Living on Sobriety

Living on Sobriety

Recovery Elevator is excited to offer a new type of blog experience to our readers!  We are reaching out to our Café RE members and giving those that are interested the opportunity to be guest bloggers for our site.  Think of it as a podcast interview in written form.  You will get parts of their story along with tips and tools that they have found beneficial in their own recovery journey.  Please let us know what you think, or perhaps topics you would like to see covered, in the comments. 
Today’s blog entry is from Adrienne, who has been a member of Café RE since July 2022.  Adrienne has been alcohol free since July 31, 2022 and is very active within her Café RE GO community.  

Living on Sobriety

By: Adrienne (Café RE GO)

 

INTRODUCTION 

I sat down at the computer today and wondered what would my sober crew like to hear about; my past or my present?. I decided to give you a little bit of both; along with what has gotten me through a lot of the obstacle course known as alcohol (thank you Clare Pooley, The Sober Diaries for this analogy).

HISTORY 

I got sober for the first time in 2005 when my husband (then boyfriend) got his second DUI. His experience with rehab and counseling lent itself to a lot of education surrounding alcohol.  So much that when he came home from his seven day stay he had made the decision he needed to quit drinking, and thought that I might have some of the tendencies that he had learned about…to go from cucumber to pickle.

I was resistant; but after some time I quit with him.  This lasted for 7-8 years.  Our marriage, buying a home, and starting a family were some of the beautiful fruits of that decision. 

 

Eventually we decided that we could start drinking again, here and there.  I don’t remember the exact thing that prompted this, but what I do know is that it went from ‘here and there’ to full bore very quickly. Life went on like this for years.  All of our friends with kids drank, all of my family still drank, so nothing really was amiss (that I knew of) to anyone outside of our home; we just appeared to love partying. 

DO I HAVE A PROBLEM? 

 

Do I have a problem? I would ask myself this question regularly searching for any answer that would allow me to maintain my lifestyle. 

The 2AM heart palpitations, anxiety, depression, drinking every day after work or when I didn’t have to go to any function for our son, day drinking (even during the week when my son was at school).  Everything revolved around drinking, and eventually I didn’t want to go anywhere because I could just stay home and drink and not be judged. 

 

When there is alcohol in my life, there are no other activities. 

 

I finally decided that I needed to stop drinking.  This prompted a lot of day ones, 30 days here and there. I told my husband that I couldn’t live like this anymore. He continued drinking which made for a lot of internal confusion for me and so many questions. 

 

Would our marriage survive if I stopped drinking? Would we grow apart? What will it be like?. I had a lot of anger toward him and was doing a lot of finger pointing; “I can’t do this if you don’t do this” and “why won’t you help me to do this?”. 

 

These were valid questions, but what it really came down to was what kind of a life do I want to live? I had to look at things from an independent perspective rather than a “we” perspective. It was a do or die moment.

 

FORGING A WAY THROUGH 

 

I started my sobriety journey for myself about 3 years ago. I started by reading quit lit and of course googling if I’m an alcoholic 100,000 times at 2AM. What I realized is that the label is irrelevant; the real question here is; Is alcohol causing problems in my life? 

 

The answer was YES. 

 

With the help of reading a ton of quit lit; specifically Annie Grace’s; This Naked Mind (which I’ve read at least 7 times) and an online group entitled One Year No Beer; I was able to quit for 18 months, but I still wasn’t sold that I could never drink again.

 

Somewhere there still remained this idea of myself as a normal drinker. 

 

A weekend away with my husband was coming up.  I was scared. What will it be like?  We hadn’t been away together without my drinking in a long time.  So I searched myself for the answer of if I could moderate; maybe I could just drink while on vacation together, and not drink at home. 

 

That thought was all I needed to give myself the go ahead.  As you could imagine that plan failed; and I continued drinking for about six months right back to the level that I had been before.  

 

Somewhere in this time frame I came across Recovery Elevator podcasts and began listening, relating, and learning that I am not alone. There was something so intimate about the testimony people shared that had me nodding my head in total agreement. I knew that if I wanted to succeed I would need to connect with a community of like minded people; because friends, we cannot do this alone. 

PRESENT DAY 

 

Today, I am 333 days into this journey; approaching my one year again. I’m coming to it from a stronger, more settled and balanced place. My life is fuller and happier. Life is still ‘lifey’. It still has its ups and downs; but I’m present for it all; making the sweet that much sweeter. 

I’m excited for the future, to see what year two will bring, and to be there with you guys. 

If I could leave you with two final thoughts: Connection is the opposite of addiction and pineapple does belong on pizza! 

***Adrienne; Café RE Go Group

What Recovery Pathway is Right for Me?

What Recovery Pathway is Right for Me?

 

In our Dry January course, REstore, Paul teaches a class covering the different recovery modalities.  The good news is that In 2023, there are more ways to ditch the booze than ever before. Even just 10 years ago recovery took place in church basements with bad coffee and shitty donuts, but today the landscape is much different. 

 

**Side note, Paul still goes to an AA meeting, in a church basement with bad coffee. He’s not dawging that way of recovery, he loves his Tuesday night AA meeting, but there are so many more methods, programs, techniques…you name it…available today.  

 

So which pathway is right for you?

 

A couple caveats before we begin.

Caveat 1. If you are READY then ANY pathway is going to work for you. If you’re truly sick and tired of being sick and tired, then any of these programs will work. In addition, you HAVE to give them a solid try. 

Caveat 2 – There is no right or wrong way to quit drinking. We’re going to give some recommendations, but it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you.

When building your recovery portfolio you want this work to be 50% external  –  50% internal. At first, the internal work may be too big of an ask, but as your nervous system settles down, you want to aim for a balanced split. 

 

Here are some quick examples of what external vs internal is:

External

  • Driving to an AA meeting, or hopping on a Café RE zoom chat
  • Phoning a sober friend
  • Working with a sponsor

Internal

  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Reading quit lit

 

When building out your recovery pathway Paul recommends this 5 tiered approach. .

5 Tiered Approach

  1. Community
  2. Action/Movement
  3. Inner Peace
  4. Knowledge
  5. Universe

 

  1. Community – Let’s talk programs that are community focused.

A.A., Smart Recovery, Dharma Recovery, Life Ring, Women for Recovery, Café RE, The Lucky Club, Meetup.com, online sober communities, Reddit, talkingsober.com, our sober Ukulele Course, Dry January and Photo courses, phoning a sober friend, 1:1 Interaction within another person in recovery. Meeting with a counselor or therapist falls under this community approach.

All of these tiers are important but this one is a BIG ONE. In order for you to get the most out of this, you have to first burn the ships, with yourself, then with your community. Burning the ships = Accountability which then = Community.

  1. Action/Movement 

Yoga, dance, music, ecstatic dance, hiking, stretching, running, swimming, drumming on your desk. Your body is meant to move. Chemicals of wellbeing, endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin are released when we move. 3x a week, for 20 min is a good starting point.

  1. Inner Peace/Creation 

Meditation, breathwork, sunrises, sunsets, time spent in nature, time spent with animals, float tank, relaxing, chanting, journaling, inner child work, singing, playing music, painting, writing poetry. This is where you create your new life that no longer requires alcohol. One reason why pen to paper is so effective is you can’t write as fast as the mind can think, so it slows down the thinking mind.

About animals – their nervous systems are much more intact, or less frenzied than ours. Animals live life from the hearts opposed to their human counterparts who live mostly in thought. A recent study shows that similar amount of oxytocin is released when we hug a dog compared to when we hug a human. And flip side to that, oxytocin, or the love molecule is released in dogs, when we pet them. If you’re feeling fraught, visit a petting zoo or kick it with a pet. Human nervous systems can attune themselves to more stable nervous systems, even those of animals.

  1. Knowledge

This is learning. This is empowering yourself with information. Podcasts, quit lit books, audiobooks, learn about healthy diets, learn about how the mind works. No you cannot read or listen yourself out of an addiction, but this is an important tier. Under this umbrella includes medicines both from the east and west. Perhaps Naltrexone, or the Sinclair method is something you may want to try. Naltrexone is a medication that blocks the euphoria response when we drink alcohol.  Perhaps more shamanic approaches with medicines such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, San Pedro or Ibogaine may be right for you.

  1. The Universe

Lets get clear, this is not religion, but it is the spirituality component of recovery. One of the beautiful purposes of an addiction is it can flex the layers of the ego so much that they eventually snap…letting in what some will call their higher power.  

When you say lines to yourself like,  “I can’t live like this anymore.” The Universe is right there with you saying, “no problem, let me show you the way.”  

Now go slow with the universe. This was the last of the five tiers to implement itself in Paul’s sobriety journey. This one most likely is on the universe’s clock and not yours. But be open, pay attention to the breadcrumbs of life and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or guidance from the universe at any time. 

There’s a well remixed line that has been floating around for several thousand years. Ask and you shall receive.

 

To recap, 50% internal, 50% external and hit a couple things from the five tiers ,and you’ll be just fine. 

 

Remember, your recovery is always changing, because you are. It should change. What you’re doing now should look different than what you were doing a month or year ago. 

 

***Taken from Recovery Elevator Podcast, Episode 425, host Paul Churchill***

 

Benefits of Service in Recovery

Benefits of Service in Recovery

Recovery Elevator is excited to offer a new type of blog experience to our readers!  We are reaching out to our Café RE members and giving those that are interested the opportunity to be guest bloggers for our site.  Think of it as a podcast interview in written form.  You will get parts of their story along with tips and tools that they have found beneficial in their own recovery journey.  Please let us know what you think, or perhaps topics you would like to see covered, in the comments. 
I’m excited to bring our first guest blog submission to you today!  Stephanie McCarroll has been a member of Café RE since August 2020, has been alcohol free since January 12, 2020 and is very active within the community.  You can often find her on one of our daily ZOOM chats, if not hosting it, offering support and accountability to our members.  Thank you Steph!! 

Benefits of Service in Recovery

By Stephanie McCarroll

One of the most important aspects of long term recovery is being of service to others. At the early stages of sobriety, my focus was to get through the day sober. While sobriety continues to be my most valuable thing I have, my life moved past just getting through the day without a drink.  A greater need arose in myself to heal and thrive in all areas of my life: physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

Like the disease we have, recovery is also progressive.

 

True recovery is a path beyond simple abstinence. Rather, it is a journey by which we build strength to face the wounds that may have led to addiction and create a flourishing sober life. Being a helpful and valuable part of my recovery community is an integral part of such a life, and it is deeply nourishing to our social and spiritual wellbeing.

 

Alcohol isolated us.

It demanded we put our substance abuse above all others in our lives. Some of us feel a great deal of guilt for the time lost to our addiction. Although we cannot go back and erase our mistakes, our addiction gave us insight of what slavery to alcohol looked like. Hearing that other alcoholics could stop and recover was something that inspired us to keep fighting. We were no longer alone. We had evidence we could recover. 

 

For those who have shared their stories, they chose to be of service, giving powerful testimony of the benefits of living an alcohol free life. In recovery, the idea of service could be a new, daunting thought. Yet, giving back to our communities provides us with so many benefits.

 

Science has proven that being of service positively affects your brain and mental health. According to research, when you give your time and resources to people in need, your brain activates pleasure sensors, giving you a feeling of wellbeing. In this way, being of service in recovery is a form of self-care and lifts our spirits. It also helps us to manage stress. 

 

It also helps us rediscover our self-worth. It means being part of something bigger. At Cafe RE, members are encouraged to find ways to be of service wherever possible. Because Cafe RE is an intimate community, members volunteer to host chats and participate in community service projects.

 

In recovery, my art of writing has been rediscovered.  Like those who had a fondness for music and photography, I wanted to reach out to the writers. This prompted me to inquire about the possibility of forming a members-driven Guest Blog for Recovery Elevator. Paul said YES!

 

In finding the right service opportunity for you, it can be helpful to tune into your passions and what makes you come alive. Being in recovery is a beautiful gift that gives you the chance to pursue the things you love most about life, things that may have been robbed from you during your addiction.

 

If you would like to give back to the recovery community and guest blog, please contact kmac@recoveryelevator.com. We know our members have a lot to say and want to be of service. We are excited for this new endeavor and know it will help a lot of people.

Do I have a Drinking Problem? 

Do I have a Drinking Problem? 

Today is the day! Today is the day we are going to find out if you have a drinking problem…or not. Are you ready?

For Paul, when it finally sunk in that he did indeed have a drinking problem (and a good one at that!) two things happened. 

First…he was like, “Oh F&#K!”  

Then…immediately after, as this truth spread into his body, to his bones, to his conscious, his unconscious, to the heart, to the liver, something neat happened. An incredible amount of energy was instantly liberated. 

For two reasons. 

  1. The stigma or label of an alcoholic didn’t change who he was. He was still alive. 
  2. But more importantly…all the energy, the incessant thinking he had of…
  • Do I drink, or not? 
  • Do I have a problem, or not? 
  • How am I going to control my next session of drinking?
  • How am I going to hide it?
  • Let’s do our best not to black out before 8 pm.
  • Do I have enough shitty box wine back home?
  • Let’s not let people know we’ve already had 9 drinks before meeting up at the bar.

 

ALL of that went away instantly

In fact the worst place a person can be with a drinking problem is in limbo. The do I or don’t I phase.  (Paul covers this in Episode 417).

 

So for this diagnostic, we are going to use the test listed in the DSM 5, or the diagnostically statical manual which is what most psychologists and/or therapists have somewhere on their shelves. 

 

There’s 11 YES or NO questions.  If you answer YES to 2 of the questions, if you meet 2 of the 11 criteria, within the past 12 months, they call it an Alcohol Use Disorder.

THE TEST
  1. Do you sometimes have difficulty controlling how much you drink or for how long you drink alcohol?
  2. Have you made unsuccessful attempts to cut down your drinking?
  3. Do you sometimes spend a significant amount of time drinking or recovering from drinking?
  4. Has your alcohol use had any negative consequences at home, school, or work? (Have you ever lost time off work because of your drinking?)
  5. Has your alcohol use had any negative consequences to your relationships or social life? (Have you ever concealed how much you drink? Has anyone ever commented on your drinking?)
  6. Have you continued to use despite any negative consequences?
  7. Have you put off things or neglected to do things because of your alcohol use? (Have you ever disappointed your family or friends? Have you ever missed a family event?)
  8. Do you occasionally have strong cravings for alcohol?
  9. Has your tolerance for alcohol increased? Are you able to drink more than you did before?
  10. Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms the next day after drinking? (Have you ever been shaky or sweaty that evening or the next day?)
  11. Has your alcohol use led to any dangerous situations? (Have you ever been charged with impaired driving?)

 

Paul has always strived to be a good student, and was “happy” to report a score of 100%. 11/11. For shits and giggles, let’s’ cover what it means if you didn’t ace this like he did.

WHAT IT ALL MEANS

The presence of at least two of these symptoms means you have an AUD. If you have two to three symptoms, it’s considered mild; four to five symptoms is considered moderate; six or more symptoms is considered severe. (If you don’t fall into the severe category, a mild diagnosis can still warrant concern, as it may be the start of a larger problem.)

 

A couple things before we wrap this up.  If you have a drinking problem, life isn’t over…in fact, it’s just beginning. 

Some of you may have just learned you have a drinking problem. If this is devastating to you, go to Episode 411 where Paul talks about the grateful alcoholic. 

 

Paul had one more bit of info in his notes from Episode 428  If you find yourself listening to a sobriety podcast (or reading this blog), and you’re not a therapist, a doctor, or listening so that you can  support a loved one, then YOU have a drinking problem. If you question whether or not  you have a drinking problem, you just answered that question.  The bigger question is…what are you going to do about it?

***Taken from Recovery Elevator Podcast, Episode 428, host Paul Churchill***

 

BYO Mocktail: Full Circle Mocktails

BYO Mocktail: Full Circle Mocktails

I hope I’m not disappointing my 4 readers (hi Roxanne, Robyn, Kerri and Trisha!) No mocktail recipe this month. But I will throw in my favorite homemade ice cream recipe as of late for a little change up. Lately my mocktails have been top secret as I’ve been writing one for a friend that’s getting married this month.

wedding

 

Being my reflective self, I realized that it 2 years ago exactly I hosted my first a mocktail class with Café RE. I’m really proud of myself for becoming comfortable enough with myself to be known as someone who makes mocktails. And not just mocktails, but delicious ones that people request.

 

Cher Horowitz

 

We can say it, Sobriety is weird sometimes. How do you make friends? What do you do with your hands?

 

When does my “ASK MY ABOUT MY BEING SOBER” tee shirt arrive that is now a requirement to wear to all parties?

 

All of a sudden you can feel 14 again, but actually be 39. So figuring out who you are next can be hard and takes some time to get comfortable in a new skin. I liked to make and drink cocktails before I stopped drinking, so why should that stop just because there’s no more booze in my drink? Happy to be making cocktails still.

 
All that said and now here’s your recipe for this month.
Kiwi Strawberry

 

 

Birthday Cake Ice Cream

Serves 1 (because Ice cream isn’t meant for sharing)
 Ingredients
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1 C whole milk
  • ¾ C sugar
  • ⅛ t sea salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles or jimmies

1- Pour 1 cup of the cream into a saucepan and add the sugar, salt and vanilla. Warm mixture over medium / low heat until the sugar has just dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the remaining cream, milk, and almond extract. Stir to combine and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

2- Once chilled Whisk mixture and pour into ice cream maker. Make according to manufacturer’s instructions. Last 5 minutes add sprinkles and finish churn.

3- Eat.

 

Until next time!

 

Love and Mocktails,

Kate

BYO Mocktail: Kiss from a Rose

BYO Mocktail: Kiss from a Rose

This past year I have been working for a large international women’s retail clothing store. I have the first hand knowledge of how fashion is coming back around… the good and the bad. The return lately has been to the fashion of the early 90s, grunge but with a little more sophistication and polish.

Kiss from a Rose

 

While I am not loving the low rise jeans that are back (can we please just not) and overalls, I am loving the return of Clueless and Cher’s plaid suit, slip dresses, a cropped sweatshirt and a good bias cut.

 

Cher Horowitz

 

Having my head so firmly in the 90’s and a lot of time on my hands has led me to day dreaming back to that magical time as well. In my high school, before parents worried as much about what we ate during the day, I would buy a Snapple Kiwi Strawberry drink everyday for $1.25 and drink it with my lunch. Something sweet and tart at the same time really hit the spot. 

 

I think I just heard the 3 people who

read this blog get really excited!!

They know where this is going!

 

Kiwi Strawberry

 

 

Kiss from a Rose

Serves 2
Prep time: 15 minutes + cooling time
Ingredients Simple Syrup
  • Handful of strawberries, rough chopped
  • 2 Kiwis peeled and rough chopped
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. water
Additional Ingredients
  • Seltzer of your choice
  • 1t of balsamic syrup

 

To make the syrup

Add all ingredients to a pan and bring to a boil over medium head, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Once boiling reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month

 

To make the cocktail

Add 1T of the simply syrup, add 1t balsamic syrup (try a berry flavored one) top with seltzer of your choice and stir.

 

Kiss from a Rose

The Recovery Elevator podcast last week was about the AF beverage (S4 / E416), go check it out and let us know where your feelings lie on this!

 

Love and Mocktails,

Kate

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