I get but have never told anyone. Your not a terrible daughter your mum loves you, I know as my mum has seen me in terrible states , even getting a call on her birthday that I was locked up for drink driving, she forgave me and yours will to. Good luck and have strength I know I need it but nothing worth having is easy x x

      Like

  29. Thank you for your blog. I turn to it so often. After 61 days, I relapsed and things haven’t been going well since. Well, of course they haven’t! I’m so ashamed and I don’t know how to proceed. My 61 days had their ups and downs, but I persevered, and I felt I was really getting somewhere. Then I decided one morning that I’d had enough and that I’d try and moderate instead. What a mistake. Within a day or two, I was back to my old ways. I want to start again, but I feel weaker this time and I don’t know how to get back to that good place. Reading everybody’s comments makes me long to rejoin the sober community, but I don’t know if I’ll have the same drive and motivation that I had the first time round. I’m sorry to have let you all down. Annie x

    Like

    • Hi Annie: I tried to email you directly last night. I hope you received it. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Perhaps you can use this attempt at moderation to your advantage? You tried it and did not like it so now you can use that as motivation to go back to being alcohol free, one day at a time. All that effort was not wasted! Let me know if you did not get message. I have some other ideas in the message.

      Like

      • Thank you for your support. I woke up to find your email – it was like a gift! I’ve replied directly to you, so hope you’ve received it. This sober community helps me so much. X

        Like

      • Okay daythree sucks but I am hoping the worse of how I physically feel is close to being over. Not fun coming off of alcohol, not fun at all.

        Like

    • Annie Annie Annie – first a big warm long hug. Thank you for sharing this – people really need to hear what happens because we all learn together and you have spared another person pain by posting. You can turn this experience into strength because getting up takes strength and courage, speaking out is hard, honesty is freaking terrifying. You are not weak, clearly. Love and strength to you.

      Like

  30. Jeff and I were just talking about the idea that when we’re active in our addiction(s) we need to take the steps to recovery to see the issues for which recovery is the first step. Once you strip of the alcohol varnish you never know what you’re going to find underneath. I got a socially-anxious, dysthymic, introvert. Yay!

    Like

  31. scaredbutready

    Scared to death, this is my first day. Stumbled upon this site today and I must say it has been a tremendous help already. I’ve been thinking a lot about doing this for the past month. I told my husband I might have a problem a month ago, somehow convinced him I was fine. And after a wild weekend with friends- the fourth of july holiday, and my drinking getting out of control- somehow the holiday makes you feel like it’s ok to get more drunk than usual- an argument, two black-outs in 3 days, one of which was a night before a workday- he brought up our talk we had a month ago with great concern. He never suggested I quit drinking altogether just a great concern for my health. I think he was really surprised and taken off guard to hear me say “I have a problem, I need to quit drinking” but nonetheless happy that I wanted to take control of my life. I was then shocked when I heard the truths come out of my mouth and sad to see how it was so hurtful to him. I have become secretive about my drinking, I am ashamed when I hear the trash pickup and my million beer bottles fall into the trash truck, I wake up more than half of the days of the week feeling like shit, the circles under my eyes are making me look like shit, etc etc. Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of my friends are going to be shocked when I tell them I’m quitting drinking, I lead a very functional, successful life, and I’ve hid my addiction well. But alcohol is taking a toll on my mind, my health, my marriage, and my sanity. I’m scared to death of what life is going to be like sober, namely parties and weddings and any social event. I feel like I am a weak person for letting my addiction take hold of my life. But i know this has got to be a good decision, and I think this blog might be my safe haven. Keep writing, you truly an inspiration, and you might have saved my life and my marriage.

    Like

    • Scaredbutready – I share the same struggle with you. Only on day #3. I have the same insecurities, not sure what people will think, don’t know what it will be like at social events with friends who do nothing but drink – but I think we can do it. I chose to seek professional help because after many times of trying to quit on my own – I always ended up drinking again. I hope that eventually, I can ride the sober train and LOVE IT! Good luck to you.

      Like

    • Scaredbut ready, I won’t drink today either so we are staying sober together. Addiction feels like weakness but what you have done in telling is 100% brave Viking warrior action and if you can do that, you can do anything. I am glad my blog has helped and remember that for every writer like me who comes forward with our story, there are millions out there with the exact same experience who could say the same thing thing. None of us are alone, nothing is really that individual except for minor details – it hits us all in similar ways and we do recover.

      Like

  32. I’m six days sober and I have already often heard your ‘voice’ in my head when I’ve felt like forgetting about even trying to quit! I’ve read through alot of your blogs and am so thankful for the support that you’ve given me. Only 6 days ……..but SIX DAYS! Thank you, thank you.

    Like

  33. This is day 1. More specifically hour 2. To be honest, I’m hung over. Flubbed my way through a business meeting, then decided to pop in to a shop to try on new sports bras for the running i’ve been planning to take up to help make the transition to healthy living. I was floored by what I saw in the mirror. A middle aged mess. This is the closest I ever want to get to bottom. The feeling was unbelievable. Like it all came together – the dishonesty, shame, regret and yep the weight gain. I’ve been kidding myself that I’m in control, not that bad and even hiding it well. Today I rocked my world, but hope to one day be able to rock my world in the better sense. I’m still shaking from the experience. This is my first public acknowledgement, and I thank you for the platform to do so. Looking forward to reading more, words of encouragement more than welcome!

    Like

    • Welcome to your new life! It is shitty and hard at first but then it gets easier and THEN it gets GREAT. You don’t need to live with shame, regret, and self-loating. None of us do.

      Like

  34. Thanks for your blog. I’m on day 6, and having a lot of ups and downs. Reading about your journey has helped a lot. I’m finding more resources through you as well as grapefruit perrier.

    I tried to start a twitter account yesterday but failed. I apparently suck at anonymous sobriety support. A friend of a friend was at the AA meeting I went to Sunday and told them I was there. Then I tried to set up an anonymous twitter with a name that reflected sobriety. By the time I got logged in to super lock down my profile, I already had two followers who I know remotely…. through work. That account is now deleted. Trying to laugh verses cry about it. Tried to do a twitter account and blog this am (and did put a real photo on it thinking if someone found me it is meant to be). Lets seen if I can figure out what to do with them.

    Sorry to ramble… not sure what to say… this gets easier, right?

    Like

    • It gets easier and it gets GREAT! It’s possible to actually enjoy this journey. But there’s no doubt that the first few days and weeks can be hard and awkward. Don’t give up. You’re worth the effort.

      >

      Like

  35. Hi Jean! Congrats on 3 years and 3 months and 10+ days! Woot woot! I too thought I would be recovered by now! Lol! But today I am glad that I am still recovering, years of unhealthy living can’t be fixed overnight.

    Keep up the good work and keep moving forward! Hugs!

    Like

  36. I have experienced the ‘it just clicked’ mentality of sobriety twice in my life. The first time was just after I read the Allen Carr book and somehow I just got it. I was sober for two years before relapsing after my divorce. When I stopped for the second time ‘it just clicked’ even stronger than the first time. This is why I don’t really advocate that people who seek my help should worry too much about relapsing.

    “Once we tame the behaviour of drinking we turn our attention to understanding the reasons it was ever necessary.”

    I love that sentence because to me giving up drinking is the easy part, fixing the problems that caused the drinking in the first place, and therefore maintaining sobriety, is much more important.

    Keep up the good work.

    Lee

    Like

  37. Clare Ashley

    I need help have no one to confide in. My friends would be shocked. My husband knows but just comments and also drinks too much. I feel so bad. I have also put on 6 kilos from drinking. You would think this would be a key to stopping . We travel a lot and are always in places where drink is. Thanks for your email

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

    • You’re not alone! It feels like No one could possibly understand but everyone here is just like you and we are all working through it together. You don’t have to live with this burden. Life is SOOOO full of joy and freedom when you let go of alcohol and start taking back your power.

      >

      Like

  38. Jean I could have written that post (except the 3 years bit!) Each of the things you talked about – check, and I didn’t even know it had a name ‘dermatillomania’! Thank you 🙂

    Like

  39. Wow! I quit drinking 6/9/14. Yours was the first blog I read when making my decision to quit. Since then, every post of yours that I read was written for me personally. Thank you so much! The first week or so after I quit, I felt excited and energetic. Then the depression and insecurity set in. Thanks for reminding me that the self searching for the reason why I drink in the first place is so important to stay sober.

    Like

  40. Fantastic post. Great insight for someone like me who is only 31 days in. I also have OCD, and it amazes me how intertwined all of this is. Being somewhat of a newbie, what struck me first is that you had lunch with sober friends. This topic has really smacked me over the head over the last 24 hours…where do you find those? I love my friends dearly, but much of what they do is drinking-centered. Any suggestions?

    Like

  41. Reblogged this on A Party Girl's Journey to Sobriety and commented:
    This post really speaks to me. I feel like this next phase of my sober journey will focus on identity, behavior, and motivation. Truly understanding who I am, recognizing negative behaviors, and their motivation.

    Like

  42. Hi all,it’s incredible how you feel your the only person whose struggled with alcohol when all the other mums at school seemed so together, if only I’d known then that wasn’t true. I’ve struggled for 10 years, my longest period without alcohol was 1 1/2 years, but the better I felt the more I thought I could handle the drink, unfortunately that was a fantasy. Yes the first 2 drinks were great , then the nitemare of 10 not being enough and the fear and self loathing that followed keep me sober again. This time it’s 4 months & counting. I feel different this time, knowing there are more of us out there and we can conquer this menace !! Would also like to meet up with sober ladies in my town if anyone’s out there!

    Like

    • I want to cheer for your renewed success in recovery. If you’re a fan of Mrs D, I think she is creating a support network site to help people connect. Little by little I put myself out there and opened up, and one by one the universe has connected me to others in recovery. Often I’ll drive two hours to meetup with a group but that’s a nice treat.

      >

      Like

  43. Hugely insightful post. I love the way you draw those other behaviours into recovery; I hadn’t really considered that I might have given up more than just alcohol over the last few years but you’re right – thank you.

    Like

  44. This post so moved me. I am just 70+ days sober, but feel as if you are writing about me. Thank you for opening my eyes to what is ahead. Thank you for this wonderful blog that got me started on this recovery, and keeping it up to help me realize the outstanding positive experiences and payoff ahead. The most comforting feeling is knowing I am not the only one who has faced very simailar demons, and knowing they can be overcome. You are an excellent writer and I love your posts. Thank you.

    Like

  45. Great blog. What do you do for behavioral modifaction & mediation.

    Like

    • I keep my nails done with an acrylic gel which makes them thicker and dull, so I am not able to scratch. Yoga and relaxation techniques help, and I get my husband to gentle run my back or shoulders if I’m feeling like “soothing”. This is a good technique for kids who scratch or pick for release – instead of scolding them (which will only raise their level of shame and anxiety and need for soothing), just gently take their hands away and rub their back or shoulders for a better form of relaxing.

      >

      Like

  46. Wow . . . thanks so much for sharing, and congratulations on 3 years. The skin picking is something that makes complete sense but I had never run across before. You have certainly packed a lot into your three years of recovery!

    Like

  47. Wow. I never put the pieces together. After quitting drinking 1.5 years ago, ive been working really hard on my anxiety/depression/self-flagulation…etc…. It seriously just occurred to me that I no longer pull my hair out. I would use the excuse that I was only targeting the “weird feeling” hair.😀 developed a nice little bald spot! I am having a great “yay me” moment. Thank you!!!

    Like

  48. This is interesting. I’ve always picked my skin on my lips when they are dry. Just thought it was a nervous habit. When I drink too much (I want to stop but I’m not quite there yet) I peel my very thin nails off. (my toe nails too, I know gross) My natural nails never look good and then I have to hide my toenails in the summer with closed toed shoes. I don’t know why I do it. This sheds some light on it.

    Like

    • I am a nail peeler, too, and have long hidden my toes. StopPicking.com was helpful in becoming more aware of when I did this. It costs money, but I thought it was worth it.

      Like

  49. I have been sober for 568 days now. I found your blog at the very beginning of my journey and couldn’t believe someone else was trying to quit silently. And now the A word. Again, the similarities are incredible. It is so comforting to know I’m not alone. I want to thank you for having the courage and for taking the time and initiative creating this extremely helpful forum. I for one am eternally grateful.
    No longer quitting silently Marie

    Like

  50. I quit 5/25/14 and one of the first blogs I read was yours entitled “How I knew it was time..” Man, did you have me pegged with those red flags! I can only fantasize what three years sober must be like because I have only known an alcoholic existence; but it looks good from here.

    I am doing a lot of soul searching and meditation. I don’t want to dwell on the fact I’m not drinking but rather on what the second half of my life might be like. I never want to forget the dysfunctional behaviors I was so engulfed in, however, I have to forgive myself and move on.

    I am not alone in saying your words have been inspirational and for that you must take great pleasure. A simple “thank you” is all I have to give but know it is from my heart.

    SS

    Like

  51. Congratulations! You’ve helped me tremendously through your blog and The Bubble Hour. Like you, when I stopped drinking, I was forced the examine the roots of my anxiety and OCD tendencies. The work goes on, but it’s kind of an exciting adventure. Thank you for helping me get to Day 145 and all the best to you as your journey continues! 🙂

    Like

  52. Heyyy I didn’t have to look the definition of that up, because I’m a trichy – I have trichotillamania, same thing but hair pulling. Is this seriously an addict’s thing? You have BLOWN MY MIND.

    This is the next thing on my list to sort out, so it’s really timely to read about its equivalent here. If you can give up drinking so can I; if you can deal with your dermathingy, I can deal with my trichathingy. And then we will all RULE THE WORLD TOGETHER.

    Like

  53. That was one fabulous lunch! I agree. It was like we had been friends forever.

    When working on my own, very similar, issues seems overwhelming, I reflect on the fact that life is a journey, not a destination. None of us will ever be completely fixed. Because then there would be no chance for growth.

    So I’m taking my own obstacles as motivation to find greater joy, bigger love, deeper happiness. Which is a far cry from the horrible depression and self loathing I had while trying to drink my life away.

    And the opportunity to meet like minded women along the way makes it all worth the hard stuff.

    Like

  54. Oh my gosh. That skin-picking thing. I did that for years! I would literally chew my nails down to stumps and then pick, pick, pick. I would have to cover them up with fake nails, these bloody stumps. CLICK. Mind blown! I’d forgotten about that. So interesting, all the psychology behind it, with the endorphin release stuff. Thank you!

    Like

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