I'm an American in my 50s, happy at long last to be newly sober, to have found Mrs D's blog, and to be connecting with people on this amazing website. I am very grateful to be here with my eyes blinking open to a bright new sober world.
@Rolemodel, try not to beat yourself as you figure this out and learn. You can model self-care for your children–a really important lesson to pass on. You are doing a hard thing, so give yourself some credit and some love and patience. And some rest: maybe your motto can be amended to something like, work a reasonable amount, play with joy and abandon, and rest and rejuvenate more than you think you need to. Or maybe you’ll come up with something catchier. You will get there, and one thing that will help will be kindness to yourself, starting right now, when you need it most. So glad you are trying and making progress even if you don’t always recognize it, and so glad you are here with people who understand what you’re going through. We are in this together, wherever we are on our journey.
I like what @Andlan said. Congratulations on identifying a set of triggers for you: sitting in front of the TV on the weekend with your partner. My trigger was cooking dinner. Can you figure out a way to set yourself up for success next weekend, plan so that you will be able to do something different and not be triggered? That could be something simple: going to bed early or watching a show in some other part of your home or going for a walk or writing in a journal or coming on here or reading a book on sobriety or listening to a podcast …. Becoming aware of your triggers is a big step, and now you can do what you can to organize your life to sidestep the triggers. This isn’t easy at first, so we have to protect our sobriety at all costs. We’re with you!
@LibbyB, it all counts. That long stretch of sobriety taught you a lot. Now your experimentation with the impossibility of moderation is teaching you something you needed to learn, too. One suggestion: If you give up the idea of quitting forever, you can quit forever. That’s why they say, “one day at a time.” Or one minute at a time. That’s as long as you need. At some point, you’ll realize that you’re living your best life, hard as life can be, and that alcohol would not make that life better. You’ll know in your bones that living without alcohol is the life you want and alcohol can just take a hike. Just for today. And then a lot of todays will add up.
I’ve been sober 3 1/2 years, and I very rarely have a thought that I could drink again–it lasts about 10 seconds. It’s not painful for me, or difficult to deal with. I hear myself thinking, “I bet I could moderate. I wasn’t that bad.” That’s a signal for me to pause, and recognize that I’m in a stressful situation of some kind. I ask myself, what was that about? What is it that I need? What kind of nurturing would help me now? Because I know that it sure ain’t alcohol. And then I pick something to do from my recovery toolbox–meditate, go to a meeting, get some exercise, go to a yoga class, take a nap, add to my gratitude list, touch base with someone sober and tell them about something that’s bothering me–the thing that is at the root of that fleeting thought that a drink would be a good idea.
Moderation is the last gasp of alcohol’s hold on you. You’ve seen through the lies, you’re ready to kick it to the curb, but it comes up and lies to you. It was so good, wasn’t it? It was so fun, baby, wasn’t it? That lying, abusive shite that is alcohol offers the false promise that this time it will be different. Or, no maybe this time. Or this time. It’s unending. I don’t want to be chained to alcohol any more, to go around again and again, trying and failing to moderate and dealing with hangovers and all…[Read more]
Congratulations on day 1, @paleandinteresting! This is definitely something to be proud of. Tips: My number 1 tip is to be kind and loving to yourself, whatever that means for you. If you need a nap, take a nap. If you need not to be in your kitchen cooking dinner at wine o’clock, order take out or ask someone else to cook. Get a massage if you like that. Take a bubble bath. Watch a movie in the middle of the day. Go to bed early. Come on here. The cravings will last about twenty minutes, so ride that wave and know it will end. Find a special drink to have in your hand and pour in your mouth when you would normally be drinking alcohol. And bear in mind that the nicest thing you could ever do for yourself is to stop drinking alcohol. Well done!
So excited that you have another book in the works! Your warmth and caring and respect for other people, joy for life, and ability to face the gritty times, too, all come through in your writing, and I know your book will be a special one for me and lots of other people. Oh dear, I must pick up _Mrs D Is Going Within_ before the next one is out. I’m definitely ready for that one.
Have a great, shimmery, glittery party! Sounds fun!
That is tough, @getclear. As we say, there is no problem so bad that drinking will not make it worse. To protect your sobriety, be sure you are taking very good care of yourself and doing things that make you feel good and calm and loved. It doesn’t sound like these people help with that at all, so, if possible, it might be a good idea to avoid them, at least for now while you’re in early sobriety. If you can’t do that, then coming on here to vent is a great idea. And remember that old saying that I see is only “mock” Latin, but it will do: nolite te bastardes carborundum–don’t let the bastards grind you down. You are doing something brave and really good that few people have the good sense to undertake. So I’d say you’re exceptionally smart. Congratulations on day 9 and on that grapefruit soda–yum!
@annec. Thank you for that. I so appreciate the support. I will continue to vent as “these people” cannot be avoided. But that’s one reason I was pushed to sobriety. For years and years I’ve let it drag me down into the pit. Had enough of the dragging. Climbing out!
Day 11 is great–congratulations! That fear of missing out is very common, @Meadow, and, yes, you’re right that we get pounded with the message that we need alcohol to have a good time. It’s such a lie, and is part of what keeps us trapped. I’m here to tell you that I looooove socializing sober. It was scary at first because I didn’t have my crutch (wine or beer), and I didn’t know how people would react to me not drinking. But I just kept my hands filled with glasses of sparkling water, and it all got much easier quickly. I have a lot more fun now than I did when I was drinking–even singing and dancing and laughing long and hard kind of fun–and I’m also able to have meaningful conversations that deepen my friendships and that I remember.
I was a “grey area” drinker, and I’m glad I stopped before things deteriorated further. We don’t have to hit a nasty bottom to realize that alcohol is poisonous shite. I’m so glad to be off the moderation/binge hamster wheel, so glad not to let alcohol have that power over my mind and my time and my wallet any more, not to have it destroying my body and my sleep and my personal growth. What a relief!
It takes some figuring out and some work and a lot of change, but you don’t have to lose the friends who love and support you–they still will love and support you. If it’s what you want, and if you’re anything like me, I predict you’ll continue to have a much better life without alcohol than you ever had with it. It’s just one day at a time, right? Good luck! We can do this.
I’m with you, @Lars. I did not drink today. I did such nice things for myself–meditation in the morning, yoga in the evening, a dog walk, healthy meals. My AF-free life is so much better than the years I spent drinking. Not today, friends!
P.S. Oh yeah, alcohol sucks, and I am so glad that I am free of it! And therapy is a great addition! A lot of us have a background of trauma and need and deserve help with THAT. We don’t need or deserve the punishments that alcohol delivers.
@startingagain, you have a huge number of options. First question: What have you been trying, and what has helped? Second question: do you need medical support to detox safely? Not everybody does, and I’m not an expert on that, but someone else here will be able to chime in and help you. But some ideas about alternatives to rehab:
You may be able to find an outpatient treatment center that works with your work and family schedule. You can certainly find AA meetings; I joined in January after being sober 3 years, and it has been a surprising, great addition to my sobriety toolbox and brought my personal growth to a new level. It’s so great to have the support of the women in my group. People there have been saying the same things we’ve been saying here since the 1930s, if you can get past the archaic language of the Big Book and hear the life in the stories and information shared. (Listen for the similarities and not the differences, people say.) But that’s not everybody’s cup of tea. There is Refuge Recovery if you want to have a meditation emphasis (AA also encourages meditation), or Smart Recovery,, or Women in Recovery, or Life Ring. There are a number of Facebook groups, like Recovery Elevator or Soberful. You might find a recovery yoga group somewhere near you, or a recovery meditation group, something that’s not as organized as the other groups.
Podcasts helped me a lot: The Bubble Hour, Recovery Elevator, Recovery Happy Hour, and on and on. Fill your ears with those, and you’ll soon start to see that you are not alone, we can do this, and life without alcohol, although not perfect, is soooo much better than life with alcohol.
In short, @startingagain, you have a world of options, and we are lucky to be giving up alcohol in such a time when we can refuse the shame, give up the booze, and support each other in becoming our best selves, the people we were meant to be. Good luck!
P.S. Oh yeah, alcohol sucks, and I am so glad that I am free of it! And therapy is a great addition! A lot of us have a background of trauma and need and deserve help with THAT. We don’t need or deserve the punishments that alcohol delivers.
Well, @Teazy, it’s perfectly legitimate to say no, I’m not going, whether it’s late or early days in sobriety. If you just can’t bring yourself to say no in this situation, then you might try what I did the first time I was going to face a pretty big social challenge as a non-drinker: I role played with a friend. We imagined what it would be like, and she played the part of someone I suspected would pressure me to drink. I practiced my responses right out loud, and it made a huge difference when I was in the real scene. Yes, the person I thought would pressure me did pressure me and tease me about not drinking, and he was drunk. But I was ready and armed with my sober wits and a non-alcoholic beverage in each hand. I got through it sober and stocked away that experience as one that made me a stronger sober warrior, even if I didn’t actually enjoy it at all.
Also remember, it’s all right to slip away back to your hotel room if you are bored or your sobriety is threatened or if things just don’t feel right. And be sure to pamper yourself on either side of the event; you’ll need a lot of tender loving care. If you can tell one person you trust that you aren’t drinking–maybe even your friend so she’ll stop winding people up?–then you’ll have someone in your corner who’ll make sure you have mocktails and sparkling water ready and waiting when you want them. Who knows? Maybe one of the other women will be sober, too, or sober curious, and you might be an inspiration to someone. Good luck!
P.S. I see I’m mostly repeating what others have said, so I’ll say, “hear, hear” to the above advice and suggestions. I agree!
@Michael6, yes, you do need balance, I agree. So maybe for someone that means 90 in 90, and for you that means some other combination of resources that may include AA (or not).
I started AA after 3 years of sobriety this year. I’m finding it complements rather than conflicts with everything else I’m doing–therapy, yoga, mediation (also encouraged by AA), exercise, eating right, getting rest, online support here, reading books, podcast after podcast. I got lucky with my sponsor, who is terrific and wise. I don’t always feel comfortable, and sometimes when I’m thinking maybe it’s just not the right fit, someone says something that reaches right to my core, or I try a suggestion and things turn out in a way I wouldn’t have imagined or predicted. Or I share something and feel the power of being heard and understood. It’s both challenging me and helping me.
I have noticed that a lot of the “new” support available to us online or in podcasts is very much like what I find in AA meetings, actually; that is, people sharing their stories and reaching out to each other to ask for help or offer support. I also have found that when I read the Big Book now as opposed to three years ago, I’m not so hung up on the admittedly stilted language that feels like it’s from another era, because, well, it is from another era. But it’s also about us now, I’ve discovered. When I first dipped into the Big Book, it seemed to be all about people far worse off than me, and some of the stories are completely different from mine, since I’m lucky enough not to have had delirium tremens or spent any time in sanitariums or in hospitals detoxing, but I’ve also found that the Big Book has people who are on various parts of the alcoholic/problem drinker spectrum. So we haven’t just discovered “grey area drinking”–it’s there in the stories of people who came before us.
I’m glad I gave it a try again after thinking it wasn’t for me three years ago when I first sampled some meetings. I’m…[Read more]
Thanks very much. I have dipped in and out of AA for some years now. But I will stick with going to some meetings and reading the book, along with anything else that helps. Yes, I have also noticed that a lot of the “new” support is similar to what has been in AA for years. I have been to SMART recovery a few times and noticed that the group itself is a “higher power.” Also a lot of the exercises in groups like SMART are also suggested in AA. Basically CBT tools. Play it forward etc.
Came on here to see how you are, @timidwarrior. So glad you are looking out for yourself, getting rest, and cooking and eating nutritious meals. The little ways we practice self-care make a huge difference. Well done–keep going! We are with you.
You’re not alone, @timidwarrior. Many people here have been where you are. Today can be the day when everything becomes clear–alcohol is lying shite that tries to convince us we can handle it, we can moderate, we can drink a little bit. That’s what all the lying shite advertisements tell us, and the lying shite cute wine glasses and t-shirts. You know what they are? Lying shite. Today is the day you can choose to continue your recovery, grab an alcohol-free life with both hands, and protect your sobriety at all costs. Make this day of trial and misery mean something. No shame–shame gives the reins to alcohol, and it’s time to kick that lying you-know-what to the curb. Hope you can accept the help that’s offered here. You deserve it. You deserve a life in recovery. You are not alone.
How awful, @Lee. No wonder you were upset! I’m so glad you went home and meditated. I’ve been doing some meditations to sit with “negative” feelings and let myself feel them instead of fighting them. They’re the emotions I used to drink to keep at bay. Now, in recovery, I’ve learned that they won’t kill me or anybody else, that they are not negative at all, but natural and expressing a need.
Of course, we can’t know that the drunken man felt, but I would imagine that his laughter and talk of Satan are his attempt to hide his own terror and sadness and perhaps loss of hope at the death of Ray, who was trying to help him. I would guess that you’re right that he’s seeking help but couldn’t manage to do it in his drunken state. Being drunk might be normal for him, and might be his way of not sitting with his own “negative” feelings. I think we can all relate to that, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with someone deep in their cups like that, spewing bile and trying to laugh off a tremendous sadness. I also wonder if he can’t safely detox without medical support, so he truly can’t do this alone, just as none of us can. I’m glad you’re going to enlist the help of the man with 27 years of sobriety, and that you’re not taking this man’s salvation on yourself, except by your example and your alerting someone else to his need for help.
I know I’m not saying anything here that you probably haven’t thought yourself about this whole situation. Even in your (justified) anger, you sound quite compassionate towards him and, thank goodness, towards yourself, too, so you set good boundaries and looked after yourself and your own recovery.
I go to a 12-step meditation group, too, and imagine that, in his state, his presence at that style of meeting would have been a challenge to sit with at best, impossible at worst. I hope that something–the example of people in the group, or something you said or your late friend said–might have planted a seed so that he…[Read more]
@anneC Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. This guy had a few months sober at one point a few years back and was attending meetings but found fault and, of course, reasons to keep drinking. It’s pretty ironic that he’s since landed a maintenance job for the owner of our space and sleeps next door. He just lurks outside drunk usually but last night he was sitting inside holding a water bottle but then followed me outside to perform his wrath. The death of Ray was a hard hit. He was very active in AA and just a brilliant, funny guy and we were very close friends and I don’t take what this drunk fool says lightly at all but I have to let it go and have faith that the best will come out of it all. It’s just left me hating booze even more, if possible, and making me realize the importance of staying on track no matter what uncomfortable situations arise.
Thanks for posting the link to your blog, @angiex. I just read all of your posts there, and like your writing a lot–you are the writer you have always wanted to be, so keep going, I say. And protecting your sobriety will also protect your identity as a writer, because, well, you’ll write! You’ll have more energy and time to be creative, and you’ll trust your inner voice more and feel more and more courageous. At least, this has been true for me and my writing. Nothing of mine to share online, in case you’re wondering, but, like you, I always wanted to be a writer, and giving myself time and space to do that has been an important part of my recovery, too, even if nobody but a few friends ever gets to read my stuff.
You’ve accomplished so much, and I imagine that your experience with ending your other addiction will help a lot in your recovery from alcohol. And your recovery time before this day one will help you make it through the times when you struggle–you’ll remember how you got through the hard parts. It’s wonderful that you celebrated your day 1 by coming on here and moving forward. Your writing will inspire someone else to keep moving on their journey of recovery, too. You’ll show someone, and you have already showed someone–me, for instance–that we’re not alone. Good for you, and good for the other people here who know our struggle, and know the gifts of living alcohol free.
Thanks for your reply. And many, many thanks for your thoughtful and wise response a couple of weeks ago when I was struggling and at a pivotal point. I still find it and read it when I have difficult moments.
@beehappy, maybe you’re opening your friends eyes to something completely new to her, and she needs a little time and patience to get used to it. Maybe it’s like what used to happen, many years ago at least, when people learned for the first time that someone close to them was gay. The conversation might have gone something like, “Wait, you? Gay? But you’re so–normal.” That kind of conversation now sounds so old-fashioned, and I imagine that she would never be shocked by that now in someone she knows and loves. But this? Aren’t people who choose sobriety not at all like you, like us, like her? Sure we are–as I used to chant at gay pride marches, we are everywhere!
I’d bet she’ll be your biggest sober advocate once she has time to ponder it. If not, she might be wrestling with her own problem, but I hope she will come around as she gets to know the new, AF-free you. In the meantime, of course, you’ll protect your sobriety at all costs. Congratulations on almost 6 months!
Thank you @AnneC I think that makes complete sense, I hadn’t thought of it that way. She has even said things like “but you are ok” etc. It’s funny how seemingly tiny and throw away comments can be triggering. I’m just trying to ride these feelings out and they should pass.
Sending lots of love to you and your family at this difficult time. So glad we are sober! And you have helped me and so many others in recovery. What a gift to bring to an ever-widening community. Thank you!
Congratulations on day 27! I love alcohol-free sleep so much. It’s genuinely restorative. Just one of many alcohol-free benefits, but such a good one it is. Here’s to good sleep and to your continued success! (She says, lifting her sparkling water ….)
@JS123, your curiosity is natural–we have all been there, so know from our own experience (and sometimes repeated experience) that we couldn’t moderate. If you can, then you are a rarity. If you drink, please be sure to have a safe ride home, and please don’t beat yourself up. If you moderate successfully at this event, please pay attention to what that’s like. It might even feel easy one time, but having two glasses of wine at any one evening forever? That felt like a horrible prospect for me. I also hated the way I focused so much energy and attention on my little allotment, and how awful I felt that I wasn’t going to have more. It was then, when I was moderating, that I knew most clearly that alcohol had me in its grip, and I refused to live under its powerful sway any longer.
We all have to have our own experiences that lead us to the beautiful certainty that a life without alcohol is the best choice for us. I hope that you won’t choose to experiment at this event, and I can tell you that nobody there will care what’s in your glass. (if they do, you know what that says about them and their relationship to alcohol.) You can do quite well by keeping a glass of water with you.
At any rate, we are here for you whatever choice you make. We can just assure you that life free from alcohol opens up all kinds of wonderful possibilities that a life chained to alcohol simply forecloses. Good luck! We’re here.
@spring64, we’ve all been there. @DaveH is right: Try not to beat yourself up. Feeling bad about yourself just gives alcohol an open door to walk in with its false promises of consolation. @Parky is right, too. Shake it off and see what you can learn about what you need to do to protect your sobriety. It will get easier with practice and some good strategies. A lot of podcasts have good episodes on how to stay sober over the holidays, and, even though you’re not talking about a holiday, it’s the same idea. The Bubble Hour and Recovery Elevator are two good ones you may already know about. When I went to my first family gatherings, I role-played with a friend beforehand to practice what I’d say when a relative asked me why I wasn’t drinking or offered me some wine. That really made me feel more confident. Good luck! We can do this.
Since you are a @craftygirl, you might like Unruffled. It’s all about creativity in recovery. Another one that’s new to me and that I like a lot is called Euphoria the podcast. Two warm and smart young women talk about recovery; they are approachable and intelligent and wise beyond their years. I relate to them even though I suspect they are something like 30 years younger than me. I could go on for days, as I am a podcast-junkie. Say the word if you need more ideas!
@sobere, you are precocious. I didn’t give up alcohol until my 50s, and didn’t even realize it was a serious problem until then. Everybody around me drank like I did, I thought. I just kept thinking, OK, next time I’ll be more careful, and I won’t go past this level on the bottle. I’ll drink water in between glasses of wine. I’ll drink only 2 glasses. Well, maybe three. Well …. next time it’ll be better.
Of course, we don’t know what terrible times those younger people may have been through that led them to quit, or maybe they’re just quitting for health reasons or because drinking isn’t as cool as it once was for us, or maybe they were born with plain good sense. Good for them. But boy, that wasn’t me. It’s only now that I can look back on myself when I was their age, and I can understand why I began keeping my feelings anesthetized with alcohol, and I can offer my younger self compassion and understanding. Now, too, I can offer myself, my aging self, compassion and understanding and see that I need to care for myself in new ways without alcohol, and that has opened a whole new world to me. I keep sprouting wrinkles and more grey hair, but, without alcohol, I am rejuvenated.
I can just hear Helen Reddy singing about us middle-aged and older women (and men) in recovery: “Yes, I am wise, but it’s wisdom born of pain.” We’ve come a long way, baby. Everything we’ve been through has brought us here where we are brave enough to go against social convention and brave enough to begin to face our feelings and see alcohol as the poisonous shite it is, not the glorious elixir it once seemed to be with every first drink. Now we realize that moderation has failed us time and time and sorry time again. Now is the perfect time to start a life that isn’t weighed down by alcohol. Now, at any age.
Thanks @AnneC for your nice post. I know moderation is a major lie for me. I suppose you’re right, it’s never too late to quit. I think DaveH once said something like, “the best day to quit was 20 years ago. The next best day is today.”
I’m thinking of you, my brothers and sisters in New Zealand, and wishing you peace and love and comfort at this terrible and shocking time. I’m so sorry this madness has touched your shores, rocked you to the heart. You are not alone.
Congratulations on day 5 @Lee! If AA is part of your sober toolkit/patchwork, I say, good for you. I’ve been sober for three years and just started AA and Al-Anon a couple of months ago. I didn’t think I fit in either group when I quit drinking and tested out some meetings when I first stopped drinking, but now it feels so right and is making an important difference in my life. I went to a new meeting yesterday and was glad I did. I am glad AA is helping you, too. May you have serenity today and going forward.
Hey @AnneC I’ve been in in out of the rooms for years, tried other things as well but the thing is I just wasn’t ready to quit completely. I always had that little crack in the door. I’ve managed some decent sober time if you add it all up but the relapses have been horrifying and this last one just really got me or I finally got it. I really don’t ever want to drink again. Peace to you as well and 3 years is amazing!