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Original Post Date: 10/21/2017
79 Days alcohol free….
As I type this blog post and check in with my alcohol sobriety timer app, I am 79 days into my sobriety journey. It took me a few years, but I finally decided to quit my unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
From the outside, I probably didn’t look like your typical heavy drinker. I ate a pretty healthy diet, did occasional juice cleanses, and exercised daily…I’m also a fitness professional and work in the health and wellness industry…so I really didn’t “fit the mold” of a heavy drinker….but I was.
Since college, I had been what would be considered a heavy (and technically, binge) drinker, easily throwing back 4 or more drinks (double rum and Diet Coke was my jam) every single night. (Adding it up, I had been a heavy drinker for at least 12 years, subtracting out my 4 pregnancies.) If I was drinking wine, finishing a bottle and getting started on a second was no biggie to my tolerance (which had increased considerably over the years.)
Each morning, as the guilt would settle in over how much I drank the night before, I would tell myself that today is the day to cut back, drink less, take a day off….and it would never happen.
Life, instead, would happen and I would turn to the bottle. I was a high functioning heavy drinker (or I can’t even write this word, but I will. Alcoholic. There. I said it.) What once seemed to be a release from the daily grind of raising my little ones, working part time, and keeping my family functioning turned into an unhealthy, dependent relationship with alcohol.
My postpartum anxiety and depression were made worse by the heavy drinking, only temporarily burying it while under the influence. Come 3am, the guilt, the hole in my heart, the angst and fear over life would come rushing back (along with that pounding headache!) finding its seat back on top of my chest. Crushing me. Screaming at me. Reminding me that I’m a failure. I’ve failed again.
The Beginning of my Sobriey Quest
My quest for sobriety unknowingly began in June of 2016, when we found out we were expecting again.
I never had a problem quitting alcohol during my pregnancies, but I knew something was up when we found out we were unexpectedly expecting our 4th child (despite my IUD). I was bitter that I suddenly had to quit drinking, again for the 4th time, to grow a baby. I had never felt this way before. Giving up alcohol was welcomed with my first three pregnancies, but to suddenly have to commit to it again for practically another year was frustrating. Having to give up alcohol felt like I was losing my freedom over my own body, yet again. I did it, but just equated my feelings with the fact that I swore up and down I was done having babies after number 3, and the fact that having number 4 on board meant that I would have grown 4 babies over the course of 5 years.
As I progressed through my pregnancy, however, I kept finding myself daydreaming more and more about sobriety. I visualized myself using this ‘forced’ sobriety period as a gateway into permanent sobriety. I imagined what that would look like for me, to never have another drink. I imagined what my family would say. I thought of my kids never having to see mommy holding another “adult beverage” that was off limits to them.
What my conscience was onboard for, my subconscience had not caught up with yet, because a few weeks after giving birth, the desire to have a drink hit me HARD.
And it began with a beer.
Drinking a beer each night to help with milk production (or so I told myself….a lie for me, but an excuse to drink….nothing ever helped me with milk production, I just plain struggled with producing milk for all 4 of my babies!) turned into several glasses of wine once I gave up my (failing) breastfeeding endeavors. Finally progressing to hard liquor drinks, several per night. My vision of me being a sober mama still lingered in the back of my mind, but my subconscious told me, every night that I earned those drinks.
….That I deserved to have a release in some form.
….That I made it through another day raising my tribe.
….That I got my workout in for the day, I earned the calories.
….That I had enough calories saved for a drink (because I was beginning to really limit my food too in order to drink more without weight gain, which was starting down a whole other path of issues for me.)
Every excuse or lie my subconscience could think of for why I needed those drinks, she would (easily) convince me.
Fear of the Unknown
I really began wondering where my life was heading. What could possibly be so wrong with nightly drinking? (Everything.) Am I turning into the alcoholic mother that my kids would grow to hate and would need therapy over during their adult years? (Possibly.) Am I starting down the road to alcoholism? (I knew the dependency was already there, but at what point would I begin risking it all for alcohol?) I started seeing myself beginning to drink a bit earlier on the days where I didn’t have to work in the evening. Throwing back a shot or three before heading out with my family for our Saturday day trips. Where would it end? When would it stop? What would stop me? I saw this as the beginning of a downward spiral, and thank God I was able to jump off.
I began researching sobriety online.
I knew I wasn’t at the point where I needed to check into a clinic (again, thank God) but I knew if I didn’t begin my journey now, who knows what I might have needed even 6 months down the line. I came across several resources, from online hypnosis courses to Transcendental Meditation. I tried a few online hypnosis tracks that focused on drinking less, but not sobriety. It was okay, but on those days when my emotions/parenting/my life got the best of me, I found I still over-medicated with alcohol.
I needed full blown sobriety, not alcohol intake monitoring.
I randomly came across a blog called Hip Sobriety, a young woman’s raw and beautiful journey about her struggles and triumphs with sobriety, and finding her way and herself in the process. In one post, she shared an invaluable list of books that helped her develop a holistic recovery (which I love this concept of recovering mind, body and spirit, and beginning the process of shedding light on what caused the addiction in the first place!!)
One of her first recommendations was a book called This Naked Mind by Annie Grace (full review of this book coming very soon!). I began reading it (while still having my nightly drinks), and as I read and absorbed everything in this book, my conscience and subconscience finally (FINALLY) came to an agreement that I shouldn’t drink at all anymore.
I DON’T need to drink.
I deserve to experience life and all it has to offer, sober.
My journey thus far has definitely been a work in progress, but in finding my sobriety, I no longer see it as missing out on something, but gaining my life back and finding my freedom.