1. The Night I Quit Drinking. Again. But for real.: I’ve quit drinking many times over the years. My motto was and is “never quit quitting”. On February 15, 2016, I drank 1 1/2 bottles of wine and went to bed only to be woken out of my sleep (if you can even call it sleep because when I slept after drinking lots of alcohol, it felt more like wallowing fitfully on a bed of disappointment and regret) by a phone call with sobbing, confusion and drunkeness on the other end. I sobered up quick that night so I could counsel and console a loved one.
Lying in bed after the madness and mayhem settled down (like 4 AM), I knew that it was time. I couldn’t go on like this. I wouldn’t. I was done drinking.
I couldn’t watch alcohol tear up people in my life that I love and adore. I finally had to put on my big girl panties and get real with my own problem in an effort not to be a total hypocrite and to be sober minded enough to help others. I needed to start practicing what I preached.
So at 4 AM on February 16th, I dove into the internet for insight into sobriety. I was considering meetings and rehab, instead I discovered voices of others that spoke the unflattering truth about their addiction and recovery experiences directly into my soul. I signed up for Hip Sobriety’s 40 Day Mantra Project and started changing myself from the inside out. Most important insight durning my early sobriety (which I’m still in) were:
2. The Big Slow Down: Like I said, I had plenty of practice quitting. But this time was different…even though I said that every time I quit. I really credit my success to slowing down.
In my last post, I mentioned that my body, mind, soul, heart, and God Almighty got together and devised a secret plan to slow me the f**k down. I’d like to further elaborate on this, because it is key to me staying sober.
You see, I didn’t emerge from My Longest Winter like a little chipmunk from her cozy winter nest, all bright-eyed, bushy-bushy tailed and ready to greet the day. No, I had more of a deer caught in the headlights look. In fact, it took me a a couple months to realize that I was even out of the woods.
When I finally recognized and welcomed the end of my stress, I began to relax a tad, but would soon catch myself trying to wind back up and put things back on my plate: opening a second kitchensink location, and adding monthly wine & food paring dinners, to name a few.
Fortunately, a weird anxiety disorder I had developed over the past year stopped me. It became known to myself and family as “the thing”.
My life was falling into place. We had money in the bank. Our debts were on track to being paid off. Many problems had been solved, but the debilitating symptoms of the thing wouldn’t go away. For days and weeks at a time:
- tight heavy feeling in my chest
- shortness of breath
- squeeze in my heart and brain
- dizziness to the point of almost passing out
- numbness in my arms and legs
- loss of hearing
I sometimes can’t drive because of the thing. I feel like I’m on the verge of a heart attack for days, which exhausts me. I quit eating sugar: nothin’ changed. I stopped eating fried food and fast food and watched out for MSG: nothin’. Even when I stopped drinking, the thing kept going. Sometimes I’d get the thing in a stressful situation, other times not. Sometimes I’d get it while sitting all cozy on the couch with a cup of tea. It made no sense.
Tests were run, medications were tried, but in the end, my doctor, the gastroenterologist and the cardiologist all gave me a clean bill of health…so, I’ve just sort of learned to live with it.
The thing has made me slow down, stop putting new projects on my plate and start delegating a little more. I resisted this at first. I was a busy person. Too busy. I didn’t even relax on vacation! But that’s all changed. So much has changed.
In the big picture. the thing has allowed me time to heal, given me time to learn about addiction and develop new patterns. A blessing and a curse, for now.
Up next: Firsts: Semi-sabbatical, sober Halloween & road trip.
Thank you for listening. Stay slow.
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