8 Years

Today is my 8 year sober anniversary.
8 years of continuous sobriety.

When I write it it seems so long, but time has flown by.

When I first quit I didn’t plan to be “sober”. Life was ok, but inside I was suffering. I knew alcohol was making my anxiety unbearable, but any time I tried to cut back my anxiety crushed me.

I knew I was brittle, exhausted and sharp. I hated myself and saw no other way. I had built a strong shield of being fine and overachieving. No one saw me.

I decided to give myself the gift of a year of sobriety. I thought this would fix things and then I could drink again.

Lol. Once the option to drink was removed my eyes were opened. ALCOHOL is the problem, and there is a simple solution. Do not drink it. No matter what.

Not even during the death of a close family member, a wildfire evacuation, mental health challenges, a divorce ot a global pandemic.
Not even on a boring Saturday night.

I am still working on the things that brought me to where I was 8 years ago. Now I know I don’t ever have to do that alone again, and that if I don’t drink, and face the problems, solutions will come.

Thank you all for sharing your journeys. You continue to help me every day and that fills my heart with love and joy.

Stillness and peace.

Me and my little love.

Old memories

Life with Milo has been interesting.

He is a doll. He loves me and follows me around and he makes me so happy.

He has also been sick. Like barfing followed by extreme lethargy sick. Being so tiny, at 2.5 pounds, this has been extremely stressful and scary. I am constantly worried I am doing something wrong and that he is going to die. He was a very very small runt at birth. All his brothers are over 5 pounds already. He was the outcast and this was what made me fall in love with him right from the start as the breeder posted photos and videos.

The first time this happened I freaked out. I almost couldn’t cope. I cried and sat with him and was so distressed. I told Cleo I wished we hadn’t gotten a puppy. I couldn’t function. it was so strange…like time stood still. At the vet they told me these little dogs are fragile and I felt judged for having a small puppy.

This isn’t really like me. I am usually much more solution oriented…but I was paralyzed. I felt completely inadequate and defeated.

I realized I was having some sort of flashback to when Cleo was a baby. She was very small and very ill for the first few years of her life. We were in and out of hospitals and to so many doctors. It was excruciating and it was when my drinking really amped up. The anxiety of having a tiny baby who seemed so ill was crippling.

Throughout her life medical issues have come and gone. At 16 she has had more tests and specialists than I could list. I thought I had made peace with this…but it was clear I still have a lot of trauma inside.

Recognizing this, with the help of some friends, helped. I realized why it was so stressful, and I relaxed and started asking for help with Milo. I changed how I was feeding him, more little meals. I stopped trying new things and simplified.

He is better. Still barfed yesterday, for no apparent reason, but he is growing and playing and I feel like we will be ok.

I try to remember the saying, this too shall pass. As I sit here petting Milo’s soft fur I am thankful that he came to live with me. he is helping me deal with something I didn’t even realize I still carried.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Milo is the one on the right…obviously, lol

More love

I drove my son to university this week. He’s taking engineering at my Alma mater. Is it in 8 Hour Dr. away.

In Calgary he staying with his dad. Dad has a self contained basement suite just for him. Although They have had minimal contact since his dad moved out in 2018, cooper decided that this offer was right for him. Is a good choice as Cooper is very frugal. LOL. I have saved for his university and he knows his financial situation. He can afford to live alone if this doesn’t work out.

His dad currently lives with his girlfriend and their son, who is 18 months old. I remember when Craig told me he was having another baby. I was so worried my kids would feel replaced by this new baby. This Distressed me greatly. I was so upset at my kids now having a sibling who is in no way related to me…that they might never know. This caused me so much stress and heartache…and was part of what led to my breakdown in 2019. I hated Craig for doing this then. Hated.

Coop moved in over the last few days. During these days the baby baby was sick and unhappy. He had his 18 month shots and they obviously gave him a little reaction. Cooper and I tried to make as little noise as possible to not disturb the baby.

On the third day he was feeling better And went out into the backyard and Cooper and I went out to meet him and his mom, who neither of us have ever ever met. It was definitely an odd situation, to be sitting on the deck chatting with my son, my ex, his gf and their baby.

The baby looks like my son. And he is an adorable toddler. The mom was nice and said she would keep an eye on Cooper.

I suddenly realized that this baby just adds more love to my sons life. He now has another brother. This isn’t a negative. This is only a gift. It doesn’t take anything away from us.

I can’t say how this perspective came about. or why. I just was overcome with the realization that everything was exactly as it is supposed to be, and that this baby wasn’t hurting Cooper at all…or me….he was just a little boy playing out in the sun.

Perhaps it was seeing it in real life that washed away all my old protective worries and pain. I can’t guard my children’s hearts…that is a tough realization for a parent. And, even more vital, I DIDN’T NEED TO. Cooper is able to do that for himself.

Craig and I were together for 25 years. Half my life. I still love him as a person and only want good things for him in his life.

I cherish my independence and love being single. I love living life my way. I can honestly say I have come to a point where I am thankful for the suffering that has given me this new perspective.

I wouldn’t have chosen it, but, like the gift of enlightenment that came from sobriety, I am willing to accept the grace that results.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Seven years blogging

I got an notification from WordPress the other day that it was my 7 year blog anniversary.

I must say, I never expected to maintain a blog this long…I have a million journal that I start and never stick with! I somewhat expected this to be the same.

It is the interaction here that sustains me. People come and go. I am happy for everyone’s successes and sad for their struggles. I get love and support back. I realize that the world is full of people trying their best and it is just as powerful to interact online as it is in person. thank you all for that.

When I quit drinking in December 1, 2013 I though it was the end of something. It turns out it was the best beginning I could possibly have imagined.

My life is average. I have a job. I got divorced. My kids are growing up. We have struggles with mental health issues. It is, however, Lovely. I have learned to manage the good with the very very hard.

I plan to hang around here for a long time. I hope my blog encourages others to consider a sober life. It is a freedom unlike any other.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Friday night check in

Hello!

2021 is progressing well at my house. Both of my kids are doing well at school. The oldest is in grade 12 and nearing the end. He has already been accepted into engineering in Calgary. He is debating going to another university, but hasn’t done anything about it, lol. His marks are excellent and he can go wherever he wants. I’m leaving it to him.

My youngest is thriving in her outreach school. There are teachers available to support her, both online and in person. She can work at her own pace. I help her through math and science. We joke around and she called me Ms. Simpson. It is going amazingly and she is proud of herself and engaged. After 3 years of school anxiety, minimal attendance and distress, grade 10 is going as well as I could have ever hoped. Her mental health is good. The relief I feel is overwhelming. Anyone with a child struggling, know it takes almost no time to catch up – even missing grades 7-9.

I am doing well too! Work from home continues and I love it. I am busy and the days go by quickly. I am appreciative that I still have my job during covid, although working in the oil industry I know we are pretty much the definition of essential.

I have found a routine of daily yoga right after work. I am using Nicki’s Doane’s online yoga school, and it is as amazing online as she is in person. This is true yoga…way beyond exercise. I can’t put into words how profoundly she has changed my life, but reconnecting with her virtually has been a healthy shift for 2021. I am more settled, more peaceful and am slowly working out the stiffness that settled in in 2020. Every class I use THIS as my intention. I just indulge in enjoying each class and being fully present.

I also note that some squishiness has developed in 2020 as well. I am striving to not distress over this, and to not dive into any strict diets. Instead I am working on not eating after dinner. Just this small change a few weeks ago has improved my sleep.

I sometimes look back at my blog and wonder at how much has changed in my life since I quit drinking in 2013, and how different I am now. I like myself so much more. It has all been a slow progression to self acceptance and compassion.

It makes me think of the first yoga sutra…atha yoga nirodaha. Now, at this moment, which is made up of all the moments before this, yoga begins.

This is every moment, and it is exactly as it is supposed to be.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Snow White

It is January 8 and my word of the yes, this, has already served me well.

I find when my thoughts start racing, and I ruminate over what someone said or did, I say this, out loud and it brings me right back to what I am doing. At the very least it helps limit my emotional response to something that isn’t actually happening and is long done.

I am continuing to work from home. I LOVE it. Our initial plan had us returning to the office again later in January. I have returned twice already, in July and again in November. Both were short lived and disruptive changes. I do not do well with change.

I am trying to focus on one week at a time this year, but that return to work thought has been poking at me. Yesterday I heard we would almost definitely be home until spring. Yes, I did a happy dance, and yes, I will be disappointed if this changes, but YAY.

Not having a 100 km round trip drive into work is awesome. I feel like Snow White at home. My budgie, Paul, flies around and sits in my monitor chirping at me. Frank, the rabbit, lays by my feet under my desk. Melvin the hamster is even by me, but he stays in his cage and looks out. He’s old, over 3, and a rescue. I expect he won’t last forever, but he is a cute, tiny white ball. Even the reptiles join in some days, although they live in my daughters room, not my “office” (aka dining room).

This is a safe haven for me currently. It is comfortable and relaxing. Even better, The kids are here, although my sin is returning to in person learning Monday. I don’t love the idea….I know it will result in more covid. He is in grade 12, though, and there needs to be a bit more to his life than watching sports with his mom. I suppose….reluctantly.

For now, this is it. My little oasis. The world outside the window seems very unfamiliar, so I am avoiding it for a while.

Stillness and peace,

Anne

Word of the year 2021. This

For the past seven years I have picked a word of the year to help set my intention. I use the word as a bit of a mantra, to set an intention at yoga and to inspire me. It is actually more that the word picks me, and when I hear it, it just feels right. This year my word is This.

In 2014 I took a yoga teacher training that changed my life. My teacher, Nicki Doane, came from Hawaii to my small city in northern Alberta. I never expected or planned to practice yoga, but, in early sobriety, I joined a studio and felt safe there. I would lie on my mat and think, yes, of course, this. It was like returning home after a long journey. Yoga was waiting for me to remember.

Anyway, I saw the poster with nicki’s picture and it called to me. So I registered for it, even though it was expensive and required 10 days off work over the year. It was the best gift I have ever given myself.

During the training Nicki would often say “If it wasn’t this, it would be something else”. Usually when we were in a difficult pose…so focus on this, because it is here and in front of you. Find the strength and the sweetness. Or, in more direct words, deal with this, or I will find something else, and, who knows, it might be worse. Different isn’t always better.

I think about this a lot. This is acceptance of what is. A willingness to work with what is. Not wishing things were different or making changes to try to get away from reality. Just This.

2021 feels like a year where accepting This, whatever it is, will be vital. There is so much uncertainty around covid, the economy, my own job, one kid graduating from high school, aging parents, etc. I can get caught up in what’s next very quickly. Projecting into the future and worrying crests anxiety.

So, This it is. A touchstone to bring myself back into the present.

So 2021, This is it.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Lucky Number Seven

Today is 7 years since I decided to try a life without alcohol. I never expected it to be for good. I really thought at that time that I just needed a break to get myself under control. After all, I was a smart, educated woman.

I laugh now, but at the time it was not funny. I was scared by my own behaviour. Swearing I wouldn’t drink and then drinking. Trying different drinks, mixed drinks, more exercise, diets, cleanses.trying to be ok with drinking and not so hard on myself.

None of this worked. I was compulsive. If there was alcohol around I wanted it. I snuck drinks. I had started being later and later on mondays because I was always hungover and ill. My body couldn’t handle it at all.

At the same time I was starving myself and exercising excessively. I was fit and looked good…if you didn’t look to close. My hair was falling out a bit and I hadn’t had a period in a couple years.

I was the picture of an anxiety disorder. Brittle, stressed, overcompensating, depressed and often suicidal. I wished many days that I would just not wake up. Life was overwhelming me.

I couldn’t really understand this then. I had a lovely family, a good job, money. I had friends. People though to was ok. Inside I was screaming. I hated myself and couldn’t trust myself and was oh, so disappointed in me.

December 1, 2013 I finally just said enough. Although at the time I wasn’t sure alcohol was the only problem, it was definitely a problem. So I decided that as an early birthday present I would give myself a year of sobriety.

I had done stints of not drinking before, as cleanses, etc. And I had read Allen Carr’s book the easy way to control alcohol and it really spoke to me. Maybe there was an ok life without booze. I don’t really believe it, but I was desperate.

It was both exhilarating and impossible. Giving up the booze meant my anxiety became intense, crippling and unmanageable. I was also quite paranoid and scared.

But I still did it. I called a therapist. She eventually convinced me to see my doctor. I became willing to address my lifelong anxiety and depression. I stared medication. I read quit lit. I started going to yoga.

It seems long ago, but I still remember the distress. I also remember waking up on Monday’s to go to work and feeling proud of myself that I wasn’t hungover. it seems like a small thing, but I had so little self confidence at the time. The lying and denial of alcohol abuse truly had worn me done.

Most of my story from then on appears in this blog. I remember one day walking outside and feeling with perfect, crystals clarity that the world was exactly as it was supposed to be and that I would be ok. For me, that is enlightenment. Those moments.

It took me a while to embrace the idea that I was in recovery. I considered this a habit, a lifestyle change, self medicating. I wondered what that meant. I questioned a lot and read a lot and eventually realized that no matter what I think, my life is so much better without alcohol and that embracing recovery is the same as embracing life. I get to do this every day.

Seven years ago I hoped sobriety would mean that I could be zen all the time, able to manage anything. ha. I have encountered many hardships and joys and I have been knocked off my zen more times than I can say. I hate it, I don’t want it, but I have come to believe that from suffering comes grace. And so when find acceptance in my suffering I am able to grow. Yes, it’s bullshit. It is still true.

Looking ahead I can’t say what will come. I know that sobriety is a vital part of my life and that it is the foundation for my mental and physical health and contentment. I acknowledge this every day, and every day I get the opportunity to find joy. I am happy and I love my sober self. This, more than anything, has been worth it.

Thank you all for sharing the journey with me. This community is powerful.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Anne -happy for today