My High Bottom

the only chip that matters

My friend told me that it is customary to write a post thanking WordPress for Freshly Pressing me (or however you say it) so I want to take a moment to say thank you to WordPress for the honor. I also want to thank the WordPress bloggers and readers who liked and commented on Barbie Dolls – Don’t Be Hatin. I was a little concerned that the post would push buttons for some people but those fears were unrealized. Instead, I had the pleasure of interacting with a ton of polite, thoughtful people who respectfully shared their thoughts. It could’ve gone the other way. I could’ve shared my opinion on my little blog (like this person) and inspired the snarky satire of someone else (who ends up being Freshly Pressed and picked up by the Huffington Post), instigating a firestorm of vitriol and heated debate. Whew! That’s my worst nightmare.

You see, I don’t usually write about my opinions. I write about my life and my journey in recovery. I put my heart out there for all to see as I try to make sense of my world. So, for those of you who are new to my blog, I’m going to give you a little bit of my back story (hee-hee).

I’m going to tell you about my high bottom. Oh, how I wish I was talking about my toned yoga butt but I’m still a few squats and lunges away from that idealistic goal. The high bottom I’m talking about is in reference to drinking, which I stopped doing a little over 2 years ago. In sobriety-speak, a high bottom refers to someone who stopped drinking before hitting a hard rock bottom. For me, there was no dramatic conclusion to my drinking. There were no DUIs, no spousal or child abuse, no broken friendships, no destroyed family relationships. I just reached a point where it became obvious that to continue drinking was to continue being stuck – stuck in anxiety, stuck in depression and stuck in a cycle I was trying to end.

I used to love to drink and I mostly had a lot of fun. I often thought I drank too much but I didn’t seem to be hurting anyone so it felt harmless. Then, around the time that my husband and I decided to have kids, I started feeling discontent. I can look back now and see that I was changing, or more accurately, I wanted to be different. I wanted to do more than bar hop on the weekends. I wanted hobbies, goals, a life. I was 37 years old and I wanted to grow up.

After I had my two children, drinking just wasn’t as fun as it used to be but I had no intention of stopping. It wasn’t even an option that I considered. I needed to drink a glass (big, BIG glass) of wine in the evenings to deal with the stress of raising 2 kids 18 months apart. I couldn’t unwind without a little help and who was it really hurting? My kids were young. I convinced myself that they didn’t even know the difference. Most days I counted the minutes until my husband got home so that I could count the minutes until it was acceptable to say, “Hey hon, want a glass of wine?”

The anxiety over drinking became unbearable but somehow, I was sure that drinking eased my nerves. I couldn’t believe that there was any other way to cope. It was all I had ever done but it wasn’t fun anymore. I noticed that I could fill my day with positive affirmations and then as soon as the wine touched my lips, those affirmations would morph into self-doubt, regret and shame. I could be swimming in positive thoughts and one alcohol-soaked fight with my husband would sink me to the bottom of the pool.

I read a lot of mommy-blogs at the time and it seemed like just about everyone drank wine in the evenings. Some waited until their kids went to bed and some drank in front of their kids but everyone did it. Just about every comment I read seemed to be saying, “Whoo-hoo! Mommy wine parties make it all better!” But every so often, a lone comment would stand out and that person would be saying, “Drinking drove me crazy. It made my anxiety worse. I’ve never been happier since I stopped drinking.” I started seeking out those people because it was all starting to make sense to me.

I wish I could say that I woke up one morning and said, “This just isn’t for me anymore. I’m going to be a non-drinker.” Instead, in the wee hours of August 1, 2011, I was jolted from a deep sleep by the overwhelming urge to puke. I ran to the bathroom and lay on the floor while the room spun violently. My first thought was, I didn’t drink enough to cause this. I better not be pregnant.

A crystal clear voice in my head (that I know was God) said, “You can never drink again.”

The nausea eased and I went back to bed. When I woke up, I remembered very clearly the voice I heard. I stopped drinking that day. For the next 3 days, I was so nauseous I took a pregnancy test. When I saw the negative result, I said to myself, “Thank God I’m not pregnant. I’m just an alcoholic.”

I’m a born seeker. I search for answers to life’s big questions and I look for God everywhere. It’s life changing to not have to contend with alcohol poisoning my thoughts and setting me back. When I have an ‘aha’ moment, it sticks. I can progress and grow and when I do have a setback, I have the comfort of knowing that the setback wasn’t caused by being drunk. Believe me, it’s a comfort that never gets old.

If you’re drinking (or drugging, or cutting, or bingeing, or smoking, or whatever) and are questioning whether you should, keep questioning. You’ll probably make excuses and find rationalizations for a while but eventually, you’ll be ready to hear the answer. That answer will free you if you let it. It’ll free you from shame, from crippling anxiety, from an endless cycle of self-abuse and free you from being stuck.

No two bottoms are the same. Stop thinking about what people will think of you and save your life. Create your life. Live your life.

22 Comments on “My High Bottom

  1. First and foremost, congrats on the FP. Fantastic! It’s a fun ride there, isn’t it? (No one told me about writing a post-FP post thanking them…I haven’t mentioned it once since having that happen. Ugh…Ungraciousness, how I have offended thee). You deserved it – your writing is superb and touching.

    High bottom, low bottom, mid bottom….I don’t know, I hear this often and in the end it’s like that doctor joke you referenced…it’s all the same. Alcoholic. Some of us just take longer to accept it, to concede that we’re the real deal. I knew for years I was an alcoholic…almost proud of it, but it wasn’t until my world crashed down and I was left holding nothing that I realized, gulp, I am in trouble here. I need help. Some of us get out when the getting out is good, but that doesn’t relieve them of the pain and harm and blows to self-esteem and all of that. I think it’s the same for us, but our external consequences are more dire in some of us. The same things compel us, but some of us are poor learners (like me 😉 )

    Anyway, this is a wonderful example of realizing where alcohol placed in your life and why it was there. You took the blinders off early, and your loving Creator guided you to a place where you felt it in your core of cores that the jig was up. What a spellbinding place to be in! And amidst the pain is that sense of freedom, that yes! I don’t have to be here any more. Regardless of what we are socialized to be – numbing agent consumers – we have that escape hatch. And the Creator has bestowed the Grace upon us to see where we needed to be.

    Thank you for this, Karen. I love the new pic and I love the FP stamp there. Lovely 🙂

    Love and light,
    Paul

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    • Yes, it doesn’t matter how we’ve fallen only that we’ve all fallen. Then there’s grace to help us get back up. Thank you so much for the kind words!

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  2. Karen, thank you so much for sharing your story. I will admit to some jealousy… I wish my bottom had been as high as yours. And I am in awe of anyone who can figure out, on their own, that enough is enough. Your story is an inspiring one on so many levels, and I feel honored to know you and be a part of your blogging circle.

    And, although I’ve already said it… I am so happy for you getting Freshly Pressed! You are very deserving of the honor!

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    • Thank you Josie but I wouldn’t feel jealous if I were you. Turmoil and pain are relative. If anything, having a high bottom makes me a better liar than you! I was very good at manipulating what I showed to people and I made sure that I didn’t fit the sterotype of alcoholism. I feel grateful for that in some ways but I still can’t drink. It reminds me of that old joke – what do you call the person who graduated at the bottom of the class in medical school? Doctor.

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  3. Wow, this one really hit home for me: “I didn’t just drink for fun, I drank to numb but who knows what normal is anymore. We seem to be a society that glamorizes and encourages numbing in many forms.” I started drinking more often after my little brother died to numb myself. Then it just became a habit. Then I stopped for a while because I realized I thought about it all the time. Started again because it’s part of socializing. If many of my friends kept wine fridges stocked, then it had to be normal, right? I haven’t in a while again and I’m feeling happy. I feel the same amount of stress that I ever did, the kind that I used to wash away with a few glasses of wine, but now I can wake up in the middle of the night or morning guilt free. Simple rule to live by for me is if it makes you feel guilty, don’t do it. Thanks so much for the post.

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    • That’s such a simple yet profound rule to live by: If it makes you feel guilty, don’t do it. I think we’re so used to having what we want when we want it that we’ve forgotten that guilt is meant to be a sign that something is off. Thanks for such a thoughtful comment!

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  4. Congratulations on the FP! I really hope it will happen to Not This Song someday:) I always love to hear about someone’s “moment of clarity,” not two are the same and they don’t always happen at the obvious places. Thanks for continuing to share you journey.

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    • Thank you! I think people get a perception of what an alcoholic looks like the truth is, it looks different for everyone. When it comes down to it, the bottom is the bottom no matter how you got there.

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  5. First of all, congrats on the Freshly Pressed biz! It’s quite a ride. I will be off to read that post as soon as I comment here. I very much admire the way you have taken control of your life. And I smiled when you began talking about all the mommy blogs glorifying the part alcohol plays in their day. I am amazed at the number of those that actually mention alcohol in the title. I’m a girl who loves to have a drink (or two or three) when I’m out with the girls or occasionally a beer with some pizza. And part of me feels a bit uncomfortable at how casually we link the need for alcohol to “keep us sane” while we parent our kids. I get it. It’s a tough job, and everyone needs to find an outlet to help them unwind. You have to. But deep down, I wonder what message that sends to children who are aware that their parents “drive them to drink”…at least on a consistent basis. And I think we sometimes buy into the idea because it has become a socially accepted “joke”, a way to complain about our kids in what is perceived as a lighthearted manner. Parenting kicks us all in the butt sometimes, but being good to ourselves and finding healthy ways to manage is that stress is really the only way we can successfully kick back. Thanks for this post. You got my brain moving during my late afternoon “dead hour” when I usually find it hard to do anything!

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    • You’re so right. It has become socially accepted to complain about needing a drink as a normal part of parenthood and for a lot of people, maybe it is completely harmless. For me it wasn’t. I was probably never a “normal” drinker because I didn’t just drink for fun, I drank to numb but who knows what normal is anymore. We seem to be a society that glamorizes and encourages numbing in many forms. I saw a thoughtful post (I wish I could remember who it was) where the writer said she wasn’t an alcoholic but she recognized that she was using alcohol as a way to fill an empty hole, a hole that could be better filled with prayer, meditation, friendship – anything other than alcohol. I really like your point about kids being sent the message (however unintentionally) that they drive us to drink. It’s my job to model to my kids how to face challenges and confront conflict and for me, it’s going to be without a drink perpetually in my hand. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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      • I love that idea of filling a hole with prayer, meditation or friendship. It is definitely easy to find an unhealthy crutch…usually without even knowing it. We all do it. It’s only human. But it’s great if we can catch ourselves and try to change. Your post made me realize I probably need to take a look at the ways I deal with stress. Thanks!

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  6. You know… I *could* say something about my cute ass and your heart-shaped high-bottom, but instead I’ll just say, “beautifully written, my friend.” xo, c

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