Archive | August, 2015

Mocktail Mania

24 Aug

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When Friday night rolls around and my friends are all picking up their first cocktails of the weekend, I’m usually fixing myself a seltzer with lime or, if I’m really feeling crazy, mixing it with some cranberry juice. Three years and almost three months into my sobriety, that’s getting old.
Many of you will remember that in February, to celebrate my 1000th day of sobriety, we hosted a mocktail party. We held a contest to see who could come up with the best mocktail name and the best tasting mocktail. There were some very clever entries. (See my post from February, 2015, “One Thousand Shades of Sober”). I’m happy to report that some very clever people have taken the concept a step farther and started a company called Mocktails. They currently have four different flavors of nonalcoholic beverages on the market: Karma Sucra (Cosmopolitan), Sevilla Red (Sangria), The Vida Loca (Margarita) and Scottish Lemonade (Whiskey Sour). I had the pleasure of sampling two of them this weekend.

They come in their own glass shakers, ready to go. All you have to do is add ice, shake and pour into your favorite glass. I will say that I had to pour a little out into a separate glass to fit the ice in—-I’m not complaining though. I’d rather do that and have them fill the shaker up as much as possible than cut back on the amount. I invited two friends, also nondrinkers, over to do the taste tests with me.

There are many who participate in 12-step or other programs for recovery who are adamantly opposed to the concept of non-alcoholic beers or pseudo-cocktails. In fact, my therapist refers to them as “mental masturbation”. I guess they feel that you are perpetuating the whole ritual and habit of drinking alcohol by drinking even a non-alcoholic beer (which does have a very small amount of alcohol in it). It still smells like a beer and looks like a beer. And pouring these Mocktails into martini glasses, they look like, well, cocktails. BUT, I did check with my sponsor and got the okay. We agreed that since there is NO alcohol in the new Mocktails and since we are often looking for something new and creative to drink while others enjoy happy hour, we could give it a try.

We tried the Sevilla Red Sangria first. I poured some out into a separate glass, filled the shaker with some ice, put the top back on and shook away. It has been a long time since I shook a martini shaker. The sound did drum up some old memories for a split second. I unscrewed the top and poured some through the strainer into three very pretty martini glasses. Hey, I know that sangria isn’t supposed to be served in martini glasses but give me a break somewhere. I think it is fair to say that all three of us expected a sickeningly sweet concoction that was going to leave our lips puckered. We were all very pleasantly surprised. After the first few sips, we decided to add some cut up fruit into the glasses like true sangria. Even better. The shaker says it serves four, but we got almost 2 full glasses for all three of us.

Next, we moved on to Karma Sucra, their version of a virgin Cosmopolitan. Also sweet tasting without being overly sugary, but this one had a little bit of a medicinal taste to it. We added a little seltzer (watermelon and lime flavored) which gave it a smoother taste. These drinks are only 50 calories per serving, with no artificial flavors or colors, no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, gluten free, BPA free, allergen free, and Kosher! And, for those of you who don’t have a broken “off” switch like me, feel free to add alcohol to them if you want.

Bottom line—-I’m very happy to have an alternative to seltzer now to drink at a happy hour. Having the drinks did not make me want alcohol at all. I was happy to have the yummy taste and the pretty drink without it. And happy to wake up without a hangover the next day. Bravo to the Mocktails folks!

Lessons from the Past

14 Aug

unnamedSometimes I catch myself getting just a little too cocky with my sobriety and slipping into a false sense of security. The great thing about writing my blog is that I can use it to smack some sense back and scare the crap out of myself. In doing so, hopefully I can help a few others out there do the same. When we get complacent, don’t get to as many meetings as we should (for whatever reason) and think that we’re in a good place and feeling strong in our sobriety, it’s an excellent time to look at the way we used to be and how we never want to be again.

As I wrote in one of my earlier posts, “Misunderstanding Being Misunderstood”, I shared that many people asked me how and when I knew I had a problem with alcohol. I can only share what the signs were for me, yours may be much different. I thought I was just a social drinker who, on occasion, drank a little too much. Ok, a lot too much. But when I look back and see things clearly now, I can see how things turned and how the disease progressed. I used to think how nice a drink was going to taste when 5pm rolled around. The anticipation of that drink started taking over a greater part of my consciousness. That anticipation turned into a longing. That longing turned into a need. That “occasional social drink” turned into a must-have, even if I was by myself.

I used to look forward to pouring that first glass of wine while I made dinner for our family. Sometimes I would sip it slowly, return the bottle to the refrigerator and continue to cook and listen to my music. As my alcoholism progressed, that glass turned into the bottle, which I would bury among the empties in the recycling bin so my husband wouldn’t know I had already consumed an entire bottle by myself before he came home from work. When friends stopped by, it seemed as if I had a free pass and it was okay that we polished off a whole bottle—even if I had three or four glasses of it and my friend had only one.

Somedays when I wasn’t quite ready to go to wine yet, I would make a stronger drink first. A cosmo, gin or vodka and tonic, whatever, to prime the pump. Then I would go to the “lighter stuff” like wine or occasionally beer. Regardless, by the time we sat down to dinner I usually had quite a decent buzz going. But with that decent buzz came a not so decent version of me. I had a very short fuse and a very bad temper. The littlest things would set me off. I was not kind to my husband or my kids, and I focused all my attention on myself and where and when my next drink was going to come from.

I would, of course, have to continue to drink while I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner. Sometimes I thought it was a great idea to pick up the phone and call someone since I had the booze babble going. That or email people. That was brilliant as well. At least when you ramble on to someone on the phone the words are out and gone. Writing them down allows your drunken dribble to endure and get sent back to you for deciphering. And embarrassment.

After the calls and emails, it was bedtime or, more accurately, time to pass out. No telling my kids stories or tucking them in because I was too wasted and too self-centered. Sometimes I even passed out in my clothes. The days when I used to wear contact lenses were especially lovely, since I would wake up with them glued to my eyeballs. No conversations with my husband, unless it was an incoherent ranting about something. No watching a show or movie together. He was busy doing the tucking in and story telling.

The next morning would inevitably start with a miserable hangover and those first few minutes upon waking were spent trying to piece together the night before. I needed to figure out how bad the hangover was, try to recall how much I drank and who I called or emailed. I would have too bad of a headache and upset stomach to eat any kind of normal breakfast, and barked at my kids while doing the minimal amount of work necessary to feed them and get them dressed and ready for school. On really bad mornings, I would simply go back to bed and nurse my hangover all day. On days when I had to actually function, I threw some very cold water on my face, grabbed my Diet Coke and struggled to get through what I had to. I’ve got to believe that people could smell booze coming out of my pores and breath. But it was always just laughed off as yet another hangover.

And the cycle went on, waiting until 5pm to crack open that next bottle. If a friend stopped by earlier, after school, it was a good excuse to start my drinking day even sooner. How did I feel throughout this whole period? Like absolute crap. Physically and emotionally. I was depressed and drank alcohol, a depressant, which I told myself actually helped me to feel better. I was miserable and I was making everyone around me miserable too. A few friends tried to tell me that I had to get a grip on my drinking but I brushed them off completely, telling myself that they had no idea what they were talking about. I remember looking in the mirror, morning and night, and not liking what I saw at all.

Fast forward to today, 1172 days since I’ve had a drink, and I can honestly tell you that I feel a thousand times better. Well maybe 1172 times better. I feel better all around. I am here for my kids and my husband. And my friends. I start each day fresh, usually on my knees thanking my HP for another day sober and healthy. I end each day being able to look in the mirror and be proud of who I see looking back at me. I remember what I say and email to friends and family. And I need to remind myself, as I’m doing here, that my sobriety is a daily reprieve, and can be gone in one split second if I take a sip of a drink. It’s a little more difficult to be cocky when I remind myself of the times I spent doubled over and throwing up. My daughter asked me once when she was really sick with a stomach virus if that’s how I felt when I would be sick from drinking too much. I told her yes, only much worse. She said she couldn’t understand how I could ever intentionally make myself that ill. I can’t either. But thankfully, those days are gone.
“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”
George Bernard Shaw

Set Free

11 Aug

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it is yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.”—Unknown
There is some confusion over the authorship of the quote above. Many attribute it to Richard Bach, a novelist born in 1936, while other say it is from an unknown source. Regardless, its meaning is broad and deep. It’s particularly applicable to my life right now. Someone lovingly “cut me loose” to stand on my own two feet and gain the strength I need to stay sober. It hurt at the time, and left me quite bewildered, but now that I look back, I can see it clearly and understand why.

No matter what our issues are in life, we all deal with some amount of codependency. Melody Beattie, author of several books on the topic says “There are almost as many definitions of codependency as there are experiences that represent it.” One simple definition is excessive emotional or psychological reliance in a relationship. There’s an expression I hear often in the rooms that says “detach with love”. That’s a healthy, admirable way to deal with codependency, though often much easier said than done.

While I have had a great deal of support throughout my recovery, I leaned quite heavily on one particular person who had a personal history with the other side of alcoholism. She got the texts when I longed for a drink. I turned to her to keep me from jumping off that ledge back into the world of alcohol. She had to listen to me whine and ask why I couldn’t have a drink. And I realize now that that’s an awful lot to put on any one person.

In another miraculous example of how God works, my decision to grow up and stop leaning so heavily on this person seemed to coincide almost exactly with when she decided it was time to cut me loose. She knew that I needed to develop the right tools to stay sober. More importantly, she understood that the only person who could keep me sober was me. And I knew that it was unfair to continue to lean so heavily on her, especially as she had her own trials and tribulations to deal with.

So what happened when she “detached with love”? I got my wings. I learned to stand on my own two feet and use the helpful instruments that I’ve acquired in my sobriety. I turned to my awesome sponsor and attended more meetings. I picked up some recovery literature. I learned to pray and to ask for help, and to turn things over to my HP (Higher Power).

Our friendship is stronger and deeper now and no longer allows alcoholism to dominate it. So to my friend, thank you for caring enough to let me find my own strength and plant my feet firmly underneath me. HP has now given me the strength and tools to help others. And to all the people I lean on heavily, thank you for being there for me throughout this journey.

Taking care of myself is a big job. No wonder I avoided it for so long.”—Anonymous

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