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Monthly Archives: May 2015

When The Worst Thing Happens

Imagining the worst case scenario comes easily to us anxious types. I regularly remind myself to stay in the moment and dispel runaway thoughts. I’ve learned to say, “Nevermind the worst that can happen. I trust I will handle it as it comes.”

Last week, I had to face a dreaded worst.

One of my little dogs was mauled to death by a large dog that wandered onto our copperlake property, and I had the misfortune to witness the attack. I reacted appropriately in the moment: I was strong and brave as I ran towards the scene and called for the brute to stop and drop my dog. I quickly assessed the horrific damage – death was imminent – and focused on comforting my little friend as he passed. I whispered “thank you Copper, you’ve been a good dog” over and over so the last thing he heard on this earth was my gratitude, and I silently thanked God that all the kids had already gone home. No one else had to witness this terrible, heartbreaking sight.

I am shaken, but I am strong.

This sad story has a purpose as it relates to recovery. I have often told myself that abstinence would serve me well in life’s most horrible moments. I was right. Not only did I have the clarity and focus I needed to deal with the traumatic ordeal, but I was spared the temptation to numb out.

copper readingI am feeling the feelings, processing the pain, and moving through. No numbing with booze – that’s just a pause button that drags out the heartache indefinitely.

Some of you wonder if abstinence is necessary in recovery. My belief is that abstinence is a best practice because it closes the door on the possibility of drinking my way through grief and misery. Perhaps moderation might actually be possible for me under everyday circumstances, but in crisis I am greatly relieved that drinking is simply not an option. Because, let’s face it, eventually the shit hits the fan and we have to deal with the tragic, the bloody, the messy, the unwanted.  Life is only smooth sailing for so long.

They say that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. I don’t know that I am tough, copper and scoutbut I feel thankfully equipped to get through. Considering that there was I time when I could not endure any emotion – good or bad – without alcohol, this sad event has shown me how far I have come as a result of working my way through recovery.

copper and scout heartRIP, little Copper. We’ll take good care of Scout for you – your sister and partner in crime.


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Weekend Warriors

Okay, Team Unpickled! Time to pull together and put our collective energy to good use.

Weekends are a busy time on this blog.

Weekends can bugger with the newly sober and trip them up. They often come here for help and inspiration.

Weekends are also a busy time for those who are in an ongoing, unhappy relationship with alcohol. Many Saturday morning readers are nursing a horrible hangover (poor souls – such a terrible feeling!) and often it is made worse by shame and regret. Many are here because they started the day saying, “I won’t have any today” and then BOOM; *it* happened *again*.

So here is what I am asking you sober ninjas to do. Please help out seekers by commenting with the following:

1. What you did instead of drinking this weekend and how was it better or worse than drinking

2. On the day you got sober, what is the one thing you did that was different? What made it work THAT time?

3. What is the best part of being sober?

4. What keeps you going?

Here are my answers:

1. MY FRDAY NIGHT: I did an errand I’ve been putting off for weeks – driving 90 minutes to our ski cabin to pick up some things my father-in-law left here. I drove out in the late afternoon and am hanging out in this pretty, quiet place (no one at the ski hill in summer!) alone for a while. I decided to wash some towels and sheets, make a cup of tea, and write on my blog for an hour or two before driving back home again. If I time it right I will be moving through a glorious orange and pink sunset around 8:30 p.m. I could have spent the night here but around 10 pm it gets a little too dark and lonely, which I find triggering. So instead I will drive home, pick up a yummy treat to enjoy once I get home (delayed gratification!), and watch a movie in my pjs (drinking tea!) once I get there. Not the crazy Friday night I would have orchestrated when drinking, but a gorgeous drive to and from the mountains, some quiet time writing to all of you, and listening to Dr. Jenn on the radio while I drive — those are all things I sincerely enjoy and I am happy to be doing them tonight. PLUS I am doing a helpful errand for my father-in-law, which also feels good. Wayyyyy better than drinking too much and hating myself for it!

2. WHAT I DID DIFFERENTLY ON THE DAY I STOPPED DRINKING: I told someone the truth. And that person agreed that something needed to change.

3. BEST PART ABOUT BEING SOBER: I like myself now.

4. WHAT KEEPS ME GOING: The idea of being a really cool, together old lady one day. If I had kept drinking, I would have been a mess – sick, bitter, and alone. Instead I am vibrant, strong, interested, and interesting. I plan on staying this way!

Okay readers, now it is your turn. Please post your answers and know that your comment will 100% help someone!

PS – if you are here looking for answers or encouragement, WELCOME. You are not alone, you are not weird. Alcohol can go off-track for a lot of us and it does not make any of us bad people. Stay, read, and reach out. Consider living without alcohol – it is a lovely, better way that the daily struggle you may find yourself in. Connecting with others is  HUGE help, so muster up your courage and post something in the comments section. You will be amazed by how good it feels to discuss things openly with people who understand.

What Will Others Think?

I recently changed my hair colour from (monthly-salon-visit) blonde to (do-it-myself) red. The change was mostly motivated by convenience, and perhaps Julianne Moore played a role, too. When I had an actual hair colour of my own it was strawberry blonde, so neither one feels to foreign to me.

Blonde to Red

The thing about hair is that others see it constantly while the person under the crop forgets about it by breakfast.  For the first few days, I was a bit startled each time I passed a mirror, but otherwise I felt like myself. Others, though, seem to be having a harder time adjusting to the new look. After four months of redheadedness, I still hear “Wow, I didn’t recognize you!” on a regular basis.

One of my husband’s friends asked him “Who was the red head I saw you with?” after spotting us from afar on the golf course. A friend I met for lunch said, “Wow, it’s like RED red,” which I interpreted as neither a compliment nor a criticism – just a reaction to change.

My feeling is that I messed with others’ perception of me by altering my looks, and no one has been shy about mentioning it. I don’t feel offended by any feedback because I love my red hair – it is on-trend, flattering, age appropriate, lower maintenance, an a small fraction of the cost of those cute blonde salon highlights.

It occurred to me the other day that people have been much more vocal about my hair colour than they have about the even bigger change in my life: becoming a non-drinker. When I gave up alcohol, I worried mightily about what others would think and say about it.  I had none of the confidence about my sobriety that I have about my hair, and felt overly awkward and vulnerable.

If people said the things about my sobriety that they have said about my hair, would it be such a big deal?

Wow, I didn’t recognize you without a glass of wine in your hand!

Hey, who was that sober chick I saw you with?

Wow, you’re like SOBER sober.

It makes me smile just to play the game in my mind. No one says those things, but so what if they did? No one notices or really cares that much what’s in my glass. Still, I’ve worried SO MUCH what people might think about my sobriety and SO LITTLE if they liked a change in my appearance.

These days, I am very open about being a non-drinker and answer (fairly) easily if asked why. But truly, it’s mostly a non-issue for other people.

If you are newly sober and feel self-conscious around others, take heart. Wear something fabulous, learn a couple of new jokes, or change your hair colour. People are easily distracted.

Hurrah for coffee!

My new sober adventure!

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