The Newsletter

I wrote recently about moving to my new site, The Truth of Being Us, and I did consider for a time if I might continue to use this space to write. I have decided to focus all efforts on that site and don’t intend to write here any longer. With that being said, I continue to receive comments and followers here, so I intend on keeping this space active in the event any of the content that remains helpful for others. Given that the new site is not on a WordPress platform, if you’d like to receive my monthly newsletter that compliments The Truth of Being Us website, I encourage you to visit here to sign up. I’ll send an update each month with links to a couple of recent posts, podcast and book recommendations and other helpful resources. That’s it. Simple and limited, so no annoying fluff bogging down your inbox (I hope!).

Thank you, again, to everyone who has followed along here. I am grateful for every one of you and hope to stay connected.

-Tracie

recovery alcoholism women

Just One Drink

I announced my move to the new site, The Truth Of Being Us, a couple of weeks ago. However, given how many of you still follow me in this space, I will overlap a few posts between the sites for a period of time. Last week, I shared the experience below. Please also remember, I would love to share any of your experiences on the new site. It can be something you’ve already written or something completely new. The important thing is that it can be raw, imperfect and anything recovery related that you want it to be. Our stories connect us and support others, I would love for you to be a part of that.

-Tracie

Just One Drink – From The Truth of Being Us – 9/8/18

Sitting in the back of an Uber watching the Boston skyline pass me by, I’m considering how easy it would be to have just one drink once I made it to the airport. A cool glass of white wine would take the edge off the discomfort I’ve been feeling for two days. It would ease the pain I’m carrying after a stress-induced muscle spasm set up residence in my back and neck. That one drink would open the door to relaxation and allow me to stop caring about the heavy work load and lack of sleep I’m up against.

It would be so simple. I’ll slide into an airport bar in a city where no one knows me. Move in quickly, finish my one glass and move on without anyone being any wiser. I don’t have to tell a soul. It could be my little secret. What harm would just one drink do anyway? It will make me feel better long enough to get through the flight and back to the comfort of home. Sleep on my own pillow and a soak in my bathtub are a few hours away. If one glass of wine can bridge the gap to that place, then it might be worth it.

Stepping onto the curb and making my way through the airport check-in, I can see that glass touching my lips. The one drink that will make everything more bearable. I am going to go for it. Yes. I’ll have that one drink. It’s only going to be the one. I’m attending She Recovers in a week. Do I feel guilty? A little – but forget about that. It’s not like there is some law that requires an announcement that I cheated. Do we call it cheating? No, I think we call it relapse. Oh, come on. Is it a relapse if it’s only one? For crying out loud, it’s only one drink, I can live with that. Will I have to change my sobriety date? I don’t want to start over. Not if I keep my mouth shut. That probably isn’t a very good thought to have, but I can’t even lift my bag to my shoulder. One drink will fix that.

Collecting my bag at the end of the security line, I can see it. A bar to my left and an open stool in between those people laughing and sipping on their cocktails. I can be one of them, anonymous and happy at the airport bar. Yes, that is was I need right now. It’s been so long that just one drink will probably kick in fast and maybe even a little hard, if I’m lucky. I remember the feel of that buzz in my body, but there must be another bar closer to the gate.

There it is. The bar at the end of the corridor and my gate right behind it. This is it. This is the one. I’ll venture in and back out so fast that I might not have to even consider what I’ve done. I’ll have my drink and perch myself in a chair to enjoy the ride until boarding. This is my chance. I can be like everyone else and have a drink at an airport bar. I know this will be temporary, but that’s all I need right now. Just a moment to make me feel better. Am I going to regret this afterwards? I can pretend like it never happened, can’t I? Just one drink. A quick fix until I make it home. It’ll be like taking an aspirin. Won’t it?

Stopping first into the store next to the bar makes the most sense. I need water for the flight and don’t want to run out of time. Water first, then my one drink. That giant bag of Sour Patch Kids looks awfully enticing. I’ll take those, too. I’ll take those all the way to my seat at the gate. Legs, please keep walking.

This was me on Wednesday and all the ridiculous chatter that was going on in my head over the span of about 20 minutes. This is the kind of internal dialogue that people in recovery battle. Yes, I am nearly 7 months sober and here I was, wanting a drink in such a strong way that I considered going against everything I believed in to get it. I wanted to be like everyone else and have my one drink because it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. The reality is, it happens to be a very big deal for me. It likely wouldn’t have been just one drink. I know where this path leads and it isn’t one that I want to ever find myself on again. Fortunately, this scenario doesn’t happen often at this stage in my sobriety, but it does still happen. It may continue to happen for the rest of my life, but if I’m lucky, I’ll continue to choose sugar when it does.

Thank you to the makers of Sour Patch Kids for supporting my recovery

The Truth of Being Us

It feels like a lot has happened since my last post just a few short weeks ago. Besides remaining active on Instagram – my favorite social media outlet these days – I was a little low key in other areas. To say I have some catching up to do on blog reading and writing is a bit of an understatement. During this brief stepping back period, I’ve made a handful of big life decisions and announcements, in addition to putting a lot of work into a project I’ve been toying with for months. In the event you have any interest, a quick recap is below – and possibly the biggest update is the last one.

8/18: I made a powerful decision about my job. I need to dig down and find some strength and any remaining patience that might exist, but to have come to terms with the situation and a decision on how to handle things has already made me feel like a different person.

8/19: I announced that I’m now officially a certified professional coach and I’m currently undergoing training for certification as a recovery coach. I’ve been slowly working through this for a few months and haven’t talked much about it. While it hasn’t exactly been a secret, I wasn’t inclined to put it out into the world until now. This training is just the beginning of much work still to come, but I’m proud to be making small steps towards something that I feel called to do. I’ve had the desire to coach in some capacity since long before getting sober, but it is with sobriety that I can see the path much more clearly now. It is in sobriety that I am finally making things happen.

8/20: I celebrated my 6-month sobriety anniversary – wahoo! This half-year milestone felt huge to me. It seemed to arrive quickly while being painfully slow at the same time. I can’t explain how that is even possible, but if you’ve been through it, you can probably relate. Maybe that’s what happens when time is full of struggles and joy all at once. The best part these days is that the joy has begun to far outweigh the struggle.

8/23: Another celebration ensued – my 44th year on this planet. A year that I’m defining as the year of change. I can feel it. 44 is going to mean work, but it’s going to be magical.

8/29: I mentioned above that I’ve been working on a project for a while. It was the stories of other’s addictions and recovery that not only reinforced my decision to quit drinking but that continue to keep me grounded well into my sobriety. I knew some time ago that I wanted to give back and part of that has been through the undeniable power of the written word. With that, I was inspired to create a website called The Truth of Being Us. Makes sense, right? It’s a place where I plan to move most of my writing but above all else, it is designated for sharing stories of other women in recovery, considering recovery, or touched by someone’s addiction or recovery. Sharing our stories builds connections and for anyone in any type of recovery, you know how important connection is.

I may occasionally still write in this space, but more than likely most of what I’ll be sharing will be in my new home. If you follow me here, I would appreciate you giving it a look to see what I’m up to. I would also be more than grateful if you were inclined to share a story in the new place. What you have to say could make a tremendous difference for someone else – wouldn’t that be incredible? Please visit The Truth of Being Us for all of the details and don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions at all.

I look forward to seeing where this leads and how we can grow this space and support one another – together.sobriety

burnout work

Is It Burnout?

I go through this period at work every quarter that involves a solid three weeks of higher than usual stress and an incredible work load. I tried to describe what happens during these cycles to a friend over the weekend, and he said that it sounds like I work the equivalent of two full-time jobs. It’s true. Two full-time high-pressure jobs rolled into one. I’m doing my normal day-to-day work, which can be harrowing on its own, and adding a massive extra task with a very short deadline on top of it.

I am in the middle of that particular phase at the moment and no matter how much I try to take care of myself, the tension can get unbearable. I always head into these things prepared to get daily exercise, meditate, eat well and make sure I sleep, but it never quite works out that way. The stress becomes impossible to escape. My therapist continues to tell me that I can only do what I can do and if it’s not sustainable and I don’t meet the deadlines then I’m not going to die. While I appreciate that sentiment and it does help me to keep my perfectionism in check with a lot of my normal work, it’s not so easy during these heavy deadline periods. As it is, I already always run past the targeted due dates because it’s too much to manage.

I sometimes wonder how little sleep some coworkers get. I know mine suffers during these phases and I don’t even have children to also look after. I watch people with families who are pushing through the heavy workload on top of trying to handle their family situations and I feel for them. We all work long days in the office and typically log back in after finally getting home at night and on the weekends. That’s pretty standard for even a normal work day, but it’s even more necessary when this quarterly cycle comes around. We all spend these times in the office a little grumpier, a lot more tired and generally lacking any positive energy. There are body aches and short fuses to contend with everywhere you turn. No matter how hard we all try, the mental and physical exhaustion run rampant.

When I stop to consider that I spend a minimum of three weeks every quarter going through this, that’s three months of my life each year. Three months of stress levels that are off the charts. Three months with little sleep or much in the way of self-care. Three months where I neglect much of what is important and valuable to me. Maintaining the positive attitude that has come to be expected of me is becoming more of a struggle with each passing quarter. I try to put on the brave face and show everyone that I can handle it, while in reality it’s tearing me up inside. I always come into this cycle wanting to make it better somehow, but by the end of the three weeks even this queen of positivity is left feeling defeated.

None of this seems like something a person should go through. I am incredibly grateful for what I have and for the opportunity that I’ve been given. I like who I work with and I like the good that we do, but the balance is lacking. Burnout is a very real thing. This isn’t something that just impacts my business, it’s the culture that we are surrounded by in this country, in general. Burnout can lead to a whole host of problems. All work and no play makes Jack a very anxious, forgetful, tired, pained, ill, depressed, lonely and addicted boy.

In no way am I blaming my alcohol use on my job, but I am keenly aware that it was how I coped during the high stress cycles. Maybe it’s being sober that makes me hyper-sensitive to the pressures of the job, or maybe it’s getting older and recognizing the value of each moment in this short life. Work is important and certainly necessary, but there must be a way to find joy and balance in it instead of watching the years melt painfully away as the hamster wheel keeps spinning.

 

sobriety universe hope haven

A Gift of Service

Friday was my 5-month sobriety anniversary. It was also the day that my company held their first annual day of service as a gesture in giving back to the community. For those of you who don’t know, I work in an industry that plays a large part in providing affordable housing developments for low-income families and seniors across the country. The organization we selected to assist may not have immediately seemed to have a connection to our industry, nor did it need to, but it turns out that the affordable housing conversation was very relevant to the people we were about to serve. It also turns out that the people we would interact with were very relevant to my own personal journey.

Leading up to Friday, I hadn’t fully let the organization we chose to work with sink in. Hope Haven is a foundation of recovery. They provide life skills for chemically dependent adults and families, helping them through healthy recovery and rebuilding their lives. Our job that day was going to be serving lunch, but until I arrived, I had no idea that the biggest part of that job meant that we were going to interact with the residents. In fact, we were encouraged to talk to them, ask about their stories, break bread with them and share a part of ourselves. As I sat in the conference room listening to the overview of their program and how we were going to spend our next hours, I was struck by the power of how I would get to spend my 5-month anniversary. Call it what you want, but in that moment, it felt like the universe was delivering me a gift.

As the men and women started to line up for their lunch trays, I decided to dive right in by saying hello and asking their names. There was some awkwardness between us here and there as they tried to figure out who I was while I tried to find my footing, but it wasn’t long before it came together. One of the first women I spoke to, Mary, had a pretty purple t-shirt on and she initially didn’t seem too pleased to see me. She scowled a bit when I introduced myself, but as soon as I told her how much I loved the color of her shirt, she lit right up. Through an excited smile she told me about the talent show that was held the night before and how she was wild about Prince and sang his song, Kiss. Mary would ask me if I knew the song and I told her I knew it so well that I could sing it for her, but I promised she wouldn’t want to hear this voice of mine destroy it. She laughed and patted me on the shoulder, telling me that she had so much fun the night before that she had to keep honoring Prince by wearing that purple shirt. A sense of ease came over me and I knew I could do this. I spent time approaching people across the room, offering to bring them drinks, clean up their trays, and sometimes sat down to talk with them.

Most of the people I spoke with were anywhere from one week to 3 months into recovery. For a number of them, this wasn’t their first time trying to quit alcohol or their drug of choice, but it was their first time in a program like this one. I saw eyes filled with love, fear, trepidation and hope. When I shared my sobriety with some, it was received with so much love and encouragement. They accepted me as someone who wasn’t just here to do service, but who also understood some of the struggles with addiction. They talked to me about time spent living on the streets, the loss of their families and the struggle to find a job. We spoke of the difficulties in finding an affordable place to live and their fears of being able to make ends meet. I heard how some had what might be considered a perfectly normal life early on, but then they lost it all to alcohol or drugs. They hugged me, they invited me to their AA meetings and they encouraged me to keep going just as I was encouraging them.

I saw my father in that room and I even saw myself. While I’m in no way comparing my personal journey to the severity of what many of them have experienced in their lives, there is also no reason why it couldn’t have happened to me. It happened to them, didn’t it? There is a common bond in recovery that we all share. No matter who you are or where you’ve come from, addiction can impact anyone. Addiction can change your life forever. I saw my father, a smart and highly capable man, lose his job and his ability to find a new one. I watched him teeter on the edge of homelessness and slowly destroy himself and everything around him. Addiction is fierce and it can escalate quickly and take us to levels that we never thought were possible. Just ask any of the men and women who were in that room with me on Friday.

I wish everyone that I met strength and sobriety as they work so hard to rebuild their lives. They are fortunate to have support and the foundation that Hope Haven is giving them, but they will continue to have a long battle ahead. This will be the journey of their lives and with this opportunity it is possible for them to survive. Those hours spent with them made a difference in my life and I know I won’t be the only one.

Mary, may you keep wearing purple and that beautiful smile for years to come.

 

mocktail

Let The Mocktail Quest Begin

I posted a picture of a beautiful mocktail on my Instagram account a few days ago and for a moment I thought that people seeing this would think that I’d fallen off the wagon. At a glance, it might appear that I was up to my old habits, leaning against a cool marble bar top at one of the area’s hottest speakeasy-style cocktail spots, snapping pictures of the gorgeous drink that sat before me. This isn’t a typical night out for me these days. It’s been months since I’ve set foot in a bar, since February to be exact. Hitting a cocktail spot isn’t exactly encouraged when you are getting sober and I can’t say that I would encourage it at any stage in sobriety as we all have different needs, but I had a motive.

This particular spot was a place that my husband had been wanting to check out for quite some time, but he was very patient about it while I found my sober feet. At no time did he ask me to go with him, as he knew I may never be able to. However, once I started mentioning that I was feeling ambitious about exploring places that might have mocktail offerings, he made the effort to get in touch with them. While they didn’t have mocktails on the menu, he was told that they would gladly mix something up upon request. During a particularly good day, I felt quite ready for an evening out and wanted to see what they might have in store.

As expected, the space was very nice, with stunning touches of art deco throughout. I’ll refrain from painting an overly detailed picture, as I’m not trying to glorify the cocktail bar experience for any sober people, but take my word for it that it was a lovely place. There was no question that this was meant for a legit classic cocktail experience, which I used to adore in my former life, but I found that I can still appreciate the atmosphere even now. The bartender approached with a glass of water in a pretty cut crystal glass while I fiddled nervously over the drink menu sitting in front of me, pretending to read it. When she asked the necessary question of what I’d like to drink, I timidly asked if a mocktail would be possible. I braced myself, believing they were going to look at me like I was being completely ridiculous for coming to a place like this and then requesting something without booze. I was ready for the eye rolls, the huffs, the you have got to be kidding me attitude, but none of that came. Instead, she was very gracious in accommodating my request without a single remark other than to ask about my flavor preferences. I watched her work her magic and was presented with a lovely glass of citrus and herbal goodness topped off with a sprig of rosemary, sans alcohol. This was leaps above my usual club soda and lime.

I was both relieved and surprised. There was an ease that took over and I was able to settle in and feel comfortable in a space that might otherwise have induced a great deal of anxiety. I’m well aware that I owe that, in part, to my nearly five months of recovery; however, those bartenders deserve credit for making this painless. No one wants to deal with alcohol snobbery, not even drinkers, and that didn’t exist here. My second mocktail order was much easier to work through and I found that all the bartenders were nothing short of happy to discuss alcohol-free options. I learned this wasn’t an altogether unusual request for them, which is what I was hoping for. I wanted to see how easy it might be to show up at this type of establishment and discover something that could work for a non-drinker. Something that would make us feel like we belong if we found ourselves at such a spot for any number of reasons. While I don’t envision myself bar-hopping all over the city on a given night and I particularly recognize that being in a cocktail bar might not work for everyone, I am pleased that there may be some solid options for non-drinkers around town. You also don’t have to be a card-carrying member of the sobriety club to get in on this. Someone mentioned to me recently that so many people worship at the altar of alcohol these days that it would be nice so show them that they can still be a part of the experience without the fuzzy head and hangovers. That is exactly what I intend to do.

 

With Trauma, We Numb

What a strange Saturday it was. Some of you who follow me on social media may have seen a piece of what I was struggling with, but allow me to shine the light on what was happening behind the scenes. I was at the tail end of a vacation week, which I had entered fully anticipating that there could be some moments where I think about drinking. Given how infrequently I considered it these days, I thought the worst was over.

This wasn’t my first vacation, I spent a week traveling in Arizona back when I was barely one month sober, but this was the first one that involved a good deal of down time. A few quiet days in the mountains would start out the week, followed by time spent at home. The urge first struck me as we unpacked our car at the mountain house. While I lingered over our supplies on the kitchen counter, I told my husband that I wanted nothing more in that moment than to crack open a beer and sit on the porch. Inside my head I was having the thought that maybe I actually could do just that. I was on vacation. I was away from everyone else and it wouldn’t be a big deal, right? We talked a bit about how natural this would have been in the past. With so much free time staring me down, there would have been zero hesitation to fill all that space with alcohol in my former life. This time I had to hesitate, and I was able to quickly connect the dots about why I couldn’t have that beer and decidedly didn’t want to spend my vacation in a numb state. I settled for a fizzy water and a cigar on the porch instead. It turned out perfect. There were a handful of moments like this one during the week, even after returning home, but fortunately they were all brief. I was able to squelch the urges with other distractions or tools from my sobriety kit. In general, things went pretty well, until Saturday.

I woke up to a seemingly normal day, but within a couple of hours I was carrying a thick, heavy sense of dread and sadness inside my gut. I tried to figure out what it was and why I was feeling so down on myself. The predominant notion that kept popping into my head was how ugly I felt. Downright ugly and unattractive. It wasn’t a body thing, it was just an overall sense of ugliness. That is the only way I can describe it and even that doesn’t do it justice. I was at a complete loss as to where this awfulness was coming from. There was no trigger to pinpoint, this was an out of the blue, mucky mess of a feeling. With this came the severe urge to drink right behind it. I consciously knew the reason I wanted to drink was to chase away whatever this feeling was. While my awareness of the situation and behavior may have been spot on, my heart wasn’t fully on board, so the battle carried on. I immediately turned to my tools and went off to my woman-cave for some yoga. Yoga usually does the trick, but it didn’t cut it this time. I then gave a go at meditation, taking some time to breathe and sit with what was happening for a while. Unfortunately, the hefty feeling was relentless.

I played a delicate game all day of trying to understand what this feeling was and where it was coming from, but without giving it too much weight so that I didn’t feed into it. That was nearly an impossible task. I applied every tool that I’ve learned in therapy and kept coming up short. When I finally tried to open up and explain to my husband what was going on, I could barely form sentences. My mind was scrambled and my mouth was following suit. I had to walk away from him with tears forming in my eyes when I couldn’t clearly define what was happening. It was then that I recognized this muddled sensation as a sign of trauma. I had experienced it before when something triggered me or during difficult therapy work. The problem here was that there was no identifying where it came from. This was just the feeling suddenly upon me without any memory or incident to connect it to. It was stuck and I was frustrated.

As the hours went on, every time I would pass the cabinet where there is whiskey, I would pause and consider how a few drinks would take the edge off. If my husband was out of sight, I thought about how I had the chance to grab a quick swig from a bottle. There was this internal dialogue going on about how the alcohol would make it all better, followed immediately by all the reasons why that was the worst idea ever. The frustration wasn’t just about the awful feelings that were sitting in me, but the fact that I was four and a half months sober and this craving was so strong. The hold that alcohol had on me released its grip so much in recent months that it was scary to feel its powerful squeeze tightening around me again. It was maddening.

Late that afternoon, after trying everything else, I turned to social media. I put out a tweet to #recoveryposse and connected with some of the women on a private Facebook group I belong to. Just one simple statement about my struggle and messages came back my way to show support and let me know that this does still happen sometimes, even years into recovery. While I knew this logically when I sent that message, I’m not sure I fully knew it in my heart, and to have those reminders meant so much. Hearing a few words from others who have been there, sometimes even in just one sentence, made all the difference.

After finally experiencing some relief with the feelings and cravings moving on that evening, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what happened. I’ve also spent some time talking through it with my therapist. It’s entirely possible that my brain was trying to work something out. In addition to that day’s events, I had some terrible and vivid dreams that night about my ex-husband. It’s equally possible that I had experienced a trigger earlier that day that I may not have been aware of, but that my brain picked up on and sent me spinning. It could have been as simple as a phrase, sound or smell that started it all. There is this thing that happens with trauma and your brain that I find fascinating. It can separate the feeling from the incident or memory and your neural pathways hold onto that pattern. Part of the work (and it’s hard work) is to connect those paths together in order to move through the trauma and reach release. It’s more retraining of the brain as a part of the healing process. Until this particular day went down, where I was stuck with only the feeling without the memory to apply it to, I didn’t fully comprehend this idea that we’ve been talking about in therapy for so long. Suddenly it all made sense. It continues to amaze me how many breakthroughs come from difficult moments.

It’s no secret that trauma drives so many of us to numb. It took me some time to recognize that some of what I have been through in life was defined as trauma, as I typically equated this to soldiers in war or car accident victims. It took even more time for me to see that I was numbing it. I wanted to take those same, familiar steps on Saturday and I knew that alcohol would make me feel better in those moments of anguish. If you are reading this and ever find yourself in a similar situation, please let this be a reminder that numbing is only temporary. It does get better. I was miserable for most of that day, but by the evening things were drastically different and when I woke up on Sunday I was so grateful that I didn’t put the bottle to my lips. If I had, the vicious cycle would have started all over again and the feelings would only be worse.

It’s a process, sometimes a long and arduous one, but worth every difficult moment. From those difficulties we can grow, and we will thrive.

 

mid life sober women

Four Months In The Light

As I just hit four months of sobriety, I realized that I haven’t done a check-in lately on what life without alcohol is currently like. Over the span of four months, I’ve had a vacation, outings with drinking friends, entertaining in my home, I attended a wedding and experienced my annual company meeting/party, all while remaining alcohol-free. Moments have sometimes been overwhelming, enlightening, freeing, stressful or a combination of all of those, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Here’s a little look at where things are today.

The days and hours have grown so much easier than they were in the early weeks of sobriety, easier than even just one month ago. The obsession over alcohol that I never thought I would escape has visibly loosened its grip. I no longer come home after a long day of work and worry about how I’m going to avoid drinking. It’s not even a thought in my head, which catches me by surprise when I stop to consider this while in the midst of more productive tasks. The relief of no longer having the immediate inclination to reach for the bottle is as soothing as aloe on a fresh sunburn. Then there is the physical piece, which has me feeling so much better. While replacing the wine with sugar is still playing a small role, I’m finally trying to take that down a notch (disregard the half-gallon of mint chocolate chip I just put in the freezer). In general, I pay more attention to what I’m putting into my body now. Morning smoothies and long walks have become my new obsession.

I was constantly living in a state of threat level orange.

Besides my diminishing drive for the drink, the number of times I notice people talking about alcohol has also lessened. While I wouldn’t say the amount has actually changed, it seems that the way that I process hearing about it has altered. Every excruciating moment that the topic would come up during the first couple of months left me cringing. Even though I much preferred having a discussion about my sobriety as opposed to dancing around it, it was my awareness of the subject that was on high alert, particularly before I came out in the open with my new lifestyle choice. Until that day, I was constantly living in a state of threat level orange. Now when the topic comes up I don’t pay it much attention; if the discussion carries, if warranted, I simply say “I don’t drink.” The surprised looks and stammering at that response haven’t changed much. People don’t usually ask about the reason, but sometimes they do and I’m happy to tell them. The awkwardness of that conversation has toned down as I’ve grown more comfortable with my story.

Now that the obsession has calmed, I’ve never been busier. I’m not talking about day-job busy, although there will always be that piece to balance, this is about all things related to creativity, sobriety and self-care. My head is clearer and with that, time seems to have expanded exponentially, as have my interests. Well, many of the interests were always there, I just didn’t have the drive to follow through with them. I blame that on the alcohol numb-out. It’s the gift that keeps on giving until you shut it down. These days, I’ve developed a bit of what I refer to as shiny object syndrome. It’s as though my brain has expanded and is absorbing all the things that alcohol didn’t allow the capacity for previously. With that, it can be a challenge to maintain focus, but at least it’s no longer a result of being in a booze-laden fog. What I have learned very recently is that I must slow down and set small goals for myself at the beginning of each week. If I don’t do this, I would have my hands in a thousand things without making much progress and with very little sleep. Both are essential for working towards what I consider my greater purpose.

It’s time to stop living like I’m always just standing on the edge looking in at what my life could be.

The bottom line is that what stopping drinking has opened for me is like an awakening. It’s part of a tremendous transition in my life. I had a major shift and completely changed my life when I was 30, and here in my early (almost mid) 40s I’ve been experiencing what Brené Brown refers to as the mid-life unraveling. It’s powerful. My creativity is coming alive, I’m exploring spirituality, expanding my knowledge at every turn, building a tribe and I’m slowly taking off the armor that I’ve been wrapped in for my entire life. It eventually grows tiring to live life the way you think others expect of you. For me, I didn’t recognize that this was what I’d been doing until these recent months. There are parts of me that have always existed but that I was afraid to explore or let shine because of what I thought others might think. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it’s time to stop living like I’m always just standing on the edge looking in at what my life could be. My husband tells me I’ve gone crunchy granola, I say I’ve gone a little woo-woo, but I love every minute of it.

This light has always existed inside of me, but it never had the chance to shine until I took away the one thing that was dimming it. On the day that I quit, I told myself that alcohol was doing me a disservice, I had no idea at the time just how accurate that was.