Saturday, April 15, 2017

"Am I an Alcoholic"--Laura McKowen's response to a reader's question

If you are asking this question, then listen to your gut and make sure that the correct questions are being asked.

I told my primary care doctor and therapist that I had a drinking problem when 1-2 glasses of wine a night was a regular thing. They both thought I was being too hard on myself. They asked me standard, outdated questions that missed my cry for help and the current DSM-V standards for alcohol use disorder. 
  • Have friends or family members made negative comments about your drinking? No
  • Do you drink in the morning to fight a hangover? Never
  • Have you had problems at work, with the law, etc because of your drinking? No
  • Do you drink and drive? NO
Okay, then you are fine. There is nothing wrong with a 1-2 drinks a night with a meal or to unwind. WTF?

They didn’t LISTEN to my plea. I KNEW that I was falling into full on dependence and into addiction. They didn’t believe me because they have bought into the myth that there are alcoholics and everyone else.  Laura McKowen wrote a great post in response to a reader’s question, Am I an Alcoholic?. She reframes the question and assumptions people make about “healthy drinking.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

I have not come this far to only come this far.

Mantras are a great way to improve our mind and open our hearts. During the first 2 months quitting drinking, I incorporated matras into my daily practice, but lately I haven't been. They were part of my healing process and way to rewire my brain toward healthier thoughts. In the earliest days, I used mantras to fight cravings. It's been over 4 months since I quit drinking. Yay me. I am past craving alcohol, but some days I want to crawl back in a hole and numb out.  There are less physically destructive ways to numb out than drinking: binging on Man in the High Castle, checking Facebook, watching the news . . .

Alcohol free living is a major lifestyle change, which in many ways is big enough on its own. One reason my alcohol use switched from occasional to habitual was my desire to disconnect from painful experiences in my life and to turn off the negative thoughts that swirled in my head because I never fully processed old or day to day problems.

Positive mantras are an antidote to years of automatic negative, self destructive thinking. When I decided to quit drinking alcohol, I wasn't just giving up a beverage. I was choosing to engage with life and process years of stuffed emotion so that I could enjoy ALL life has to offer. Today, I'm reminding myself of my intention to keep going, learning, growing, feeling, loving, and being.

Holly Whitaker and Tammi Salas created The Mantra Project, which features 40 illustrated mantras and some thoughts on the mantra as it relates to sobriety.  Practicing a single mantra throughout the day has positive effects. Doing a mindful practice for 40 days is even more powerful. "I have not come this far to only come this far" is one that Holly shared with us during Hip Sobriety School and is in the mantra project. The image above is mine, but the words come from Holly.

Friday, January 13, 2017

10 of the best things that happened to me in 2016

In some ways, I don't want to reflect at all on the past year. However, we are who we are because of all of our life experiences. Last year was painful in many ways. I've worked hard to process the difficult parts and to recognize the good. Here is a list of 10 of the best things that happened to me in 2016.
  1. Helped my mom through a big chunk of her cancer treatment, which had the side effect of bringing the Pecora family closer despite the miles that separate us. Also, I was reminded to nurture friendships. (See blog for Sally's Story)
  2. Fell in love with Hamilton the musical via my amazing kiddo #2.
  3. Quit drinking alcohol. The first of many major lifestyle changes. (This Naked Mind & Hip Sobriety School)
  4. Meditation became a regular part of my routine. (Insight Timer is a cool app for bringing meditation into your life)
  5. Started yoga (not the crazy bendy pose yoga that you see in magazines).
  6. Our family adopted Luna.
  7. Discovered Tulsi Tea (herbal hot drink that is not really a tea).
  8. Joined See Jane Write where I met several awesome people and learned about some cool businesses.
  9. Donated a lot of stuff that we don't need. Less physical clutter equals less mental clutter. 
  10. Bought a lot of art supplies. 2017 will be a year to create and grow.
Bonus: I am practicing being in the moment and accepting whatever emotions arise. I have less anxiety and am more content with who I am.