/. Part 1 of 2 :: So I stopped drinking, now what?
Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Hi my name is Justine and I am an alcoholic.
I don't know if anyone would had called me an alcoholic neither now, nor when I was actually drinking alcohol, but the truth is I think about drinking a lot and my therapist says I have something called, "Post-acute withdraw syndrome or PAWS, and according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-acute-withdrawal_syndrome This syndrome can last months to years after abstaining from the drug, mine being alcohol.
"Symptoms can sometimes come and go with wave-like re-occurrences or fluctuations in severity of symptoms. Common symptoms include impaired cognition, irritability, depressed mood, and anxiety; all of which may reach severe levels which can lead to relapse."
I can't say that I haven't drank in over two years without being honest and say that I did enjoy a glass of wine at dinner for my birthday this year, followed by a glass of Champaign. It made my body feel funny and I didn't like the loss of control that I once craved. I told myself I would not feel guilty about the drink, and I don't. Then over our vacation and New Years, I was going to share a celebratory toast bringing in 2022, but my boys were up and were both begging me not to share in the festivities.
"Please Mommy! Don't do it! You are going backwards! Don't drink! Share our root beer instead!" Please, Mommy, please, don't drink!"
Standing in front of my friend, I was a little embarrassed, and from the outside looking in, it may have seemed that something traumatic happened to my kids to have such an overt reaction to a simple glass of champion. But the truth is, this has been a family decision as much as it has been my own. I have allowed my boys to be apart of this journey for better or worse, they are my biggest supporters and advocates in this endeavor. I did end up sharing their root beer and afterward we all went to bed. I am happy that I did, I am happy they are the age they are to witness my ability to restrain and abstain. I am talking about this, now because this PAWS is a real thing and this past year I struggled with a lot of stress and anxiety, and depression. It is hard to admit to these things because I know that I have so much and so much to be grateful for. I just find myself not able to let loose and have fun, and sometimes I miss and grieve that side of me, that me I was with a couple drinks.
I remember having a lot of fun drinking and being silly and playing games with my friends, but something happens when your family chooses to be alcohol-free. The level of spontaneity goes away, but does it really? Maybe I give the alcohol too much credit for our "good times". Nonetheless, it is interesting how our friendships have changed and evolved; for instance, instead of meeting at a bar we meet up for a hike. Or instead of going to a bar after a hike we go home. And instead of drinking expensive liquor, we are drinking expensive kombucha.
So why am I saying all this in this open forum. It's because today, I just needed a place to land with these thoughts and confessions. Maybe there is someone else out there wondering what to do with their social life after a glass of wine or a cold beer is not longer what they reach for at the end of the night. It's a difficult journey to walk alone and I am grateful that my husband saw the value in choosing this lifestyle with me, I wouldn't be able to do this on my own with him still drinking.. believe me, I tried and I failed.
This conversation will continue, but it is enough for now.
Today I was frustrated for various reasons mostly covid and the limitations it has put on our lives for the past two years... but, through red lens of my anger I forcefully searched my environment for things that I am and can be grateful for.
I am grateful for the house I get to live in
I am grateful for my dogs
I am grateful for the warmer weather
I am grateful for the trees.
I am grateful for the music and the playlist I created for my last Christian Yoga class.
Then, my husband suggested we go for a hike on post and have a picnic.
I am grateful for my husband's suggestion
I am grateful for the nice day
I am grateful to watch my youngest son bounce around skipping and dancing and singing and throwing and catching his gatorade, I am grateful for his health and energy.
I am grateful for my mother-in-law who joined us via facetime
I am grateful for our dogs and how much my little Charlie loves me and the joy it brought our whole family watching our boxer Audi jump into the car all by herself!
I am grateful for our picnic by the dog park
I am grateful that my phone didn't die and that we brought my tiny speaker, so we could keep listening to another great playlist I had created for my last vinyasa class.
I am grateful that I was able to substitute for that last vinyasa class, since we had a snow day on the morning of my actual yoga class I would have normally taught last Thursday.
I am grateful for "healthy" alternative energy drinks.
"Winter in Clarksville Tennessee is so weird" -Pastor Mike, Lifepoint Church
I completely agree, just last week our city shut down due to freezing temps and black ice covered our roads. And today the sun is shining and we have hoodies and jeans on while we laid out on a blanket watching the dogs run around in the dog park.
I am grateful for the sunshine
I am grateful to watch my boys and their dad play soccer in the open feild
I am grateful for my family and the life we get to live
Our life has changed leaps and bounds from the life we lived when alcohol was apart of our story... this, I am also grateful for.
As I wait for covid test results I will recite this to myself,
"I am allowed to learn and I am allowed to go to my classes."
I am learning that fear of the unknown can rob me from the living in the present moment, so I will step into my courage and allow my fear of the unknown results motivate me to completing my homework and preparing for my classes. I will not allow fear to hold me back from my goals, nor my future. I will not give into my anxieties and I will not give up.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths" -Proverbs 3:5-6
Thank you for reading,