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Because Some Of Us Can, And Some Of Us Can’t

Back in my smoking days, a long time ago, over twenty years ago, my best friend from high school got married.  At the rehearsal dinner, one of her bridesmaids had quit smoking fairly recently. Like within the past year.

She was one of those holier than thou, Oh My God, get away from me, smoking is so disgusting, how can you still be doing that to your body kind of people.

That’s not me.

I mean, I can’t imagine being a smoker now. Having to leave the room, sneak around, trying to hide it from people and the kids. Carrying gum, mouthwash and perfume wherever I go. Determining my participation in anything based on whether or not I’d be able to smoke or how long I’d have to go without a cigarette. Not having enough money to buy a pack of smokes and dumping $6.00 in change (mostly pennies) on the counter of the Mobil station.

I still love the smell of cigarettes.  When I walk past someone who is smoking, I take a big, deep breath. Or three. I think it will always smell good to me.

But that’s enough for me now.

In the last thirteen years, I have smoked about five cigarettes.

The anticipation of them was always incredible.

But then the actual smoking of them was such a let down. They were gross. Completely unenjoyable. Nothing like what I remembered back when I was in the thick of it.

So I’m happy to have arrived at that place where, when given the choice, I wouldn’t even think of smoking a cigarette anymore.

It feels good to have gotten to that point.

Because I never thought I’d be able to quit. I used to be a heavy smoker.

Like close to two packs a day when I was in my early thirties.

Smoking was a part of me. It was part of my identity. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant five times in seven years, I dont think I would have been able to quit. Giving it up was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

But I was never like that reformed smoking bridesmaid.

Yesterday I shared this blog post on the Facebook page, and some people didn’t really like it. They found it to be negative and judgmental.

I get it. Not everyone agrees on everything.

I identified with many parts of it, which is why I shared it.

But just as with the smoking, I’m also not one of those I-quit-drinking-and-now-I -think-everyone-should-quit-drinking-kind of people, either.

I just hope I can maybe help people who are struggling, too. And let them know they aren’t alone. That’s why I share my stories/struggles/experiences. I also know I’m gonna need a whole lot of support if I’m going to succeed.

It’s also largely cathartic.

Plus, before I started writing yesterday’s blog post, I was like I’m not sure I really have a problem, and then after I was done writing it and I read it I was like HOLY SHIT WOMAN, what took you so damn long???

So every time I write a blog post I end up learning a little more about myself.

Anyway, I’m not here to judge anyone.

I wish I could handle alcohol.

But the truth is, I can’t.

I don’t care if you drink. I don’t think it’s bad.

I mean, unless you are a raging, booze guzzling, suicidal psycho who is putting other people (namely my kids or my family) in danger.

That’s bad.

But I’m not trying to convince the world to live a life of sobriety.

I’m just choosing to share this newest part of my story, and maybe help a couple people along the way.

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Why I Quit Drinking

In June of 2008, I found out I was pregnant.

Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 were 10, 8, 3, and almost 2 years old at the time.

It was not planned and came as a complete surprise to my husband and to me.

My husband was not exactly thrilled at first. We already had our hands full.

I, on the other hand, was ecstatic.

I wasn’t ready to be done yet.

At the time, I was running pretty consistently, and I had started entering short road races to keep myself motivated.

I was 38 years old, and since it was early on — only 8 weeks or so — and I was very active before finding out I was pregnant, I had no reason to stop running anytime soon.

On July 4th, I ran in a local 5 mile road race that I had been training for. I didn’t quite finish in the time I had wanted to, but it was the longest race I had run so far, and I felt great. I was riding a natural high.

Later that night, about eight hours after I finished the race, I went to the bathroom, and my underwear was full of blood.

I’d had a miscarriage.

I was devastated.

The next day, a friend of mine had a party at her house.

I wasn’t going to go. I wasn’t in the mood to be social or  even be vertical, for that matter. But the kids wanted to go, and I thought maybe it would take my mind off of things.

So I went.

It started out as a birthday party for my friend’s daughter. They had a bounce house and other fun kid stuff, but entire families and not just the kids were invited to the party.

Around 8:00 p.m., the kid party turned into a grown up party.

Some parents took the kids home. Some kids had come with pajamas and sleeping bags and had planned on sleeping over.

We only lived about a mile away.

My husband was ready to leave, but I was very depressed, and ready to drown my sorrows.

Literally.

So I drove my husband and the kids home, and I returned to the party flying solo.

When I got back, there was a beer pong table set up and ready to go.

This was my kind of party. Parents who liked to have fun.

A lot of it.

And I don’t want to brag, but I kick some serious ass at beer pong.

As soon as I returned, I got myself a partner and hopped into the next game.

We won the first game. And the second. And the third.

I don’t know how many games we played, but we won them all. And with each game I got more and more wasted, until I found myself in the driveway smoking cigarettes.

I remember crying in the driveway. I don’t remember driving home.

But I did.

I do remember puking my guts out on my hands and knees in the grass in my front yard.

I spent the next day completely hungover, incapacitated and on the couch.

My husband was not very understanding.

This kind of thing didn’t happen weekly or monthly, but it did happen more than a handful of times after getting married.

I don’t remember exactly when it was, whether it was that day or the day after, but I promised my husband not that I would never drink again, but that I would never get that drunk again.

I held to my word. That was the last time I puked from drinking.

While I’ve been thinking about quitting a lot lately, I never discussed it with anyone. Not my husband. Not my friends. Not my parents.

It’s all been a silent conversation I’ve had with myself.

I’ve never had a friend confront me about drinking.

Anybody who knows about it now knows because I made an announcement here on the blog twelve days ago.

Are they surprised?

I’m not sure. Did they ever whisper behind my back that maybe I had an issue?

I honestly don’t know.

Here’s the thing.

I was in AA about 27 years ago. That’s a whole other story that will take some explaining at another time.

But I spent the end of my junior year and all of my senior year in college (and my 21st birthday!) completely sober.

So I know a thing or two about alcoholics and alcoholism.

I am not a heavy drinker. I don’t drink daily. I don’t even drink weekly. I don’t drink alone, and I don’t drink during the day. I’m not dependent on alchol. It is not my drug of choice.

By my friend’s standards, there’s a good chance I am not an alcoholic.

But by friends of Bill W, I definitely am.

By my standards, I don’t know what I am.

But I know I have a problem.

Because while I don’t drink regularly, when I do drink, I drink.

Not always. There are occasional nights at home where I might only have a glass of wine or a couple Blue Moons.

But if there is a party, a Mom’s Night Out, a dinner out with my husband, any social function, I am going to get as drunk as I can without ending up on my hands and knees, puking in my front yard.

That’s not exactly healthy.

We had a small party here on the 4th of July, and I told a friend of mine that I’d quit drinking. I told her one of the reasons was because if I had more than three drinks I’d be hungover the next day.

“Why don’t you just have one?” she asked me.

And my automatic response was, “What’s the point of that?”

She burst out laughing at my answer.

And then she told me maybe I had made a smart decision.

So I don’t drink regularly.

But I do drink to excess. Often.

And I don’t know if it’s because of my age or the fact that I think I am going through menopause (seriously! what the hell???) but my body can’t tolerate more than two drinks anymore, really.

A couple weeks ago I went to a friend’s house. I was planning on staying until 10:30 or so.

I got home at 2 a.m.

I didn’t keep track of how many drinks I had, but I had quite a few.

And the entire next day I was useless. It took me a good eight hours after waking up to feel human again. I’ve gotten to the point where I have to make sure my schedule for the entire following day is clear if I’m going to have a night of drinking fun, because I know I won’t be able to function the next day. At all.

In addition to the hangovers, I am starting to black out.

Sometimes they are just partial black outs (yes, I said just partial blackouts — you know, not that big a deal — so I know that’s kind of a big neon flashing sign) where I won’t remember small portions of the night or pieces of conversations.

Other times, I don’t remember anything at all after a certain time.

This is one of the biggest red flags for me.

About a month or so ago — I don’t remember where I had gone and I don’t remember what or how much I drank — I put the kids to bed.

And the next day I could not remember any of it. I couldn’t even remember if I was the one who put the kids to bed at all.

It was unsettling and it was a wake up call.

The drinking to excess, the fact that my body can’t tolerate it, the blacking out — those are reasons enough to quit.

And then there is the depression.

I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder about 16 years ago.

In my adult life, I have been committed to the psych ward of three different hospitals on three different occasions after attempts to commit suicide.

Two times were before I was married. One time was after.

Those are also stories for another time, but one thing ties them together.

Alcohol was a factor in all three of those incidents.

And they were BAD.

Alcohol is probably the dumbest thing I could possibly add into the equation of my life.

I suppose a normal person would stop drinking after the first stint in the hospital nuthouse.

Not me.

I’m an overachiever I guess.

Or an idiot.

There is also a history of alcoholism on both sides of my family tree. I’m kind of fucked genetically.

So am I an alcoholic?

By the clinical definition I am.

By society’s standards am I? By my friend’s standards am I?

I don’t know.

But by my standards, yeah. After writing all this down (and this is just a fraction of it) it’s kind of glaring.

It’s a hard pill to swallow.

And it’s scary.

Can I survive the shitty stuff that will inevitably come my way without the availability of something to completely numb myself?

Can life be fun without Blue Moons and reisling and Strawberitas and margaritas???

Is there even any point in going to a party ever again?

I’m scared that there isn’t.

But I’m more scared of the thought of losing entire days of my life. And losing more memories of time spent with my children.

And if we’re going to be honest, nothing is really scarier than the psych ward of a hospital.

That shit SUCKS.

So I guess I’m gonna continue on this new path.

It’s not going to be easy.

But it’s not gonna be any harder than the fucked up path I took to finally get to this point.

This route has been exhausting.

It’s time to reroute myself.

I know there will be times where I’ll feel differently.

But right now, in this moment, I am really looking forward to finally finding a way to navigate the ups, the downs and all the bullshit in between without the assistance of booze.

 

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Crossroads

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.

A lot of thinking.

It may be some sort of mid life thing. It may be that I’m just starting to see things differently now that I’m in the second half of my life. Maybe it’s because at forty-seven years old, my priorities are shifting. It could be because my kids are getting older or because physically I feel different now that I’m… middle-aged.

Perhaps it’s some sort of existential crisis.

Or it could be that I’m finally able to really take a good hard look at myself.

Whatever the reason, I am at a crossroads.

Maybe it’s not a crossroads.

Maybe it’s a fork in the road.

Either way, I think it’s time.

Time to take a different road. Time to change the direction of my path.

Acknowledging this is scary.

It’s scary because I am not sure I can succeed. It will be one of the harder tasks I’ve taken on in my life.

It’s scary because it’s foreign territory for me. Uncharted waters.

It’s scary because I’m not sure my friends will understand.

It’s scary for lots of reasons.

But it’s most scary because  making this decision means it’s the end of one life, and the beginning of another one.

How I have arrived at this point will take a little bit of explaining. It will certainly take more than one blog post.

In fact it will take several.

So tomorrow I’ll go back and start from the beginning.

But tonight, so as not to be a total asshole and keep you indefinitely in complete suspense, I’ll fast forward to the end of the story:

I think it’s time for me to stop drinking.

 

 

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I drank coffee and wine when I was pregnant.

I don’t know if you heard about this, but Pink posted a picture on Instagram recently and she’s pretty pregnant and in the picture she was sitting on the floor of her kitchen in front of the microwave drinking a cup of (decaf) coffee and trying to get through the day. Just like the rest of us.

And, of course, the judgmental mommy shamers came out to attack her for drinking (DECAF!) coffee and not just sitting in front of the microwave, but also for using one!

What. The Fuck.

So I just want to put something out there for any of you who may currently be with child and questioning your every move.

The most important rule to follow?

In my opinion, you need to RELAX!

I followed every single rule with my first pregnancy.

I didn’t drink any caffeine. At all. No booze. No soft cheese or deli meat or anything else that was on the list of shit that was going to cause you to give birth to a kid with two heads.

By the second pregnancy I was having a cup of coffee or two every day, and by the time I was knocked up with Number 7, I was basically doing whatever the hell I felt like.

You know, within reason. I wasn’t smoking Marlboro reds and shotgunning beers while I was getting x-rays.

I was trying my best to take care of myself and Number 7.

But I also ate nitrates and nuked my food and got manicures and drank unfiltered tap water and enjoyed sushi a couple times and stood near the microwave and inhaled paint fumes, and by the end of that pregnancy I was enjoying a (large) glass of wine a couple times per week. At least.

And you know what?

Number 7 is like a fucking superhero. I think she might be invincible.

So take that, sanctimommies.

I am not advising you to be reckless and unhealthy and make stupid decisions when you are pregnant.

But I think more damage is done to your unborn child by stressing out over every fucking decision you make than by eating a piece of Wunderbar bologna or nuking a cup of coffee in the microwave or drinking a (big ass) glass of Franzia when you are eight months pregnant.

And if you haven’t religiously adhered to every single pregnancy guideline in existence, don’t worry.

Neither have most of the rest of us.

And our kids are just fine.

 

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