Merry B Sober THREE Months

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I don’t even know how many days…over 90.  I simply decided on December 6, 2017 to stop drinking on December 7, 2017.  I went through the fear of asking myself if this was going to be forever…but having been sober for 25 months a few years ago…it only took a few weeks of sobriety to know that this was a FOREVER decision for my life. I just feel to amazing to ever go back to THAT again.

I am feeling the FREEDOM that Annie Grace mentions her book: The Naked Mind: Chapter 13: The Mystery of Spontaneous Sobriety.

Not only are people who simply quit, without programs or outside help, more successful in maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol, they appear to be more at peace with and happier about their decision.  A significant portion of their time and energy is not dedicated to maintaining success.  (p. 131)

For me, I’m doing okay on my own.  I’ve found resources such as Vale and Grace’s books which have helped me to develop a better mindset and clear out some unconscious clutter about the role alcohol played in my life.  Fear was replaced with logic and common sense for me.

And the freedom!  Woohoo.  As Grace states,

Instead of sobriety becoming a daily focus with meetings, readings, and devotionals, it fades into the background allowing them to be truly free. (p. 131)

This wasn’t easy.  I put in some effort the first 60-75 days.  I blogged everyday.  I read a ton of sobriety websites and books.  I participated online with all of you readers and even started a social media presence for Merry B Sober.

But then I started to just live my life….and the hyper focus of checking on all my supports started to fade away as I shifted to focusing back on myself and my family’s needs.  (It also helped that I took my “merrybsober” gmail account off my regularly checked email feed).  I’m blending my first 90 days of tools into a lifestyle that I can live forever.

It feels really good!

I feel peaceful.

I feel free.

Book Notes: This Naked Mind by Annie Grace (Preface – Chapter 14)

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This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, and Change Your Life by Annie Grace

PREFACE:

  • …realized that alcohol was only dulling my senses and keeping me trapped rather than adding to my life. (p.16)
  • …getting rid of alcohol is the easy part. The hardest part is going against groupthink…(p.16)

INTRODUCTION

  • “What if, by reversing years of unconscious conditioning, you could return to the perspective of a non-drinker?” (pg. 18 – first line of the introduction to the book!)
  • “I will show you how altering your drinking habits will not cause pain, but instead allow you to enjoy your life more than you ever thought possible.” (p.21)

1: THIS NAKED MIND: HOW AND WHY IT WORKS

  • “We’ve been conditioned to believe we enjoying drinking.  We think it enhances our social life and relieves boredom and stress”. (p. 23)
  • “Reality is uncertain and uncertainty causes fear.  We try to protect ourselves from this fear by staying inside our bubble of belief until something happens that we cannot ignore.  At that point we are forced to confront reality.” (p. 31)
  • Alcohol is addictive….Your physical response when you drink is to want more.”(p.33)

2:  THE DRINKER OR THE DRINK? PART 1: THE DRINKER

  • The Blame Game 1.0: Me…  “when we discover we are unable to control alcohol, we blame ourselves.” (p. 39)
  • The Blame Game 2.0: AA and Alcohol Allergy Theory…“The Alcoholic themselves confirm they are ‘different’ from the normal population.  So millions of ‘regular’ drinkers go through their drinking lives with no fear that they might become alcoholics.” (p. 46)
  • The Blame Game 3.0: Alcohol Genes… “not that everyone who sips alcohol is addicted, but that everyone who drinks alcohol has a chance of becoming addicted” (p. 48)
  • The End of the Blame Game: “…entertain the idea that you might not be fully in control of your drinking…when exactly did we lose control?” (p. 48)

3: THE DRINKER OF THE DRINK? PART 2: THE DRINK

  • “The Nectar of Death…Pitcher Plant [metaphor]” (p.49)
  • “…you eventually find you are drinking more than you ever set out to.” (p. 50)
  • “…like the bee in the pitcher plant, the more we struggle, the more stuck we become.” (p. 53)
  • “Losing control is different from realizing you  have lost control.” (p. 53)
  • “You can find freedom and it may be one of the most joyful experiences of your life.” (p. 55)

4: LIMINAL POINT: IS DRINKING A HABIT

  • “It is fear that keeps us drinking, and the alcohol itself creates the fear. We fear that we will never be happy…and that stopping will mean we feel unhappy – that we are missing out.” (p. 59)

5: YOU: SIMPLY NAKED

  • “Drinking is like removing the red indicator light on your immune system. ” (p. 65)
  • “We need to see that we are strong, whole, and complete.” (p. 67)

6: LIMINAL POINT: ARE WE REALLY DRINKING FOR THE TASTE?

  • “It’s remarkable how, given enough time, senses grow immune to the most unpleasant things”. (p. 71)
  • “Herd mentality makes it easier to believe or do something…” (. 72)
  • “Dehydration from drinking can actually shrink your brain and its ability to function.” (p. 73)
  • “It’s not drinking alone…that bothers us.  It’s drinking by ourselves in the company of people who are not drinking that makes us question our choice.” (p.73)

7: YOU: POLLUTED

  • “Abstinence can help reverse the negative effects…And over several months to a year structural brain changes have been shown to self-correct.” (p.82)
  • “…binge drinking raises your likelihood of having a stroke by 39%” (p. 83)
  • “…alcoholism reduces life expectancy by 10-12 years.” (p. 86)
  • “According to the most up-to-date research….there is no risk-free level of alcohol consumption.” (p. 86)

8: LIMINAL POINT: IS ALCOHOL LIQUID COURAGE?

  • “I now realize alcohol actually chipped away my confidence” (p.88)
  • “Alcohol numbs your senses and prevents you from feeling natural fear…”…”if you’ve numbed feelings of fear you cannot be courageous”. (p.88)
  • “Think about an athlete or a soldier…by removing natural apprehension, they rob themselves of important skills” (p. 89)
  • “While illegal drugs kill 327 people per week, and prescription drugs kill 442 per week, alcohol kills 1,692 people per week” (p.90)
  • “Alcohol just makes you less aware of your instincts.  In this instance alcohol makes you stupid rather than brave.” (p.91)
  • “It’s harder to go against the grain, skipping the drink and showing your children a different way, than it is to be swept along in our drinking culture.  That is courage. (p.92)

9: OH S#*%! WE’RE STUCK

  • “Marketers actually create need by speaking to your vulnerabilities”. (p. 98)
  • “Alcohol commercials promise friendship, acceptance, gratification, happiness, and youth” (p.99)
  • How to Sell Poison…”and the side effects that are never disclosed are many” (p.100)
  • “Why do we see cocaine and alcohol so differently, especially when, in the United States, alcohol kills 241 people per day and cocaine kills only fifteen per day?  Who do we glamorize the benefits of drinking?” (p. 105)
  • “Drinking has been so ingrained in our culture and upbringing that we’ve practically been trained both consciously and unconsciously to ry alcohol.” (p. 106)

10: LIMINAL POINT: DRINKING HELPS ME LOOSEN UP AND HAVE BETTER SEX

  • “When we take time to get to know someone, asking questions instead of speaking to fill the silence, the result is amazing.  It’s a gift to learn from other people.  Asking questions, listening, and learning, these things make YOU a more interesting person.” (p. 110)
  • “Losing inhibitions is dangerous in sexual interactions”.  …”when you are drunk, what seemed like a terrible idea suddenly makes sense.”  “The majority of drunk drivers don’t mean to drive drunk, but when drinking they can no longer judge how drunk they are.” (p. 110)
  • “The problem with alcohol is that once you start drinking you can’t judge the point where a little is good and a lot becomes a disaster.” (p. 111)

11: A QUEST FOR SOBRIETY

  • “When quitting is hard, it reinforces our belief that alcohol holds a great deal of power over us.” (p. 113)
  • “In fact, rats only voluntarily drink alcohol after they have been force-fed it and developed a physical addiction.” (p. 114)…. “So we work hard to develop a taste.” (p. 115)
  • “We never make a conscious decision to drink as much as we now do.  It just happens…Consuming this much was never a conscious decision.” (p. 115)
  • Key Reading: Pages 116-119
  • “Alcohol is physically addictive, and physical dependence on alcohol can occur in anyone” (p. 119) 
  • “When you stop drinking by sheer willpower, you start to see the benefits…the reasons you quit begin to fade…Humans have selective memory…You forget your misery, and the reasons you quit no long seem important…You heal, and in healing the reasons to avoid drinking lose their immediacy…You find excuses for just one, and suddenly you are back i the mental misery of alcohol addiction.”  (p. 121)
  • “When you completely change your mental (conscious or unconscious) perspective on alcohol, you begin to see the truth about drinking. When this happens, no willpower is required, and it becomes a joy not to drink.” (p. 121)

12:  LIMINAL POINT: I DRINK TO RELIEVE STRESS AND ANXIETY

  • “Glass by glass I poured stress into my life, all the while deluding myself into believing alcohol helped me relax.” 
  • “It’s not the pace that is the problem; the problem is poisoning my body and mind so that I am physically unable to keep up with the life i want to live.” (p. 124)
  • “If you are truly happy and relaxed, you have no need or desire to change your state of mind.” (p. 126)
  • …”Alcohol slows down your brain function…You literally think more slowly…Drinking creates a compulsive need for alcohol, but you don’t actually receive any enjoyment from it.” (p. 127)

13: THE MYSTERY OF SPONTANEOUS SOBRIETY

  • “And the secret to spontaneous sobriety has everything to do with reconciling the internal conflict caused by your desire to quit drinking and your fear of missing out.” (p. 130)
  • “Instead of sobriety becoming a daily focus with meetings, readings, and devotionals, it fades into the background, allowing them to be truly free. (p. 131)
  • “Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the physical consumption that destroys our lives but the internal conflict and our determination to fix it while retaining an unconscious belief that the drug is somehow vital to our lifestyle.” (p. 135)
  • “Conflict causes pain, which explains why we are, by nature, adverse to conflict.  …I lost trust in myself”… “I didn’t know who I was; I lost myself….there are few benefits to drinking.” (p. 137)

14: LIMINAL POINT: I ENJOY DRINKING IT MAKES ME HAPPY

  • “That initial tipsy feeling passes, it won’t come back in quite the same way, no matter how much you drink.” (p. 141)
  • “Wouldn’t it make sense that if a little alcohol made us a little happy, a lot of alcohol would make us a lot of happy?” (p. 142)
  • “There are a million reasons why I am happier now…I feel comfortable and confident in my own skin” (p. 143)
  • “If you believe you can’t party or hang out with friends without a drink, you won’t be able to.  Drinking has frayed your nerves, and you are less prepared to deal with the reason you began to drink to begin with.” (p. 144)
  • “If you feel you need alcohol to make you happy, relax you, or help you enjoy your evening, you are already in trouble.” (p. 145)

 

What if…? asks Annie Grace

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I started “my” February book. This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, and Change Your Life by Annie Grace   (Book Notes in draft stage)

I am going to declare myself Annie’s number one fan…at least on February 13, 2017. I am gobbling up everything I can find about the background of this book.  It is fantastic!

I spent today listening to an amazing recording on Home Podcast – Episode 26: Annie Grace.  During the episode there is a brief mention of ….

RETURNING TO A STATE OF NON-DRINKER

After the podcast, I googled annie grace returning to a state of non-drinker and clicked open a great review of the book which reminded me that the first line of  Annie’s Introduction is:

What if, by reversing years of unconscious conditioning, you could return to the perspective of a non-drinker? (Grace, p18)

This all really got me thinking back to when I started drinking and what are things I remember in youth that did not have any alcohol involved?  Did I do anything in high school, college, or early adulthood that didn’t have liquor as part of the event? Was every developmental landmark of early adulthood pickled with juice??? (Folding laundry provides a lot of think time and I was at least pleased I could come up with some alcohol-free moments)

Since my brain usually does such an amazing job of remembering every embarrassing, humiliating, shameful, drunken mishap (that wasn’t wiped out in a blackout haze) – I’m going to remind myself of some more positive highlights before age 20.

{Why that age? I think that is really when the wheels started coming off the WAGON….Really says the 53 old mother of three to herself…Honestly…it was probably senior year of high school at age 17 that control was slipping…It has taken 35 years to figure this out}  Merry reflects on all of this with kindness and compassion to herself!

Good Sober Stuff

  • Swimming in the ocean for hours on end with feelings of relaxation and exhilaration
  • Competing in various athletic events and embracing the butterflies and nervous energy
  • High School dances AND proms (not all of them…but some of them sober from start to finish)
  • Summer Camp and all the adrenaline firsts of riding a motorcycle, repelling backward off a mountain edge, jet skiing, running a horse across a field
  • Sorority Rush (it was the Frat parties that “conditioned” my tolerance levels)
  • Bonding with Roommates (we weren’t always partying)
  • Work (it wasn’t until post college that drinking became a networking requirement)
  • Arts, Music, Crafts, Sewing…being creative
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Dating, First Kisses, Break Ups and Heartache (then there were the drunk episodes in this topic…Sober = No Regrets vs. Drunk = Many Regrets)
  • Movies – Double Features
  • Miniature Golf, Bowling, Go-Cart Racing, Chinese Fire Drills, Driving around Town
  • Slumber parties, High School Sports Games (at least until Senior Year of HS)

As I look back at this list, it is full of emotion.  The type of feelings that I used to use alcohol to dim and numb and squash.  Friendships were fierce and intense in junior high and early high school.  The horizon for independence and freedom was in sight…exciting, yet scary.

Was I bored? Scared? I truly don’t think I knew what was sneaking up on me...(but wondering all of those things is for another day.)

For now…

I’m actually experiencing a feeling of giddiness as I realize I can get back to having

….a perspective of a non-drinker!  

Thanks Annie!

 

 

 

Snow Moon

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I’ve been in the technology trenches today.  And since I can’t leave my computer “cave” to get some sunlight (it’s dark out already)…I will have to settle for full moon glow.  Plus tonight is that part of that special weekend with a lunar eclipse and comet.  Check it out at Space.com

But before I pop out for a late night star gazing…a few reflections:

For the past few months (um…maybe years) I have been a social media lurker.  I’d go on…then off…I think it was a self-esteem issue for me.  I got stuck in the NOT ENOUGH abyss.  And then there was our election…

A couple weeks ago, I shifted how I was going to use my personal social media.  Then today, I decided that Merry B Sober needed to become part of it all.

This post will be my experiment to see if it is all connected.  Wish me luck…I’m feeling like an astronaut… 3….2….1…..  Blast off.

Merry B Sober FACEBOOK PAGE

Merry B Sober PROFILE PAGE

@merryBsober TWITTER

Merry B Sober INSTAGRAM

 

Merry B Sober Two Months

…sixty-some days.  I don’t have a counter app on my phone… too lazy to pull out a calendar and do the count box by box.  I think I sort of like not focusing on the numbers.  (Which is really odd, since I am a Math Geek/Number kind of gal).

So TWO MONTHS… woohoo…  (feigned enthusiasm I’m afraid)…

I know it is a really big deal to be where I am… and I’m not taking it for granted… and I had that little voice whisper in my ear this weekend about Moderation.

Scene:  Touring college with my 18 year old daughter. See a cute little brew pub on a corner.

Crazy Voice in My Head: “What a fun place to have a beer”

Merry B Sober: “Nope…you can’t”

CViMH: “Of course you can become a Moderate Drinker by Fall of 2017”

Merry B Sober: “Nope…you can’t”

CViMH:  “You know how easy it will be…just 2 beers…no more…unless you don’t feel buzzed and then you can add more at your drunken discretion”

Merry B Sober “No more drink tickets”

CViMH: “Just one drink every hour…we can play that time monitoring game…”

…..and that is all the time I gave that nutty conversation.  I had a tiny grief moment…no drinking with my kids.  Then I had another aha moment.

Maybe some of my drinking habits had to do with the fact that I had “bonding moments” with both my Mom and Dad – drinking – while I was still underage or in my early 20s.  How sad that I got some of my self-worth from being a “really good drinker”.  My dad could boast about how I attended his college and could drink like he could….(Ok…no need for looking in the rear view mirror)…

But it does lend itself to recognizing that I can write new stories with my three teens as they get ready to head off to college.  Need to discuss with Mr. Merry (NOT B Sober…yet…).  We have to write some new scenes for our kids so that drinking doesn’t become as big of a family connector as it has for my siblings, parents, grandparents and me.

Cruising into month three.

 

Here I am again…

….and it’s Groundhog Day.  February 2, 2017

I know carbs and sugar are not good for me.  I’m feeling blessed and ecstatic that I’m not having the same craving for wine and vodka ….that I am for ice cream and chocolate chips.

But…I’m feeling like….Same game… similar rules… different vice.

I actually give myself a pat on the back for never taking up caffeine. (Always good to start change with a compliment for what I might actually be doing right …at this moment in time….)

Since it/caffeine makes me feel like I have bugs crawling in my hair and then I go and try to find a corner to crawl into and sleep (yes…my brain is probably a blinking ADD/ADHD light board…or should I say dim frontal lobe board)… it was easy to not take up that son of a bitch habit to break.

I was also lucky to not like cigarettes when sober.  But that didn’t stop me from loving them (and cloves) when I was drunk.  For all of you who have kicked caffeine and nicotine…you are super heros in my mind!!!

But sugar…and all the lovely carbs that turn into sugar (potato chips, rice, ….not even sweet things…but white starchy things that make my insulin surge and fall)… I don’t  like sweets…I like all the things that some would say “look” healthy…but don’t work for my tub of lub middle aged tum tum.

Let’s all sing together (can you hear the tune Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care)…that would be…

Sugar Crack Whore….And I Don’t Care….

Once I get it in my system…so hard to get it out.   No problem if this makes you stop reading… this can be too close to home on the cocktail struggles.  If I’m overdramatizing this…it’s to remind myself that nothing good comes for me when I get on a sugar binge.

Fresh Fruit before noon…is really all I should indulge in…

I just finished a one-month health challenge with about 25 other people in my village community.  4 points per day…

  • Hydration – 64oz.
  • Exercise 30 min
  • Eat 4 cups of fruit and veggies
  • Log and stay under calories on Fitness Pal

Although I technically maxed out points on the challenge…I gained …but no drinking and following all the rules…and gain a pound.  WTF.

My downfall…the damn calorie counting…as soon as I had a couple hundred calories to spare, I used them on junk food.  Carbs up….Weight Up….  Sleep got crappy the last few weeks… Month One of Sobriety came with lots of great energy and fantastic sleep…these last few weeks…roller coaster on slow down.

It’s the damn sugar.

I know this.

It’s Ground Hog Day.

I know what I need to do… I know the tools…I just stuck them in the back of the closet.

I Quit Sugar (dot) Com starts an 8 week program today.  It’s not too late to join Sarah’s fantastic program.  I’ve been following her work for awhile.  Good Stuff.

I’m going all in …. Sugar Free until April Fools Day….  I also know that keeping sugar and carbs out of my system makes it extremely easy for me to stay sober too.

Fruit Guidelines

Launching

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Finally February

I had extremely low energy yesterday.  I shuffled through the “always analyzing everything probably too much” card catalog in my head

  • Dairy?
  • IceCream (Dairy + Sugar) the night before?
  • Not enough sleep (why?…the ice cream? the dairy?)

Then it hit me…I am always READY FOR FEBRUARY.

I don’t know if it the post holiday reorganization or the old habits screaming to be let back out on the loose (those “intentions” only last so long …right?)

I didn’t start the sobriety on January 1…some probably would think I was nuts to give it up “going into he holiday season” on December 7th.  But, I had done the “Last Hurrah” enough times before…and I had had sober holiday season before.  It was easy to pick the later choice.

So here I am…

Felt good to pay bills and do some paperwork today (youngest is home sick…not sure if that is for real or Freshman-itus…so hard to tell the difference).

Ready for February.

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Changing Behavior

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I’m parenting teens…and a 13 month old Lab Dog (Puppy)…and sometimes it feels like I parent my husband and then of course there is my ….

INNER CHILD….  ME

I’ve learned along the way that others learn through modeling.

So I’m trying to work on me, and change the things in myself that I feel are important lessons for my kids.

With that said, it is not easy…

And on those kinds of harder-like days, I at least feel I’ve connected with gaining some empathy for how hard it is to be a teenager who is trying to figure out

  • who the hell they are…
  • how to manage self care…
  • how to look forward instead of backward…
  • how to live in the moment while still maintaining long term goals….
  • …how to make changes that are beneficial to self!

The topic of SHAME keeps popping up in my universe. (My youngest accused me of “shaming him” into brushing his teeth when he was a 6th grader…and that zinger has stuck with me over the years since…I don’t respond to shaming from others…I have done enough to myself.)

Brene Brown’s books have really got me looking into myself and how shame is so connected to the choices I made around drinking…I’m ready for Shame Resilience.  (Future Post)

Then this popped into my email box today:  How to Change Someone’s Bad Behavior.  I enjoy Vanessa Van Edward’s work.

Tactics that DO NOT work to change behavior:

  • Helpful
  • Threatening
  • Incentivizing
  • Pleading
  • Shaming

Steps that DO work:

  • Pride
  • Togetherness
  • Progress
  • Tools

I’m using this as platform to give myself a pat on the back this last day in January.

I’m proud for not drinking since early December.  I’ve done it together with a community of others who are living a sober life.  I’ve accomplished much more in the past 50 days because my energy is up and I’m not wasting any time on hangovers.  I’ve added tools to my SOS Toolbox.  I have to agree that these positive steps have been much more effective.

Yoga

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I’m not sure where I found this image.  It’s just been sitting on my desktop.  Google is amazing…hunted it down and want to give a shout out to this artist – Kudryashka.  I want to wear this image on a t-shirt or get it framed on a wall to remind myself that….

Yoga provides me with grounding roots–keeps me centered.  Tough to throw a tantrum in a yoga pose.

Like leaves on a tree, seasons change them, and growth takes place…happens to most every living thing…CHANGE.

Namaste.