The Most Popular Questions In My First 30 Days of Sobriety (and a little about myself)

I contemplated what I wanted my first few posts to be, because there are vastly different approaches I could take with this blog. I don’t want to get into the habit of only writing when I’m in a good place or only writing when I’m devastated. I want to be honest with you, and most importantly with myself. And that means I have to write all the time, even when I don’t want to. I have so many ideas that I end up being overwhelmed and not writing anything at all. I want to delve into this first by answering some of the questions I’ve received about my sobriety/life just to give some idea to who I am in my first 30 days.

Is this my first attempt at being sober? The long and the short of it is no, the first time I stopped drinking was in my teenage years. The second/third times I stopped I was in my early-mid twenties. This time around, I’m 28 and planning on sticking to it.

Why did I stop initially, why this time around? I had gotten black out drunk at 16 or 17 at a close friend’s party. I cheated on my first boyfriend/love with his best friend (the host of said party) and woke up in a bed with little to no memory of the evening. I didn’t drink/drank sparingly for the next 4 years. The reasoning behind the last couple times I stopped were less clear-cut but mainly centred around the crippling anxiety I felt the morning after a night of imbibing. The fear that I may have done something completely insane/hurtful/degrading that I couldn’t justify (or those awesome mornings when I realized I had in fact done one of those things).

This time around is the product of a few things. My drinking had progressively become out of control. I could handle myself for 3-6 months at a time. I’d keep my shit together every day until I would break after a particularly stressful work/life situation would arise. But I’d only let the heavy drinking happen once a month. Then once every couple weeks. Which quickly turned into once a week… which inevitably turned into more than once a week. And so on. I thought I could handle stress pretty well. I very rarely missed obligations, no matter how hungover or tired I was (usually a combination of both) and I always worked my ass off. I didn’t always do something dumb enough to think about quitting, until I did something shitty to the person I love several times in one week. I woke up the morning after the final drink clutching my phone, tears dried on my face, with no memory of why I felt so bloody terrified. Also with zero hangover. Blackout drunk with no hangover? Yikes, I know. Anyway, turns out I said some not-so-sweet things to my best friend/love of my life/Not-Boyfriend that were completely unwarranted, and borderline abusive, and I still couldn’t remember a damn thing. The last message I sent to him after he left my house (which I also don’t remember) was along the lines of ‘I’m so sorry. I love you so much. Goodbye I guess’.

How did I stop initially, how this time around? The first time I didn’t have to think about it. I was in high school, the problem was less severe because I wasn’t using alcohol as a way to treat depression, anxiety, abuse, whatever else. I drank because that’s what you did at teenage parties. It wasn’t frequent, it rarely happened more than once a month, and I didn’t think about it outside of those situations. My boyfriend at the time was aggressively straight forward with me about it; if I ever drank again outside of his presence, he’d destroy my life. He showed me he wasn’t bluffing by having me watch him beat the ever-loving shit out of his best friend because of our little indiscretion. It was easy after that. ‘Scared sober’ seems to be a fitting term.

The next couple times I stopped years and years after that douchebag and I broke up, I never truly thought I had a problem. I hated being hungover all the time. I hated being almost broke. And I hated being around every person I worked with 24/7. But who doesn’t despise those things? The friends I had worked, ate, and drank together. Hell, most of us ended up sleeping together at some point, too. Somehow I ended up in a serious long term relationship, getting a puppy who required a lot of attention and both of those things managed to keep me away from the bar. If I ever thought about drinking or drinking problems, it was never directed at myself, it was all about not turning into my mother (another topic I will reflect heavily on).  And then a few years down that road I lost ‘everything’. The man I loved turned out to be a complete turd, and boom went the dynamite. Fuckface and I had an explosive break up (yet another point to add on my list of possible therapy/blog topics), so while I lost him *boohoo*, I lost my shitty apartment and all it’s shitty furniture, I lost my brand new car, and I lost my beautiful pup, Lady. The latter being the only thing I tried to fight for. I didn’t realize I had lost something much more important that would take forever to regain, my self worth. Cue a frantic 8 months of heavy drinking followed by me moving as far across Canada as I could get.

This time stopping was a bit different. I had been struggling for a couple years with abusing booze. I have a history with depression and anxiety, the former taking the front seat for better part of my twenties. But it was a part of everyday life. It’s not easy to work in a bar and be sober. I always joked that this industry breeds alcoholics, and part of me still believes that. It’s physically and mentally demanding, high-stress, and filled with overactive personalities who have to serve the scum of the earth and pretend to respect them. It’s Go! Go! Go! every shift, and at the end of a long 8-10 hour day, a cold beer (or several) and a shot of Jameson (or several) seems like the best and only way to shut down. My entire social circle consists of people who either work in the industry or are regulars at our bar. Try the ‘I need to slow down on the sauce’ conversation with a group of people who individually spend 30-100 bucks on booze easily, every day. Anyway, I’ve hit many bottoms in the last few years, and my final one wouldn’t even be considered the worst of them, but it was enough for me. I had to stop. Stop or lose everyone you care about. Stop or destroy yourself from the inside out. To put it plainly, stop or lose your life. And that’s how I didn’t pick up another drink. That’s all I can tell myself in my current state; consciously and every single day, ‘Just Don’t Drink’.

How do I feel physically? I am rested after sleeping sober (a HUGE positive), but I’m still exhausted by the end of my day. Falling asleep sitting up by 1030 pm, that kind of tired. That’s normal, right?

I’ve had a fucked up back since I started serving many years ago, and achy feet are always a given after a busy shift, but those pains are amplified in my sobriety- sometimes I even wake up with them. Nothing to numb them out, no pain killers. Luckily, I didn’t have a physical dependence on alcohol, so I experienced little to no medical symptoms, save for sweating in my sleep for a night or two. But that could have also been due to the unseasonably warm evenings we had that week. Who knows.

Oh and I’m hungry, all the time. Sugar, carbs, fruit, veggies, anything. Put it all in my face. I am eating more than I have in years. And I’m not a big gal, I kind of pick at food like a bird. Not anymore! I’ve warned Roomie to watch out for this hungry, hungry hippo cause no food is safe.

How do I feel mentally? Excited. Terrified. Confident. Angry. Terrified. Envious. Humbled. Grateful. Terrified.

Notice the theme? I’m scared shitless. Everyday I take as it’s own, and that’s honestly all I can fucking do at this point. Other emotional rollercoasters I experienced/am experiencing include:

  • Uncontrollable crying. My depression makes me weepy sometimes (as does being a PMS-y ragey cuntzilla), but everything made me cry in the first week. Brief moment of happiness? Cry. Brief moment of discomfort? Cry. Interesting conversation with Roomie and/or Not-Boyfriend? Cry. Overwhelmed with work stress in the middle of the brunch rush? Cry (then get the fuck back on the floor). I think you get the picture.
  • Random streams of thought/consciousness. You don’t realize how much time there is in a day once you quit alcohol. How many hours you would lose even after only a couple drinks. The extra time in the day has yet to be filled with productive tasks (I’ll get there), but mostly it consists of thinking. Really elaborate, sometimes nonsensical, tangled layers of thoughts happening simultaneously. Sitting with whatever emotions I have at that time. Sometimes it feels like I’ve just done a couple lines of blow (something I’ve only touched thrice, and never really fell for) or for non-users/non-idiots, it feels like you’ve drank a quadruple espresso in one gulp. Kind of interesting, really. Can’t wait til I’m focused enough to harness it into something positive.
  • Sucky Baby Syndrome AKA Fragile Flower Syndrome. SBS or FFS is characterized by the absolute necessity of coddling, stroking and doting on me like a fucking child. If someone does/says the tiniest thing wrong I will break and blow apart like a fragile fucking flower. Can precede or follow a binge of junk food/netflix. I call this ‘I told you I had a heart, don’t you dare judge me’ time.
  • The rare comfortable quiet and solitude. Because of all the time I now have, I try to find moments where my head isn’t competing in the over-caffeinated Olympics and spend some time by myself. Usually this happens first thing in the morning while Roomie is still snoring like a chainsaw. Or it happens just after I hit the ‘Do Not Disturb’ button on my iPhone before bed. And if I find myself in the headspace to allow it to happen, I actually find I am relieved that I’ve let go of my addiction. I feel grateful that nothing bad happened while it had me, and I feel excited of the prospects that sober Lana will have in the future.

Things That Are Helping Me Stay Off the Sauce

When I first began to accept that alcohol and I weren’t really friends and never would be again, I wasn’t in a position to do the work to cut it out of my life. I tried taking it easy, limiting myself to only one or two, staying away from people who often drank with me/as much as me, consistently reminding myself of my mother in her worst days… I tried everything except actually stopping. Now that I have no more excuses left in me, and no more room for booze in my life, I have to cope with sobriety and my depression somehow. It’s daunting, it’s uncomfortable, and frankly it can be pretty awkward. But I took a look at the things I liked to do before drinking took over my free time, and I went from there. So here is a list for some of you that may be a little like me:

READING: I am a bibliophile. I always have been. That’s my true addiction. I have a book problem. I’m a librarian’s daughter, to boot. I’ve actually had serious arguments with partners about the stacks I come home with. “Where are we going to put them?! We just bought a new bookshelf, how is it already full?!” “How much did you spend on them today?!” That kind of thing. But for real, pick up a damn book! Make it about whatever you’re feelin’ that day. It could be your favourite book for the 50th time, or something new and daring. Just make sure it’s distracting and/or encouraging/reaffirming. Be kind to your brain, especially while your emotions are fucking about and your vice is still screaming at you from the next room. Pick your book, make a coffee/tea and remember how much you don’t miss having a fucking hangover. Soon I will have a list of sobriety/addiction related books to recommend, but until then do your own research! It’s time-consuming, yes, but that’s something I hope for, it keeps me occupied. I spent hours on the internet looking for resources in my first week. If you don’t want to deal with actual paper books, read this blog, this blog, and this blog. Those are the ones that had some of the most inspiring (and brutally honest) words for me in my first days, although not all of their belief systems align with my own, they have some good shit to say.

WRITING: I have always spent time writing how I feel. I went through phases of quiet with it, mostly because I was too shitfaced to form coherent sentences, but eventually it became something I had to do. Hemingway (a fuck of a drunk himself) said “write hard and clear about what hurts”, and while I’m currently trying to stop taking advice from addicts (ahem), I think this one is a safe and relevant bit of truth. You don’t have to start a blog, you don’t have to show anybody your words, you don’t even have to form complete thoughts. But write it the fuck down. All of it. Yes, the ugly things too. I promise you there will be a few moments in your early recovery, where you remember an event that makes your entire body cringe, and the only way to get rid of it is to WRITE IT OUT. So then get one last shudder out, laugh about it, and forgive yourself. Be thankful that you are no longer there/that person. Writing helps us move on. So be honest and let it do its job.

LISTENING/SLEEPING/MEDITATING:  This is a three for one, cause they all blend together in a way. I’m a foul-mouthed, science-minded atheist, who likes to believe she’s open to new things, a ‘free thinker’ of sorts. I intrinsically have a dislike of the hokey, often laughable, spiritual realm. Things like astrology, numerology, superstitions, ‘naturopathic/alternative’ medicine, the anti-vaccine movement and so on, make me want to scream in frustration and run in the opposite direction. They also make me want to wholeheartedly punch David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe in the throat. So knowing that, people are wary to recommend things to me. Nobody has pushed for me to try out AA, which is something I wrote off long ago…(I have a few problems with the 12 steps that I don’t think I could get over, even if I were to gloss over the big G part of it ).***I know the whole program/steps thing works for a lot of people, I’m probably in the minority by not wanting anything to do with it. I am not shitting on any of you/AA itself. I’m merely saying it ain’t my bag- but I’m stoked if it’s yours!*** Thankfully nobody has dared tell me to surrender myself to a higher power. However, my rational and unforgiving head space clearly didn’t do me any favours while I was drinking, so I figured I’d try something outside of my comfort zone.  A hippy-dippy (and lovely) friend of mine told me about guided meditation. She’s a hella in-touch-with-herself type. A yoga teacher/cult leader (just kidding about that last part). I said I’d try it as long there was no chanting, to which she laughed and told me that would come in later sessions. This one in particular was for “deep sleep”. I eye-rolled my way through the intro, did what was asked of me and much to my surprise, I slept like the fucking dead. The reason that this is surprising is because I’m an insomniac. When I do sleep it is poor quality, very light and usually only in 45 minute intervals. I did this meditation every night, for 7 days straight. And it bloody worked. 7-8+ hours of rest, nightly. While this miraculous sorcery somehow did it for me, it doesn’t mean I will give in to the rest of the crap that often follows the statement “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual”. It does mean is that I can no longer write off the power of having a clear mind and a good fucking sleep. Us drunks so rarely have that privilege, and if we do it generally comes at cost- our dignity. So many thanks to my patient spiritual friend, who has taught me to faithfully shut my huge mouth for 20 minutes before bed to relax every muscle in my body and clear my mind to let sleep take over. Moral of the story: listen to your friends, partners, parents, people on podcasts, whomever is trying to get through to you, and try some new shit! Whatever you have to do to be kind to your body and brain, to rest. Even if it sounds dumb as fuck and you don’t think you have the time for it- I know you do, don’t even try that on me. You’ll never know if the lock is going to open until you try all the keys, y’know? Perhaps that’s too cheesy or poetic for you… how about this- what the fuck else do you have to lose?

SHOUT OUTS/HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

  • Coffee
  • Unconditionally loving Roomie
  • Sigur ros/music in general
  • Hot showers
  • Netflix

 

Procrastination Police

Written on May 11, 2017

Humans have an arsenal of excuses and justifications for putting things off. It could be that we’re too busy, too tired or too whatever. But we find reasons to not do something or leave it to be dealt with when it’s appropriate. The ultimate lie we repeat to ourselves and those around us is that “it’s not the right time” or “I don’t have the time”. It could be something small; personally I am fond of this excuse for doing my taxes, going to get groceries, going to the dentist, and calling my mom and dad. it could also be something with larger consequences; leaving your marriage, having a child, moving, changing your career, and in my case- quitting drinking. Whatever the task is at hand, we will find a way to avoid it until we absolutely cannot anymore. And this is where I found myself, I left my drinking problem until it could not be put off any longer. Everyday I’m dusting off something that led to my descent into drunkenness. Honestly, I’ve left plenty of other problems to fester until they start to fuck with me. When we do this, our shit has a tendency to rear it’s ugly head at the most inopportune times.

Case and point from my repertoire of personal shit: denying intense romantic feelings for a close friend while trying to reconcile with my ex. Cut to a few minutes in to make up sex, the emotional dam releases and suddenly a seemingly joyous moment is marred by gut-wrenching sobs and the realization that hope for this rekindled relationship has abruptly died because of unresolved/unexplored feelings for the other man. Yep, crying during sex. That was a first for me, albeit a relatively mild case of avoided troubles haunting yours truly. Had I just been honest initially with myself, my boyfriend, and maybe the other man too; I would have been sad and it would have been extremely uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t have hurt myself (or him) the way that I did. Had I said to myself 6 months earlier, ‘cut the shit, girl, we both know this isn’t just a crush’ I could have skipped over the cringe-worthy sex experience, too. Despite what I used to tell myself (and continually joke with Roomie about), nobody wants to fuck a sad girl.

I’ve struggled with procrastination for as long as I can remember but as I become increasingly clear-headed in sobriety, I see the flaw in this mechanism. Sure, shit is tedious and can be downright awful to handle sometimes (maybe even all the time) but that doesn’t mean we get to take a pass on it. Distractions can be just as detrimental as those lovable numbing agents! It damages us to pretend that our problems aren’t big enough to deal with à la minute. How can we start to build ourselves back up after a painful or changing experience/traumatic event if we shove the entire thing into a dusty corner ne’er to be seen again? Even worse, we convince ourselves it’s not a problem and we don’t ruminate on it longer than 30 seconds, only to be blindsided by it on some random afternoon 2 years later.

The unfortunate truth is that there’s no commitment in saying “I’ll deal with it later/when I have to”. Sometimes it’s necessary, of course, to put things off for a bit, but there should be a timeframe in mind. We say “I’ll get to it eventually” all the while hoping that it wraps itself up neatly in the meantime. So we don’t ever have to actually do the thing! All of this boils down to our fear/disgust/distaste for cleaning out the attic, the ignored parts of our psyche. Well, to that I say tough fucking tits! Nobody likes dealing with the painful shit, but nobody gets to run away from it either. When I think back to the rare time I appropriately handled an issue, I remember how well I slept the night of. I remember having so much more space in my heart and head for new things (sometimes new problems, too). So that’s how I remind myself when things get ugly and I want to burrito in bed forever. I remember how fucking good it feels to work through something diligently, so it can never come back to kill me one day.

Let’s be real, I can’t be the only one who craves the relief that comes once we cross something off of our infinite to-do list. In thinking about all this over the past few weeks, I’ve decided to make a deal with myself to take accountability and stop avoiding the big shit. The uncomfortable shit. The inconvenient shit. It’s time for me to start checking off the boxes. It’s a bit of an endeavour to be sure, but worthwhile ultimately to be able to sigh once I have put things in their respective places and moved the fuck on from them! Same goes for the accumulated clutter/big to-dos in our houses, cars, work places, actual attics. Lay it all out in the open, work through the complicated parts. Then box up the rest and put it where it belongs. Garbage or storage. No more crap or parts of our sanity living in limbo. If the task seems too great, remember you can (and should) take it one thing at a time and one day at a time. Go easy on yourself, take it slow, and pat yourself on the back every inch of progress that you make. If this emotionally crippled recovering drunk can do it, so can you.

And with that I’m off to get my taxes dealt with, make a grocery list, and book a dentist appointment. I’ll leave calling mom and dad to another day, as I’m only so brave. One thing at a time.

What I wrote before I created this blog.

Written May 5, 2017

I don’t know where to start this so I guess I just will. I have a drinking problem. In an earlier writing, I proclaimed that May 1st 2017 would be the day I start my new life. I was both right and wrong in believing this. Wrong because it isn’t moving on from my pseudo-relationship that has been the main event of the past couple years. Right because I woke up one recent morning realizing that I couldn’t pretend anymore. I don’t have it under control, I never did. The whole wanting-to-die-depression situation. The whole drink-til-I-can’t-remember-where-I-live thing (that’s a fun disturbingly true story that I will get into at some point). I honestly don’t know whether one caused the other, it’s something I’ll have to explore further on this uncomfortable and daunting journey.

I do know that my depression and drinking problems both live together in the mess of my head, and they LOVE each other. They were constantly fucking around together and dragging me along for the ride. I was the worst kind of third wheel. I woke up on April 26th and finally cracked my heart open to let some light in. Because guess what, these two things live in me and love in me but neither of them fucking love ME. Booze made me vomit (sometimes literally) all of the ugly that danced around in my depths. It splattered all over my friends, partners, and loved ones (figuratively). It caused me to hurt and betray almost everybody I hold dear. I still kept it close to me, though, because it also made me forget how utterly alone I feel. It was always going to be there! I could literally buy it from a store, a loneliness solution buffer! It was my friend even if I was sitting at a bar full of strangers. Or by myself on the couch. Or on a crazy party night that I felt too inept to navigate sober. But I always had the same morning after, to an extent. It was inevitably spent trying to figure out how my night ended, searching through my phone for texts, FB messages, even Instagram likes (!) to decipher what kind of mental state I was in before I passed out, fully clothed and/or on my face in bed- but hey, at least I felt less alone for (maybe) an hour before I got too drunk to make face with the people around me.

It wasn’t all bad, a lot of it was, but there are memories that don’t make me want to die when I recall them. There were good times that I will continue to laugh/cringe/look back on with a smile. Those nights that forged incredible and important friendships/loves/new beginnings/etc. Other nights were neither inspiring nor discouraging. Sometimes I did just get kind of tipsy, and I would remember nearly everything that transpired. Nothing necessarily ‘bad’ would happen, but I have a hidden person in me that I like to call the Shame Spiral Shaman. I can find a source of humiliation in the most light-hearted of drunk girl bathroom talk. My friend coins this as ‘the cringe binge’. I think the term ‘shame spiral’ is more accurate, because everything moves a lot faster for me while I’m experiencing it. Dizziness. Headache. Nausea. The remembrance of lots and lots of tears. An ocean of drunk sad girl moments that made even my make-up try to crawl away from me. The next day whether at work or at home was always spent trying to backtrack or apologize and beg anyone who was privy to the evening to shut the hell up and never tell me or anyone else about the night ever fucking again.

I realize I’m saying all of this very laissez-faire; super casual right? Let me be clear, I’m fucking petrified. I’m scared I won’t be able to do it, I’m scared I won’t be loved because of it, I’m scared I’ll have to quit my job because of it, I’m scared I’ll turn into one of those obnoxious asshats walking around Commercial Drive preaching about light/love/jesus/satan/whatever because of it. I’m just scared. I’m also furious. Why the fuck can everyone else have a beer and I can’t? Why the fuck can everyone else STOP after one glass of wine and I can’t? Why me, wah-wah-wah. I tried to stop the pity party over and over again but continued to find myself in alcohol’s arms. But here I am now, day 10 of sobriety. Different than any other day 10 I’ve gone through before, because this one’s for me.


This is a short introduction into what ‘bottom’ brought me to sobriety. Not my first bottom, but hopefully my last. I am in my early days of recovery but I am confident that with the right tools, an encouraging support system, and a healthy amount of honesty; I will be able to put my addiction where it belongs- in my past.