All posts by ainsobriety

Annoyed with my body 

I eat well. Lots of vegetables, organic or local meat from my favourite farmer. Gluten free (I am celiac), but not many gf products that are crappy anyways.

I don’t drink or smoke. I practice yoga every day. I usually feel pretty good.

A couple weeks ago, on the way home from Quebec City, I started getting severe heartburn. This is not unfamiliar, I  had stomach problems for years and year. The celiac disease diagnosis made a huge difference, but I am still quite careful about what I eat. I am not sure how I survive the drinking years….unending antacids. But for the past few years I have felt pretty good. 

Anyway. This sudden, severe heartburn was accompanied by intense heart palpitations.  I tried to reassure myself it wasn’t unusual, but by day three of intense pain and a pounding heartI went to emerg. Turns out I was not having a heart attack, but severe heartburn and pvcs, which are benign irregular heartbeats. Whew.

So. I tried nexium. It made me nauseous. I stopped eating. It did not help the heartburn. I tried Prevacid and it made me vomit. I considered fasting longer. Eating only rice. The SCD diet. I became overwhelmed with indecision and frustrated with the pain. Because the pain was horrible. It felt like a knife in my chest. 

After a bit of sulking I had an idea. I went to my Ayurvedic doctor. I was conveniently in edmonton to see Lady Gaga. Fortuitous!

Ayurveda is the medicine of yoga. I have seen this doctor before. I first went in 2015. I had gone into premature menopause/adrenal fatigue during my years of starving and drinking and excessive exercise, and I hoped she could help me get myself back on track.

Within 2 months I was on my way back to normal. After years of hair loss and feeling terrible I felt like I was healing. 

Ayurveda tailors your diet and lifestyle to your dosha. It all starts with good digestion. I am a pitta/kapha. But my vata was out of whack. To help with this I eat warm, nourishing food. I avoid excessive extercise. I do a daily oil massage. Basically I treat myself kindly. I expect almost all sober women could use some vata pacifying!

Anyway, my current issue is aggravated pitta. This happens when it’s hot and when a person skips meals. For a prolonged period of time. Hmmm. I have been travelling quite a bit and when I am unsure of what to eat, or I get over hungry, I don’t eat. And I had lost some weight. My close fit better. I liked the feeling. Maybe a bit too much.

For me, not eating is a coping mechanism. It lets me feel like I am in control. It is not a coping mechanism that works well for me. Maybe it did once, but now it just adds to my anxiety and in a state of semi starvation I am irrational, easily rattled and hangry.

 Excess pitta creates heat. Causing heartburn, fast heart rate, sweating. It even explains my sore, red eyes. 

So I came home with a bunch of supplements and some plans to ensure I eat breakfast every day. Ayurveda recommends foods that are cooling and sweet for pitta and forgoing pepper, spicy foods and sour foods. I will be adding some fruit and some warm milk as well. I will let you know how it goes!

It all makes sense when I think about it. Digestion and health are like everything else. They require regular evaluation and effort. And perhaps some open minded ideas about heaLth and nutrition.

So, that’s my story for the weekend. I hope you are all well!

Stillness and peace,

Anne

Am I an Alcoholic?

I have read a number of posts recently about the term alcoholic. Here’s howI look at it today. I expect it will change over time. Like everything else…

Am I an alcoholic?

I think drinkers spend too much time worrying about what others think and the right way to frame things. The truth was, I drank too much and it was hurting me. I may not have been drinking Vodka out of my coffee mug in the morning, or even drinking daily, but I was waking up every Monday full of self defeat and disappointment that I could not control my alcohol intake. I was sad and lonely. I felt life had passed me by. My denial was strong.

 After many attempts and failure, I quit drinking temporarily on December 1, 2013 and life became SO MUCH BETTER. Not overnight, but every sober day has been better than that last day hungover and depressed. Even the really hard ones.

For a while I did this with white knuckle resolve and a therapist. I read books.  Then I found blogging. I have been to aA and to refuge recovery. I have participated in online groups and I have a group of sober friends, mostly online. 

My temporary plans changes. Now I plan to never drink again. My mental health depends on it. I had become obsessed and compulsive. I lied about how much I drank and I hid my bottles. My own behaviour scared me. I constantly asked myself how things had gone so wrong, but from the outside looked so right. I can seee in hindsight that my facade was crumbling. 

Today I much prefer the freedom sobriety allows. It takes work and vigilance. For me that includes medication, eating, sleeping well, yoga, being kind and gentle with myself, trashy novels, sober friends and bubble baths. It also sometimes includes meetings and connection with other sober people. This is not onerous. Instead, this is how I make life easier for myself, not harder. Sobriety is precious. I am more than willing to give it the respect it needs.

I am responsible for my sobriety, but I know there is always help when I struggle. I just have to be brave and honest enough to ask.
I happily tell people I’m sober. If I’m at AA I will say alcoholic, but not usually outside that. I feel it encourages a differentiation between myself and others. And I don’t believe there is a difference. Anyone can get to the point where drinking is causing them harm. Anyone can benefit from sobriety. Anyone can be an alcoholic. 

To me personally, an alcoholic is a person who is still drinking and wishing they weren’t. I am not. But I could become an alcoholic again if I chose to drink.

AA is not my path, but I have gone to meetings and I did the steps on my own. They are an excellent tool to self awareness. The women’s way through the 12 steps even has a good workbook. If you plan to be sober it’s worth evaluating all options. 

However you stay sober is the right way if you feel at peace. Being willing to consider other ways if yours isn’t working is vital. Early on someone told me that the same thought process that got me into this mess cannot figure out how to get out. I have found this to be unquestionably true. I need others to help me see the way. It has taken years to develop even a little self awareness. I had none when drinking. It was too hard to look inward through the veil of alcohol and regret.

If you are drinking and wish life was different PLEASE don’t feel you have to wait until something bad happens before you quit. Don’t wait until you fit some archaic definition of alcoholic. Sobriety is available to anyone who wants it. It is a gift you give yourself.

Stillness and peace,

Anne

A lesson I learn over and over

I used to love food. I used to love wandering the streets of a different city and finding a cool menu to try.

Being celiac and eating gluten free means this is no longer possible. I do best to plan ahead and often must compromise and eat atchsin restaurants (or from the grocery store) to endure I get what I need.

But somehow the allure of the busy, tourist street calls and I think…today. Today I will find the right place. (Well, yesterday. This was a yesterday experience). It will appear if we just look long enough…

Of course, in the mean time I get tired and hungry and thirsty and angry. My poor daughter who is 12 and mainly concerned about herself, doesn’t understand. Meltdowns occur. Fortunately we are both quick to apologize and move on. Dinner was eaten from Starbucks. Dream bars and nuts go a long way! 

And, of course, the night ended with the Gorillaz! So it was ok!

Today I decided to do this differently. We decide where to eat before leaving the hotel. We go directly there. We get a table with a beautiful view and the most delicious gluten free bread I have had in years. 

I know the easy way. I just need to remember to follow it. It’s advice that works in every aspect of my life.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Wine dispensers

Hi all,

I was going to wrote a real post, with an actual theme connecting sobriety and the yoga sutras, but right now I must just comment on the wine dispensers in the hotel I’m staying in…

They are everywhere! Part of me is annoyed I never got to buy wine at will from a vending machine.

The rest of me is relieved I won’t be buying wine all night out if a vending machine. Because I am in Quebec City with my 12 year old daughter having an adventure. A wine vending machine would have meant a whole lot of hotel room and not much fun. Not what a 12 year old needs. Not one bit.

Tonight we are heading across the street to see The Who. Tomorrow is Metallica. And Saturday is the reason we are here. The Gorillaz play. Cleo’s favourite.

In the past week I have been to vegas, edmonton and now Quebec City. The highlight of the summer so far was Monday nights Duran Duran concert. Cleo and I sang and danced every minute. I was 15 again. And, like at Garth brooks, the swell of memories brought tears to my eyes. Those moments when things just seem exactly perfect are so lovely. 

I am amazed at how much enjoyment live music has brought to my life. When I was drinking I said I hated live music because of the crowds. I was missing so much!

Not anymore!

Stay sober. There is so much to do when you walk by the wine dispensers!

Stillness and peace,

Anne

Some things remain hard…but I can do hard things…

We went to see Tool last night. It was a sold out show. 

Honesty, tool is a bit heavy for me…I like lyrics, and less head banging,  but it was interesting. I never once wished I wasn’t there. 

BUT

going to the concert meant leaving work early, an hour flight to a different city, renting a car, a hotel I have never stayed at and finally an arena I have only been in once.

For me this amount of change in one day results in amped up generalized anxiety. By the time we got to the arena I would say my anxiety, which is usually around a three was up to a six. Then we had to take a very steep and long escalator to the second level…and out seats were in an extremely steep section.

That was about it for me. Looking down I almost panicked. Sweating, heart racing, feeling ill. Somehow I made it to my seat…after a serious consideration of running away and going back to the hotel.

I don’t like heights. And when I am already off kilter this was too much.

A few years back, while drinking, we went to a comcertand sat in very high up seats. I couldn’t get to the seat. I couldn’t go back down to the ground. I ended up sitting  in a different row for part of the time. Booze trapped me there. I was paralyzed by the fear that day. I didn’t cause a complete scene, but it was bad enough. I wanted an ambulance. It was very scary.

Yesterday no booze meant I was still panicked and scared, but I managed. I would have killed for some Ativan, but I’m afraid of it. I am concerned I would like it too much. 

It took about a hour to finally relax. I never left the seat once during the concert. I didn’t think I could walk down the stairs again.

But I enjoyed myself and I managed.

My anxiety still exists. Medication, yoga, sobriety, mindfulness. They all support my mental health, but some of it is just how I am. I don’t like it, but I managed. That’s the best I can do!

We flew back home today. I know know to never, ever book seats in the second level of a stadium!

Stillness and peace

Anne

Ps. The stadium was full of drinkers. Not many looked like they were having fun by the end. They mostly looked tired. That’s how concerts always see, to me. People going hard and then slowly petering out before he show is even half done. What a waste.

Celebrating life

Hi all.

I have to post. Today is my 18 year wedding anniversary. 

After over 20 years being drinking buddies we have now been sober together for 3 1/2 years. These have been some of the absolutely best years of our life together. Change is possible.

I love you Craig.

Stillness and peace,

Anne

A Weekend of Rock (and rain) on the Range

Craig and I spent the weekend in Columbus, Ohio at Rock on the Range.

It turned out to be a weekend of highs and lows.

En route to Ohio news surfaced that Chris Cornell had died. Soundgarden was scheduled to be the headliner Friday night and it was one band I really was looking forward to seeing. Last summer we had seen Chris Cornell’s solo acoustic tour. He was amazing…and in 1995, when Craig and I were first dating, we saw Soundgarden in Calgary. 

So it was a sad start to the weekend, but many of the bands played songs in tribute. The show went on. Like life must.

During the weekend there were also 2 incidents of bad weather that resulted in a full evacuation of the stadium. It just highlighted the continued PTSD we have from last summers evacuation. Once the call to go was made Craig insisted we get in the car and get away asap. I didn’t want to leave. Denial is strong…but I agreed that not getting trapped in a parking lot was a good idea and we ended up back at our hotel, safe and sound. If shaken.

Otherwise the bands were awesome. Seether, I Prevail, the offspring and Chevelle were highlights. Metallica was great…but by the time they played Sunday night I was exhausted and completely spent. I just am too old for 4 days of standing in crowds in the sun/rain/wind!! We spent a lot of time in the VIP tent. Watching others I wonder how I ever survived these things drinking…but I realize I never went to things like this drinking because I knew I would never have been able to pace myself through the day and I would have had huge crowd anxiety.

Ah, the joys of sober fun! You absolutely can’t beat it. Watching people carry their friends around only reminds me of where I never want to be!

We highlighted the weekend with matching tattoos. Shocker, as all Craig’s tattoos are skulls and daggers, but this one worked for us both. 

Stillness and peace!

Anne

One year later

Today is the anniversary of the wildfire that devastated my community of Fort McMurray. All 80 plus thousand of us evacuated out on the one road – heading north or south through flames.

It is an odd thing to be part of a mass trauma. Everyone around you has experienced the same thing…to different degrees. And each of them reacts differently. The city feels prickly. People are short tempered and self focused. Comparison becomes a source of guilt. It’s hard to even express that.

The city itself has been left with a hum of discontent. We all experienced amazing generosity from across the globe and even that was hard to accept – to go from completely self sufficient to scared, lost and possessionless is very scary. And during the first days the not knowing if our house had burnt down, if I still had a job to go back to, if everyone was ok, was heartbreaking. 

We are fortunate. We did not lose our house. Our employer supported us fully. Kind people made our stay in Calgary easier.

But the scars from the days of fear remain. I still get upset looking at pictures. I still remember being on the highway with my daughter and not being able to connect with, or find, my husband and son in another vehicle. With fire burning along the road. That distress clings to my throats even as I type.

 I know many people who relapsed during this time. The loss of the familiar leads to unexpected behaviour. Craig and I both found support when needed to protect ourselves. Self care must continue no matter what. This was absolutely a time where doing less helped.

I didn’t want to return here last summer. First we didn’t want to leave…then I didn’t want to go back. The mind is complicated!

I continue to consider moving away. Every day I drive by vast stretches of burnt forest. It surrounds us. It used to be lush and green. I am afraid it won’t be this year. And it has become a constant reminder of what was…

My other side feels like moving is running away, although as time goes buy this belief is less and less true.  I have spent a year returning to my life and what I have found is that the old life is gone and a new, different life exists. If I choose to move it is because I know even another different life can be created wherever we go. Not because of the fire…just because home is where you make it.

I hope that one day I will look back at this as just another experience of our life. But today I am still stuck in the emotional upheaval.

I will take time to hug my family tight today. Please do the same. And remember…there is no experience so bad that you can’t make worse by drinking.

Thank you all for you support. I appreciate it. Especially jean from Unpickled, who is my close friend, and who interviewed me about the evacuation on the bubble hour. It helped me last summer. 

Stillness and peace,

Anne

Life goes on

Hi all,

If you gave up alcohol for lent I truly hope you have noticed the vast improvement a booze free life brings and have decided to continue on sober and free!

My life continues in a normal way. Kids at school, traveling for concerts (we saw Weezer a few weeks ago). Planning for the rest of the year. Work, teaching yoga, family. Normal stuff.

Along the way I gave up my volunteer yoga teaching at the local recovery centre. I had been teaching alternating Saturdays for a couple of years. It is small, a 16 bed facility, and provincially funded. They get people from all walks of life.

Over the years the class had its ups and downs. It is mandatory for the clients, who are all there at varying times of a 28 day stay. I didn’t expect them all to participate, but at a minimum to relax on a mat and nap if desired. As long as they weren’t disruptive. I generally kept the class pretty much a stretching exercise, with some breathing and moving to just get the group back into the body and perhaps to slow down. And a guided meditation, which was always very well received.

In the past few months the groups had been less receptive. There was a fight between 2 clients one week and I had to insist the facility staff stay in the room (they used to come and go). And in the weeks following there was always someone voicing their unhappiness at being made to come in the room. Of course, then there were great weeks where people participated and the time went by quickly.

Teaching to a non responsive group has been a huge learning. I know it is not about me. I know these people are in early sobriety, they are scared and angry and prickly. I am not trying to change the world, but to offer them an hour of respite. I know all this, but I still fall back into self doubt…thinking I am not doing a good job, nervous, generally dreading going to the recovery centre at all.

A few weeks ago I went to teach. I didnt want to. The group had been really aggressive the week before, and my anxiety was very high. I knew I should stay home, but I hated to disappoint the staff.

When I got there we had moved to a different, smaller room. There was general grumbling about that and as we settled in one of the guys stood up and declared it all bullshit that he had to attend. He was very angry and aggressive.

At that point I realized this was no longer a good situation, for me or for anyone else. I gathered my things, and wished everyone a good day  left. The nurse came and talked to me, apoplgizing, but I realized this was exactly what I needed. A break from the constant discord. I was shaking and almost ill

I was pretty distraught after. I felt I had failed, that a “regular” person could handle the conflict, that I was weak. I cried and cried.

Eventually The sadness passed and I and realized none of that is true.  I had stood up for myself and declared a boundary that I needed. I put my own mental and emotional wellbeing first. 

Afterwards the centre staff called and told me they would change how things are organized, but I have decided I will take a break from that for the rest of this year. Maybe someone else will take over and she or he might be the perfect person for the role.

For me, it pushed the boundary between wanting to help and trying to fix. 

When I ask myself what feels right for me today, I know I have chose the right thing for me. 

And life goes on.

Stillness and peace,

Anne