Try Not to Doubt Yourself

Doubting yourself is a clear act of human nature.  There are times that the feelings of being inadequate, or failing miserably are like reels of film playing over in your brain. It just wont stop – you beat yourself up.  The instances of this happening to me happen often, but are now subsiding quicker than they once did.  I am now able to use mechanisms I learned and am still practicing to see my self-worth and to take things lighter – without taking everything personally.

So.  I was an interviewee on a podcast.  I actually heard about Recovery Elevator from someone’s blog that I follow.  I started listening to it the day I became sober, and have not stopped.  The host interviews people of all walks of sober life.  Whether you are a long timer, or have a mere 11 hours without a drink.  He just wants to know more about the people’s stories behind their drinking, how they are quitting and what is going to help them stay sober.  It is a pretty great podcast!  I emailed him when I wanted to be part of the facebook group – Café RE.  I asked him if he has any episodes to recommend where someone talks about themselves having an “alter ego” or becoming mean when they are drinking. He said nothing came to mind, and that he would like to hear my story.

Whhhhhhat?!

At first in my head I was like – YEAH!!  But that was only my second week into this, and I could tell my emotions were on a ride, and unsure of the next corner we were turning at any given moment. So I held off.  Not until my 30 days did I feel like I was under better emotional control and actually understood a lot of my own story and was then, comfortable sharing it.

Back to the doubting yourself part.  After my interview – I internally freaked out.  I wanted to call him back and say “pleaseee do not edit or put that out in public”, or “can we do that over!?”  I thought I blew it. I was convinced that I had.  I was going over it like a script in my head that I completely lost my lines and anything pertinent I wanted to share.  Jen was cool as a cucumber and said, “so what if you did mess up or say something dumb?  You have NEVER talked publicly about this, or have EVER been interviewed on the phone before”.

Be easy with yourself.  The hardest part was done – and I ultimately was proud that I reached outside my comfort zone in hopes to be there for others.  The podcast was released this past Monday.  Guess what??  It was NOT as bad as I thought.  Jen and I listened to it while on our road trip – somewhere in Tennessee or West Virginia I think. I shared it with close family and friends who also were proud.

I want to share it with all you out there. It is with intention that I have not spoken of certain topics here on my blog that I do bring up on the podcast.  However, at this point in my life and in my sobriety I am becoming aware that my past is my past.  I have learned from it all and am now on the path to a better future. I cannot and do not want to leave things out of my story that could perhaps resonate with another person needing help creating their best selves.

Recovery Elevator – Episode 138: The Science of Addiction

Paul begins the episode chatting about an article he finds in National Geographic.  My interview follows afterward. Thank you in advance for those of you who take the time to listen.  Community is key when it comes to succeeding in sobriety, that is one thing I will never doubt.  Myself on the other hand….well, I’m a work in progress ❤

 

 

Happy Friday!  Here are some pictures from our road trip below:

 

On the Road

Journal entry from yesterday, October 9th, 2017. Right now we are back in NY, a few hours left until we reach our home ❤️


I’m still here! 66 days into this journey. Life has been so busy, but so good.  Jen and I have been on the road since the end of September (29th-ish). Vermont, Syracuse, Maryland, Richmond, Virginia, Asheville, NC, and lastly Pennsylvania. Staying in a town called Ohiopyle – I think it’s funny. The town itself has a population of 59! Interesting.

We have been grateful for nice traveling weather. Just yesterday it began to rain and is consistently doing so this morning. I’m sitting on a little porch in Babcock State Park – drinking coffee, listening to the music of the raindrops on the leaves. This place is so full of beauty, and the sound is like a symphony because we are so deep into the woods.  The trees are all amazing with their bursts of yellow, red and green. 

I feel so lucky. Not some superficial, glad to still be on vacation, luck. But true, deep into my soul ache of gratitude for being able to see a small chunk of the world that I had not seen before. That I’ve been able to see familiar faces of friends and family members along the way. Lastly, I’m lucky I’ve found peace and strength with each day of sobriety. 

I clearly have learned on this trip that at times, I still struggle.  How could I not, when it seems that a new microbrewery or winery has been built on every corner we turned, in any county we entered?!  How romanticized drinking really is. How interesting that now, for me – it is the least sexy thing I could do for myself.  The emotions I have felt while running into my “ex”, alcohol, have been like the beads of rain drops on all the leaves around me. Some just roll off, never to be seen – or felt again. But sometimes it lingers and lays on the leaf, or in me – and we just have to hang for a while.

I run through emotional checklists like:

  • I’m okay – yes.
  • Do I want to drink? No!
  • It makes me mad to see it everywhere – usually.
  • I’ll get through all these feelings – yes.
  • Will I regret staying sober another day? Hell no!

I make it through – another time, minute or day. So grateful. 

The world is an amazing place – go see it.

Life is an amazing thing – and we must feel that. 

Day 30

In our apartment you can hear the rain outside as it trickles through the pipes that run through our walls, close to the ceiling.  The constant running and “tick-tick-tick” of that water reminds me of the thoughts in my brain as I try to articulate the last 30 days.

I have had no alcohol in my system in 30 days.  Wow.  I particularly knew I could do this, as I have done it before.  However, my situation is now different.  I have a greater appreciation for myself and for the reasons to why I have stopped all together.  As I have mentioned in the past, when I stopped drinking before – I never planned on it being in perpetuum. This time – I am sober today.  I plan on also being that way tomorrow and the next day, and the next.  You’re catching my drift – but, it is daunting to think that far ahead into the future, as we cannot control anything except the moment for which we are currently in.  Every night during these last 30 days, I have gone to bed proud, relieved, and humbled to be in a place of such growth at my age.  I am not worried about the “what ifs” in my future; and the guilt of things I have done in my past because of drinking is slowly dissipating like the sound of the rain in the pipes near the ceiling.

I am a “human-being”, not a “human-doing”.

This is a quote that I heard in this past weeks AA meeting, and it resonates within me so.  We (maybe it’s just me, but doubtful) get so caught up in every day on the “go go go” mentality.  Overbooking, overlooking, and really feeling inadequate if the high standard mold we created doesn’t quite cut it, we get upset and down on ourselves.  Can it be possible to break our molds of self depreciation and to just be “ok” – just being?  Being happy, and healthy, and satisfied – even when the dishes don’t get finished, or if the day didn’t go according to plan.  I think it is possible.  As I become more pendulous through my days, I see every one as a chance to live.  I am trying my hardest to not bombard my brain with useless thoughts of not being enough, and congratulating myself instead on a job well done because I am surviving.  I don’t have to fog my feelings with alcohol to feel “better”.  I don’t have to pretend that everything is okay when it really isn’t sometimes.  How cool is that.  At that same  meeting I also heard that in fact, some flowers bloom when they have been placed under stress.  It is quite amazing that we as humans are much the same, rising time and time again after we fall.  Blooming like the beautiful flowers after little light. 

So here’s to another 30 after this, but taking it one day at a time.

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Jen gave this to me soon after I decided to quite drinking. It says “Retiring Carol, Discovering Carey 8*4*2017”. She has been my biggest advocate and support system. I am so lucky to have her next to me every day.
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My new mug, sent to me from my best friend Corrine. She moved to NC a few years ago and we have remained so close. After sharing my blog with her – she sent me this and a long letter that had me in tears. I am so grateful for her friendship!!

 

 

 

The Climb

Although my posts have been infrequent since beginning this blog, I can assure you that my brain has been a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions daily, and I am always looking forward to what may come from my fingers to the pen and paper, or straight onto the keyboard. Unraveling and understanding my past leading to the choice to stop drinking and then subsequently sharing my story excites me, and exhausts me at the same time.

 I feel as if I have completely barricaded myself from a toxic relationship – one that formed over many years of trying to “work it out” – you know how those ones go…

It’s Thursday night, and all week it felt as if it should already just be Friday.  How does that happen?  As the minutes go by sometimes – we wonder are the days really always 24 hours?  Some go by so fast, and others….so damn slow.  Jen and I have had a whirlwind of activities since the last time I posted.  #1 most exciting being: I bought my wedding dress!!!  I couldn’t be more excited for our wedding day.  All of the planning so far as come easily and been fun, 274 more days…but who is counting 😉 We also went  out to dinner with a couple friends, had 2 birthday parties, hosted a dinner party and a few other things on top of crazy work weeks for the both of us.

Damn, we keep busy.  I wouldn’t have it any other way though.  I am also finding time for me – to write, even if it is on paper for the time being, to knit, and I have practiced meditation most mornings – which I think is going to become a daily thing because I can completely feel a difference when I add it into my morning routine. As amazing as our social calendar can get, and how fulfilling our day to day lives are; if I am being totally honest here – all week I have struggled with a hefty load of anxiety, PMS, and mood issues! What gives.  I’m only guessing when I try and figure out exactly where it all comes from.  None of the above is brand new since quitting drinking, however, I am sure it plays a part with the frequency in which it is occurring, and how I am coping with it all.  Perhaps in the past I would have leaned into the anxiety with a nice bottle of wine – just to cushion the uncomfortable feelings about my insecurity, or worries.  Or blamed a couple drinks for my moody behavior.

Well that is no more.  I am taking more responsibility for my ups and my downs.  I want to lean into the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts until it all makes more sense as to why it is there. It is there for a reason, to learn from or to grow with.  I truly believe life isn’t always after us – even when it seems unfair or exhausting…lean in.  I am a big proponent of reducing the stigma within mental health, so I find it important for me to discuss that being part of my path here as well.  I am on the hunt for a new therapist, someone I can break down every day thoughts and feelings, and give them appropriate shelter in my brain, and make room for the really good stuff to bloom.

“It’s he or she who’s willing to be the most uncomfortable can rise strong”

Brené Brown

Now, I must mention my first AA meeting! Jen joined, as well as a friend who is in recovery and offered to come with. I was so freaking nervous.  Everyone was so incredibly kind.  One girl was brave enough to raise her hand when they asked “is anyone here for the first time”…that girl wasn’t me.  I was too busy with my sweaty palms and racing heart.  I recognized a couple faces in the room, which made me even MORE nervous – like “shit! They see me, I see them…eek, what must they think!?”  Then I snapped into reality.  They are there for the exact same reason I am. I listened to stories in which I was able to relate to on so many levels, and was impressed at the authenticity of the group. Everyone who spoke initially welcomed that new girl and said if she needed anything at all – that they were there.  I kind of regretted not raising my hand! When we were outside after the meeting, a girl came up to us and introduced herself. She said she missed introductions of the new people.  I admitted to not raising my hand, told her my name and began talking about the process of attending meetings, perhaps acquiring a “job” to do at meetings which equals accountability.  It led to talking about sponsors and how they are part of your growth in sobriety, etc. She and another member said they’d make their sponsees call random people on the list of members, just to get outside their comfort zone.  I was like uhhhh, scary. Then all of a sudden, the girl was giving me her number and said, “I’ll make it less awkward for you – call me tomorrow!!”  That was it! So I called her the next day, we chatted briefly and have texted a few times. I planned on going again this past Tuesday, but got stuck late at work.  I look forward to next week when I am not the late shift person and can enjoy another meeting – and possibly raise my hand this time!

Whoever has gotten this far in reading this post – I thank you.  It is as if the world has created a new mountain for me to climb and you are my belay.  Making sure I rise to the top safely, but still letting me do the brunt of it on my own.

Until next time.

 

So much love,

Carey

 

What the Future Holds

“Change often occurs when the pain of the current situation becomes so great you become willing to change without fully understanding what the future holds”

Annie Grace

I feel like I have so much to say.  It has been just a week since my last post and I can honestly say – I went through some potentially tempting and risky social situations! With my willpower going strong and my support growing huge, I made it to another week.  I am 3 days away from being two weeks without a sip of alcohol.  I have really gotten into the Recovery Elevator podcast, and I think Paul the host would say – just take it one day at a time.  Anything can happen in three days, the thought of what the future holds is daunting, and can cause anxiety. So I will follow that advice, and just not drink today. Today is all we can promise.

Lets break it down with the situations I found myself in this past week!

1.) Going to a lake house with family.

This was an amazing trip!  We got there the day before my sisters so we got a little 2:2 time with dad and Wendy.  We chatted about the blog, my dad turning 60, going on the boat, etc.  Nobody drank at dinner.  I assured everyone they could if they wanted!  They were all respectful, and like I had heard before in the last almost two weeks,  people are being mindful of their own habits.  By me not drinking, I believe it could inspire others to look into their own lives.  Do they really need that drink with their dinner?

 My sisters and their kids arrived, as well as their husbands.  My brother in law made a joke about “why I couldn’t just push it back a week” – so I could drink with them at the lake house.  This bugged me, but I didn’t really expect much else from him.  Refer to the top of this post for an amazing quote by Annie Grace.  That is exactly why I couldn’t wait.  I was just ready. Jen was a key factor in me keeping my – I guess you would say “resentment” feelings at bay.  I get in my head. I’d randomly through the weekend emotionally kick myself and say “why couldn’t you just have a few beers and be good with that?” or “whats wrong with you – that you had no self control several times while drinking..that has led you to this?”.  Well…fuck it. It was my journey, it was how it happened.  I am deciding to not drink because of this.  I am now in control.  Annie Graces’ book “This Naked Mind”  is now right next to me after hearing amazing things about it through the Recovery Elevator podcast, and I even heard her interview on there!  She associates our inability to really deal with our addictions fully until we uncover what we in our UNCONSCIOUS mind believes to be true.  I love it, and I cannot wait to dig deep and rewire my unconscious, so that in the near future – alcohol will be just a mere afterthought.  Anyway – Jen recommended we stay active, and that part of the reason we would even think to drink during the trip was because we were bored – and that that is just something you do…we sit around and watch the babies, and usually just drink. We thought that was fun.  What was more fun was going for daily runs, playing games, rope swing into the water, swimming, and just being present with my family. 

2.) A wedding!

My first ever sober wedding.  Imagine this….it was still a blast!  Add in the insecurity of a couple of my exes being there, and you are almost grateful to now be sober. I have mentioned before, and I will again; that when I drank, it just made my insecurities worse (not better, contrary to popular belief) and in turn made me feel very defensive of things not necessarily needing a defense. So that being said, I have to give so much appreciation to Jen again, because she was right there next to me.  Even though I said she should enjoy a drink or two – she claimed she wanted to experience her first sober wedding right along with me! She has also gotten into the RE podcast, and considers herself “sober curious”. I love her.  We were happy to enjoy each others company while catching up with friends I had not seen in a while, eating good food, and also dancing! It is possible to dance at a wedding without being hammered. Cue the shock. And yesterday when we recapped the weekend, we were almost certain that if drinking played a part in our time at the lake or wedding – we probably would have gotten into some silly argument about nothing.  All in all; a sober wedding = a fun, full of legit memory making, free of hangover good time!

Conclusion:

Ultimately, the past 1.5 weeks of sobriety has been full of willpower, encouragement, research, and connecting with those on this journey as well.  This has made me feel even more proactive with being mindful of my surroundings and keeping internal tabs on how I feel about each situation I find myself a part of.  I am glad to be documenting this process here, as it will keep me accountable and able to look back during times where I may feel uncertain of why I made this choice.  It is for the best.  There is an amazing sober community awaiting people like me who are deciding that an alcohol-free life is a better life. I found an online community already that I feel I am only just getting acquainted with – that has potential to be vital in my future of remaining sober.  The other members are real, honest, and inspiring.  I am not sacrificing a thing by choosing not to drink, I am only enhancing my experiences by being fully a part of them. 

….Now let me tell you what I am doing tonight.  I am going to attend an AA meeting.  I went to one during nursing school, as it was a requirement for one of my classes.  I have unconsciously steered away from AA before I even thought I’d quit drinking.  I am intimidated  with what I think is a “religious” organization.  However, after a lot of feedback – I am considering it more of a spiritual conquest, and I think that a lot of the people who are part of AA are also more in that realm. It will be a tool towards remaining alcohol free in addition to the several other ways I will venture through this journey.  I am curious if it will also help me curtail these unsure feelings of the “higher power” because it is in a Unitarian Universalist Church and an all women’s group. I consider myself very open minded and I know there is something to learn no matter where you are getting your support.  I look forward to sharing my experience of tonight afterward here on my blog.

These connections I am striving to make that are nearer to home I know will be super important.  There is nothing like having another person nearby to relate to. There is a recovery fitness group (ROCcovery Fitness) that I have been eyeing on Instagram.  They go for hikes together, have their own gym, and seem to be an awesome group of people!! As any social media goes, I can see that a few of my friends follow that group as well.  I may connect with them and see if they’ve ever participated, or if they want to with me!  This type of support group seems to be right up my alley being that I love to stay active and healthy.  It seems like something that is sustainable in creating new friendships and creating my best self.

So, it is clear we do not know what the future holds. No one does. But you know what sounds good? Clarity, increased health and wellness, good memories – real memories – are just a few ideas amongst several more things.

So much love and happiness.

-Carey

 

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(Just some images from this past weekend. My dad and me, good friends at the wedding photobooth, my love and me on our road trip, and the whole family after playing an intense/fun game of guesstures!)

Carey Carries On

As I sit here trying to continue learning how to navigate this blog and the “blogosphere” itself, I keep thinking to myself – just write. That is ultimately what I’m here for.  The photos linked to the site, the hashtags and followers will come with time and more experience.  When I first decided to blog, I thought I would just do it weekly…I can do a summary once a week as to how it is all going.  Then I realized that sometimes I will just want to say something that doesn’t need to, or shouldn’t wait.

So. How was the weekend, you’re wondering?  

You guys!  I am still sober.  And I am still happy.   This past weekend I was around alcohol many times, but it didn’t bother me.

It’s funny. Because this has been such a long time coming, it really doesn’t seem to be all that drastic of a lifestyle change in my mind.  However, to several of the people I told over the weekend – I think it seems like “whhhhat?” to them. But I wouldn’t know it.  Everyone was so on board.  I didn’t get push-back from the ones who were unaware of my trials and tribulations with drinking..they were like “cool”, or “kudos”.  It was awesome.  Then there are the people who have known about Carol and the bitches many catastrophes. They were like “cool, or “kudos”.

See what I’m saying?  Everyone was supportive. I know that it was only a handful of acquaintances, family, and friends so far…but it meant so much to me.  I would have to say, explaining the issue as a whole and then my decision to stop drinking to the lets say – “unaware”, was almost easier.  Their reaction was important to me, but it wasn’t like they ever had to deal with Carol.  When I told my friends and family who have encountered her –  their response made it the most amazing, autonomous decision. They didn’t shout “HALLELUJAH”, or “FINALLY- she’s gone!”.  They were like: “I like that Carol’s retiring” and “that’s good”.

My heart.  People are so good. My people are just so wonderful.  I am very lucky to have a life here that is my own and a life where I can also rely on many to get me to the places I know I belong. I know the road to staying free from drinking alcohol, or as I read on hip-sobriety’s blog -“teetotal-ling”, is not going to be free from issue or temptation.  I know this, and am ready for the journey.  This empowering feeling of control I have right now is overwhelming in a good way.  I look forward to being my best self.

I also look forward to sharing many stories with you all throughout my time blogging as to what has gotten me here.  That is one of the many reasons I am blogging in the first place.  I want to be sure that when the next person my age comes along looking for another person out there who has struggled and decides to reign it in and needs support – this will be here for them. I want to be able to relate, and meet others in the same shoes.  They are worn shoes, with many miles of stories and ideas. So they should continue moving…we will continue moving together.

Finally Ready

Day One

30 years and 10 days old.  Sitting on the couch with Jen – I’ve made the decision to stop drinking alcohol. This has been something I’ve said I wanted to do, should do, and even have tried to do.  However, I put a limit on it.  I did it “until” something.  The last time being when I was waiting to find out if I was accepted to nursing school.  I was sober for approximately 10 weeks straight.  I remember feeling clear minded, more in control. If i was accepted though, I’d obviously celebrate with wine.  I was accepted, and I drank the wine…and then more.  I started school – which was a 1 year accelerated bachelors in nursing program, it was rough.  I am not sure how I created “free time”, but when I did, it was spent planning another outing. Most likely a party, or to a bar.  I’d study with wine or beer sometimes, even. I guess you could say I thought it was just “something you did”.  Being an adult = being able to choose when I can drink.

Rewind my life several years.  In high school, I think I got drunk one time.  I didn’t like it. My goal then was not to be a rebel and party.  I struggled elsewhere.  I battled with the feelings of not being accepted or fitting in.  I came out at a young age as “bisexual”.  I still did not quite understand the internal turmoil of what was right or wrong – or what was real, and what wasn’t.  From as early as I can remember, caring about what another person thought about me – who I was, how I behaved, what I was doing in every day life – completely drove my day-to-day actions for the most part.  I still to this day compete with the better part of my brain that their opinion DOES NOT MATTER. But how do you just stop caring, or more-so, worrying?

Some days, the thoughts of not being good enough, or people not liking me for me just completely consumes my brain.  My thoughts often lean toward craving validation from others.  That I am a good person, or nurse, or partner. Isn’t it human nature to need that support?  However, having just entered a new decade in my life, I am striving for something new.  I am surrounding myself with the awareness that I, in fact, am enough. I will not tolerate belittling who I am for the sake of others.  I am attempting to be more in tune with being present, listening to others – instead of selfishly bombarding my brain with what they are thinking about me.  I’m just going to be me. Period.

         Let me introduce Carol so then it is clear as to why she is retiring. She is a tired, insecure, verbally assaulting antagonist who comes creeping out when I have alcohol in my system.  She can squeak through with a mere “buzz” when provoked, or she can stay latent until I’ve reached a point of no return – AKA: blackout.  That’s right. She’s my alter ego.  The name Carol was started as kind of a joke between my sister and brother in-law…until it wasn’t very funny anymore.  With my underlying emotional/mental health quandary – Carol comes out with a vengeance – to defend only God knows what usually.  She’s unfair, unruly, and blatantly just mean.  Don’t be fooled, she does not always make an appearance.  Sometimes when I drink I am happy go lucky, excitable…and that is an issue in itself.  Because when that happens, it causes me to push the envelope.  It makes me feel like I’ve found my “good drunk” side.  However – I know I will truly never have a side such as that.  You never know when Carol will unfurl – and when she does, she isn’t ever sorry – I am.

So this is where I draw the line.  Who is better in control of our own actions that ourselves?  No one. Sure, I’ll probably always like the taste of a good beer or wine.  But is it worth the uncertainty?  If it may put my well-being and happiness on the line?  No. It isn’t.  I love my life. I have an amazing fiance, dog, friends and family.  In fact, some have said before that they prefer who I am while sober.  I am now at the point and the realization that I, myself, prefer me 100% sober.  I am confident in that. I want that.  It is going to be a road of learning how to maintain friendships with some of the people whom I normally spend time where alcohol is the main ingredient between us.  If it is “friends” like that who I’ll lose, then that’s OK.  Gratefully, the closest friends I already have and my family, I know will support my decision.  They will encourage me, and pick me up when I am down.  I will keep building those relationships. I have a positive feeling that this will also keep my [less than] year left of planning our wedding the most truly felt and real experience.  I cannot wait to marry Jen and create a forever life with her.  I am extremely lucky for her eyes that see my potential, and for her ears that hear even the quietest messages of what I really need in my life. Which is the here and now, It is becoming sober.

This is Day One.  Welcome to the adventure.  It is going to be full of discovery, clarity, and love.

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