Back to Life, Back to Reality

Hello friends! I’m so happy to be back with you today after a week of travelling. I was in another country for a dear friend of mine’s wedding. While we were gone, my husband and I had time to reflect upon many things in our lives.

One of the more notable mentions is the fact that we weren’t 100% ready for a wedding/party type atmosphere. We were in a country in South America where the liquor and beer flows freely during any kind of celebration. My friend’s family in particular likes indulging in drinks just as much as any American family.

We didn’t even think (or I guess I should say I didn’t think) about the rehearsal dinner and the reception being that much of an issue. But then they brought out the serving trays of beer and shots that kept rounding our noses every few minutes. (I mean, the waitresses were really doing their jobs in making totally sure we really didn’t want any.)

We tried to find the just the right amount of time between staying at the party and not being rude by leaving too early. Finally, we had all of the water our bladders could handle and enough temptation to feel like we’re playing with fire.

We left the party early as well as the wedding reception because we had served our purpose. We were there to celebrate our friend’s wedding, meet the people important to her, and enjoy the party. We were not meant to linger around tempting fate to see how long we could really stay before one of us accidentally drank the champagne sitting right next to our water glass.

We made it! We did it! We grow stronger every time we venture out to another uncomfortable social atmosphere and I’m proud of us. My husband even salsa danced with me…SOBER! I feel more in love with him at that very moment!

 

Celebrating Another Holiday

Sometimes the holidays can be hard. Especially when you know you’re going to be surrounded by people getting belligerently drunk and all you want to do is say “Hi!”, grab some of the banana pudding to-go, and get the hell out of there as fast as humanly possible.

But, as hard as it may be tolerate other people’s choices and behaviors, I believe it’s also good to get out of our comfort zones every once in a while. If you aren’t challenged to be around people who are drinking in a casual social setting, then how will you ever be able to celebrate with the ones you love?

If you think about, almost all major celebrations have some sort of casual drinking involved. (At least in my family there always has been! Hmmm…piece of the puzzle? I digress.) Wedding receptions, graduation parties, birthday celebrations, bachelorette parties, Memorial Day pool parties, 4th of July cookouts, Labor Day lake parties, and then there’s always the actual traditional holidays of the year where people tend to “have an excuse” to drink.

I’m not trying to say that people who drink are monsters and should be told that they’re making poor life choices at every BBQ this summer, but I do believe everyone who is in recovery needs to find their own way to be with the people they care about regardless if there is drinking involved or not.

When my husband first started the road to recovery and we were faced with uncomfortable social situations where we knew people would be drinking, he told me he would repeat the question, “What is my purpose here?” over and over again to remind him that he wasn’t there to drink. He was there to celebrate whatever the occasion. He was there to high-five someone on another trip around the sun. He was there to hug the neck of the relatives he only gets to see once or twice a year. He was there to congratulate someone on another milestone achieved.

What is your purpose this weekend? Are you meeting people for a pool party? Are you hanging out with friends and relatives chatting over the BBQ and catching up? Whatever your purpose is this weekend, remind yourself of why you are there.

How Do You Heal a Broken Heart?

This is one of those questions that will never have a clear cut answer. Your broken heart may be a completely different experience than mine. Yours may involve a significant other, while mine may involve a bratty teenager who said mean things. Your broken heart may consist of fighting and bickering, while mine was a slow death by a thousand cuts from someone continuously ignoring me.

There are endless possibilities on how to have your heart broken, but how do you put it back to together? How do you heal a broken heart? How can you make yourself whole again?

I believe the first step is to believe that you deserve to be happy again. Period…the end. No magical formulas to the equation. No tricks behind a curtain. No “fake it ’til you make it” when it comes to healing. You simply have to believe that you deserve to be happy.

Everything may not fall directly into place once you decide your worth in this world, but it definitely gets easier to arrange the pieces of your heart into new shapes. Maybe we aren’t meant to put the pieces back exactly how they used to be. Maybe we are meant to mold, stretch, shrink, knead, weave, and to create new pieces from the old ones that were shattered.

I’m not a therapist and I don’t claim to be an expert in the psychology of the human mind, but I know that when I feel that I deserve to be happy, life seems easier. Things figure themselves out. People are nicer to me (probably because I’m nicer to them). Not all of the odds are stacked against me.

If you’re suffering from a broken heart today, I hope you can find a way to fit your pieces (old and new) back together again.

Coming Out of the Alcoholic Closet

“Some people may not understand. What if those people judge me? How else can I explain why I’ve blown them off on their annual social event? What if they find me out anyway? Will they tell other people? Will they judge my husband and I as being different?”

These are some of the irrelevant but very real fears I’ve had when thinking about telling a close friend of mine about having a drinking problem. I still don’t feel like I can justify telling my husband’s story to someone else, but I can own my story. Except, I must admit, it still feels really awkward sometimes.

I know I shouldn’t care what someone else thinks about my situation, but when it’s a close friend and not just an acquaintance I may only see a few times a year, the game changes a little bit. I want to share who I am with this person, but how can I do that while not lying or completely scaring them off? (I have some pretty outrageous stories from my past, as I’m sure we all do.)

Here is my advice, you’ll know when it’s time. You’ll know who is worthy of your story, and it’s not everyone. You’ll know if you should finally say something, or if you should even bring up the subject at all.

When it comes to your story, you are the one holding the pen. You are the one crafting the pages of your life, not someone else. If you feel the need, then jump in and tell your audience (your friend or family member) how your story really unfolds. If they won’t appreciate the intimate details of your life, then they don’t deserve to hear your story in the first place.

Working Up the Courage to Say No

When I first quit drinking, I thought I was going to be bombarded every day by people offering me a drink. It was an irrational fear or mine I had for a few weeks until I realized the world doesn’t revolve around me anyway. (Who knew, right?!) I had this whole speech planned out in my head just in case I was caught in a situation where I would have to explain myself. The truth is, when you don’t surround yourself in situations where you have to explain yourself, you often don’t have to say anything at all.

If you are worried about someone offering you a drink in a bar, don’t go to a bar! If you are worried that happy hour may too tempting, skip out on it! If you are consumed with the idea that someone may offer you a drink you can’t refuse at the reception, don’t hang around where the drinks are being served!

I know a lot of this is easier said than done, especially for someone in those first few hours, days, and weeks of sobriety, but it is doable.

I have also found it easier to say “no” to other things now that my need to please people has been thrown out the window. Accepting everything invitation to volunteer for this or that at my kids’ schools has been replaced with only the things I really want to do. Raising my hand to handle all of the family functions for the year has been replaced with bringing something to the potluck.

When we can say “no” to the simple things, it makes it easier to work up the courage to say “no” to the hard things too. You can do it…I believe you can do it!

Because, Well, You Know Me

I had a friend I recently visited with whom I hadn’t seen in years. We were very close growing up and she’s probably known me since I was 8 or 9 years old. She saw the wild and reckless teen I was growing up. She saw the crazed college student who was out of control. And now she has seen me attempting these wife and parenting roles in my life.

We started catching up about what has been going on with each of our families and she mentioned something about going out or having a drink or something in the coming few weeks. I let her know I don’t drink anymore. Since she knows me so well, she immediately asked, “Why!?” And for the first time in a really long time it felt good to say, “Come on. You know I needed to stop being so wild and crazy. I mean, because, well, you know me…or how I was!”

She almost laughed at me, I’m sure reliving some of our past partying memories, and said, “Yeah, that’s probably not a bad idea.” It felt good to explain myself to someone who “got it.” Not a stranger who I have to feel awkward about because they don’t know my past because for one, I don’t want to bring it up. And two, I don’t want others placing judgement on me immediately without knowing my whole story.

This girl, well woman and fellow mom now, knew me in my past and she now knows who I am today. I feel much better about who I am today than who I was in the past. I feel more honest with myself and honest with other people. I feel like I’m not constantly trying to escape, a feeling I felt a lot when I was drinking still. I feel like I can just be me now.

I hope you have people in your life who help you just be you. Even better, I hope you have people in your life who help you be the best version of you!

 

Stress in Others

I’m not sure if you’re able to notice it when it hits others square in the face, but stress doesn’t look good on most people. Predictors of stress I usually notice first are anxiousness, inability to focus, impatience, and irritability. I can spot it from a mile away in some people I know very well.

So, what do we do when we see stress in others?

I try to acknowledge where the stress is coming from. Maybe I can’t pinpoint the exact location of where the stress started, but I can definitely narrow it down from personal, work, marital/relationship, or parenting issues.

Another thing that is helpful is to put yourself in their shoes. I know this can be difficult when you don’t know exactly where someone else is coming from, but it does help to realize why some of the things that are not as stressful to you are more stress inducing to others.

Lastly, empathy can go a long way. Empathy is defined by Merriam Webster as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. In other words, showing empathy means not judging another person’s situation based on only the facts you have right in front of you. Take a second to really listen to their issues and show empathy to the person or people you care about.

What are some stress relieving tactics you can use do with other people?