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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.

Unpickled

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.

 

 

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A Secret Code and Good Things for You

From my very first day of recovery to this very day, certain parts of my routine have stood out as notable because of my sobriety: that morning cup of coffee as I realize “I’m not hungover!”…getting in my car and thinking “I never have to worry about being over the limit now!”…cooking supper for my family without opening a bottle…putting on comfy clothes at the end of each day as I prepare to face “the witching hour”…making a cup of evening tea to sooth the frayed edges…and taking time for gratitude as I crawl into bed.

I have often thought how nice it would be to buy nice things that encouraged my recovery throughout the day, yet I was hesitant to wear or carry things that broadcast my sobriety. If only there was a secret code….

I am aware that AA has a simple symbol that members often wear on jewelry or bumper stickers as a nod to sobriety, and wanted to create something similar for people on other pathways of recovery and change. Enter a dear designer friend who understands recovery personally and was eager to help with this project. She created some amazing new graphics for me, including this one as our “secret code”:UP_7748_7699_Icon-01

What does it mean, you wonder? I made this little video to explain:

And now…here’s the fun part! I have created a little shop with mugs for our morning coffee and evening tea, journals and boards for our gratitude practice, aprons for cooking time, keychains that are customizable with our recovery dates, and snuggly shirts for our cozy evenings of self-care. Basically I made a ton of items that I wanted for myself and set up a storefront on Zazzle (a print-on-demand provider) to make them available for others as well.

UnPickled is not a business venture for me nor a get-rich scheme, but simply a passion. I have put countless hours into the creation and maintenance of this blog UnPickled, and I will never ever ever charge readers for my efforts as a blogger or recovery cheerleader.

My main goal for UnPickled Shop is to encourage and support people in recovery with some neat little treats. Zazzle allows a small royalty for the use of my logo on the items it sells, and this amount will go towards paying for my website, domain registration, etc.

Thanks for you patience as I launch this project. I’ll be adding more items over the coming weeks, so please check my Facebook page for updates.

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