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

Find Pleasure in the Simple Things

By 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦, I mean natural. We are inherently surrounded by elegant simplicity. The delicate fold of a new leaf unfurling; the gentle decent of that same leaf, months later, as it is released by the steadfast deciduous of its birth.

We now live in an unnatural world of concrete and plastic; imitation flora decorating the interior landscape of our homes and offices; completely removed form the 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘺 parts of actual life such as the slaughter of meat for constant consumption.
Would you eat meat if you had to kill and dress it yourself? I wouldn’t. So I don’t eat meat.

Our modern trappings have so removed from being able to actually take pleasure in simplicity.

Go outside today. Learn the names of the tress in your immediate space, smell a wildflower as it struggles for sunlight through a crack in the concrete jungle.

What wonders can be found just outside your doorstep, waiting to be cherished for the integral part of existence that it quietly is?

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!

Beginning Practice

Practice.

Beginning a meditation practice can be daunting. I have heard so many times “Oh I stopped because I couldn’t stop thinking” or a similar statement. It’s a challenging stigma to overcome — meditation doesn’t mean your mind is blank. It means we are able to lose the attachment to the thinking mind, we release the attachment to the thought.


The easiest way I found, when I was first dipping my toes into the meditation pool, was to view my thoughts as just something happening.


Like this: When you have a thought (doesn’t matter what it is!) say to yourself “there goes a thought” and I guarantee you’ll have another one following right behind-“ oh look, more thoughts”


Thoughts come and go all day long. It’s not the thoughts necessarily that cause us the stress but the attachment to certain thoughts. Replaying stressful situations or worrying about the future are both forms of this attachment.

Meditation allows us to learn how to find space and release our attachment to constant mind chatter. Over time, with consistent practice, we are able to sit with a calm mind. Outside of meditation the chatter quiets down, loses its hold on us and we begin to live more mindfully with less attachment, stress and worry.

If you are just beginning your practice, I recommend guided meditations as they provide a focal point for the minds eye. I have some short guided meditations, perfect for beginners or seasoned mediators available on Insight Timer, for you to explore.

Once comfortable with guided practice, try sitting for 1 minute. Yes only 1. Trust me. Set a timer. It’s longer then you think if you are not used to sitting quietly. The first time I attempted this I lasted about 35 seconds before checking the timer!

Patience. Practice. Perseverance.

Namaste.

Intention

in·ten·tion
/inˈten(t)SH(ə)n/

noun

  1. a thing intended; an aim or plan.
    “she was full of good intentions”

2. MEDICINE; the healing process of a wound.

I have realized that the power of intention can have a dynamic impact on your life, but never more so than in these last couple months. I have experienced a tremendous shift of energy in my life purely due to my intentions. Over the course of the next month I will share how setting an intention daily has opened me to new experiences and opportunity as well as how intention can help you shift, not only your perspective, but your life.

Now a little about the first definition of intention and in the next blog post we will take a look at the concept of intention as medicine and it’s healing effects.

Merriam-Webster defines intention as a determination to act in a certain way; what one intends to do or bring about; and the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered. I am sure most are familiar with the concept of setting an intention but how does it work?

Manifesting intention has to do with the power of thought. Our thoughts are energy. Every thought we have puts energy out into the world gently influencing the nature of existence and our view of reality.

Here is a simple example. We have all woken up grumpy at some point and decided it would be a miserable day, everything that can go wrong does go wrong kinda day…. that is intention in action. Our first thoughts in the morning sets the tone for the entire day.

I am far from a morning person. Yet, I recognize that if I am grumpy every morning because I have to get up earlier that I would like to, in order to get to work on time, it will be a miserable life. Grumpy mornings lead to grumpy commutes, grumpy work days which turn into weeks, turn into years. Is that really how I want my life to be? Complaints every day because I have to wake up at 5:15?

HELL NO!

So what to do? We make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to be grateful every morning. If we wake up, AWESOME, that means we are still alive! YAY! BE GRATEFUL! That simple.

Waking up grateful does not ensure a perfectly happy day but it is a first step in realizing we can INTEND how our day will go. Try it for a week. As soon as you wake up, before you get out of bed, be grateful for something. Actually say “I am grateful for _________.”

Want a simple suggestion to start with? Try “I am grateful for my breath.” Notice if this allows you to be more mindful of your breath during the day. Do you find yourself breathing more deeply, more diaphragmatic breathing?

Take note of any subtle shift in awareness that may occur.

…and I’ll be back to see how you did and tell you how setting an intention in the morning change my life in 1 short month! Until then…..

Namaste