Then and Now

This morning I was awake much earlier than necessary. BOING! Eyes open at 6 am. Go back to sleep, I told myself, you have a late curling draw tonight. You need the extra sleep if you’re going to make it through this day….

But it was too late.

COFFEE said my brain.

PEE! said my bladder.

Shhhhhh, go back to sleep, said my grown up voice, soon drowned out with chatter:

Yippeee morning! Coffee and news and what should I wear today and hey I wonder if I lost another pound and oooooh what oil should I diffuse in the sunroom while I read the paper and and and if I get up now I can read for an extra hour instead of sleep! 

Who can resist that kind of enthusiasm? I can’t help myself, I love mornings. Do not confuse this with being a morning person. Morning people get stuff done. I don’t. I love to sit and read and drink coffee and have a slow start without interruptions.

Things sure have changed.

I used to shuffle to the kitchen and reach for Tylenol first, then coffee – both of them extra strength, please. Everything used to hurt in the morning and I never questioned it – I powered through. Hangover? No, of course not. I just had chronic daily headaches and body pain for no reason. It’s not like I was throwing up and calling in sick for work, right?

But a few months after I quit drinking I realized that I was no longer taking those little red pills every morning, and eventually I even had to toss a mostly-full jumbo bottle because it had stale-dated. That’s when I knew things were really different.

Six years later, things continue to change.

This is what recovery looks like….

I no longer stand in front of the mirror and stare into my own eyes, looking for answers to a question I am afraid to ask. Or inspect my nose for whatever it is that supposedly happens from too much alcohol.

I still check my outfit in the mirror before leaving the house, but only to see if I like the combination – not with the scrutiny of an imposter trying to cover her shame and fear with perfection.

I used to arrange and rearrange the furniture and decor in my home, then inspect it by standing at the entrance and surveying the scene with a visitor’s eyes. Is this good enough? Are there flaws? Is it welcoming? It is right? Oh, my home is still quite perfect – once a designer always a designer! – but I please myself first.

As mentioned, Wednesday night is our curling league and I have fun visiting with the other teams. I love to throw a good take-out shot that clears the house, or sweep a teammate’s rock with all my might, but I no longer imagine that people are watching me or judging my form. We often socialize afterwards and it doesn’t faze me that most teams split a pitcher of beer while I have water, though in truth I can’t wait to get home and watch Survivor.

Yep, this is a huge departure from the old days. My husband and I started curling in our 20s before we had kids and oh my, the drinking we used to do! It was all in good fun back then. In my 30s things had started to change – with little kids at home curling was our one night out so we had to get a week’s worth of partying into that one night. I probably drank a similar amount of alcohol as before, but with a different urgency and attitude. Curling was once a prelude to alcohol. Now I actually focus on the game and play hard and feel happy.

I could go on. I drive differently. I listen differently. I work and socialize differently. Everything is better, even though some things are harder now. I got through profound grief this year without the help of alcohol and it was so very large and real, but I did it (am still doing it, to be honest).

I look better. I feel better. My chest doesn’t hurt constantly and I sleep like a baby (at least until 6 am!). I hardly have to think about not drinking now, that part gets SO much easier. But when it does hit me, the old urge to escape – WHAM! There it is like the smell of mould and I pull back in surprise.

Except now I know to ask, what is making me so uncomfortable that I want to check out? Then I deal with that thing, and if I can’t identify it I comfort myself anyway with something safe – a stretch, a treat, a nap, a walk, an unnecessary purchase.

That’s where I am at now, and in time I will surely be in some even more enlightened place.

But one thing is for sure: I am never going back.




  1. “Except now I know to ask, what is making me so uncomfortable that I want to check out? Then I deal with that thing, and if I can’t identify it I comfort myself anyway with something safe – a stretch, a treat, a nap, a walk, an unnecessary purchase.”

    Love this. I still have cravings that hit out of nowhere, or creep up quietly here and there, but it’s so much more obvious than it ever was while I was drinking. I just drank. That’s what I did. I didn’t think about why, I mean it was OBVIOUS *why* I drank – because I wanted to, duh. At the peak of my drinking, I joked about not having emotions, drinking away emotions, etc, but I still drank.

    Now, sugar and carbs tend to be my go-to unhealthy fixes. 😛 One day at a time, right? I know I’m commenting on an older post, but it really resonated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Jean! Thank you for bringing me and so many others hope through your writing and podcast. You’ve been with me through 14 months of sobriety, and like you, there are many mornings that I am jumping out of bed to get to my day, and I’ve got an expired bottle of Advil to prove it. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jean, and others. Today is exactly one year since my quit date. I am not counting a year of sobriety until the 9th however because I had three slips thereafter. This was due to the holidays and yes I felt guilty. But I went against the usual, starting the count at zero, and kept going. In some ways that’s why I have been doing ever since. As I look back, the year was hard, oh so very very hard, and yet at the same time as I look back (perhaps thanks to hindsight) it seems to have been easy. Easy in the sense that all I needed to do, on a day to day basis (this is the hard part) was focus on that day. This seems confusing, but it isn’t. I tried as hard as I could to focus and trust that my internal GPS was Guiding me in the right direction. This blog was (and still is) very very helpful. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that today work was hard, my self care has been slipping due to demands at work, but I hold on stronger than yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. And yet at the same time, I hold on as strongly as I need to for today. I get urges to drink from time to time, and then like Jean said I try to get at what the need is and try my hardest to address it. Today I was exhausted and near collapse, so I decided to get myself my favorite pizza pie (yes I almost ate the whole thing), reached for my new fancy tea mug (gift from a student), and sipped my tea (my new go to for unwinding) and watched some Netflix. It does get easier, even if it does not feel like it right now. Just hold on for today.

    Much love and strength. Onward!


  4. Jean, Thanks for continuing to post about your journey. I am an avid listener of your podcast as well. It’s nice to know I am not alone in my recovery. Being able to identify with another woman who keeps putting one foot in front of the other is so helpful. Best, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jean, you are so inspiring. I have found myself returning to your blog time and again over the past year. I’m always so comforted and encouraged by your words, in your posts and on the Bubble Hour, and I think, “I want to be like her.” I’m having trouble making sobriety “stick.” I’ll go a few days, weeks, even 2 months early last year, then I inevitably turn back to my nightly glasses of wine. It’s a frustrating cycle. Thank you for being here, for sharing your story and your joy in life after alcohol. You give me hope that I can also have something better.


  6. I believe that this is the first time I ever read somebody story where I understood and identified with just about every word. I am new to sobriety. I have 28 years clean off drugs of the powdered version. Alcohol has been the drug that’s been a little trickier but I am surrounding myself with understanding how it works positive people and finding my voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t know what you looked like “before” ,but you’re just bursting with health and happy now, and that’s such an inspiration. I can’t believe how good mornings are now, I feel like I’ve doubled my life by adding a whole new part of the day to it. Who knew ! I used to spend so much time managing the inward and outward signs of hangovers ( allergies I told everyone…) now I just feel amazing. Day 504! 🌻

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Insightful as always!
    It is shocking how easily we ignored the body pain, poor sleep, bruises, etc. Or, like me, looked for something wrong. I thought I must have MS or some other serious illness.
    And it turns out it was the booze.
    I’m never going back either. I prefer to do whatever it takes to live through the hard than go back to biding my time in a life of greyness and fear.
    We are lucky. Our eyes are open.
    Love to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. So many words you mention resignate with me. “Fear with perfection, urge to escape,
    feeling so uncomfortable that I want to check out.” The difference now is, “dealing with that thing”. Great read ~ thank you!


  10. HI I love your posts but cannot even read them because of the auto play ads that pop up and take over. Do you know this is happening??



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