Raw meat

  
After a stretch of about 50 sober days I started drinking in December, 2015.  It is only now that I am seriously attempting to get sober again.  The night before I left Italy to go back to Canada for a few months to visit friends and family the guy I’ve been dating asked me if I had a problem with alcohol.  He is the first person that I’ve talked about my problem with face to face.  It was hard. I felt so raw and vulnerable.  In order to explain how my problem developed I also had to tell him about my past. Depression, heart break and failure.  He dropped me off at the airport and I had to hold back tears for the entire 12 hour journey back to Canada. I wasn’t sad that I had to leave him.  I was embarrassed that I had just told him all of the things I’m ashamed of.  I had dumped all of my baggage on the table for him to see.  I really liked this guy and felt like he would run away now that he had seen the real me.  I felt naked and raw and helpless.

Telling the truth and being honest has actually brought us closer together (even though we are now further apart). And after talking with some old friends I am feeling better and more confident about life in general.  I’m staying with my parents for three weeks, in my hometown.  I had run away from this place four years ago. I had run a catering and restaurant business that eventually led me to a nervous breakdown.  I felt shame and embarrassment when I closed the business and I never dealt with those feelings.  I just ran away across the country and started drinking heavily.  I am going to try and deal with these feelings in a healthier way while I’m home now.  7 days sober.

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13 Things I’ve learned from my relapse.


1. That I cannot EVER drink in moderation.  I can never have one drink. If I have one, it will eventually lead to binging.

2. Drinking and hangovers wastes so much time. It’s amazing the amount of things I am unable to accomplish while drinking and being hungover (wanting to go home from social events so I can binge alone, forgetting to take my dog out to poop, not brushing my teeth, being too sick to clean, being too sick to walk my dog, cancelling plans etc…).

3. When I’m drinking I am too sick to get outside. To breath fresh air, to walk and get exercise.  I need to be outside. It makes me happy.

4. That life is SO much better when you can remember it.

5. That I’m a better person, friend, employee when I am not drinking.

6. Alcohol makes me sick.

7. That I eat unhealthy while I’m drinking.  Wanting greasy food to soak up the booze. Not being able to eat the next morning because I’m nauseous.  Eating shitty food because I think it will make me feel better.

8. Drinking makes me sad and angry and hopeless.

9. I wasn’t ‘missing’ anything while I was sober.  I was actually gaining things (remembering everything, feeling hopeful of my future, exercise and eating healthy, trying new things)

10. Every time I’ve relapsed it is because I felt pressured.  The first time I thought my friend wouldn’t have a fun vacation if I didn’t drink with her. The second was the look a girl I just met gave me when I declined wine with dinner. And the third was on a recent date.  None of these people insisted that I drink.  I felt like they would have a better time if I had a drink with them.  I was doing them a favour.  Truthfully they wouldn’t have a better time if I was drinking.  It wouldn’t matter.  They would just feel better about drinking themselves. Well maybe the date would have a better time because I’d lower my inhibitions and there’d be a better chance that he could get laid. The point is that I’ve realized that sobriety is too important to me to give it up trying to make someone else have a better time.  Because maybe they might have a better night or vacation but that single drink could ruin my life.

11. Moving forward I must come up with a solution for dealing with pressure.  A reason to give people for why I’m not drinking.  Is it inappropriate to say ‘I’m an alcoholic’ when you barely know the person or on a first date? Is it better to make up some excuse? If someone could give me their advice on this I’d really appreciate it.

12. My relapse isn’t the end of the world.  I made a mistake.  I can move on.  The reason it lasted a week and not one day is because I wasn’t forgiving myself.  I was feeling shitty and discouraged.  I felt like I had failed at the whole sober thing so I might as well drink another glass, another bottle.  It’s like having a slip when you’re on a diet. Instead of forgiving yourself for that one bowl of chips you eat the whole bag and then some chocolate and then ‘hell, might as well eat a hamburger and French fries too!’

13. That I am completely ready to do what it takes to get and stay sober.

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I drank

   
I went on a date last week and I drank.  I started off strong and opted not to have an apperitvo.  We then went to a festival in a local town. There was a wine tasting area.  I felt like we were running out of things to do and say and decided to have a glass of wine.  That one decision has resulted in me drinking all week. Binge drinking every other day.  Hangovers, checking my phone in the morning to make sure I didn’t send any crazy drunk messages, missing out on things because I feel sick, I thought I had left all of these things behind.  

This is exactly how I didn’t want to spend my last two months in Italy! The only thing I can do is forgive myself and try harder. Day one.

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Italian Drinking

  

I’ve been in Italy for over a year. I’ve had many ups and downs. Over one hundred of my days here have been completely sober, but I have also had some embarrassing drunk nights and the worst hangovers of my life. I’ve learnt a thing or two about myself by observing the Italians.  
There is ALWAYS alcohol available. And it is very CHEAP. You can get some grappa with your coffee at 8am, have a beer at 11am and drink wine at lunch and nobody bats an eye. You can buy a litre of wine for €1.19. Wine is often cheaper than coke at restaurants. You can have an aperitivo before dinner and a digestif afterwards. This doesn’t sound like a great place for someone with a drinking problem. However it was for me because everyone drinks responsibly here.
When you walk around a town or city at night you don’t see anyone falling over, slurring their words or being belligerent. Here, people don’t drink to get drunk. They will have some wine with dinner, maybe go out for ONE beer. The teenagers here aren’t hiding in a park sneaking shots of vodka until they throw up and pass out. They are at a bar drinking a coke or eating ice cream. Alcohol is always around but it’s rarely abused. 
Seeing this behaviour made me realize I had a problem. When I ‘go out for a beer’ it has never meant ONE. I could not drink one beer and stop. I can not have two glasses of wine at lunch and stop. I would find an excuse to be alone so I could continue drinking. For me it’s never about the taste or enjoying the company of others. Once I have one I need a hundred (or at least as many as it takes for me to do something stupid and then pass out).

Day 43

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Different Motivation

  
There is something that feels different about this go around with sobriety.  Somehow I feel older and more mature about how I’m dealing with it.  I have taken responsibility. I have decided that I’m worthy of feeling good. That I can have a beautiful, healthy future.  I’m not looking at people drinking and wishing ‘why can’t I be normal like that’.

My best sobriety attempts in the past three years have both ended around 66 days.  Both of those attempts at sobriety were started because of embarassemend and shame.  The first one was prompted by falling over outside a bar after a staff party and having such pain in my back the next morning that I couldn’t walk and had to go to the emergency room.  I didn’t remember the fall.  I had to text a colleague the next day to find out what had actually happened.  I was in so much pain I took a week off work and lied in bed. I was too ahsamed to tell any of my friends what had happened.  I was so embarrassed to go back to work. So I swore I would not drink anymore.  The second one was about 8 months ago.  I was working at an agritourismo in Calabria.  A few co-workers and I decided to drink some wine and play cards. They were drinking like normal people. But I was chugging the wine.  They all went to bed and I preceded to call my boyfriend in Canada.  When I woke up the next morning I saw on my skype history that I had called him 12 times!  I had no recollection of what we had talked about or why I had called him so many times.  He wouldn’t talk to me for a week.  Our relationship slowly fizzled out after that. It was a few weeks after that I decided to get sober again.  I was on my way to volunteer at a meditation retreat in Sardinia.  On their profile it had said no excess drinking or drugs allowed.  So I decided abstinence was the best policy to keep from excess.

This time I’m not motivated by shame or embarrassment.  This time I’m motivated by acceptance.  I’ve realized that being an alcoholic is in my DNA.  I am an alcoholic.  I will never stop being an alcoholic.  It will never disappear.  So the way I see it I have two choices: #1. Continue drinking to excess, being embarrassed, feeling like shit, feeling shame that I am still drinking when I know I have a problem. Or #2.  Get sober now.  For good. No more shame, no more embarassement, no more vomiting.  The sooner I get comfortable with sobriety, the more peaceful, joyful sober life I can enjoy.

Day 39

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Closet Drinking

  
Drinking has always been something I hid.  My first drink was vodka that I had stolen from parents liquor cabinet when I was 13.  I drank it in a park with a friend.  I liked it. I liked the feeling of doing something sneaky. So I took out more from their bottle. I replaced what I had taken with water so they wouldn’t notice a half empty 40.  

My supply was limited.  So instead of sharing my vodka with friends I would drink it alone. I would take a few shots before meeting up with friends or I would secretly take swigs while hanging out with friends. I didn’t want to share it.  It added an extra layer of excitement.  Would my friends notice I was acting differently? Or was I capable of hiding my buzz?  This is a behaviour that had stayed with me throughout my drinking life.

I had a boyfriend who worked at a restaurant and could finish work anywhere between 9pm and midnight.  I would wait for his call so we could meet up and cook an extravagant late night meal together. While I was waiting I’d think to myself ‘might as well have a drink while I wait’.  The majority of the time this one drink would turn into drinking all the booze I had on hand. Which meant finishing the bottle of wine or the six pack of beer. I knew I had a problem at this point so would never keep an excess of liquor in the house. I’d have a great time getting drunk alone. Eventually the boyfriend would call and I would have to pretend I wasn’t drunk, drive to his place and keep up the charade.  He liked to drink wine with dinner and we would share a bottle, sometimes two. This, added on to all of my ‘secret’ drinks would sometimes cause me to blackout. Not bad blackouts, but not being able to remember what we had talked about or if we had had sex.  Covering my tracks would thus continue into the next morning. I couldn’t let him know that I blacked out or he would know I drank more. So I would spend the morning very quiet, not wanting to repeat anything I had said the night before.

I’m happy to no longer have secrets.  By nature I am an honest person and it feels good to no longer participate in that hidden behaviour.

Day 38 ☺️

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Alone for two and a half months

  
Day 34

I am housesitting alone for the next ten weeks. In a big, old farmhouse in the Italian countryside.  I am excited and scarred about this next chapter of my life.  This is an amazing opportunity that I know some people would kill for. Two and a half months of no work, no bills, no commitments. Time. Lots and lots of time. There are so many things I want to do.  But there is only one thing that I HAVE to do. Stay sober.  

My main reason for doing this is that I didn’t feel ‘ready’ to go back home yet. I didn’t want to go home an alcoholic. I thought I would have a much better shot at staying sober if I went home with 90 days of sobriety under my belt. I know if I have even one drink I will spend the rest of my time here bingeing alone, getting nothing accomplished, staying in bed for days at a time with a hangover. I can think of a million better things to do with my time.

One of the things I would like to do with all of this time is blog more and chat with other alcoholics to stay motivated.  So if you’re in the same boat please contact me.

The picture is of a sweet little dog that showed up on the doorstep about a month ago.  She must have been abandoned and she shows sign of having been abused.  She is making progress everyday and is the sweetest dog.  I am so grateful to have her to look after for the next ten weeks.  

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