What I’ve learned in 61 Days of Sobriety…

For many of you out there, the summer-by terms of vacation-has come to an end.

I know because I’ve seen all of your children’s back to school pictures on facebook.

For me, this time of year just means I have another month and a half of heat and I have to get used to my boyfriend watching football every Saturday.

It also seems to serve as a time of nostalgia and reflection.  It’s difficult to walk outside and see the school parking lot across the street filling up with teenagers without remembering what it was like to be young… what it was like to start a year full of expectations and plans.

Although it’s been years (and years) since I’ve packed a bag with crisp #2 pencils and empty notebooks, it still feels like a good time to start anew; to make new habits; to make new friends.

I feel like for the first time in years, I’m off to a really good start.

quit drinking

Yesterday marked my 60th day sans alcohol. 

It’s really nothing in terms of a lifetime. but for little ole me, it feels like a really big deal.

When I started this journey, I wasn’t sure what I wanted out of it. I knew I needed a big change. I knew that I was on a destructive path, and that all of my attempts at maneuvering around the road blocks weren’t working for me.

Now I feel like I’ve made it past the giant abyss in the road, and that- while it still won’t be easy-I now have a lot less standing in my way.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been really difficult at times, and not even necessarily the “not drinking” part of it, though that has been slightly annoying. That being said, the positives of staying sober definitely outweigh the negative, even when it’s hard for me to recognize.

More than anything, I’m so grateful for all that I have learned about myself the last two months. I haven’t been proud of all the new insight I’ve gained about myself, but I’m trying my best to take bad with the good, and use it as an opportunity to grow even more.

I’m not as outgoing as I’ve always thought. I’ve always prided myself in the fact that I was good in social situations. In fact, I might say that it was one of my best features. Put me in the middle of the crowd of strangers, and I’ll be your icebreaker. I was always the person making the first attempt at making other people around me feel comfortable.

Experiencing a sober social life has quickly taught me differently. I’m still outgoing and like to be the center of attention, but only in situations where I’m very comfortable. Put me in a crowd of strangers sober? I’ll turn into a frigid block of ice.

This is one of the most difficult realizations I’ve had so far. I’ve always had anxiety, and sometimes even in social situations-I’ve just never before had to experience it without a few drinks to bring down the tension level. Plus, I realized that before I was probably only making an ass out of myself anyway.

I’m trying my best to continue to challenge myself and not stray away from social situations. It’s actually been kind of interesting to take a back seat at events and really observe what’s going on. With every uncomfortable situation I put myself in, it really does get easier.

I really feel.  I never realized how much I used wine as way to numb myself. Even though I wasn’t waking up and drinking throughout the day, I was definitely using alcohol as a form of medication.

The last couple months have sent me on a roller coaster of emotion. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I cried even more. I’ve felt hurt and jealousy. I’ve felt enormous gratitude. I’ve loved. I’ve felt extreme discomfort.

It’s not that I didn’t have these feelings before, but I’ve never given myself the opportunity to really sit with my emotions, to try to understand why I was feeling a certain  way. You know, all of those things my therapists have been telling me to do for years.

Anytime I felt anything overwhelming, I would have a few drinks to take the edge off. Even if I was feeling excited, I would have a drink to attempt to magnify that high.

I’ve never really just let myself be. This has probably been the most difficult aspect of staying sober for me. Sometimes I just want to forget. I want to feel nothing. Which is precisely why I know I’m making the correct decision right now to continue with abstinence.

 

You can eat way more calories when you’re not saving up for wine. It’s no secret that I have had some major issues with food in my life.

Quitting alcohol has by no means solved my issues, but it has taken on major layer of pressure off of the situation. I used to count calories to ensure that I left enough room in my diet for a few glasses of wine at night. Often, those few glasses of wine would lead me to a few handfuls of cheese nips or a late night grilled cheese sandwich.

I’m no longer obsessing about what I’m putting into my body. I know that I’m not going to be drinking in the evening, and that lets me enjoy my food a little more during the day.

Also, food is just much more enjoyable when I’m not preoccupied by the alcohol accompanying it. I can spend a little more money on what I eat, and not feel guilty about it.

Laughter is WAY better sober. Drinking or not, I’ve never been a person who has led a life void of laughter. I love having fun.

When I made the decision to quit drinking, it was partly because I knew that the activities that I enjoyed most in life (improv, comedy, work, movies, hiking) didn’t involve alcohol at all. That hasn’t changed.

What I have realized is that there is nothing better than the pure hysterical laughter that you get when you’re stone cold sober. I’m talking the “piss your pants” variety. I’ve had more of those than I can count in the last few months. I’m not saying that I didn’t have a good time when I was drinking… but this just feels more pure.

 I’m actually a really good sleeper. For the last 15 years, I’ve held strong to the belief that I couldn’t sleep. Some nights, I actually couldn’t, but that was most likely due to adderall.

For the longest time, I thought I was using a few glasses of wine a night to help me wine down. I thought for sure that I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep without it.

Boy, was I wrong. The last 60 days have brought me some of the greatest sleep I’ve had in my life. I go to sleep easily. I dream wonderful, weird dreams. And shockingly, I wake up feeling refreshed.

I have to take responsibility.  When drinking alcohol, you always have an excuse for your behavior. It may not be an excuse that you’re especially proud of, but in certain crowds, it can certainly be valid.

You fell off a stage and nearly broke your arm? Oh, hahahaha…. I just drank a little too much.

You told your boyfriend you wished he pooped in his pants in public? Yeah, that was just the alcohol talking. 

You fell asleep in the cab and the driver had to use your cellphone to try to find where you live? Yeah… I was tired… and drank a bottle of wine.

Without alcohol, I can safely say that I won’t find myself in most of these situations.

What I’m learning is that I’m still acting in ways that I’m not proud of, and I have to learn to take responsibility for my behavior. I can still be a major brat, and I no longer have alcohol as an excuse. Now, I’m learning (slowly) that I have to make the choice to behave in a way that I want to live with. I won’t black anything out. I won’t be able to blow something off as alcohol driven.

I’ll still make mistakes, but now I also have to take full responsibility for them.

 

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The “I Love Everyone and Screw Emotions” edition…

Most moments, I’m able to fully recognize how lucky I am.

I have hilarious and supportive parents who have always put me at the center of their world. I have a sister/best friend who would go to the moon and back for me. My boyfriend is one of the most wonderful, kind and weird human beings I’ve ever encountered.  I know some people must envy my job. I’m able to have fun in nearly every situation. I have fucking amazing hair.

Others moments, I find myself suffocating under a blanket of self pity. My idiosyncrasies seem to put a glare over all of my other qualities. I feel as if I am walking around with a spotlight on a sign that say’s “Hi, I’m a big fat weirdo.” With every question I ask myself, I sink lower and lower into depression.

Why do I have so many issues with food?

Why can’t I drink like everyone else?

Why do I get so sad?

Why does the mere thought  of roto-scope animation send a fire of anxiety through my chest?

Combating my self-deprecation is probably my biggest challenge right now. Every time I find myself thinking negative thoughts, I try to immediately counteract them a positive, or at least something comforting.

Everyone has issues with something.

I’m going to be healthier and more productive with my time.

It’s good that I’m self aware enough to feel everything.

Roto-scope animation IS creepy and it should be made illegal.

PEOPLE AS CARTOONS=  STRAIGHT FROM THE CREEPTACIOUS PERIOD!
PEOPLE AS CARTOONS= STRAIGHT FROM THE CREEPTACIOUS PERIOD!

 

I don’t know why I have eating issues and my sister doesn’t. I don’t know why I’m the only person in my family who seems to have trouble controlling the amount of alcohol I consume. I was never molested. I was never ignored. I wasn’t beat up or put-down. I wasn’t coddled (very much).

I don’t know where my emotional problems come from, and I definitely don’t think that they are anyone’s fault but my own. In fact, the older I get- the more I feel that I owe to my parents for cultivating me with the traits that I’m most proud of- without which, I wouldn’t have the strength to make any positive changes in my life.

Last night, my mom stayed with my sister and I, and I realized it had been so long since I had told my parents how much gratitude I have for them. I know they know I love them, but just in case they ever need reassuring:

Thank you for allowing me to choose my hobbies, therefore allowing me to learn the things in life that really make me happy. 

Thank you for letting me spend as much time as I wanted to in bookstores and libraries.

Thanks for allowing me to raise 30 mice in my bedroom, and for letting me take them to school in Jr High, even though you knew it might cause me to get made fun of.

Thanks for letting me decorate my room with as many door-beads as I wanted, letting me finger paint all over my walls, and for letting me pretend that the camper in our backyard was my fortune-telling hut for much longer than you should have.

Thank you for letting me wear whatever weird, 70’s vintage outfit that I wanted to school, even though you knew it might cause me to get made fun of.

Thanks for letting me believe in ghosts.

Thanks for introducing me to religion, but never pushing your own ideas or beliefs on me.

Thank you for daily visits to the park and the zoo.

Thanks for letting me play pretend for as long as I wanted.

Thank you for cultivating my interest in the outdoors, for taking me camping, and for teaching me the names of rocks.

Thank you for telling me that I was beautiful, no matter what size I was.

Thank you for cuddling in bed on movie-nights.

Thank you for teaching me forgiveness.

Thanks for teaching me not to give up, and that true love actually does exist. 

Most of all, thank you for your unconditional love and support, and for believing in me, always.

I love you!

Thanks to the rest of you for putting up with my sappy posts as of late. You know me. I get that emotion flowing and it just doesn’t stop.

If you’re interested in hearing some good-old-fashioned-raunchy humor- make sure to check out episode three of the “Yet-To-Be-Named” podcast that I’ve been doing with my friends CJ and Chuy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hitting the reset…

you are not a tree

Jeez. I don’t understand how time goes by so fast some days, and creeps by on others.

This holiday weekend was one of those fast-moving times. I had to work on Friday morning, but besides that-I can barely remember what happened when over the last few days.

I know I ate at Olive Garden, went on a nine mile hike, Saw “Now you See me,” went swimming a few times, and got a lot of much needed sleep. The details though, I can barely remember.

The strangest part is that minute by minute, I’ve felt more clear-headed than I have in years.

Today has been nine days since my last sip of alcohol. I hesitate to talk about it, but I don’t know how to deal with things without sharing so I am probably going to continue to do so. I don’t know my ultimate plan. I’m not yet comfortable publicly labeling myself.

I do know that for me, alcohol doesn’t have a positive place in my life right now. I realized that I’ve never had a healthy relationship with drinking, and I probably never will. I’m coming to terms with the fact that even though I may not need to drink daily, or even often, I’ve turned to wine during times when I’ve felt emotionally unstable. I’ve also come to the realization that every bad decision I’ve ever made has been under the influence, and none of my most cherished moments occurred while drinking. What’s the point?

More than that, I’ve never known when enough is enough. I think in a lot of ways, I have used alcohol in a very similar way that I used my eating disorder… to drown out my emotions and try to take back some control, when in reality-both behaviors have created more chaos in my life. 

The last nine days have been eye-opening and full of ups and downs. I haven’t had any strong cravings to drink, but I’ve had overwhelming emotions that usually would have caused me to reach my buddy “Pinot.”

Day to day, not drinking hasn’t a big deal to me at all. In fact, in some ways it’s absolutely wonderful. I wake up clear-headed. I am saving money. I don’t have to battle the urge to drink more, or to hide the fact that I’m drinking more than my boyfriend. I’m craving exercise. I’ve been eating healthier and haven’t had a single urge to act on any of my eating issues. I am being forced to learn to deal with my emotions.

That’s not to say that the last 9 days have been easy. The worst part? Being forced to deal with my emotions. I’ve become so accustomed to having a glass of wine in my hand whenever shit hits the fan, whenever I’m stressed, or even when I’m happy or celebrating.

It’s been difficult to think about the prospect of living my life without ever drinking again. I’ll be fine and happy, going about my day, when I all of a sudden remember that both my and my boyfriend’s birthdays are both in the next month. I haven’t done a birthday sans alcohol in over 13 yrs.

I also know that there is much to be celebrated in this life, and alcohol isn’t really anything I want to celebrate right now. I’m excited about learning more about myself, how to finally really deal with life, and to get back to the things that actually make me happy. The last week I have taken the time to examine myself and my life, and I’ve realized that most of the things in my life that make me happy don’t involve drinking at all.

For now, I’m going to try my best to indulge in those things as much as possible.

Here’s to a life full of building new friendships, strengthening relationships, hiking, improvising, writing, exercising, and treating myself with all the respect that I know that I deserve.

I have no idea what the future will bring me, but for now-I owe it to myself to be the very best version of myself, one day at a time.

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Austin Bucket List: Krause Springs

Shortly after I moved to Austin, I realized that every time I mentioned that I was new in town, the person I was talking to immediately followed with “Oh my gosh you have to check out” followed by a swimming hole, a walking trail, a local park, or bats.

By the time I started dating my (now) boyfriend, I realized that the list of things I needed to see had grown too long to complete in the foreseeable future. We eventually combined all of our “Austin-Must-Sees” into a google doc entitled “Austin Bucket List,” that we are still adding to at a rate more quickly than we can cross items off.

In the recent months, however; we’ve both gotten really into hiking and have visited some absolutely beautiful outdoors areas in and around Austin. And now that it’s hot and neither of us have a pool, we’ve quickly been visiting every watering hole in the nearby vicinity.

A few weeks ago we woke up early on a Sunday morning and made the short drive to Spicewood to check out Krause Springs. I’d been there once before when I first moved here with my family, but we had only stayed for a short time due to it being extremely crowded and it started pouring.

This time we had planned ahead and arrived right after 9:30am. I wasn’t super surprised to find we were the only ones there, considering it was overcast and kind of chilly. We spent the morning exploring the grounds, climbing up rocks, and climbing into some of the hollowed out Cypress trees. We especially had fun pretending the Cypress Trees were giving birth to us.(See below)

KRAUSE COLLAGE 2
Krausse Springs

 

krause collage
Krausse Springs

While we were exploring, the day warmed up, the sun came out, and the entire city of Austin arrived at the Springs.

 

It actually turned out to be a perfect day, and wasn’t nearly as crowded as the first time I visited. My boyfriend and I both enjoy people watching and eavesdropping, and this is the perfect place to do both of these. 

The only downfall of the entire day was the fact that there was one of  those girls camping out on the bank near us, who spent the entire afternoon taking selfies and reapplying lipstick. But who am I kidding? Even that was entertaining to watch.

Sidenote: I don’t know when or why this became so annoying to me. I suppose there may have even been a time in my life when I was one of those “makeup while enjoying outdoors activities” kind of gals, but I don’t remember. And if I was, I would absolutely expect someone else’s boyfriend to photobomb my picture while shooting me the finger. 

Since it’s a private park, they allow you to bring in food and alcohol, and I would definitely suggest you do so. It makes laughing at “hammock guy” even that much more fun.

hammock guy

As nerdy as they are, I would also suggest you pick up a pair of water shoes. The bottom of the springs are kind of yucky and mossy, and the rocks are terribly slippery, so it might be the least embarrassing choice.

Plus I figure once I hit 30, water shoes become sort of a badge of honor. I no longer have to worry about making sure my toe nails are painted. I’m even considering picking up one of those one-piece swimsuits with the skirt on the bottom. That’s appropriate 30’s attire, right?

Anyhoo, if you live in the Austin area, or plan on making a day trip here this summer, I would move this little gem up to the top of your list of activities.  Arrive as early as possible, bring something to sit on, and bring several peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with nacho cheese doritos crushed up inside…. because they are delicious.

 

 

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