Humility through yoga and sea lions

In January 2012, I was a little over 6 months sober. I was still attending AA meetings and also apparently yoga per this post called Nirvana, which is very misleading. They were Family Yoga classes at the Y where you could bring your kid and the format was loose and the room dark.

Almost ten years later, I feel like I should be saying, hey, I’m still doing yoga, however now it is Advanced Yoga. Which is probably not a thing. There is such a thing as YouTube Yoga because my husband and I did some in January of this year. It was very humbling. The cat watched judgmentally from the couch. I was secretly worried our youngest child would secretly video us and become YouTube famous. The best thing to come out of our YouTube yoga phase was that it ended. The second best thing was that it motivated me to take up running again and lose some weight. I’m down 13 pounds from January 2021 and up about 20 pounds from January 2012, but who’s counting.

Sea lion pose

In the yoga 2012 post, I talked about a trip to San Diego I’d taken with my husband before I got sober. I will never forget it, not because of all the fun we had and the beautiful scenery, but because of a soul-crushing hangover that lasted days. Free from parenting responsibilities, I drank more than usual, which was already too much. The hangover started the morning I’d booked a boat ride to gawk at sea lions. I woke up feeling nauseated and shaky. Mounting panic at the thought of being trapped on a boat with sunscreen-scented, non-hungover strangers made the hangover worse. I thought about canceling, but pride prevented me. I’m sure I looked very proud with my head down and eyes closed for most of the trip.

With my eyes mostly closed, I was unable to fully appreciate the sea lions slimy, slothful beauty. I did snap a couple pictures and made an emergency plan to vomit over the side of the boat while the other passengers were busy taking their own pictures. Looking at my pictures today, the sea lions look the way I remember feeling. For the rest of the boat ride I wished I was dead but did not go so far as deciding not to drink again, not even for that day.

Barely hanging on

You know what’s really nice about going on trips sober? Everything, but most of all not having hangovers that make you wish you were dead. Everything is so much more enjoyable without them. Boat rides, sightseeing, swimming or lounging by the pool, meeting people for the first time, enjoying good meals, walking, breathing. I wonder what that trip would have been like if I hadn’t been soused and suffering, but in a way it’s kind of perfect because it caused a big crack in the image I had of myself as this merrymaking person who had her shit together. It’s okay not to have your shit together. In fact, wonderful things have happened every time I’ve been beaten down enough to accept this.

I am still an alcholic but spell better now

This June I will be 10 years sober. Ten years without a drink, a drunk, or a hangover. I don’t know if I thought I’d last this long on the day I quit, but now it seems too long for what it felt like. It went by too fast, like times does, and felt too easy in retrospect. That got me curious about what it was like in the early days, which fortunately or unfortunately I can go back and read about because this blog is also 10 years old.

I also wanted to do something special to celebrate 10 years sober. In the first year, I went to AA meetings and took coins. I remember how good it felt to get the 1 month coin and then I remember the 3 month, 9 month, and 1 year coins, though there were others in between. I still have them.

But I stopped going to meetings, and what I remember is the disdain some long-timers had for people who just showed up on year anniversaries to take coins. One woman I respected felt it gave the impression you didn’t really need AA to get or stay sober. I happen to know that is true for some. And then there are people with 1 year or 10 or even 25+ years who go to meetings. They go because it helps them stay sober or because they are driven by a higher purpose.

It’s only because of those with sobriety that meetings work. Who would run meetings if everyone was a newcomer? Who would give newcomers hope that it works, that sobriety is better than drinking?

To celebrate 10 years, I thought it would be fun (for me) to go back to posts from the early days of sobriety. Do I remember feeling whatever way I was feeling? Do I still feel that way? Does anything surprise me, or do I know better now?

It’s the clip show of blogs. But I miss writing and the connections that came from it. For added fun, I will include old photos from the approximate time of each post because I’ve also had an instagram 10 years. I have shoes older than that, but I’ll leave them out of this.

This was a picture of an albino deer I used to see on walks around my neighborhood. I was the only one in my family who ever saw it, but luckily captured this grainy photo of a ghost deer as “proof”. I think that is the last time I saw it. I think it would make a nice painting.

I started this blog about two months into sobriety. My first post was titled Am I an alcholic? I always considered myself a careful speller, so it’s funny that it took me ten years to catch that typo. It’s like looking at old wedding photos and noticing your slip was showing or your fly was down.

The post itself is short and the jist is that other people might tell you that you drink too much, but it’s up to you to decide if you’re an alcholic/alcoholic. I was kind of hung on up the A word back then.

This was from my second blog post, which incidentally posted on the same day as the first. I had no readers at that point but a lot to say:

I know this has been done before: the diary of a drunk housewife/mom/functioning member of society.

So why am I so excited to blog about my recovery? I really don’t know. But I am.

I have just over 60 days of sobriety right now, which to veterans in the twelve-step world is little more than a drop in the bucket, though something to hold close and tightly and be incredibly proud of.

To people who are still drinking but want to stop, it’s a pretty significant chunk of time.

To those who are still drinking and don’t want to stop, it’s a ridiculous amount of time.

I’ve been all three of the above, so that seems like a good topic to blog about next…

Would I be a veteran now? I think so. Do I consider 60 days a drop in the bucket? That depends. If you’re talking about 60 regular days, as in two months on a calendar in any given year, then yes, that is a drop in the bucket. You sneeze and it’s gone and two more months are up at bat.

But 60 days of sober time is like a million years. Even though 10 years flew by, those first 60 days were slowed down frame by frame so that I remember more bits and pieces compared to any other two-month period of my life. Same applies to the first 30 days sober and the first two weeks and the first 24 hours. They are sharper and clearer, either from fear and discomfort or hope or just the miracle of not-drinking.

Up Next: Nirvana or lack thereof, two readers, and an unaddressed 3-month absence from blogging. I must have been getting busy getting sober.

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