Is it too early to call?

When did I regularly start getting up before 5am? This is the dark side of getting up to write in the morning. Sometimes my eyes pop open at 3:30am and I’ll start thinking about coffee and how good it tastes and smells and, yes, let’s have some. I love coffee so much. I did manage to cut it out for about a week when I started having bad heartburn again. I spent the morning of my 41st birthday having a barium swallow x-ray to rule out causes.

Welcome to middle age! Here’s a hospital gown so confusing we also put up a poster to show you how to put it on. In a little while we’re going to give you a metal milkshake to drink, which we’re pretty sure you’ll find delicious if you followed the rule not to eat anything after midnight, which, yes, always makes us think of Gremlins too. 

The test went fine and when I popped off the raised platform at the end, the technician went “oh-ohh” and said she wasn’t used to such mobile patients. So at least I felt like a spritely 41 year-old.

This holiday season has been marked with minor illnesses. I also had bronchitis before Thanksgiving. A couple weeks later, my husband one-upped me and landed pneumonia. Our youngest then caught a fever-cough combo that lingered far too long. These were all relatively minor, but being sick and then in recovery mode sure screwed up my idea of how the holidays were gonna go down.

On Sunday, I hit 3.5 years sober. Since last holiday season felt easier than any before it, I mistakenly thought they would just keep feeling that way. I don’t know why I thought that or if I somehow thought in ten years I’d wake up on December 1st and all the gifts would be purchased, wrapped and underneath a tree elves cut from the black forest of Soberasia.

This holiday season started out more stressful than I’d anticipated. I white knuckled through. Don’t let anyone tell you that’s not a valuable coping strategy, by the way. I don’t recommend it long term, but sobriety and life in general is sometimes very fucking hard. So it makes sense it will also feel that way. Hang in there, kitten! Don’t give up! The storm will pass.

My storm passed on Sunday, which was also Winter Solstice and 3.5 years since my last drink, but those aren’t the reasons it passed. Sunday was also the day I screwed up the nerve to show up for a big local running group in town. I’m no stranger to running groups, but this was a completely different experience from my last one. The group I joined before was more men and more competitive. This is mostly women, and a woman I’d never met before offered to run with me, even though I later found out her normal pace blows mine out of the water. The instant comradery and support reminded me of an AA meeting. I ran 4 miles and joined a group that meets to run when normal folk are still drooling on their pillows.

This is what I needed all along and I feel like someone or something dropped it in my lap like a gift. Here, I got you something I think you’ll like. At first I opened the box and thought what? this sweater? I already have it in three different colors and never wear it. But I held it up and thought what the hell and tried it on and don’t you know it fit perfectly and felt better by the mile. So, yeah, thanks universe. You always know just what to give me.

I got another swell gift from the universe this week. The Fix ran an essay I wrote about the holidays. I wrote it before Thanksgiving and had worked up in my mind that they didn’t like it enough to use, but then I got a very nice email that they were running it as a feature this week. They asked if I wanted to change anything, which I thought about because things went all pear-shaped and then got better, but then decided the holidays weren’t over yet anyway. Is it too early to call now?

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Click image to read article

I know better than to label things good or bad, but I still do it. I also eat far too much dessert when stress hits, which makes me feel worse, but I still do that too. What I do differently this year compared to my first sober Christmas is I shop and wrap earlier. When’s the last time a Christmas cookie wrapped all my presents? Thanks a lot cookies, but don’t worry, I still plan to eat every last one of you.

I hope you’ll read the article at The Fix because I tell a story from my first sober Christmas when I was really struggling. A kind stranger I’d never met before or since did something so small I guarantee she had no idea how much she helped me. You never know where the best gifts will come from, but I can tell you sometimes they come from you.

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28 thoughts on “Is it too early to call?

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  1. I’m regularly up by 3:30. Quiet & coffee, reading & writing. Loved your article.I did imagine that after the first bit of not drinking things would be perfect soon. Whaaat?! 3.5 years later it’s not perfect every day! Lol thank you for reminding me to be careful with each day.

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      1. I did not imagine it…could not, definitely not how fast it flew by. Happy to see your recent post and congrats on hitting send on the 100 day challenge. Hope you’ll write about it.

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  2. no. it’s not too early 😉

    love your perspectives both in the post and the article. I wrapped early this year – on the 23rd with the Bubble Hour on the headphones. recommend it highly to anyone who hasn’t wrapped yet. it’s as if those lovely ladies’ voices drown out that little voice whining why there isn’t a glass of something…

    and sugar behind every door at this time of year – am looking that one in the eye a little more clearly myself, too. consuming it realising what I am doing makes a small but highly significant difference.

    compassion and hope – yes indeed. thank you, for all of both you have extended to me and others. Prim xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Of all the awesome things you wrote, the “white knuckle” stuck with me. I’ve “white knuckled” a few things this year (most of them, unshared) and often felt a little desperate and weak in those moments. “Why can’t I get my s&* together and just do this?” Since I couldn’t do it with grace and a smile, I just did it with whatever methods I could find: OCD organizing, running, boxing, writing, waiting it out. How comforting to hear you, a woman I love, trust and respect, say that is a valuable coping mechanism. Thank you for that.
    Now…I’m off to read your article. xoxox

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your story. One of the things I so much enjoy about all of your posts is that they are about the experience of living, not just as someone in recovery, but someone who is truly living an intentional life.

    Have a great holiday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I stopped taking that second one my dr switched me to over a year ago. I take a B complex and absolutely have to exercise and manage stress. Winter is tough. All that being said, I’d never taken an antidepressant until just before getting sober, and mine felt more situational rather than chronic, if that makes sense. Of course everyone’s different, and my doc was great when i communicated concerns openly with her.

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  5. Lovely post.
    Aren’t barium swallows lovely? I also had a endoscopy/colonoscopy to figure out my digestive issues.
    At 43 i guess i am ready for anything! Lol

    I hope the rest of the holidays bring you joy, happiness and peace!

    Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good stuff Kristen.
    I’ve been running more regularly and I can definitely tell the difference in my mood. Your running group sounds perfect. Maybe you needed one that wasn’t quite right to make you appreciate the one that is. That ole Universe is pretty dang smart.
    Loved your piece on The Fix. Congrats, you’ve had a heck of a writing year. Proud of you.
    Merry Christmas, c-

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  7. Kristen

    I’m new to your blog & enjoyed Too Early to Call and The Fix. This is my first Christmas sober & today (Christmas Eve) was challenging – the most I’ve experienced since my 10 months sober.
    Never once was there a desire to drink, it was dealing with surpressed feelings of the loss of my mother & husband during this holiday season and dealing with the feelings SOBER . Fighting back the tears & missing to very important people in my life (and daughters) on the drive to the festivities , I did take my sponsors suggestion & took God with me.

    I’m going to hijack your “hang in there kitten” because it’s just what I needed to read tonight…………

    A-W-E-S-O-M-E on your 3.5 sober years !

    MJ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry to hear your Christmas Eve was a tough one. Sober feelings are a powerful force, and i can only imagine how grief plays into it. I love your sponsor’s suggestion. I hope today brings more peace. Thanks for writing.

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    1. Congrats on your 12 days!! Running has been great. I started with the couch 2 to 5k app. A lot of women in the running group do intervals, so running for a minute, walking for one for a 1:1. Or running: walking for 3:1. Think there are apps for that too. Good luck, thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I started to write three different comments. None of them felt right. What feels right is to thank you. I cannot express how wonderful this Christmas day has been. I think it one of the best ever. Nothing big just a quiet peaceful time with family. 100% there. 100% real. Thank you for helping me. I am so very grateful. Alive at last.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hope you had a lovely Christmas, Kristen. I read this on Christmas Eve, but with the backlog of all the stuff I was supposed to be doing instead of reading, didn’t get a chance to comment until now! I was going a little crazy with the whole Christmas thing by then, and loved both your post and the article, I found them really useful – an arm around my shoulder, a little squeeze, the words “you can do this”. I left everything too late, the shopping, the wrapping, and totally leaned on the caffeine and sugar to see me through, but in the end it was all OK. It usually is. Love and best wishes for 2015. I look forward to reading about what the new year brings you 🙂 xx

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    1. well I enjoyed your piece at The Fix (fav part – “patient and flexible, that life is so much more enjoyable this way” tru dat! ) – and also reads this post again 🙂 and like the sweater analogy to the right vibes at the running group – it is such a gift to find that kinda of social connection – and when I lived in San Jose it felt like those groups feel in my lap at every juncture – it took more time in the city I live in now, but San Jose felt like an outlet of customized sweaters with the cotton I love most!
      have a great day K!
      🙂

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  10. I have just found your blog and LOVE it! Congrats on 3.5 years – I have just started a blog (winecoloredmemories.blogspot.com) and am at 10 days. I have been “white knuckling” it so far, but my resolve is wavering, as tomorrow is NYE and I am about to turn 40 on Saturday and will be at my dad’s house where the wine flows like water. I am trying to really wrap my head around not drinking anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I appreciate your article posted on The Fix and your blog. I am in my first week of sobriety, and the dreaded weekend is at hand. (The weekends were always my go-time to start drinking my 12 + ales in the hot tub, after my family went to sleep.) Just white-knucked through Thanksgiving and trying to find informative articles on the topic of sobriety. It’s a new process for me, as I am still grappling that I have a drinking problem, that there are no excuses for it, and that I can never have a beer again. I have been reading your and others blogs and am finding solice in relating to your journey. Thank you.

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    1. I feel you. That first week is really hard, and the holidays…well I just really hope you’re finding support and making space for yourself. Meetings saved me then, but we all have to find what thing works for us. One weekend you’ll be able to get back in the hot tub, feeling better than alive and not missing the ales, but for awhile it’s probably best to change things up. Sobriety is the hardest thing I’ve willingly done, and hands down the smartest. Hang in there!

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