alcoholic

It’s a slippery slope

recovery-ants

Ants in recovery-unaware of the direction but aware of the path.

I got sober in January of 2015 and I’ve been in recovery from an eating disorder since November of 2015. Yep, 2015 was a big year. The action of being in recovery looks different every day. Today, alcohol and I do not struggle. On occasion I’ll have a fleeting thought that a drink might be nice or something will happen that makes me crave the relief from just one drink. Usually when I think that way about booze I remember I am sober, check myself and move on. The eating thing…that is an entirely different beast.

Last year at this time, I was educated by a team of very smart therapists, doctors, and nutritionists about eating disorders – specifically binge eating disorder. I was taught how to go through a day of planned eating with scheduled snacks. With this plan, I  moved swiftly through the days…even with the  emotional turmoil that is life as a working mom, friend and wife. I was able to have loads of snack foods at my disposal, even in my pantry (the favorites were peanut butter pretzels, peanut butter M&Ms and chocolate peanut butter ice cream.) I divided these snacks into normalized portions in little plastic baggies. (except for the ice cream of course ) At snack time I would eat a portion and move on. I was done eating and THINKING about eating.

My disease has morphed. It tries to sabotage me. I tricks me into thinking I am normal. I have noticed in the past few weeks that I grab at the peanut butter pretzels at  will and I ask the husband to head to the store to pick up chocolate peanut butter ice cream whenever I want it. These foods in and of themselves are not bad. I don’t vilify food. But, unplanned eating is dangerous to me.  If I pre-commit to a snack – whatever it is – I can eat it without judgement.

When I grab the unplanned food, I know this is not what recovery looks like. But what I tell myself is that “I am WAY far in recovery and I don’t need to plan and pre-commit. I can eat whenever and whatever I want.”

Last night, after I had gone through the day of planned eating, I absentmindedly/knowingly grabbed a handful of peanut butter pretzels, realized what I was doing and still proceeded to shove some in my mouth. I did this knowing that the action was counter to my recovery. In the next few minutes, I started to feel the guilt and shame of being “owned” by a food. Why wasn’t I as strong as I was a year ago?

Instead of finishing off the rest of the bag, I took the remaining peanut butter pretzels, put them in the sink, got them super wet and soggy (cause you know, if they were dry and crispy I might chase them down later) and washed them down the drain. After that, I felt safer.

It’s true, a year ago I could keep those foods around and they wouldn’t faze me. Recovery looks different today from how it looked it did last year. It will be different three weeks from now. What I have to do today is make sure I create a safe space around food. Today, I can’t have my obsessive foods in my house. I have to be intentional and aware with food because we need it to survive.

These are some rules I try to follow to stay present and active in recovery.

  1. I do not pay  for alcohol…it’s a slippery slope.
  2. I don’t hang out in bars…unless there is a group and I have control of leaving.
  3. I do plan my  meals and snacks….it’s a slippery slope.
  4. I do stick to this plan…it makes life so much less complicated.
  5. I do reach out to people who struggle like me…they have saved my life…over and over.

My Triggers….Bang Bang

Shh....reprogramming in progress.

Shh….reprogramming in progress.

Before I quit drinking my eye used to twitch all of the time. It was a tiny twitch that no one else could see. I would point to my eye and ask a friend if they could see it and inevitably they couldn’t.

For years I used alcohol and food to mask my frustrations and feelings. I could always get myself into a place where nothing bothered me. Rough day at work? That’s okay, have a bottle of wine. Friend pissed you off? Binge on the popcorn, beer and Homeland, why not, you deserve it. But that little twitch, that was my tell. I didn’t always know right away WHAT I was stressed about, but I would mentally scroll a list of possibilities and once I got to the culprit the twitching would begin.

It is amazing how the mind body connection works. Only rarely now does the twitching flare up. Today is one of those days. This is because I am headed on a weekend of firsts. My first weekend to my parents’ home solo and sober, my first bus trip sober, my first trip where I plan to NOT act on my disordered eating.

There will be a lot of triggers – brown foods and buffets of southern Indiana, sugar cream pie, discussing restaurant options, relishing in the carefree atmosphere of not being a wife or mom for a few days, basking in the “daughterness” of my parents’ home, and sitting in the natural discomforts that come with lifelong relationships that have formed who we are.

I am grateful to have this opportunity. Many of my friends and family no longer have parents to share these experiences.  I have ton of coping tools. Some of which you are seeing here in black and white on the blog. I’m ready. Eye twitch and all.

Am I an Alcoholic?

Art showing the 12 steps of AA.All along the way there were signs that I had a drinking problem. I had no interest in reading those signs but some part of my brain registered them and remembers them.  In high school I stood in my boyfriend’s kitchen in the dark listening to  friends laughing and talking in the other room while I fixated on how many more drinks I was going to be able to finish that night. I remember blacking out at 16 and thinking it was scary, but that probably happened to everyone. I was arrested twice for underage drinking in college. In alcohol class as a result of my 1986 arrest by Ronald McDonnald (more here) the counselor told us that there were some people who once they start drinking, set off a cycle of craving where we want more and more and more alcohol.  I brought a keg of beer to a party. Not a case, a keg! I became the person who showed up for the 5K with a hangover because…why not. I measured days by what cocktails I had or would have. One bottle of wine turned into three.

A year before I got sober I had read somewhere that if you could go 30 days without drinking then you probably weren’t an alcoholic. I was so happy to finally determine whether or not I had a drinking problem. I was able to stop drinking for 30 days, but armed with this magical number I had NO inhibitions at all. I really boozed it up. My drinking became heavier and more frequent and my actions more erratic and insane.  Alcohol was my most reliable and steady friend until it wasn’t.

If you are lying there by the light of your phone taking online tests to see if you have a drinking problem, you probably do. If you are posting questions to online forums about whether you are, you probably are. If you wake up thinking you are completely alone cause no one else understands and that you can’t live without alcohol in your life, I understand.  Connect with someone about this, because once you do, you never have to feel alone again.

I’m A Liar

I lied to you for years. I lied to myself as well. Here I was on this quest for a healthier, happier me and I was hiding behind a shameful veil. As I hung out with you at the bar or restaurant drinking one or two beers, I was secretly wishing the time away so I could get back home to the full bottle of wine waiting in the cupboard for me drink … without judgement.

I tell you this now not to ask for forgiveness, but to get a little closer to understanding that addiction is astounding. I am addicted to alcohol, just as I am addicted to compulsive eating and binging. I have been sober from alcohol for nearly 10 months and am on a fresh new start to recovery for my disordered eating. I am still a proponent for health and body at my size, but I have to incorporate my mental health and wellness in this journey. I had no idea how closely one played into another. Not to mention the spiritual connection. Much much more on this all later.

I needed to set this record straight so that I can continue to share things I enjoy with you. I feel like I am on track. If sharing my stories, adventures, and struggles can help you, or someone you know, then I’ve been successful.

I wanna hear from you. Do you struggle with addiction? Is it a secret?

Art showing the 12 steps of AA.

I beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start.