"it's easy to be selfish when you're battling addiction"

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Once you realize that drinking is causing problems in your life and you want to make a change, it can be challenging… especially around the holidays. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of an intense (but fun) festive season. So many people are out and about getting everything ready for their big celebrations, running around and making lists! Sometimes we forget that the most important thing to prepare for is your mental health!

So, what is your plan? How are you going to deal with your family or friends that know the right buttons to push to knock you off your beam? Planning is crucial for people who have problems with substance abuse disorder, especially around this time of year because fortunately or unfortunately, if you don’t have a plan you can very easily get off track and revert back to your destructive ways.

My recommendations for a sober holiday season are easy:

1.     Have your own means of transportation. Whether that means having a car on hand or money in your pocket to take an Uber or public transportation!

2.     What is your story of why you are leaving? “I have to run, a friend just reached out that needs me.” Or “I am letting my neighbor’s dog out,” “I promised my neighbor I would feed their pet.” You want the reason to sound legitimate and, most importantly, you want it to be about you and not about the host of the occasion.

3.     Set a boundary for yourself. If you get to the party and start to feel badly, leave! Don’t let anyone talk you into something that isn’t good for you.

4.     Make other plans! If it is too much to go to the event in the first place, I recommend going to the movies, the gym or shopping. You don’t have to spend money to walk around the mall and look in the windows – and believe me, it can be a great distraction!

5.     Make sure that you feel okay. This decision you made is about you and no one else!

6.     Prayer works! Even if your prayer is one word: “Help!” or “Please!”

7.     Make a gratitude list before you get out of bed and before you go to sleep! It takes no time to write and it can be three things or ten! There are no real rules here.

8.     Reserve judgement! No judging allowed…acceptance is key! You can change some things but most of the time, all you can change is you.

9.     Celebrate yourself. Each day you don’t use is HUGE!!!! You are a winner!

10.  Love you!

Take it easy and most importantly, remember this is just one day!

#busylivingsober

#sobernotashamed

 

 

“A Mother’s Back to School Blues”

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I am traveling home after dropping my oldest at college for his junior year, with my daughter already situated and starting her sophomore year. My youngest, a rising senior in high school, is sitting a row ahead of me and to the right. It seems like miles and miles away even though it can’t be more than 10 feet (airplanes today have tight seating!). My heart is sad, but at the same time, I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to raise these three amazing human beings. Being a Mom is so hard, rewarding, humbling and emotional. In fact, most times I feel like a complete lunatic with all the erratic emotions that come along with motherhood. 
 
To say I am excited for all three of my children would be an understatement – I am over the moon! Two of them are at universities and the youngest is six months away from finding out where he will be starting the next leg on his educational journey. Despite these amazing milestones in life, I still find myself feeling melancholy and lost.
 
When my three children were born, I was married to a man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. Unfortunately, we both have the disease of addiction and, like a lot of relationships with addicts, the marriage ended 14 years ago when my children were very young. They were just 7, 6 and 4 years old and needed me, so I was there for them. My number one priority was getting them to the finish line: graduation from high school without any major calamities along the way.
 
As any mother or guardian knows, high school years are trying times and the journey was challenging to say the least. Any or all my three of my children could have the disease of addiction but I won't know – or better yet they won't know – until they know. Yes, there is the option to get genetic testing but I believe it’s something's that needs to happen organically.
 
All three of my children have experimented with alcohol, but are they addicts? I don't know and to be completely honest, I don't want to be the judge. Judging whether someone as an addict is not my job, even if we’re talking about my own children. I’ll leave that call up to the individuals and the doctors.
 
Either way, raising children today where drugs and alcohol are so prevalent made my job as single mom that much harder! This was my choice and I take full responsibility. I have first-hand experience in learning what alcohol and drugs can do to a family, so I did everything power to ensure that the traits and characteristics I experienced in my childhood didn't happen to my children. In the end, my children/young adults refer to me as a “Helicopter Mom” … I'll take it!
 
While going through hard times when my children were younger, I found myself wishing the time away. I wanted to be in the future rather than live through tough and uncomfortable situations. I remember saying, “I just can't wait till they are all launched and on their way.” Well, here I am. They are 6 months away from being “launched” and I don't wish to be in the future anymore. In fact, I want time to slow down. I want them to need me again! 
 
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the job I did raising these children resulted in me having strong, independent individuals that need their Mom to bounce ideas off but they no longer need me daily to hold their hand and show them the way… because I did that. I was there. I was present for them and I can honestly and humbly say I am a good Mom who did the very best I could, given the circumstances, and I wouldn't change a thing. 
 
As I mentioned before, being a Mom is a hard and challenging role and one that I will never say I regretted.
 
To all those Moms out there feeling the way I am, know you are not alone! The back-to-school commercials do not bring up excitement like they did when my children were young. Instead, they now evoke nostalgia and hope that time would just slow down a little.
 
Enjoy your time. Don't wish it away. The present moment is exactly where you’re supposed to be – even when you want to just run away.


#sobernotashamed
#busylivingsober
www.busylivingsober.com 

Stress Relief is Not Synonymous with Substance Abuse

My son Henry

Stress – We all feel it! Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

We all can feel the effects of stress and I am no exception. When I’m stressed, it presents itself as pain in my shoulders and back. It’s a nagging, persistent and, at times, debilitating. I want it to go away but how do I fix it?

When drinking was a daily part of my life, a nice glass of wine or a cold drink was the perfect remedy for my aches and pains. But after a while, I came to the realization that that remedy did more damage than good. Alcohol and my body make up do not mix well. The drink may have eliminated my stress but unfortunately, my DNA made me feel a lack of control. One drink was never enough and that one drink would turn into multiple drinks or bottles of wine. The drinking only exacerbated my stress and created larger problems! The stress now was self-afflicted.

My shoulders and neck pain became depression and self-doubt; a physical ailment became an emotional one. Now, I was not only in physical pain but my emotions were running on overload. Most of those emotions were negative, which in turn made me unhappy and unproductive. All I could do was wallow in self-pity.

How did I get out of it?

For one I realized that the answer to relive my stress was NOT to pick up a drink.

Here are some tools that have worked for me:

·      Listen to some music and get lost in the lyrics or rhythm

·      Go for a walk outside

·      Call a friend and talk about what I am feeling and let it go

·      Write in my journal

·      Take time to meditate. There are many different online tools and apps that I like that help me meditate. Right now, I turn to the app “Insight timer” as a tool for my meditation. It is free and has many different guided meditations, as well as a timer if you just want to sit quietly.

Bottom line is that drinking is not the only solution to major stressors in life and most of the time, it leads to significant problems. So take some time to try the tools I suggested and remember that feelings are not facts!

 

 

Happy Memorial Day

The Beach.....ahhhhhh

Memorial Day was started in 1868 by General Logan to celebrate the sacrifices of the Civil War.  On that day, participants decorated the graves of more than 20,000 solders that fought for the Union and the Confederacy. After World War I, the day became even more inclusive and celebrated all of those who fought in America’s wars. In 1971, it was declared a national holiday to be acknowledged and celebrated by Americans the last Monday in May.

Today, Memorial Day is too often seen as a celebration of the start of summer and not recognized for what it should be: a celebration of American heroes.

When General Logan founded this holiday, he did not discriminate between sides. Instead, he decided that all soldiers deserved respect and acknowledgment for their sacrifices in the Civil War, regardless of whether they were from the North or the South! Citizens went and decorated men’s graves no matter where they were from or what their beliefs were. It was a bi-partisan day.

Now can you imagine this today? People supporting each other with no judgement or criticism, even if their beliefs are totally different. It seems idealistic and almost fairytale-like in today’s negative climate. I know I am not alone when I say that the current state of the word is negative and downright sad.

After hearing what happened in Manchester, England earlier this week, I am distraught by how we can’t even go to a concert to hear our favorite music without the fear that it could possibly be the last day of our life.

There is too much hate and disrespect today.

When I decided to get sober almost 11 years ago, I was judgmental and harsh towards others who didn’t share the same beliefs as me. But when I joined a 12-step group, those judgments and beliefs began to dissolve. Why you may ask? Because in my 12-step meetings, it doesn’t matter what religion you are, how much money you have, where you live, the color of your skin – none of that matters. People come together to help and love one another.

In 12- step meetings, I have learned that love is all that really matters. Making sure that others are there for one another to help each other get through another day without having to medicate themselves. People lend a hand and their hearts to help regardless of their beliefs. It fosters an environment of non-judgmental people that will love you and support you until you learn to love yourself.

With Memorial Day right around the corner, maybe we need to learn a lesson from General Logan and celebrate everyone – be open and loving even if we aren’t in agreement with someone’s political or religious beliefs. It is time to love and respect our neighbor and be kind no matter what! I can tell you that after watching a young girl’s parents in England being interviewed on CNN yesterday, it did not matter what or who they were or what they believed. They were in deep pain because they couldn’t find their daughter. We can all relate to the pain of losing someone and my heart cried for those parents because bottom line, I am a human being with a heart.

Maybe this weekend that celebrates our fallen heroes and marks the start of the summer can also be a time where we love one another and let everyone be who they want to be. At the end of the day does it really feel good to judge another?

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!