Sober Thanksgiving Toolkit

I chose to stop drinking in January of this year and have gotten through a lot of sober “firsts” since then, Thursday will be my first sober Thanksgiving. Apologies in advance to the Turkey Day Devotees out there but, I hate Thanksgiving. (Not a fan of Christmas either but I’ll jingle those bells next month.) Only thing that got me through the prior 30+ Thanksgivings was alcohol. Lots of it.

Mainly, I dislike Thanksgiving because of the family pressure. Given my childhood Traumas, I am not too keen on spending time with parental figures and distant family that you only see once a year. This brings up my anxiety, several triggers, paranoia, and constant self-doubt. Am I dressed okay? Do I look alright? Why isn’t anyone talking to me? Do they like me? Am I being entertaining enough? Am I acting too drunk? Is it rude if I just go ahead and open another bottle? Have we really been here for 3 hours drinking yet haven’t even had dinner yet? When will this damn dinner be over and when can we leave? Well, too bad you feel that way Laura- the calendar says so, damnit, and now you have to spend the longest meal known to man, chit chatting every last ounce of your energy away, while consuming 5,000 calories because society expects you to. Grrrrrrrrr.

Alcohol was my Thanksgiving savior, social lubricant working all its magic, allowing me to feel inauthentically happy and carefree- alcohol gave me the power to talk more (even though I was slurring), listen more (even though I recall little of what was said the next day), and feel some semblance of confidence (even though I actually acted a hot mess). But not this year, Thanksgiving. Not. This. Year. This year, with over 10 months of sobriety in tow, I am confident I can get through Thursday just like I got through all the other “firsts” and- hopefully- will finally find a newfound gratefulness and appreciation for the holiday itself. (Highly doubt that though. I vote we have a second Halloween in its place instead- who’s with me???)

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Today’s Reason: 48!

Celebrated my 48th birthday on November 1st and this one was, by far, one of the best birthdays I have ever had! I did all of my favorite activities (yoga, hiking, got a massage, stayed at a fancy hotel, took a cooking class, ate a ton of beautiful and delish food), felt all the love from my family and friends, and didn’t even set that cheap Halloween wig on fire when blowing out my birthday candles! Best part of it all: no days lost to hangovers, no money nor time wasted on drunken ragers for other people, and no memories lost to black outs! (I did, unfortunately, get into an argument with a former drinking buddy but other people’s reaction to my sobriety is a subject for another post.)

In one year, so much has changed. I started off my 47th year of life with a weekend trip to wine country wherein my husband and I drank for 12 hours straight, joined 3 new wine clubs, purchased 16 bottles of wine, and were too hungover the next day to truly enjoy that fancy hotel or that beautiful food or do anything active whatsoever so started drinking/”celebrating” all over again! That was how I valued my time a year ago and that’s quite alright, acceptable to most even; but now, above all, I value presence, joy, learning and movement- all of which alcohol robbed me of for way too long.

Kicking off 48 with a 9 mile hike in
amazing Muir Woods!
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9 Months Alcohol Free

Woke up this morning, checked my phone and smiled at the notification from my I Am Sober app: I’m nine months alcohol free today! Yay me! I’ve hit the 3/4 of a year milestone and I can barely believe it- feels like these nine months have flown by but also like its taken forever to get here.

So much has changed during this time, I’ve endured some difficult situations along the way and while some still remain, just about every other aspect of my life has improved. My skin is brighter, my face and belly aren’t bloated anymore, I’ve lost weight, sleep is The Best (have never slept this good in my life! ever!!), my blood pressure has dropped, the relationships with my kids and husband have improved, and I feel like a freaking Sober Super Hero- hands on hips, chest puffed out, cape flapping fashionably behind me, villain triumphantly defeated.

From the start, I inhaled as much writing as I could about alcohol addiction and its effects on the brain, body, relationships and how much our American society applauds/ supports/ encourages our consumption from all of our day ones. I’m just at the tip of the Quit Lit iceberg, yet I have a much clearer understanding about why I drank the way I drank, the influences (direct and indirect) that kept me drinking for nearly 30 years, and how all that impacted my sense of identity.

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Funemployment: Week 1

I was let go a week ago. I am recovering. I am no longer wallowing. And I am keeping busy…

DAY ONE: Embrace all the outrage, anger, sadness, and humiliation in the world. Cry in husband’s arms, call/text all girlfriends for support and vent until I can’t vent anymore… then vent more. And cry more. Wanted- in every last fiber of my being- to open several bottles of wine and anesthetize from all these horrible feelings but, I didn’t. Instead, I called more friends and ate chocolate.

DAY TWO: Couldn’t sleep all night, woke up still feeling horrible. Wrote blog post about getting fired to try to feel better about getting fired. Kinda felt better. Kinda didn’t. Started applying for jobs. Successfully stayed away from the Wine Witch but did not escape the Chocolate Chum.

DAY THREE: That horrible, gut sinking feeling remains. Damnit. But holdonwaitasecondhere my job applications are getting responses! Two interviews scheduled already! Also got to the gym and listened to all the angry break-up songs while I attacked on the elliptical and did weights for an hour and that felt great. Rage seems to be abating but pretty sure I need a little more chocolate just to be sure.

Finding truth on the trails.
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Alcohol Free Me

Drink (one of many) in hand, making it all look oh so fun!

I started drinking my freshman year of college, fall of 1992. That word “drinking” means a lot of things to different people but my version was the sober-all-week-party-all-weekend-Sundays-are-for-hangovers kind of binge drinker. No social event went without an alcoholic beverage in hand. As soon as that warm, intoxicated, pain-free blanket of escape was wrapped around me, I only wanted more. One of my most epic drinking days started at 10am with vodka smoothies, followed by mimosas, margaritas, lots of beer and tequila shots, and then of course red wine once the beer ran out. By 3am I attempted puking/sleeping only to get up at 5am to run a half marathon. (Said half marathon had me vomiting at mile 1, 6, and 9, then walking/ crawling/ cursing the final 5K only to grab a glass of champagne once I crossed the finish line. Yeeeeaaaaah.)

Drinking in college, makes sense. Post-college, I continued my weekend partying ways. Stopped drinking when I got pregnant, had both of my children back-to-back and once I stopped breastfeeding my second, I went back to drinking but this time it was different… the Mommy Wine Culture was very real and I jumped right in (as evidenced by my shirt in the above photo). Met a great group of like-minded moms who also loved to party and we took turns hosting “play dates” which amounted to us drinking and chatting while the kids occupied themselves. We insisted on our Moms’ Night Out every month, wherein we would go out to a fancy dinner, indulge in the best-of-the-best, and go dancing all because we sacrifice and work so hard as stay-at-home-moms, we felt we deserved these nights to ourselves even if we blacked out and couldn’t recall any of our “good times” the next day.

208 days since my last drink and counting!
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New Goals, New Blog

Helloooo new blog!

Hi, I am Laura and hail from the Bay Area here in Northern California. In 2011 I started a blog called Running4theReason to document my fundraising and marathon training efforts for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program and found a good amount of traction and success therein but my life priorities changed, running took a backseat, that blog got a virus, and I found myself in a very different mind frame thanks to all that the pandemic taught (much more on that later…).

I’ve made a lot of adjustments in my life since then and even recently- my biggest accomplishment therein being quitting drinking. As of today, I have not had alcohol in over 200 days. Wow. If you were able to read my old blog (damn virus!!!), you would think I was the poster child for drinking. Most of my races ended with wine and/or beer, I planned life events and all celebrations around drinking, I was even fairly boastful of the next day’s hangover- the more horrible I felt, the better time I had, right?

Nope. Not right at all.

Pretty, painless and all alcohol free!

Giving up alcohol is an interesting ride- really forces you to face your inner demons and teaches you to become your own best friend. I realized quickly how much I was using alcohol as a crutch for nearly everything: if I felt stressed, sad, celebratory, bored, and/or lonely I would reach for a bottle. Removing that option has improved my physical being, but my emotional state can often teeter, forcing me to look to my spiritual side in order to navigate without the anesthetic I was so used to relying on. Plainly put, I’m feeling all the feelings now and some of them are beautiful and some, downright ugly (much much more on that later as well…).

Seeking to gain more inner peace, while missing running as an athletic endeavor and desiring to connect with people on a similar path of enlightenment, I started a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certification program here in Berkeley and will “graduate” in February 2023. There is an abundance to learn and I am loving all that I am taking in; but, I am feeling a tad overwhelmed balancing work and life with my studies right now- I am behind on homework and have yet to actually try to teach anyone yoga (other than my fellow classmates) but I am working on a plan for all that (you guessed it, there will much much much more on that later too!).

Oooommmmmm…

And with that I say YAY ME for returning to the blogosphere and YAY YOU for joining me on this journey! Where this path will lead, we have yet to know but the bricks we lay to get there is what life is all about… so much more to come…