89 Days Sober… (*113 days sober today)
I’ve been asked by a few people why I’m counting my sobriety days. Pending where you were at in my life, you may have been concerned or you may not have. However, after this summer and the chaos of the reality we were living in a revelation came about that touched me to my core.
Our children were undergoing some intense situations paired with equally intense therapy sessions. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with PTSD and MDD. This is when it happened.
I sat there discussing PTSD and MDD with my daughter and explaining that she’s so brave for speaking about her feelings and that our family will fight with her every step of the way. We talked about my past, friends pasts, why’s and how come’s. It was a very open dialogue. Then it hit me, she’s not a baby anymore and she can see that I’m using drinking as a coping mechanism. I sat there, hypocritical as anyone, preaching positive coping skills.
I’ve been in therapy for years! Literally, was diagnosed with PTSD in May 2010 when I was pregnant with her. I started therapy again off and on in 2017. Every single therapist spoke about positive coping skills. I have read numerous books about positive coping skills. I was able to provide examples as well as back up our kid’s therapists on positive coping skills… but y’all, I became what I felt was the worst kind of mom.
Do as I say, not as I do.
As I sat there that night trying to turn my brain off and trying to drown the pain, I came to a conclusion. I had spoken with a neighbor in-depth and felt like releasing those emotions and feelings that were on my heart would “cleanse” me from the pain. I was wrong, but it did help me to realize I was not happy with my current course of action. I made a decision that night, no more alcohol. None. Not even a glass of wine here or there.
That was September 13, 2020. I kept it quiet and to myself for the first week for a number of reasons.
1. Would I really be capable of quitting?
2. What if I failed at quitting and then had people hounding me about it?
3. What if I was doing it for the wrong reasons?
4. Why would it work THIS time opposed to previous times?
I held out for a week. I downloaded an app called countdown and set up my new widget with a fun and empowering cover that says “Sober is the new shitfaced” so I could smile and have a reference anytime I needed it. I am a very determined and driven person who loves goals… so this method was perfect for me! It was only after a week, that I began to tell people. I wanted to know I was doing this for me. When I felt strong and made it through the mood swings, I told my daughter. She smiled and said “what does sober mean?” I just cried.
Recently, I have been able to network with some amazing women who are also on the path to sobriety. Some are just starting, some are contemplating starting and some are starting day 1, again. I am not an expert, but I am a real life situation and I want to be a help in any way I can. I have a few questions that one of these women asked me and I wanted to share them here to possibly help someone.
So how did I get sober?
Below is some information but please remember everyone can be different on what will and won’t work for them.
1. How did your daily/evening/weekend routine change?
Whenever my husband would get home, I felt it was okay to partake in adult beverages. I mean everywhere you turn moms are being encouraged to drink all the coffee and all the wine. This posed a huge issue because it was easy to hide behind that drowning fog of alcohol. After the first week, I told my husband and my person. They both were extremely proud and on board. They also didn’t push me, but genuinely encouraged me. I explained to my husband I was trying to reset my routines. To maintain my sobriety, I started going to bed SUPER early. The first couple weeks were hard because I was irritable, craved alcohol, snippy, etc. I felt it was best for everyone if I just went to bed early and woke up early to “adjust” to my morning before needing to manage the household.
I eventually was able to stay up and I replaced my “evening drink” with a Wendy’s frosty. Hey, it’s $2.82 which is way cheaper than a 6 pack AND it didn’t break my sobriety. Find what works for you in terms of a “reward” system. My frosty was a way to get me “something” but also not to encourage me to drink alcohol. I was waking up between 4-6am everyday so it wasn’t hard to have an early bedtime. It also allowed me to set up a time for “JUST MOM” where I could get a handle on my day and start with a calm awakening before anyone needed me.
2. What do you do on the bad days?
On days that I feel extremely overwhelmed, stressed or anxious I have a few different things that have helped me through. Once I had the self-confidence that I made the right decision for the right reasons I told a select few “pillar” friendships/relationships in my life that I knew the people could handle me even at my worst and would help hold me accountable. As mentioned above, I have the app and the smile worthy widget about sober being the new shit faced, but I also had the ability to text my pillars and they could offer some encouraging words or redirect me.
I started physically working out a lot more to release the endorphins and allow my body to relax and lose some of the tension I was holding in. I can tell you from experience that eventually your immediate reaction to a stressful situation, long day, etc. is NOT to have a drink. You’ll still want one, but try and get a routine down that doesn’t enable you to drink. Your distractions can easily be daily journaling, a wendy’s frosty, a text message to a friend, etc. Just make sure you’re replacing the old/bad habits with good/new habits.
3. What about being around others who drink?
I have to admit, I’ve been very judgmental on how I felt someone should act around someone who is wanting to stop drinking, however, now being that “sober” person my feelings are drastically different. I should say, my husband and friends all have taken precautions and continue to encourage me but don’t want to possibly cause me to slip up. Ironically, I’m the one who has actually bought alcohol or encouraged the husband to have a drink. He loves trying new whiskeys, scotch, etc. so his Christmas present this year is to a whiskey tasting company that sends him stuff throughout the year. I also bought him alcohol for his promotion to Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps because they were born in a tavern so I couldn’t think of a better gift then 2 bottles of Woodford Reserve with custom labels congratulating him on his promotion and one to save until our son graduates boot camp and they can share it together for the first time as Marine Corps brothers.
I’ve had friends and family be cautious and walk on eggshells when it comes to drinking around me. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me. I tend to be someone who handles life with a little bit of a sarcasm (ok, a lot of sarcasm) so I will make jokes at my own expense about drinking. Heck, my person can even tell you that when it came to me finally writing a blog, I felt now was the right time for multiple reasons, one of those being that I’m no longer a liability to myself! I am obviously not going out to bars and having a ton of people over attempting to relive our “glory days.” However, I honestly do not mind if those that I’m around are drinking. I realized that I am very habitual and I need something available to drink at all times. I splurged my “drinking money” on some fun Starbucks cups and I have ice water or SUJA (my new fav ‘adult’ drink) juice at all times. Ironically, quitting cokes (soda/pop for y’all not from Texas) was so much easier after I gave up alcohol and are now considered a “treat” that I may indulge in while my friends have their adult beverages.
Best advice I can give someone is to give yourself grace and make the decision for yourself. You cannot control anyone but yourself so do not let that overtake your mind. If you truly want to quit drinking you can. Is drinking a horrible thing? No. Like I said above, my husband and many friends drink responsibly. However, I knew in my mom gut that I needed to be Simply Sara Strong and be sober to show my children the healthy ways to cope. I didn’t want to be a “do as I say, not as I do” mother.
Do your best and do it one day at a time. In the moment, you may feel stressed and overwhelmed, heck even angry because you want a drink since it’s your go to coping mechanism but eventually the “high” you get off of OVERCOMING that desire to drink is so much better than any buzz.
I think another large reason I’ve been successful is I DON’T have anyone nagging me. Like I said, I have people who provide encouragement when I bring it up, but they don’t hound me. In fact, they’ve even made comments like “I don’t think you need to quit all together…” which is kind, however, I know myself and I would rather not even have the option. It’s all or nothing.
Are you fighting for your sobriety? Follow me on my journey and see how I survived the holidays sober and am actively sober in the New Year. Make sure you follow me on the following social media platforms to stay up to date and hopefully either let my story inspire you or help cheer me on.
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/simplysarastrong
Don’t forget to message me any nominations for Simply Strong Sunday to shout out a loved one or yourself for executing strength in any facet, big or small, of life.