Hi I’m Sherry and I’m…uh…the “A” word.

The hubs and I were chatting this weekend and at some point he used the “A” word.  No…not asshole although I will admit that sometimes it applies.  He used the word “alcoholic” in a sentence (he’s an intelligent being after all).  That, in and of itself, is not the issue.  The issue is that he wasn’t just talking about alcoholics in general.  He wasn’t talking about alcoholics that he’s known.  He wasn’t even talking about my father, grandfathers or sister.

He used the “A” word and was talking about me.

Wait…what?

It still stings when I think of myself and that word in the same sentence.  I type it…a lot…but I don’t often say it, you know, out loud, where other people can hear it.  I think it and I’ll say it in a round about way but actually coming right out and saying to the Universe and anyone listening that yes, as a matter of fact I am an alcoholic?

Mmmmmm…not so much.

That word still carries a stigma I have trouble wrapping my brain around.  It still brings up memories of my dad and my sister and skid row and bums with “Ripple” in paper bags and…well…you get the picture.  How can I, successful, high functioning, mom of six be…that word?  How can it be that I went from the life of the party to that word.  I don’t look like that word.  I don’t behave like that word.

Yo!  You over there!  Yeah you…with the tattoo on her wrist.  News flash.  You do (or you did) behave, look and drink like that word. As a matter of fact guess what?  You are that word!

Well shit.

Okay, okay…let me examine this.

I don’t drink.  In fact, I can’t drink because if I do I don’t know when to stop.  When I am in drinking mode all I do is think about when I am going to drink again.  I plan when I’m going to drink and how much.  I look forward to “Happy Hour” like it’s fucking Christmas Day.  I drink until it’s gone and then go looking for more.  I wake up every morning feeling sick and guilty and wondering what the hell I did the night before and dreading looking into the faces of my family and friends for fear I’ve really messed up this time.  It doesn’t matter if it’s once a week, once a month, or once a year…if I drink, that’s what is going to happen.  And trust me…it’s not pretty. 

But really?!  Why must we put a label on it?  Isn’t it just enough to say “I don’t drink”?  Do I have to say it out loud?  Because I, and a great deal of society, sees an alcoholic that looks very different from what I see when I look in the mirror. They see selfish.  Weak.  Homeless.  Incarcerated.  DUI.  Unemployed.  Destitute. 

But I know that it’s not an accurate assessment; it’s a sweeping generalization and, as is usually the case with generalizations, it’s wrong.  It’s a label that overlooks nuances and removes individuality.  It paints us all with the same brush and removes the humanity that lies just under the surface of the label.   The fact is that many of us have never had a DUI.  Most are not homeless or incarcerated or unemployed.  Most of us are also not weak or selfish.  We simply share an addiction to a substance so prevalent in our society that you cannot watch a moment of television without seeing either it being consumed during a show or being advertised in a commercial.  We are addicted to a substance has become synonymous with romance, fun times, male bonding and girl’s night out.  In fact, alcohol fueled “mommy and me playdates” are all the rage right now which is just so wrong in so many ways I can’t even begin to count them (but that’s another post entirely). 

And it does something else that is much more frightening than just embarrass or shame us.

That stigma, that sweeping generalization, that skid row mentality allows many of us to stay in active addiction for a lot longer than is necessary.  It keeps us in the dark when we should be reaching for the light.  It lets us lie to ourselves and keeps our families and friends living in fear and worry about our well-being. We say things like…

  • “I’m not THAT bad.” 
  • “At least I’m not like the people on Intervention.” 
  • “I can’t be an alcoholic!  I don’t drink every day!”
  • “Listen, my Uncle Pete was an alcoholic and I’m nothing like him.”
  • “All my friends drink like I do and they aren’t alcoholics.”
  • “I don’t have a problem.  I know because I’ve gone {30, 60, 90…pick a timeframe} days {weeks months years} without drinking.  If I was an alcoholic I wouldn’t be able to do that would I?”

…and we get sicker and sicker and get worse and worse until, one day, we wake up and find we DO look like the stereotype. And all the while we keep secrets and try to quiet the voices that tell us…

“If it looks like a duck…”

One day maybe we’ll come out of the darkness and show the world what an alcoholic really looks like.  Maybe we’ll come out from behind the shadow of anonymity and own our truth with our shoulders squared and our faces turned toward the sun.  For now I’ll try to do my part…

Hi, I’m Sherry.  I’m strong, successful, and intelligent.  I have a kind heart and I can make you laugh.  I love with the fierceness of a lioness and the warmth of a thousand suns.  I’m a mother, a wife, a friend, a coworker, a blogger, a woman.  I am creative but also an introvert.

And I am an alcoholic.

Namaste

 

Some Days

Some days can turn on a dime.  One minute you’re going along your happy way singing Zip-A-Dee-Do-Da and the next your afraid that one wrong move will make you cry and you’re pissed at the world (but really you’re pissed at yourself).  Yep…some days.

Yesterday was a bit of a shitstorm for me.  It started out fine.  I was up, awake, happy and ready to face the day.  Then, at 9:55 am I went to my appointment to get my finger stuck and have my “health assessment” for work.  We have this deal where we can earn $800 in our health accounts (for co-pays, prescriptions, etc.) if we take a few online classes and let them get our “numbers”.

So I cheerfully stuck out my finger and watched my blood ooze into a tiny little straw and then onto a slide and then into the machine.  While waiting for my results, the nurse took my blood pressure, wrote some notes on my paper and told me to go wait in the chairs facing the window until I was called for height and weight measurements.

Wait…what?

No one said anything about weight…

Damn.

I did as I was told, knowing full well that my day had just gone to hell in a handbasket.  The next nurse came to get me and told me to take off my shoes and get on the scale.  I didn’t even look at the numbers.  I also couldn’t convince her to let me get naked right there in the middle of the atrium…but she did let me take off my earrings and watch.

Then I had to take all my paperwork and see a “counselor” before I could leave.  I sat down with this perfectly nice gentlemen and could tell immediately that I have forgotten more about health and fitness then he’ll ever know.  However, I sat quietly and listened as he went over my results.

  • Blood Pressure: 124/84 – Prehypertensive
  • Cholesterol:  TC – 220 – Slightly high; HDL (good cholesterol) – 45 – should be 60+
  • BMI:  In the “O” (there’s that fucking O word again) range
  • Glucose: 87 (my one shining moment) – should be less than 150

I left that meeting feeling like I had been run over by a truck.  Long time readers of mine KNOW what a struggle it’s been for me to get my health back since I quit drinking.  (Note to anyone out there trying to quit…QUIT BEFORE YOU ARE OLD.  Once you start into your 40’s it’s harder and harder to get back to healthy.)  I’ve done Whole 30’s (love); I’ve done Jenny Craig (hated); I’ve done Weight Watchers (meh); and any other scheme you can imagine.  I gave up looking at the scale; I started looking again.  I counted calories using my app; I stopped counting calories.  I wore my fitbit everyday and tried to get to 7,000+ steps a day with an ultimate goal of 10,000 (still doing).  I ordered videos.  I promised myself I’d do more yoga and meditation.

Start stop start stop start stop – it’s like I’m in traffic on 495 in D.C.  My engine is running but I’m not getting anywhere. 

I’m trying things but when they aren’t working in my timeframe (you know…NOW) I get frustrated and quit.  OR (more likely), something happens that sends me looking for comfort and, since I don’t have any cigarettes or wine, I reach for other things.  Food, my comfy chair and iPad, my bed, my beloved reality TV.  When I should be dealing with things and not seeking comfort.  OR (more likely) I should be looking for healthier ways to provide comfort to myself.  Meditation, exercise, healthy food options, yoga.

Here’s the thing, I don’t want to be some skinny little thing.  It’s not in my DNA.  I’m short but sturdy.  I just don’t want to die like my mom which is where I’m headed if I don’t get my ample ass in gear and soon (I’ll be 53 in a little over a month.).  I want to move more which will then adjust all of those numbers whether I stay in the “O” range or not.  The problem is that I want to get there fast and the fact is that my poor body is aging and being broken down by excess weight and bad numbers (all that shit going on inside of you ages you dramatically – just because you can’t see what’s going on doesn’t mean it isn’t happening).

So I’ve formulated yet another plan to get back to healthy before those fucking numbers get out of control and I’m taking more pills than the average octogenarian.  I’m going to pick one thing from each of these categories to implement each month, do them for a month and then add something else the next month.  ADD not SUBTRACT. 

  • What I feed my body.
  • How I move my body.
  • How I care for my spirit.

For example, for the month of April (so convenient that it starts next week don’t you think…thanks for making that happen God), I will make the following changes.

  • What I feed my body:  Eliminate refined sugar (yes…I’m aware that Easter is in April) and drink more water.
  • How I move my body:  15-30 minutes of additional movement each day no matter what. Even if it’s running in place or doing 100 situps or 50 pushups or whatever.  Just so it’s something.
  • How I care for my spirit:  5-10 minutes of sun salutations and/or meditation every day no matter what.

That’s it.  No pressure.  No eating the elephant whole.  Just small nibbles for a month…enough time to form a habit.  And then we’ll see where I am.  At least it will be forward progress.

Ugh!  I am so tired of talking about this shit.  (I’m sure you’re sick of reading about it too.)  In fact, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired…again.  But come to think of it, the last time I was like that – miracles began to happen.

Namaste

Four Years

You know how I always say that counting days doesn’t really matter anymore, that I’m past that and that’s it’s no longer about the time sober as it is the recovery going on into that time. 

Well, while the latter is definitely true, the former is bullshit.

Congratulations to me!

I suck at selfies but you get the idea!

Namaste