I feel so angry I could puke.

I’ve never felt anger this white hot before. This is one of those life in the raw moments. The tension is so palpable. My heart beat is rapid. I’m rage cleaning my home.

The struggle right now is not whether or not I want to drink. I don’t want to. But the voice in the back of my head tells me that alcohol would make me feel better right now. I don’t want to drink. But my brain keeps telling me it would help.

So I’m here. Because I don’t exactly go to meetings and I don’t exactly want to drink. I’m just an angry housewife with no where to blow off steam.

I feel like I carry the entire burden of my family on my shoulders. I have a full time work at home job and carry the financial load. I do all the finances, bill paying, bookkeeping. Over the last year I got us completely debt free. I manage the kids activities and school. I try to manage the laundry, the grocery shopping, the litter box. I try to keep my home tidy. I am staying sober. I am 9.5 months SOBER. So all of these things just got even harder to accomplish without booze. I am maxed out and burning the candle on both ends. And yet that somehow isn’t enough.

I don’t ask for help because when I do, my needs don’t get met. And I won’t nag. I will not stoop that low. I vowed to never be that kind of wife. But something has to give.

I don’t know what the point of saying all of this is. But I know I won’t drink. At this point that seems even lower than nagging. It seems like the worst thing I could do. I can puke and scream and cry my eyes out, but I will not drink. The reality might rage all around me but the drinking part of me is dead. That is not who I am anymore. And that might be the only victory I have for today.

Day 280. Sobriety is easy,

Until suddenly it’s not.

The tension has been mounting for the last two weeks. Ever since the new year it’s been one thing after another. A broken machine at work. A second broken machine at work. A loner machine that suddenly broke. A sick child. A roof leak. More work problems. Getting my period in the middle of our bathroom remodel. It all weighs a lot.

I’m fine. I’ve been fine. Until my alcoholic mother flew in today — and I would still be fine if my husband hadn’t offered her a hand crafted margarita with the giant bottle of tequila he just brought home. I know he didn’t mean to but damn it felt like he is rubbing the whole thing in my face.

It’s like he’s saying “I know you’ve had a tough week. I know you want to drink. But you can’t. So I’m going to drink with your mom instead. Bottom’s up Alison!”.

I just want to run and hide. So I did just that. I am in my bedroom because I was pacing around the house not sure what to do with all the rage. I also want to drink but I won’t do that. I want to escape my current reality. I just want a break.

Sobriety is easy until it’s suddenly not. I usually can’t tell when a trigger is on it’s way. Maybe I could have prepared myself better with my mom visiting, but I think I was too busy dealing with everyone and everything to even think about it.

I’m taking some deep breaths. Eating some chips. Watching funny videos. Repeating the reasons I’m sober and what it’s done for me in the last 9 months. This is how I’m coping for now. This is what’s working. And praying. Praying that somehow all of this crap that is somehow happening all at the same time is going to all end at the same time.

I’ve recently been asking God for clarity on the sobriety ministry he has nudged me towards. Maybe this is the start. Coping with the every day. Coping with the mounting difficulty of life. It’s not cancer. It’s not a flood or a fire. It’s not divorce or death. It’s just the every day stuff that gets to be so damn heavy at times. If I learn cope now through the every day stuff I’ll be better prepared for the not-so-everyday stuff, the cancers and floods and fires.

I’m grateful for another day of sobriety. Today the alcohol will not win.

-J

Day 242.

I finished the book Mrs D Goes Without yesterday. Thankfully the triggered feeling didn’t stay long. Her story felt like someone had put words to my soul. And while that was comforting in a sense, it gave me that holy shit feeling that my experience with alcohol is an epidemic. I count myself as one of the lucky ones because my alcoholism was short lived. I have narrowed it down to beginning some time in the last 3.5 years, between when my daughter was born and when my string of injuries began.

I had always enjoyed alcohol before that point, but I don’t think I began coping with it until my life got turned upside down with pain, two children, business that boomed overnight. I’m grateful that I didn’t let it control my life for too long. 3 years was long enough. I am happy to go without it for the rest of my life just so I don’t have to return to that misery ever again.

Sometimes someone will ask about moderation in the future. I don’t blame them for asking. I functioned so well – who says that I can’t mature, grow, and have a safe relationship with alcohol in say, 5 years from now? My children will be in school full time, my business will likely be much different from what it is now, and the pain of my physical injuries will be a faint memory. But that’s exactly where that thought starts and ends. Those things sound wonderful! Children growing up, we will have grown in our careers, I will hopefully have kept my body injury free – WHY would I want to ruin all of those good things with poison? Why would I even attempt to dance on the fine line between moderate drinking and problem drinking, when I can fully enjoy my life where that line doesn’t even exist?

The phrase ‘alcohol lied to me’, has been stirring around in my brain recently. People ask about moderation in the future because they believe the lies that alcohol tells them. That in order to have fun, relax, dance, enjoy social gatherings…we need to have alcohol. So when they try to think about sobriety as a long term reality, all they can think of is all of the situations that they will not be able to enjoy. But alcohols lies go way beyond the light stuff about fun and relaxation — it rather swiftly moves to lying to us about our grief, our sadness, our anxieties, and our pain. It says it will make it better, it will help lift us up, it will help us forget, it will help us to move past the hard stuff. Now, I am first to admit that dealing with life in the raw now that I’m sober is tough – but the alternative, constantly suppressing my feelings of hopelessness, rejection, pain and sorrow, could only have ended in absolute ruin. I drank to make my sometimes hard and complicated life, a little less hard and complicated. But it made it so much more of both instead. Complicated schedule? Let’s add some insomnia. Facing hard financial issues? Let’s add an expensive habit that is getting more expensive every week. I’m shaking my head as I remember justifying my weekly gallon of vodka and multiple wine bottles in our budget.

I was there too. I was scared to go a single day without alcohol. I didn’t know who I was without it. Each day that passes though, I am learning more of who I am without it. Learning that I can enjoy a comedy show without it, go to a movie theater without it, enjoy sex with my husband without it, and even how to face stressful situations without it. The stressful situations part has not been easy. I am much quicker to anger now that I’m sober. Nothing to dull the senses, nothing to slow me down. I am like an angry, angsty little pokemon ready to pop up for a fight at any moment. Yet I resolve to always choose this. Always choose the raw realness of what life has to offer, never dulling my reality with alcohol ever again. It feels like the brave choice. I know it will forever be the right one.

-J

Day 241

It’s been a while since I checked in here. I think I was in the pink cloud, without realizing it.

The last few weeks have been hard. My anxiety seems to be through the roof, I think I just have too much going on. I said yes to too much, and now I feel as though I’m stuck in my overloaded mess I’ve made.


And what would make me relax? Wine would.

I started reading the book Mrs. D Goes Without, and while I have really enjoyed it on the whole, the first part of it was very triggering for me. She was talking about how fun alcohol made her, how carefree, light, and amazing it seemingly made her feel. I almost pulled over my car because I was overcome with this feeling of being triggered. And I hate that word. I really do. But dang, I didn’t realize how someone who identifies as a recovering alcoholic could talk so openly about how great alcohol used to be for her!

What I love about the book, is that it led me back here. She talks about the sober community and how supportive and uplifting it is. I could use some of that right now, without the commitment of meetings and face to face interaction. I can’t add that to an already overloaded plate.

I am currently surviving a holiday season without alcohol. I am so thankful that we made the decision last Christmas not to be in California for Christmas this year. I knew that we would love to have a family Christmas here in Oregon – but I didn’t know that I would NEED it. It’s not that I am regularly tempted to drink. It’s that on Christmas, in a house with two alcoholic parents, you start drinking champagne at 9am and you don’t stop until you’re passed out on the couch at 10pm. At this point I don’t think I would be tempted by that, but I would be mad, frustrated, and downright bratty about it. Mad at alcohol for being so enticing that it grabbed practically my entire family into it’s grasp, frustrated that I can’t just drink like a normal person, and bratty because well, I can’t it and I’ll cry if I want to.

My children age 3.5 and 6, have been doing so much fighting lately. It seems nonstop. They fight about who gets to turn the lights off, the TV off, who get’s to the front door first, who gets to use the toilet…it’s always something. And I am just simply overwhelmed by it. The noise sends me into an anxious rage. I have no patience for it. Alcohol gave me the magic ability to tune this type of shit out. Now I’m just stuck listening to it all in the raw all the time.

This anxious rage led me to see a therapist last week. I am going to try going once a week for a while and see if I can realign my priorities. In the first few minutes she had already identified that my priorities seemed out of line from what I was saying I wanted. I’m really looking forward to working on setting boundaries and changing the way I experience my life.

One of those priorities is to write here more often. So I am promising to do that because this morning I felt a call from God to use my sobriety as a ministry. And while I don’t want to jump in before discerning what that actually looks like, I do know that keeping tabs on my experience in the first year of my sobriety is a really great place to start.

-J

Day 101

100 days felt pretty monumental. To think that just 3.5 months ago I was deep in the pit of my own alcoholism. Constantly hungover, angry with myself and my children, drinking earlier and earlier every day, unable to sleep…I can’t believe I stayed that way for as long as I did.

I find my mind wandering more into the future these days. What will my sobriety look like this time next year? Do I need to get more involved with AA and the 12 steps? Do I need to see a therapist? What about 5 years? Will my husband get sick of me being sober and start wishing I could drink with him again?

Maybe that’s where my fear wanders most. That somehow the bond we built while drinking will not survive my sobriety. It sounds silly. Because I trust our marriage and what we built before I was a heavy drinker, but I guess we were both used to me drinking for so long that long term sobriety is as equally scary as long term drinking. Our anniversary trip in a few weeks will be a really good opportunity for us to reconnect and be vulnerable with eachother, without the distractions of work, home, and our children.

After 100 days of sobriety sex is finally a lot less awkward. There was no magic solution for that, I think it just took time and practice. And a patient husband!

After 100 days of sobriety I have yet to lose any weight, but my intense sugar cravings I first experienced have weakened.

After 100 days of sobriety I rarely experience cravings. I drink La Croix like its going out of style. 1 week ago I hated the stuff and here I am, buying every new flavor I can get my hands on in my amazon pantry delivery this week! The only time I find myself wishing I could drink is when it’s been a hard day with my kids, and I quickly can identify that is, I need a BREAK not a DRINK!

After 100 days of sobriety I feel pretty comfortable talking about it publicly. I get a little choked up still, not because I’m embarrassed, but because I’m thankful. Sobriety has been a huge gift and I feel like sharing it with the world. There is 1 person I still need to talk to – and he is also in recovery. I don’t know why but telling him seems to scare me a lot. Possibly because he is close family, possibly because he knows the deep shame that comes with admitting you need help with addiction. He may already know, via my husband or another family member, but I still think it would be beneficial to talk to him directly.

Someone asked me today about my sobriety. It caught me off guard because life feels so normal now. Sobriety is my new normal. I don’t think much about it and that is such a blessing. I know times will come that I crave and get close to the edge – but those days have been few and far between. I’m looking forward to many more milestones and sober years. This sober life has become so precious to me with my memories intact and my mind clear – for the first time in years I feel alive.

-J

3 months / 91 days

Posted from my personal Instagram, a slightly different format than I usually write in!

This is what 90 days alcohol free looks like.

Today feels both hugely significant and vastly mundane. Significant because this is the first time I’ve gone this long without alcohol since my pregnancies. Significant because 90 days ago I was a a daily, heavy drinker. Significant because 90 days ago I relied on sleeping pills to get to sleep every night, and then still barely slept past 3 am. Significant because 90 days ago I was afraid of what 1 day without alcohol looked like.

But today is also vastly mundane because I don’t even think about alcohol during the day – it’s just a regular day at home with the kids. Mundane because I’m still cleaning up after their every mess, have to account for all of their meals and snacks, and have a mile long list of tasks to accomplish. Mundane because of the peaceful freedom I now have – free to just live my regular life that I now know I am capable of living without any liquid courage.

The difference that 90 days of sobriety makes is remarkable. No more insomnia, no more anxiety – I greet the mornings with energy and readiness. I feel strong, self-assured, and capable to handle the mess, the meals, and the tasks.

Getting sober was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make for myself. A huge part of me had to die so that an even bigger part of me could come back to life.

I don’t want to sit here and tell you all the reasons you shouldn’t drink. My decision was entirely personal and it doesn’t mean I condemn drinking on the whole. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable to be around it and I certainly don’t want to make anyone else feel that way. But, if my not drinking makes you uncomfortable, I challenge you to take a good hard look at why that might be. I wonder every day why we live in such a culture that being a non-drinker is seen as worse off than partaking regularly in an addictive substance like alcohol. It is the only mind altering substance that we as a society make an exception for. I think it’s about time we normalize sobriety, not gawk unknowingly at it. It’s time that we reject the notion that sober people are the one with the problem.

– J

Day 85 / 208 pounds

Today I stepped on the scale for the first time in 15 months.

Getting sober meant dealing with a new and huge sugar craving. I had already loved cake and sweets – but quitting drinking took that to a whole new level. I suppose the irony is that, what got me on a path of binge drinking, is the restrictive eating I was doing while trying to maintain intermittent fasting every day. I loved the results, but I was stressed out and thus, I drank.

The scale said 208. For a 5’9 woman that is well above a healthy weight. My happy weight is somewhere in the 170’s-180’s, but I haven’t been that weight in years, so who really knows. In 15 months, I have put on 20 pounds.

Getting sober has given me an entirely different perspective on life. If that is possible, maybe now is a good time to address my relationship with food. It has been tumultuous my whole life. Having been called fat since my early childhood – I am used to always being on a diet. Always feeling like I was too big for the room. Always feeling like no matter what I did – it wasn’t good enough because I was fat.

I have had the most success with intermittent fasting, and I’d like to try and get back in to that full time. I need to first get out of the mindset that I can eat “whatever” I want during my eating window. I am straight up overeating, and eating stuff that isn’t good for me, every single night of the freaking week. Thankfully I do not have my drinking to try and control and maintain within my eating hours. I think I will have a lot more success if I stick to it. I am going to try and make food that is a lot healthier – AND not allow myself to eat sugary treats every day. That is where my biggest problem now is – now that I’ve taken alcohol out of the equation.

I am calling it low refined sugar intermittent fasting. I will try to stick to 18-20 hours every day of fasting with a 4-6 hour eating window. That is more than enough time for a snack and a meal. I am not cutting natural sugars or trying to go low carb. I am just trying to get rid of the added sugar, the cakes and candy that I love so dearly, but have fallen short of providing me any kind of emotional relief or nutritional value.

Today was the first day I’ve resisted sweets and didn’t allow myself to have anything that was straight up sugar like cookies, candy, or ice cream. I was full from my meal, and then a little bit later allowed myself to have one of the banana oatmeal cups my son and I made the other day. They are not “sugar free” – but they did not have sugar or flour as one of the main ingredients, which is ideal for me right now. Small steps, better choices, conscious decisions for my health. Choosing the apple and peanut butter instead of the sugar cookie – you know, basic stuff that really isn’t that hard to think about!

As I dive deeper into sobriety I’m uncovering the layers that made up my dependence on alcohol. I think it is all connected to my own feelings about myself. Having always felt too much and never enough, I’ve attempted to fill the holes with food, attention, and now alcohol. Deep down I know of the love and affection that God has for me – but I struggle to remember daily that that love alone is enough to sustain me and meet every need I have. Lord, be near as I recover and reestablish my relationship with you!

Finishing this thought with a short gratitude list, today I’m thankful for:

  • A clean home thanks to our lovely house cleaner
  • A physical therapist who is thorough, kind, and helpful
  • A wonderful son who is sweet, sensitive, and kind
  • A colorful daughter who is funny, caring, and affectionate
  • clean sheets on a freshly made bed
  • The promise of a fun filled, sunshiney weekend

-J

Day 79 / I said it out loud

It was Monday. At 2pm. It was a rare moment where I didn’t have my children with me, so obviously my first choice is to go and get my nails done. I have dermotilomania, and right now the only thing keeping me from biting and picking my fingernails and toenails apart is having fake acrylic nails. TMI? Sorry – this is hardly the most personal info I’ve shared so far!

I brought in a large iced tea with me from home. The man at the front greeted me, recognizing me and said , “nice to see you made it in!”. I excitedly told him that any chance I get to leave the house without my kids is like a personal vacation. He says, “oh well then you must want a glass of wine then.” I looked over to the tiny fridge and saw an actual pile of oversized wine bottles. The large ones I used to drink a few nights a week all by myself.

My first thought is, “at 2pm?”

But then it just spills out.

“Oh, no thanks. I don’t drink.”

I tried to say it as casually as I could but there was a certain uncomfortable shift in the room. Up until now I really have not made that proclamation to strangers or in any social setting – unless it’s with people who know I’m already in recovery. I’m not one of those people that thinks before they speak, so it just flew out! I am candid and honest 100% of the time – which works in my favor a lot, and then also gets me into trouble sometimes. The woman to my right fiddles with her large glass of wine. She doesn’t make any kind of eye contact with me the entire time we are sitting side by side. And truthfully, I didn’t notice her wine glass until after I said that. She wasn’t even getting her nails done, her teenage daughter was. She gulped up her glass and then got up in a hurry. The culture of acceptability around alcohol has shifted from a relaxation method during a personal care service like hair or nails – to just drinking a glass of free wine in the middle of the day for no other reason than waiting for your child to be done with their activity.

I can’t be the only one who see’s the huge problem with this. What we know about alcohol is that it is highly addictive. It is the most common and the most deadly addiction in the United States – and somehow I make people uncomfortable because I don’t partake in said deadly addictive substance. Why am I left to feel like I need to apologize for staying sober?

It is so backwards and upside down. It makes no logical sense. Mommy wine culture has pervaded so far into our society. There are thousands of women trying to raise their babies, manage their homes, and maintain some level of self care and a relationship with their husbands all while being told that day drinking and a nighttime wine habit will somehow make it all easier. Our willingness to self depricate under the guise of authenticity in the presence of mom friends has now turned to a celebration of mediocrity in motherhood.

“Let’s get drunk and laugh about how shitty we are as moms!”

I am so over this story. I no longer buy the lie. I fully reject that alcohol makes even a single improvement to my mothering. I will never again let alcohol deprive me of being an excellent mom to my babies. They deserve the best of me – and alcohol steals that. Alcohol can never make me a better mom. Alcohol can never make me a better wife. Nothing good came come from it!

Ok. Rant over. Changing the culture is too big of a mountain to climb but I can change myself. Just for today I am sober. And I will try again tomorrow for day 80. I’m so thankful to be where I am today!

-J

Day 73

I realized tonight that I haven’t craved alcohol in a while now. I seem to really have adjusted to not drinking on a regular basis. The desire seems to have left me. I know that there will certainly be times of huge temptation but on the whole, I feel like I have tamed some sort of raging beast inside of me.

Admittedly, I find myself sometimes aching for the way things were. It sounds strange, I know. Heavy drinking forced me to escape from reality on a regular basis – now my reality is constantly in my face, needing to be dealt with, and I am unable to escape it. For instance, I still have zero sex drive. I’m not sure if that is because of the lack of alcohol or something else, but either way, there it is. Some days I wish for the way booze made me more interested in sex, it loosened us both up a lot – and now if my husband has been drinking and tries to…well, you know – it just feels odd to me. I never noticed how alcohol made him so sloppy until I quit drinking.

I find that I have a lesser tolerance for certain people and conversations – which means that my relationships are changing.

I feel the need to correct all of the things about me that alcohol affected – like my personality, my history, how I carry myself. I guess everything feels different now – I’m trying to figure out how the new me fits into the narrative of life that I still live in. I was prepared for my body and my mind to change with quitting alcohol – I was not prepared for how it would affect almost every area of my life!

With life still whizzing past at 100 MPH I feel like I’m inevitably tripping trying to catch up. I still have the kids to chase, raise, nurture and to figure out a new way to discipline them, because now that I don’t have my crutch they are 10x more frustrating. I still have my business – which keeps me busy in the evenings, but the reality of its busyness is a huge stressor. I still have to be a decent friend, honorable wife, cook meals, take showers, you know – take care of myself sometimes. I have no answers as to my back pain that has plagued me for 2 months now – I have a very intense procedure scheduled tomorrow, hopefully it will provide answers.

I hate to sound like I’m complaining about the blissful sobriety I am now living in. I am not ungrateful for all of the wonderful ways my life has changed in 73 days – it’s just that, so much change would be stressful to anyone. Weathering stress without alcohol is entirely new to me.

I am going to attempt to encourage myself now, by listing all the things I’m looking forward to in the next 2 months.

  • My 29th birthday is next month!
  • I am taking the kids to a remote lake house for a week with my in laws. It will be so sweet to spend time with them and unplug.
  • My hubs and I planned our 7 year anniversary trip! We are roadtripping on Route 66 and I could not be more excited!
  • My kiddos are enjoying swim lessons – and at the end as a reward we get to go to a fun waterpark near by!

There we go. There are so many good things amidst the stressful. I am going to set my mind on those.

-J

Day 70

We’ve started to plan a trip for our 7th wedding anniversary. I’ve known for a while that my husband was planning a surprise trip. He told me a few days ago that my sobriety threw a wrench in that plan. At first I was very confused. He thought that the surprise had already been ruined, actually, but me usually not putting clues together very well, I didn’t pick up on the spilled beans.

Vegas. I suppose Vegas isn’t really a teetotalers idea of fun. I have never been, so I don’t really know for certain. But he is pretty certain that it is not the place we’ll want to spend our anniversary. And I have to admit, seeing him drink in public while I choose to stay sober has not been fun at all. I’m totally fine with him drinking, I have made that clear to him, but drinking excessively when it’s just me and him hanging out seems mean. Today I’m thankful that he’s sparing me from that!

Now that our secret trip isn’t going to happen, we are trying to figure out a new plan. At first we were planning this far away getaway to Nova Scotia, which sounded SO fun – but we would have to miss our sons first day of Kindergarten and there is now way that is happening! We are opting for a closer destination in the US and keep our international travels for next summer when I turn 30. I would love to say that I have an ideal destination picked out – but I’m finding that touristy cities that once seemed fun to visit, now lack appeal without the existence of alcohol. Every city I’ve looked at so far has so many boozy activities!

Here we are trying to rebuild our relationship without alcohol as a cornerstone, and everywhere I turn for date nights, weekend activities and short getaways is booze. Wine tastings, beer tours, whiskey tours, pub crawls, suchandsuch cities 10 best happy hours. Writing this out has made me think that maybe we should avoid cities altogether and go out in the mountains somewhere!

Still during all of this planning and lamenting – I have no desire to drink. No wish that I could just drink for a weekend and go on my sober way when I get home. I know how quickly that could go wrong. I’m playing the story that one innocent glass of wine will never be enough and will almost always turn into the whole bottle. Despite my desire not to drink, my desire to be numb from the cares of life still exists.

We have about 7 weeks to plan this trip – so I’ll report back when we get it figured out. I will be very excited for a getaway no matter where we end up!

— J