Hi Everyone! It has been a while since I posted in this blog. There have been a lot of changes in the last few years. In 2020 I finished my Air Force career of 20 years as a clarinetist in the band career field. At the same time Covid 19 hit the US causing economic and social upheaval as you well know. My husband and I moved back to my hometown in Tennessee. Many people including myself started dealing with a lot more anxiety in these covid times. This was right before my retirement which caused even more anxiety. You veterans know how getting out of the military is much more complex than entering it haha. I relieved my anxiety by focusing on my new found art of painting with acrylics. I had previously been doing a lot of crocheting, and randomly decided one day to try my hand at painting following the Bob Ross tutorials. I quickly realized this took my anxiety levels down to zero! It was great! I’m still painting a lot and love it.
In the years before my Air Force retirement I used to wonder if I would start drinking again afterwards. The Air Force helped me stop drinking with their rehab program, and making sure I knew that I would be separated if I did not quit. I loved being a musician in the Air Force and it would have been terrible to throw my career out the window due to my alcohol addiction. I also wanted to be physically and mentally healthy. As I hit my retirement date, I wondered if I could still remain sober and the answer is a big YES! It’s not to say I have not been tempted out of curiosity more than anything. I came to the conclusion that it just would not do anything positive for me. Oh, the many reasons to not start drinking alcohol again…let’s see…
- My family and husband would be shocked, angry and disappointed…
- I would also feel ashamed and disappointed with myself in letting everyone down.
- There would be no fun in drinking at social gatherings since everyone knows me to be sober, so I would end up drinking alone for no reason which is no fun.
- My physical and mental health would deteriorate and I don’t want that….its already aged me.
- It would hinder my productivity and zap all my initiative to do any of my creative past times such as painting and playing my clarinet.
So with all these reasons there simply would be no point for me to drink alcohol again. Where would the fun of it be? If you are interested in trying out sobriety or drinking less check out my other blog articles or message me.
It is hard for me to believe that it has already been 5 years since I had my last drink of alcohol. Sometimes time is slow and sometimes it seems to go by so quickly. I remember when I could not even imagine going a whole month without a drink. If I can go five years without a drink, than anyone can do it. Once the cravings go away, it becomes easier to think less and less about alcohol. I can go for months now not thinking about alcohol. I can even order a non-alcoholic beer at a restaurant and not think about ordering a real one.
I have been able to try more hobbies instead of wasting time drinking alcohol. Now I crochet hats, scarves, shawls, ponchos and just recently started painting landscapes. I have more time to read books and try out new interests and make new goals in my life. I would not be able to do this if I were still drinking. My mental health is so much better and balanced then when I was on alcohol. Of course alcohol is a depressant and causes anxiety. I don’t struggle with those anymore. To anyone who is thinking about quitting alcohol, it will be a hard struggle at first but it is worth all the effort to have the life you can enjoy afterwards. Don’t give up. I failed to quit over and over again. I really thought I was not going to win the battle, but I did not give up. Be resilient, persevere and don’t give up. The battle is hard, but you are your own hero, and you can win it.
I can’t believe I have been sober 3 years and 9 months so far. It doesn’t feel that long ago when I would come home from work every day anticipating the first drink to help me relax. It would have been fine if I could have stopped at one drink, but it was not possible for me. I would get out my wine glass and put in like 2 or 3 shots of vodka, then add wine, then add sparkling water to the brim. By bed time I would have drunk down 5 of those drinks which actually is like 20 drinks…almost 15 shots of vodka and 5 glasses of wine. I was drinking that much every day after work. I could feel my liver hurting. I thank God that I was able to stop this madness before I lost everything and before I killed myself. Yet, sometimes very rarely I still wish I could drink, but the thought does not last for long. It is a fantasy that I could only have one drink a day. I know I would go back into that death spiral if I started drinking again. And it is so incredibly difficult to come out of that once you are in it. I would not wish that on anyone.
I have come so far and regained my health. I feel so good physically and mentally that there is no way I want to drink again because I would just end up on my deathbed. If you have just a little sobriety or a lot, don’t look back to the drinking days, just keep your focus on the future and the new goals you have set. I want to make new memories with my husband traveling the world. I want to plan for retirement. I want to spend more time with family, play tennis, play golf, go camping and hiking. I can’t do any of those things if I am drinking alcohol. I don’t need a drink to relax these days. I just go sun bathing on my deck with a nice cold sparkling water or cozy up on the couch with a coffee or hot chocolate and it feels great. I didn’t want to live anymore when I had to quit alcohol. But I didn’t want to lose my job. I love my job of being a musician in the Air Force. My job was my first motivation to quit. Eventually I wanted to keep sober for me. You have to motivate yourself to stay sober. You have to find that motivation. If you don’t’ care about you, then find another motivation to stay sober like I did. Don’t fall victim to addiction. It can be overcome. If I overcame it, you can too.
You are stronger than you think because God created you that way. God didn’t make us to be weak. Over the course of my lifetime enduring challenges, I have realized God made me a lot stronger than I thought. I believe it. His strength carries me through tribulations. His hands push back fears and ridicules to allow me a way forward with grace. If I can struggle 6 years with alcoholism then you can too. I was thrilled to finally be rid of the desire to drink in fall 2007. It was a miracle. But it didn’t last. So many people like me believe they can drink normally again after one year of sobriety. It was fairly clear after several months going into 2009 that I was being sucked back in the whirlpool of alcohol addiction. I struggled another 5 years trying to quit alcohol. I was in despair, but I did’t want to give up. If I can struggle with the pain of addiction for 11 years than you can too. God created me with the strength to struggle and not give up. God created you with strength. Do not give up hope. There were many times I felt too weak to continue. You must trudge on and keep hope alive. You must continue to move forward as Moses did even though he did not live to see the Promised Land. Job, in the book of Job, lost everything and did not give up faith and so can you. If you need a rally cry from the God of hope then look up youtube Pastor John Hagee’s sermons of hope. You will be filled with the hope and the strength of God. After finally becoming sober, I had hope and optimism to sustain it, and I have been sober 3 years and 3 months now. The longer I am sober, the more I want to stay sober. I wasted many years on drinking not to mention almost ruining my health. I don’t want to waste another minute on alcohol. Know that you are powerful and strong to overcome your trials and tribulations. If you want to know how I got sober after AA did not work for me, then read my previous blog posts about Motivation, Acceptance, Grit, and Gratitude.
When I was little like eight years old I enjoyed watching cartoons as most kids do, but I also enjoyed watching classic movies with actors like Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and John Wayne just to name a few. After watching plenty of John Wayne war movies, I decided at some point in my life I would join the military to serve our country because it must be one of the most noble and honorable things to do in life. I didn’t know how I would serve in the military. I thought being a pilot would be great. Then when I was in seventh grade, the US Army Jazz Band came to town. The auditorium was totally packed with people standing in back. The concert was amazing and afterward I pointed to the band and told the person beside me “that’s what I am going to do when I grow up”. I made my dream come true. Alcoholism came into my life and we almost threw my dream off a cliff. I did not want this thing to beat me and throw my dream away. I quit drinking and will stay quit, and I am still living my dream as a military musician in the US Air Force.
I am very pleased to write that I will be three years sober on November 25 of this year 2016. Now I feel I live a totally normal life with out drinking alcohol. I don’t think about it much at all. Sometimes I remember a happy memory when I was drinking with friends, but I don’t dwell on it or wish I could drink again. I can have a fun time with friends who are drinking beer even at an October fest event and not have the urge to drink beer with them. I am also pretty sure that what ever happens tomorrow, I won’t need to drink any alcohol, or the day after. I am sure I will be sober a year from now and 2 and 3 years from now. I don’t ever worry that I might drink again.
I don’t go to any AA or 12 step meetings. I know they work for a lot of people but it never worked for me. I stay busy keeping in shape with jogging and lifting weights or playing sports such as golf and tennis or playing my musical instrument or taking a course and reading books.
When I first quit drinking, I had to do a lot of research in how to be successful in keeping sober. I found most of my resources online. I realized my motivations to keep sober and came to comprehend my acceptance not to drink alcohol again. I researched a lot about grit and how having grit will keep you on track in obtaining your goals by staying the course…having the tenacity and perseverance to keep pushing onward through life’s hardships and tough disappointments. I researched a lot on gratitude as well. Gratitude keeps me positive and grounded. It may not cause me happiness ALL the time, but I can feel pretty content with things in life most of the time.
I like to look forward in the future to creating new experiences and adventures. And I don’t need alcohol or any other drugs to mask my true feelings or cloud my life experiences. My true natural self is alcohol-free.
What do you see in the mirror? Over the years I used to get asked this question occasionally. My answer was always “nothing” or some other negative comment. Growing up in school and being bullied a lot, I had developed a loathing perspective of myself that carried with me into adulthood. Sometimes confidence came to me briefly but the self-loathing always managed to come back again. So a few weeks ago when I was asked “What do you see in the mirror?” I again started to come up with some negative comment, but then I hesitated. I decided that I wanted to look at my self differently. My life flew before my eyes, and I answered “I see an over-comer.” I decided I didn’t want to feel bad about myself anymore. Why should I dislike myself? I used to think if someone didn’t like me than something must be very wrong with me, and I shouldn’t like me either. How stupid. Why should I care how others view me? I decide I won’t care anymore.
I decide to respect myself because looking back on my life I have overcome some big obstacles. I used to believe in that saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” But I find it not to be so true. some adversities can leave you extremely weak mentally and physically. In those times you have to take things very slow and be patient with yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and if you are not getting the help you need, then look for it elsewhere. If you’ve been knocked down, maybe you want to lay there a bit…or for a long bit to gather strength, instead of hopping up real fast to start again….but do eventually get up. When I was in danger of losing my job due to alcohol addiction, I was so upset. I love my job and the thought of losing it due to my alcoholism made me feel like I would be the biggest “loser”. I thought I would not be able to go on. However I know a lot of people suffering from alcoholism do end up losing their jobs and marriages. A lot of them become sober and recover from it finding their successful path again. I believe with a well organized plan, you can recover from these sorts of devastating losses. I always come back to the 4 keys I researched to make my own recovery. Acceptance- of what has happened. Motivation- to start again and make a plan. Grit- the courage and tenacity to carry out your plan through painful or adverse circumstances. Gratitude- there is always hope and things to be grateful for.
I am nearing my 2 and a half year sober date and am feeling pretty good. If I can overcome 12 years of hard drinking then you can too. Be good to yourself. Manage yourself with patience and kindness.
When I was told by my counselor that I had to stop drinking and enter rehab immediately, I clapped and sang “No, no, no” doing my best Amy Winehouse impression. No, Actually I said “I can’t go to rehab right now….my friends are planning a birthday party for me in a month” She told me that I would not be able to last 2 more weeks. I said “but I haven’t had a birthday party in forever” sniffle sniffle… boohoohoohoo… WAHHHH! Then I got to rehab and it was awful…”ugh, this is horrible” I thought. I didn’t want to go on if I couldn’t drink. How could I live without a drink? I would never have any fun ever ever again EVER! Things couldn’t be darker for me…..poor me… I was however lucky enough to get the only room with it’s own bathroom and walk-in closet (the most important things in rehab right?), AND I was lucky to have great roommates. Actually it turned out I met a lot of great people there.
My attitude started to change. When I realized the schedule of the day included 2 hours of free time to work-out, I thought “wow that’s pretty good”. It was sunny everyday. Exercising outside with some Army lads and Marines everyday made me really get into shape(try running laps carrying a big rock along with a ton of crunches and pull-ups-Hoorah). My counselor there turned out to be extremely helpful, and I started to feel different about things. I started feeling hope. I started to feel grateful to be in this rehab so I could get better. We went bowling a couple days, painted pottery one day, and even went to the beach one day. By golly I learned that it was actually possible to have fun with out drinking alcohol. I was grateful for what I learned in rehab. After relapsing, I was extremely grateful for a second chance to get it right.
Sometimes gratitude can well up in you to where you almost burst with peace and happiness. I am so grateful for the people that helped me, and above all my husband who has been so caring and patient with me. Being sober doesn’t fix everything in your life, but you will be less likely to make stupid decisions, and become a more strong, capable person then you would have ever thought. Today when something gets me down, I know I can walk away from the piece of “self pity” and go with the slice of “gratitude” each day. You can too.
I try to clean the house on the weekends, you know dusting, vacuuming, bathrooms, and kitchen. My husband does laundry and dishes so that’s helpful. So believe it or not when I quit drinking, the biggest trigger for my craving to drink again was….cleaning house!, wait what?? I know I know, it was a big surprise for me as well. It didn’t cross my mind until I started to clean house the first time after I gave up alcohol. Then I immediately knew why. For years and years I had always cleaned house with a duster in one hand and a glass of wine in the other…very sophisticated and classy, right? It just made cleaning house much more inviting and not so tiresome.
Well I knew there had to be some way to solve this problem. It didn’t take me researching long to figure out the perfect solution to solve my “cleaning house=alcohol craving”. If the house needed cleaning, than my husband would simply have to do it all. Perfect, right? So I informed my husband of my “cleaning house=alcohol craving”, and if he wanted the house clean then he would simply have to do it all himself. I think his response was something like “uhhhh ok…riight…”
When you stop drinking, you may discover things that could trigger you to crave alcohol. It may be as simple as hearing a song on the radio that you associate with drinking alcohol. Turn the knob to a different station. I used to like coming home from work and rock out to ACDC real loud with a beer. Don’t worry, it won’t last. I can listen to my “beer drinking music” with out wanting a beer, and I was able to clean the house again after 6 months. It doesn’t cause a craving for alcohol anymore. Now days the thought of a glass of wine doesn’t even enter my head when I clean house.
Wait! I can’t go bowling or golfing with out having a beer. That’s half the fun, and I play better, right?! Well as for bowling I seemed to play just as good either way. Oh and I realized that I can have just as much fun bowling with out being totally sloshed. Now I am a lot more serious about playing golf. After music, I love playing golf. My husband taught me to play golf about 10 years ago and he is pretty good…and now I am beating him sometimes. I did usually like to have a couple beers or three or four…depending if we played nine or eighteen. Luckily it was winter when I quit drinking. It was a very mild winter in Germany. We were able to get out on the course January 2, 2014. I looked over at the fridge in the club house, but I prefer to drink a nice cold beer in the heat so I was not too tempted. I could bring my coffee out on the course instead.
We played a lot of golf because the weather was so good and that helped a lot being busy playing this game and not thinking about alcohol. I think its very therapeutic, fun and relaxing. If you are quitting alcohol it would be helpful to find a sport like this to focus your energy and time on. Also you will be saving money so you can start to save or spend it on helping you.
As the golf season continued my game improved more that year than it ever had. And I attribute it to not drinking while playing. My putting game had improved drastically. My game still kept on improving more last year as well. I know my golf game will continue to improve this year when it gets warm enough to play because I am not drinking anymore. All the other years, I got to a certain point in my golf game and then didn’t continue much improvement at all. For me this just goes to show that you do play at a higher better level with out alcoholic beverages in your system. It proved to me that you can still have fun at everything with out imbibing in alcohol.
After you have your last alcoholic beverage for good, you may wonder how long these awful intense cravings for alcohol last? I was afraid they would not go away. Its different for every person. Some people said it only lasted 2 weeks for them. For me it was almost 3 months before the cravings started to subside. That was the hardest part. I knew they would eventually go away, I just had to be patient. It seemed like it was taking forever. It was hard to sit still because you are so anxious for want of a drink. Sometimes I just had to get out from my desk at work and walk around the building, and walking at lunch helped too. At home I did a lot of jogging, walking and playing music with my clarinet that is my work. I didn’t want to go out to eat at all.
At three months sober the cravings all went away for the most part. I began to go a week with out thinking about drinking. I would still get real intense craving sometimes but they would not last for long. I was able to go eat out and attend town festivals with out being tempted too much. I was living as a musician in Germany playing music all around Europe so there was always a plethora of great wine, beer and schnapps to drink. I had already drank a life-time of it, so I was not tempted by it anymore.
At 6 months sober I had a really bad craving, and then after that they pretty much disappeared for good. I started to go a couple weeks with out thinking of a drink at all. If I was around a lot of people drinking it was fine. I would just drink sparkling water, tea or coffee. At first it may seem like you will never get over the cravings but you do. If I can do it, you can do it.