A Hard Month, A Good Month

Oh my goodness, July was a whirlwind of boxes, garbage bags, take out meals, and car rides!

We went to our niece’s wedding in Vegas, moved into a rental after selling our house with a lightening-quick possession, continued building our new home, and welcomed a new grandson into the world. On top of that, my parents just moved into assisted living so my sisters and I are tasked with helping to empty their old home of everything from sewing patterns to office files to endless doilies to memories.

I am not going to lie, there were many moments that I felt overwhelmed and weary. There were some quiet tears in my car and the bathroom stall at WalMart. Not sad tears, just exhausted ones. As if the thoughts I was too busy to think found a way out of my brain through my tear-ducts. I cried sorting the shoes and purses in my mom’s closet, oh dear Lord I am suddenly crying AGAIN NOW remembering it.

Sidebar: I have just had the realization that my mother’s closet holds such emotion for me because I used to hide there as a little girl and fantasize about the woman I might grow up to be as I touched each scarf, bead and fringe. I felt so close to the childhood version of myself this month as I returned to that place – a different closet with decades-different shoes but the same smell of roses and soap. We women define ourselves through our mothers, whether by contrast or copy. My tears that day were because I saw how I drove myself in so many ways to be the woman I wished my mother was – one that’s more assertive and domineering – and to be the mother I wish I’d had (more protective and informed). I became overwhelmingly aware that by forever trying to better her I have failed to fully appreciate her for who she is, and this will need to be a new focus of direction in the years ahead.

Emotions and self-reflection continue to be one of the harder parts of life after alcohol for me – no numbing or checking out. I didn’t exactly feel triggered, but I had that heightened awareness: “It would be nice to not feel this right now.” I did yoga, ate things I shouldn’t, cleaned things that didn’t need cleaning, and walked the dog. Best of all, I’d visit our kids and grandkids and just soak their sweet presence into my soul. (I have grandkids! Plural! What else could even matter in this world?)

The first time I heard the acronym ‘H.A.L.T.” I cringed – I hate to see complex things reduced to mere acronyms – but there is so much truth to the notion that Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired are four of the biggest triggers. I have spent most of the past month perpetually feeling all four simultaneously. Ironically, when I feel uncomfortable I’d rather work harder than take the break that I actually need. My go-to numbing is frenzy. Whirling dervish. I feel safe when I’m in constant motion, no one can hit me with a dart of criticism – even now that I *know better* I still subconsciously hustle to avoid some imagined critic.

Here are the good things that happened this month:

1 – Recording Bubble Hour interviews has been a balm to my soul. An hour once a week to get lost in someone else’s story and connect and share.

2 – Visitors – This is crazy! One of the kind strangers who encouraged me via Twitter when I first got sober emailed (5 years later) to say his family would be vacationing in this area and that we should meet up. Oklahoma and Alberta are 1600 miles apart – I never imagined we would ever meet in person. I had the pleasure of thanking this kind man and meeting his family and sharing lunch and looking into the eyes of someone who literally cheered me through those first few scary days. What a gift.

3 – Enjoying new spaces. Here is my new (temporary) home office, where I am writing this right now:

new office

4 – My new neighbourhood, where I walk my dog 3x a day:

water walk

Gratitude is getting me through and helping to turn a rough month into a good month, and keeping me on the sober path along the way.


  1. Did you use meetings? I need to add some supports. I’m reading blogs, walking some but I need to get past the witching hours on a few days. I’m early into sobriety so I am trying to get momentum. 2 days 3 days sober then drink.


  2. This was great!. I’m so glad I found it and read it. I agree whole heartedly about that you said about your mother. That’s what it was like for me. I constantly desired to change my mom and I secretly hated her and never fully appreciated her while she was still alive. I regret many many things about my relationship with her.
    I also like to use halt. I am 5 months sober and going to AA and Working the steps with a sponsor. Some days are really hard. I’m sick in my head, surrounded by negative people places and things and my sick mind wants me dead. But I push on. I’m looking around the internet to inspire me and get me in the positive. I’m thinking about starting my own blog.
    I wish you the best of luck. Your new home looks amazing. Enjoy your grandkids and your dog. Take care.


  3. Your month was my month, Jean. We too sold our home quickly, moved in with hubby’s dad, struggled to find a new place, found said place after 5 weeks, coping with recent move of 94-year-old father I moved here to a memory care unit, and the cleaning out and selling of his home 6 hours away, etc…etc…. Exhausted, like you. But unlike you, I drank 3 days ago, after 260 something alcohol free days, and many more starts and stops before that. Thanks for your post, it reminds me there are others out there doing this crazy life thing all the time, I’m not unique, and you’re not drinking over any of it. Gives me hope and inspiration to start again.


    • My heart goes out to you. However tough it is, it’s still easier without the burden of alcohol ruling us. Steady the bus and move forward. Wishing you well. Please stay in touch and let me know how you’re doing.


  4. Your thoughts about your mom finally put words to my feelings and struggles with my own mother (it felt like a lightbulb about the copy/contrast). Always appreciate your posts.


  5. Hi again
    Thanks nurse Jackie for replying, this is a strange feeling actually using a blog as I have never wrote on one before. I actually felt a bit rude to the lady who writes this blog , as I never really acknowledge what she was was discussing. I just banged on about myself.

    It has taken a long time to actually put pen to paper and acknowledge that my drinking is doing me no favours. I tried AA after a couple of blackouts and although I can see the benefit for some people, it didn’t suit me. Plus I live on a small island so,it’s totally mortifying encountering people that you know
    A in meetings
    B people walking down the street while your stood outside knowing it’s a AA meeting.

    This is why whilst trawling around for alternative help, I stumbled on this blog. The more I read I realised this must be a better way for a very private person.

    I hope you can keep going Jackie, I’m still in very early days ,but I definitely have noticed the fog starting to lift

    I know there is a long hard road ahead.

    Thanks again Unpickled



    • I’ll agree, this is a little odd, this conversation in front of the world. I kind of feel like I’m cheating on my husband. Just kidding, of course. (I use humor to cover a multitude of things.) I’ve also attended a couple of AA meetings; not my thing. I know it’s done great things for a great number of people. Came home from work with two-24oz cans of beer last night. Had half of one can and threw the rest out. Went out for dinner with the hubs and drank water. Moderation with my husband is usually the norm; he knows my struggle and how I hate myself for drinking too much. He knows I work 60 hours a week so I’m not home alone to drink. He’s very encouraging and gracious; I’m thankful. But then I wonder, why would this wonderful man stick with a goof like myself? Anyway, I am super thankful for UNPICKLED. As I read through all of the posts of these tired souls, I resonate with almost all of them. It’s like my new addiction 🙂 And that’s a good thing! Peace to everyone today.


    • I couldn’t do it without AA. It’s a simple program. At least get the book and really read it. Pray for a miracle. You’ll get what you need. Start there. Begin again. Best of luck to you.
      Recovering alcoholic, Connie


  6. “Emotions and self-reflection continue to be one of the harder parts of life after alcohol for me – no numbing or checking out”.

    I love this because I too am dealing with the not being able to check out part. I’ve been sober now for 32 months and I’m still struggling with how to use my tool box, not all the time but lately. If I’m not constantly busy and I have too much time on my hands I self reflect ALOT! I think going through the emotions and not being able to share how I’m feeling without feeling judged is what stops me from opening up to anyone. I love your blog, it feeds my soul and it helps to know someone else gets it. I don’t look forward to the day I will be in your shoes cleaning out my parents home and going through all of those emotions. I have to say, being sober is way better than not. Numbing the pain seemed so much easier in the past but rediscovering yourself and moving through the tough stuff is rewarding. I wish you peace and I know you’ll be just fine. One day at a time………


  7. Hi Unpicked

    I have been mulling this stop drinking for some time now and have been following this blog for months, reading different links and taking in other people’s experiences.

    I am a binge drinker !! I don’t open a bottle every night I just don’t seem to or want to stop once I start. There are times when I can drink in moderation, but on the flip side of that I can go out and loose time and space which I’m absolutely fed up of. I’m sick of trying to piece the night together and feeling wait for it SHAME

    So I have stopped for two weeks so far and it is going well I think
    I am very sporty so lots of ten k have been put on the calendar as potencial goals.

    What I have taken from the blog is that having support is key to helping with the journey hense today’s reply after all these months.

    In work today Saturday and I feel as fresh as paint that has to be good a good thing hey ?

    Thanks Caroline


    • Your post could be my post, verbatim. Except for the sporty stuff. I over schedule myself so I’m not home alone to drink. Thanks for your post. I, too, have been watching this blog for a while. Glad you’ve gotten two weeks under your belt. I’ve got two days.


  8. I’m new to your blog. Your words resonate with me. Loved/hate the part about your Mom. Same thing here. Thanks for your thoughtful writing.


  9. When my parents died, we had to clear out the family home, fix it up and sell it, this was happening right as I purchased my own and was in the process of fixing it up. Then I sold my home and moved 750 miles away… and I think this was all in 3 years time! I know how crazy it is!

    10 years later, I’m thinking about down sizing! Hope everything has quieted down for you and hope you are doing well.

    Liked by 1 person

Your Turn! Have Your Say:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s