SMART homework

Here is an example of some of the work SMART recovery has us do. Fill it the pros and cons of both drinking and staying sober. Then mark whether they are long term or short term results.


Copy it yourself and share you answers. I will edit this post to include my answers when I finish filling it out.


I am adding a P to the recovery acronym H.A.L.T.

And it stands for Prozac.

I forgot to take my Prozac pill this morning. I am not sure if that is part of my problem this afternoon or not. Ever since I got my prescription increased, I have been more senstive to the side effects. I was nauseous the first few days and my appetite decreased.

Today, I am feeling the rest of HALT: hungry, angry, lonely and tired. I rushed out to a doctors appointment after not much sleep only to forget my wallet. I ran home to get it, returned to the doctor, and then find out they do not take my insurance.  (Thanks a lot Zocdoc for messing that up!) I called another doctor and can’t be seen for a month. It is for my eyes, so not an emergency, but still frustrating.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream! I wanted to grab a beer.

Instead, I grabbed a bagel and coffee. I am gonna go home and take my Prozac. Then I am gonna go see some friends to combat the loneliness. And tonight I am going to bed early!

The bagel is already working. Take that PHALT!

Unwanted Sympathy

I find it annoying when a non-alcoholic tries to tell me they know how I feel. “I have done some stupid things while drunk also.” Oh really? Stupid things? Have you woke up in the hospital? Unable to remember how you got there? Woke up behind the wheel with your car in a ditch? In jail? Your few bad decisions are nothing compared to my 20 years of blackouts and depression. Of drinking myself to death because I thought that would bring me happiness. My DUIs will follow me the rest of my life while your one night stands won’t.  (Unless it resulted in a child or STD.)

It is not fair for me to judge a person who is only trying to reach out with consoling words. But it fucking irritates me. It is like a person who had the flu comparing their suffering to someone with cancer. I did not only stop drinking. I am struggling with avoiding it in this alcoholphile society. I am struggling with my defects that caused it to be such a problem. I am struggling while you try to patch it with a bandaid of words.

I feel like hibernating. I want to go sleep in a cave where alcohol does not exist. And where there are no people who will toss wishy-washy words of wisdom my way.

9 months

I went on to a 3 day camping festival with some friends. It was a lot of fun. My feet and body are sore from exploring and dancing. I am so glad I got to reconnect with friends. There was a few times I wanted to drop the sobriety thing but I stayed strong.

I have told friends here I am not drinking but they seem to have short term memories. They offer me a beer, I say “no thanks I quit drinking” and the next day they offer me another drink. Maybe they think I meant I quit for the day? I have to ask what was in everything that was offered to me. I even turned down ice cream because I was not in the mood for dairy and later found out someone mixed booze into the ice cream. It seems some people can not live without alcohol but they are not even alcoholics! I never see these people making fools of themselves and they don’t blackout. They control their drinking. It makes me jealous. But I know I will never be able to moderate. I am allergic to alcohol. My body does not react the same. But my body is fine without poisoning it with booze.

I met up with my friends P and C that I last saw in June. They were actually the most supportive people from the whole weekend. When someone would offer me a drink, P would tell them “no she doesn’t drink alcohol anymore” before I could say anything. I smiled. I guess it took them a bit to get used to it. But by the time we said bye to each other, we all hugged. I cried. I am happy that I did not lose their friendship like I thought when I blogged about it in June.

Also they had another friend with them. I have known this girl for a few years and definitely thought she had a drinking problem. I saw her a few times very drunk and sad in the past. She was a depressive drunk. This weekend she told me she has been sober 4 months. I was proud of her. We talked a little about sobriety. She told me she has a sponsor and is doing AA. I wished her luck. I told her she can talk to me about it whenever.

I did overhear about another woman at the festival who did not have a good time. A person said she decided to celebrate her 30 days of sobriety by getting drunk. And I think they said she mixed some drugs with her drinking. She started to have a panic attack, flipped out, and had suicidal thoughts. It made me glad I was sober.

After the festival, I spent two nights in a hotel. I walked around the city in the afternoon. Again I wished I was able to drink. Whenever I used to travel and not have to worry about driving, I used that as an excuse to get drunk. I loved the creative names of some cocktails I saw on menus. But I stuck to water.

I then found an AA meeting. There was an interesting speaker. The only reason I went was to search for a 9 month chip and I was happy when they pulled out the chip box at the end. So I got a 9 month chip! (Even though I had to go to another city/area to get it again.)

My 30 days, 90 days and 6 month tokens are all coins. This one looks more like a poker chip. I see this as evidence that meetings work different in different areas. Especially my area that only gives 90 days and yearly chips.


Reel Recovery Film Festival

If you are near one of the cities hosting this festival,  try to check out a few of the films.  I will be in one of the cities during the dates and hope to find time to see a couple. I will give my review of whatever I get to see.

The cities are New York City,  Los Angeles,  Las Vegas,  Vancouver, Delray Beach, Houston, San Francisco,  and Sacramento.

Reel Recovery Film Festival

Writers In Treatmentis proud to present The REEL Recovery Film Festival. This multi-day event is  a celebration of film, the arts, writing and creativity. We showcase filmmakers who make honest films about addiction, alcoholism, behavioral disorders, treatment and recovery. Slated for screening is an eclectic lineup of contemporary and classic films, documentaries and shorts from American and international, first-time filmmakers and industry veterans.

Mistake 226- I lived near a movie theater once. It was across the street from the parking garage of my apartment building. I was home drinking some beer alone and decided to check out a movie. I took a small backpack with me. I shoved 6 beers in the bag. I put a t-shirt in there to keep the bottles from clanking. I sat at the top and back of the theater. I finished all those beers and passed out. Missed half the film. 


I am in a new city.  New things to see.  It is a new day.  And I feel better than my last post. 

I also slept better.

I was staying in a hostel for two nights.  And while I love the atmosphere in hostels,  maybe I am getting too old for sleeping in dorm rooms.  It was not as if many of the other young travelers were trying to chat with me.  (Even though I could probably give them a lot of travel advice about other parts of the world! ) I booked a hotel for my two nights in this city because the hostels were all up a hill and I have a very heavy bag.  This hotel is right next to the train station.  I went to sleep,  did not set the alarm,  and woke up at 8 am feeling wonderful!

I was listening to music on my iPod as I got ready.  Some Tibetan Buddhist prayers came on.  I downloaded them after my trip to Nepal last year.  I listened to the chant “om mani padme hum.” I really need to make a blog post one day devoted to that prayer. It basically means “jewel in the lotus” and represents that we can overcome anything.  (At least that is what I take from it.) But lotuses are beautiful flowers that can grow out of mud and, literally,  shit. They show that something wonderful can come from the worst. A jewel in the lotus is the shine that develops from that beauty.

So that chant came on and made me smile.  It also made me think of a Buddhist quote I saw on a recovery page on Facebook last night. “Nothing is permanent.” Including my addiction. Including my sadness.


Mistake 196- I was really close friends with a gay guy. He had an old military friend visiting him. His friend was very hot. My friend told me not to hit on his hot friend. But we went to an afterhours club. My gay friend had to leave but his hot friend insisted on staying. I got too drunk to drive so the hot guy offered to drive my car for me. We ended up having sex in the car in the parking lot before he drove me home.

We stayed in touch and he even came to visit me once. But we kept it a secret. Our gay friend was mad when he found out. He said I betrayed him. I am not sure if he was jealous or why he was so upset. But either reason, a friend should not do that to a friend.

6 Lessons from 6 Months

Lilly gave me the idea to make a post about what I have learned since I quit drinking. Strange that I haven’t really thought about it. I just know I feel happier. So let me jot down a few quick lessons I feel I have learned since January 20, 2014.

1) I never realized that I did drink to hide feelings. I always thought I only drank to party and “feel good”. When I read about people in recovery complaining about feeling again, I did not understand what they meant. I thought “I am an emotional person. I always feel things. Sometimes I feel too much.”

I have now noticed I get unexplained spurts of extreme feelings. One extreme is happiness. Not a manic type of happiness. Just find myself loving life. Even on rainy days, I might find myself over joyed about something simple like a baby smiling at me in the store.

I also get bouts of depression.  I realize that being sober is not all rainbows and roses. Sometimes I will just feel so down for no real reason. (Actually, usually the reason is I am tired.) But I get sad thinking about past relationships and lack of a current one, or my family situation, or events in the world. But I am very proud that I do not hide those feelings in the bottom of a bottle. Drinking worsened my depression in the past. St John’s wort helped with the first few months.

The more I read my journals and remember my drunk mistakes, the more I see that I did drink to hide pain, depression, anger, jealousy and other emotions I did not want to feel. I thought alcohol would be the antidote to the hurt feelings. I would cheer up with some beer. But it was like a sliding scale. The bottom of the first curve is my hurt feelings, then it curves up as I get tipsy, and then crash down below where it began. I hid the feelings temporarily but they always came back.


2) I never solved anything by getting drunk. Even if I was using it as a social lubricant, sometimes that backfired. Sometimes I annoyed people more than impressed them. The last few years, it seemed more often than not I blacked out and did even remember the people I met. If I used it to get the courage to be with a guy, I usually felt shame later. If I did it to forget my problems, my problems were still there when I was hungover. And maybe accompanied by new problems.


3) There is nothing in the world that could make me “need a drink”. I read my friends on Facebook make update that they need a drink after a hard day. Or they need a drink to celebrate. Or they need a drink because the game is on or it is Friday or it is hot out. A nice glass of water with lemon is great when it is hot out and won’t dehydrate you. When I think of how nothing is solved by drinking and of all the mistakes I have made drinking, I know I do not need a drink. I have seen the hell it takes me to and I do not need that.


4) Quitting alcohol has made me happier even if I lost friends. It hurts when people act different or say unsupportive things once they know I do not want to drink anymore. But in the past, I spent so much energy trying to be liked by everyone. I felt I was always chasing the feeling of acceptance I never found as a teenager. It was like I never grew up from that phase. I did not start getting drunk until I was 18 and in the military. I started realizing I could get attention when drunk. I could forget the feelings of being unpopular. 
I felt I started to finally achieve popularity but for all the wrong reasons.

Yet still into my 30s,  I was chasing for that popular feeling. I kept wanting to be the party girl. People liked her. And when people did not like her, I felt defensive, hurt, and confused. Who should I be to get them to like me? I surrounded myself with new friends everywhere I moved to by being the party girl. I guess I can understand why some friends do not know how to relate to the non-party girl.

But a lot have stuck around. A lot are being very supportive whether it is abstaining themselves from alcohol around me, texting or emailing to check in, sending me congratulatory messages, or sharing with me stories about my drunk self to reinforce why I can not drink. I am realizing who my true friends are. There is always jokes about that a real friend would bail you out of jail or be sitting in the cell with you. I feel a real friend would help to prevent you from getting in that cell.


5) I do not want to ever drink alcohol again, but I can not hide from it. I have to learn to accept I live in a society full of alcohol and adapt. I need to coexist with that pain-in-the-ass neighbor called liquor and just ignore her. Maybe build a tall fence.

I know the idea of changing places, people, and old habits. And I have changed somewhat. I will not sit in a bar hanging out with a glass of water. The only point to a bar is booze. Only point to sitting around with people in a place like that is to get drunk. I will go to bars for a special occasion. I will not avoid a wedding or other function because there is a bar. I will keep attending my festivals and avoid the free drinks.

Festivals have been a big part of my life for many other reasons besides the partying and drinking. I was amazed at how understanding people were at the festivals that I did not want alcohol. If someone offered me tea or juice, I would ask “is there any alcohol in here?” and they were swear there wasn’t. In the past, I asked that question and was always disappointed by the answer of no. Why would I want plain lemonade? 

6) I am glad I tell people I am not drinking. In the beginning, I was so scared to be honest. I thought I would hide it. Order a cranberry and tonic to make it look like I was drinking alcohol. Tell people I was allergic or had a health issue. Now I tell people I just got tired of being the party girl. I tell closer people that I got tired of blackouts. I tell most people I am trying to be healthier. “Do you know how many wasted calories are in that beer? Ew no thanks!” If I am honest, either they will not pressure me or they will go away. My sobriety might make them uncomfortable but that is their own issue.

I made a status update on Facebook yesterday that simply said “180 days!” I did not count the likes this time. I was almost able to predict who would like it. The three friends that gave positive comments have all dealt with addiction with their loved ones.

Then the most awesome thing happened! A girl that I met five years ago while traveling emailed me. I do not know her that well. We never even partied together. We stayed in touch and have swapped travel tips. But she wrote to tell me congratulations and that she had 60 days of sobriety.  She said she finally decided to do something about her problem. I never knew she had a problem! She said an article I posted a few months ago made her think about it. She said I was very brave for announcing it. She hasn’t told anyone else. I replied back with some positive words and thanked her for her email. Right away I thought I do not care if 400 people were uncomfortable with my post or if any of my friends wished I would stop announcing it every milestone. I helped one friend get sober.  I learned that feeling is one of the best feelings ever. And it is a feeling I would not have felt if I did not stop drinking six months ago.

Mistake 181- I wrote yesterday about meeting a Dating Website guy and then making out with ny friend. I went to my car after the bar closed with plans to sleep in the passenger side. I knew if I was in the driver’s seat drunk, I could get a DUI even if not driving. Dating Website guy called. “Where are you?” I told him I was sleeping in my car. I was too drunk to drive. He offered to give me a ride. I asked about the other girl he was flirting with all night. She went home. I was the leftover. The second choice. But I still told him where I was parked. I left the bar parking lot with him. He asked if I wanted to go back to his place for some wine. I do not know how much we drank but I do not remember the sex. He gave me a ride the next morning back to my car. Once again, I was probably still over the legal limit and drove home anyways.

Temptation Station

I have a good friend visiting a nearby city this week. I spent the day with her yesterday. I kept rehearsing in my head how I would tell her I was now sober. Should I wait until lunch? Should I wait until she mentioned getting drinks? Should I say it right away? ‘Hey, great to see you! You look great! I quit drinking. How’s your husband?” How would she react? I expected her to be supportive because she has substance abuse in her family and lost a fiancée to addiction. But would she make jokes or tease me or want to avoid the topic altogether?


The Temptation of Saint Anthony

I have been worried about going to this city because it seemed swarming with temptation. Bars everywhere. I guess like most American cities. Is that why cities tend to have more AA meetings than the suburbs? A meeting available almost every hour of the day?

I had to wait a half hour for her. And her phone battery was almost dead so I had to be at the meeting point. I couldn’t change plans and wait in a coffee shop. Nor in that Irish bar that seemed to be waving it’s orange, white and green at me as an invitation. I am pretty sure I once drank there. I drank in many bars throughout this city.

As soon as she approached me, she pulled something out of her bag so not to forget to give it to me. It was a purple pashmina scarf. I bought it in India. I left it at her wedding. I wrote about what I remember of her wedding in Mistake #8. Getting this scarf was a nice reminder of stuff I have lost while drunk. Maybe I could wear it like a banner of sobriety?

We walked to a place for lunch. We were playing catch up. I am not sure what we were talking about, but I just blurted out “so I quit drinking.” She responded “I thought so. Something you posted on Facebook awhile ago made me think that.” I asked if it was what I posted St Patrick’s Day. (I posted this was the first St Patrick’s that I didn’t care that I am working and that made me happy that I didn’t care.) She said no, it was something a few weeks ago. I wonder how many other friends have guessed it. How many other friends know my “secret” but are not asking or offering support?

During lunch, as usual, our conversations were all over the place. One minute we would be talking about my job, then about her marriage, then about my family, then about her job, then about her honeymoon. She asked about my previous plans to move to one city and why that changed. I started to explain to her about the complications moving there and their relation to my drinking problem. Then I took it further back to last fall and added “oh by the way, sorry for my drunk behaviour at your wedding.”

“Oh no worries. Every wedding needs one of those.” Oh my god. I was “one of those.” I was the drunk, crazy chick at the wedding. I was the embarrassment. I was the one that everyone talked about afterwards. I apparently got mad at her friend and he had no idea what he did. I was screaming at him. She asked me what he did that was so awful. I have no memory of it. I told her I spent 20 minutes the next morning searching for my car before I realized I took a taxi from the reception.

The rest of the afternoon continued with our chattering non-stop. We went to a museum. We shopped for books. I would slip in little stories about my struggle. She would tell me about her dad and brother’s struggle. I told her about my blog. She recommended a book Easy Way to Stop Drinking by Allen Carr.

We bought tickets to see a show that night with her friend that was also visiting. Her friend had to work all day. She joined us later for dinner. When we met up with her at the hotel, the first thing she said was “I need a drink!” I was going to introduce myself but then I realized I recognized her. Yes, I met her at the wedding. She might have even sat at my table. I think there is a photo of the three of us at the wedding? But she didn’t say “Oh good to see you” or anything else that was welcoming. Did I say anything horrible to her back in September? I felt shame.

We took a taxi to a street near the theater. We walked up the street looking for a flavor of dinner that would please us all.We passed many Happy Hour signs. My friend is mostly vegan so we agreed on a vegetarian place. As we got the menus, she turned to me “are you okay if we drink?” I really appreciated that question. I told her confidently “no, go ahead. Enjoy!” I enjoyed Diet Coke. And honestly, I did not even crave their pinot grigio and syrah. Maybe the memories, or non-memories, of the wedding helped keep me strong. Or maybe knowing that Saturday will be 60 days sober was my weapon. Or that next week, I will surpass the LONGEST I have ever been sober in 20 years. Or, I really just did not desire it. I know where it leads.

We got to the theater in time for a quick stop at the concession stand. We all wanted a souvenir cups. They are plastic cups with the show’s name on the side. Large size. Not sure if this is a pint or not? Both of the other women ordered cups with wine. It had to hold about 2 or 3 normal size glasses of wine. I got Diet Coke again.

They wanted to get photos of the three of us before the show started. The curtain time lights were flickering. I patiently waited while two tipsy women kept trying to do selfies of the three of us. They both had trouble trying to figure out the flash. They stopped a few people to ask to take our photo but they could not get one with enough light. My phone was turned off to save the battery and I am clueless with Apple products. It was interesting to be the sober one observing the drunk performance. How many sober people looked at me with concern in my drinking days?

During intermission, they both discussed whether they would go out after the show. I debated whether I would join them. And it wasn’t that I was worried about being around people drinking. I was very tired. I wanted to go home and get under my covers.

By the end of the show, they sobered up enough to decided to go back to their hotel. We hugged. Said our goodbyes. I got on my train. I survived the night unwounded. And I felt stronger by facing the battle. I walked into a city that has always tempted me in so many ways to do bad and I left feeling good.


Mistake # 53- When I first met my friend from yesterday, she was on a three-month drinking break. She said she did it as a dare. We met on a camping trip. The trip ended just in time for Cinco De Mayo. Our camping group all planned to shower, change, and meet at a Mexican restaurant. She and I were both staying with a mutual friend and sharing the guest room. She sort of became my babysitter for the night.

I got trashed on margaritas and shots of tequilla that night. I thought I was doing good for most of the night. But I woke up in a daze in the guest room.  The first thing she said to me was “do you know who you were trying to hook up with last night?” I said a name. She said “did you see how short he is?” Yes but he is cute and single. “Wow you have low standards when you are drunk!”  I was lucky she was sober and sharing a room with me or never know who I would have brought back with me.

That started our friendship of talking about our “boy problems” over drinks whenever we met up. She was around for a few more of my mistakes. I never remember her getting trashed but then maybe I was always too drunk to notice. I am happy now to have her support in my sober circle.