Before I had really committed to giving up alcohol, I tried numerous ways to fix my mess of a life without actually giving up alcohol. My husband and I were in couples therapy because “we had problems.” I clearly remember writing that on our intake form. And laughing about it. We didn’t really know how to describe our problems. I did shit that enraged him (read HURT him) and we didn’t know how to fix it. We would sit on the therapist’s couch and he would complain about all the things I had done that week that I shouldn’t have. Eventually when we went into her office, I started sitting in the corner chair by myself because it felt like the naughty chair. I felt like a five years old. I’m sure I acted like a five year old too. I also had a therapist that I saw on my own. She was horrible. You know how we attract what we put out into the world? Well, I was putting out raging alcoholic crazy bitch and that’s what I was attracting. A crazy, stalker therapist who was also a raging alcoholic. Believe me when I say that I have had some bad therapy in my life. That “relationship” got really bad before I decided to seek out a new therapist. Our couples therapist referred me to a woman in her office. The two of them (with my permission) worked together to figure out how to best help me. The first time I met with this new therapist, she told me I had been referred to her because she took “The worst of the worst.” Well shit. Thanks lady. That was a prelude to what was to come with this woman. The therapist who didn’t hold back and pissed me off week after week. This woman. The one who told me to “suck it up, buttercup” when I came in whining and complaining about how much my life sucked. You can imagine how well that went over with me. She tried to help me in so many ways. She sent me to (strongly suggested) Dialectal Behavior Therapy to learn emotion regulation skills, mindfulness, and other coping skills. She cheered for me when I had periods of not drinking. She tried to help me find activities to do that were “wholesome.” She gave me a giant list of ‘adult pleasurable activities.’ Because I needed a list. A list of activities to fill my time that weren’t self destructive. Who knew such a list existed? And that people actually need this? Because of my addictive tendencies there were quite a few things on the list she advised against. Also, my ability to turn wholesome activities completely unwholesome meant there were quite a few no go’s for me on the list. But, the list was huge and full of things that I could do. If I wanted to. The list made me laugh and the thought of someone needing a list of activities to fill their days was ridiculous. I wanted to spend my time drinking and being miserable. Obviously.
I don’t know how this woman put up with me, but I like to think she saw my awesome that was hiding behind the mask I wore. In the beginning I took a lot of naps and a lot of baths. They were on the list. I mean, I still take a lot of baths and naps but in the beginning of this journey I took 3 baths a day. It was my go to for self soothing. I did yoga, but it was absolutely NOT pleasurable. I meditated, but it was also not pleasurable. I was so uncomfortable being sober that anything other than bathing and sleeping was not at all pleasurable. Because I was miserable and uncomfortable in my skin. In AA meetings I would cry and ask how long it would be awful like this. The answer was always, until it isn’t. There was no time frame and everyone is different. One of my favorite sober authors is Augustan Burroughs. I read a lot of his books in my early sobriety. If you haven’t read his books, I highly recommend that you do. He has a twisted sense of humor that I appreciate. In “This is How” he writes about getting sober….”What has worked for me is to find something I wanted more than I wanted to drink, which was a fuck of a lot. The way you stop drinking is to want sobriety more.” Huh. Sounds so simple. And I did want to be sober more than I wanted to be drunk. My family was what I wanted more than I wanted to drink. For the first 500 days that was it. My family. I would like to think I fell in love with myself and my life sooner, but that just isn’t true. I was just learning how to do normal day to day life without alcohol. Nothing fabulous there. Fast forward a few years and my life is FULL of people and things that I am in love with. I had to get off my ass, be uncomfortable and do the things and meet the people. They weren’t just magically appearing in front of me. I did all the things alone. And wouldn’t you know, doing things is a great way to meet people. I got sober in November 2013. I fell in love with ME in 2015. It took a lot of work, but I love me today. I think until I found that love for myself, love for anything else just wasn’t going to happen. And then it happened. I fell in love with yoga. Finally! After years of practicing to save my life, I now did it because I loved it. And then I fell in love with teaching yoga. It gave me confidence that I had never known. I opened the studio in 2017 and have fallen in love with something new every other month since then. At least it seems that way. Today my calendar gets so full that I have to schedule naps and say no to things that I love and want to do because I also try to keep a healthy home/work/social life/me time balance. And it’s hard at times. I always feel it when I am off balance, which is a bit more often than I would like….but that’s just kind of how life is. This summer has been insanely busy and at times I feel overwhelmed. It helps to remind myself that I am busy doing the things I love. I am busy doing the things I choose. I am busy doing the pleasurable activities that I LOVE. I don’t need a list today.