Moving Forward.

Since my one year soberversary, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks thinking about this blog and whether or not I wanted to keep it going. I had a blog many years ago, but life moved too fast and I let it go unused. Blogging about my sober journey is very important to me, but I don’t want to always talk about the not drinking aspect of it. So I think that, moving forward, I’d like to focus on all of the things that are allowing me to maintain and keep progressing in this flourishing dry life.

What kinds of things you say? Well, health, nutrition and fitness are very important to me, as is my spiritual journey. In the book, Integral Recovery, John Dupuy talks about how in order to maintain the healthy foundation, “we must also embrace a practice that is Integral, that includes the five essential lines, body, mind, heart, soul, and ethics.” I believe that these five essential lines are the foundation of my sobriety, my life, and I want to share more about those areas in the hopes that it will help others out there who are walking a similar path.

So thank you for reading and checking in on my posts, how infrequent they have been, and I hope that you stay a while and follow along. I look forward to becoming a more active blogger in the coming year!

P.S.ย  I’ve started an Instagram page dedicated to this blog and sharing my journey, if you’d like to follow me, my handle is @theflourishingdrylife

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Reflections on One Year of Sobriety

Wow. The day is FINALLY here. One year ago, I decided that I would give up drinking for Lent, and then promptly fell down the rabbit hole of sober recovery on the internet, and here I am. I thought that if I could go 40 days without drinking, that would be enough to get my life “back on track” and moderation would be easy! But as I read sober blogs, and books about giving up alcohol, I realized that this was the thing I needed to change in my life for the foreseeable future, and 40 days just wasn’t going to cut it. After going through the death of my grandmother, something inside of me woke up and kept whispering that it was time, this was my chance. And so I quietly stopped drinking.

It was easy to tell people in the beginning that I gave it up for Lent, there were usually no questions after that, but as the months wore on, people started inquiring more about what I was doing. And I’ll say, that 99% of my friends and coworkers supported me 100%, most were just curious as to why I would make this decision to begin with. Questions like, “Oh, do you have a problem?”, or “Trying to get pregnant, huh?”, “Still not drinking?”, became the new normal. It’s interesting that my decision to take an extended drinking break led to people telling me about their own history with drinking, why they were ok, or why they knew they themselves had issues, but could never fathom living their life without it, even if they knew it was trouble. That New York City lifestyle I mentioned before is no joke!

I have observed over this past year how nearly anything and everything we do as New Yorkers can be attached with drinking. There are whole day festivals dedicated to wine for God sakes! (Pinknic festival anyone? The literal manifestation of “Rose’ all day”) There is a whole culture of drinking that a) I think most people don’t even realize they are a part of, and b) don’t realize that they don’t have to be a part of.

That was my radical step to my own personal freedom. Removing myself from the culture. I didn’t want to slowly sink lower and lower to the bottom until it was too late to pull myself back up. I realized that it wouldn’t be easy, heck, it’s still not easy, to be the one on the “outside” looking in. I mean, not one of my friends has quit drinking, although I suspect some are privately trying to cut back/make changes. My favorite thing is when I’m actually at a bar (which has happened less and less over this year), drinking my ginger beer or seltzer or mocktail and THAT’S when my drunk friends want to know all about my sobriety. I have to laugh!๐Ÿ˜‚

But in all seriousness, removing alcohol completely from my life has allowed me to take leaps and bounds in my own personal growth. I don’t have to spend any mental energy trying to ‘moderate’. If I’m out with friends and everyone else is drinking, I don’t feel any pangs of longing anymore. I’m still socially awkward for those first 30 minutes or so, but eventually I warm up and I’m focused on connecting with my friends, either through conversation, or breaking it down on the dance floor. And the best thing about it all is that I can slip away when I start to see those drunk changes in people that let me know conversation is now useless. I go home, and wake up the next morning ready to face another day with a clear head.

Sobriety has given me my time back. I have been able to bring to the forefront so many things I had put on the back burner over the years. Rebooting my career, a renewed focus and commitment to my health and fitness, finding time for spirituality, meditation, church, and keeping the focus on my marriage and those friendships I hold close to me. Actually having fun, and remembering the fun I had! I did the big chop (chopping off my relaxed hair and choosing to grow out my natural texture) this year, something I almost did 10 years ago, but was too afraid to make a change. I feel like I’ve literally shed layers of myself that were holding me back, and I look in the mirror at a changed woman.

So, here’s to year one, journeying through so many firsts. And I think my focus over the next year is to keep finding joy in my life in as many ways as I can, find solace in the quiet moments, and to keep setting goals and pusuing my dreams, because I am the change I wish to see in my life.

For those of you out there just starting out, or thinking about it, here are a few things that have helped me maintain the routine and lifestyle of living the flourishing dry life over the past year:

I subscribed to Belle’s sober podcast which I listen to when I work out at the gym. In the beginning, I also joined her 100 day sober challenge, and then her 180 day challenge. I also read her blog from the first post right until I caught up. She has been a huge help in keeping me on this path!

-Stop over at her site and just read all the blog posts. She opened up a new world for me in that there were other ways to approach my recovery/sobriety. She has a plethora of resources for those who are just starting out. Check out her Instagram as well.

  • https://soberistas.com is a great one because it is a community full of regular people sharing their stories throughout all stages of recovery
  • Home podcast, which features Holly from Hip Sobriety and another amazing woman, Laura McKowan (http://www.lauramckowen.com) is a great resource. They just talk through so many things that spoke to me throughout this past year
  • Instagram- I have turned my Instagram feed into a sober support network, following tons of people who are sober and proud and living out loud. @drybeclub is a great one to start with and you can find so many others from there.
  • Books: These were all game changers for me!

The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking (Allen Carr)

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget (Sarah Hepola)

Integral Recovery (John Dupuy)

Kick the Drink…. Easily!(Jason Vale)

This Naked Mind (Annie Grace)

Reflections on 18 weeks….

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Here I am, 18 weeks sober. Best. Decision. Ever. I just can’t believe that I really thought that life was better with alcohol. It isn’t. Nothing feels better than waking up everyday with a clear mind, a body that is ready for anything, and peace.

I’m managing to navigate hanging out with friends (and a husband) who still drink, and whenever I feel a twinge of fomo, all I have to do is wait until they’re all on the 3rd drink and then I see the change that I never want to experience again. Knowing that they’ll have a harder time getting up in the morning and accomplishing anything. I don’t miss that. I seriously thought that the conversations I had while drunk were so profound, funny, interesting. Jeezus. They aren’t! They never were, but when everyone is in the same state, you never find out the reality. I feel good knowing that I can leave at any time, go home, read a little, and fall asleep with zero problems. I’m also learning to say no to hanging out as well, because honestly, if people are just planning to go to a bar and drink, I have no interest anymore. I need activities if I’m going to be around people who are drinking. So I’ve gone bowling, or gone to Beyonce dance parties, or out to see some live music. Stuff that I always enjoyed but forgot that I don’t need to be drunk to do. It was scary at first though. I remember the first time I went to the movies I cried because I wasn’t going to bring a roadie(s) (rum + diet coke) with me and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through it. A freaking movie! But once you do it, you realize that it’s okay and it’s nice to actually leave the theatre remembering how the movie ended. Once you do it, you realize that you can go out bowling then get up the next morning for an 7am barre class.ย 

Freedom. That’s what this feels like. I’ve been following Danielle LaPorte’s work for the last 2 years, and have been doing something called desire mapping. You find words that describe how you want to feel everyday, and you build your life from there. Freedom has been on my list of words for quite a while, but I never managed to feel that way in my life. And now I realize that alcohol was keeping me in a cage, without me even realizing it. The day I stopped drinking was the day I realized I had the key to leave all along. Don’t get it twisted- it’s not all a pink cloud 24/7. I have had more than a few moments of struggling with being severely uncomfortable and crippling anxiety, because I realize that I don’t know how to deal with all of my feelings yet. So that is something that 4.5 months in I’m finally starting to delve into, to figure out. I’ve never been good at feeling my feelings, unless they are good ones (surprise surprise). Before I had an alcohol problem, I struggled with bulimia. I think I traded one for the other. So there is a lot of work to be done. But this time, I want to do the work. I want to dive in and know all the parts of me, even the not so great ones. So, with all that said, here’s to the next 18 weeks!

Reflections on changing friendships….

I’m a firm believer that everything that happens in our life has a lesson to teach us, whether we realize it at the time or not. This whole journey into sobriety has honestly, been much easier than I thought. But I realize now that as far as certain friendships go, I’ve been avoiding them. You see, I am a full time cater waiter and a part time musical theatre performer. I went through a period of about 5 years where I wasn’t focused on auditioning or booking shows. I went to auditions, but not as many as I should have. I was focused on other things, namely becoming more financially stable and getting married. I booked a show last year finally, and although it was a short experience, I made a bunch of new friends.

The thing about this is, during this time and the months that followed, my drinking sky rocketed. I thought that I would go away to do this show and take a break from drinking. The complete opposite happened. My whole cast liked to party. And I partied every night. I was confusing my desire to have fun and break the shackles of catering with getting fucked up every night and making bad decisions. And this behavior carried through the summer and then the fall, right through the winter. But I was determined to develop these friendships that I had made during the show, and that meant going out more, partying, and ignoring the warning signs that perhaps I was being a little extra in my pursuit of being the fun, young, carefree girl. I neglected my marriage, choosing to go out and party with my young, handsome gay friends until the wee hours of the morning, sometimes not coming home. My friends made me feel free and fun, and life wasn’t so boring anymore. I was “free” but what I was really doing was trying not to feel anything, because I was unhappy with the state of myself deep down inside. There were countless mornings that I woke up and felt regret, shame, and reality setting in that this wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing anymore, but what would happen to these friendships if I pulled away?

Enter sobriety. I was invited to a birthday party in which they were also invited to. The last time I saw this particular group of people, I was drinking, so this was the first time I’d be seeing everyone. I asked the bartender if he made mocktails and he made me a great one, so I had the drink in my hand and most people didn’t notice. A few asked me what I was drinking, or asked to try it only to be surprised there was no booze in it. Then my closer friends showed up. The last time I saw my one friend, we were crying drunk watching the last few episodes of This Is Us. He knew I was ‘taking a break’ but he was surprised to see that I was still on a break. He went on to say that I should be done with my break at this point, that I could moderate and just couldn’t understand my choice to keep going. Awkward. So I try to have fun, and I am for most of the time. I see my friends chugging drinks and taking shot after shot after shot, and although I feel a little left out of the ‘bonding’, I have no desire to drink.

A little later on, clearly drunk, he starts talking to me about his birthday in a few months. He wants to have it in Vegas. I’m invited. But I have to drink. I tell him that most likely I won’t be drinking. And he keeps pushing the point that I must drink, it’s his birthday. I tell him again that I don’t think I’ll be drinking but Vegas still sounds fun, since I love to dance my face off. He gets agitated, and goes on a diatribe about how it’s cute when sober people hang for happy hour, but after a while it gets weird when the party is really starting. And then he says that if I’m not drinking, I shouldn’t bother coming at all. And I just felt like I was punched. I went to the bathroom and couldn’t stop crying. My worst fear was realized. The thing I was scared of the most: my friends not wanting to be around me anymore if I wasn’t drinking. That I wasn’t fun anymore. That I was different. I was in the bathroom for probably 10 minutes trying to calm myself down. I just knew in that moment I needed to leave the party. Just get out of there. I told him that if our friendship was dependent on my drinking, then I guess we weren’t friends, and I left.

I just felt so upset. I guess I had been pushing that fear to the side and refusing to entertain the notion that some of my friends just wouldn’t be supportive. He had expressed the thoughts that I was having but refused to acknowledge.

Things are changing. I am different now, and my lifestyle is shifting to reflect this change. My relationships are changing and I’m not sure where some of them are headed. The friendships that I’ve made in the last year are the ones that are likely to change the most. These people haven’t known me for long, they’ve known only one version of me unlike some of my other long time friends, so I’m not sure if they’ll survive.

I’ve read a lot of sober blogs and articles and they all seem to agree that yes, you will lose friendships, but perhaps those friendships weren’t strong to begin with. I’d rather have 2 or 3 close friends than a bunch of friends who can’t accept who I am at this point in my life. It’s just not worth it. #nonewfriends (unless they’re sober ;-))

Reflections on 7 weeks…

If someone would have asked me 8 weeks ago if I would seriously consider never drinking again, I would have laughed in their face. I would have said that everyone has a vice, and mine is booze. And my rationale would have been- hey, at least I’m not a smoker or a drug addict, right? Silly me. These last 7 weeks have opened my eyes completely. It’s overwhelming to think of where I stand right now and how quickly the fog has lifted.

My life revolved around drinking. I have a close set of friends that are hard partying drinkers, and every other day (who am I kidding? every day) there was an excuse to drink. Long day at work? Drink. Friend working at a bar, can get us free drinks? Drink. Going to work? Drink. At work (I am a cater waiter and itโ€™s kind of a sub culture for people to get drunk at events while working)? Drink. Going shopping? Drink! Going to the movies? Drink! Getting ready to go out? Drink! Hanging out at home watching TV? Drink! Bring a roadie full of booze anywhere and everywhere (you can drink on the subway and always take an uber home). No one will know. Not even that I was getting drunk all of these times, it was just a full blown habit, a routine developed over the last 7 years. On vacation? Drink e-ver-y-day. And I was completely okay with this for a long time.

When I was struggling to try to actually stop drinking, Lent was the only way that I could get my head around not drinking everyday. If I could make it through Lent, that would mean that there was no problem, and I could go back to drinking, but way less than before. That was the original plan. And then I started to google. God bless the internet. Just google “sober for Lent”, and then fall down the rabbit hole. Soon I started finding all of the sober blogs, and I devoured each and every one of them. I started reading books: This Naked Mind, Kick the Drink Easily, The Easy Way for women to stop Drinking, Integral Recovery. I started to find a sober community on instagram, of people who were choosing the #drylife. People who hadn’t necessarily hit a bottom, but wanted to make a change before they inevitably got there. And people who had hit their bottom, and had to make a change. And over these last seven weeks I feel like now that I’ve seen what’s out there, now that I’ve had my eyes opened, I can’t close them again. And instead of dread, or a feeling of loss, I feel very hopeful, like I have a second chance at so many things. To stop hiding in a glass and start living, even if it scares me to get to know who I am without a dark & stormy in my hand…

A Start…

I needed to make a change. To take a step. To listen to that small, still voice deep down inside that’s been popping up more and more over the last year or so. The one that keeps telling me, every time something isn’t quite going right, every time my body goes through something that it shouldn’t be. ‘You need to take a break from the booze. That’s the only thing you refuse to change. And it’s the only thing that is going to help you change.’

My grandmother passed away on February 17th this year. She suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for the last 12 years. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemies. It robbed her of life. It was a slow, painful death for the whole family. I didn’t think I would be so upset because she was finally at peace when she left us, but it hit me very hard. I couldn’t help thinking of all the times that I blacked out while drinking, and how it was becoming more and more frequent over the last half year or so. Here was my grandmother, who essentially slipped into a 12 year blackout, and I was choosing to do this? I’m already very aware of the fact that I may suffer from Alzheimer’s one day. I’m 32, so how many years would I have until that final blackout? 30? 40? And- again- I was CHOOSING to ingest something that kept me from forming memories and calling it a good time?

So, on Friday, March 3rd, I said no more. It’s imperative that I stop handing over my memories, my life. I will not say this is forever, though it feels that way, but I can at least try this out, experience my whole, full life for the next year, and then see if I really want to go back to that #blackoutlife.