I Promise, You Are Not Broken

Recently I was at a meeting and there was a woman in the room sobbing and telling everyone how she felt “broken” and that something was wrong with her.

I knew that feeling so well, and girl could I empathize.

For many years I thought and felt there was something intrinsically wrong with me.  Probably because I'm a writer and a bit dramatic, I likened it to this: being a toy that was put together incorrectly and my maker knew I was defective but still put me out in the world to hobble along anyway. I felt it jiggling around in my core. That stubborn, broken piece that meant I was less than.

 

 I’d feel this sense of brokenness especially if a romantic prospect fell through and would always think “something is wrong with me, so I’m just meant to walk this world alone.”

 A bleak mindset to have, right?

Me, when I was depressed and drinking every day.

Me, when I was depressed and drinking every day.

I’m not sure when the shift happened & I stopped feeling that way. To steal a quote from The Fault In Our Stars, I imagine it took place slowly, then all at once.

 First I just had to get sober.

Remove the boozy bullshit that was ruining my life and driving me deeper and deeper into madness and depression. Then I had to go to meetings, connect with other alcoholics, and feel like I wasn’t alone in my sadness. Later on I also I had to learn to accept that sometimes I was sitting on my “pity pot” with this feeling of brokenness, picking at it over and over again like a scab...but not on Day 1.

 Remember, this was a slow process.

Like the day I woke up and realized I didn’t want to drink anymore or didn’t want to die anymore, I woke up and didn’t feel broken anymore. The dread, loneliness, despair, and self-pity attached to that wildly incorrect notion was just...gone. Vanished. Poof.

 

 So, if you’re reading this and feel like you’re broken, know you aren’t alone...and that over time the thought will slip away and you will feel so much better. Wholeness feels damn good.

-J

Sober & Ready To Find My Birth Family

This last week I went home for a big trip. There is some family stuff going on and if AA has taught me anything (well, it’s taught me a lot of things) it’s that I need to suit up and show up for the people around me.

When I learned someone in my family was struggling with substance abuse issues, what I needed to do to help was immediately obvious: push my planned vacation up a week, go home, be there for support, and listen. Yay for a 9th Step Promise coming true!

Are these extravagant promises? We. Think. Not.

Are these extravagant promises? We. Think. Not.

It felt great being able to help a family member in need!

It felt great being able to help a family member in need!

The driving, little sleep, long conversations, and all over the place eating for a few days is enough to throw anyone emotionally. Add on top of that the fact that I found some really important information in the form of paperwork when going through a stack of boxes. Paperwork that could potentially lead me down a long, rewarding, and emotional path to finding family in Haiti, the country I was adopted from when I was 14 months.

I wept, happily, when I found the paperwork...then went back to sifting through other boxes of more contemporary reminders like middle school yearbooks and old diaries.

But it hit me hard this past weekend that my world has the potential to grow and shift substantially. There is a chance I have cousins, half-siblings, aunts and uncles, and possibly even a birth father still alive in Haiti. Talk about a God-Size hole shifting in size and shape. 

I know I keep speaking in chances, possibilities, maybes, and perhaps-es. I’m trying not to let the cart get ahead of the horse, but it’s kind of a big, exciting deal.

This isn’t news I could have comprehended when I was drinking. I was impulsive and stupid. I would have bought a flight to Haiti the next day, with no plan, jacked up on gin, and in no state to present myself.

Even now it still feels overwhelming and like I’m being cracked open and fighting this battle between wanting to feel a range of emotions and also just feel numb to it at the same time. But I went to a meeting and spoke about it and cried and that felt really good. There's more crying to do, though. 

-J

 

A (Sober) Trip To Montreal

Hello! I haven’t posted much in the last two weeks, but I assure you all has been well. I had a bit of vacation brain before the long weekend and feel like I’m still recouping from it.

With this being my third year I’ve made the trip, I guess spending Memorial Day Weekend in Montreal has become a bit of a tradition! Montreal is 100% my special place. I have a Godfather who has a condo up there as a second home and he’s amazingly gracious and lets me go up (free of charge) whenever I need a bit of a getaway. The first time I went up was when I was 20 and I’ve been coming up consistently since I was 23 for solo travels.

Me, pretending to be Canadian so I can come live in the fine city of Montreal....

Me, pretending to be Canadian so I can come live in the fine city of Montreal....

 

 I’m from a glorified town that likes to pretend it’s a city, so going up to Montreal really is big change, what with the metro, faster pace, scary city drivers, and so many museums to check out. Plus miles of shopping. Even with it being a night and day difference, I’ve always felt very comfortable in Montreal. However, the city does hold some darker memories.

 When my drinking was starting to progress, I’d really go all out in Montreal. I’d definitely use the stocked liquor cabinet, bring up enough wine to last for a few days, and drink greedily at restaurants and bars. My mornings would start with two glasses of wine and my days would end in the bath tub with the rest of the bottle. Plus imbibing in-between. Basically, I moved through the city slowly and in a bit of a blur, staying close enough that I could make it back to the apartment easily at night.

 On one particular trip up that I guess you could call a bender, I ended up having a mental breakdown. I even considered throwing myself off my Godfather’s 17th story balcony. It was bad and the fall out consisted of driving back to Vermont and spending 3 more days panicking on the living room floor. That’s when drinking really started to get bad and dark.

 Flash forward to about 5 months into sobriety and I took my first trip back to the city I considered ending my life in. I was so nervous that there would be nothing I’d find beautiful about the place. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, I fell back in love with it, but in a much happier and healthier way.

View from the condo taken Memorial Day Weekend of '16. Pretty stunning, right? When I first started going to MTL that big building was still in the construction process!

View from the condo taken Memorial Day Weekend of '16. Pretty stunning, right? When I first started going to MTL that big building was still in the construction process!

 One of the most important things I do when I go up to Montreal as a sober individual is get myself to AA meetings. On one trip last year I was sitting by myself and another young woman came and sat down next to me and introduced herself. We exchanged #s and have stayed in contact. When I told her I’d be up for the long weekend I found out there was an AA Round Up event and that her sponsor was driving people out.

 I got to spend 2 days surrounded a ton of people in sobriety, met some more kick-ass women, and had a super unique and exciting trip. Though it was very draining; I ended up taking another day off from work. All in all, I'm constantly amazed by the things I'm able to do in sobriety.

-J

My Daily Prayer

Prayer is a large part of the AA program and many people struggle with it at the beginning for various reasons. My path to prayer was a progressive one. It started at first in the car, saying a little prayer on my way to work. It was a rift on the 3rd step prayer. Someday I’ll commit to memorizing it, but it always feels a bit clunky, so I made up my own.

After a few weeks I realized praying while driving was a bit of a challenge, so I started sitting and doing it. Shortly after I- as they say- hit my knees and started praying at the side of my bed. It was a humbling experience.

I’m not perfect at pray-er. I’d say I pray 4 out of the 7 days of the week. And only in the morning. I usually forget 1 day during the workweek and during the weekends I’m not great about it; progress, progress, progress & more progress.

Here is a prayer I say in the mornings. Hopefully after reading this you’ll get an idea of how to develop your own prayer that has a deep meaning to you.

prayer1.gif
God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Help me take on the day with grace, strength, and ease. Remove from me the desire to be selfish, self-seeking, and the desire to impose my self-will on others. Remove from me also the desire to drink or drug or shop in order to enhance my emotions or to numb out. And when you remove these obstacles, I am better able help the fellow alcoholic, the fellow addict, and my fellow human.

That is the core of my prayer. I’ll also add on some extras most day. During the busy time of the month at work, I might throw in a line asking for helping dealing with challenging clients and being softer with them. If I know someone (friend, family, or person in the rooms) is struggling I’ll offer a prayer for them as well. You may have noticed I have “shopping” in there. I’m currently working through some behaviors with spending that are similar to my drinking, so I add that in too.

If I’m noting a resentment starting to really take root  I’ll start on a cycle of 2-week resentment praying where I pray for the person I resent to have everything I have and everything I want; resentment prayer is a humbling, humbling, beast.  Lastly, sometimes I’m just like “what do you want me to do, God/Higher Power/Presence of the universe?”

If you have a prayer practice, what does it look like? If you have been interested in prayer but holding back, what do you think is stopping you?

- J

 

 

Silly Sobriety: Going To Hear A Friend Speak

Few things are more exciting than going to hear a close friend in the program speak! You may know some of the details of her or his life before they came in, but you’ve never heard it all pieced together in one stunning, 20 minutes of speech. This, ladies & gents, is how I feel whenever one of my gals tells me they’re speaking and wants me to come if I can.

Friend: Will you come hear me speak at the 7pm Wednesday night meeting?

Me:

 

A few minutes before the meeting begins

Friend: I’m feeling a little bit nervous

Me:

 


 

10 minutes in when the real heart-wrenching emotions & stories come out

Me:

 

When she talks about how she finally got into the rooms and stopped feeling like the world was crushing her

Me:

 

When she finishes her story of experience, strength, and hope, and people get to share what they’ve taken away from it all, and I have to be, you know, mildly reserved in a large group setting.

 

Me afterward in the parking lot when I can really tell her how flippin' awesome she is!

A Day Off Sober Versus A Day Off In Active Alcoholism

Today I’m taking a day off from work. It’s going to be 80 degrees and I want to bask in the sunshine, as it’s been kind of gloomy and rainy for the past few weeks. It got me thinking how much my days off have changed from when I was in active alcoholism to nearly 1.5 years later as a sober woman. Let's take a look.

Today

I plan on waking up, putzing around the apartment in my fuzzy dad robe (I’m a great putzer) with a pour over coffee, and then heading to an 8am AA meeting. Not a bad way to get the day started.

Wait, this is what they mean by pour over coffee, right??

Wait, this is what they mean by pour over coffee, right??

 

When I was drinking I would have also woken up early. Instead of a coffee I would have popped open a bottle of cheap champagne and mixed in some OJ for a mimosa. If there was wine leftover I might have swilled some of that too.


Late Morning/Early Afternoon

I have 2 gal friends at work and during the warmer months we participate in “Ladies Who Lunch”. We take a long break and enjoy a meal at a local restaurant, preferably outside. These friends are “normal drinkers”, but it’s not big deal; I get a seltzer or tonic while they have a beer or margarita. Even though it’s my day off, I’m  hoping to still meet with them.

When I was drinking I would still make time to accompany them to Ladies Who Lunch. In fact, it would be even more exciting because I wouldn’t have to be mindful about the amount I drank. I likely would have gotten 2 cocktails and a cider. Because I would have spent the entire morning drinking, I’d probably need to go home after and sleep- forcing me to miss some of the best hours of sunshine!

Afternoon

Since it’s going to be so nice out the master plan is to get into my bathing suit! I haven’t yet decided where I’m going to go, but no matter what beach or stretch of grass I end up on, I’ll have at least 2 books with me, possibly a magazine, and a big bottle of bubbly water. Hanging outside with friends is fun, but solitude isn’t bad either!

When I was drinking, if I got back up from passing out earlier, I might have gone to the beach. I’d choose the one closest for walking if I was still feeling buzzed. I’d bring books and magazines, plus a mason jar. It’d likely be filled with my “signature” drink: gin, elderflower liqueur, lime, and tonic. There may have even been a mason jar with a white wine spritzer and berries, just in case I ran out. Once I got my towel down I’d immediately start in on my goods. I didn’t realize that it was because I was a.) nervous and b.) had such a dependency that I needed to stay inebriated not just mentally, but also physically!

I thought I was soooo classy....

I thought I was soooo classy....





 

Evening

My apartment is in a slight state of disarray, so I’ll probably go home and put away my laundry, scrub the tub, vacuum the carpets, and when all's said and done light a candle and relax with a few episodes of Harlots or the Handmaid’s Tale. If I’m feeling extra spry, I might go to another AA meeting! At the end of it all, I may stay up a little later than I’d like, but if that’s the worst then so be it.

When I was drinking I’d probably still go home and clean...but with the aid of a bottle of red wine. But because alcohol isn’t really the “great motivator” I would end up doing more drinking more than cleaning. I’d try to watch some TV too, but once I got into red wine my mind would start turning and if I was watching anything sad I’d start questioning the value of my life. I’d probably pass out on the couch, feeling anxious and sad about waking up the next morning and going back to work for 2 more days.

Drunk cleaning is just so ineffective.

Drunk cleaning is just so ineffective.

 

See...a lot has changed!


I felt like I needed alcohol every minute of every day, the same way I needed to breathe. I couldn’t function without it. Literally. I could not clean without a glass in hand. That’s no way for anyone to live. This is just a snapshot of how my life has changed since I got sober. Isn’t the second paragraph so dreary and honestly a little pathetic?

But, I didn’t know any better...I didn’t know how to start a day with tea or coffee or water or enjoy time with friends without throwing back three drinks. I thought I was classy. I thought I was really good at unwinding too, but I wasn’t. I was just good at drowning. Drowning the thoughts, fears, boredom and emotions with glass after glass.

I’m so grateful that with the help of meetings, friends, and time, I can actually have a day off and not spend it in a boozed out daze. And if you’re reading this, and are new to sobriety, know that it will get better! It’s not easy at first. You can still have days off that feel a little shaky, but it doesn’t have to be sad and monotonous like the old times.

- J

5 Tips For Staying Sober During BBQ Season

We’re a few weeks out from Memorial Day Weekend, which means pool parties and bbq events are just around the corner! Whether it’s your first sober BBQ season, or you’ve done a few, it’s always nice to have some tools in the toolbox for getting through these occasions that often have a heavy boozing atmosphere. The last tip is my favorite, but read through them all, you Sober  Sally’s and Sully’s.


1.) Have an exit strategy

This one is key! When I’m traveling or going to a party my sponsor asks me if I have a way to leave. If I’m driving myself I make sure I park in a spot where I won’t be blocked in. I have a few people in mind that I can call if I need to recenter myself. If you’re going with someone, it’s nice to arrive at these sort of events with a friend who understands your sobriety and will be okay with leaving early if need be. Lastly, don’t be afraid to leave! Thank the guest for inviting you and say it’s time for you to head home. Keep it brief and pleasant.

TTFN. Tata for now!

TTFN. Tata for now!

 

2.) Arrive early and leave early

Coming into an event that is already in full swing can be a little overwhelming. I like arriving early so I can settle in and grab a seltzer or soda. Arriving early also means I get to spend more time with people before the night starts to “turn”. You know what I’m talking about: when drinkers suddenly lose volume control, tipsy turns to drunk, and someone inevitably starts pounding shots or shotgunning beers. It’s much easier to pick up on this change when you aren’t drinking & that’s a great time to say your goodbyes. Reminder: don’t forget that if you arrive early to park further away so you don’t get blocked in!

early.gif

 

Have something in your hand

They say idle hands are the devil’s plaything, right? If you aren’t holding onto something someone is more likely to ask if you want a beer or wine if they don’t know you’re not drinking. Of course you can politely decline, but it cuts down a potential back and forth about why you aren’t drinking. I also find it grounding to have something to hold onto and sip on and feel more “apart of”.

You will be the most hydrated at the parrrtay.

You will be the most hydrated at the parrrtay.

 

Take 10 (breaths)

Consider it a mini-meditation. There is a Shambhala studio around the corner from my house and when you go they make you sit in a waiting room before allowing you to enter the meditation hall. The reasoning is to give you a few minutes to let go of some of the raw energy and emotions you’ve dragged in off the street. I try to do this in my general life before I leave the house, get on a scheduled client call, or even go to bed. It’s a great way to center yourself and feel that everything is going to be “alright”. Take 10 breaths before you walk into that BBQ!


 

My favorite tip: have fun!

Staying grounded and having these tips so you can remain sober is important. At the same time, while we need to be vigilant, that doesn’t mean we cannot have fun or have to resign ourselves to sitting in the living room with our blinds drawn. Yes you should have an exit strategy, don’t stay past a useful time, have something in hand, and mini-meditate before you go.  But plan on having fun too!

bbq fun.gif

 

I was surprised by my first few sober, summer outings. I thought I was going to be a wreck and miserable. After making it through a few minutes of itchy discomfort (which honestly most people are going to have anyway!), I had a ton of fun. I enjoyed having conversations without forgetting something mid-sentence because I was too drunk. Instead of hoarding the booze table I got to mingle with everyone. I actually remembered the entire night and didn’t wake up with “omg why did I say that?” shame. And I got to still see friends that are “normal” drinkers. Win-win.


What are some tools you utilize to stay sober during boozy summer events?

- J

Acting Out In Sobriety

Lately I felt that I was hitting the ceiling with my job. I've been candid with my manager about this and she set up an appointment for me to meet with a recruiter to learn about other departments within the organization.

The woman I met with was really kind, but the underlying vibe of the chat was that the chances of me trying to find a job within my company that fit some of the big, key “wants” was slim. She even suggested some outside companies to look at.

This wasn’t a complete surprise either. What was a surprise was how I took this news I essentially knew was coming down the pipeline.

I acted out. Like crazy.

I practically stamped back to my desk and huffed all afternoon. I gave a client serious attitude. This client normally bothers me anyway, but I know I let the job information add on a few, uncalled for layers of crabbiness. I snapped at a designer on the team and felt immediate shame.

Accurate representation and portrayal

Accurate representation and portrayal

 

After 30 minutes of being in a rare form, I turned to my desk mate, and said “I am being a bit of a ‘see you next Tuesday’, and I’m just going to quarantine myself until I stop acting like a child’ okay? *puts in headphones*” He laughed, nodded, and I chatted an apology to the designer who didn’t even notice I was being mean, but it was still the correct thing to do.

When I think of the gifts of sobriety, I like to imagine mental health, wellness, trust, friendship, and all the really pretty points. But some of the gifts have a more somber note. Like better self-awareness, particularly for when you’re acting out on fears, “character defects”, etc.

It sucks to accept when I've been acting out, but at the same time it’s a gift.  It’s a gift to be able to go apologize to those I've hurt during a moment when grace escaped me. It’s a gift to be able to dig deep into my actions and go “why am I acting out” and pinpoint the cause. It’s a gift to, as they say, clean my side of the street and help clear my conscience.

 

It’s not something I would or could have done when I was drinking every day. Nothing was my fault. Everything was out of my control. And the world was out to get me. I was in constant victim-hood. And that’s not to say that sometimes people aren’t victims of something sad and horrible, but the way I was acting last week was irrational, uncalled for, and I, unfortunately, unleashed my emotions on completely innocent bystanders.

How do you feel you “act out” when things don’t go your way and how do you address them? I’d love to know!

- J


Ps: I’m kinda impressed with my Captain Kirk gif abilities.

Silly Sobriety: Co-signing Bullsh!t

How I feel when someone won't co-sign my bullsh!t

It's the worst. I want to act out and do something I know is silly and get someone else on board and they're just not having it. You need people in sobriety who will stick up for you and be your "yes" woman (or man), but you also need someone who will call you out when you're being an ass clown.

My Brain Tried To Tell Me I Could Still Drink

“My alcoholism is outside doing push ups.”

“My alcoholism is cunning.”

“My alcoholism tells me it’s okay to drink again.”

 

Those are just some of the phrase you’ll hear every few meetings in AA, and while the image of alcoholism in the form of a human doing push ups on the other side of the door and staring me down is a bit humorous, it’s mostly a grave reminder.

When my anxiety, depression, and alcoholism team up.

When my anxiety, depression, and alcoholism team up.

 

In recovery, I’ve been very fortunate to not have cravings. That doesn’t make me a better, more-balanced, more recovered, individual. It’s just not something I deal with (I've got my own crap, but that's for another post.)

However, I was so surprised late Friday when I had not exactly a craving, but that evil little thought of maybe someday I can moderate. I felt like I was being sucker punched.

It all started the day before when after 8 months of using a basic phone, I decided I missed my iPhone and rebooted it back up. I had bought a super bulky, totally unattractive Kyocera flip phone back in the fall. The reason was not long after I stopped drinking I stopped Instagramming. I had long used “going out for dinner” as an excuse to get classy-plastered and without so many dinners to go to, I had less to Instagram. I was also was over feeling the need to take photos of everything I wore, ate, considered buying, and trying to get likes etc.

I was also sick of all the notifications, feeling like I had to respond to people immediately, and on and on. Why keep the phone then? So I went cold turkey and it felt great.

Jump to present day: last week I finally put in my PTO request to take some time off to go to Toronto in the summer. I realized that it’d be nice to have the map function, seeing as I got lost for a solid 4 hours one evening during my trip to London last September; cute the first time, but I wanted to avoid it again. Plus I kind of missed texting at lightening speed.

I called up Verizon, spoke to a man named Emmanuel, and within an hour was back up and running on my iPhone. I must, must, must state that if you ever call Verizon please ask for this fine gentleman. He’s an angel of technology sent from on high.

In just seconds I was texting like a maniac, sending peach and eggplant emojis, and re-installing my favorite apps.

 

I chuckled at this because I’ve heard there are 2 types of people that “go back out” (aka: fall off the wagon.) There are the type that can manage the idealized acceptable drinking for a few months-- maybe even a few years--before they go back down the rabbit hole. And there are the type that keep drinking as if they’d never been sober. I’ve always felt that if I went back out you’d best believe I’d down a bottle of wine from the get go, and in a lighthearted way my return to the iPhone kind of confirmed that.

Now, back to the initial point of this post: how did I suddenly start thinking, even if just for a brief moment, that I could moderate?

I was in the shower, where all people do their deep thinking. I was giving myself this silly pep talk of “Jocellyn, moderate your cell phone use. You don’t need to set all the notifications. Or keep it on your desk. Or check it every 2 minutes to make sure, you know, it’s still there.” All reasonable things, right? And then I just went flying past reason to “you know, if you can moderate your cell phone use, then maybe in 20 years you can moderate your drinking. Wouldn’t that be nice”

Oh hellllll no.

 

And as I was thinking this I knew it was wrong and I knew it was the not healthy side of my brain trying to drive the car. But it was still scary.

Sobriety is going to be a bumpy ride. And we’re not perfect beings. I’m so glad I have a support system of friends and family that I can be like “hey, I had this weird thought. Recovery, amiright?” I also am grateful that through my sponsor and going to meetings I had a strong base so I could be like “bye, Felicia” to that idea and not entertain it mentally or literally. Yes, it still has me a little shaken, but I’m certainly not wondering if there is any truth to it and I'm also not feeling like  "bad" sober person for having it either; thoughts happen, but actions don't have to follow.

(Ha, you thought there would be a Bye, Felicia gif, huh? That’d be too obvious.)

Do you ever deal with those types of thoughts? If so, what does your disease like to tell you?

-J

Bubbly Water: What To Drink When You've Stopped Drinking

Ahh seltzers & sparkling waters. Back when I drank these were just a fizzy acquaintance during the summer when making wine spritzers. Now, as a sober person, they are my lifeblood and this is true for many former drunks!

Here are some of my favorite brands and “drinks”. Some say you cannot really tell the difference, but those people are mistaken.

 

Saratoga Springs (Sparkling Water)

Sourced from NY, it comes in an elegant blue bottle. I like the mild taste & it’s not as bubbly as seltzer so you aren’t always burping. One of my old stomping grounds, Hen of the Woods, carries it. Now, instead of getting a bottle of wine with oysters, I get a bottle of S.Springs.

 

Perrier (Sparkling Mineral Water)

A solid, heavy mineral water. Pros: easy enough to get pretty much anywhere. The lime and lemon flavors are also very nice. Con: the grapefruit and orange flavors, often found in cans, aren’t anything to write home about. The brand Pellegrino is generally mentioned in the same breath as Perrier. I’ll have it occasionally but find it too light most of the time.

 

2015 Summer Flavors

2015 Summer Flavors

Polar (Seltzer)

If Polar Seltzer were a female she’d have perfect eyebrows, #sponsored Instagram posts, contour on a daily basis, hawk Kiley’s lip kit, and know how to work the subtle-not-subtle booty shot angles. In short, Polar is the basic bitch of bubbly brands. It’s super cheap, comes in seasonal flavors that I get way too excited for, and fits perfectly in the fridge side door. It’s a true seltzer so you will be burping up a storm, but it’s a small price to pay for hydration.

 

Voss’s Sparkling Flavors (Sparkling Mineral Water)

Whoever designed the packaging for Voss h20 is a genius. It’s classic and minimalist and just feels clean. It wasn’t until recently that I learned Voss also makes flavored sparking water. Right now the  options are Cucumber Lemon or Tangerine Lemongrass. I haven’t really been looking for them in stores, so I cannot point you in the right direction of where to look. I always just get one when I stop at this food stand to get duck poutine and french macaroons; much eclectic.

 

La Croix (Seltzer): It’s everywhere, but I haven’t actually tried it. I’m sure it’s tasty.



Avoid At All Costs

 

Gerolsteiner

No, no, no. It leaves a terrible, funky aftertaste. Don’t let the beautiful aesthetics of the bottle fool you. This is the worst. Think Satan's buttsweat.

 

Alcoholic-hybrids

These became big after I stopped drinking, so I don’t know the brands. But if you have friends or family that still drink and offer you a seltzer, make sure you check that it’s just carbonated water and not something with boozed mixed in!


 

Delicious Add-Ins

It won’t take long for you to fall in love with seltzer and sparkling mineral water. That being said, sometimes I need a little extra kick.

Some options

Lemon and/or cucumber slices

Lemon and/or lime juice

Pomegranate juice

Grapefruit juice (preferably fresh squeezed. I personally love a Saratoga + grapefruit)

Apple Cider (a nice fall touch)

 

I hope this list of brands and options helps you! Whenever I’m in the store now and I see someone stocking up on seltzer I also wonder if they’re also riding the sober wagon.

-J

 

Suggestions For Your First Months Of Sobriety

I was in a meeting the other day listening to someone with a few months. It brought me back to those early days of feeling like a hot mess. I mean, I still do feel that way sometimes, but just really feeling confused, tired, and not sure what was going on. With that in mind, I thought it’d be nice to write a list of suggestions of things to do during your first booze-free months of sobriety and things to avoid.

Note how I said “suggestions.” It’s a phrase we use a lot in AA. My sponsor cannot make me do something or stop me from doing something (we aren’t a cult like some people think…) That being said, some suggestions you hear along the way should really be heeded, like “shower regularly” or “don’t walk in front of cars”.


5 Things I Suggest You Do Your First Months Of Sobriety

 

Sleeeeeep

 

This is especially true if you were a daily drinker or someone who drank heavily before bed, as alcohol really messes up your sleep cycle. You probably haven’t been getting proper sleep for many months or possibly years. At the same time, you might suffer from insomnia once you get sober; my first week was brutal. For some it takes months to level out. Even if you don’t manage to fall drift off until 2am, the sober, post-insomnia sleep is still so much nicer than booze-coursing-through-your-body-at-2am sleep. 

 

Change Parts Of Your Schedule

I liked drinking when I got back from work, so going home right away during my first few sober weeks was miserable. Instead, I’d go to the gym and workout to blow off some energy and get past that time window where my body was expectant of wine. One way to change it up is taking a different route home so you don’t pass your favorite bar or liquor store. Getting rid of “paraphernalia” is a good idea too: wine glasses, bar carts, kegerator, mixers, etc. Bring it all to the Goodwill. 

 

Get Thee To At Least 1 Meeting

Yes, I’m pro-AA, but I suggest getting to a meeting mostly because it’s good to make connections with people who also don’t drink. They’ll get you. They’ll understand your fatigue and confusion and emotions in a way that even your understanding friends and family won’t. You’ll get #s and people may invite you out for coffee. I only went to 2-3 meetings during my first month and then I didn’t come back until around 3 months. But I was ready then and having phone numbers from before made it easier.

 

Start Eating Properly

 

There is a good chance your nutritional values went by the wayside during your drinking, so now’s a good time to start adding some wholesome foods back into your diet. My body was freaking out a bit because I had been eating so little food before and most had been heavy and greasy. But it’s necessary and will help heal your gut. TMI: a few weeks of healthy eating will also get you back on a schedule of normal bowel movements. Yeah, I won’t sugar coat it...after a long time of morning liquor shits I. Was. Elated to have a healthy BM at the start of a day!

 

Tell A Friend

I “came out” very quickly after I stopped drinking, though I get not everyone is comfortable with that idea. I still think it’s important for at least one person in your life to know. Someone who cares about you and is open to listening and being a support system.


 

3 Things I Suggest You Avoid Your First Months Of Sobriety

 

Hanging Out At Old Haunts (aka: your former bar/drinking spots)

 

I know some people who continued to bartend when getting sober; there are always strong outliers. But if you don’t need to rely on slinging drinks to pay the bills, avoid the bar scene. The temptation is too high. As I mentioned above I told my friends pretty early on, but if you don’t want to (and your friends are your bar buddies), one thing I've heard is to tell them you’re on antibiotics and cannot drink for a few weeks.

 

Getting Down On Yourself

You’ve just made a life changing decision. Your body is going to be all over the place. Your mind and mental health are going to be all over the place. It can be even harder if you don’t get the immediate “pink cloud”, that surge of good emotions. Getting through a full day without drinking is a huge success. Don’t feel like you can or should go through a complete reinvention in 30 days.

 

Making Any Huge Changes

If you aren’t in an unsafe space, don’t move from you apartment. If your job is stable, stay in it. If you think a guy or gal is cute, just appreciate them from afar, but don’t get into a new relationship. Don't over complicate your life.  Side note: if you feel you need to go on medication or come off some, please make sure you speak with your doctor...especially if it's coming off!!! Also, if you're in an abusive situation speak with someone that can help get you the support and resources to safely move or end the connection.

I hope these suggestions are helpful! The first months are hurdle and a huge accomplishment. You got this! Now go get some sleep ;)

-J

 

Living Alone In Early Sobriety

A strong suggestion made in the rooms of AA is, baring abusive situations, to not make any big changes during your first year of sobriety if you don’t have to. No starting new relationships, no new jobs, no new homes, etc. Basically, sit tight for a year while the fog clears and you get used to living without the aid of booze.

January 10th, 2017 was my one year mark and at the beginning of March I decided it was time to change up my living arrangement.

I’m going from living in a 2 bedroom apartment with a roommate to staying in the same apartment but living there alone. There is a long and involved story of why this is happening, but to keep it brief the situation had, for many months, been emotionally unhealthy. At least for me. I was sick and tired of feeling judged for everything I did from how I “worked my program” to how I watered my plants to how I visited the doctor to how I defended myself, and on and on.

After yet another fight I thought to myself “why am I putting up with this still?” and told the person the next day that they had a month to find a new apartment because it wasn’t working out anymore.

upset cookie

 

It was really the scariest thing I have done in quite sometime. I talked to my mother about it, my friends, and my AA sponsor. They’d long heard my retelling of the situations I had gotten into and they were very supportive. The last few weeks have not been easy, but soon it’ll just be me, my plant family, and the apartment I’ve had the honor to call home for the last 3 years.

This is all exciting and healthy, but it is a big change. For so many people when they drank, living alone or having a spouse gone on a trip meant they were left to their own devices and could finally drink how they wanted to without judgement. And while I have no conscious desire to go out and buy a bottle of wine, I do understand that living solo when you’re a recovering alcoholic or addict isn’t something to sneeze at. I need to be on my toes.

I’ve accepted that I will feel anxiety at points for being alone. For most of my life someone has been inhabiting my space and making noise, even if we weren’t in active conversation. That’s not the case anymore. I’ll have to be okay with silent moments & also not feel horrible about having background music or TV running a good amount of the time- at least to start.

It also means making sure I still get to my regular meetings, maybe hitting up a few more, and actively telling people about this new arrangement, so if life gets hard I have people to reach out to who know the backstory.

This shouldn’t be all negative though. There are a lot of things to be grateful for!

  • That I can afford to do so. It’s a real financial privilege, even if things will be a little tight
  • That I get to arrange things 100% the way I want them
  • That I get to turn the second bedroom into a walk-in closet. I mean, c’mon!
  • That I can get up in the morning and not tiptoe around
  • That I can get on a real cleaning schedule that isn’t undone by someone else
  • That I don’t have to get resentful about always taking out the trash or recycling
  • That I can fart with impunity.

 

And a whole lot of bad apartment dancing...

And a whole lot of bad apartment dancing...

See- so many good things! And it’s not like I never had anxiety when I lived with someone. Gotta look on the positive side of things.

Have you made any big changes in early sobriety, whether it’s been getting a new living situation, starting a relationship, or leaving a job? I’d love to hear how you got by.

-J

Old Habits Die Hard, Even When Sober

Something common for many alcoholic drinkers is the moderating stage and for me this came towards the final months of my drinking career. Moderating can look like this:

  • I’m only going to drink on the weekends (but Monday & Tuesday you slip up, so why not continue?)
  • I’ll only have 2 glasses of wine tonight (but always end up finishing the bottle)
  • Bourbon is the issue, so I’ll just drink vodka (but you still blackout or say nasty things to friends)

You see the pattern, right?

Because I’m a bit of a wanna-be Type A personality I got very official with my moderating phase. I totally had a spreadsheet to remind me of the type of alcohol I could drink on certain days (hint: if you do something like this, you might be an alcoholic...)


If this isn’t the definition of insanity is then I don’t know what is! And of course I never stuck to it. Friday I’d be drinking all kinds of booze, Monday I’d end up having cocktails at my regular post-work meetup with a friend, etc., etc. The spreadsheet was really a way for me to feel like I was in control of my 24/7 drinking, even I clearly wasn't.

Before I started this with my drinking habit, I used to try and spreadsheet out my life. On x-day I’d do x-exercises, or x-amount of writing, or x-amount of reading, and on and on. It was exhausting. I literally tried to put my life into boxes in this hope of aiming for perfection. And of course I didn’t stick to that either. And because I didn’t I felt worse about myself every week when I’d make up a new schedule. I literally allowed Excel to drive me crazy.

Today I’m obviously not using a table to figure out when the best day is to have a Malbec...but I can still fall into this trap of trying to schedule my life out like I’m the CEO of a company with tons of appointments.

When I catch myself doing this it’s red flag that something is wayyy off in my life & that I feel like I’ve lost control. It can also mean I'm feeling really self conscious and am trying to give of this air of "having it all figured it" even when it's clear I'm a mess of hotness. 

So much of my sobriety has been about letting go. Not just of the bottle, but of preconceived notions, unhealthy and unproductive control, and perfection. A lot of the time it feels amazing and freeing. The kicker: on days when I’m not draconian in my scheduling I actually get a lot done. Weird, right?

But these habits and ideas are deeply ingrained and don’t just go away immediately. I simply try to be mindful of them and tap into what is going on when they pop up, either through journaling, good ol’ prayer, or talking to friends and family.

Do you have habits from your drinking days that crop up into sober life? Were you also a “spread-sheeter”?

-J