• Em76 posted an update 3 months, 4 weeks ago

    Day 44 and my sober app tells me I’ve saved 222 hours of time freed up that would have been devoted to drinking! That’s over 9 full 24 hour days of doing something other than drinking! What have I been doing? Sleeping, taking baths, running on the gym treadmill after dark, talking to my daughter on the phone and remembering every story, development, hope, wish, bad day, new friend, triumph of a meal prep and professional hurdle she’s told me about. Playing with my cats, sitting and staring out the window but not in a bored way, running errands, doing some work work (though I try to limit the work I do from home, I like there to be boundaries there). It’s all really good stuff!!

    I’ve also saved close to $500 and that has also been diverted to better things: candy (yikes!) and some gifts for my daughter, one luxurious super soft furry blanket for my bed, and then a few donations to a local alcohol recovery center. After my counter passes $500 I’m going to start diverting the weekly money into an account so it’s actually physically located somewhere, instead of a hypothetical counter. I don’t know why, just in case I want to do something with it. But the first couple of months I just think I don’t want to be so disciplined, just let myself do things based on gut feeling and what I need in the moment.

    I’ve also saved over 35,000 calories! Hah! Saved = eaten all of those calories in sugar. That stage can’t last forever though.

    Finally, my Garmin watch has a sleep timer and I am very pleased to see that my sleep, which averaged just under 6 hours/night in December has now averaged 8h 23m /night in January and 7h 58m in February.

    So that’s my data, folks. I hope everyone has a great day!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    First off I loved The Great Believers. The AIDS epidemic affected me so much when I was growing up that I’ve always been drawn to things that reference it. So heartbreaking.

    As far as unplugged time, I did some experiments to see how much time I needed to be off the grid to feel able to write (I also write!) and think and absorb things. For me it’s 2 days straight to start with, then limiting online time to 30 minutes twice a day. I get a lot of my socialization online, my friends are all over the world, and without feeling connected I get into dangerous territory in my decision making abilities. For instance when I drank it was often when I was unplugged. I’m not a tv watcher, so it was mainly the lack of social contact with people I connect with online that isolated me. So I do need some plugged in time for my sanity and emotions, but on the other hand if I get sucked into news, etc., my mood also tanks.

    What I’ve found works for me is 1) news diet. I can check once a week in case there’s something massive I need to know about, but I only skim headlines and don’t get sucked into emotional/angry sites, stories and most of all skip over all commentary about it. This has become my normal, now. 2) I have daily online limits for surfing and that includes buying stuff online. I rarely post from work unless I need help/support (I posted here once for that during a hard day), 3) I’ve stopped using my phone to surf, only my laptop because my senses tell me how much time is passing when I’m on my laptop whereas on my phone it feels more like I’m just spending a minute (but it’s actually 30).

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    @enzedgirl that’s the song that popped into my head too!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    How exciting, fashion school sounds so cool and creative! 🙂

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    18 days is great!! Enjoy today!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Good morning! Sober mornings are the absolute best!

  • Em76 posted an update 4 months ago

    Hi everyone! Day 41 over here and very happily nothing to report here on the alcohol front! Still navigating my new relationship with sugar, but at least that feels more manageable right now!

    My new alcohol related challenge on the horizon: I’m starting to plan my June/July/August travel schedule and I know this is going to be the single biggest challenge in my AF journey. I can’t tell you (probably don’t have to) how large a role alcohol played in my summer travel. If I were to list the things I loved the most about traveling solo, a ‘sundowner’ (in the drinks sense) while watching the sunset and feeling the evening soften and blur around the edges would be in the top 2 or 3 slot. All the friends I’ve made and see regularly while traveling are also heavy drinkers and it’s our primary activity, just changing the background – are we at a restaurant, club, at someone’s house, camping, etc. They wouldn’t care at all if I stopped drinking, it’s not that I don’t know how to tell them or to say no- it’s that I don’t know if I will want to say no. There are so many daily hurdles when I try to imagine being AF that I can’t mentally project past the first one or two before getting overwhelmed.

    I think to myself: do I even want to be AF when I travel? Would that even bring the same peace and happiness as it does here at home? It makes trip planning feel like it’s happening in black and white rather than color. But then intellectually I know that every single thing I’ve learned about being AF in the last 40 days has been positive. What are the chances that all of those same benefits end at my own country’s border? What do I think, that body chemistry and mental clarity flips at the equator and suddenly it’s great to drink? So I know it’s not logical, but I still have a hard time imagining saying no. I feel like it’s inevitable I’ll drink again, like I’ll jump the first hurdle, then the second, then falter at the third and overcome it, but at some point I’ll find…[Read more]

    • I’ve got several sober vacations under my belt, and I can confidently tell you that sober travel is SO good. It’s totally worth it.

    • @mamatomany was an a great exampke to me of how to do a cruise sober. I also love the numbing down while sitting in the sun watching it go down. The only thing wrong with that is that we can’t stop after that brief, enjoyable moment. That is why we vacation sober.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Same thing started happening with me. I started joking that ‘hangovers make me paranoid’ because the antsy, restless, anxiety filled twitchiness felt to me kind of like I was expecting something massive and bad to happen only I was the only one who could feel it coming. It was my body’s changing relationship with alcohol and none of it was good. I think you’re experiencing your body’s changing chemistry during withdrawal and it’s giving you a pretty strong message. Definitely see a GP and tell them what you’re feeling so they can help you to do this in the best way possible.

  • Em76 posted an update 4 months ago

    Day 39, sunrise!

    Two cool things for today.

    One – I was exhausted leaving work yesterday at 8pm, got into my car for my 45 minute commute, and my strongest longing and the only image in my mind as I was driving home was imagining myself taking a long warm shower, my comfiest pjs and sleepytime tea. My mind was tired, my body was tired, I’d just come off of three very long workdays and an early night was the reward I was most looking forward to. And this was totally natural, I didn’t have to block any images of drinking, or redirect my mind as I drove past a liquor store, I just genuinely wanted to be clean, warm and in bed, that’s it. Unexpected!!

    The second thing is that I told one of my friends that I’d stopped drinking, and she is the first person who has told me she’s glad I did, that she’d been worried. This surprised me since I always drank alone and made light of my drinking if I was sharing vacation pics that included me holding a drink, etc. But apparently around the holidays she had been complaining to me that everyone was pushing alcohol on her at parties and that she just didn’t understand the constant push to drink, it didn’t make sense to her. Apparently I’d responded, “You’re lucky it doesn’t!” but she said that I’d said it in a serious way, like I was sad. She said it had popped back into her mind that night, and she wondered for the first time if I wanted to stop drinking and literally felt I couldn’t, rather than just enjoying drinking the way she’d thought I had.

    Really enlightening. I remember that conversation with her but hadn’t remembered my response and I’m maybe a bit surprised that popped out that way… but then Jan 7th I stopped drinking, so a few weeks before that maybe it’s not all that surprising it would have been pushing forward in my mind and coming out when I wasn’t paying attention. I wasn’t even in touch enough with my own emotions to have caught that.

    So, I’m considering both of those things a win!

    Oh! Also…[Read more]

    • I love this post @em76! The first time you realize you just really want tea and to go to sleep is awesome!! Also it feels really good to share with someone doesn’t it? It helps to have a friend know. Have a lovely day!

    • Oh, so nice of you to think of your. Bed, lol. Love your post this morning:).

    • Happy Friday to you! Several months in I redid our bedroom to make it a sober retreat. Late in the evenings I would rearrange shelves and raid my house to find peaceful and calming items. I ordered new bedding and got rid of clutter. I’m not a buddha person but ordered a picture for it’s colors and constant reminder to center myself. Every night and day it’s a reminder to be grateful I’m sober. Congratulations on day 39!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Ugh yes!! I went to a public lecture yesterday and was offered a ‘wine upgrade’ on my ticket (??) and then came home and did a group skype with friends and 2 of them had the massive balloon goblets of red wine (my personal kryptonite). That constant exposure really made for a rougher sober night than I’ve been having. I’ve got to avoid watching others do something I love AND hold wine while doing it. It’s too suggestive (hah, weird use of that word…)

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    So many really good insights! I admire your willingness to remove toxic people from your life along with alcohol, it really sounds like you’re building a foundation for stability to launch your big year. We’re in the same time frame being AF and I too am still waking up after 7 hours of solid restful sleep thinking: YES!! This feels amazing! 🙂

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Hey there, I’m sorry about your husband! I hope he recovers quickly. And listen, I also have always responded to stress by drinking and I’m still close enough to the beginning of the journey here to still have that same impulse. The pattern is stress, drink, then a couple of hours later you have alcohol anxiety on top of whatever caused the stress in the first place. Dealing with your husband’s accident sober will be hard because stressful things like that really are hard, but without the added anxiety of drink entering and leaving your system, at least you personally can be safe while you deal with the stress. I hope you update when you can.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    That’s terrific, changing patterns around drinking is really effective, and a great accomplishment!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Have a great sober weekend yourself! 🙂

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    I love it!!!!! “Each day I will take one day at a time,
    And tell that old witch, “I no longer drink wine!” <– hope you don't mind if I use this as a mantra today? 🙂

    Congrats on 50 days!!

  • Em76 posted an update 4 months ago

    Day 37, feeling content today.

    – The first snowstorm in years in which I only thought ‘uh oh do I have enough coffee creamer for tomorrow??’
    – A conversation with my daughter in which I did not remark to myself, ‘I’m so glad I’m sober and really participating in this’ because it’s become a bit more normal to talk to loved ones sober.
    – Watching the money tracker ka-ching! and sending my daughter a little gift, and then making a donation to a local addiction recovery house that I drove past last night and really noticed for the first time, though I have driven past it every single time I drove from my house to the liquor store and back. I googled it when I got home and they had a money donation link and I don’t know why I felt so emotional, but I was just thinking of all the hard work of everyone recovering inside the house. People were recovering there while I was driving back and forth for more and more alcohol, not even looking. It feels meaningful in a way I can’t really articulate.

    Anyway, that’s me going in to day 37 and very very grateful to feel so content today.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Eat regularly and have a great day yourself!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Hey good for you, standing up for yourself with your partner.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    That sounds like so much fun and I love that you thought about modeling getting out of your own comfort zone for your kids. 🙂

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Great post, that sense of presence in conversations with your family, and the lack of anxiety about strategies to get your next drink – such good feelings! Enjoy your restful sober sleep and I hope you keep posting!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Long term thoughts really are overwhelming! I take so much comfort in the knowledge that every day we’re building something strong, and it wouldn’t be as strong if it was constructed all at once. I wonder if the first few weeks bring so many quick wins and then when we hit a time when we start to even out, it feels like we’re stagnating, even though we’re doing great? If it helps, you sound like you’re doing the kind of thinking that builds a lot of strength, and that’s really inspiring.

    • @em76 I completely agree. The first 30 days were like ‘woohoo! I’m doing this! Go me!’. And, then it’s like, ‘okay, now what?’ I’ve learned quite a bit so far, but I know I have a ways to go. I have to keep working on evolving my new lifestyle.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    I wonder all the same things about summer. I think we’re lucky that we’re building sober muscles and so many positive associations with being alcohol free now in the winter so by summer we should have a much better toolbox to work through temptation and old associations. In the end dealing with our day today really is enough. I hope you have a wonderful day too, and great job on the 18 days.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Ugh that sounds like a toxic work place, I’m sorry! If the owner was calculating his investment return on two people in training on their first day, I’m not sure how he’s gotten as far as he has. That’s ridiculous. It’s not you, it wasn’t your work, it was a bad manager setting the tone he intended to continue. I’m sorry you’re back to looking but… yikes that sounds like an ulcer waiting to happen!

    • Agree with Em76 and everyone else. Good that you saw the ugly before you invested more time there.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    That’s a great quote. Day 9 is fantastic, keep up the hard work!

    • I love the quote. I think my barn is still burning down, day 12 for me and still have many waves of wanting to have that glass of wine, however moving on, planning to make myself a quilt, a sobriety quilt of sorts……can’t wait to see the moon.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    What a cool sport you’re in! It sounds like a lot of fun and congrats so much on the 5 months!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months ago

    Gorgeous! How funny to think of it, this is my first snow storm where I haven’t prepped by making sure I had plenty of wine in case of hazardous roads or power outages! I hope you have a fantastic fire and warm sober evening!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    @mrs-d @kitten @prudence thank you guys so much for encouraging me, I don’t have many people in my real life who have walked this path and so even though they’re generally encouraging, it’s so nice to have friendship and accountability with people who have been here xx

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    @truthangel — yes, right??? It’s true, it’s so revealing. It’s like wearing glasses and seeing all the dirt in the corners you didn’t see before, though it was always there. And @jm I totally was feeling that way, like there’d been a bit of a bait and switch with sobriety, aha now you also have to live regular life responsibly! And yeah, that’s a good thing, of course it is, but man that first week when every day was a revelation and all food tasted like ice cream, now faced with real work 🙂

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    Hey @lee-2 thanks, this really makes sense “my existing flaws are magnified and amplified when I am drinking” – that’s actually a great way to look at it. So drinking-me could be irresponsible and sober-me is also irresponsible but to a much lighter degree, therefore easier to get a handle on. That makes me feel tons better, actually! I hope your overhangover subsided! I blame all headaches on ‘atmospheric pressure’ now!

  • Em76 posted an update 4 months, 1 week ago

    Day 35, and in the middle of the night last night I woke up with a headache and my first feeling was absolute, complete deflation. I cast my mind back to the evening to replay when I’d decided to drink and realized that no, I hadn’t drank anything other than grapefruit seltzer with dinner and some sleepy-time tea, and this was just a regular headache. I usually attributed headaches to drinking, so I guess I don’t know how often I have them independent of drinking. Apparently at least once in 35 days.

    Then as I lay there trying to get back to sleep, my mind wandered around until it kind of prompted me to keep going with the fear that I’d drank the night before. What would it feel like right then, in the middle of the night, if I had done that? The usual things presented themselves: I’d be disappointed in myself, I’d be sad, I’d want to stop and have a new day 1 tomorrow, I’d wonder why why why, etc.

    But then my mind went further and I had this weird realization that there was also a bit of womaning-up to the realization that I was still sober, because I used drinking to avoid responsibility. Like… I gave myself an out, in so many things, by subconsciously attributing to alcohol everything I did badly or wrong. In some part of my mind I would think: yeah I blew this person off because I drink too much, I should fix that. Or I didn’t prep well at work, or I took a ridiculous risk, or had unprotected sex, or let a friendship lapse, because of drinking, and if I stop drinking I won’t do all of that other harmful stuff.

    And even though that had some truth in it, the reality is that without drinking I now have a field of responsibility in front of me that alcohol ‘absolved’ me of. Like I’d somehow thought before that drinking was the flaw, and all of the stuff that led from it traced back to that single flaw. Now I’m looking at friendships, work, choices that might involve risk, etc. and I don’t have that easy out anymore. I have to be a better friend,…[Read more]

    • Fabulous post. @Em76. We drive the vessel and are human beings, being this or that no matter what although I can contribute my drinking to 99.7% of past horrible decisions then the actions and consequences that followed. Also, my existing flaws are magnified and amplified when I am drinking but sober it’s a much cleaner slate to work with. It’s so much easier to deal with things, well, when I’m not in a blackout. Haaaa. Have a great day! I felt pretty crappy this morning as well, after having had 2 days of bliss. Just went back to bed and problem solved. Maybe it was an over hang over?

      • Hey @lee-2 thanks, this really makes sense “my existing flaws are magnified and amplified when I am drinking” – that’s actually a great way to look at it. So drinking-me could be irresponsible and sober-me is also irresponsible but to a much lighter degree, therefore easier to get a handle on. That makes me feel tons better, actually! I hope your overhangover subsided! I blame all headaches on ‘atmospheric pressure’ now!

    • This is an excellent post @Em76. Big growth you are experiencing that you simply wouldn’t have seen if still drinking. Great helpful insights. Hope your headache has gone away, and hope you bosses don’t notice how slack you are haha

    • Great post @Em76, interesting perspective. Sometimes I feel a bit petulant – like I’ve done this work being sober, and things should be better, all the time! Something I just saw at a bike store – ‘life is like riding a bicycle, you have to keep going to keep your balance’. Hmm.
      Happy day! x

    • very well said, @em76.

    • Food for thought. AF leaves no excuses. Without the booze life shows us the other things we need to own and over come. Totally love what you shared @Em76.

      • @truthangel — yes, right??? It’s true, it’s so revealing. It’s like wearing glasses and seeing all the dirt in the corners you didn’t see before, though it was always there. And @jm I totally was feeling that way, like there’d been a bit of a bait and switch with sobriety, aha now you also have to live regular life responsibly! And yeah, that’s a good thing, of course it is, but man that first week when every day was a revelation and all food tasted like ice cream, now faced with real work 🙂

    • really great post.. so glad you are here sharing your insights with us x

    • @mrs-d @kitten @prudence thank you guys so much for encouraging me, I don’t have many people in my real life who have walked this path and so even though they’re generally encouraging, it’s so nice to have friendship and accountability with people who have been here xx

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    @suek thank you! what a great resource you made and thank you for offering it, I will try it tomorrow morning!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    Your night sounds like it will be lovely!!

    >A.) Relationships with other humans are awesome and we need them.
    >B.) Relationships are also so darn hard and I am not sure I even like them.

    Same and same.

    Definitely feeling this today.

  • Em76 posted an update 4 months, 1 week ago

    I don’t know if anyone has read Elizabeth Vargas’ alcoholism specific memoir (Between Breaths) – she’s an American news anchor and tells the story of drinking and attempts at sobriety. Anyway. I read the book in December while I was still drinking and related to a lot of it, particularly all the ways she had to disguise from others how much she was drinking in a night. I was just flipping through my phone looking for a new audiobook to listen to and realized I must have also bought the audio version of her book. I’m not trying to be funny when I mention that I very likely bought her alcoholism memoir in an evening when I myself was drunk – I not only joined Audible while drinking and was frequently surprised to see the books I’d ordered once I sobered up, but am also discovering this month when a charge appears in my account that I apparently signed up for spotify and hulu as well and all my free trials I didn’t remember having are expiring.

    Anyway I went to Amazon and looked at some of the reviews, maybe to see if people were sympathetic to her, or if there were others relating to her story. I notice that the more negative reviews say that she ‘glossed over’ the process of becoming an alcoholic and they write in disbelief that “one minute she’s drinking a glass of wine and then next she’s blacking out??” — and I realize that to the people writing those reviews, this seems inconceivable and that clearly she’s leaving out some important part on purpose. Whereas I’m thinking Yes, it can pretty much be “a nice glass of wine or two” and then disaster with very little if anything in between. That lack of a middle ground is pretty much the problem. I’m glad not everyone can relate to that, but that vision of ‘having a problem’ with alcohol being this long, orderly series of steps that are all acknowledged as they’re happening actually stands in the way of a lot of people (at least me) recognizing the incredibly vague and shadowy borders of ‘problem…[Read more]

    • I have been wanting to read her book. I think your insights regarding the reviews are spot on. And, BTW, I have had many weird packages from one click ordering from Amazon show up at my home after a night of indulging in poisonous wine!

    • It’s strange how the current thinking is that you have to lose everything before you should even consider stopping drinking. As if it’s some holy grail that should be preserved at all costs. Such garbage. And yes! I read her memoir and loved it. Hope you have a good week-end @Em76! : )

    • Right around the time I was getting sober, she was doing interviews about her recovery and I remember her saying that “alcoholism is an insidious, progressive disease. And it never magically turns itself around. You have to do something about it.” And that always stuck with me and is one of the reasons I was motivated to quit. Glad you’re here.

    • Hmm, this is interesting about the reviews. You are right – there is the idea that if you are blacking out there must have been some really seedy behaviour leading up to it. Not that you could be quietly getting trolleyed (often very calmly) in your own living room. Every night.

    • Awesome! Yep alcohol perceptions are often modified to suit the abuser. I think though the sooner the problem is acknowledged and acted on the better the outcome. ❤️

    • i subscribe to the adage, if you are asking if you have a problem…. then you do. get rid of it if you can, be sober. 🙂

    • I watched her on Youtube, not only her story, but her advocacy. She got me through many nights.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    Yep, similar story. A recovery coach sounds like a great idea! Nice problem solving.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    I wish I could find a yoga class I enjoy! Every time I’ve taken a class it has been a woman doing yoga in the front of the room, mostly with her eyes closed, murmuring names as she changes position, and the class all on mats behind trying to copy her – and it’s soooo expensive here!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    Yep I’m 33 days AF and within those days I have gotten two zits for the first time in maybe 10 or so years! I have been eating more sugar, too. I’m pretty sure my body chemistry is still changing (tmi, but cramps have been horrible this month for the first time in years, too). Also I’ve been much lower energy than usual. I think I’m going to think about changing up my diet a bit and see if that helps!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    That’s fantastic!! Great accomplishment and I’m happy for you too! 🙂

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    How cool that you get to experience your beach house in a new way this year!

  • Em76 posted an update 4 months, 1 week ago

    31 days and I hit my number (Jan 7 – Feb 7) so I’m calling today 1 month sober. Honestly it feels longer, I feel like I’ve traveled a very long way in my mind in this month.

    I’ve been AF before, I stopped drinking September 2016 – March 2017 because I thought I needed a break from drinking, but I didn’t think I had a problem with drinking and I always intended it to be something of an alcohol cleanse that would naturally end when I felt like drinking again. I had this one evening out with a friend that March 2017 and on my way out the door I thought: hey, wine sounds great tonight, this last 6 months of not drinking has been great and I’m so glad I did it so I can get back to drinking more moderately. I had an expensive glass of red wine and thought it tasted like stomach acid and I joked to my friend that I hadn’t drank in so long that wine tastes terrible, and we both laughed. I finished about 3/4 of the glass and was so proud to have left the rest behind. I kept staring at the wine left in the glass and marveling that I didn’t want it. So healthy!

    A couple of nights after that I couldn’t get the image of the wine I’d left in the glass out of my head. It was almost like… I had to buy more and re-experience how great it felt to leave wine behind in the glass. Nowhere in my mind was I thinking: it tasted like stomach acid, I didn’t even LIKE it, it wans’t pleasurable to drink, there’s no reason at all for getting more, the 6 months that came before it had been great. I did no self analysis, I think on purpose. I didn’t want to stop myself. I know this because I can see that I was journaling regularly through the 6 months AF and never once mentioned that I wasn’t drinking anymore, never once examined any part of why I had been drinking and why I’d stopped. As soon as I started drinking again my journaling tailed off to once a month, and sometimes I only wrote in it while drunk and upset about something. Didn’t have another sober day until Jan 7th…[Read more]

    • Great post and great job on 30 days @em76!

    • That’s a long stretch of drinking every night, March 2017 to January 2019. The second part of that, is how much every night? Then, you have a pretty good idea if you have a drinking problem. And if a person has a drinking problem, they really have only two choices; deal with it or live with it. And only one of them is a good choice. It’s pretty simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy. That aside, congratulations on month one! I recall quitting for three or four months once, it started when I needed to kick an infection. It seemed easier when I knew I was going back to drinking. I don’t know why it plays on our minds more, when we make the decision to give it up for good. (There, I avoided the f word @frog and @reena !) Feels good though, doesn’t it, to be free from alcohol? Not saying that there aren’t issues that come with it, but I’m really glad that I’m not waking up every day telling myself that I need to quit. Again, well done on that first month, I think its a big milestone, and one to be proud of.

      • Huge!! I have can not remember the last time I had a non alcohol stretch, thought about it, struggled with it but always convinced myself that drinking was ok for me. Now day 6, still thinking, struggling but ok. When does sleeping better start?
        Proud of you and your 31 days!

        • @cpoore 6 days is an incredible start! It’s typically taken 10 days for me to sleep well again but everyone is different and it depends on how long/how much you drank before you stopped.

    • What a wonderful post. Congratulations.
      “maybe right now I don’t have to do more than look at the square in front of me and let things unwind in my head as they emerge” – yes. Wisdom.

    • What a wonderful post, thank you. The whole idea of stopping drinking forever is difficult. The great issue here is that in our minds alcohol and fun are tightly linked: “drinking = fun”. So when we contemplate a future without alcohol we see this as a future without fun. But this is not true. The alcohol/fun link in our minds is not an accurate representation. When we first drink then “drinking=fun” IS precisely what happens. Alcohol causes dopamine and serotonin to be released in our brain and this makes us feel good and socially continent. The dopamine has a second effect and that is that it reinforces the memory that drinking was good, and every single time we drink this idea is more deeply learned. This is how we get the idea created that “drinking is good” so powerfully ingrained in our minds… the memory is chemically reinforced. But when we drink for an extended period our brain recognizes that it is getting more dopamine and serotonin than it ordered, and it compensates by reducing the amount of these it releases. This makes us feel low and lacking social confidence EXCEPT when we drink… We now need to drink just to elevate our state to “normal” but we still get the memory “this was good, do it again” reinforced by the dopamine… even though it wasn’t, it was only ordinary. The deeply entrenched ideas that “drinking is good” and “drinking is fun” are false but the memories are there, and they are there incredibly firmly. This is why our minds react so strongly against the suggestion that we will never drink again. The best course is, as you have recognized, is to stay with today in relation to alcohol. Deal with what’s in front of you now and don’t go daydreaming about drinking in the future… we’re remarkably poor at predicting it! “When a man talks of the future, the gods laugh!” (Chinese proverb).

    • Such a great post , i can relate to all of your experience . You are also a very good writer, i am glad you are journaling , i find it really helps me sort out all these emotions instead of drowning them . You are giving yourself an enormous gift by choosing to not drink , bravo for your one month . x

    • Love it! You’re doing great!

    • Great reflections @Em76!! Seems like you are in a great place with the self-awareness bit and now you have some serious sober days stacked on top of that! A winning combo!!! Will you treat yourself to a sober reward (or 3!) to celebrate? I hope so!! All that hard work, you deserve it! =)

  • Em76 posted an update 4 months, 1 week ago

    Day 30! I’m not celebrating a month yet until the ‘number’ turns over (that would be tomorrow, Feb 7) but my mind started claiming it’s a month this morning against my will. So I’ll quietly cheer for a month today and tomorrow both, I’m greedy like that.

    My emotional slump was pretty awful last week and I did a lot of reading about emotions in sobriety and all of the things I used drinking to cover or blur or avoid or deny. In that context it makes sense that while learning to feel things while sober, bad moods might feel worse sometimes, anger sharper, things less contained.

    After my daughter left I felt a surge of loneliness, had a flash vision of myself ‘sitting at the table surfing on my laptop with a large glass of wine’ and then I thought: okay, that makes sense, I’m feeling lonely and thinking about two things I would have done to avoid feeling lonely last month (last decade and a half), and since I’m not drunk right now I have the ability to a) feel lonely and admit that’s a sad feeling, and feel it anyway, b) sober-text my daughter and tell her I had a great weekend and I love her, c) do one of the healthy things I know of that I can do when I’m feeling sad, like go for a run, write about how I’m feeling, go out in public where I have the chance to run into friends and have human interactions.

    I did all of the above, and then went to bed. It’s one of those ‘It’s so crazy it might actually work!!’ things. I felt lonely, texted my daughter, chatted with a friend, wrote about how I was feeling, went for a run. Or I could say that I felt lonely, depended on and strengthened my relationships with loved ones, became a tiny bit healthier/stronger physically, strengthened my writing skills a tiny amount, expressed my emotions, saved between $12- $24 on the alcohol I didn’t buy. Revolutionary! haha

    Well, creeping forward incrementally and really inspired by everyone posting here with triple digits. I hope I make it there. I really don’t want this…[Read more]

    • You are doing so fabulous. Those troublesome feelings! Glad you are on this journey💚

    • @Em76. You rock!!!! You’ve got this. I can hear it in your voice. You have the desire and determination. Keep doing what works for you and when it doesn’t work anymore try something different. The point is NEVER stop with self care, self love and good health. Nothing good ever comes from liquid poison. You’re lookin mawwwvelous! Keep it up!!!

    • Well done on acknowledging your emotions and understanding where they are coming from! That’s so important so that you can understand and sit with them rather than react to them ❤️

    • this is fantastic, you’re nailing it! x

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    Happy wednesday! Sober mornings are the absolute best!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    Hah I just realized that the minus 9 part was the temperature! I was reading your posts each day wondering why you subtract days from your total and what the lost days could mean! My vision of your days has just gotten less mysterious and much, much colder! 🙂 Keep warm and have a great alone day!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    That’s awesome! Celebrating lack of impact and interest in your beer sighting right along with you! 🙂

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    Good morning, happy 661st (or 660th if day 1 wasn’t hangover free) sober wake up. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂 Relate to so much of it and very happy for and envious of your calmer and drama free life.

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    Have a great day 3 and enjoy all of the great feelings!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 1 week ago

    Hey that’s great, it’s hard to get past those urges and the first couple of weeks are tough in so many ways. You’re doing great. I so relate to enjoying time with family without clock watching and thinking of getting home to drink. Drinking and thinking about drinking takes up so much time, we have so much more of ourselves available for life when we’re AF. 🙂

  • Em76 posted an update 4 months, 2 weeks ago

    Good morning! Closing in on my first month. After an emotional slump I had a lot of positives this weekend.

    Time with my daughter talking about real, interesting, important and bonding things. I listened to her without trying to problem solve, just listened and asked questions and sympathized for the hard things and celebrated the positive things and really thought before opening my mouth.

    I think drinking-me was selfish and self-focused, even when I thought I was listening – solving problems when someone wants me to listen only satisfies ME, and MY need to change someone else’s path when they were trying to learn their own lessons and sort through ideas and only asking for my companionship as they did that.

    Drinking-me also hid things about myself, and justified it in my own mind by calling that ‘boundaries’.

    Also! I told my daughter how I felt about my drinking this weekend, that I felt like I was using it to not experience emotions, and so I had stopped drinking and I noticed a lot of changes and I was happy and excited about most of them and ugh some of them are super crappy – and we both admitted we could use healthier ways to handle stress and made some plans for each of us trying out group exercise (separately, we live a few hours away from each other), talked about vacations and taking down time and life balance and —- anyway, it was a great conversation and I am so glad we had it.

    Finally: my first official sober treats!! I got a massage, and bought a candle for my office at work and one for my bedroom. 🙂

    I hope everyone has a great start to their week!

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 2 weeks ago

    @honestjoy @sober4real @mtedenmummy @mari135 thanks so much for relating. It really helps a lot and I’m going to think about the fact that this is a shared experience when I’m running there next and I know the solidarity is going to help me. Drinking was such an isolating thing for me, getting sober makes me feel so much more aware of the things other people experience and it feels so much more shared.

    @Jocord @enzedgirl @DaveH Thanks for the explanations -it really makes sense and is actually a huge relief when I think of it in the context of: of course I feel that way, it’s predictable and will definitely be hard, especially to start with, and can be managed over time with work. This takes so much of the tension away from the subject for me. I was thinking about it this weekend and decided that I’ll start out by running the route at a different time, in the morning before work (have never drank in the morning, don’t think about it much then) and not try it again Friday evening alone on an empty stomach again for a while.

    Thank you guys all sincerely. xx

  • Em76 posted an update 4 months, 2 weeks ago

    Day 26. There’s one huge drinking related trigger that I’ve been consciously avoiding, but scheduling (procrastination) backed me into a time corner and I ended up having to face it without much prep in advance. It’s my favorite running route that starts at my house and runs along the waterfront with perfect views of the sunset if I run just before dark, my favorite time to run. For years – I’m talking 10 years now – I’ve run along this path in the evening and as I’ve rounded the halfway point to come back I would start to daydream about my first drink after my run. If I ran just as it was getting dark, then I’d finish up at the perfect drinking hour and walk straight into my house, to the kitchen and pour one while still in my running clothes. I’ve been deliberately forgoing the convenience and peace of that beautiful path because I SO strongly link it to drinking. That and my drive home from work are my two deepest drinking related brain grooves.

    But I really miss running that route, I have 10 years of sorting problems and getting over breakups and listening to exciting audio books and training for races and setting really, really slow speed records on my running watch and I have a bajillion pictures of the sunset on my phone from there because every single evening I think it’s so beautiful it deserves a pic.

    Anyway, sun was setting tonight and I wanted to run outside and didn’t have time to drive anywhere else so it became the day to reclaim the running route and it was really hard. Much harder than I thought it would be. Everything reminded me of drinking, the run wasn’t very relaxing, I kept trying to redirect my mind, my body was anticipating drinking at the end of the run even though my mind was not having it. It was a mess and I wish I had prepared more. I’m not drinking right now, I’m eating and having a diet soda, the danger hour is over so it’s all okay but man I was not anticipating it being that hard.

    I’ve also been reading sober stories…[Read more]

    • I can relate, only it’s sort of the opposite. I have a beautiful trail through the woods that I hike and run and have used it as my escape and treat. It really makes me happy and refreshed. Last time i drank, I walked it while a little buzzed, and now when I walk it, it feels “ruined.” I know it isn’t but I hate that I merged the two. I would say, maybe run it at a different time? Although, working might not make it feasible. Or find another trail to run at sunset until it gets easier? Good luck!

    • Hi, it’s a beastie this thing isn’t it. Even stalking you when you’re out doing one of your “nice” things. But you flexed your sober muscle and you’ll be stronger for it the next time. It’s not uncommon to have a bit of a slump around that time (it’s why AA have a 30 day token) but sounds like you’re doing all the right things. And you’re so right…you’re having a bad day, what will a drink do…?…make it better? unlikely!!
      Keep fighting to good fight m’dear.

    • You’re doing so well!!!
      And I can promise you that over time you WILL reclaim that path. I wasn’t able to listen to the Killers for a LONG time and many other songs because I used to get wasted listening to them….and it took a good year to not feel triggered. Your brain will work itself out over time.

      oxoxox

    • That’s tough. I give you a lot of credit for facing that trigger. Slumps happen because life isn’t perfect or easy. What helps me is to remember how bad it really was….waking up at 3 or 4 drenched in sweat, liver and innerds killing me, using the bathroom so often I couldn’t sleep and having to go to work. This is just the physical stuff….I was more depressed and anxious as I had ever been in my life and sensitive. Alcohol ruined relationships and led me to the darkest place I’ve ever been. So, I think of those things as well as look at the gratitude list that I keep in my mind. I hope that helps a bit. It’s so different for everyone, I would urge you to write down why you quit in the first place and how alcohol was negatively affecting your life.

    • If @Daveh read this he would explain that what you’ve been avoiding is exactly what you needed to encounter. Your brain associated that running route with drinking at the end. You needed to break that neuropathway by running the route and not drinking. Which you did! Next run will be easier. I have had a few occasions of sober reading overload which made me want to drink. Just like social media, take a break sometimes. You are right where you should be. Keep on keepin’ on. You’re doing great!

    • you gotta do the run a lot of times *without* having the drink after …. you will build new neural pathways in your brain, and the enjoyment of the run will come back. also known as you will learn to love the run again without the booze. have faith.

    • Hi @Em76 You can overcome this with some deliberate effort. You sound like you understand what triggers are: sights, sounds, smells, events, people, places, times of the day etc. that trigger a craving to drink. We end up with hundreds of them. When the particular circumstance of a trigger occurs we get a craving, and when we satisfy that craving by drinking we get a reward. The reward is a jolt of dopamine in our brain that does 2 things. First it makes us feel good. The “aaahhh” feeling of ease and comfort we get when we take a drink in response to a craving is the dopamine doing its thing, it isn’t alcohol. The second thing that happens is that the dopamine also strengthens the “value” of that trigger. And the higher the value of the trigger, the stronger the craving we get from it. This is how our urges to drink get stronger and stronger over time: lots of triggers, and all having increasing value. We end up being triggered virtually all of the time with really strong cravings.

      Triggers work entirely automatically. They don’t require any conscious involvement on our part, in fact we don’t even know what triggers we have, or when they fire. All we are aware of is a sudden craving. The bad news about triggers is that once we have them we have them forever. This is a feature of the way our brain works: “what’s become known cannot become unknown”. The good news however is that they can be changed. Just as every time we drink in response to a trigger it gets stronger, every time we deny a trigger (by not drinking when we get the craving) the “value” of the trigger goes down. Knowing this is the key to your problem. EVERY TIME WE RESIST A CRAVING, THEN THE INTENSITY OF THE NEXT CRAVING INDUCED BY THAT TRIGGER IS REDUCED.

      In order to be able to get back to enjoying your waterfront run to need to take the power out of that particular trigger and you do this by denying it. So you have to do the run, and then NOT drink… you have to beat this trigger by star…[Read more]

    • @honestjoy @sober4real @mtedenmummy @mari135 thanks so much for relating. It really helps a lot and I’m going to think about the fact that this is a shared experience when I’m running there next and I know the solidarity is going to help me. Drinking was such an isolating thing for me, getting sober makes me feel so much more aware of the things other people experience and it feels so much more shared.

      @Jocord @enzedgirl @DaveH Thanks for the explanations -it really makes sense and is actually a huge relief when I think of it in the context of: of course I feel that way, it’s predictable and will definitely be hard, especially to start with, and can be managed over time with work. This takes so much of the tension away from the subject for me. I was thinking about it this weekend and decided that I’ll start out by running the route at a different time, in the morning before work (have never drank in the morning, don’t think about it much then) and not try it again Friday evening alone on an empty stomach again for a while.

      Thank you guys all sincerely. xx

  • Em76 posted a new activity comment 4 months, 2 weeks ago

    I can’t speak for every drinker but I know that when I was actively drinking I felt like I was in the bottom of a hole, somehow, and if someone sober had peered into that hole they would have seen how far down I was and I would have had to see how far up they were and I guess I wanted to save us both from that realization. Maybe that’s partly why a lot of drinking folks don’t want to be around sober folks.

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