Surviving the Hurricane

I grew up in a sleepy little TEENY TINY coastal town in Northern California. I convinced myself that all there was to do there was “drink, do drugs, fuck, or fight” because it was such a small, boring town with nothing else to do.

I used to say that all the time. Isn’t it funny how self-absorbed we can be? We have beliefs that have been created by our own version of reality. We live by these belief systems and begin to believe our own BULLSHIT, while trying to convince others.

Whatever you believe comes true. Where you focus, energy flows. If you believe that all there is to do, is party, then you’ll never try to seek out any other options because you’ve convinced yourself that there isn’t any alternative.

In 2001, I moved to Texas. I moved to a town that was nearly 4 times the size of my hometown. Guess what everyone in this area believe? Most of the residents in our county will tell you that all there is to do is drink…….. because it’s a small boring town. Some will tell you it’s “just how things are done around here”. Talk to anyone who drinks frequently or has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and they’ll tell you the same. I’ve met people who live in large cities who’ll tell you that all there is to do is drink.

When I moved to Texas, guess what? I gravitated towards the drinkers. That’s where I felt most at home. I was drunk at my first Texas wedding within the first week of my arrival & hit up my first club within the first month.

I was a partier, but after being a resident of Washington County, Texas for about a year, I have to say I was shocked at how much alcohol was consumed. There was alcohol served at every function and I mean EVERY function. Baby showers, baby’s baptisms, first communions, baby’s 1st birthday parties, you name it. It was “normal”.

Their “normal” became MY “normal”. You know how the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them!”

This weekend we’re being held hostage in our house due to Hurricane Harvey. It’s predicted that our area is going to get about 20″ of rain. Houston and coastal towns like Rockport and Corpus Christi are getting hit HARD, by the heavy rain and high winds. [Keep Texas in your thoughts.].

I saw this on Facebook & I couldn’t help but think about the only 2 “Hurricane weekends” I’ve been through.

Growing up in California, there wasn’t any risk of tornadoes or hurricanes. In 2005 and 2008 I remember tropical storms that potentially threatened our area. My old employer was TERRIFIED of bad weather, so I always got time off whenever the weather seemed the least bit threatening. I remember those two “Hurricane Weekends”. All we did was PARTY for 3-4 days straight at friends. I remember in 2005 sitting outside getting wasted with a bunch of people, then hoping in a friends Winnebago and continuing drinking as we toured the county, with our kids. I remember in 2008, drinking all morning, afternoon and into the night for 3 days and playing wii at a friends house. I can’t remember any conversation that took place over those 2 weekends and don’t even hang out with any of those people anymore.

Hurricanes were just another reason to get wasted. I didn’t think about how thankful I was to be alive. I didn’t ever feel grateful for the fact that my boss paid me during those times he let me off because he wanted to make sure I was with my family and stayed safe. I didn’t think about how the Hurricanes could have came through our town and how unprepared we’d have been and unable to make the best decisions while intoxicated.

But now 671 days sober, I can sit back and reflect on how incredibly lucky I was to have never been harmed, or arrested during my irresponsible moments, that were all fueled by alcohol.

The one thing that sobriety has brought into my life is a greater sense of GRATITUDE & a higher level of self-awareness.

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Sober Summer #2

Summertime is over.
The kids are back in school.

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I survived my second SOBER SUMMER!

The first year of my sobriety was easier than the second year. I totally didn’t expect the challenges I faced. I thought it would only get easier.

The first year I was fueled by my desire to prove that I could do it. I have always been motivated by a Challenge. If you tell me it’s impossible, you better believe I will prove to you that it IS possible.

Back in 2007, I decided that I wanted to learn how to play Poker. So I went to “Poker Night” (at a local bar, go figure) every Monday for weeks. Despite getting shit-faced drunk every Monday night, I learned how to play and ended up winning the Poker Tournament. I remember that night. I was so drunk, that I was chain smoking and all of the ashes from my cigarettes kept landing in my purse. After that night I and then never went back again and have yet to play a game of Poker again. To be honest, I totally forgot how to even play.  I often do things just for the Challenge, and no other reason.

This summer, was a struggle. My mind started to play tricks on me. I had proved to myself that I could do it. I got SOBER. I stayed sober for an ENTIRE year. I proved to myself & to others that I could do it. I even helped others get sober. I have grown so much. I have become so much more self-aware. I have learned new coping skills. I learned to drink LaCroix Waters at functions instead of beer. I’ve learned to turn to my sober sisters in times of distress. I have learned to immerse myself in Personal Development when my mind starts playing tricks on me & I feel tempted to revert to old habits. I had COUNTLESS ah-ha moments & realizations in the first 15 months, that reinforced why getting sober was the right decision. I realized that getting sober was one of the best decisions I have ever made, BUT I also realized that getting sober, didn’t erase my depression or anxiety. Getting sober didn’t fix our marriage problems. Getting rid of fake-friends who were only there for the party & the good times, was a blessing, but local sober friends are few and far between, and cleanliness can still set in (This topic is a whole different blog post).  When stress hit, when feelings of abandonment and overwhelm showed up in my life, I found myself craving alcohol. I found myself watching movies where people were doing drugs and thinking how I missed that “high” — you know when you feel happy & unstoppable because you have temporary relief from the pain you are feeling. I found myself rationalizing. I would catch myself thinking, “It’s been 18+ months. You have proved to yourself that you do not need alcohol. After all this time, You could probably just have 1.” Then I would think “What is the point of just 1 drink?” Then it would hit me, I HAD AN ALCOHOL PROBLEM – WHY TEMPT FATE? And then I would remind myself that, “that ONE drink” wouldn’t be worth it and “that ONE drink” would 6 months down the road turn into late night beer runs when the case of beer was almost empty.

I realized that getting sober was one of the best decisions I have ever made, BUT I also realized that getting sober, didn’t erase my depression or anxiety. Getting sober didn’t fix our marriage problems. Getting rid of fake-friends who were only there for the party & the good times, was a blessing, but local sober friends are few and far between, and cleanliness can still set in (This topic is a whole different blog post).  When stress hit, when feelings of abandonment and overwhelm showed up in my life, I found myself craving alcohol. I found myself watching movies where people were doing drugs and thinking to myself how I missed that “high” — you know when you feel happy & unstoppable because you have temporary relief from the pain you are feeling. I found myself rationalizing. The voice in my head would be telling me, “It’s been 18+ months. You have proved to yourself that you do not need alcohol. After all this time, you could probably just have 1.” Then I would think “What is the point of just 1 drink?” Then it would hit me, I HAD AN ALCOHOL PROBLEM – WHY TEMPT FATE? If I still think that “only 1 drink” was pointless, then I STILL have a problem. And then I would remind myself that I had gone through bad times, stressful times, and experienced sadness & had lots of things to celebrate and hadn’t needed a drink yet. I told myself that “that ONE drink” wouldn’t be worth it. I knew that “that ONE drink” would lead me right back to where I started. NOT overnight, but “that ONE drink” today, would end up with a case of beer in 6 months (or less).

Last summer (the first summer) was fairly easy because I stayed busy. I also stayed in my bubble. I went to counseling several times a month. This summer, the kids were older, they weren’t around as much as they were last summer because they were older, with social lives.  We didn’t travel as much as we did last summer because we did most of our family traveling during the spring vs. the summer. But this year, I have made it through a trip to Hawaii, a trip to Punta Cana, Miami, Orlando and New Orleans and had was surrounded by people drinking and places that serve alcohol and stayed true to my commitment.

Mindy in Hawaii Sober.jpg

This year I got braver and started doing things/going places that I used to do/go, but just sober. I realized that the environment brought back emotions and memories that made me start craving alcohol.

This year I got braver and started doing things/going places that I used to do/go, but just sober. I realized that the environment brought back emotions and memories that made me start craving alcohol.

Ryan and I took Rebel out on one of his friend’s airboat one evening. Ryan bought beer for himself. This has always been a problem, but I couldn’t really explain why. To be honest, it wasn’t fair to expect him to stop drinking just because I decided to. I have always thought he had a drinking problem and still do, but it is not my place to make a decision for him or force him to quit drinking. He doesn’t understand, but it also really hurt because I felt that he wasn’t supporting me.  One of the main reasons I had quit drinking was because I felt it would repair our marriage & family.  I couldn’t put a finger on why it bothered me so much when he drank.

A flood of memories came rushing back that night on the airboat, from the moment I heard him crack open that first beer, watching him take sips and smelling the beer while we were out on the water, just like how it all started between us brought back a flood of memories. That was it…. I figured out why it bothered me.Everything I associate him with still revolves around our old life, and to be put in a familiar situation, it felt like I didn’t belong anymore. The only thing that was missing was me drinking. I have had to really focus on rebuilding a life without alcohol and letting go of those old memories and feelings of Me+Ryan+partying=life. It may have been the only life we’d known and spent the majority of our relationship living, but it didn’t have to stay that way. I also have had to remind myself to be patient. We spent over a decade living a life that revolved around partying….and 18 months wasn’t going to change things over night. But at the same time, I have found myself wanting to completely run away (again) and start all over alone, in a new town, with new people who never knew the old Mindy and re-establish life as the new me. It is a fantasy that I have where I start to convince myself that it would be easier that way.

Everything I associate him with still revolves around our old life, and to be put in a familiar situation, it felt like I didn’t belong anymore. The only thing that was missing was me drinking. I have had to really focus on rebuilding a life without alcohol and letting go of those old memories and feelings of Me + Ryan + partying = life. It may have been the only life we’d known and spent the majority of our relationship living, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. I also have had to remind myself to be patient. We spent over a decade living a life that revolved around partying….and 18 months wasn’t going to change things over night, especially since it was only me who had chosen to cut alcohol out of MY life. But it’s difficult when YOU decide to cut something out of your life, but still, share your life with someone else. I have found myself wanting to completely run away (again) and start all over alone, in a new town, with new people who never knew the old Mindy and re-establish life as the new me. It is a fantasy that I have where I start to convince myself that it would be easier that way.

To put it mildly, his summer has been a mind fuck!

I have come to the realization that I have to completely get to know myself AGAIN.
This time, it is the REAL ME, totally free of anything that would alter my being.
I have come to realize just how much time and money I have lost to my addictions.
I am coming to terms with the fact that sobriety didn’t fix my problems, but has given me the clarity I need to address each issue that I had avoided and allowed to continue to get worse.

This summer was tough, but I survived. I didn’t fall to temptation. I am still moving forward. This road is long, but I am not alone. The sober-community has been so supportive. And luckily this summer, I stumbled across Sarah Ordo and she gifted me her book, Sober as Fuck — it was the first book that I read about sobriety.

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I have a lot to sort out. I have a lot to learn. I have a lot of work to do on myself, but I finally feel equipped to do so. I have grown up and am ready to tackle all of those things that the scared little girl that lives inside of me feared and avoided.

 

There is nothing sexy about a drunk girl!

When did you start drinking??
I grew up with parents & grandparents who had a liquor cabinet. I grew up in the “wine country”. My grandpa brewed his own beer. My family had wine or a “high-ball” often at dinner. Both of my grandmothers drank heavily. My Papa didn’t drink, he’d quit when my mother was still a young child.

Looking back, there was always alcohol present, but honestly, I don’t feel like it negatively impacted me or influenced my decision to start drinking at an extremely young age. I remember taking sips of my dad and grandpas beer. I always liked beer.

I started drinking recreationally at age 15 when I left home. I drank to be cool. I drank because I thought it impressed guys. Looking at the pictures I can truly say, there is nothing sexy about a sloppy drunk. I learned to drink because it gave me fake-confidence and it helped keep my mind off the things that ate at my soul. I quit drinking with all 3 pregnancies, but before each pregnancy was partying pretty hard, so by the time I found out I was pregnant each time (around 5-7 weeks), there had already been several weekends that I knew I had been drunk before I even knew I was pregnant. I remember not being able to wait to drink again. As the years went by, my drinking became heavier and more frequent.

Going clockwise, these pictures are:

• 1998 (17 years old)
• 2006 (26 years old)
• 2013 & 2014 (33 years old; passed out in the truck next to Rebel, something I once saw another mother do when I first moved to Texas and thought was absolutely horrific. And passed out mid-day on a vacation, tubing with old friends and family)
• 2015 the last day I drank Grey Goose from 5 pm until 2 am that day & only remember the first couple hours
• July 14, 2017 – 628 days sober 

sobriety is sexy.jpg

…. you may have followed my story on Instagram or Facebook & read my posts and think that you don’t have a problem, which not everyone does. Everyone has a different relationship with alcohol… BUT I know for me, what started off rather innocently, “for fun”, over time ended up being a big problem.

Have you ever stepped back and re-evaluated the things in your life that “you’ve always done” or done for years??

My transformation began with fitness, then a desire to be physically healthy, which together made me start to want to be stronger and healthier mentally, which is what led to my decision to get sober. Isn’t it funny how a single decision can start a domino effect in your life, either negatively or positively??

At any point in time, you can change the course of your life, with one single decision.

Sending all my love to all my sober family. I was so shocked and am now so appreciative of just how big and supportive the community is. And I’m so thankful for the fitness community that has helped me through all of this the past 18+ months. Support is everything when you’re trying to make a change. I have a private support group open to anyone who is looking for guidance, support, and help along the way. Click on this link to request to join.