My Hard Truth

double rainbow

Amazing rainbow in my backyard.

Trigger warning: This post may be a trigger for those feeling susceptible to relapse.

 

Everyday, I sit down to write this post and everyday I get stuck. I don’t know how to start without worrying family and friends because invariably, people are going to worry. I also feel a sense of responsibility to people reading who are struggling with addiction because my experiences, my journey, and my truth seeking is my own and comparisons can be dangerous.

A few months ago, I stopped identifying as an alcoholic. I reached a crossroads where I had to ask myself some serious questions about why I don’t drink. The most significant part of the last 3 years for me has been to get to a place where I trust myself and trust God. While I continually seek the help and guidance of others, I’ve had to learn to distinguish my truth from what is true for others and to not seek the comfort of being part of a group just for the sake of belonging.

When I stopped drinking over 3 years ago, I was desperate to find peace. Like many people who abuse alcohol, I didn’t realize how adversely it was affecting my life. I had never tried to moderate because it never occurred to me that my drinking was a problem. It was habitual and was something that I did for so long that it was part of my identity. Right before I stopped drinking, my anxiety was out of control. For months, I had been on a quest to change my life but I was getting no where. Until I heard God’s voice telling me to stop drinking, I never thought to do it.

So that’s what I did. I stopped drinking, announced that I was an alcoholic and submersed myself into recovery work. It saved my sanity and my life. There is no doubt in my mind that I absolutely needed to stop drinking when I did and that I needed to stop drinking for as long as I did. Once I took seriously the option to not drink, the pieces fell into place. If I never drink again, I won’t be missing out on anything vital to my happiness.

Here’s what I realized: I didn’t stop drinking because I couldn’t stop drinking. I stopped drinking because it became clear to me that I had a hole in my soul that alcohol was making bigger. The only way I could heal was to stop doing the things that made the hole bigger. I had to learn to feel, to experience emotion as a vital part of my humanity, to not shy away from the emotion of others and connect to people on an authentic level. I simply couldn’t do that as long as there was a wall of alcohol between me and myself and the people around me.

But alcoholism is a disease. You can’t just opt out whenever you want. It’s also one of the only diseases that people regularly diagnose themselves, often without the help of a medical professional. Self diagnosing alcoholism saves lives. I have no regrets over not drinking or with identifying as an alcoholic but I don’t believe that everyone who has a drinking problem is an alcoholic.

I know that this is terrifying for some of you to hear me say but I trust my heart and my body to know when I’m hurting myself. I’ve discovered that I can have a drink and not have the desire to want more. It feels like it does on the rare occasions when I eat fried chicken. I don’t need to put that shit into my body but sometimes I want a few bites and then I’m done. I would never have known this about myself if I didn’t stop drinking completely for nearly 3 years. I would never have known that I actually do have a “stop button” if I didn’t remove alcohol from my life so that I could get in touch with the needs of my body, mind and soul.

One of the reasons why I’ve been hesitant to write about this is because the purpose of sobriety is not to be “cured” or to get to the point where you can drink again. Alcoholism kills people, plain and simple. No one should ever take lightly the devastation that alcohol dependency causes and no longer identifying as an alcoholic doesn’t negate the damage my drinking did or could do again if I’m not vigilant in my recovery from numbing.

I’m the adult child of addicts, I’m a survivor of sexual and emotional abuse and habitually used alcohol to numb myself. There are complicated physical and psychological reasons for why I am the way I am. I will always work on myself, will always be a seeker, will always be mindful of what I put into my body (and why I do it) because I’ve chosen to live the life that God envisioned for me. A life where I participate in and contribute to society, a life where I follow my truth and help others to do the same, a life where I strive to be the best mom, daughter, sister, friend, lover I can be. I no longer abuse alcohol, drugs, spending, food, sex, or other things that are unhealthy because I respect my boundaries, my limits and myself. This is my hard truth.

 

92 Comments on “My Hard Truth

  1. Pingback: What Happens Next (and an update of sorts to My Hard Truth) | Mended Musings

  2. Hey – I know I’m late to the party here. This is a brave, honest, and thoughtful post. I’m glad you wrote it. For what it’s worth, I support your choice to no longer live in any sort of fear, and I hope things are still going well for you.

    https://parkinglotpushups.wordpress.com

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  3. I think we have a lot in common. I too am a former alcoholic child sexual abuse survivor. I think there are a lot of us around bloggy-land! I’ve somehow stumbled into health (quit drinking hard liquor 8 years ago) and a Psych. degree. Isn’t life funny? But you know, it’s our former devastations that are the building blocks of life itself. I’m so glad that you’re posting about your former battles AND triumphs. I see so many people who get lost in the battle. They forget that their story is only half written. So, I’m encouraged greatly when I see others who have the courage to acknowledge that their healing is already waiting for them. It takes so much willpower to accept that healing! It’s so much easier to “continue being the victim” where that warm, cloak of self-pity keeps the stitches held together. To lose that is to take the role of “healer” and that means responsibility and owning up to our roles in staying sick. By all means, keep writing truth! There are so many women out there who just don’t know how to stop “feeding the monster”. (p.s. I’ve written on the subject of both sex abuse and “mental illness”. As you know, those two go hand in hand like a candy coating and M&Ms. You can find it here if you’d like to read it. https://wordpress.com/post/30964846/8115) Great blog! x

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    • Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment. Just talking about whether or not a person who had a drinking problem can ever let alcohol back into their life brings up so much fear in people. I recently told a friend that fear can protect us. It keeps us from touching a hot stove over and over because we know what’s going to happen if we do. But it’s the absence of fear that allows us to walk over hot coals because we know the heat can’t burn us. I need a mixture of both to live wholly. I need to learn from my mistakes and not keep burning myself but I also need to believe that I have power over the fire. To me, that’s what comes from healing. Thanks again and I’ll read that post now!

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      • I love that analogy. I use the term “firewalker” sometimes, because it’s the fire (of trials, etc.) which give us new feet. When I hear something that has a spiritual application, it sticks with me. I’ll remember what you’ve said. Thanks for sharing it. :0)

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  4. “Like”…the courage and honesty, not, of course, the hard sufferings involved in this all…but the authenticity, well it stokes the fires of Hope!
    Charissa

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  5. Pingback: It’s Not About Time | Shadow. Ash. Spirit. Flame.

  6. “I didn’t stop drinking because I couldn’t stop drinking. I stopped drinking because it became clear to me that I had a hole in my soul that alcohol was making bigger.” You have such an incredible way with words. 🙂 You express what I feel.

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  7. I really love your brave honesty in this post. If one reads the new criteria in the DSM-V and takes a look at the movie “Than Anonymous People” you’ll see there is a new shift on how we look at what used to be called alcoholism. Many ideas are deeply entrenched and it takes the brave to change the thinking.

    I can never drink again. Period. (nor do I want to be altered ever again) But do I know there are a very few that can. Just because you put it out there doesn’t mean you’re responsible for someone relapsing. We all have to take responsibility for our own recovery. If someone in recovery wants to drink they’ll find a way.

    That being said the statistics are very high on not making it to year four because in year three many start thinking they don’t have a problem anymore or they can control it. True, not everyone who drinks heavily is an alcoholic. However, when I relapsed just shy of 4 years the earth didn’t open up and swallow me whole. In fact, I didn’t think about another drink for at least another month – so there, I had it licked. But and addictive mind is a slippery slope. It took 18 months to eventually fall back into the “obsession” and that is what addiction is – it’s not just the intake of a substance – it’s the sheer amount of mind space it takes to either control it or figure out how to get it. The brain is a complicated mechanism. The amount of drinking I did forever changed how my neurotransmitters work in the reward center of my brain.

    I realize I’m new to the blogospere as I’ve spent most of the last 12 years either on the WFS forum and my seconds sobriety in the AA rooms, so I don’t mean to be impertinent, but my question is more along the line of why would you want to drink?

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    • Cynthia, I’m sorry if I write a book here but your thoughtful comment deserves a thoughtful reply.

      I don’t feel a need or compulsion to drink. I don’t think about drinking. I don’t have it lingering in the back of my mind as a desire or concern. There isn’t anything that triggers me to want to drink. I don’t crave a drink. When I feel an urge to numb (we all do, whether we’re alcoholic or not), I don’t automatically reach for a substance (sugar, medicine, mind altering substance) to rid myself of the feeling. I sit with it, I work through it, I use my tools.

      When I have had a drink in the last few months, I’ve had one or two and had no desire, compulsion or need to have more. I didn’t have to tell myself to not have more. I just didn’t want to. I was done with the alcohol and sugar buzz. I felt no shame, no worry, no concern that I’d want more and never want to stop, no thinking about if I’m going to drink tomorrow or the next day. I’ve had no thoughts about anything except enjoying the moment with a friend or toasting a celebration. It’s a rarity that I indulge in a dulce de leche milk shake at my favorite restaurant but when I do, I’m going to allow myself to enjoy it. If I’m not going to allow myself to enjoy the temporary feeling that sugar or alcohol brings, I’m not going to consume it. If there’s something keeping me from enjoying it, there’s an underlying issue that I need to acknowledge and work through, not so that I can consume what I want to but because hesitation usually hides something deeper. The same when I got some money for my birthday and it started to burn a hole in my pocket. I couldn’t possibly enjoy buying myself something until I understood why I wanted to spend it so badly. Once I realized that spending my money in that case was an attempt to make myself feel safe, I didn’t need to spend it. I prayed and connected to God, who is my true source of safety.

      The question for me isn’t why would I want to drink because wanting to drink isn’t my problem. I have plenty of work to do and my work hasn’t just stopped because I don’t identify as an alcoholic. I drank for numerous reasons and numbed in numerous ways. Not drinking at all for nearly 3 years was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It gave me the clarity I needed to see what was real and what wasn’t. It gave me the space to uncover myself from the heap of crap I dished on top myself and to confront my fears. There’s not a question in my mind that being free of all substances and harmful behaviors (alcohol, drugs, sugar, wheat, candy crush, shopping, whatever our poison) is the way to live. But I don’t abstain from what harms me because I have a disease that I need to keep under control. I do it because recovery has given me the clarity to know how I want to live and God has given me the connection to spirit to keep me grounded in what’s important. Alcoholism is a serious disease and I’m not at all saying that what’s true for me is true for you or anyone else.

      When I was in college, I suffered from depression, anxiety attacks and night terrors. My dad asked his friend, who was a psychiatrist, to help me. After a 20 minute phone conversation, he diagnosed me as bipolar and prescribed medication. When one medication didn’t work, he prescribed another, then another, then another. I ended up in the emergency room having seizures because he combined an MAOI with another antidepressant. I stopped going to class altogether my final semester of college and didn’t graduate. The problem wasn’t just that the doctor was irresponsible in my treatment, it was that I wasn’t bipolar. In the beginning, I was so eager to feel better that I accepted any diagnosis I was given, even though it didn’t fit. Getting off all the medications was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Friends and family worried that I was making a huge mistake and that I’d end up worse. I knew in my heart that whatever my problems were, I wasn’t bipolar. I took the risk to do what I knew was right for me and to seek what was true for me and I’ve never taken another antidepressant. It took a long time to work through my anxiety issues but I never had another depressive episode again.

      I believe people when they say that they can never drink again, period. I applaud people who takes care of themselves, whether they’re part of a structured program or not and whether they are diagnosed with a disease or not. I love to surround myself with introspective people who aren’t afraid to question. I love that you left this comment because this is important to talk about.

      I embraced the label of alcoholic because I wanted a life without alcohol. I wasn’t afraid of the stigma. I decided to blog openly using my real name and face because I wanted people to see what recovery looks like. I’m not afraid of the reverse-stigma that not being an alcoholic brings either. I am still what recovery looks like because life is not a one-size-fits-all. I am a person, not a diagnosis and my truth is mine to own.

      Thank you again Cynthia!

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  8. Karen, I seem to be at the tail end of this as I was on hiatus during August. I think I’ll refrain from comment for now. But suffice to say I love you dearly. Others do not always appreciate the path we choose. Nor is it for others to appreciate. As for me, well, I’m still a recovered alcoholic. Nothing good comes from even one drink. Love you, Me

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    • Lisa, I love you to pieces. I’m so through with being afraid of myself and being afraid of making mistakes. Just done with being afraid. I’m done being afraid of alcohol touching my lips, of sugar making me fat, of overspending. I won’t apologize for the medical diagnosis of alcoholism not fitting me because whether I call myself an alcoholic or not, I’m still a bad ass, soul searching, pull you up along with me, truth seeking, take & give no bullshit, in a non-altered state of being because that’s just how I roll kind of woman. My sister passing has strengthen me even more. I know who I am and I’m not afraid.

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      • I totally agree with you – a journey that never ends. And I also believe these experiences, even though ravaging, are put in our psyches to grow us to where we soar. I can feel the wind from your wings as I read your posts. Your honesty is wonderfully inspiring. God bless your every moment.

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  9. The thing I always loved best about you is your honesty, strength and spirit, and ok, that’s three things, but my point is you have always struck me as one smart, tough cookie who knows herself best. I wish you all the best and hope you will continue to write as openly as before. Will be thinking of you.

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    • I’ll keep writing the way I always write (for better or for worse). I actually feel rejuvenated. The comments, support, concern, controversy, all of it has been eye-opening.Thank you so much Kristen!

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  10. Karen… So, so, so many things I want to say to you. I’ve been thinking about you in regards to this for months. Would love to chat at length over email about it. I’ve been going through a similar process myself. I’m still in my 12 step recovery for alcoholism, but I plan to step away once finished with this set of steps. I no longer identify with much of what I am hearing there. I recently stepped away from my love addiction program completely. I won’t say I did it in the cleanest way possible; I still need to clarify with some people that I have taken that step and be clear and honest about my dealings. I hate confrontation, really, and that’s the issue. But I’m completely comfortable with my choice. While many things in that program were helpful for me, some were more hurtful, and the way I am handling my love life now has been infinitely more healthy for me.
    As for the alcohol side. I also have serious doubts that I am truly an alcoholic. I think it’s possible at some point for me to be at the place you are. I am not at that point now. If I drank it would still be to numb out. However, I see it as my cigarette use and I know where I’ve gotten with that. I can put it down if necessary. There are also many other things I don’t identify with in the program of recovery I’ve followed. I won’t expound here. But I’d love to chat with you further if you’re open to it; more to hear about your process than anything. I’ve literally been thinking about emailing you about it already now for 2-3 months but have just refrained. So let me know if you’d be open to that.
    All in all I congratulate you for following your heart. You are a beautiful, empowered, and inspiring woman and I look up to you in so many ways.

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    • Yes, Laurie, please email me – karen@mendedmusings.com. I am the biggest advocate of questioning over and over again because our answers change as we change. So many times in my life I was afraid to question because I’d become attached to a belief system and was afraid of change. Questioning requires taking the risk to be wrong but it’s also the only way to find what is true and real. Some of the things I’ve been wrong about were the biggest gifts to me. I hope to hear form you soon and thank you for your support!

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    • Staying in the program isn’t about what I feel, but being useful to others.
      Only you know if you have the physical allergy.

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  11. I also applaud your honesty, Karen. I went through times of embracing the idea of myself as an addict, compulsive eater, whatever, and also times of crafting my own growth outside of these views. For me, (only me, really) it turns out that I am really an Addict with a capital A and I needed to incorporate this identity into my self-care and my life. The truth about ourselves–whatever it turns out to be–is what will set us free.

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    • I like the phrase “crafting my own growth”. I think as much as we may want a tested road map for growth, we have to craft our own from our experiences. I’ve met a bunch of amazing people who do things in a way that just doesn’t work for me but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with what they’re doing or wrong with me for doing it differently. Thank you for your thoughts!

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  12. Karen, you know that you are one of my favorite blogger, and I feel truly connected to your journey in many, many ways! And I was very reluctant to write my comment, because I truly believe that to each its own. But I read this post last night, several times and I can’t stop thinking about it. I probably should have not ready it, but curiosity killed the cat as they say. LOL!

    When I first read your post I was totally overwhelmed – because the reasons that you listed as to why you can now drink, sure fit me – so my first thought was of course – What if I am not an alcoholic!? – but I truly believe that I am because I also believe that normal drinkers don’t ponder if they are or are not; they do not have too.

    That said, I totally admire your honesty and willingness to try other approaches. And if you are or not an alcoholic — I am certainly not the person to make that judgment what’s so ever!

    I think that it is very important for all of us to do what is best for us, and to continue to grow and evolve and work through our demons — and you are doing exactly that!

    Yet, what I really want to say, and what I would say to any dear friend that I cared about, is… please — be cautious, this disease is sneaky.
    HUGS! ❤

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    • Maggie, you wouldn’t be a friend if you didn’t have concerns and I take what you’re telling me as loving concern. It turns out that it’s as hard to explain to alcoholics why I don’t think I am one as it was to explain to “normies” why I thought I was one! Thank you, Maggie, for everything.

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  13. Good morning Karen,

    Well, it’s certainly been an eventful 24 hours in the blogosphere! In terms of the honesty, bravery, and vulnerability of this post, I doubt I could write anything better than the talented commenters before me, so I will just say I second all of their beautiful thoughts… this post took a lot of guts, and you inspire me (always) in your ability to lay yourself bare. Truly inspirational you are; you make me want to be more as a blogger, and there’s no greater praise from me than that!

    As for the subject matter itself… well, as you alluded to, it’s a sticky wicket (isn’t that a fun, old fashioned turn of phrase?!?) for those of us who identify as alcoholics to address. Normally the idea of commenting is to relate on some level. Well, the honest truth of the matter is: I wish I could relate! Is there anyone in the history of time who’s decided they need to give up drinking hasn’t fantasized of a day where they can drink “normally?” I doubt it.

    But that kind of thinking is dangerous for me, so I am going to shut it down right now. I will say this: you’re living the dream, Karen, and I am praying that you stay as strong and centered as you are right now (seriously, I did pray for you this morning!). You deserve to bask in the hard-earned peace and serenity you have, and I couldn’t be happier that you’ve found it.

    I hope you continue to share your experiences with us.

    I am struggling with the decision of this last part, and I truly hope you take it in the spirit with which is intended: genuine, caring friendship. Anyway, here it goes, and I’m sure it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, or thought about yourself: alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful. Sounds like canned AA speak, but I believe it to be true in my heart and soul. Please stay as self-aware as you are right now, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you feel your relationship with alcohol starting to turn on you.

    Which it won’t, because I trust you, your relationship with God, and your self-knowledge and soul searching. But just in case, I will be here. And, actually, if it doesn’t, I will still be here 🙂

    Love you, Karen!

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    • My parents had the same reservations, so I know that you’re coming from a loving place. I appreciate that more than you know! Not identifying as an alcoholic is not the same as becoming a drinker again and I promise you that continuing to make healthy choices is still my priority. Like I said in my post, the goal of sobriety is not to be able to drink again and that’s not my goal either. I’m so grateful for you and thank you for your friendship!

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  14. “Surely you can drink one or two now?” – how often have well meaning, caring people said that to me in my recovery… LOADS!

    Now interestingly let us create a hypothetical situation… a dinner party for three couples. The hostess invites couple A. When the invite is sent the hostess says “I’m cooking a Thai stir fry, chicken, beans and cashew nuts on a coconut rice”. The invited guest is quick to point out that her husband has a nut allergy. The hostess is quick to amend the recipe and not to cook in ground nut oil.

    Second couple is invited… the wife quickly points out that her husband is an alcoholic… would the hostess not include any rice wine in the marinade? Also would she said “Surely you can eat one cashew nut now?” to the nut allergy sufferer?

    Unfair? Well happens to me all the time.

    Now – maybe I could drink one or two without harmful effect … I don’t know and I don’t want to know because I tried day after day, year after year to do just that and singularly failed… I can’t drink one or two, I may today and tomorrow but somewhere in the future it’ll be 15, 16, 20, 25… and that crushing defeat that I can’t stop again. Why would I want to risk that? For me simplest solution I found after much much pain was to not drink today.

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    • I’ve experienced that sort of thing too. I see a lot of insensitivity with alcoholism and mental illness and it’s going to take a lot more education for people to really get it.

      You know what works for you and what is right for you and I not only respect that, I applaud it.

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  15. Hi Karen,
    I applaud your vulnerability and your honesty. You’ve always been so brave to share with us, and this post was no different.
    Since others are sharing their first reactions, I’ve gotta say mine was, “well, good for her! more power to her!” I mean, I’ve been reading you from the get-go from your other blog. I’ve seen how hard you’ve worked and how far you’ve come. You do not enter things lightly, and you’ve been doing a lot of work with professionals to heal traumas from your past. You’re in a safe environment to try out different things in your holistic recovery.
    I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wonder if I could drink one or two…but I know in my soul that I’ve never been a one or two type of girl. I just wouldn’t be happy, so why bother? Am I an alcoholic? I dunno. Probably? Maybe? Does it matter? Nope, because I know I’m happier and healthier not drinking.
    And no matter what happens in the roads ahead, I trust that you too will be happy and healthy, and if you’re not, then I hope you’ll find a way to be happy and healthy. 🙂
    Love and respect,
    Christy

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    • Thank you Christy. I don’t enter into things lightly and if anything, I have a hard time going outside of my comfort zone. Trusting that I know what is right for me is a relatively new concept for me and it feels fantastic to spread my wings a bit more each day. Thank you so, so, so much for your love, support and kindness. You’re a rock star in my world. 🙂

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  16. What a lovely post, Karen.

    I think it’s so easy to judge others who are different, believe differently or take different approaches to life, recovery, love, (insert noun here) than the traditional.

    It is brave to call out your truth and share that not everyone climbs the mountain the same way. How completely boring and uninspired if we did.

    Blessings,
    Dani

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  17. I think u relapsed. I think you are headed back into pain and agony again. I wonder what happened to make you take a drink so I don’t let it happen to me!

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      • No person has a harder time busting their ass including you. We all have. 3 years. I just wanted to know the situation you came across that made u drink. If you are really trying to help that is.

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        • I know what you’re trying to do. I won’t go into too many details about my specifics because a medical professional warned me that it’s those kind of details that encourage a dangerous game of comparison. I won’t take your bait. If you get rude or unkind, I’ll also delete your comments.

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  18. I am at the very beginning of this journey and I want you to know that reading this did not make me think ‘Woo, I’ll be able to drink moderately again one day’. What it did make me realise is that recovery is about much, much more than getting rid of the booze.
    I don’t know what my relationship with alcohol can be defined as and I am not ready to put a label on it. What I do know is that a decent stretch of sobriety is called for so that I can at least clear the fog and numbness of drinking out of the way and concentrate on what needs to be healed.
    Thanks for a great post.

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    • I’m so glad it didn’t make you feel that way because that was one of my concerns when I decided I needed to get this off my chest. This journey we face has many twists and turns and while I get solace from hearing the stories of others, I have to think for myself. We all do. It’s ok to not label your relationship with alcohol. Just take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing with me!

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  19. I’ve been re-reading this lot.
    And I realize that I am over-complicating my reaction and my response to what you wrote here karen.
    My first reaction was absolutely…oh no, justification, that’s the disease talking, we cannot moderate…all the usual suspects of my own fear came out to play.
    But that’s MY fear, not yours.
    And i love what you wrote about trusting yourself.
    And I believe you when you say that if it started to be a problem again you know what to do.
    I believe the same thing about me…I trust myself and my feelings today that tell me that I am an alcoholic, but who knows. right? I also quit drinking on a day one and have not had a drink since…who knows what would happen?
    I believe that if I drank again I would not be able to stop because , even when i think of it the idea of one drink does absolutely nothing for me….when I do have the occasional craving it is invariably in the middle of a very strong feeling that i want to STOP feeling and I know that one drink will not allow me to stop the feeling. The few sort of “normal” cravings i have had (hot summer day, cool gin and tonic) just flit in and out of my mind like a breeze…not necessary, don’t really care, why?
    I also do not believe every heavy drinker is an alcoholic.
    But I believe that I am. I don’t run around pronouncing myself one, but I am grateful to have 12 step meetings where i can go and relate and raise my hand as part of the group. I am grateful to do the work to gain tools and a HP that can help me to say no when those urges do hit. And I am so grateful i no longer HAVE to drink.
    I’m so glad you wrote this, honest and clear. I am so glad thai I am honest and clear enough to see that this is not my truth, at least today. And that we can both move ahead in recovery of different kinds and accept and love it all.
    and like Paul so clearly puts it…that drinking thing is between you and god and no one can interfere with that relationship.

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    • Thank you Michele. This is such a tough subject and brings out a lot of strong feelings for people. I’m don’t want to go into too much detail about the specifics because I don’t want to encourage people to compare themselves to me but know that I’m not actively drinking. I don’t have the urge, I don’t have the compulsion and I don’t particularly like the feeling of being intoxicated. Just because I can doesn’t mean I should. I also couldn’t continue to blog as a “sober blogger” knowing that I won’t say never. You sharing your thoughts on this means a lot to me as does your support of me. Thank you.

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      • “I’ve discovered that I can have a drink and not have the desire to want more.” What could be closer to true recovery? I think you need to keep blogging; you represent a lot more people than you might think–the ones who dare to question this once-a-drunk/always-a-drunk rhetoric that, imho, prevents us from a deeper understanding of our substance use disorder (which frankly, have very little to do with the actual substance involved). My only question is: if you don’t need or want to drink, why would you? I ask myself that all the time, when I think that I could probably handle a few glasses of wine now. I don’t need to drink; I don’t have all the things to run from, all the pain, all the holes anymore. Does drinking serve any purpose? HUGS from me to you, and thank you for sharing! -DDG

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        • I think that’s a really good and fair question and one I’m still asking now. I ask it before I drink too much coffee or go on a numbing spree at Target too. You have to understand that I stopped identifying as an alcoholic several months ago and didn’t act on having a drink for months after that. Part of testing the waters, so to speak, was getting over the belief that I was not a person who could be trusted to make good decisions for myself. That belief system protected me in the aftermath of the sexual abuse I suffered (deferring to people that I thought knew more than me) but it no longer serves me. I agree with you, that alcohol abuse is much more complicated than “once a drunk, always a drunk”. For me, the fact that I prefer to not drink is a good sign that it doesn’t have power over me that I gave it before. That’s not true for everyone and I know I keep saying it but it’s dangerous to compare ourselves to other people. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! Hugs to you too!

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  20. What a brave brave honest and did I mention brave woman you are. I know how hard this must have been to write.

    Paul is right in that everyone’s path is different and, at the end of the day, all we are certain of is that we are all humans. That’s the only label that truly has any substance.

    Blessings and please keep writing. I love how you write and what you write.

    Namaste,
    Sherry

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Sherry, your words touch my heart. I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and have learned so much from you (and will continue to do so when your hiatus is over!). Thank you. 🙂 xxoo

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  21. Dear Karen,
    What a beautiful and brave write. Your words and message reach to those who struggle with addiction and sobriety as well as to those who don’t. In the words of dear Paul…it’s even relevant to “normies” like me!

    “The only way I could heal was to stop doing the things that made the hole bigger. I had to learn to feel, to experience emotion as a vital part of my humanity, to not shy away from the emotion of others and connect to people on an authentic level.”

    Your post makes me want to clean house, scoop out my ugly insides and smear it all over so people can see. It feels vulgar and unkind to say it that way…but, your words elicit something deep inside me and it’s probably time to figure out what that something is.
    Thanks for the nudge and for sharing this today. I’ve learned so much from you over the last several months. You have a gift and I’m forever thankful that our paths crossed. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • We all have a house to clean, don’t we? Or, maybe we’re giant pumpkins that need to be scraped out so that the seeds can be planted (or roasted and salted but that’s digressing and straying into cannibalism)

      A few month before I stopped drinking, I did an online art therapy kind of workshop called Soul Restoration through http://bravegirlsclub.com/. One of the things we did was to metaphorically empty out our “soul house” and see what it looks like without anyone in it. In my case, it was bleak and dull. Now, when I envision my soul house with only me inside, it sparkles and is filled with energy and color. It got that way from scooping out the pumpkin. 😉

      I’m so glad this has touched you Michelle! You are a gift to me too!

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      • Oh Karen! I love the thought of a house full of sparkles and color (reminds me of when my little girl was little!).
        I took an online Brene Brown art course and absolutely loved it. I will definitely look into the Soul Restoration workshop you mentioned.
        You are so good to me. Seriously. To have this waiting for me today was just the best gift ever. Thank you!
        xo

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  22. The hard truth, I totally connect to this probably not the alcoholism part because I’m still a minor according to the legal age of my country, but that’s not what stops my friends from abusing alcohol. I’ve recommended them your blog and there seems to be a tiny hope of self-introspection blooming in them. thanks to you! 😀 you’re a wonderful person and very brave to be able to put out the facts without mincing your words. for you are what you are with your differences and that is how it should be. I wish everyone was as brave as you to accept themselves and strive for a better life. You’ve made my day. and I connect more to you because I’ve been through my share of sexual abuse as a child and I’ve never considered myself a victim that is how I believe we need to fight.
    P.S. have I mentioned just how wonderful this blog makes me feel? much love, mother figure 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much! Your sweet, thoughtful comment has made my day. 🙂

      While I was never afraid of calling myself an alcoholic, many people with drinking problems don’t get help because of the stigma. The important thing is to stop when you need to stop and not worry about wearing a label. I hope your friends get that message. Thanks again!

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  23. Karen – you never cease to amaze me.

    I knew from the minute I spied you in German class with your clash tee shirt and man-shoes, that you were someone that I wanted in my life for as long as possible. That has never changed and every day you grow and evolve so much – you teach me so much about myself and how to go about life in a more introspective manner.

    I think what always amazes me about you is that you are willing try so many different paths and gather from them what is good for your soul that you bring to your next path. You don’t trade one for the other (which is what so many people seem to do) but realize that so much gathered along the way, no matter what road you choose. You embrace change and run with it – I admire that so much. Rub a little of that on me.

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  24. Karen,

    Thanks very much for sharing. I appreciate your hard truths. You have clearly struggled with this issue and not simply written it all off to alcoholism as an overly simplistic or convenient diagnosis. Since following your blog I have learned a great deal from you. Thanks for all of that.

    I suspect that everyone in recovery must face these truths or they will relapse regardless. I feel fortunate that I have addressed those issues over the years, and without a doubt, I am an alcoholic and with the first drink, my whole life will change dramatically for the worse. I also appreciate that heavy drinking friends who I hung with in my teenage years, moved to adulthood, or addressed whatever demons living in the hole that they filled with alcohol.

    There are many paths on the recovery road. One of the bits of amazing grace I see on these paths is that one does come to know serenity, peace, meaning – essentially what I come to see as the 12 Promises of AA – and we all know how we got there. If whatever path one chooses is not working, we have the experience, strength, and hope to know that there are other paths that we have taken before that worked.

    Blessings to you and I look forward to continue traveling with you on the recovery road.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Robert. I no longer want to do things that hurt me and I no longer believe deep down inside that I deserve to be hurt. I owe that to recovery. I’m so grateful to be on a different path than before. Blessings to you too!

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  25. I have to say that upon first reading of this, I jumped to righteous indignation. That’s because, well, I can be an ass that way. But once I got out of that ass-hattery, I saw that our journeys are ours and ours alone. I am in agreement that not everyone who abused alcohol is an alcoholic. I would guess that there are many a folk in 12 step and other recovery programs who may not necessarily need to be there. But as for you, taking that break through recovery can give one pause to take in their own landscape. And that’s what you have done.

    We come to our truths in our own times and in our own ways. There is no cookie-cutter path. That’s what makes us unique. And I am glad that you prefaced it the way you did. We alcoholics love us a good loophole 🙂

    Thanks for this – honest indeed and I can see how this was tough to write.

    Hugs
    Paul

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Paul. Yours is one of the opinions that truly matters to me. It was hard to write because sobriety is an identity to me as much as a way of life and I tend to cling to the things that define me. I’m learning to just live, without labels, without needing to belong somewhere. Thank you for your support!

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      • I think we are on the same wavelength in some regards – I just wrote about the “normie” vs alcoholic thing, saying that there are more similarities than differences…we’re just “human”. And I think this thing about labels and identification is important, and yet, letting go of them is even more important. It was vital for me to identify as alcoholic so that I could get the help I needed. Now I am still one, not active, and that helps me with working with others. Outside of that, I am just a regular shlub. Human. And when I define myself strictly by what I am, and what I am not, I limit myself. I say this in full recognition that I still do it at times, but it’s a process, ain’t it? Your post is very powerful in terms of being honest. As for the drinking thing – that’s between you and God. No one has the right to interfere with that relationship. 🙂

        Thanks again for this, Karen.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It is a process, for sure. One I hope I get to participate in for a very long time. I have no regrets about not drinking for the last 3 years. I never once woke up and said, “I sure wish I had gotten drunk last night.” And I have no desire to get drunk now. I just know that the medical diagnosis of alcoholism doesn’t fit me and I was afraid that there would be a backlash for me saying so. I appreciate your support more than you know!

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    • I too felt the same as Paul at first. Thinking “oh sure she’s just rationalizing a drink that’s what’s she’s doing”! Then I read on. And I truly understood where you were coming from and how difficult it must have been to write and publish this. I’m glad you did!! Each of us has our own path our own journey. And amazingly we learn about ourselves along the way…and we grow! We become the best people we can be. That’s what you are doing:-) Thank you for sharing this part of your journey with us!

      Tracy

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Tracy. I hoped to be able to convey how deeply I respect sobriety and the process of recovery, which is why it took me so long to finally write about it. Your comment means a lot to me!

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  26. Karen,
    There are many roads to the top of the mountain. Anyone who says they know “the,” way, is trying to get others to agree with their way. Whether it is in the form or religious dogma or by saying one can never drink again. I dont buy any of it.
    I personally think more people should ingest marijuana. It does something that makes anxiety lessen. But I cant because I am like Pavlov’s Dog!! I dont want to consume anything, at least today, that will change my consciousness. That is only for me.
    Your courage is admirable to me.
    Please stay connected here. I need to read what you write.
    Warmly
    Jim

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Jim. I like rules and absolutes so I’ve definitely had to go out of my comfort zone the last few years. Even though we are more similar than different, we have different truths that manifest in different ways. Thank you for your encouragement!

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  27. Beautiful. Honest. Well written. I identify with so much of what you say.

    “Here’s what I realized: I didn’t stop drinking because I couldn’t stop drinking. I stopped drinking because it became clear to me that I had a hole in my soul that alcohol was making bigger.”

    My alcohol has been many different things over the years. I learn that conclusion you wrote about over and over it seems. I’m glad I read this. It gave me a sense of clarity on my own thoughts about recovery, in various forms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Dawn. It’s a really interesting concept that recovery, like life, is dynamic and takes on different meanings as we go through it. Every time I think there’s nothing left to learn, something smacks me in the face. It’s a beautiful thing. 🙂

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  28. Excellent, EXCELLENT, post. I’ve shared it and I can assure you that I will give a copy to this to anyone with whom I’m working. You got guts and those who want recovery will owe you “pay-forward” debt, simply because of the good karma you’ve created in this honest look into your own recovery. Congratulations and THANK YOU!

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