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Deserving a Dry Home

I’ve spoken to more women than I can count on this subject, it comes up again and again. It’s not really all that surprising a situation…unless you actually think about it. For those of us pursuing recovery, the decision to quit drinking was a big deal. I had been drinking for 25 years and my social life, home life and my (dysfunctional) work life revolved around it.

When we made the decision to stop there was great relief and some hope. We admitted we had a problem and now we were going to work on it. We may have received high praise and encouragement from our significant others, family and friends…for a while. And then, maybe slowly or maybe all of a sudden, that decision to quit drinking wasn’t really all that interesting anymore and all your people had gone back to the same glass of wine with meals, beer at the barbeques, cocktails at the party and so on.

No, we can’t control any of this. No, we can’t make anyone else stop drinking. However, when we sober up we start to see things differently, we start to feel fucking everything. We become really sensitive about all the booze that seems to be everywhere. After I stopped drinking I would occasionally think back to all the places I wouldn’t go if alcohol wasn’t permitted or served and how insane and selfish I was even though it seemed completely normal. And it may be that this is where we left our people, they are still there.

So we made a decision to quit and we stopped going to bars and pubs. Maybe we gave the office parties a miss for a while and made appearances at family celebrations but begged off early. We reduced our contact with booze without turning into antisocial hermits. Some of us hooked into new friends and social activities through 12 step meetings or other recovery groups but when we got home, there it was. It was in our house, our safe place, our refuge from the bombardment of booze-fueled everything. Why? Because our partners were still drinking.

Some recovering alcoholics can deal with this. I am not one of them. For the first 3 months I white-knuckled it walking past that open bottle of red wine in my kitchen countless times during the day. It wasn’t that he refused to get rid of the alcohol in the house, I just never asked him to. I was still in so much shame around the mess I had made of everything that I felt I didn’t deserve to ask for anything. I was so convinced that I was a shitty person, not a person with a shitty disease, that I no longer had any right to declare a boundary in my own home that would keep me safe.

It got too hard, I couldn’t take it anymore. At the suggestion of a friend, I sat him down and told him that if we didn’t get the booze out of the house that it was very likely (it was actually a dead certainty) that I would start drinking again. He got upset, he got mad, he even pouted a bit which was weird ‘cause in 20 years I don’t think I’d ever seen him actually pout. We put everything from the fridge, the liquor cabinet and the stuff in the case under the bed (I know, I know) into totes and he locked it in the shed.

Although it was still on the property, it wasn’t in my face anymore. An astounding weight that I didn’t even realize was there was lifted from my shoulders. And you know what that jerk did after having his indignant tantrum? He quit drinking for a year and a half.

My point is this: If you need to get the alcohol out of your house so that you can have some peace of mind, less temptation, a break from the constant reminder that you want to drink, then bloody well do it! Your home should be a place where you can relax that fight or flight reaction to alcohol. Your home needs to be your safe place.

 

 

 

 

 

PS. Having technical difficulties getting comments to show but I am getting them. Thank you! I’m working on resolving this. Liana


Learning how to NO

One of things I used to struggle with was overcommitting myself. Saying I could make cupcakes for a bake-sale, volunteer at an event, work late, drive for a field trip…the list goes on. My philosophy was that I had to have a damn good reason for saying no to something. My default was always “yes!” and I rationalized this by telling myself I was being a positive person. It only took me 20 years to burn out completely.

A while back I was at a friend’s house for dinner. She works full time, she had company from out of town, she made us a beautiful meal and she was leaving on a trip the next afternoon. The problem was she had also committed herself to do a 10k fun run the next morning with her coworkers. I watched her struggle with her decision to cancel. The guilt, the shame, the “I always bail on things” self-talk. I asked her if she actually wanted to do the run and her answer was an immediate and definitive “no.” Well then, there you have it.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we just say no without all the self-torture? Is it the cult of busy? The way we were raised as women? Why do we say yes when we are either unsure or we want to say no? Is it fear of judgment, rejection, being fucking lame or that we don’t have an excuse that we deem worthy? The key word there is “worthy”. For whatever reason, we tend not to view our time and energy as worthy of protection and we don’t prioritize our needs over others’ (and beat the shit out of ourselves when we do).

A few years ago I had another friend who invited me to participate in the “cold shower challenge.” This wasn’t for charity or to raise awareness for anything it was just a thing people were doing every morning for a week. My reaction was one of why the ever-loving-fuck would I do that? Hell, NO! After recovering from all the expletives I threw at her, she told me that she admired the fact that I could just say “no” like that. I was left wondering why on earth she felt she couldn’t say no to participating in an activity that I viewed as cruel and unusual early morning punishment. It just hadn’t occurred to her that she could say no, that she didn’t have to do it just because she was asked to.

When we are asked to give our time or energy to something, we are being asked, not told. We owe it to ourselves to think about it for a minute before committing to something that will not only drain us, but keep us from doing something we actually want to do. Saying no isn’t always easy but we can start by saying, “let me think about it” or “I have to check my calendar” instead of an immediate yes.

And here’s the trick: if you give yourself the time to think about it you’ll know within 45 seconds if this is something you actually want to do and guess what? You don’t even have to have a good reason to say no.

 

 

 

 

PS. Having technical difficulties getting comments to show but I am getting them. Thank you! I’m working on resolving this. Liana