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.


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.


child gun alcohol

Shiny Silver Boxes

I recall a day, back when I was ten years old, that my father came home holding a beautiful silver box in his hands. He sprung through the front door with a big smile on his face and told me to get my mother because he had something to show us. I thought for sure that this pretty box must be filled with something special, so I wasted no time running to call for mom in the backyard. When she came inside, dad positioned us both strategically in front of him in the kitchen while he held out the box and built the excitement up. “Are you ready to see what I have?” he said. My tiny voice let loose and proclaimed “yes!”, but my mother seemed skeptical. I was disappointed in her melancholy, for once dad was doing something nice for us. He moved his hand over the lid, slowly raising it to give us just a peek. I only saw a bit of blue velvet inside before he slammed the box shut and laughed. Mom was growing more irritated and I was growing more fascinated. If there was velvet then it must be something really good. Finally, he wrapped his fingers around the lid and pulled it all the way open. My excitement melted into a pile on the floor. There, nestled in the center of a blue velvet cushion sat something that I had never seen up close. This was the stuff of movies or TV, only bad guys and police were supposed to have this. Why on earth would dad think I would be happy to see a gun?

Mom started to cry and I stood stunned. He pulled it out of the box, waving it around to show it off, telling us about the great deal he just got. I somehow doubt he actually bought the thing, it was more likely part of a weird drug deal, but he couldn’t stop talking about it. My mother was upset and repeatedly asked him why he needed a gun in the house, which turned into a yelling match between the two. Needless to say, she didn’t win that argument. The gun stayed and that silver box went somewhere in dad’s den. Den is just a fancy term for the spare bedroom in the house that was off limits to anyone but him. It was his domain where he played music, did drugs, looked at pornographic magazines and did god knows what else. Now he had a gun to play with, too.

Even at age ten, I knew this was a terrible idea. When he wasn’t at work, dad was drunk and usually volatile, and these were the days when it was growing evident that he was doing something else, too. I remember a few times that he was obviously hallucinating. One night, he called me into the living room where I found him sitting up on the couch with his feet off the floor and in a panic. He was trying to fight off the giant rodents he saw crawling across the floor. He kept pointing and shouting “Did you see that? Oh my god! Did you see that?” When I kept denying it, he grew angry and wouldn’t let me leave the room until I “stopped lying” to him. I was frightened and thoroughly confused, but I finally gave in and admitted to seeing something. I even made a little game out of it by jumping around like I was running from the massive rodents that were in his head. So yeah, this man being in possession of a gun didn’t seem like such a brilliant idea. (For the record, every time I see The Princess Bride, I think of this moment. Good ol’ rodents of unusual size.)

One evening after the gun came into the home, dad thought he heard the doorbell being rang repeatedly and he was sure it was a neighborhood kid playing a prank. There was no doorbell, there was no sound at all, but he ran to the door over and over and grew more agitated each time. I remember my mom trying to calm him down and assure him that he must be hearing something else, but he wasn’t having it. A few minutes later he came barreling out of his den with that gun in his hands, running to the door screaming about that “goddamn kid” and “I’ll show him” while my mother chased behind him. He ran out the front door and stood shouting and waving it around in our driveway at no one, then mom locked him out. When he heard the door shut, he ran right back to it beating on it and yelling for her to let him back in. She called through the door that she was going to phone the police and with that, his tune changed completely. He quieted down and started apologizing and pleading with her to let him back in, which she didn’t waste much time doing. I don’t think either of them wanted the embarrassment of the police showing up.

Sometime after this event, it was a Saturday night and the madness escalated. The weekends were always the worst. Dad would come home from work on a Friday already half loaded from the beer he picked up on the drive home and would carry on until late Sunday night. Saturdays were when he hit his peak, as he definitely did on this night. He was in his den when something fired him up. I could hear him yelling and throwing things around in that tiny room, followed by a loud and unfamiliar clicking sound happening over and over again. Mom and I stood in the kitchen and through her frightened eyes she told me that the sound was him cocking the gun. I didn’t really know what that meant, but it terrified me. It was relentless, the sound seemed never ending until I heard the door to his room open. I looked to mom to do something, but she was frozen as he turned the corner with the gun in his hands and a wild look on his red and sweaty face. I don’t even recall what it was about, or if it made any sense at all, but he started yelling at mom and I was so afraid that he was going to shoot her. While he screamed and she cried, I felt responsibility to handle the situation and had to find a way to make it stop. In my ten-year old brain, I guess I thought I needed a weapon to do so and I grabbed the first thing I saw on the counter next to me. It was a large, metal garlic press. That’s right folks, I was going to stop the big man with a gun with a garlic press. I jumped in front of mom wielding my new weapon and screamed as loudly as I could for him to stop and to leave her alone. Things grew silent for a moment while dad looked confused, I thought he might even start laughing at this ridiculous scene in front of him, but no such luck. Instead he proceed to yell at both of us. Mom tried to silence me but I kept shouting right back at him, raising that garlic press high in my hand because I was ready to fight, if necessary. Then he lifted the gun and pointed it right at my head. I can still clearly see the weapon staring me in the face, I can hear my mothers screams, I can feel my heart race and then everything goes blank. I can’t remember a single thing after that.

I have no idea what the outcome of this was and like many other events, I’ve never talked about it with my mom. I’m quite certain it was never brought up by anyone after that night. But I do know this, that gun never made another appearance that I’m aware of. My assumption, or what I like to believe, is that dad was so frightened by his drug induced behavior and that he could have killed his wife and child that he got rid of his prized toy kept in the shiny silver box.


Preparing for Another Sober First

Tomorrow is a day that I’m both dreading and looking forward to. In the morning, I will head to Charleston, SC. A beautiful city that I love, and I will get to see people that I typically only have the pleasure of being around once a year. This is the time of year when my annual company meeting rolls around and it’s always been couple of fun days. The problem is that the fun over the past seven years has been laced with alcohol. Two days of meetings intertwined with social activities, nice dinners, and free flowing booze. I mentioned last week that my company thrives on the drinking culture, it’s the environment we’ve fostered, like many others. We have high stress positions with long hours and relentless deadlines, so how do we let loose? We drink. We party. We stay up late and bar hop until we can’t remember what time we got back or how we got to the hotel. I am no longer a part of that “we”.

The locations are always carefully selected, we’ve done NYC, Miami, Chicago, Orlando, and the most recent event was in Nashville. I spent the first couple of years calling most evenings early, not hanging out with the crowd getting wasted because I still felt too new to fully partake. Then NYC hit and I was out with a group exploring the city bars and the whiskey scene well into the early hours of the morning. I wasn’t inappropriate at all, but I had a massive hangover through 8 hours of meetings the next day, which was utterly miserable. Then came Miami. Just after landing at the airport, I met up with a coworker for an afternoon drink on the beach where we polished off two bottles of wine and headed to dinner with the entire group. That night would be filled with pre-dinner cocktails, wine with dinner, post-dinner cocktails, champagne by the pool and then a couple of hours at a South Beach nightclub with table service and an entire bottle of scotch split between three people. I am fortunate to have been with people I trusted because I have vague memories of getting into a cab to head back to the hotel in the pre-dawn hours, but nothing after that. Somehow during my blackout I apparently had enough sense to set my 6:30 a.m. alarm in order to make it to the early morning meetings. I remember wobbling into the shower and still feeling so drunk that I could barely distinguish the shampoo from the conditioner, and the tiles on the wall looked like they might be moving. I next leaned over the well-stocked mini-bar in my room seriously contemplating cracking open one of the little bottles to take the edge off and get me through. I opted against it because I didn’t want anyone to smell it on me, but the amount of alcohol that had to already be oozing out of my pores would have remedied that.

I could barely see straight as I walked into the meeting room when my boss came up beside me and whispered that he was still drunk. I remember feeling relief that I wasn’t the only one. I spent the next several hours chugging Sprite and water and picking away at crackers, trying my best to keep from vomiting. It was complete misery. I remember repeatedly saying “I’m too old for this” as my hangover continued through the airport that evening. The moment I boarded the plane for home, I powered through two glasses of red wine. It was the only thing that was going to help, because there isn’t much that’s more miserable than being on a plane in that condition.

Everyone still makes jokes about that night and how awful we felt but how much fun we had. That won’t be the kind of fun I’m partaking in this time. While there were some good times, much of it is so fuzzy that it almost doesn’t seem like a real experience. It’s as though I have someone else’s memories. There is also no amount of fun that is worth that kind of hangover. It took me the better part of two days to recover, talk about lost time.

I look forward to staying sober on this trip, but I am walking into this with some trepidation. I am not ultimately worried about taking a drink, while I expect a craving to hit from time to time, I am too committed to staying sober at this point. What concerns me is the feeling that I went through at the small work dinner last week, only this time there is a much larger scale to deal with. That night made me realize that there are still unknowns that lie ahead of me and those can be scary. All I can do is be as prepared as possible. With that, I’ll share some of the tools and thoughts I plan to focus on to help get me through:

  1. Leave both dinners early, no matter what. The one sober person I planned to stick to will be headed out on Thursday and that will be the biggest boozing night of all. I may be compelled to stick it out, but I know that the longer I stay the more opportunity arises for struggles, so this time I’ll keep it short.
  2. I plan to take early morning walks around the city, starting the day with a little exercise and meditation to keep my thoughts on track.
  3. My phone is loaded up and ready with sobriety-based podcasts for those walks and the times spent getting ready in my hotel.
  4. Books and writing. When I come back early from those dinners, I’m well prepared for writing or reading something inspirational.
  5. I picked up a little pocket amethyst stone while in Arizona. Yes, I know it’s a little woo-woo and not something I would typically buy into, but amethyst supposedly has qualities to help people in recovery. If anything, when I hold the stone in my hands it reminds me of why I’ve chosen sobriety and sometimes that is all it takes.
  6. The Universe Has Your Back cards, from Gabrielle Bernstein. Sure, maybe another woo-woo item, but this fun little deck is a great tool for instant inspiration each day. It’s something new in my little bag of tricks and I spend time each morning reflecting on an affirmation for the day ahead followed by selecting a card that I’ll carry with me that day. For instance, today’s random card says “Surrender to a power greater than you.” That sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
  7. Just breathe. When things start to feel tough, I’ll take deep breaths and with every one I’ll consider how great it feels to have a clear head and no hangover. I’ll remember how proud I am of the hard work I’ve accomplished and of how so much greatness still lies ahead of me. I’ll think of everyone who has supported me and know that I won’t let myself or any of them down.

I already ordered a celebratory coffee mug as a reward for making it through this trip. With any luck, it will be here waiting for me when I return. Not to mention, Friday will be my two months of sobriety. When I get through the next couple of days I have something pretty big to look forward to, and that makes me smile.


The Choice of Near-Anonymity

I’m struggling with anonymity today. I’ve written previously that I’ve chosen to remain generally anonymous on the blog as well as through my Twitter feed in an effort to avoid causing any hurt towards some others. While the name I use here is a part of my real name, it isn’t what I go by in the real world and I want so desperately to share that and more with all of the fine people I’ve been connecting with in these new spaces. I didn’t expect to find such a supportive and truly amazing group of folks in this social media recovery space, and I am thankful for every single one of you. I’ve always been active on social media, but never in this way and it’s making me crazy not to just put myself all out there.  In some ways, I feel like I’m letting you down by holding this part of me back.

My choice to stay somewhat anonymous isn’t about me not wanting people to know my struggles or my problem with alcohol, not at all. In fact, I sincerely feel the need to own and share my story. What I’m concerned about is not just hurting a couple of people, but I’ll admit that I also still have a deep seated fear of my ex-husband. I haven’t gone into much detail yet in terms of that part of my life, but when I do, I can’t say that I trust what his reaction would be if he came across it.  Perhaps I’ll get past all of this one day, and if so, then I’m sure next I’ll worry about how people will take my name change or how on earth I’ll ever integrate my social media accounts.  It seems almost silly to think about that now when there are far more serious things to be concerned about in life, like staying sober.

I simply wanted to put this message out to any of you who do follow me so that you know where I stand on the issue. If I’m going to continue to write freely then I will need to continue down the incognito path for a while. But, if we develop a connection and you feel inclined to ask me what people call me in the real world – ask away. I just might tell you.

recovery alcohol

Happy Camper

On my 10th day of sobriety, I came home from work wanting to celebrate. Ordinarily, my celebration would involve cracking open a nice bottle of champagne and that thought genuinely passed through my head, which I couldn’t help but laugh at. It was probably best not to honor my newfound sobriety and hard work by catching a buzz, so I did the next best thing. I have a mild obsession with coffee mugs and I couldn’t think of a better way to reward my 10 days than to order myself a new one. Ordered on day 10, arrived on day 22. It gave me something to look forward to and now gives me something to reflect on when I grab it from the cabinet. This just might become a thing.

mug alcoholism recovery

So, yes, day 22 officially wrapped up yesterday, and I have to say that this sobriety thing does keep getting better. Over the weekend my husband, E, and I had a night out of town planned for Saturday. We are big music fans and concert-goers and one of my old favorites, Jason Mraz, was playing an acoustic set nearby in Greenville, SC. We had a nice dinner planned beforehand in a cute French bistro across the river from the venue. It was our first dinner out, our first date night since I decided to get sober, and it was strange. Strange, but fantastic at the same time. Ordinarily, we would order up a cocktail or even hit a cocktail bar pre-dinner, but not this time. Even E didn’t drink and although I told him he absolutely could, he proclaimed that he didn’t want a drink and only wanted to support me. I could see that he really meant it. (Have I mentioned that I love this guy?) When we first sat down, I was quickly drawn to the view of the people at the tables around me with their wine bottles perched elegantly between them and filled glasses in their hands. I couldn’t believe how badly I wanted to just have that one glass because it would probably be okay. The thought kept rolling around in my head. Temptation was suddenly strong and I was wringing my hands under the table.

I felt like I was sitting just on the edge of giving in if the waitress only asked, but to my surprise she never did. Not once did she ask if she could bring us a drink and she had plenty of opportunities to do so. Normally, I would think this was a big miss in service, but on this occasion, it almost felt meant to be. We both requested sparkling water and I asked if should would serve mine in a wine glass. Maybe some sober folks don’t even want the feel of that glass in their hands, but it works for me. Once I could feel that stem between my fingers, my urge to drink subsided. In fact, it’s as though it completely disappeared. It reminded me of when former smokers talk about the need to chew on a straw or toothpick to replace the oral fixation of a cigarette. If it works for me, I’ll go with it.

The concert was absolute perfection. We had amazing seats and although I’ve seen Mraz four times now, this was the only time it’s ever just been him and a guitar. As I sat enjoying the show, I had a number of thoughts running through my head. Namely, this was my first sober concert since I was about 16. I was going to remember every moment of the show, what songs he performed, the stories he told, all of it. It’s been typical at concerts to pre-game, have multiple drinks ahead of time, have one in my hand during the show and maybe even wrap it all up with a nightcap afterwards. To say that I could recall the details of all of the concerts I’ve been to would be a big miss. What wasted times I had, literally.

One of the more profound thoughts I had during the show was how when I first saw Mraz, I never would have pictured this particular evening coming for me down the road. That occasion was with my best friend for my 30th birthday, over 13 years ago. I was a few months away from finally pulling the plug on my first marriage, it was a terrible time. I used to drive home from work playing a particular Jason Mraz album nearly every night, worried about what I was going to come home to and dreaming of a different and better life for myself. I never knew what mood my ex would be in and his anger was showing up more and more. As I sat next to E on Saturday night, listening to Mraz belt out some of my favorites, I was overcome with a sense of peace and happiness. I may have been dreaming of a better life all those years ago, but I never imagined it could be this good. I guess I really am a happy camper these days.


writing attention

Continuing to Notice

In the event you’ve been following along, I have not posted my “Today I Noticed” bit in a few days. It was a 10 day challenge for myself, and although I didn’t post it here every day, I did turn to my journal some of that time, just given the convenience. This little exercise taught me a few things:

1. Even if I didn’t write about all of it, I noticed so much more during my days. I found myself actually slowing down to pay attention when I might normally skim right by something. I had the conscious thoughts about what I was noticing and often wondered if it would be the activity, feeling, or event that might find its way onto paper that day. I was never planning what to write, because it still came completely out of the blue when I would sit with the blog or journal, but it did make me slow down and spend a bit more time just observing.

2. Nothing has to be perfect before I write about it. I tend to get stuck inside my own head just trying to work out what I should write, what might be of value to others. If the point to this space is that I’m sharing my truth, then whatever strikes me to write about should absolutely be here. Even the mundane moments from every day life, if I feel the slightest bit compelled to talk about something, then I will do it.

3. I happened to enjoy just writing about whatever came to mind so much, that I plan to hang on to the “Today I Noticed” category. I fully expect that you will see it pop up in the space from time to time – and it will continue to be unedited and completely random in nature. You may get more of me than you bargained for.


spend instant gratification

Today I Noticed – Day 6

Today I noticed that I have a problem with instant gratification. Maybe “problem” is a strong word – but then again, maybe not. Nothing in particular happened today, except that I’ve been wanting to adopt another cat and while I originally talked it over with E, we both agreed to hold off until we do a minor renovation in our laundry room. This renovation would allow an ideal space for a 2nd litter box, because we already one sweet girl. But today, I started the hunt and already found two cats that I’m interested in. Of course, I brought it up to E and he’s as agreeable as ever and told me that if I’m really ready we can make it work. There are plenty of other spots for another litter box, but the laundry room would be ideal. But when I get something in my head that I want, I go for it. I have a very hard time being patient, or even just stopping altogether. The cat situation made me think of an article I read in the past couple of weeks that talked about how financially successful people typically avoid instant gratification. Now, we are pretty financially secure, but I have definitely not focused on some of the more important things that I should be and there is some debt to be paid and sadly not enough yet in investments to really carry us into retirement. When I stop to think about that, it makes me nervous and a bit of anxiety sets in. So how do I change this? Stop spending on whatever flavor of the moment catches my fancy, that would be a good start. It isn’t that I’m even a shop-a-holic, it kind of goes in spurts, but in recent months it feels like I’ve gotten a little carried away. My weakness these days is around things for the home, artwork, new flooring, a number of those pricey Hue bulbs to light up some rooms like a disco. Yeah, that sounds a little bit overkill, doesn’t it? There is no question that I could just step back and stop being so frivolous with money, and in fact, there is no question that I need to. A friend of mine put a list out on social media about his changes for 2018 – his “no spend” rules for the year. It was a pretty serious list, and one that I’m not sure I’m willing, or even want to jump in to for the year, but it does have me thinking about ways that I can step back and reset my priorities. I’m debating if I should make one of those lists of rules for myself, but my head is leaning more towards a list of a different sort – something more along the lines of a visualization exercise about what I am aiming for, but will still keep me focused. I suppose there is no time like the present than to set a plan for the new year, a plan to shift away from instant gratification. But the cat is still going to happen, maybe I’ll just wait a little while.

Check out Day 1 for a bit more detail around my writing exercise.