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Alcohol: Life’s Epidural

An epidural was administered in my back before giving birth to my first two sons. The pressure and sting of the needle felt foreign and was very painful. It quickly took effect, pooling my veins with a warm, bubbly sensation. Thus began the contradictory feelings of pain relief and bodily disconnection.

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I was conflicted about the effects of the epidural. It was great relief to be free of pain, but I simultaneously felt out of control. All senses lost. I chastised myself. This is what many women do, so suck it up. But still, a tiny voice inside me whispered: “this is not the way for you.”

So, when I became pregnant with my 3rd son, I  chose natural childbirth.

I would be lying if I did not admit that medication free childbirth is extraordinarily painful.

The pain was so intense I feared it would kill me. Convinced I would die, I doubted my decision. This was too much. In extreme agony I howled for drugs, but I was too far along in labor. Out of desperate measure, I screamed while flailing my arms and legs as if it would help me escape this biting affliction.

“USE YOUR ENERGY TO PUSH, NOT SCREAM!” the doctor shouted from between my legs. My eyes darted to hers in a moment of clarity.

There is no turning back; I have to stop the pain.”

So, I did as she suggested because I had no other choice. I harnessed the little energy I had left, and with a few giant pushes, out he came. The pain vanished.  What had felt incredibly out of control and unmanageable, transformed into peace and tranquility instantaneously.

Her suggestion worked.

I replayed this seemingly near death experience; I did it! I pushed through it. I felt it. It hurt. But I survived. I was free of pain at last.

This is like the story of my life active in alcoholism, to recovery & sobriety ! Please read on….

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Alcohol was my life’s epidural for 25 years. It erased my past regrets and traumas, numbed daily worries and resentments, and eradicated my fears and anxieties of the future. Like the epidural during my first two childbirths, the alcohol I consumed in daily life swam through my veins. It was literally a numbing agent for my feelings.

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Before I surrendered to this cunning and baffling disease, I had deep seeded pain. Towards the end of my 25 year long love affair with alcohol, it was clear that no amount of booze would anesthetize my misery. As time progressed, so did my daily consumption. My inner agony effected my spiritual, psychological,  emotional, and physical health. I hid my addiction and pain from everyone- even myself.

I am grateful that I willingly accepted the gift of recovery. After many years of willfully trying to control my drinking, I came to a place of complete and utter exhaustion. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. What once numbed all my mental discomforts, no longer worked. It is a miracle that one day I thought it was a good idea to try AA. (Read my post: The Dream That Saved My Life to learn about my rock bottom dream that helped me surrender). In AA, I learned that I was not the only person in the world suffering from untreated alcoholism.  I was a sick woman trying to get better; I was not a bad person, I was spiritually suffering. I learned that drinking was not the problem, but rather, my thinking was my problem. No longer alone, I had a community to get sober with, one day at a time.

Unfortunately, the pain of life and the obsession to drink does not typically end instantaneously like it does after giving birth naturally. But I promise you, if you are willing and wanting, you will feel better over time. If you are patient and take suggestions from those that have recovered before you, you will find peace.  In time, you will have a life you never thought possible, or ever imagined!

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Free of past resentments, poor self esteem, and lack of self love, I am finally at peace with who I am. I no longer need an “alcohol epidural” to numb my feelings and manage life. I know how to cope with what life brings me in healthy ways. I am able to handle pain – just like I handled the pain of natural childbirth – and survive.

 

 

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The Dream That Saved My Life

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On the last day of my very long drinking career, I had what I now refer to as a spiritual awakening dream that lead me to my first AA meeting, and subsequently saved my life.

It was an extraordinarily profound dream…..

I was about to leave for my first day of a new job. I climbed into my car – a Lexus (which in real life I do not own) wearing a fancy designer suit and very high heels (never owned either). I glanced at the highlighted route on an old fashioned road map as I turned out of the driveway of my mansion (which is not real life either). It perplexed me that I felt strange in the suit…. and the car. It didn’t feel like me, yet in the dream this was definitely me. All glitz and glam. I felt more rushed then eager for my first day of a new high powered job.

At first, my journey was smooth and uneventful. However, it did not take long for my travels to turn chaotic and confusing. In other words, the trip to get to my new job became drastically out of control; incredibly unmanageable. After missing exits and going the wrong direction, I veered off the freeway onto an unfamiliar area so that I would avoid a deadly collision on the highway.

That is when I lost all control. My car was moving at lightening speed on a dirt path with many dangerous hills and curves. I was in the drivers seat but no longer the driver. After what seemed like an eternity, I arrived at a building which was under construction. I knew I was not at my job, yet I walked in because hundreds of soldiers directed me to do so.

These intimidating soldiers were everywhere. They were shouting commands at me and others who had also arrived, but unlike me, on purpose. Their mouths did not move but I heard the soldiers barking commands in my head.

Where the hell was I?

I was instructed to walk across pipes (in those really high heals) and jump upward onto a platform on every floor. I finally made it to the top of this incredibly tall unfinished tower to an elevator that looked like an aquarium that housed sharks. Fortunately, it was empty.

The soldiers lead me into elevator. I watched myself being lowered and realized all the others who had climbed to the top were watching me from the outside like spectators at a zoo.

Suddenly, liquid pooled around my feet and quickly filled the tank as I was being lowered. I was frozen. I could not scream for help. I tried, but my fear took hold of my ability to move or shout. I did not fight it because I gave up the moment I knew I was in there being drowned. I was too exhausted from climbing up the tower to bang on the walls of the tank. The water was too heavy and just like that I was fully submerged unable to breath.

I woke in my bed gasping for air. In real life, I was holding my breath as I drowned in the dream. I was stunned. I was drowning. I was drowning …. in alcohol! Hungover from my usual 3 bottles of Pinot the night before, I fell out of bed with a sense of urgency to get to my youngest sons room. I dragged myself to him in my pathetic, hungover state.

I turned into his room and saw he was awake. He smiled when he saw me. I felt myself begin to quietly weep. I laid down next to him and he followed.

Blue eyes fixated on mine, his sweet voice sang to me.

“Hi Mommy!” He smiled.

I began to sob. I wanted to stop because it made my hangover headache worse. It was impossible to do so. My boy watched me confused. He had just been diagnosed with Autism and his ability to respond to emotions were not yet developed.

I wept. “What am I doing to my sons? What am doing to my husband? What am doing to myself?”

As I lay there weeping, I once again, succumbed to the heaviness in my bones like I had in that water filled tank in my dream. I was overwhelmed by fear and loneliness. I did not know what to do. I cried out in my head:

“How do I stop when I can’t imagine living with out my wine!!! What do I do?!”

And then a sentence of instruction popped into my head: “Go to the computer and google local AA meetings.” I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of hope. The heaviness in bones began to dissipate.

I felt lighter.

I attended my very first AA meeting that evening.

The journey was over but it was also a beginning. A beautiful new beginning. I was where I was meant to be.

After 25 years, I made it Home.

And God willing, I plan to stay one day at a time.

For other recovery stories of mine, I suggest reading :

A Gift of Recovery: Visual Senses Reborn

Photo credit of building: Instagram- @industrialabandoned

Photo credit of land: Instagram- @wondersofourplanet

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A Gift of Recovery: Visual Senses Reborn

The first season I experienced sober was Spring. I remember sitting on the front steps with my husband trying to explain how overwhelmed I became while pruning the hydrangea in our garden. I sobbed as he gently rubbed my back. The vibrant shade of pink was beyond remarkable. Every pedal of pink sharply contrasted the green textures of the leafy green bedding. The more I trimmed, the more I felt I was losing control of the rumbling emotions in my gut. I had to stop. It was too much to handle.

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For months following that day, it was as if I was experiencing the beauty of our planet for the first time. Each day that passed without picking up a drink, the more acute my senses became, subsequently effecting the intensity of my emotions. I struggled to exist in my own skin. I was giddy for one minute, then edgy and squeamish the next. I was emotionally captivated by my vivid visual senses that I had muted due to years of gross alcohol consumption.

Every season during my first sober year, became a sensory- frenzied roller coaster I was required to ride. The salty smell of the beach, Summer sunsets, the blue massiveness of the ocean- all profoundly rattled me. When Fall leaves arrived, I often found myself gazing for seemingly extended periods of time. I was aghast by Winter snow falls and how the crisp white tree branches fantastically contrasted the striking blue sky.

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I had numbed myself from all the beauty of the world for 25 years. Experiencing such extreme sensory responses, I learned, was very normal. Had I not been told that , I may have thought I was going insane.

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Having now experienced the 4 seasons 6 times, my extreme sensory responses have settled, but I am still able to appreciate the magical beauty of our world’s colors.

One of the many gifts of sobriety: visual senses reborn!

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