Last time I talked about choices and how we have the choice to take responsibility and control for our lives. I also mentioned a tidbit about the choices I made as a teenager. Today I want to expand on that. This is going to be one of my most vulnerable posts to date and I do want to warn you that if you have struggled with any of the things I’m going to talk about today, this post might be a trigger. So what will I talk about? Sex, drugs, alcohol, and looking for love outside of myself. While some of these things might be a trigger for some of you, I am sharing in hopes that I remind you that you are not the only one and that there are others of us who have been there or are currently there.More
Loving oneself leads to so much freedom in life. But what if you don’t love yourself?
I’ve talked in multiple other posts about when I quite alcohol and when I quit quitting. Ever since I decided to quit quitting, I’ve allowed myself to imbibe responsibility and in drastically smaller quantities than prior to taking about a year off. But, even with the lower quantities, I have realized something, my body and taste buds are not on the same page. I have a love hate relationship with alcoholic beverages.
I love the flavor of wine and some mixed drinks. I really liked the flavor of select craft brew seltzers. My body does not like the effects of alcohol. In fact, my body hates it. I’m not talking about hangovers or headaches or the typical effects you hear about. I’m talking about the whole body inflammation and increased anxiety that I get. I didn’t realize these were a thing until I all of a sudden had a drastic increase in them.
It took some time to realize that the alcohol is what is making these things worse. One of the worst ide effects is with my endometriosis. All of a sudden, the pain has started coming back and in the oddest time of the month. I couldn’t figure out why my uterus started hating me again. My joint stiffness and pain increased. My resting anxiety level (not a medical term) is drastically higher. My bloated feeling just won’t go away.
The only thing that has really changed is that I brought alcoholic beverages back into my life. This love hate relationship is really annoying because I can’t find gluten free, non-alcoholic beverages in Utah like I’ve heard other parts of the country has. I would love to have all of the delicious drinks I love without the alcohol included.
Does this mean I’m going to completely quit again? Probably not, but I won’t be drinking a glass of wine just because I feel like it. I’ll reserve drinking to special occasions or random date nights out (whenever those return). I will absolutely make myself virgin bloody mary’s because they are absolutely delicious. I will still cook with wine or other alcohols. But, you won’t find me just sipping on an alcoholic beverage because it is Friday and I can. I need to get rid of this inflammation and anxiety. Life was so much better without it.
So remember a few months ago I talked about quitting alcohol? Maybe it was more than just a few months, but it feels like it was just yesterday. Well, I quit quitting.
What does that even mean? Well, it means I am drinking again. But, I’m not drinking like I had been. In fact, my tastes have completely changed. AND so has my tolerance.
I am more sensitive to the red wines that I’ve tried. Not all of them are good anymore. I don’t like every seltzer that I try. I haven’t really even started with the mixed drinks. I haven’t tried white wine or sipping bourbon. I had two full glasses of wine one night and holy crap! I was drunk.
Who am I? This is not the person I have been in 20 years. I am absolutely okay with it. The time I took off from drinking has allowed me to reset myself and get to a point that I only drink if I want the flavor and if I don’t like it, I don’t force myself to get used to it. I don’t drink every night of the week or even every week.
So why did I quit quitting? Because I wanted to. I wanted a glass of wine for the flavor so I let myself have it. As long as I stay at the level of drinking I’m at now, I don’t foresee feeling like I need to quit again. I don’t drink often and I don’t drink near as much quantity. I stay cautious about how much so I keep my overall health in check. My focus now is my health. That is the most important thing for me.
Part of who I am yearns for closeness and feeling love from others. But the rest of me yearns for solitude. It is a difficult balance that I used to ignore by drinking alcohol to be more social. Alcohol released my feeling of overwhelm or nervousness when around others, especially large groups. I used to think I was weird or had something wrong with me. I mean, there are lots of things wrong with me, but this isn’t one of them.
As I continue to grow as a person, and as I continue to research and learn more about who I am and the emotional and psychological dimensions impacting my life, I have discovered that I am easily overstimulated. Once I discovered this, I had a direction in how to adjust my life so I can recover from over-stimulation a lot easier than relying on alcohol to relax me.
One of the effects of being an empath is that we get overwhelmed and overstimulated by too much physical contact or too much time spent with others. Those who aren’t empaths and may be extroverts don’t understand this at all. They take offense to us needing to distance ourselves and take me time. My husband is one of those extroverts. He lives to have a lot of people around him and thrives off of the energy of other people and large crowds. I thrive off of alone time and no contact with other people. We are very different and once I stopped drinking and these needs became more prominent, it was a bit of a shock. We had to learn to function together with our different personalities while also learning to honor each other’s needs.
This quarantine and social distancing has affected both of us very differently. In the early months, he was driving me absolutely crazy. We were following the stay-at-home orders very closely and weren’t seeing local friends or family. Eddie has been working from home consistently and had no human contact other than me. I was losing my mind. I got to the point that I told him he needed to go to someone else’s house so he can get his energy out with other people. Since he didn’t have any interaction with other people outside of Zoom calls for work, he was driving me insane. Eddie is a fun guy who likes to pester and annoy me. It’s all loving, but I had hit my capacity for handling it. We had no time away from each other, even with him now having an office in a basement room.
As for me, well I’ve been generally perfectly fine staying home and not seeing people. I struggled when we had a friend here for about a month and then my mother-in-law right after, but it wasn’t anything to do with them. My struggle was primarily around having too many people around me. I didn’t feel as though I had any separation from people. As long as this quarantine/stay-at-home/social distancing continues and as long as I can get Eddie out of the house and in contact with other people who are staying home too, I could stay home forever. Yes, I want to travel, but without other people around.
I foresee that once life starts getting back to normal and we are able to be around larger groups, I’m going to have to slowly re-integrate myself into groups. I’m going to have to be more prepared and plan for giving myself the time and space I need to recharge. I’m going to have to be able to identify my reactions that indicate I am overstimulated. I’m going to have to relearn how to stand up for myself and my need for space and quiet. It won’t be easy, but to preserve my sanity, it will be worth it.
Overthinking is what I do best. I can and will overthink for just about anything. It is truly a problem. Are you an overthinker?
Overthinking affects our lives more than we probably would like to admit. We zero in and focus on a specific topic and think about all the possibilities. Usually, the possibilities that we think about are negative. Whether you are ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, overthinking does not benefit your life.
In fact, if you are anything like me, overthinking actually does more harm than good to your life. For me, ruminating on the past usually turns into worrying about the future. I take a thought that I’m overthinking full circle over and over again and it usually happens over multiple days, weeks, or longer.
I tend to start with ruminating on a situation that I didn’t like how I behaved. I think about how shitty I was, how embarrassing I made the situation, or how I offended or hurt someone. I go on and on until I fast forward to the future and create a whole new situation with the same people where I encounter something similar and have to re-write my behavior. I usually try to think the situation into an existence where I stand up for myself and the other person or people are put in their place. This comes from the victim mentality that I was raised with.
Lately, I’ve been able to catch myself in this process. I stop myself from going down this rabbit hole creating drama in my mind that doesn’t actually exist. It’s not easy to do, but it is so worth it. The overthinking that I do to get me to this point tells me that the other person in the situation is bullying me or that I’m a fucked up person. It wears me down without me even being in the other person’s presence.
Not only do I ruminate and worry about the future, but I also worry about the little things. Will I look absolutely stupid in this outfit, am I over/underdressed? What happens if I’m late? What happens if we break something on the truck? What if we don’t have enough money? What if they judge me for this? Don’t be too loud, we don’t want to offend anyone. Don’t have sex here, this is Sally’s house and that is disrespectful. Don’t make the food according to your dietary preferences, you don’t want to offend everyone else who is eating. Don’t quit drinking alcohol, you won’t have anything in common with Sally and won’t have anything to bond over anymore. I could go on and on with thoughts that have crossed my mind. I am always overthinking everything.
How do I course correct my overthinking train of thought? I stop dead in my tracks and twist the thought. If Sally was staying in my house, how would I feel about her and her husband having sex if nobody actually heard or knew it was happening? How would I feel if Sally was late to the BBQ by two minutes? How would I feel if Sally told me that they couldn’t go to the event because it wasn’t in their budget?
Let me tell you how I would respond. I would say have fun and have sex if nobody knows about it. Two minutes is nothing, glad you are here safely. I totally get budgets and I think is awesome you are sticking to yours.
I would respond completely different to other people than I do to myself when I get trapped in an overthinking episode. While I’m not even close to perfect in eliminating my overthinking, I can proudly say that by flipping the situation, I am a recovering overthinker. I have stopped so many horrible overthinking trains of thought from spiraling so far out of control that I’m afraid to be in Sally’s presence. I have improved how I behave and show up for not only myself but the people I overthink about.
Overthinking doesn’t always have to control our lives. We can take back control. We just have to work for it. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
How can you flip your overthinking train of thought?
I am a very black and white person. It is or it isn’t. I only see gray on a few things, like my professional career. For most of my life, I ask the black and white questions: Can I do X without failing? This usually holds me back. It keeps me from exploring that thing that I might want to do.
So when I heard one of my mentors talk about asking the right questions, I had to stop to meditate on what they were implying. The thing is, we tend to ask the same question over and over. We don’t ever change it to see a different point of view. You probably see this happening most when you are fighting with your spouse. You or your spouse says the same thing multiple times because the other person isn’t responding the way you want to doesn’t understand your point. What if we changed the question? What if we put it a different way?
I have started to do this when talking to Eddie. We rarely fight, usually just have disagreements, but it all comes down to miscommunication. You see, we are creatures of habit and we speak how we understand things. We plan in a way that we understand. We look to the future in a way that we understand. When people suggest something that is different than what we know, more often than not, we get uncomfortable and want to stay in our comfort zone.
It’s time that we break up with our comfort zone and start asking different questions. Here is an example:
Question/Goal: I want to lose 20 pounds
New Question/Goal: I want to eat a healthier diet
Question/Goal: How do I get millions of followers to become the well-respected life coach I want to be?
New Question/Goal: What do I need to start doing today that will lay the foundation to eventually become a well-respected life coach?
Here’s the thing, we tend to ask questions about our end goal, about the big thing that we want to accomplish. We don’t ask ourselves how other’s did it or what are the little steps that, if we take them now, will lead us to the big goal.
Here is another one:
Question: Why can’t I quit drinking alcohol when I’m around Sally?
New Question: What is it about drinking alcohol that makes lunch with Sally better?
It’s time to stop living in a black and white world. There is so much gray area that we can make brighter if we start asking different questions. No longer is it just this or that. We are in new times with new technologies and possibilities that we can ask the same question in so many different ways that we can get so many different answers.
When I started this blog, I wanted to grow and become a life coach in just a few months. I wanted to be making millions and quit my project management career. Why? Because that is what all the life coaches do. I was asking the wrong question. That isn’t my focus. Following in their path isn’t my path. I have my own path and I need to ask myself different questions to get me to where I am fulfilled and happy.
What questions can you change to ask differently? What is the new answer?
I’ve talked about alcohol a bit over the past few months, mainly my decision to quit drinking and the emotions around it. Well, I had been getting the feeling of “why do I have to quit, why not just casually have a drink here or there?” so I let myself enjoy our recent vacation with drinks.
I went 100 days without alcohol and definitely changed my tolerance and my taste. Seltzers weren’t as tasty anymore. Wine was. Bloody Marys were. The taste in my mouth after a few drinks, not so much.
I could immediately tell a difference in my mood, my digestion, and how my body felt. It wasn’t enjoyable. The taste of wine was definitely enjoyable. The rest, not so much.
The last day I had drinks was at the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. I tried a few tasty things. I got buzzed. But I was ready to cleanse my system of all of the alcohol. I wanted it out. I wanted to feel as great as I had before. I was done.
I made the decision that day that giving up alcohol isn’t something I need to do, it’s something I want to do. I truly feel like a different person without alcohol in my system. It took me taking 100 days away from drinking and then allowing myself to drink freely while on vacation to realize that alcohol no longer serves me. It kinda feels like I made my peace with my drinking days and my decision that I don’t need or want to drink again.
I had felt like I was putting a part of me on hold. I didn’t. I was exploring and learning who I was without this toxin in my body. Yes, alcohol is a toxin. No, I’m not going to get crazy about telling you not to drink. I feel freer to enjoy life now that I know that while I enjoy the taste of wine and some mixed drinks, I don’t enjoy the effects on me.
For me, it is just like wheat and products with gluten. Since I have Celiac Disease, I get royally fucked up if I eat anything with gluten. I gave it up so easily because I wanted to feel better. Now, I am freely giving up alcohol because I want to feel better.
This doesn’t mean I’ll never drink again, but I probably won’t. I won’t buy alcohol for myself. I won’t plan vacations to go drinking. I am going to live my life without focusing on ‘what if’ I had alcohol.
I can’t wait for my body to recover from the alcohol I had on vacation so I can get to feeling my best self again.
I never thought I would openly quote Chelsea Handler in anything motivational. I honestly do love listening to her comedy and really connected with her when I was younger. I chose to buy Life Will Be the Death of Me: …And You Too! on Audible thinking it was another comedic book that Eddie and I could listen to on our most recent road trip.
I was wrong. While there was a lot to laugh about, there were plenty of life lessons to be learned. This time, I connected with Chelsea in a different way. I saw so much of myself in what she was saying and sharing. We had different experiences, but I relate to her emotions throughout the book.
After Chelsea told her story, she shared wisdom with the reader. That’s when I heard her say “vulnerability is strength.” I had never thought of vulnerability of being anything close to strength.
You see, I have spent pretty much all of my life trying to not be vulnerable. I couldn’t stand being vulnerable and any moment that I felt it brought on horrible anxiety. Vulnerability is not something I was willing to welcome into my life. I can look back now and see that when I was my most vulnerable, I would lash out and be a pretty big bitch. It burst the bubble of vulnerability that was building and it felt better. In that moment.
Most of the regrets I do have are of these lashing out moments. I am personally working through a moment from as recent as last Christmas. I had been drinking all day and was sitting down to try to play some gambling card game (I think blackjack) and my husband was dealing it all wrong. It was not how you played the game. He tried to explain to me that there are multiple ways to play the game and I was not having it. I lashed out. And now I regret it.
If I had sat in the vulnerability and learned the new way of playing the card game, everything would have been just fine. But because I was vulnerable because I didn’t know how to play it his way, I got lost in my anxiety and fear. When I don’t know something, I feel stupid. When I don’t know something I am vulnerable. When I don’t know something, I do everything possible to not let it be known that I don’t know it so I don’t appear stupid.
As I’m talking this out with you, I’m recognizing that I equate vulnerability to feeling or being stupid. I believe this comes from growing up and the way not knowing something was treated by my parents. And by the kids I went to school with.
I am stuck in the mindset that vulnerability is a bad thing. No matter how much I’ve tried to change my mind about it, I am still in the same place. Sometimes we have to unpack things more and more before we can truly learn.
Vulnerability is strength.
Just those words together give me anxiety. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to be stupid. I don’t want to be weak. I don’t want to be vulnerable.
I am being vulnerable right now by sharing this with you. I am not stupid, although my anxiety is telling me different. I am not weak, even though every fiber of my being is saying I am.
Vulnerability is strength.
This is something I need to sit with and work through. How can I be more vulnerable in my life? With my friends? With my family? How can I overcome the anxiety that plagues me anytime I am vulnerable?
I don’t have these answers yet. But I am going to sit with vulnerability and I am going to find new ways to work through it.
“Vulnerability is strength.” Chelsea Handler
As I started reading the chapter When Food is Love in The Soul Frequency by Shanna Lee, I immediately had light bulbs going off and bells dinging all around my mind. I’m pretty sure it all started with just the title of the chapter.
I had my last drink of alcohol 45 days ago. Since then I’ve done really well. Until this last week. I wanted the taste of wine so bad. I looked forward to events coming up and felt sadness around not drinking alcohol of any form. I associate alcohol with almost everything in my life.
It’s not like I need the effects of alcohol for any reason, I literally just want the taste of it. I have fought for so many years not to be considered an alcoholic like my parents and I can still say, I am not an alcoholic. That isn’t why I quit alcohol. For why, read Alcohol Part One and Alcohol Part Two.
But I digress.
When I read the title of the chapter, When Food is Love, it was like a slap in the face. DUH! Of course that explains everything. Alcohol is what helped me to break free of the worst of my shyness. Alcohol is what helped me make friends with the popular kids. Alcohol is what made most of my future friends. Alcohol is how I let loose from my fear of so many things. Alcohol has been love for me.
As I look back at the years since I started drinking, so much of the love I felt came when alcohol was involved. Love is why I look at events coming up and don’t know what to do without alcohol. I’ll tell you what I do at these events: DRINK WATER!!!
Alcohol is not love. Now that I have identified my emotions around alcohol, I can begin to retrain them.