Travel: not what it used to be

I used to fly to Europe at least once a month many years ago. I would work a night shift, stay up afterwards, then fly to London. It would be morning by the time I arrived in London and my new day would start. From there, I would take a train or inexpensive flight elsewhere.  I almost always slept well on those flights.

This time, I barely slept. Is it due to the seats not reclining as much as before? Or because I do not fly with wine anymore? No more pre-flight Bloody Marys. Now I order water or orange juice with my meal. Or it could be because I am used to the window seat and this flight I had aisle seat. I envied the girl with the bulkhead to lean against.  I even got a little pissed that she was not taking advantage of it and she watched movies most of the flight. 

Yet arriving tired is better than arriving hungover! I am excited to start my day and a new country.

Mistake 191- My first time in London, I went to meet up with a group of friends I met online.  We had a good amount of people that showed up at this pub. I was excited that such a large group of Brits came out to meet me. Three of the guys that were there were three of the guys I spent a lot of time flirting with online. By the end of the night, I made out with all three plus another guy I did not know. One guy never spoke to me again and told some of the others in our cyber community I was a “slag”. Another guy is known for being a player so no one was surprised.  The guy I did not know was married. And I went home with the fourth. Actually, we did not go home but went to his car. Then after sex, we slept in his car in front of his mate’s house.  The positive thing out of that was when we went into his mate’s house for breakfast, I met his mate’s housemate who I began dating. But for the 10 months we dated, I could never understand what he saw in a slag like me.

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Cleaning out the body

I have been trying to cut out sugar and add healthy items to my diet. The main reason is to lose weight but I also just read that sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol.

“More people suffer liver damage from calories [in sugar] than from alcohol. Fatty liver disease affects up to 25 per cent of people in the United States, and the deadly disease can lead to liver cancer and liver failure,” the [American Liver] foundation said in a statement.

Fatty liver disease is the result of our livers filling up with excess fat. It is normal for livers to have some fat but if you have more than 5 to 10 per cent of your liver’s weight, it’s called fatty liver.

The article goes on to list foods you should try to eat or cook with a lot for a healthier liver:

-Seaweed
-Onions 
-Egg 
-Sesame Seeds 
-Avocado 
-Artichoke 
-Fennel 
-Ginger 
-Beans.
-Fish Oil
-Flax Seeds 
-Garlic 
-Broccoli 
-Cabbage
-Cauliflower 
-Kale 
-Brussels Sprouts 
-Collard Greens 
-Basil 
-Parsley

I read before about dandelion root helping to increase bile production to cleanse out the liver. I picked some up to add to my salads.

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And I picked up liver detox tea.
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I have also been drinking one bottle of kombucha tea per day. I learned about this fermented tea while in Thailand. I used to frequent a vegetarian place that made its own kombucha. There are a lot of health benefits to this drink. It has probiotics and antioxidants. I read a few articles debating whether kombucha is okay for alcoholics or not. Since it is fermented, it might contain 0.5%-1% alcohol. But some people say alcoholics should not use mouthwash or cold medicine. With all the other liver cleansing I am doing, I do not think kombucha is going to affect my sobriety.
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I wish I would have had lab work done at the beginning of my sobriety for comparison. But I do know my cholesterol was a little elevated when I had that tested about a year ago. It would be nice to see the health progression my body achieves with sobriety.

Mistake 190- I was visiting my friend who does not drink much. It was Thanksgiving weekend. She had old high school friends also visiting. We all went out. My friend was driving. I was doing a lot of shots with her high school friends. I do not remember much of the night. But I woke up in the front passenger seat of my friend’s car. I got up in a daze and went in the house. Thankfully she left the front door unlocked. I went to the bathroom to pee and when I came out, her 8 year old daughter was standing there. “Did you puke?” No I told her. She asked where did I sleep. She did not see me on the couch. I told her I slept in the car. “I do that sometimes because I am getting too big for my mom to carry me in.” I felt so embarrassed. Passing out in the car is what little kids do. Not grown women. (Unless passenger on a road trip.)

My friend told me how I was funny at the drive thru window. “We went to a drive thru?” I do not remember any of it. She said I kept making jokes about wanting rum in my soda and I was glad she doesn’t drink because there was no way I could drive. I ate my food and passed out right away. She couldn’t wake me once we got to her house.

Benefits of Having a Purpose in Life

I read an article on NPR about a study that found people who feel they have a purpose in life live longer.

Of course, purpose means different things to different people. Hill says it could be as simple as making sure one’s family is happy. It could be bigger, like contributing to social change. It could be more self-focused, like doing well on the job. Or it could be about creativity.

…findings suggest that having “a sense of purpose may protect people against stress,” with all of its harmful effects, including greater risk of heart disease. And that may explain why people with a sense of purpose live longer.

I think it is hard for alcoholics to find a purpose during their drinking days. Or actually to find another purpose besides getting more alcohol. This feeling leads to more stress in addition to stress from the other troubles caused by the disease. Legal problems, health issues, relationship woes, and stress is a nasty recipe for a short, unhappy life.

I have always felt I have had purpose. Social change has always made me feel passionate. I am a tree hugger. I donate to help women and children in developing countries. I have volunteered and contributed to society. I felt my work was important.

But I still hated life. I hated myself. I felt I had to force myself to do so much good to make up for being so worthless. I was miserable on the inside even though everyone thought I was the happy party girl. I got to travel. What do I have to be depressed about?

I think the chemical effects of the alcohol plus the shame from my regrets made me depressed. I hid my feelings in the booze and the booze hid my self-worth. It poisoned me from being able to appreciate my purpose. For twenty years, I drank to try to be something or someone that people liked and I thought if everyone liked me, I would eventually like me too.

It took getting sober to finally like myself. Actually, now I love myself.

Mistake 189- I was in Goa, India and drunk alone. I do not remember how the night started or with whom I spent it. But I remember walking to my guesthouse drunk and depressed. I was listening to my iPod. Blue October’s “Into the Ocean” came on. I started crying. I kept walking late at night and crying and crying. I put the song on repeat. It was after midnight and most places were closed. But I kept walking, listening to this song over and over, and wishing I was dead. I thought about going down to the beach and drowning myself. I felt so miserable and lonely. It was not safe to be walking around in India alone at night like that but I do not think I was scared because I actually wanted harm to come to me.

Thankfully I made me way back to the guesthouse. Before passing out, I posted the video to the song on Facebook. I made some comment along with the video telling people not to be jealous or envious of my life and travels because most of the time I wanted to travel to death. Then I went to sleep.

The next morning, there were a lot of emails and comments. People were worried. I deleted the video link. I replied that I was just drunk. Ignore me. I put back on the happy mask and went back to my life of trying to get everyone to like me.

I really hope my suicidal tendencies will be cured with sobriety. So far, death is no longer a purpose for me.

Blue October – Into The Ocean: http://youtu.be/ZES3nJQYJok

Tools for Travel

I am preparing to go on a trip to Portugal in a few days. I am quite excited. I have never been to this country. I only know one word in the language (obrigada). I have been having fun planning everything and keeping myself from too many plans. I like to keep my travels flexible. I have friends joining me for some of it but I also am looking forward to alone time. And I look forward to doing all of this sober!

I have been on a few roadtrips and mini-vacations since quitting alcohol. But this will be my first foreign trip. I love exploring other cultures but I do get anxious about the unknown. I like to learn new words but I get stressed by the language barriers. I hope I can handle the nervousness without turning to a bottle. I used to love trying local beers and I have a collection of beer labels from around the world. I am going to miss that.

But I am not going to miss all the time and money I wasted drinking. Keeping memories of the drunk mistakes I made on other travels will, hopefully, keep me from taking that first sip. I have missed sights or did not fully enjoy wonderful places because I was hungover. I have spent so much money drinking alone or with new friends in bars across the planet. I even paid $25 to drink one Singapore Sling in the Raffles Hotel in Singapore! What a waste for a drink! I squander so much of my life around the culture of alcohol.

I know in Porto there is going to be a lot of temptation to drink port. I remember drinking wine in Australia that was a port but called LHS, which stood for “left hand side.” I always tell that story when I used to drinm port. Will the Portuguese people understand that I can not drink any alcohol? Maybe I need to say it is my religious beliefs that keep me from drinking? Maybe no one will care?

I think I am more excited to travel sober than I am worried about relapsing. Not passing out drunk in strange places is always good motivation!

Mistake 188- I was visiting a friend in Thailand. She was living there for a year and I was traveling the country. We went to stay at a guesthouse in the jungle for a few days. It was very beautiful there. We woke up hearing Gibbons calling and saw many beautiful species of birds.

We had some plans of hikes and a lake tour. Since she was living there, she needed to do some work on her computer. While she worked, I drank. I started drinking Chang beers at noon everyday. I drank beer late into the night while she drank fresh fruit smoothies and tea. One of the days was rainy so I drank more than usual. The next day was the lake tour. I was very hungover that day. I looked forward to grabbing another beer as soon as possible to fix my headache. I lovingly called it my “Changover. ”

We charged all our meals and drinks to our room. When we were checking out, the manager pulled me aside. My friend knew him so we got discounts on the room and meals. But he said he recalculated the bill many times because he couldn’t believe how much I spent on beer. “Did you really drink THAT much?”

I would have to find my notes of my travel expenses to remember exactly how much I spent. But it was wasted money and time.

Rational Mind

The other day, I was thinking of how I seem to be more focused lately. I seem to work out issues rationally and plan a little better. I seem less discombobulated. Is this a surprise benefit of sobriety?

Then I read Soberista’s blog “Why You Shouldn’t Fear Taking the Alcohol Free Leap“. It was reassuring. It helped reinforce what I was thinking and made me even more happy that I quit drinking. “But when alcohol begins to lose its magical properties and undergoes a gradual metamorphosis into a foul, domineering, mind-twisting liquid, one which causes the drinker to regard it with equal measures of love and hatred, then it’s time to consider a life free from its influence.”

Mistake 187- I went to a wedding in California and had some bottles of wine and champagne left over from the reception. I packed one of the bottles of wine in my luggage. Since my flight was late in the day, I spent the afternoon sitting on the beach alone drinking the other bottle of red wine from a plastic cup. I poured the champagne into a large plastic water bottle. After finishing off the bottle of wine by myself, I drove to the airport to return my rental car. I checked in for my flight. Then I drank the champagne from the plastic bottle before going through security. I finished about half when I started to feel sick. I ran to the bathroom and forced myself to throw up I dumped out the rest of the champagne.  I felt better after vomiting. I went through security and then slept almost the whole flight home.

Give It Time

Just like recovery can not be rushed,  I can not rush my friends into accepting my sobriety. It seems I expect everyone to jump on board this big change and say “good for you” without considering how this affects them. Of course, staying sober for myself is the most important thing in my life. But I am being selfish if I refuse to understand it might take some people time to adjust.

I wrote about my two friends, P and C, back in the beginning of June. They made many comments that were not supportive. Their behavior when I was leaving their place was strange. They did not walk me to the door, hug me, nor say anything about hoping to see me again soon. It felt they did not want me there if I was going to be sober. I was upset and went to an AA meeting to vent. I felt they were going to be the first friends I lost in recovery.

Now I am staying to think maybe they just needed to grieve. Maybe the needed to overcome their loss of a party friend. Maybe they needed to see I really was planning to stick with sobriety and witness me benefiting.  Maybe I have not lost them.

P emailed me today. It was the first time I spoke to him since I left there six weeks ago. He told me about a dream he had with him, his wife C, and me at a festival and then somehow at a tropical beach. It was a long description of this dream. He ended it saying he hopes I have a good time at the festival I am going in a few weeks. I have spent the last three years partying with them at this festival but they are skipping it this year.

I did not know how to respond at first. I couldn’t help but wonder why he had a dream with me in it. Was it because I posted on FB they other day saying I wish more people would support my decision to quit drinking? I kept trying to decipher the meaning and read between the lines. Did he mean he wishes I could drink margaritas on a tropical beach with them? Or they are glad they aren’t going to the festival if I am planning to stay sober?

I finally responded saying I was excited to experience the festival without hangovers and wasting so much time drunk. I told him of some of my plans and I feel this will be a great year there. Then I kept checking to see if he read my response and wondered if he would reply. He finally did:

“Hope you find exactly want you want out there this year!!!”

Maybe I am over-analyzing it, but I felt that this was his olive branch. It was his step towards tolerating my change. It was his way of saying “I still wish you could drink but I am willing to accept your sobriety.” It is not really support, but maybe I do not have to lose them after all. Maybe I just need to give them time.
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Mistake 186- I was spending a day home alone and drinking. I must have been watching movies or wasting time online. There was a farmers market that afternoon a mile from my home. I decided I wanted to go down to there and people watch. I was drunk and was worried if I walked, I would miss the market. So I drove. I drove down around a busy market full of people. I remember having trouble parking but also avoiding certain parking lots that I knew usually had cops. I walked around for a bit and once the stalls started to close up, I went into a bar. I ordered an IPA and read my book. I did not want to lose my “buzz”. After several drinks, I drove home again.

When I moved into that place, one reason I picked the address was because it was walking distance to the bars. But I still was irresponsible enough to drive to them a lot. I put myself and other lives at risk. I am so fortunate I never hurt anyone with my drunk driving.

And memories keep resurfacing…

Sometimes, I get worried I will not remember 365 mistakes. Then other days, I feel I will have no problem coming up with one daily. It is amazing how one little thing will trigger a new regret.

“Oh wow, I forgot about that night.”

A month ago, I slacked in daily blogging and coming up with mistakes. I was busy with finishing my online class. I returned to those entries and filled in daily mistakes. During those days of not blogging, I felt a little struggle at times. Thoughts of “drinking in moderation one day” started to seep in my mind.  Once I returned to daily posts again, those thoughts were pushed away. Sober blogging has helped me so much more than any AA meeting could.

Mistake 185- I mentioned my husband’s friend Alaska yesterday and the time I cheated on my husband by kissing another guy while partying with this friend. After I separated from my husband, Alaska invited me over one night. The memories of the evening are foggy. I was drunk when I drove over there. I remember being impressed he drank good beer. We drank lots of it. He started to tell me how he was always interested in me and my husband was dumb to let me go.  I remember we had sex on the rug. And I remember him begging me not to tell my husband. I laughed. Why would I tell my estranged husband I just fucked one of his closest friends? I don’t think I stayed there. We were worried my husband would see my car out front. I was drunk still when I drove back to wherever I was starting at the time. 
I remember mixed emotions afterwards. I felt shame. And triumphant. I felt like it was revenge against my husband. I felt confident that another man still wanted me. I think a small part of me fantasized about a relationship with him.

Though still not sure if I would have done that if I was not drunk.