Today is a very important day for me. It has been exactly a year since I accidentally posted a video meant for a private online recovery group as someone who suffers with anxiety and with that developed alcohol use disorder (to put it mildly). I was mortified when I realized my post did not go to the private recovery group I had intended. Instead it went to all 360 of my friends and family and I got 550 views (admittedly more than a few are my own to cringe at over and over).
Accepting my situation, I knew I could no longer control how I was perceived based on the story I might have spun on why I was not drinking. For example I might have said, I wasn’t drinking because I was ‘training’ or I was participating in sober January, February, etc., or I was on the 30 day diet. I even went as far as to start driving in Czech Republic, which I had successfully avoided for 9 years so that I could use the designated driver (zero tolerance here).
However, this was the ultimate accountability and I just had to own it. After all, how could I ever drink again knowing that everyone will be watching me? It would have to be some very sneaky ass shit.
The response to my coming out was beyond incredible. A blessing in disguise. So many supportive people reached out to me who either shared their own recovery or were sober curious to mine. It reminded me that I just don’t have 367 onlookers on Facebook, but I have a lot of really good people in my life even living so far away. After the initial shock had left me, I was able to relax and just focus on recovery.
Now after 15 months of living sober, I feel very comfortable sharing more openly about my journey forward. Because the truth really is that it is not about numbers at all or how long it has been since I’ve had a drink, but about how close I am to the next drink. This recovery business is something I think about daily and work very hard at so I don’t go back to a cycle of anxiety and self-medicating which only increased drastically when alcohol was used.
Of course living in the Czech Republic, which is known for the highest alcohol consumption per capita in the world, adds a whole knew level of difficulty. It is like being a vegan working in a butcher shop! There is no way to avoid seeing, smelling or being around alcohol. When I tried to take up running, a beer bike-wagon, full of stag parties would be going around the track offering me a drink. When I go to the hairdresser they offer me a glass of wine. At our Czech friend’s house they ask if I want a shot of Becherovka to help my stomach when I say I’m not drinking due to stomach problems.
Having said that, not all Czechs are abusing alcohol and there are plenty of really good non-alcoholic beers (although I don’t drink them). In fact, it was a Czech, Dr. Jaroslav Skála, who invented the Sobering Up Station in 1951. Fortunately, I did NOT get to experience the sobering up station.
Today I am grateful to be sober and calm. Even when traveling and living on two different continents I have several tools I’ve come to rely on which I will share in different blogs over time. For now, just know I appreciate every my family and friends more than ever.
Some tools I’ve used and feel work for me:
- Listen to the Bubble Hour http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bubblehour (excellent podcast with great interviews, many are high functioning alcoholics or people wanting to be more mindful of how much they drink)
- Practice a guided meditation with the Head Space https://www.headspace.com/ (you can sign up for free and use the basic meditations, but pay for more libraries. I like his Australian accent. I also really appreciated the course on anxiety.
- Listen to Sobercast (I have found some truly great speakers who can tell their story with humor and hold my interest. I seem to always hear some gem of wisdom).