Brave Big Step

So I had my counselor appointment today.  Honestly, part of me wanted to cancel.  I feel like I go in there every two weeks and have nothing much different to say.  I try to be as honest as I possibly can, but sometimes I find myself embellishing things (minimizing amounts I drink) even though I know how self-sabotaging and stupid this is. 

Part of me wants her to scream and yell at me – I want her to say “you have been coming to me for two years now and not much has changed.”  I told her that and she said that her perspective is so different.  She knows I acknowledge my problem.  She knows I am actively working on my issues.  I asked her to give me homework and she mentioned I am already so hard on myself that she bets I have already given myself that (oops – yep, I had).  I think the reason she is not as over the top tough on me is because we looked at the spectrum…and though I am far from being a “worst case scenario” (she works with a lot of court-ordered folks who are absolute hot messes), I have definitely far surpassed the “healthy” drinker model.  We both know it is progressive and we both know I need to make the decision on MY OWN and keep on a journey of self-improvement, with the ultimate goal of going backwards in the spectrum to someone who doesn’t drink.  Of course I love the idea of being a “healthy” drinker who can moderate, but I also know that is not really an option, as good as it sounds.

Part of my problem is all of the judgment I put on myself.  Aside from my sister, I don’t really feel judged by others.  My husband loves me unconditionally and doesn’t seem to think it is a problem.  But when I know it is one, I know it is something I need to work on.

So…let me fast forward to the gist of this post.  About a month ago, while out to dinner with friends for someone’s birthday celebration, an acquaintance came up to our table.  She was bubbly and excited and blabbering about all the great things in her life.  My first thought – she must have had a few drinks to have that kind of confidence talking.  As she was summing up her hello to us, she made mention that she had quit drinking for almost a year.  No reasons, no excuses – just flat out said it.  I was a bit taken aback and of course said “wow, that’s great” deep down wishing it were me.  She left the table and that was that.

Fast forward two weeks and she had the courage to put a Facebook status update that it was her one year anniversary from alcohol – that she had decided to eliminate the toxins and work on a healthier lifestye.  And she ended that post with “I am so fucking proud of myself.”  She received nothing but supportive comments.

Over the last few weeks, I am always seeing “check-ins” from her at the gym – at like 6 AM!!!  She just seems to look great and feel great and has really been an inspiration.

So I asked my therapist if she thought I should reach out to her.  She suggested calling so nothing is on paper, but whenever I have something “deep” to talk about, I like to start with an email and get the conversation rolling, then take it to a phone call or face to face.

I sent her a pretty basic email, first congratulating her on her decision to eliminate alcohol and also telling her how great she looks.  I then said I had a personal question and she was in no means obligated to answer – that everything would stay between she and I.  I asked if she just eliminated it for health reasons or if she felt like she might have a problem.  I explained that I am struggling with some “challenges” of my own – ha – what a fucking understatement, and maybe she could share her experience.

The email I received back was amazing.  She shared her whole story and told ME she was so PROUD of me for reaching out.  And that she would love to talk or meet face to face.  She said she has had 4 other girlfriends reach out to her for advice/help/support.  She mentioned AA (not sure if she still goes or went at first).  She really truly sounded like she is 100% there for me.  Her closing remark was something about how possible it is as long as you have the willingness to do the work.  And I guess that’s where my “stalemate” seems to come in – I know what I need to do and I’m just not sure if I’m able/ready to do it.  I know it’s a progression and I sure as hell want to stop before something really bad happens.  I’m stuck in that “I’m not so bad but I know how much worse it can get” place.  So anyways, I am excited about being able to pick her brain and hopefully get inspired and really try to get this journey going.  What I love is that she is really an acquaintance – not in my small group of friends.  I think that she will be able to listen and provide advice/guidance.

So…as much as I wanted to skip my counseling appointment today, I’m glad I went.  I told my therapist how I feel like I don’t deserve to blog here because so many people are doing this and doing it well, and I am just not.  She said that is all the more reason for me to blog.  If someone is doing awesome, and they read my poor, pitiful notes, hopefully it will be another tool for their toolbox to remember how much of a struggle it is.  Or they can ignore it.  Or they can continue to provide the loving, supportive notes that I often see.  Or, it is their choice to give me some “tough love” (not too tough please – I’m still fragile).

Wow I get long winded when I start a new post.  But hopefully you are still here with me and I promise to provide updates on my new (and possibly first) sober friend…well…other than my awesome, amazing husband.  Virtual hugs from me to all of you wonderful folks on every step of the spectrum.  I am still not in a place to commit to anything, but every new experience makes me feel like I am continuing to take the right steps on this journey.  Feels like an everlasting journey, but know all of this “work” is worth it in the long run.  Any advice from those who are more seasoned “tea-totalers?” or even those who are not? 

Thanks!!!

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2 thoughts on “Brave Big Step

  1. Wow, that is so awesome! Re your friend/acquaintance that is. When I was reading your post and got to the bit about her posting about her anniversary on FB I thought ‘People who quit purely for health reasons don’t remember their sobriety anniversary’, so I wasn’t entirely surprised by her response but how fantastic! Also interesting four other friends have reached out to her – doesn’t it go to show how widespread it is? How sad so many of us have to struggle in shame and silence and only feel we can reach out when we’re ‘bad enough’. How futile. What a waste of our time and health when we could have been getting better. (And I speak for myself here.)

    Good for you for being brave enough to reach out to her!! I think having someone in real life you can open up to and can see as a positive example of quitting working is a great thing.

    As for feeling ashamed to post here, please don’t. It’s only by sharing our struggles we all learn. And, look, I totally know the feeling, I’ve felt it myself when I’ve posted about my ‘slips/relapses’ but have received amazing and unfailing support nonetheless. While AA isn’t totally for me I get the beauty of the whole fellowship aspect through this – no one gets it like a fellow drinker and most of us deeply want to see each other succeed.

    As for how to get there when you’re ‘not bad enough’? I’ve received a lot of great responses to that when I’ve posted similar thoughts, I wish I could distill them all for you. Even now I still struggle with those thoughts sometimes but I guess you can also ask ‘How bad do you want your pain to get’? What’s also helped me is periods booze free. The more I have them and see the benefits, then go back to booze, the clearer it is that life is actually much BETTER without it.

    Another idea for you… have you checked out the Bubble House (podcast) and Booze Free Brigade? (Yahoo and Facebook group) A fellow blogger here tipped me onto it and you would find some amazing support and advice and solidarity there too.

    Lilly xo

    • Hello Lilly and greetings from across the pond! As always, you understand EXACTLY what I’m going through and I so appreciate your comments/input. I did see a similar post about figuring out “that place” and the replies were amazing. Lots of knowledge and wisdom. Have not checked out Bubble House or Booze Free Brigade, but will check them out. The more tools the merrier. As long as I don’t get myself overwhelmed with too many places to go…but definitely want to take a peek!!! Hope all is well with you and happy to have you “by my side!” 🙂

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