Alcoholism is a Disease That Lies to Me in My Own Voice

I’m listening to a Recovery Elevator podcast and the guest said this was the best advice she’d ever received.

Currently the bitch is telling me that I’m not as bad as all these people I’m listening to on the podcast.  This idea itself is so dangerous.  Simply put, don’t compare yourself to others; look for the similarities not differences.  My alcoholic voice (the bitch) is trying to make me think I’m special, I’m different, I don’t need to do what these folks have done to maintain sobriety because I didn’t do the things they’re saying they did, I didn’t drink as much.  Oh FUCK YOU bitch, you and the pink cloud are in cahoots, this is a conspiracy and you’re all in on it, and I see right through it.

My main thoughts for the past 24 hours have been about why this has to be so consuming.  Why the sobriety days counter?  Why is it all we have to think about?  Why can’t this just be another thing, another habit, another muscle memory?  I don’t think about not smoking every day.

Let’s talk about my smoking story for a bit.  I quit smoking in August 2007, it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done to improve myself, meaning that it was hard psychologically, but I found a program that worked for me.  The program was all about convincing myself of the lies I’d been brainwashed to believe about smoking and truly believing that I was a non-smoker.  Sure, at first it’s all I though about, I don’t know how long it took until I didn’t think about it every day; I’m going to speculate that it was a year or so.  I kind of wish I’d had a blog about it to look back on.  Anyway, after a while it was just who I was, I was a non-smoker.  I had the occasional craving, it was like a feeling of wanting something but not knowing what it was exactly.  But then about 3-4 years ago, my friend started smoking when we drank together, pretty soon I was bumming them and then I was buying a pack that she would keep so I didn’t smoke them unless we were together, then I just started smoking at home by myself.  But winter came and I was not going to stand outside and smoke in the cold and snow so I quit.  Then summer came again and I started again, this time I smoked more.  By this time it consumed me, I spend the entire summer outside, I took my laptop outside to work, all so I could smoke.  This time when it got cold I put a fan in the window in my bedroom, one of those short ones with 2 sides that you can flip a switch to send the air out or pull it in, and sat in front of it every night and smoked and drank and watched tv.  EVERY NIGHT.   In 2016 I was sick a lot, it seemed I was always sick; bronchitis, sinus infection, seasonal allergies…colds that lasted months and I never stopped coughing, I went through bags of Hall’s because it was the only thing that calmed the cough, I would fall asleep with Hall’s in my mouth, I’d wake up in the middle of the night coughing and get a cough drop and fall asleep with it in my mouth.  I kept hoping I didn’t choke to death.  Finally, after a particularly harsh hangover in early December 2016, with the elephant on my chest, I just decided that was enough, I had smoked all my cigarettes the night before and I decided I was done.  And I was.  I haven’t smoked since and I only miss it occasionally.  I won’t do it again.  I don’t want to feel like that again.

So how is alcohol different?  I’ve done the same thing with alcohol that I initially did with smoking.  I know the lies I’ve been brainwashed to believe about drinking – that it helps me relax LIE, that it calms me LIE, that it feels good LIE, that it tastes good LIE, it eases my anxiety and depression symptoms LIE it’s probably the cause of my depression and anxiety, it makes me more fun or interesting LIE, sex is better LIE, it helps me sleep LIE!  I know what’s good about not drinking, the advantages of being a non-drinker – my mind is clear, I spend less money, I remember my life, I don’t feel sick, I do more things, I have energy, I’m involved in my life, I don’t waste days drinking or recovering from drinking.  My future is much more secure without alcohol.  I WANT TO BE SOBER!

But all the recovering alcoholics say I have to put my sobriety before anything else.  That I have to constantly go to meetings, I have to have a sponsor, I have to work these steps.  I have to maintain this constant vigil.  OMG how exhausting and overwhelming.  This is not how I want to live my life.  I don’t want my life to be ABOUT not drinking any more than I want it to be about not smoking.  I am someone other than my addictions.

Is this the bitch lying to me in my own voice, you can dance vodkaconspiring with the pink cloud? 

 

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Is This the Pink Cloud?

Don’t get me wrong, I have bad days, I get frustrated, I crave wine.  But overall I’m ok.  I’m just about at the end of day 21, I haven’t been sober this long since 2012, I think.  It feels good.  Yesterday afternoon the sun was shining and I kept thinking that I can’t wait to be sober this summer.  I told J, I love that I don’t wake up with a hangover every weekend day, that I can eat breakfast on Sunday and not be sick, that I can drink coffee in the morning and not be sick, that I’m not spending the entire day in bed with a miserable headache.

I’m grateful.

And here’s a funny.

cat wearing fur

Everything is Outside My Comfort Zone

I listen to the Recovery Elevator podcast all the time, there are 156 or so episodes and I just discovered it about 2 weeks ago so I have a lot to listen to.  One of the things I keep hearing over and over is “if you want to stay sober you have to get out of your comfort zone”.  comfort zone 01

Well, there’s nothing I hate more than getting outside my comfort zone.  I have anxiety, I am socially awkward, I’ve always been shy, to the point that people actually think I’m a bitch and believe that I think I’m “better than” because I don’t talk, when in reality the exact opposite is true.  I spend a lot of anxious time thinking about how much people are not going to want to talk to me or that people will try to talk to me but my mind goes blank when I’m faced with new situations and people I don’t know, it’s awful. I don’t know what to say, my brain cannot work out casual conversation, then when I actually can speak my filter disappears and I say something so ridiculous or offensive or stupid.  It’s a problem.  And it just increases the anxiety I already feel.  I’m seriously anxious right now just thinking about it, sitting in my bedroom in my jammies.

comfort zone 03

I need to go AA meetings.  I want to stay sober, AA is outside my comfort zone, but I really need to go.  How do I get past this paralyzing anxiety?  I used to cope with it by drinking, my husband and I jokingly called in “pre-gaming”.  Have a glass of wine before leaving the house (or even take it with you in a travel cup) or I used to take a Xanax when I had a script (thanks to my previous stint in rehab I no longer have that script even though Xanax was NOT my problem – and I say that with honesty – I didn’t take them regularly, I took them when I was going somewhere or doing something that gave me that paralyzing anxiety and it helped me sleep).  Anyway, it doesn’t matter, I no longer have a script for it and I no longer drink so what do I do with this fucking anxiety?

comfort zone 04I’ve been searching out meetings and thinking about this for about a week.  I plan out how I’m going to do it.  I’ll go early, sit in my car and scope out the situation then when there’s a bunch of people going in at the same time I’ll just blend right in with them.  Then my stupid thinking starts.  OMG, what if the info I have is wrong, what if it’s some different thing going on and it’s no longer an AA meeting and I end up somewhere I absolutely shouldn’t be?  What if nobody shows up?  What if I go to the wrong room?  What if someone actually talks to me?  OMG, I can’t fucking stand myself when I do this.  I’ve been to a few AA meetings before but only one specific one and I could get lost in the crowd because it was a Saturday morning meeting and the place was packed.  So, it’s not like I haven’t done it before but it’s been 5 years and my anxiety is on like I’ve never done it before.  Plus, I need to go to other meetings, not just that one, and there are many that are closer to my home and on weeknights.  There are a lot of options and I need to get outside my comfort zone.

normalGAWD, why can’t I be normal at just ONE thing?

30 Day Solution – Day 11

The Lie Detector Solution – Confronting Your Limiting Beliefs.  Recognizing the lies you tell yourself, which act as limiting beliefs

A belief is an idea you hold to be true.  Your brain my actually filter out important information if it does not match your dominant belief.

To begin, you must change the beliefs that are holding you back.  Many times the biggest thing that is holding you back is believing in yourself.  If you believe you can, you will try.  If you believe you can’t, then you won’t.  That’s why it’s so important to identify your limiting beliefs and change them today.

Step 1 – Capture Your Limiting Beliefs – review the list and take note of the ones that are most applicable to you

Top 11 lies that rick you into thinking you can’t get sober

  1. It is not possible to be sober and happy and excited in life
  2. Getting sober is too hard
  3. I am not fun or likable without alcohol
  4. I have a disease
  5. I can’t have a successful career without drinking
  6. I have an addictive personality
  7. Drinking wine is healthy
  8. Alcoholics are losers
  9. I have to reach rock bottom to quit drinking
  10. Drinking reduces stress
  11. Sex and sobriety suck

Step 2 – Write Down the Characteristics and Traits of a Sober Person

I remember many times when I was in bed trying to recover from a hangover, watching tv and a character was getting up before the sun and getting things done and smiling and feeling good.  I used to think, that would be awesome, that’s what it would be like to not drink, I wish I was like that.

I don’t know that I have negative views of people who don’t drink I just haven’t experienced it until now.  I have enjoyed hanging out with people who don’t drink, the majority of my family doesn’t drink.  Now, my in-laws, that’s a whole other bag of worms, I am almost always drunk when I leave a family gathering.  I wasn’t drinking a few years ago, trying to lose weight, and my F-I-L told me I was no fun.  So, there you go.  The thing is, they don’t understand because they’re “normal” drinkers.

Step 3 – Cross Examine Your Limiting Beliefs – Pick the top 5 limiting beliefs from today’s first action step then write down what your life would look like if you let them continue to run you.  Then, cross examine each of them and create a strong case as to why it’s not true

Limiting Belief – It is not possible to be sober and happy and excited in life.  C-E – Why would you think that?  LB – Because every time I have fun I’ve been drinking, the people I have fun with drink.  C-E – Is that because you were drinking or because you were in good company, having fun with people you enjoyed being with?  What about exercising, running, cycling?  You can’t do that stuff drunk.  Didn’t you have fun then?

dear wine

Limiting Belief – I am not fun or likable without alcohol.  C-E – Who says? LB – Well, Fred for one.  C-E – Does Fred REALLY know you?  Isn’t it more the case that you feel uncomfortable around the in-laws because they didn’t approve of you at first and you can’t let that go?  Isn’t it more that you don’t feel good enough to be part of the family?  Isn’t it more the case that you’re self-conscious and inhibited and that’s why you feel like you’re not likable?  You have friends, right?  LB – Yes.  C-E-  Exactly where did you become friends with these ladies?  LB – at work.  C-E- Were you drunk?  LB – Well of course not.  C-E- And they still became friends with you?!?  OMG, I can’t believe it!

lmao

Drinking reduces stress – C-E- You’ve read enough to know that this is not true, correct?  LB – Yes, sir.  C-E- No more questions.

Sex and sobriety suck – C-E Sooooo, do you remember sex after being black-out drunk (the kind of drunk you feel you need to be to stop your brain from telling you how awful you look naked).  LB – Not usually.  C-E- Case dismissed.

Step 4 – Write New Beliefs to Replace Your Limiting Beliefs.  Capture the way you really want to be, act, and feel by writing new beliefs that replace your limiting beliefs.  Be sure to write these in a positive way (avoid negatives like no and not) and write them in the present tense.

Old – It is not possible to be sober and happy and excited in life.  New – I am happy every day that I don’t have to deal with a hangover.  I am excited to rebuild my life to get my health back and find out what I can do now that I’m sober.

Old – I am not fun or likable without alcohol.  New – People like me when I’m sober, I’m sober at work and me and my co-workers laugh and have fun when we’re together.  I can laugh and make others laugh when I’m sober.

Old – Drinking reduces stress.  New – the stress of drinking is overwhelming, I have much less stress when I don’t have to worry about what I did or what I said.  I have much less stress when I remember everything.  There are plenty of sober ways to address stress that actually work.

Old – Sex and sobriety suck.  New – Being sober I’ll remember the great sex the next day.

Today is sober day 14!  I made 2 weeks without a drink.  My app gave me a 2 week chip today.  Go me!

30 Day Solution – Day 10

The Core Values Solution

Step 1 – Review and write down the core values that stand out – those that actually matter to you.

  • honesty
  • integrity
  • privacy
  • truth
  • reliability
  • accountability
  • security
  • loyalty
  • health
  • strength
  • humor
  • authenticity
  • comfort
  • family
  • friendship
  • generosity
  • freedom
  • spirituality
  • success
  • creativity
  • dependability
  • gratitude
  • determination
  • respect
  • fairness

Think of situations, people, movie or TV characters that really upset, offend, or anger you  and write down which of your values  are compromised in each situation

  • On tv – cheating spouses – fidelity, trust, respect, honesty, truth, family
  • at daycare – those people who park in the fire lane or in the handicapped space – respect, honesty, accountability
  • people who drive – yes, seriously!  the rules don’t apply to them – respect, fairness
  • at work – people who make excuses for mistakes or always blame others – accountability, honesty, authenticity
  • those people on my 600 lb life who want to know how to stop gaining weight then won’t listen to the doctor, then lie to the doctor, and cry bitterly about their situation – accountability, honesty, respect, health, integrity, truth, determination, freedom, gratitude
  • people who make babies then don’t take care of them – family, honesty, integrity, accountability, respect, truth, fairness

Think of people (dead or alive) who you admire the most and write down the values or emotions you respect most about these people or situations

  • Michelle Obama – she’s so classy and poised, she makes me want to be a better person to be like her.  She seems very strong.  She cares about others and wants to help.
  • Jillian Michaels – she’s strong, she’s determined, she’s able to motivate others, she doesn’t care if you don’t like her.
  • Kristin Armstrong – she’s a runner, she’s a motivator, she seems like she’s a good mom, she’s an awesome writer, she has a great attitude
  • vegans Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Alicia Silverstone, Joaquin Phoenix, Woody Harrelson – they’re compassionate, they stand by their values
  • Garth Brooks – he’s humble, he put family first
  • Russell Brand, Robert Downey Jr, Kristen Johnston, Matthew Perry, Colin Farrell, Keith Urban, Jada Pinkett Smith, Rob Lowe and everyone else in the world who got sober and are staying that way.
  • Tim McGraw and Faith Hill – family, integrity, honesty, respect, fidelity

Pick 10 values from your list that you identify with most and write down how your drinking has played a role in contradicting or violating these.

  1. health – drinking was killing me, I stopped exercising, I stopped watchin calories, I stopped caring
  2. freedom – alcohol is a prison, hangovers are debilitating, can’t go anywhere cause I’m drunk
  3. honesty – taking time off work because I’m “not feeling well” – that would be a hangover,
  4. integrity – the stupid things I do and say when I’m drunk
  5. strength – man, I used to be strong, physically – I finished Shaun T’s Insanity, mentally – I’ve been through a divorce, I’ve been a single parent, I’ve been so poor I couldn’t buy food, my mother killed herself, I suffered depression.  I’m still here.
  6. gratitude – I can really be a hater.  Feeling sorry for myself.  Hating myself.  Oh why me?  Not realizing that my life is good.
  7. respect – how can I respect myself when I’m drunk all the time and abusing my body and gaining weight, sitting on my ass, watching tv all the time.
  8. determination – I’m not running anymore, I had no motivation to do anything
  9. family – I isolated myself at home, in my room.  I don’t take care of the kids like I should, I have zero patience.
  10. security – anything can happen when I’m drinking so much.  One night I fell down the stairs at my friends house into the garage – it was funny but I was bruised.  I could have lost my job – coming home at lunch and drinking a glass of wine, drinking wine while I’m working from home, taking time off because I’m hungover.

30 Day Solution – Day 9

The Action Solution – Getting Out of Your Head and Into Action

Step 1 – Write Down Your Top 3 Worries Related to Problem Drinking – Write what you have done in this program to date, and what you will do over the remaining 30 days, to address these worries.  The goal is to give yourself permission to stop worrying, since you are taking positive action that addresses those concerns.  When you find yourself worrying, come back to the question “What can I do about this right now?” Then take action – any action, however small, that moves you forward in addressing the issue you were worrying about.

  1. I’m worried that I’ve damaged my health beyond repair.  I have committed 100% to not drinking for 30 days.  I have written my goals and how I’m going to accomplish them so I can commit 100% to not drinking for 100 days.  Not drinking is allowing my body to heal.  I am walking at least 25 minutes every day and I’ve begun taking a supplement to assist liver health.
  2. I’m worried that I’ll relapse.  I’ve committed 100% to not drinking for 30 and 100 days.  I regularly recite my vision statement and work on the 30 day solution daily.  I listen to Recovery Elevator podcast whenever possible.  I’m working on the root of the issues that caused me to want to drink excessively.
  3. I’m worried that my situation will never improve; that I’ll be in this house and this job for the rest of my life and die having done nothing.  I’m setting goals, I’m reciting my vision statement, I’m believing in the power of believing in myself.  I’m 100% committed to not drinking.

Step 2 – Start a tiny habit.  Using the start-small strategy, link repeating your 30 day vision statement (out loud when possible) to an existing routine in your life that you do at least five times a day.  To make it even more powerful, take twenty seconds to experience the feelings you will feel when you have made your vision a reality.

I wrote my vision statement on a large post-it note and posted it under my robe on the bathroom door, in the morning after everyone is gone I move the post it to the mirror.  Every time I wash my hands I read the vision statement.

I’m tired today.  I started wearing my fitbit again and made it to 10,000 steps at about 8:00 this evening.  I walked a little over a mile on the treadmill.  My new running shoes came today, they’re super weird.  I’ve never worn Hoka One Ones before, I hope they work out.  I went to The Vitamin Shoppe and bought a jar of Green Superfood Powder; gahhh, it tastes like hay smells.  I have a 15 day supply, when it’s gone I’ll try another brand, apparently some of them taste better than others.