364 days…

A year ago today, I had my last drink. I did not know it at the time and I honestly can’t remember what it was. Only that I went to bed drunk as usual, woke up probably still drunk and began that Monday morning as usual- getting ready for work, not knowing then that I had already had my last drink. On Monday November 8th, 2021, my sobriety journey began.

Let’s back up a bit so that you, dear reader, can try to understand how I had lost myself so completely to alcohol. Like most people who find themselves tumbling down the rabbit hole of addiction, I didn’t wake up one morning and say hey, I’m going to drink to excess everyday and ignore my problems. It was a slow process, a learned coping mechanism to deal with physical and mental heath issues.

As I have written about before, I suffer from chronic migraines and stage 4 endometriosis. I’m in pain most days. Alcohol numbs that pain. It is an escape from the mental and physical exhaustion of dealing with chronic pain. So what began as a glass of wine to unwind and relax when getting home from work slowly became approximately 2 bottles of wine a night.

It wasn’t always wine either, I had a penchant for whiskey, amoretto, and had gotten into white claw and the like. I wouldn’t get sloppy drunk. I was actually a very high functioning alcoholic. Most people had no idea -mainly, I think, because it has become so common place for mom’s to have wine time. I worked a full time job as a chemist and volunteered for years in the world of musical theater wearing various hats like director, producer, set designer, etc… and had a successful wellness consulting business all while drinking too much.

So how could I possibly have a drinking problem?

It took me a while to realize my drinking was out of control. Excessive alcohol consumption has become so normalized in our culture that the line is seriously blurred. Perhaps my first clue was that whenever a doctor asked me how much I drank, I lied. Who is going to admit to their doctor that they are have 5-6 or more drinks a night? I knew it was too much but hell – I still got up and went to work, took care of my family, volunteered so again; was it really a problem?

Maybe I realized something was up the day I locked my keys in the car. They had fallen out of my pocket as I hid scrunched down in the backseat slamming 2 small bottles of pumpkin rum. …or maybe it was the mornings I woke up to multiple empty bottles wondering who could have drank all of it? Or slurring my words at a wedding reception as I overindulged at the open bar?

There were so many signs, yet I ignored them all. I flirted with stopping or cutting back. “Only drinking on the weekends” would last a week. “I’ll use a smaller glass” means more refills.

This went on for years and years. So what finally happened that made me stop completely? A terrifying experience that I was unable to handle appropriately because I was drunk.

One year ago, on November 5th, a Friday; I was preparing for night two of three of the high school musical I had directed and produced. I had pretty much been absent from my home for the previous weeks if not months from 6:30 am until 8pm or so most days. Of course, the drinking commenced as soon as I was through the door (or occasionally first thing in the morning). The days prior to the show, my husband had come down with food poisoning, however I left him to fend for himself. I had a show to put on. In my head- he was an adult who could handle himself. I wasn’t paying attention to how sick he was.

So Friday night, I didn’t get home until 11pm or so and immediately downed a bottle of wine. Hubby was in bed and our son who was 18 at the time was playing video games. I unwound with my bottles of wine for over an hour. Finally, exhausted and pleasantly buzzed I went to bed.

About 2 hours later I awoke to a crash in the kitchen. It took me a few seconds to come to and realize where I was. I rolled out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen. It was dark and I could see my husband stumbling towards me. He made it around the corner but collapsed onto our sons baby grand piano just outside our bedroom door. Now panicking, I reach to grab him but was not strong enough. I grabbed his face yelling his name and his eyes glassed over.

That is about when I probably should have called 911. However, as I was 2 sheets to the wind, I left him lay there and went to wake up our son. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to wake up an 18 year old at two o’clock in the morning but it’s virtually impossible.

Long story short- finally managed to wake my son- there was yelling and freaking out- of course all me; and we managed to get my husband back in bed.

In the morning, hubby had no recollection of what had happened. I left my son in charge of him and prepared for closing night of the show. Drinking started before noon.

What I managed to get out of my slightly incoherent husband was that due to the food poisoning he couldn’t sleep so took Benadryl. He was so dehydrated from being sick at that point, that he forgot he took Benadryl and took Nyquil on top of it and pretty much passed out. But he’s an adult right!?! Why did I need to be home with him?!?

Closing night of the show was a success and I didn’t get home until after midnight. Hubby sleeping and no more issues- or so I thought. Sunday morning I’m up and into my lovely alcoholic gifts from the kind parents of thespians. Then it off to school for clean up. 3 hours at school and all I could do is count the minutes until I was home cracking open a can of spicy margarita!

Once home I enjoy the margarita and copious amounts of wine. While hubby rested in bed. Did I ask him if he was drinking enough water? Probably not- I was too busy drinking and relishing the last 3 days. I asked him if he was feeling any better. He thought so. I left it at that.

Monday morning the alarms goes off at 5:20am and an I am up and out of bed. I start the coffee and get in the shower. As I exit the bathroom I see my husband waiting for me in the kitchen. He looks awful, pale and weak. He says I think I need you to take me to the hospital.

And off to the emergency room we go. He was severely dehydrated and needed 2 full bags of IV fluids and was out of work another 4 days to rest and recuperate.

And that was it. No more drinking.

Seeing how I completely ignored the situation with my husband because of my alcohol fog scared the shit out of me. Could the situation have turned out worse- you bet it could have. I was one lucky drunk! Upon returning home from the ER, I collected every drop of booze in the house and threw in the garbage. Done.

Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying stopping drinking was easy. It sucked. I struggled every day. But I wasn’t beating myself up everyday with a guilt ridden pity party because I downed multiples bottles of wine the night before. This was a different kind of struggle. I was anxiety ridden for a few weeks, then it would rear its ugly head if I had a social function to go to. How could I go out and not drink? What would people say? What would I say if that’s asked why i wasn’t drinking? Holy shit! Cycles of anxiety, fear, shame but ask me if it was worth it?

Now I sit here, a year later, a year to the day of my last drink.

I am still an alcoholic by definition. I am still in recovery, but I am SOBER.

So hello. It’s nice to meet you. If you knew me in my drinking days, I am sorry. Allow me to reintroduce myself; My name is Kristen and I am 364 day sober.

Need help with your drinking?

Visit Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Wellness

Are you being mindful of your needs? As we (in the northern hemisphere) move towards colder shorter days, it is a good idea to spend sometime creating nourishing routines to maintain balance.
Are you getting proper nutrition?
Eat warming nourishing foods like homemade root vegetable soups, stews, or try a warming Kitchari for a gentle seasonal cleanse.

Are you moving your body to keep your lymph flowing? Your lymph cleanses your blood and system as it circulates through your body. Unlike blood, lymph needs you to move in-order for it to move. Try some gentle yoga, walking or a rebounder is great for lymphatic system health. Always check with a doctor before starting any new exercise. ..and remember to drink plenty of water!


Are you getting quality, consistent sleep? Movement and proper nutrition will definitely help with getting better sleep. Try not to eat 2 hours before bed. Getting up and going to sleep every night can also help with the quality of your slumber. Need help unwinding? Try a guided meditation (check out Spotify page) to help slow down thoughts and find restful comfort.

Have tips you’d like to share? Let me know!

Well-being

As summer begins to wind down, I notice that I haven’t been as mindful with regards to what I am taking in.  As the days get shorter, they also seem to get busier, more hectic, less intentional.  I notice this shift in awareness about 4 times a year, usually prior to the solstices and equinoxes. This shift in awareness indicates time for intentional change.

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I have been aware of my natural cycles for most of my adult life. This is in part due to being diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis in my mid 20’s in addition to suffering from debilitating migraines. I had to become acutely aware of my body’s cycles such as sleep cycles and how my eating habits affected my day to day pain levels. It was during this time that I developed a more holistic approach to my life.

I became a vegetarian. I started practicing yoga and meditation. I shifted my life from pain and anxiety to fulfillment and joy. Learning how to relax, find peace during difficult moments, and how to heal from within. I then studied with Usui Reiki Master Christine Brown. I completed my training and began practicing as an Usui Reiki Master Teacher. This experience allowed me deeper insight to the mind body connection. I thrived; up until about 4 years ago.

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During my 30’s I was able to manage the endometriosis with diet, exercise, and acupuncture. What I perceived as the downward spiral of my health began slowly over the course of months in my late 30’s, with symptoms such as increased pain, heavier flow, and more migraines. Suddenly, how I’d been managing my symptoms wasn’t working anymore. The endometriosis had reached my diaphragm and I began having a hard time breathing at night and was forced to sleep sitting up. After a trip to the ER for what my doctor thought was appendicitis, it was found that I also had Degenerative Disk Disease. After getting the results from the ER, my doctor decided to run a ton of blood work. I had to go back on the IUD to control some of the symptoms. It was also found that I had Mono. Due to the mono diagnosis, I could not continue with my normal workout routine of Pilates, yoga, and weight training for 8 months. My pain management routine was out the window.

Fast forward to summer of 2020. Mono over with. Fitness regime back on point and still debilitating pain. I was using a cane to walk off and on for almost a year. Getting up was a struggle. Going to the gym require Motrin and stubborn dedication. I had found a new OBGYN a year earlier and she was(is) amazing. Tons of information regarding symptoms and treatments. After many months of research and discussion, I decided to try Lupron in addition to the IUD. Lupron puts you into a menopausal state. It is also used to treat various cancers, so not to be taken lightly. I was very reluctant but could no longer mentally deal with the pain. It was affecting my day-to-day life. So, Lupron. Where to begin. It’s a 3-month dose. the first month is rough. I wound up with having about 6 weeks pain free. Amazing. Then I was due for the next shot, and the cycle begins again- a very rough first month followed by 6 weeks of minimal pain, but the MIGRAINES…

At the time of writing this have been off of Lupron for 4 months. After the second shot my migraines double, then tripled. I was experiencing multiple migraines a week and could not get out of bed.

The side effects are more than I can deal with. Although my pain has returned, I can at least, slowly get out of bed.  I also KNOW that all my pain is from the ENDO! So now I can focus on shifting my diet towards less inflammatory foods and shifting my mindset back towards ease with practices which foster flow.

So here I am. The beginning of a 21-day Chakra Cleanse. By getting back to basics of my personal energy I can reestablish healthy habits. By taking the time each day to sit in stillness, feeling the flow of energy though my being, I notice subtle imbalance.  Over the course of 21 days I can shift this energy, releasing what no longer serves me and experience atonement (at-one-ment).

“I am rooted, but I flow.”

Virginia Wolfe

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If you would like to join me in the 21 day chakra cleanse, please follow @bliss_awakening on Instagram.

Namaste