Between Breaths

Is a book written by Elizabeth Vargas, I listened to it on audiobook and really liked it so I found her story on YouTube.

I’m watching her 20/20 interview where she talks about her alcoholism.  One of the things she said that made me stop the video to reflect was how the hangovers evolved.

The alcohol so changed the chemistry of her body it created a cycle of demand… she says your heart doesn’t feel like it’s beating, it feels like it’s fluttering, and it’s not even like your hands are shaky, your entire body is shaky, you’re shaky inside and the only thing to stop it was to drink some more.

I had never read or heard anyone describe this before but it’s exactly what I felt on days after drinking excessively, like 1.5 liter bottle of wine plus a few vodka and ginger ales in one day.  I would start drinking wine at noon or so and drink until that bottle was gone (1.5 liters!, the equivalent of 2 regular bottles of wine), if I didn’t have another bottle(!) I’d start drinking vodka mixed with ginger ale until I passed out, blacked out or decided to go to bed.  This could be 10 – 14 hours of continuous drinking.  The next day would be hell.  If it wasn’t a day I could stay in bed all day and had to get up and actually function I would feel like death. shaky My head pounding, my heart fluttering, my mouth dry, sticky and tasting like old, stale booze no matter how many times I brushed, my hands shaking uncontrollably and feeling like I was shaking, – no, quaking, on the inside, like an energizer bunny on speed, it was the most awful feeling.  Plus the depression, despondency, regret, shame, guilt and self-hatred.  Many times if I was alone, just wanting to die, wishing it would all end, that it would just stop.

I struggle to recall and articulate my alcohol use progression, how alcohol has affected me over time.  In many of the stories I read and listen to the individuals can recall a specific drinking event that started them on their way to alcoholism, they can recall the very first drink.  Now, I can recall the first time I used weed and didn’t feel anything AND the first time I used and got high but I cannot remember my first drink.  I know that I got in a lot of trouble as a teen because of drinking.  I remember my aunt’s wedding when I was 14; I was drinking people’s leftovers and got pretty drunk, it’s actually a story that gets told and reminisced a lot in my family.

I remember in my mid-twenties talking about my mom being an alcoholic and not wanting to be one because I didn’t want to never be able to drink again.  And I didn’t even have a problem back then.  Although I did drink to get drunk when I drank.  I didn’t just have a drink, so maybe the problem was there, who knows.

In my late thirties I started drinking long island iced teas on the weekends and would be drunk every Friday and Saturday night, using Ritalin (that I was prescribed) with my husband and staying up until 3 or 4 am then sleeping until noon.  My kids were teens back then and my youngest lived with her dad so it wasn’t like we had to get up early and take care of kids, like now.

Then came the wine.  I specifically remember reading a diet book, like the Supermarket Diet or something like that where the author said one glass of wine while cooking or eating dinner is fine and I was off to the races.  She had given me permission, apparently.  But one glass turned into more.  At one point I was trying to lose weight and traded wine in my wine glass for Crystal Light but I don’t think that lasted very long and I was still drinking Long Islands and taking Ritalin on the weekends.

Then in 2012 I was tired of being sick and tired.  I wanted to stop but I didn’t want to stop.  I wanted someone to make me stop.  And I wanted to get out of my house, there was so much chaos going on.  My daughter was living here with her son and she had a boyfriend she was with all the time and she was always using my car and I didn’t know how to say no to anything.  So, I decided to go to rehab.  My husband was surprised, he didn’t believe I had a problem.  He was not on board with it but he’s not the type of person to stop me from doing what I have my mind set on (except when I wanted to rip up the carpet in the living room, he practically begged me to please not do it today, that time I listened).

So I got myself on the waiting list at a rehab like it was going to be a vacation.  When the day came I got wasted because I thought, may as well, since this is the last time I’m going to drink.  I cried most of the way there and when I was there and my husband was gone and I was alone, I was terrified.  I cried myself to sleep.  And I woke up to a bang and my bed moving.  Did I mention I was terrified?  Now I’m even more terrified!  My bed is moving!  I was frozen in place, didn’t know what to do.  Eventually I realized the walls were super thin and the beds moved, someone in the next room with a bed on the adjoining wall was tossing and turning and the bed was hitting the wall and shaking my bed.  I instantly regretted being there and I wanted to go home.  In the dark I was bargaining with God, let me go home and I’ll never drink again.  I probably could have just called J and asked him to come and get me but by this time I realized what a stupid thing I had done and I was embarrassed and didn’t want to crawl home with my tail between my legs.  I spent 21 days and paid on the bill for 3 years and here I am almost 6 years later having spent almost the entire time drinking.  No more Ritalin ’cause the doctor won’t prescribe it to me since I’ve admitted to being an addict, and no more Xanax either.  I guess that’s one good thing that came out of it.  I suppose I could go to a different doctor but really, that would be just stupid.

I’ve lost so many days to drinking and recovering and being sick.  The number one best thing about being alcohol free is waking up every day without a hangover.  I hope I can remember this the next time I’m craving.  I read Alcohol Explained, I know what it does and what to expect and I don’t want to drink I just hope I can remember that shaking on the inside, that awful, horrible feeling of wanting to die just so the misery would end.

It’s just not worth it to me anymore.

Day 23.  I’m not going to drink today.

 

 

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What’s the deal with memory

I set off my home security alarm on Friday because I couldn’t remember the 4 digit code.  Four effing digits.  Once I entered it wrong the first time my mind refused to cooperate and there was no retrieving it.  As the alarm is blaring I’m running through the house to get B’s code from my room.  And there’s dog shit on the floor in the hallway.  I get the code in and the blaring stops and I proceed to clean up the shit but then of course the security company calls to check if I need assistance.  Nope, I’m just an idiot with a brain trying to recover from being subjected to too much poison for 20 years, thanks for checking.  I didn’t say that but that’s what I was thinking.  On a side note, I then go into my room to change my clothes and step in dog piss.  Stupid dog!

Then today, I can’t remember my zip code.  I know it’s one of two zip codes but can’t remember which one so I look it up (seriously!?!  fuck!) and I’m using the wrong one.  I completed the registration for B’s overnight camp and wrote the wrong zip code all over the place.

Last week J asked me to do two things the next day, both times I said I won’t remember.  He says, “you’re not even drinking.”  I said, “my alcohol brain recovering”.  He doesn’t believe that.  Ok, I’ve only been reading everything I can get my hands on about the effects of alcohol on the human body, but of course you assume you know it all.  I really resent that shit.

I get to work this morning and I’m really hungry, really looking forward to the bagel with ham and egg I packed.  But, sorry, I forgot it in the microwave.  I didn’t cook it in the microwave but I have an asshole cat who tries to eat anything on the counter as soon as we leave the room so I put everything in the microwave that people living in normal households would be able to just leave on the counter for 10 minutes.  So, my poor bagel is sitting in the microwave at home and I have to buy breakfast now.  Seriously?!?  Fuck!

And speaking of stupid dogs.  maggie dirtyThat same dog that can’t seem to understand that she needs to do her business outside chewed a hole in the pool I just bought, before I even had the chance to put air in the thing.   I rolled it out on the deck then went downstairs to get the electric air pump, spent 20 minutes blowing it up in the sun, 90°, sweat dripping off my face into the pool to discover it won’t hold air.  I was downstairs less than 10 minutes and she chewed a hole in it.  Maggie CleanAnd of course it’s not a hole that can be patched.  I told her she’s a fucking asshole; she looks at me charmingly.

I updated my nomo app to my real sobriety date.  I felt like I wasn’t being honest with myself about it and it was bugging me.  I was sober for a week then I drank on a Saturday, enough to wake up feeling shitty the next day.  I thought I could just do the days minus one since I was sober for a week before that, but it seems I need some kind of accountability and alcohol free means always alcohol free, I can’t just take a day off.  So, I’ve ACTUALLY been alcohol free for 15 days.  Now I have to adjust everything.  I have an app that counts down to certain days, 30, 90, 100 days and honesty applies everywhere so….

Today is sober day 15 and I’m not going to drink today.

I’m grateful for

  1. Sunny days
  2. Air conditioning
  3. Not being hungover

I Am a Duck

My heart is running a sprint inside my chest.  I’m worked up and I’m doing my best to just let it roll off because if I was drinking I certainly would have a drink in my hand right now.

Daughter 2 is living with her uncle (T5 of 6) and his wife (M) on her dad’s side (her dad and I have been divorced since 1993).  When I got drunk on March 23 and messaged her to come get her kids she asked if M could call me.  I talked to M for a bit but I was drunk and didn’t really want to hear what she had to say and don’t even remember the whole conversation.  Shortly after that, M friended me on Facebook.  I don’t have a problem with M or any of ex-husband’s family, so ok.

A few weeks ago M emailed me asking some questions about B who had recently stayed at her house (daughter 2 is Bs mother) and mentioned that daughter 2 has been sober almost 90 days, is going to AA, has a sponsor, is trying to get her license back and has 2 jobs.  I responded I’m happy to hear that but daughter 2 has hurt me too many times and I can’t allow that to happen again.

Today M posts on Facebook a picture of daughter 2 with her 3 kids and a glowing report of how great daughter 2 is doing and today is 90 days sober… she’s burned bridges etc, etc… she struggles but she’s sober…blah, blah, blah… and it’s easier to give up and decide people can’t change than to make your own life uncomfortable and reach out.  Everyone deserves grace.

Um excuse me, I certainly hope you’re not talking about ME because you have NO IDEA what this girl has done to my life!  nicholson finger NONE!  All you know is what she’s told you.  Glorious, glorious God in heaven, part the seas so daughter 2 can walk through.  Daughter 2 is one of the most manipulative people I HAVE EVER MET.  So, she may very well be doing all of those things but she has lied to me about all of that more than once.  I just had to comment…”huh!  it’s crazy how many times I’ve said or posted something similar. uncanny.”

It was burning me up!  And I was just working my self up into a rage. anger Then I thought, wait a fucking minute, why am I allowing her to control me again?  NO! NO! no, no, no, no, no!  I won’t allow it.  I AM A DUCK!  I am a fucking duck and I’m going to let this shit roll off my back because I don’t deserve this pain, I don’t deserve to be a miserable drunken wreck of a person.  I won’t let you do this to me any more.  I have to learn to handle these things without alcohol and without rage and without allowing it to permeate my very SOUL!

A fucking duck!

Sober day 10 (-1) and I’m not going to let anyone get to me enough that would ruin a good run at alcohol free.

I think I’m just going to go with 9, I’ll subtract the day and be done with it.

The 12 Steps According to Russell Brand

Reader and parental discretion is advised

From “Recovery, Freedom From Our Addictions” by Russell Brand

  1. Are you a bit fucked?
  2. Could you not be fucked?
  3. Are you, on your own, going to unfuck yourself?
  4. Write down all the things that are fucking you up or have ever fucked you up and don’t lie or leave anything out.
  5. Honestly tell someone trustworthy how fucked you are
  6. Well, that’s revealed a lot of fucked up patterns, do you want to stop it?  Seriously?
  7. Are you willing to live in a new way that’s not all about you and your previous fucked up stuff?  You have to.
  8.  Prepare to apologize to everyone about everything affected about your being so fucked up.
  9. Now apologize, unless that would make things worse.
  10. Watch out for fucked up thinking or behavior and be honest when it happens
  11. Stay connected to your new perspective
  12. Look at life less selfishly, be nice to everyone, help people if you can.

This book sounds like poetry, despite the profanity, which doesn’t bother me anyway.  I am very seriously, closely, familiar with the word fuck.

Five Point Guide to the Cycle of Addiction

  1. Pain
  2. Using an addictive agent to soothe and distract
  3. Temporary anesthesia or distraction
  4. Consequences
  5. Shame and guilt leading to pain or low self-esteem

 

Step 1 Exercises – Are you a bit fucked?

  1. What do I want to change? Drinking
  2. What pain or fear do I associate with change in this area?
  3. What pleasure am I getting out of not changing?
  4. What will it cost me if this doesn’t change?
  5. What are the benefits I could gain by having this changed?
  6. How has this problem placed my important relationships in jeopardy?
  7. Have I lost respect or reputation due to this problem
  8. Has this problem made my home life unhappy?
  9. Has this problem caused any type of illness?
  10. Do I turn to the type of person that enables me to practice this behavior or to companions that enable me?
  11. What part of the problem do the people who care about me object to most?
  12. What type of abuse has happened to me and others due to this problem?
  13. What have I done in the past to try to fix, control or change this area of my life?
  14. What other feelings emotions and conditions I’ve tried to alter or control with this problem?
  15. Right now, if this is such an important area in my life, why haven’t I changed?
  16. Am I willing to do whatever it takes to have this changed, healed, or transformed?
    1. I admit I am powerless over alcohol and that my life in this area is unmanageable.  I cannot, on my own, with my present understanding, consistently manage this problem.

 

Day 9 (-1)

I’m still having difficulty sleeping and concentrating. brain out of order  I have a lot of work to do but I can’t wrap my head around it.

I want to read so I’ll download a book and get distracted, then look for an audiobook and download that then think, well I should read while I’m sitting here and listen when I’m cooking or cleaning so I download another book then lose interest and check email, then try to solve a problem for a co-worker, then try to get back to a project that I need to get done but I don’t want to concentrate on the project, I just want to read, I think I need to make some sparkling water with frozen fruit so I make it with mango, brainfog multitaskugh that’s nasty, how about cherries, hey, is it mozzarella sticks time yet?

This run-on sentence was brought to you by recovery-brain!

This is my life right now.  So annoying!

Day 8 (-1)

I drank Saturday; I’m not going to feel bad and I don’t think it’s necessary to start over from day 1, so day eight minus one. Once again I declare that I don’t want this problem to define me.  I have an alcohol use disorder, alcoholic is not a label I wish to take on and with which to define myself.

In “The Sober Diaries” I’ve listened to “The Obstacle Course” obstacle multiple times and I’ve made note of the location in the audiobook so I can find it when I need it.  In summary, becoming a non-drinker is like getting from the dead, rainy, lifeless field in which I live to a beautiful, sunny field full of life and happiness.  I’ve never seen this field but folks who live there tell me that it exists and it’s awesome.  To get there I only need to get through an obstacle course.  I don’t know how many obstacles stand in my way and I don’t really know how difficult they may be.  I head to this unseen wonderland and beat the first few obstacles but get discouraged and go back to my lifeless but comfortable field.  I get tired of living in this awful field over and over again, each time getting over some of the obstacles in the course and each time getting discouraged and going back to my field.  When what I need to do is persevere because what I don’t know is that the obstacles get easier, and at around 100 days I’ll be able to see the wonderland field and at about 6 months I will likely reach it.

My goal is 101 days – taking into account my minus one.

I’m committed to this obstacle course and I will see that wonderful, sunny, beautiful field in 93 days.  I will live these 93 days whether I remain a non-drinker or not so I may as well get through the obstacles while I live them.

T minus 93 and I am a non-drinker. alcohol free I will live this day alcohol free.

 

Day 4

This is actually sober day 5 but since the day just started I guess I actually only have 4 days under my belt.  It shouldn’t matter, I’m not planning to have a drink.  I am taking it one day at a time,  turn the light onone minute at a time, but the plan thing has proven to be a saver in the past.  As long as I don’t have a plan to drink then I’m not going to drink, it’s when I get it in my brain that the sobriety will end some day that I cause myself trouble.  Again, it’s like smoking; to quit I had to convince myself that I’m not quitting smoking I AM A NON-SMOKER, it’s like looking at it in a positive way takes away the deprivation feeling.  Talk to a vegan about having “given up” animal products and he will most likely tell you he hasn’t given up anything, he’s gained a whole world of plant based foods to try.  Positivity!

In “The Sober Diaries” Clare Pooley epitomizes the idea of positive thinking.  I’m actually listening to it again because it’s what I need.  mother of dragonsRight now she’s talking about being Khaleesi, mother of dragons; strong, wise and beautiful.

You would never every see Khaleesi reach for the Chablis when in a spot of trouble. Oh no, she would let loose her army of Unsullied.  Khaleesi would never have a problem overcoming a little addiction.  This woman can walk through flames and come out unscathed. So now when the wine witch comes tapping on my shoulder, I picture Khaleesi and set free my three dragons who burn the evil bitch to a cinder without hesitation or wavering.

I AM A NON-DRINKER.