A world I didn’t know existed

26 Jul

Three weeks ago I decided to step into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I admit that I didn’t really want to do it. I think that I thought that I could do it alone or that somehow I would find an easy community here online.

As I was reading Unwasted, though, I started to see that not only did I need to surround myself with a community of people who understand what I am going through, I need to change the way I relate to the world. I have become comfortable in being with my family and getting to know people through my business. My connections haven’t been very deep, and I’ve been avoiding those vulnerable connections.

Time to do something different. So I attended one meeting. Then another the next week. Then I went back and exchanged information and decided to follow through on those connections. I can already say that I am changing.

This other world of alcoholics is one of encouraging one another, listening, showing up and being present for each other, and I am floored by it. Each time I go, there is a different group of people – people who don’t look like me & people who have lived very different lives from mine. Every time, though, I am surprised at the richness of their stories, of their struggle, of their encouragement, and I am grateful for their words. It is a world I didn’t understand and one I judged and feared all at the same time.

What an amazing new world.

We cannot do this alone

12 Jul

I run. Maybe 20 miles a week when I’m training for something serious. Two or three times a week. When I run, I feel fully alive. Even when my legs are heavy weights or I struggle to go the speed I want, I love to run. It’s that feeling of accomplishment that comes from having followed through with my plan and done my best in the moment.

My favorite running moments are from the marathons I ran. The marathon is the most challenging race I have ever participated in and an experience I will forever cherish. My most powerful running moments during the marathon came when I found my dad amongst the crowd, cheering for me. When my then boyfriend surprised me and cheered me on. When my friend joined me for the last mile.

I have failed to stay sober. Really, I haven’t tried all that hard. The desire has waxed and waned. Getting to where I am right now has felt like a marathon, but one where I have been dragging my feet. Thankfully, I have people around me – both people I see and artists/writers/life living inspirations who influence me.

In my last session, my therapist encouraged me to think of myself running at the moment I wanted to take a drink. The healthy me. The faster, in tune, me. This image has planted itself in my mind and bloomed into something tangible and effective.

Then last night, when I read this…I felt something click into place.

In Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety, Sacha Z Scoblic ends her book talking about running.

Nowadays, I see my sobriety as a path I am running along; it is lined with people cheering for me. Sometimes I am running by myself, but sometimes I am running with Spencer, the Sweathogs, or with the WolfPack. And if I ever drift off the path — where the road gets sticky, where one is all alone, and where each step feels like moving through molasses — the crowd will smile and gently nudge me back to the center of the path. As I run along the sober path, nimbly and happily, I will pass milestones instead of mile markers, I will lose my fear, I will find my peace.

And sometimes, when even the sober path gets difficult and the road feels long, I will close my eyes and think, I choose to run. 

I choose to be sober. I choose it and want to continue to choose it. I also choose to build a community around me – one of non-drinkers and people who will cheerlead me along this sobriety path filled with mile markers. Even though it has taken me much longer than I wanted to get here, I am excited to have found an image that has inspired me to take the biggest first step. I will not be able to do it alone.

I will do this

4 Jun

Based on the Peloton coach, Christine D’Ercole’s, system of Wordshopping the phrases “I am, I can, I will, I do,” I commit to this tonight:

I AM taking one step on this journey

I CAN find a community to surround and support me

I WILL not buy a bottle of wine tonight or take a sip of my husband’s beer.

I DO this to stay true to myself and my greater purpose.

This is my intention.

This cannot happen alone

3 Jun

alFrom Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain, strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself,  I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.  You must do the things you think you cannot do!”

I started seeing my therapist because I wanted to quit drinking. It took me a few sessions to be brave enough to bring this up. And I lied when I talked about how much I drank. Not much, just a little. Three glasses a night was really more like one bottle.

Since I’ve started talking about quitting, I’ve also started hiding more. Shame, probably part of the equation from the very beginning, is ever present, and more thickly each time I talk about it and do nothing. I used to drink my wine openly. But in the last couple of months, I’ve taken to hiding the fact. I don’t want to deal with my husband asking me why I’m not doing what I set out to do. I’m embarrassed that I keep doing the thing I know is holding me back.

I KNOW a lot. I know that alcohol is a poison. I know that women who drink heavily tend to suffer from dementia and die earlier than men. I know my body and my mind will feel better once I stop drinking. I know that I am an alcoholic; conversations with other women about the way they drink has revealed to me how my daily habit is more than just a habit. It’s a problem. I know that I feel guilty. I know that I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about what I’m teaching my children about the world.

I know that I’m entrenched in a deep hole. It’s really deep. And lately, I can see how deep it is more clearly than ever before. I’ve gotten used to the hole. I’m a little bit afraid of what I’ll find on the outside. At the same time, I’m sick of it. I want out. So now I’m reaching out for help. First step, writing this blog. Second step, being honest more often with my husband. Third step, asking for help. Maybe you can help me.

Honestly, I wanted to build a community outside of Alcoholics Anonymous. The reality is, I need the community of others who are telling their stories, remembering why this is not good for them, and Alcoholics Anonymous is the best place to start. Maybe you’re in the same boat? What is your story? Help me by telling it!

My therapist is part of my help. But she reminded me that quitting drinking is just a dream without action. Even though I have a hundred excuses for why Alcoholics Anonymous is not where I want to go, it’s time. I have so many excuses for why I’m drinking. Excuses are NOT action. They are NOT looking fear in the face.

Quick story. I was at a conference recently with a huge group of like minded women. We were asked to partner up, stand across from each other and look into each other’s eyes. No words. No movement. Just gaze into the depths of the other woman’s eyes. The leader of the group asked us to speak to our partner through our eyes, telling her what we needed to hear without words. My partner and I came to tears as we did this. It was raw, deep, uncomfortable.

Then we were asked to join another pair, and then another and look at the person across from us in the eyes. I was surprised to see that a few of the women continued to wear their sunglasses during this exercise. So as the group came together and grew, there was some unspoken pressure for them to take their sunglasses off, but there was one woman who could not stand to look in the eyes of the other women. She gazed at a diagonal, clearly avoiding the eyes of the others in the group. I wondered what was happening for her. This looking into each other’s eyes was a very vulnerable thing. Maybe there were some cultural issues. But for me, it was about allowing yourself to be seen and open to the possibility of vulnerability. My excuses are me diverting my eyes.

It scares me to no end to just put this out into the world. I am afraid of looking you in the eyes. I’m afraid of looking myself in the eyes. I’m afraid of looking at my judger (me) in the eyes. Yet, I’m putting it out there. Community is part of the answer. I’m starting with you, my husband, my therapist and Alcoholics Anonymous.

I am. I can. I will. I do.

24 May

I’m not done quitting drinking. Every night I’m faced with the decision once again. Something about pouring the drink and numbing myself from my feelings of overwhelm has become so familiar that when I’m doing what I always do at 6pm, I just want to pour that glass of wine.

Today I’m thankful for kombucha, my substitute pour. I’m also grateful for the phrase the Peloton coach, Christine D’Ercole, has made into an amazing form of motivation. “I am. I can. I will. I do.”

I haven’t done her wordshop, in which she guides people through the process of using those phrases as a framework to create personal mantras and truths to reinforce positive self talk. That said, they have spoken to me powerfully.

Here’s what I’m telling myself today: I am able to quit drinking. I can be present in the moments of discomfort when I have to make that choice. I will make this choice again tomorrow. I do this so that I can live my purpose with integrity.

Today I will not take a drink

18 May

I wasn’t a drinker until I was. I’m not a party drinker, not a social drinker, not a drinker to have fun. I enjoy wine. The smell, the taste, the numbing qualities. Yes. The numbing qualities. I drink to relax and not feel all the feelings so intensely.

As a mom, it’s cool to drink. Wine o’clock is all the rave. The reality for me is that wine o’clock is just an excuse to do what I always do. Have a few glasses. In the past it was because I had a lot of pain that I hadn’t dealt with. Let’s be real. The pain is still there. It won’t go away. Pain is so uncomfortably part of life. But I’ve been facing my pain. I’ve been allowing myself to feel it and notice how to feel joy at the same time.

AND I have found my purpose – that is being healthy inside and out, and helping others do the same through fitness. I have made a promise to myself to live that purpose every day, and I do. Except for cheese crackers and wine and probably a few other things. Drinking is really where I have been living out of alignment with my integrity.

Here’s how I coach my ladies. I ask them to do one small thing today to make change.

I have been doing one small thing towards not drinking for quite a while but it hasn’t helped me throw the bottle away or stop buying wine. Actually, it has. One month here, three months there. I started drinking again.

Here’s my one small step for the day. I forgive myself. My second small step for the day – writing this. I’ll let you know how it goes by tomorrow.

All I know is that putting my story out there and possibly making some new friends who are in the same boat is what I need to do to make my change. It’s not going to be polished, witty or awesome. I don’t have time for that right now! It’s just going to be me. Really really me.

 

It’s easier to change than I thought – how I lost 25 pounds

26 Oct

I’ve never been comfortable showing my body off to the world, but here it is! The two pics on the left are my after pics in June 2012. The two on the right are my before pics in Feb 2012. It still floors me!

Weight loss was a long time dream of mine and getting to where I am today was a long process. My weight has yo-yoed through much of my adult life.

Through my 20s, as I rollerbladed, danced salsa, trained for marathons and then competed in triathlons, I stayed lean. I felt fit and great. Maybe I gained a couple of pounds here and there, but then I’d get super active and I’d lose the weight.

Then I met my husband. He’s active, but not like me. After we got married, I gained a couple of pounds. A couple of years later, I started working on my Master’s degree. I stayed active, running and cycling as much as I could manage with my school work. But it wasn’t enough to keep me from gaining weight.

I had thought that the ups and downs of weight gain and loss were normal until reality smacked me in the face; I was at the Pier to Pier ocean swim, a 2 mile swim from Hermosa to Manhattan (in the LA area in California), when I saw “the picture.” It was of me in my competitive swim bikini. The love handles spilling over the edge of the suit made my heart sink in sadness. I was heavier than I thought I was, and I had been in denial about how much weight I had gained over the years.

I had continued to see myself as I was before I got married, denying the reality of my heavier body. When I saw that picture, my heart dropped and it was then that I knew that I needed to make a change.

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