Jingly balls

Heading in to my second Christmas /holiday season sober and I’m feeling really really good about it. I’m at 406 days today, sober and smoke free yippee!

The difference between this year and last year at this time is enormous. Just the feeling of calm and inner peace of no longer being in a terrible relationship. Not being screamed at in private by someone who acts like Mr Wonderful around other people. Not being guilted into going to his friends holiday parties where someone is constantly shoving a drink in your hand. Not having to deal with all of the mental games and the bs and everything else that went along with being in a relationship with a narcissistic bully. I am so glad to be out of that. I am so grateful for my sobriety and my amazing kids, and my adventure partner. A year ago I was struggling so badly trying to make it through each day. I was SO sad and lonely and scared and felt so, sooo trapped. Today I can’t stop smiling and thinking about upcoming hikes and snowshoeing and wintertime activities and adventures, and relaxing, calm and fun holiday festivities with my people. I’m excited to find special little meaningful ways to spoil and treat the ones in my life that I love, and know that they will appreciate it.

What I can’t get over though – is how absolutely alcohol saturated everything is right now. It really really boggles my mind. I’m afraid to even try anyone’s Christmas baking or eat unpackaged chocolates (damn it, cause I love chocolates!) hahaha. It really does surprise me how much marketing has alcohol in it that doesn’t even NEED alcohol in it – ie printed ads for a company that makes holiday dips, but the ads all have glasses of wine inΒ  them next to the bowls of dips. WHY???

 

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Triggering the trigger

I just got back from a work related trip to Ottawa (which I extended by a few days to include some fun time with my adventure partner). I thought that this trip would be a little difficult as the group of people on the work related side of it are pretty heavy drinkers, but I wasn’t actually anticipating HOW difficult it would be.

With over a year of sobriety and countless outings and situations that I’ve made it through, I thought I had it sort of figured out how to avoid or leave situations when I needed to. This trip though, holy crow… I had a very, very difficult time. It started off great with a “little” (5 hrs plus of driving each direction) road trip to Toronto to see my cousin, only to arrive during a birthday party (for their 1 yr old), and lots of inebriated people. I can wager a bet that my cousin doesn’t even remember what I gave her 1 yr old for a present. After an hour of feeling pretty out of place, we left, went for dinner and spent the night at the hotel and drove back to Ottawa the next day, stopping at lots of fun little places along the way.

The night that we got back to Toronto was the first night that most people were arriving for the meetings, and of course everyone wanted to meet up at a bar in Byward Market (a funky area comprised of a few blocks full of bars, lounges, restaurants, etc). That went ok, I asked the bartender if she could make me virgin mojitos and she made EXCELLENT ones, so I was happy (I’m not a big pop/soda/juice drinker so I do struggle a bit to figure out what to drink when I go out. I like the mixed type of drinks (ie orange juice with 7-up in it), so I usually ask the bartender if they can make something fun and non-alcoholic. I’ve actually had some pretty fun drinks by doing that, and quite a few Shirley Temples lol. The next day after a day full of meetings, the group went to a brewery for dinner, then a martini bar and then a board game place. By the end of the night I was starting to feel a bit edgy, especially after walking with smokers as well (I quit smoking and drinking at the same time). I actually did enjoy the board game place though πŸ™‚

The following night after meetings, we had a group dinner at a place called the Bier Markt. This night almost ended in disaster aka me having a total meltdown. By the time we got there, I was tired, I was hungry, I was tired of trying to decide whether to just order a coffee, tea, or water, or ask yet another waitress if the bartender could make me something fun and N/A to drink. This stupid place had a menu full of beer saturated food. Seriously, my choices were limited to a steak (with the hopes that it wasn’t marinated in beer), a potato, or a portobello mushroom burger. The service was terrible and I felt like running out of there. I felt SUPER anxious and upset but didn’t want to say anything to anyone, or make an excuse to leave (in hindsight I should have). Every single other person in our group was drinking, except for a pregnant one who left about 2 minutes after getting there and seeing the menu. By the time we did leave, I hightailed it straight back to my room instead of going out with the group. I wanted to just crawl into bed under the covers and cry. I mean, it REALLY rattled me that I felt that way. Really rattled me. This is a group of people that I see twice a year, the same group I saw in the Yukon. They don’t care or notice if I’m not drinking. Actually, that’s a lie – a few of them did notice and question why I wasn’t trying the beer at the brewery places.

I did make it through it though, thanks hugely to my adventure partner who is also extremely, EXTREMELY supportive and considerate, and who laid down in bed next to me and held me on that difficult night while the war raged in my head. I am so thankful that I’m out of the relationship I was in when I first quit drinking. What a difference the people close to you can make.

384 days today. ❀

365

365 days.

One whole year.

This journey for me has often been one day or even one hour or minute a time. I have had some really really rough, heartbreaking, just have to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head days. I have also had some amazingly beautiful, wonderful and full of gratitude and childlike wonder days. I have reflected on the days like these ones as they would have often been the ones where alcohol would have been involved. It’s amazing really, to think that on those horrible days I would have drank (heavily) to numb it, or hide from turmoil. On the fantastic days I would have been drinking in celebration and that would in turn have led to the day turning out in the end to be not so great. Or would have been negated by the guilt and remorse and confusion the next morning (not to mention the hangover).

I can’t even begin to express my thanks and gratitude to the online community here and on instagram. I honestly don’t know how I would have made it this far, or even through the first three months honestly. For the support and encouragement and compassion from all of you beautiful souls out there, thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Truly, honestly and deeply. Thank you for writing about your own journeys, and for your raw honesty. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your triumphs and showing me and others that we are not alone.

❀

Donna

These thoughts; they are a swirlin’

I guess it has been a while since I have written on here – 20 days to be exact, which seems mind boggling to me.

At the end of September (and into the beginning of October), I took my first sober trip to Vegas. Ahhh I love Vegas. I’m not a gambler so my trips to Vegas always consisted of exploring and people watching and drinking. Lots of drinking. This trip consisted of exploring and people watching and a night in Boulder City and a road trip to Death Valley, hiking all over the place, people watching and more exploring and more hiking and more driving and then back to the strip for Sunday October 1st. Yes, I was there that night, but I was walking on the strip by NYNY, heading back to my room at the Mirage when it happened and I had no clue what was going on a few Vegas blocks down from where I was until I woke up the next morning to my phone almost vibrating off the nightstand with all of the texts and phone calls and messages asking if I was ok. My heart breaks for everyone who was impacted by what happened.

During my trip I met up with my adventure partner and I was also lucky enough to meet an awesome blogger, who’s blog was my go-to when planning this trip and who was also amazing enough to give me some tips and pointers that really made the trip great. Seriously, if you want to plan a trip to Vegas and see lots of cools things and see what that amazing city actually has to offer, check out https://SoberInVegas.wordpress.com

As far as urges to drink while I was away, I had surprisingly few. My adventure partner, while a drinker, is amazingly supportive and considerate and asked me several times if I was ok, or if there was anything they could do to make it easier. I WAS actually ok. I had a few moments of “boy it would be nice to grab a giant can of beer or one of those slushie drinks and walk the strip” moments but they passed. Being with great company helped that too. Waking up each day and remembering how fun and awesome the day before had been also helped that.

It was AFTER I got back from my trip that I started having a hard time. The recent ex asked me if we could talk, so against my better judgement I met with him. I have tried to keep it as civil and nice as possible. You know – the “we’re just two completely different people and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we just want different things in life, blah blah blah” breakup. It has been so bad for so long and honestly he wasn’t nice before I quit drinking, but he was downright terrible after I quit. When we met to talk, he started off nice and sweet-talking and then said “I don’t expect you to move back in right away, but…” Whoa, wait a minute buddy, I’m NOT moving back in. Once the sweet talking and the cajoling didn’t work, he started trying guilt trips and then the self-pity. I stood my ground though, and started walking back to my car and that’s when he turned angry. I just (I am so proud of myself for this, truly) kept my calm and told him that I’m sorry he feels the way that he does, but that I also don’t deserve to be talked to that way. And then I left. And then I ignored phone calls from him and turned down an invitation to go for a walk a few days later.

The last week or so my anxieties are through the roof, I’ve been fighting off waves of bad moods, and I feel like I’m fighting a huge battle in my mind trying to figure out WHY I’m feeling as down, as sad, as angry, as frustrated and as anxious as I am. Of course, after writing out this post and reading through some of my past posts over the past year I can sort of figure out why haha. I am 356 days clean, sober and smoke free today and I am truly thankful for that. I have been reminding myself over and over the past few week of how things would be different if I started drinking again. I’d be effing up so much good that I have going on in my life right now. This is just a phase (I don’t think that’s the word I’m looking for, but it will do).

❀

Also, when I was in Vegas I went to a Speakeasy, which is something that I really wanted to do when I was still drinking and I found one near Fremont that you actually have to text and make an appointment to get in to. Considering what a speakeasy actually originated from, I felt a little funny asking for a N/A drink (the mixologist was a little taken-aback about it I think, but I said I had no problem paying the full price for the drink. He made me an EXCEPTIONAL ginger drink. I mean it was absolutely fantastic). And then I thought that it would be kind of neat and fun to have Teetotaler versions of Speakeasy’s. The whole ambiance in them is cool and laid back. I’d totally go to something like that to hang out in a funky place with other non-drinkers, with super awesome N/A drinks and no alcohol in sight or on the menu!

Flux

~11 months yesterday~

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. It’s amazing to me how much has changed in the past 11 months in my life and, even though I seem to be in a constant state of flux I am hanging in there.

The past week or so with the living arrangement change (I’m now living in the attic of my house while one of my grown children and his fiance are on the main level. Not as bad as it may sound – it’s a cute little finished living area in the attic!) I’ve been finding myself romanticizing the thought of alcohol. I think it may be the “You’re doing better now, so maybe you won’t have a problem with drinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a glass of wine when you get home?” thought pattern. I’m like constantly doing the X motion and silent noooo in my head. I am also constantly reminding myself of all of the good things that have happened since I quit drinking, including all of my little adventures that I have been on, and a big one that I’m heading off on tomorrow!

I try to pop in here and catch up on everyone when I can, but I hope that you are all doing really well. ❀

 

And so it goes…

308 days ago when I quit drinking (and smoking), I told myself that I would give the relationship that I was in a year, and re-evaluate then. I knew that the relationship was bad, I knew that it had been bad for a long time, but being who I am, I shouldered a lot of the blame. I thought that maybe if I got sober then a lot of the problems would go away too.

The sad part is that it was problems in the relationship that I was drinking to hide from that escalated my drinking to what it became. I didn’t want to go home to an angry boyfriend; I didn’t want to deal with the drama that constantly surrounded him with his ex wife and son. I didn’t want to go home to a house that didn’t even feel like a home to me. I felt displaced and out of sorts and unhappy. Really, really unhappy. Drinking numbed that. I was for the most part a happy drunk. I also craved human touch and intimacy and the only way I got that from him was to get drunk and take the initiative, because he is not one to show signs of affection. He would get mad at me for wanting sex too often. He would get mad at me for “hugging up against him” in bed. I would feel sad and lonely and desperate for a loving touch or even a compliment (which I never got either). I tried not to take it personally and just accept that THAT was who HE was and that was his personality and let’s face it – everyone has different personalities and comfort levels with showing affection and being intimate.

I felt tricked though – lied to and cheated and tricked because I had believed that he was the victim in his marriage and that his wife was crazy and had treated him so horribly. Poor, poor guy. I spoiled him and put him on a pedestal and treated him like a king at the beginning, and made excuses for his bad behaviour and thought that things would change. There were so, SO many signs that I ignored, and every once in a while he’d do something nice so I truly believed that we could have a nice life together. When other people were around or when we were out at the bar or party with a group of friends then he was a completely different person. He would put his arm around me (holy crow!), he would engage me in the conversation and he would be all happy and smiling and getting lots of attention as he domineered the conversation and told stories and got attention.

Once I quit drinking, I had to face all of those feelings, and really start re-evaluating. In the beginning of my sobriety when he was so completely unsupportive – bringing home alcohol to stock the cupboards with, getting mad at me for not going to the bar with him (but also refusing to go anywhere different with me), feeling sorry for himself and making himself out to be the victim because boo-fucking-hoo, Donna isn’t a fun party girl anymore and this is affecting HIS life so drastically <insert eye roll here>, I was just trying to keep myself sober and going through my own personal hell, by myself (thank god for this blog and the amazing people here). Then he started cancelling our planned vacations because they wouldn’t be fun for him if it didn’t involve sitting in a bar or sitting on a beach drinking. Before my trip to the Yukon and Alaska in the Spring, I tried to talk him into coming with me but he wouldn’t. That actually turned out to be the turning point – a heavenly break away from his anger and constant negativity and after returning from there 3 months ago I started sleeping in the spare room and we basically just became 2 people living in the same house.

I also started focusing more on myself, getting exercise and getting out of the house and having some fun and making some new friends. The less time I spent around him (and he was out until really late with ball+bar several times a week anyway) the happier and more carefree I felt. The less I wanted to hide away and the more I wanted to embrace and enjoy life. It’s hard to do that when you’re around someone who finds the negative in absolutely everything.

And then… it all came to a head a few days ago when he confronted me about what was going on. The thing about the controlling personality types is that they’re very happy when they have complete control and they’re happy when the person they’re with is under that control, doing what the controller wants – especially if it is waiting at home patiently for them, meekly and mildly. I’m not really a meek and mild, wait at home type of person though haha… and that angers him, because he doesn’t have control. He had a big fit and made himself out to be the victim (no surprise there, I was fully anticipating that).

Two parts of the long & frustrating conversation with him:

Him: So what… I’m not allowed to go out drinking and having fun anymore? I have to stay home with you because you’re not drinking?
Me: I never, ever said that or asked that of you. I have absolutely no problem with you going out with your friends and drinking. No problem with that at all. I am getting out hiking and exploring. Would you like to join me for that? (he says no). I didn’t think so.

Him: I wouldn’t get mad if you came to the bar and didn’t drink, or if you started drinking again.
Me: (calmly) I don’t really give a shit if you did or didn’t get mad at me for not drinking. I’m putting myself and my sobriety first here, and doing what I need to do to stay sober.
Him: OH, THAT’S NICE – SO YOU DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT MY FEELINGS?!
Me: What? I said I’m putting my sobriety first and I don’t give a shit if you do or don’t get mad that I’m not drinking
Him: EXACTLY! You don’t give a shit about my feelings!

Seriously, what the hell! He is 55 yrs old and more exhausting to deal with than a toddler having a temper tantrum.

I managed to keep my calm for a conversation that should have been really difficult and was filled with a sense of relief when I told him that yes, it’s over (realistically it has been for months). I’ve been unhappy for a long time and things aren’t working out and I tried to do it in a way where I shouldered the blame and told him that we just have two very different personalities. I don’t want things to get ugly. I know that he will play the victim to his friends and family. I know that it’s not going to be smooth. I have been dreading this because of his controlling and angry personality. It was a lot easier for me to just live in the shadows mainly being ignored and unnoticed. Now I just have to figure out living arrangements (I still have my old house but there are renters in it, so it won’t be a sudden quick move unfortunately). The GOOD thing is that most of my stuff is still packed in boxes because he never wanted me to put any of my stuff out in the house! I seriously have clothes to pack, one end table next to the couch with some pictures and a salt lamp on it, some scented wax warmers, coffee cups and a few other odds and ends and that’s it (if there was any question on why it hasn’t felt like a home to me).

Sheesh, why didn’t someone warn me that this was what sobriety looked like? heehee. πŸ˜‰

 

44 and not too sore

Today I turn 44 yrs old. I am also 295 days alcohol, drug and smoke free.

I had my tarot cards read the other day by a friend of a friend who truly does have a gift. The last time I had them read was several years ago and I was really struggling. I was in a pretty dark place and already feeling sad and lonely in the relationship and I don’t remember a lot of what she told me but I do remember crying through most of the reading. This time she told me to take notes. So I did.

She laid the cards out in their nice little rows and all I saw was a LOT of cups and swords and what looked like a person being tortured in the first row, and a devil in there in one of the rows, and a death card (I think) and some sort of burning tower near the end and other pictures that looked a little scary.

“Wow” the card reader said. I exhaled nervously. “No, really, this is amazing. I haven’t seen cards this great in a long time. This is fantastic” she tried to assure me. Then she started off with the first row which represented recent past, and she got a little choked up and she told me “You’ve been through so much, it’s been really tough for you, but you’re coming out of that dark dark place and you are doing great. You’re doing so great, and you are on the right path”

Here are some of the notes I took:

  • Take weekend trips (she told me that it’s important that I take time for myself, that I get away, that I “take weekend trips”. I have been trying to do this at least once a month so honestly I think my mouth fell open with surprise when she said this)
  • Tap into things that you’re not familiar with (wow, that has been the theme this past 295 days! lol)
  • Devil card – temptation – trust instincts – go for it
  • Categorize and weigh options and pros and cons
  • Doing a great job of working on myself
  • take inventory of myself
  • Hanged man – decision making – take time
  • In a few months I will need to make a major decision that could result in something lifechanging and amazing (I think this was the burning tower and death card row)

Oh and also that I really need to work on my organization skills and be careful with my money, be thankful of things and some other stuff too. It was interesting and fun!