A Year Without Booze

By lanajoan 01/29/18
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Last night at work someone told me I made it look easy. And I am still chuckling about that…I wish I could say it flew by, but I can’t. I wish I could say it was super simple, but it’s not. I wish I could say I’ve got it all figured out, but I don’t. All I know is my story.

A Year Without Booze

Month 1 (October): I was full of regret. So. Much. Regret. I needed to sleep, but I couldn't. I had absolutely no energy. I was super irritable. I never realized the impact alcohol had on me. I wasn't one of those people who went through DT's and had the shakes. I wasn't one of those people who lost absolutely everything and had no home or family. I wasn't one of those people sitting on the corner with a brown paper bag. But just because I wasn't one of those types, didn't mean I wasn't one of the many millions affected by alcoholism. Once I started drinking, I could not stop.

"In the United States, nearly 14 million adults, or every one in 13 adults, abuse alcohol or have an alcoholism problem. In addition, several million more partake in risky alcohol consumption that could potentially lead to abuse." (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

I cut myself off from everyone and I fell in love with reading again. Something I hadn't been able to do in a long, long time. It's quite challenging to try and read something of value when you're getting a buzz every night when everyone is in bed. I decided to absorb as much as I could (and still do) about alcoholism, addiction, and dependency.

Month 2 (November): I felt angry. I felt sad. I felt annoyed. I felt judged. I felt misunderstood. I felt fine. I felt like crap. I felt like no one really understood me. I felt like a disappointment. I felt like a failure. I felt defeated. I felt there was no possible way up. But looking back now, I can see the best part of all of this: I felt.

Everything I was suppressing for the past 11 years, started to come to the surface. Issues I had to start dealing with
and feelings I needed to feel.

I started to go to a therapist through Frontline Foundations. I had tried a few in the past, but had no luck. However, this time was different. I didn't want to put on a front or lie anymore. I knew I needed help. I surrendered and in doing so allowed the opportunity for healing. My therapist helped heal me. He asked just the right questions for me to figure out the answers and to listen to that voice inside that I had muted for so long. For this, I will forever be indebted.

He also encouraged me to begin writing/journaling again. Through this channel, I found I'm able to sort out my problems. I notice sometimes I am being ridiculous, but that's totally ok. I notice sometimes, I'm rambling…and that's totally me. And I notice I'm a hot mess…most days…and I accept that.

Month 3 (December): I gave up sugar. During the holidays. Two months sober. Because THAT makes sense. But the more I began to read and research, the more I wanted to not just eliminate and replace...I wanted to physically feel better. I just felt heavy and bogged down. I felt the sugar buzz get me and then the crash.

"Sugar, whether in its natural form or as high fructose corn syrup, affects the brain by boosting levels of dopamine. Dopamine is the same chemical that’s released when an alcoholic drinks. Dopamine is sometimes called the reward chemical because it creates feelings of pleasure – the very feelings the brain wants to replicate. Sugar also increases levels of another hormone called serotonin, which plays a role in mood as well." (Promises Treatment Center)

So while it's a much better replacement to what I had formally been consuming, it wasn't one more thing I wanted to be addicted to that wasn't necessary.

Month 4 (January): Here I was: Still trying to figure this out alone. I mean, I had changed my diet…and I was reading a ton of books…but I knew I couldn’t keep isolating. I thought maybe it's because I just didn't really have a community yet. My first day of sobriety, I had gone to an AA meeting. I loved the content of the meetings and hit the ground running with researching the history and why it worked and what you needed to do and just read so much my eyes could have popped out of my head. And I completely understand why this program totally works for some people and its success rate! And I did keep coming back for a long time…but AA just wasn't doing it for me.

Because I am such a big believer in group therapy, it was imperative for me to seek out a sober community and I found camaraderie via social media. Thanks to SheRecovers, Glennon Doyle, Hip Sobriety, Laura McKowan, Lara Frazier, Sober Señorita, etc. (I got a whole slew if you want to know more, frands!) For the first time since being sober, I read and laughed. I devoured these women's blogs. I felt like one of the gals! I felt normal. And you know what? I finally realized that I AM A SOBER BADASS and that there are women just like me out there.
(I'm happy to say, I have met a few of these lovely women, and have developed and formed solid friendships with many more because of them. So I’m not just a total cyber stalker, mmk?)

Month 5 (February): I get super bad seasonal depression and I loathe the cold. However, the dreariest of months somehow yielded me a break on this whole sobriety journey. I bet the Universe felt bad that I didn't eat any Christmas cookies and so here is what happened: The pinnacle of pinnacles! My take me to Jesus moment! My holy crap you have been here this whole time and how come you make sense now moment! My AH FREAKING HAH moment!!!

I started doing Yoga (again, but this time it was different)...and fell in love!
Then, I was introduced to dōTERRA Essential Oils...and fell in love!
Here is where all the magic happens, people! I do all my best work on my mat...lathered in oils! (I could talk blue in the face and type til my fingers bleed, but another blog. Another day.)

Just this: 1. YOGA. 2. dōTERRA ESSENTIAL OILS
(And thank you Universe for this much needed break!!)

Month 6 (March): I. Quit. Smoking.

This was really, really difficult. Which is totally weird because I wasn't the biggest smoker. In the past, I had only smoked when I drank or whenever I would get done with my shift at work. Then, I realized it was what I used as a reward to myself. And maybe I did smoke more than I owned up to. And if I didn't smoke that much, I was still thinking about the next time I could. Or if I had any. Or if I smelled like smoke. Or if my car smelled like smoke. Or if I was nauseous because I was hungry or if it was the coffee…because it couldn't be the smoke. And how much I hated the smoke, but when was the last time I had a cig. I surely deserved one. And then I realized those lil buggers ran my LIFE!

Sooo I just, you know, quit. Sounds easy enough?

Wrong!! It was reallllly fucking hard. I still want to smoke when I get mad or want to cry...but I haven't!!

Month 7 (April): I joined this music therapy group back when I began my therapy, but my schedule coincided with practices until right around this time. I always harbor feelings of insecurity when it comes to my music. It's my passion. It's my outlet. So when I started opening up to "The Salt Exchange", I totally felt like this annoyed feeling.

On the way, I wouldn't want to go and would make excuses to legitimatize my emotions. I would get there and usually just kinda sit and maybe collaborate. Maybe. I would leave with all these ideas and most of the time, be kicking myself for not bringing it to the table. Don't get me wrong, I shared a bit. Sang background for a song or two.
But I still wasn't learning how to cope or handle things in my life that I loved or things in my life that meant a lot to me.

At the time, I was able to chalk up these feelings of inadequacies as a day of success because I got through it without alcohol. I made it through without numbing out when I got home.

Looking back now, I'm able to recognize what happens to me when I keep all of that bottled up. When I don't communicate, it's mainly affecting me and if I want to continue on this path of growth then I need to speak up.

Month 8 (May): I attended a conference with over 500 women who were all unashamed to admit they were recovering from something. These women let down their guard and admitted they weren’t perfect and didn’t have the answers and were unabashedly human.

I always knew how powerful women were and that our voice needed to be heard, but the power of this conference will forever be embedded in me. I witnessed so much love and strength and it was here where I knew I had a calling. It was here that I knew my voice could change someones life and that I wanted to do everything I could to help prevent the next little girl or boy from crushing their dreams by checking out.

When I returned from the trip, I broke my silence via social media in hopes to help break the stigma.

Month 9 (June): I think one of my biggest regrets, as well as one of my biggest blessings, is the fact that I used to drink around my daughter.

With sober glasses on and without a clouded vision, I am now able to see just how much I checked out (even if she was in bed) because guess who was hungover the next day? Guess who couldn't wait until "happy hour" when it was socially acceptable? Or the event where the other parents were drinking so it was “normal”? Or the holiday when it was just “what you did” even if you drove drunk? I was super worried about living on the lake and not being able to have a beer like everyone else. Everyone drank. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with it, but when the time came…I was totally fine. And bored. So I played even more with my daughter.

And this is why it turned into a blessing for me and why I'm able to now recognize just how important our time is together: mini trips, swimming, bike rides, fairs, parades, cookouts, bonfires, movies, walks, cartwheels, paddle boarding, yoga, tubing, playing pretend, shopping, parks, adventures, singing, dancing. All of this completely present with my girl and without the aid of "Mommy Juice" before, during, or after.

I found joy in all of these moments. I can honestly say that, because I wasn't obsessed about when the next time I could get to drink. I could have fun WITHOUT alcohol.

I will never have to blame my kid for "causing me to drink" or feeling like it is “owed” to me. And that feels pretty damn amazing.

Month 10 (July): At this point with the weather being awesome and being so into my Yoga practice, I felt the desire to start branching out and trying new things. Hot Yoga and Paddle Board Yoga being two of those things. And I tell you what, doing either of these activities are not for the faint of heart!

I love how Yoga is becoming mainstream and love seeing the ways it can enhance an already physical and spiritual experience (without the use of mind alternating substances--so you know, that beer yoga and wine yoga thing you are seeing being marketed, it completely goes against all the Yogic Principles. You are not supposed to be checking out when you are meant to be checking in.)

Anyways, I started to truly see how being completely in the moment and aware complemented my new lifestyle. I had to get creative with what I wanted to do and how I wanted to spend my time. I saw who wanted to go along on the journey with me and who drifted on the wayside. I purposefully removed myself from the toxicity my first month. After nearly a year, I lost complete touch with some people. I quit having to answer anyone, but myself!

And while all of this went down, it was in this month I let go of the resentment while lying in savasana in a super hot room in a pool of my own sweat. I sobbed…and I was free. And I walked out of class like I was 10 ft tall.

Month 11 (August): I think this was a super cuddly/"I'm riding a pink cloud" month for me. Everything just kind of worked out.

I became Vegan. And I feel amazing! My energy level is through the roof! I feel like I'm on top of the world! The detox wasn't so fun, but it couldn't be all rainbows and unicorns.

I filmed a commercial for The United Way raising awareness for addiction which will hopefully help someone out there who is lost.

I attended a "Choose Joy Yoga Daytreat" which connected me to more like minded women and also allowed me to tap deeper into meditation. It was here I felt super assured of my future and comfortable knowing it would all work out.

And "Rainy Day Sunshine Band" forms (subgroup from "The Salt Exchange") in which a solid four original songs were written.

Month 12: When I connected with Yoga, I knew something was there. I couldn’t place my finger on it. I knew I needed a change and that my next chapter in life was just beginning. And so I’m happy to say I’m in the process of getting my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification. I want to help those in recovery and offer therapy through Yoga. It is more to me than just a workout. I want to share the beauty and magic and power and spirituality that is Yoga. It heals.
My next goal is to receive my Life Recovery Coach Certification.

In the meantime, I created a website for myself in hopes that it can inspire and be used as a source or a reference point or that I can give hope and instill peace.

People always ask me “When are you playing again?” or “Where’s your next gig?”, I hadn’t been able to answer that this past year as my brother (whom I played with) moved to Colorado. And to be honest, I didn’t know if I ever even wanted to again. I was that lost and sad. But here I am…playing again. Not lost. Not sad. And actually writing songs, playing the guitar and piano, and full of passion and patience for my music. I’m seeing everything start to unfold before my eyes.

And today I get the privilege to spend the first part of my day in Yoga Teacher Training and then with my beautiful family and then performing a show at a Youth Convention for high school students. …and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my one year sobriety birthday.

So there you go…

I am not fixed. I am not all better. I am not a saint.

I will always be in recovery.

But here it is one year later and I'm able to see this beautiful, messy and imperfect journey. I'm not looking to make my grand arrival, but rather enjoying the ride I'm on.

And here is the commonplace for my closer, but oh so crucial. If you or someone you know needs help, please do not hesitate to message me. I'm not here to pass judgment because I could always be right back where I was. It is a lot of work and so damn hard, but it will be the single most important thing you do for yourself. You will walk away from all of this and see just how important you are, how much value you bring to the world, and that it can be done.
I believe in you.

“My soul honors your soul. I honor the light, love, beauty and peace within you. Because it is also within me. In sharing these things, we are united, we are the same, we are one. Namaste.”

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