Last week I poured out my soul to you with a confession that I have made the decision to live sober. It was my “coming out” post to let the Godly Girlfriends community know that I have been moved, by God, to address my drinking problem. (Geez, that is still hard to own up to – Just sayin’!)
If there is one thing that I have learned in my first 30 days of sobriety, is that you can NOT do it alone. I tend to live my life as an open book, but this is deeply personal so putting this out there really takes vulnerability to a whole new level.
Today I would like to share a list of what has prevented me from giving in to all the temptations that I have encountered over the past month. My goal is to inspire others who are following my journey, looking for the courage and motivation to embark upon their own journey or for you to share with someone on a similar journey who could use some fresh ideas.
No matter what, please don’t judge me. I don’t have the perfect antidote, nobody does, but in these first 30 days, I have learned a lot about myself and this disease so I’m putting it out there. It’s what is working for me:
- Life Recovery Bible: I don’t know how anyone can do this without a Life Recovery Bible. It has given me daily biblical lessons that have put my addiction into perspective given me the strength to kick addiction off the pedestal of my life. In addition, I watch the Life Recovery Videos that compliment each step in the bible and the recovery system to further guide my thoughts and support my healing.
- Join a Celebrate Recovery Support Group: I can’t speak for AA because I haven’t been there, but I have known enough people in recovery (family members included) who have been successful in AA and have greatly benefited from that framework. I commend anyone who relies on their AA network of support. I have deliberately chosen a Celebrate Recovery (CR) Group because CR focuses on the healing power and sovereign grace of God; not my own manifestation of a higher power. Without having the one and only true God along side of me on this journey, I would not only be unsuccessful at overcoming addiction, but helpless to overcome all the proverbial curve balls that life throws my way.
- Countless YouTube Videos: I searched for every topic that I could think of and I listen constantly. In 30 days, I haven’t stumbled upon a repeat video yet. The messages, testimonies, education and knowledge that I have gleaned has given me answers that not only give me the assurance that I’m not alone, but this is possible. Some of the topics that I searched were Ted Talks about sobriety, detoxing, liver damage, sober stories, alcohol use disorder, overcoming cravings, signs of alcoholism, what is an alcoholic, functional alcoholics, women and alcohol, how to eliminate bloating, how to stay sober and what it means to be an alcoholic – to name a few.
I owe the Life Recovery Bible, my Celebrate Recovery Group and the hosts of the numerous YouTube video’s credit for the remaining tips, but regardless of how I derived at them, they are working and I hope they work for you or someone you love too.
- Alcohol is poison: In my research on health, consequences of consuming alcohol and liver damage has given me enough ammunition to refuse to drink. You don’t have to go far to learn the negative repercussions of alcohol on the mind and body, but when you’re enjoying drinking why would you want to know you’re killing yourself? Making the psychologically shift from seeing alcohol a reward or a much deserved selfish indulgence to seeing it as something that will kill you can have a life altering impact.
- I want to feel: When you’re not putting yourself to bed and night with a bottle of wine and waking yourself up every morning with a pot of coffee, the world is beautiful in a new and fresh way. The sunset’s are breathtaking and the sunrise’s are indescribable. I love seeing the beauty in the world and appreciating all the moments that I now have to pause and appreciate them.
- I hate “Day One”. As much as my last 30 days have been consistent and without relapse, I have been motivated, many times, by the motivation to not have to start over. The thought of going back to day one after putting in this much work and adding another number to my sober days has helped me remain strong.
- Record Milestones. First holiday, first time golfing, first Friday night, first full weekend or whatever victory I am proud of achieving. I heard that it requires one year of “firsts” to fully appreciate the exhilarating feeling of being fully liberated from the triggers of alcohol. Also in the time frame of one year, you’ll have the time to create new experiences and build positive memories. As much as this is a “one day at a time” process, there truly is something inspiring of having a whole year of new beginnings. With each recorded milestone, my enthusiasm for a better future grows.
- Find new things to love. I love a hot cup of camomile tea before bed. I love reading a good book, working out and checking things off of my to-do list. When I used to come home from work and pour myself a glass of wine, that was putting an end to any productivity I planned to have for the night. I considered packing my gym bag without forgetting anything for the morning after workout was considered a successful night. I now appreciate the feelings of accomplishment, personal growth, good health and productivity. I especially love waking up in the morning with a clear, rested mind and energy! The sense of accomplishment I get from not drinking (again) the night before is exhilarating.
- Examine my motives. In one video I learned to ask myself “why I want a drink” each time I feel tempted. I remember pulling into my garage in week 1 and being inundated with thoughts of pouring myself a glass of wine as soon as I could get in the house. I caught myself and consciously asked “Why?” My list of reasons that I wanted a drink was weak; to say the least. From, “I just want one” to “I need to relax” to “It’s been a long day” or “It will help me sleep.” Once I deconstructed each reason for the root of why I really wanted a drink, I was able to disprove the reasons and redirect my desires toward healthier options. I learned I was drinking more out of habit, then for any true, rational or beneficial reason.
- Find an accountability partner(s). One of the first things that I was told early on is that I need an accountability partner. For me, this was my best friend. Someone whom I love and deeply respect too much to let down. She welcomed the opportunity to take on this tough-love assignment and she regularly sends check-in texts, unexpected daily reminders and sweet, sweet messages of encouragement and prayers that she is praying for me. With cheerleaders, advocates and non-judgemental safety nets that I have established, I seek their approval and affirmations and look forward to reporting my daily successes to them. I must add that my brother’s sobriety is motivating me. He may or may not, but I feel that he is relying on my strength and want to inspire him and show him that I am in the trenches with him. This feels like a bigger victory in that our family history is overtaken by this disease. Together, we can prevail!
- Make a Why List. Denial and justification for drinking is relentless and sneaks up at random and unexpected times. My mind swings from, “This is too easy” to “clearly I don’t have a problem.” That is until one of my triggers flare up and I start entertaining the idea that “just one won’t hurt.” I made a list of 10 reasons why I don’t drink which takes me back to the place that I was when I made this decision 30 days ago and the exact that I declared “enough is enough.” When I revisit that list I am reminded of the guilt, shame, regret and embarrassing memories or strong convictions that gave me the strength to stop. I don’t advocate for living in the past, but remembering where you’ve been and how far you have come is empowering. I’ll take that!
- Facebook Group: I searched and found “Slaying Sobriety” on Facebook. This group has over 6,000 women who have their own stories and I appreciate immediate responses with support, encouragement and connectivity to others who understand where I am at. I have encouraged others and they have encouraged me in my moments of weakness.
- A Lifestyle Choice. There is no denying the stigma of addiction, alcoholic and drunk. A clever marketer on YouTube suggested that we choose the label we want to bare, rather than hanging our head in defeat. After all, we may be alcoholics by genetics, mental health, past trauma or just fun people who took fun to far and for too long. Regardless, we don’t need society to make us outcasts. Instead, we choose sober living, living sober or life in recovery as a more positive representation of those of us who want better life and are making better choices for ourselves. Nobody criticizes a diabetic for taking insulin for their disease, why should we be ridiculed for ridding our lives of alcohol that makes us sick and will kill us.
- A Better Future. I often think about the years of drinking. I have been drinking more than 35 years. I get excited to imagine my next 35 years where I will have fewer regrets, more opportunities, better memories and more genuine friendships. As much as drinking is a societal norm, it is also derails our quality of life.
- A New Me. I’m having fun getting to know the new me, I really am. A girl who is full of life with a broader, more hope-filled vision for the future. Let’s be real, it’s not a great and wonderful experience… I’m making it one. There are moments that I do wish I could just take it or leave it, but I have had to get honest with myself and I have a track record of not winning in this area. I find myself dreaming again and imagining what more life holds. I am waiting to see if I get accepted into the Master’s of Counseling Program at Concordia University as we speak. I like the idea that it’s not to late to be what God created me to be.
Thank you for following my journey. Not only with alcohol, but in my walk of faith and continuous growth in knowing God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV