Day 3312 – Being Sober – What Impacts Me Changes From Day To Day

My experiences with sobriety, thinking about my alcoholism, talking to others about experiences, and what causes me to get upset honestly changes from day to day. A few months back, I watched a Cinema Sins video about The Girl On The Train. I didn’t watch the movie because it had nudity, and the silly Cinema Sins videos give me an idea of what a movie was about without having to watch it. Turns out, the main character is an alcoholic. When I watched that video, I realized it really shook me, and I spiraled down with thoughts about my drinking and things that I did while drinking. It made me think – can I not watch, read, talk about other alcoholics?

And here I am, reading the book, The Girl On The Train, and instead of spiraling in my thoughts, I find myself impressed that the author could write an alcoholic so well. I’m asked a lot about how my sobriety impacts my life, from what it’s like to go into a liquor store to being around others drinking to just talking about my drinking days. In a lot of ways, things are pretty consistent, but sometimes, something that would have knocked me down for a few days doesn’t bother me at all.

I write all this to encourage you to be patient with your newly sober, longly sober, want to be sober friends. Dealing with alcohol and remembering our past changes from day to day. So don’t get upset if what bothers us one day is completely ok the next. Dealing with sobriety is a long, hard, wonderful process, and we need you to be there to support us – no matter what that means on any given day.

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Day 3308 – A Surprisingly Hard Part Of Sobriety In The Beginning

Over the past few days, for a number of reasons, the changes in my life have been on my mind. From job changes to income changes to location changes to travel changes to alcohol consumption changes. When you’re in the middle of a season of change, it can be hard to pull yourself back and look at the big picture, as well to see how your view of things has changed. A lot of things that ten years ago, were my normal, are so far from where I am now. My definition of normal has drastically changed. One thing that I hadn’t thought about in a while was one of the harder parts of transitioning to a sober person. Saying no to alcohol when others offered.

As I’ve mentioned before, I “quit” drinking more times than I can remember. The last (and final) time that I quit, it felt SO awkward to say no to drinks. I think it was a mix of wanting to prove to myself first that this would stick but it was also a fear of what others would say. When I started saying no to drinks, the first question was “are you pregnant?” (Y’all know that wasn’t the case.) When you’ve been a heavy drinker, it’s a BIG deal when you say no to drinks. And if you’re not pregnant, it can be hard to truthfully explain your reason for not drinking.

While I’ve been marinating on this, I realized that it’s because you have to be honest with others about your struggle. You have to admit “hey, I have a problem, and I’m not drinking anymore.” Even though I shared quite honestly about my struggle with alcoholism and sobriety, I didn’t share until about a year and a half AFTER my last drink. It took me months to share with those closest to me. Now that I’ve shared, I have no problem talking about why I’m not drinking.

But as I’ve been thinking about that time, I forgot how hard that time was. There is so much out there trying to keep you from staying sober. From TV shows showing you that it’s ok to get drunk to the fear of being honest with others that you can’t drink. It’s SO much easier to just say, “yea sure!” to a drink than to say “you know what, I’m not drinking because I have a problem and I can’t control myself.”

So if you’re asking a friend if they want a drink, give a little grace and don’t push it if they say no. And if you’re thinking you might have a problem and want to quit, hold on, when you make it past the first few months (or year) of discomfort in saying no, the rewards are amazing.

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Day 3303 – The Last Drink I Ever Had – Or – Sharing Our Mistakes Publicly – repost

On September 29, 2014, I had my last drink, ever. I’m going to share my testimony at church about my journey through alcoholism, not taking sin seriously and what God changed in me at a later time. I’m super excited to share the full story, but I’m sharing it there first….I’ll (hopefully) get a video and I can paste the full text in a blog post. Since I’ve been working on this the last few months and fine-tuning yesterday, not drinking has been on my mind.

I’m listening to How To Win Friends And Influence People In The Digital Age and it got me thinking about social media and the things we share online. Us humans are full of imperfections, mistakes, failures and just all around screw ups. I was thinking, what if we all openly shared our mistakes? What if, instead of making ourselves sound good and that we have it all together, we shared our mistakes? What if, instead of hoping no one finds out our secrets, what if we shared them?

I’m finding through being open about my drinking problem, that it is so much more freeing to discuss it in the light. The power it once held over me (What’s wrong with you Jen? How can you deal with this?) now is one I’m happy to talk about (Wait until you hear what God did in my life!)

I challenge you today, bring your sin out into the light. It’s a lot easier to deal with it there than hiding in the dark corner.

Here’s the bottle that spurred today’s post….funny enough, it was sitting outside the library….this is the last beer I had….not the same bottle of course…. 😉

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originally posted 11/13/15
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Day 3259 – Thoughts On Addiction, Mental Illness, And Society

I want to start this by saying I have never been diagnosed with depression, alcoholism, or a mental illness by a professional (lol, or a non-professional, come to think of it). But I think that my life experiences have given me some room to speak about these things.

Reading a post on Facebook, made me want to share some of my thoughts. I loved how the author compared how our society is totally ok talking about cancer but not the brain. The full post is definitely worth a read.

I never really paid attention to how the media portrayed alcoholics, addiction, mental illness, etc, until I got sober. Even I didn’t think I had been an alcoholic until AFTER I hopped on the wagon. The alcoholics portrayed in shows and movies were living on the street or coming back to the hospital again and again to get more meds. They never looked like me. When the leads in the show or the movie drank, it tended to be glorified. Even when they get drunk, it’s seen as fun or a way to blow off steam. Yet, without my beer goggles, I can count how many glasses they drink. I can see how binge drinking or their “functional alcoholism” majorly shakes up their lives.

As I’ve spent a good deal of the last few years working on my own personal growth, I’ve read a lot about taking care of yourself and how so many things impact our lives. I know for me, if I don’t get 7-8+ hours of sleep, I am much more susceptible to discouragement, beating myself up, poor work, and a decrease in creativity and productivity. There have been several times where nothing was getting done, I was exhausted, but I kept putting off a nap. “It’s fine, I can handle this” but I really couldn’t. Every time I’ve taken a nap when I’m lacking sleep, it makes a difference.

I also have recognized that even things that don’t seem like a big deal, have huge implications. Facebook is a big drain on my brain and my mood. There is so much negativity. Even if I’m only on Facebook for a few minutes, if I’m looking at my full feed, later I’m irritable or down. I have to take care of myself and severely limit my time on Facebook to work-related things or looking at things that build me up, not down.

I think a good comparison (which I am absolutely not the first to make) of mental health, specifically depression, is a migraine. If you’ve never had a migraine, you have no idea the debilitating power it can have over a person. To folks who haven’t had one, it’s just a headache…”just take a pill, you’ll be fine.” But to those of us who have experienced it, we know it exists in a category all its own. I think depression is the same. I do think there is a mental/chemical aspect to it, to a certain extent genetic as well as due to environmental influences. But if you haven’t experienced depression, it’s easy to think “just be happy! Think of all the things you have! You don’t have anything to be sad about!” But again, those of us who have experienced it know it’s not that simple. I do also believe we can have some control over it. But I think at the end of the day, it’s something to talk about, to try and understand.

Sharing about my alcoholism has been one of the greatest things that I’ve done. It has opened up so many doors of conversation and made me think about things differently. But, I can also attest, it’s scary, it’s not the normal thing to do. Then again, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am so grateful for the experiences I’ve had that have opened my eyes to think about things differently.

It’s a huge topic, way outside the scope of this blog. But I wanted to take a minute to share some of the things I’ve been thinking about…and really, encourage more conversations about it. It’s not easy by any stretch, but it’s worth the work.

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Day 3183 – Reflections On 3.5 Years Of Sobriety

In some ways, I feel like I’ve always been sober. I feel so far removed from my drinking days that they almost seem like they happened to someone else. I suppose in some respects, that’s true. I am so different from that person. I always heard “people don’t change” so I didn’t try to change myself or others. Looking back on my own struggles and changes, I realize people do and can change, but sometimes it can take a very, very, very long time. I was arrested in 2006 but I didn’t take God at His Word (to be sober-minded) until 2014. I joke that it took me eight years to quit cold turkey. But the truth is it was all God doing a work in me over many many years. It has helped me to be patient with change; to not rush it. Some things take a long time to marinate.

One change from not drinking is the ability to get up early. I still can’t believe we regularly get up at 5:00. But there is so much peace and productivity in the early morning hours. I would never voluntarily get up this early in my drinking days.

An awesome blogger I follow (No Wine I’m Fine) celebrates big anniversaries with epic trips. While I’m not taking a trip today, I do count my trip a few weekends ago as a celebration. I do think I’ll take another solo-cation for my four year sobriety anniversary.

One of my life verses is Ecclesiastes 5:20, “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” I feel like this is a reflection of how I feel about my drinking days. I don’t much remember them (which has made writing my book especially interesting and hard), but God has kept my heart occupied with such joy that even looking back becomes easier.

Hello 3.5 years, here’s to 3.5 more!

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