Feel No Shame

When I was drinking, EVERTHING I did revolved around it. Whether I was conscious of it or not-aside from the fact that I spent all day either regretting having had a bottle of wine the night before and promising myself that I wasn’t going to drink that day to then of course, turning into the parking lot of one of my many  rotating venues to buy that days’ bottle.  Rotating because, GASP!, I didn’t want anyone to think I bought a bottle EVERY day and was a heavy drinker! You may ask why didn’t I just buy, say, a case at a time and be done with it for 12 days?  Well, as you may have guessed, if I bought more than one bottle at a time, I would always open a second one-so basically, I was giving myself a false sense of being in control. Hah! Yeah, right! I also felt like maybe if I made it a bit more difficult on myself, by having to make a stop every day, it would- what?  Shit, I don’t know! It all seems so crazy now!  Especially since I was in a profession where I spent a pretty good amount of time in various stores where I could always slip a bottle into the cart.  I mean, I was the boss right?  And I could always stash the bottle somewhere where my staff never saw it-say in my big handbag! My God! the effort that went into me just getting the damn stuff!

But, another part of drinking the way I did was that it kept me from doing things.  Oh, I was extremely productive at work. I worked out a lot.  Kept up with my dog walks, my chores around the house, all of that stuff.  What I didn’t like to do was to make plans to go anywhere outside of my little realm. I didn’t want to go to concerts because I might not be able to get my “quota” in there and get home.  Didn’t want to go to parties because people might see how much I drank or I would regret something the next day-of what I could remember.  Or, when I did go somewhere-say a neighborhood happy hour, I would have a glass of wine-maybe two-and then make some excuse to leave early. This gave the appearance of me being someone who could take it or leave it. Of course when I got home, I would open and finish off a bottle of wine.  If I was at a dinner party, I would have to consciously pace myself to such a degree that it was stressful-and no fun. And of course, it was a rare thing that I didn’t throw pacing myself out the window after a few glasses of wine.  Going out to dinner became a problem as not only did my SO object to the cost of the pre dinner cocktails and then me guzzling down most of a bottle of wine, but to quote him directly, he “didn’t like having to hold me up whilst making an exit from a restaurant”. Of course my SO could never have a drink because he always had to be the driver. Not that he ever has more than one drink, but it’s just not really fair to him, is it?

Anyway, the point is that while I was in the thick and grip of drinking, I didn’t really do much else.  I kept myself in kind of an alcohol fumed bubble and it totally permeated every aspect of my life.

And then! I stopped! Well, well, well! that created a whole new problem for me-and as I read through blogs of others getting sober, I wasn’t alone.  Again, it was fear that kept me from doing things-such as going to parties, dinner parties, happy hours-pretty much anything that took place in the evening.  Now I was afraid to go somewhere because I wasn’t drinking! Boy! talk about a Catch 22!  Here I was, doing something-accomplishing something that I had struggled with for years!  Instead of feeling proud of it, or owning it, I was ashamed of it.  Afraid that I would succumb to temptation if I was around others drinking.  And, How in the hell could I have any fun anywhere?  Oh! and then people would know that I had a problem with alcohol! Of course the fear and unease stemmed from the fact that I hadn’t done anything alcohol free in-well pretty much my whole adult life.  Most of the people in my life-with the exception of clients-didn’t know me not drinking.  Hell! I didn’t know me not drinking.  I was fragile.  My emotions, because they weren’t numbed out, were all over the place.  I didn’t have the “confidence booster” of a glass, or ten, of wine.  As I’m writing this I get the picture of a Light Being coming out of an egg and just kind of at first, peeking out-then little by little taking small steps out to look around.  Slowly, coming out until she’s finally OUT! Surrounded by light!

At this point in my sobriety, it seems crazy that I was fearful to go to a party and not drink.  It’s seems absolutely CRAZY that I was ashamed that I had quit drinking! However, I get it.  I realize that everything has to be done in small steps.  BUT, the steps have to be taken.   I’m not saying to rush things, yet at the same time, the reason we quit was to have a more fulfilling life.  Not to hide away from life.  Drinking was hiding away from life.  Having said that, while even the tinyest step will feel outside your comfort zone, there are some things that may help-that helped me.  At 3 months sober, my SO and I took a BIG trip to Hong Kong-this was planned way before I quit drinking.  And while I didn’t really have a problem with not drinking, I wasn’t prepared to deal with the whole sensory overload that occurred.  I will say that a place like Hong Kong is a sensory overload anytime, but I had never experienced it on this leval and sober.  I did connect with the fact that I was glad I wasn’t drinking during that trip because of all of the “sneaking” I would have to do and what a logistical nightmare it would have been!  Having to rush to the nearest convience store for some unnecessary item-trying to hide my purchases- all of that bullshit. Anyway, after the trip, I was an emotional wreck.  But I got through it.  Without booze.

At 6 months sober, I went to Mexico-alone.  Margherita Land.  Not a problem.  NOT ONCE!  By that time, I was grounded enough in my sobriety so that it wasn’t an issue.

I’ve found that the sooner I get a glass in my hand-with a non alcoholic beverage- the better.  The less questions are asked.  And, as time has gone on, what I really notice is that for the most part, people don’t really care. And I don’t really care about answering that I quit drinking-it was time and just leaving it at that.  Their reaction is just that-THEIR reaction. I’ve also noticed that for the most part, people don’t drink as much as they did-or as I THOUGHT  they did.  Knowing, of course that I was always the one who had drunk the most!

Having an escape plan is always a good thing.  Being able to leave early-take a loo break, whatever-if you need to leave-LEAVE.  It’s okay! 

While I’m not saying to push yourself to do something that totally freaks you out, I also think that as we face our fears, they begin to diminish.  As we become more comfortable with who we are now that we are not drinking, it becomes easier to be in situations where people are drinking.  It also becomes more and more apparent who drinks too much!  To be honest, I’ve found that the people that have the strongest reaction to those of us who have quit are the ones who just may have a problem of their own.

So what I’m saying is DO NOT BE ASHAMED THAT YOU HAVE QUIT DRINKING.  DO NOT BE ASHAMED THAT YOU HAD A PROBLEM WITH ALCOHOL. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF!  Having said that, you don’t have to scream it off the rooftops-unless you want to of course! Be proud of the fact that you are aiming to live a better, fuller life. And remember, life is full of ups and downs.  There are always things that will bring you joy and things that will feel uncomfortable. There will be good days and not so good days-and downright shitty days.

In watching the Olympics and in thinking about the athletes, I am blown away by them. By their perseverance and will power to succeed-to be the best they can be.  The woman that won the half pike snowboarding competition was declared the winner before her turn-she was last and she had already won in her first run. She could have just gotten on the podium and raised her hands in victory.  BUT! She took a “victory” lap and beat her winnning score! Everytime a skater falls, I wince.  And then marvel at how they pick themselves up and continue on.  These people have found what their passion is and have done an insane amount of work and at times suffered horrific setbacks to succeed.  I think we all have some of that in us.                                                                                                 YOU have some of that in YOU.

With love





Under the Influence

I started thinking about this the other day.  I was out running around and went into a Nordstrom Rack-one of the great American discount stores.  While I wasn’t looking for a watch, one caught my eye.  To be honest, I could use a new one as I’ve been wearing the same designer watch for about 8 years-which I bought with my CostCo rewards points! I do love a deal! Anyway, I really liked this one.  And it was a great price. But, I did what I do in situations like these-“these” meaning trying to avoid impulse shopping.  I walked away.  This is what I do. Then, if I continue to think about it for a day or so,  I go back. Oftentimes, I forget about whatever it was that I had to have and that’s the end of it.  Well, not this time.  So, I went back-looked at it again, tried it on again and still loved it. So I bought it.  We’re talking under $70.00 here-by no means a Rolex!  I got home and showed it to my SO. He was “nice” but I could tell that he didn’t really like it.  Now I have to be clear here, I realized a long time ago that we rarely have the same taste in jewelry.  To be honest, I’ve made it clear to him that if the time comes and he wants to buy me an expensive something, he is by no means to do it without getting me involved in picking it out! This may sound bitchy, but A-I don’t imagine that time will come anytime soon and B-I don’t want to feel obligated to wear something I don’t really like.  Just trying to cover my bases here!  Anyway, after his reaction, I started to doubt myself and wonder if I really did like it. After angsting over it a few days I realized that YES I do like it!  So, I’ve kept it-worn it a few times and love it.

But, this got me thinking.  About “Being Under the Influence”.  In my case, I was allowing my SO’s opinion to influence my own.  Now, I’ll admit, at times, this is a good thing-but not in this case-and not all the time.  So, I started wondering just how much outside influence I allow in my every day life-I mean do I like Chanel because it’s cool and expensive and seems to be the yardstick for good taste and wealth? Or do I really love the design of the clothes?  If a Mercedes didn’t have it’s trademark logo on the hood, would we still think it was a great car-something for many to aspire to?

We are influenced every day by millions of things-by the weather, by the news, by other people’s opinions or reviews, by what someone looks like, by religious teachings, by certain colors, by energy,  and on and on and on.  It really takes some thought and consciousness to dig down past the outside influences and get to the core of what one really believes. To get to what feels right for each individual person.  I suppose there are so many people that just let any and all outside influences dictate their lives.  And of course, there are some people who have no choice.  Say people living under a dictatorship-or even in Puerto Rico right now.

So of course all this is coming down to “Being under the Influence” of alcohol or drugs. Why in the world, with all of the outside unwanted influences would we choose this one?  I know, I know- it numbs us out from all of those other things we can’t control-all of that BS.  But in reality, it just adds to the muddle and mix of all of those other influences.  It keeps us from being able to come out from under the influence.  To surface from that deep place that is truely US-truely ME. To really own who we are and to be okay with that. To understand that we all have flaws and we all have attributes. We all have something to offer and that it’s ok to go against the current at times if that’s what really feels right for Me. At times, it takes courage to do this.  To stand up and believe something that one’s peers don’t-to walk away from something that many are participating and believe in.  I wonder how many Neo Nazis would feel differently if they’d had different influences in their lives-How many teenagers (me included) would not have started years of chemical abuse without succumbing to the peer pressure of their friends.  I wonder if how maybe, we were all encouraged by society and those with the most influence over us starting at a young age to be aware of and really ask ourselves, what is right for us.  How it would be to live in a society of such consciousness that all of the outside noise of everyone elses opinions were acknowledged to be just that? Noise? EVERYONE ElSES OPINIONS.  

My aim is to try to be a little more conscious every day.  To really question myself in a situation-to ask myself “Is this really how I feel or am I being influenced by x,y and z?”

Naturally there are times, when I will be influenced.  And that’s okay-if I’m conscious of it.   And, there will be times when I’m not aware of it. But at least one of the things I won’t be inluenced by anymore is alcohol. That in itself casts a shadow over everything else. Over all of the other influences. Because it’s always there-lurking. Whether it’s acknowledged  or not, it comes into play.  Drinking has become a “normalized” influence. For example, the other night I was watching a new TV show-The Good Doctor about an autistic doctor.  It’s pretty good-anyway, in this episode a man was awaiting a liver transplant.  It was going to happen, but then when they did his blood work, it showed that he had a low amount of alcohol in it.  When confronted the man admitted he’d had one glass of champagne at his daughter’s graduation party-so “he could be normal”. Why do we think that it’s normal to drink????

There are so many subtle influences in our lives.  Why choose one consciously that at some point will have no positive consequences. Driving Under the Influence.  Operating Under the Influence. Being under the influence does not have a positive ring to it. Below is a definition of being under the influence:

Psychoactive Drugs!  Now there’s a thought! I mean when I think of “psychoactive drugs” the first thing that comes to mind is a picture of someone who’s really mentally disturbed!  I wonder if I’d read this definition while I was still drinking what effect it would’ve had on me.. I doubt it would’ve made me quit, but I’m sure it would have been added to the list of things that contributed to my mental distress over my drinking.  And, in thinking about it, there were times-many-that without putting a name on it, I was really metally disturbed!  The more and longer I drank, the more mentally disturbed I became. God! I’m so glad that’s over!

And with that, I’ll say goodbye for now!