Day 151



Better emotional regulation*. Top of my list of things to work on in 2018 and lately, I can see why.

The last three days have been a roller coaster of stress, emotions, fleeting pink cloud moments of feeling on top of the world and dark “what am I even doing” thoughts that traveled down the familiar negative groove.

I guess that’s one of the helpful things about journaling. It allows one to see how changeable everything is, even when it can feel so overwhelmingly permanent in the moment.

In the final chapters of This Naked Mind and I will say some of her brain retraining might be sinking in. I plan to do a little recap of it when I’m done, but in the meantime, I’m gonna leave today with the hand-written quote on the notecard I received with a t-shirt:

The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.

Gratitude Postscript

This morning, in direct contrast to yesterday’s debacle (of course), went very smoothly. Boys snuck into bed with me in the middle of the night, but I was able to sneak out at 6am to do my quick workout and they slept through it – phew! The rest of the day has continued in similar fashion. Not necessarily easy, but without a hitch. I’m grateful for that. And I’m grateful for the treasure of unselfconscious little boy laughter coming from down the hall as C gives the boys a bath.

*Just wrapping up a 15-minute meltdown with Little C at the end of the night. He’s sitting on my lap as I type this, exhausted. Talk about a lesson in the importance of emotional regulation – if not, we’re not much better than a stormy 4-year-old… and that’s not pretty. Emotions, big or small, come and go — it’s important to know that we control them, not the other way around. Such an easy concept, so hard to live. [Edit: The tantrum actually lasted for another 40 minutes after I finished the post, just for the record]

Day 150

CGI Portrait 3.0, by Antoni Tudisco


What a scramble. Amazing how one morning can run so smoothly, and another feel like a complete disaster. I’m proud of the fact that two days in a row I managed to be in bed before 11pm (asleep is another matter), and fit in a 15-minute workout before starting the day.

Boys joined me for the workout again this morning… which did not work out as well as yesterday. A lot of interruptions and annoyance, and starting the day off on the wrong foot. Little C ended up in a time out before I’d even had my first coffee. Sigh.

I’d like to say it improved from there, but the scramble continues. Getting the boys to do pretty much anything was a huge struggle so we were late for daycare, then I was pulled aside by one of their teachers to chat, so was late to an early conference call – with account people pinging me left & right, and then the expectations for my participation in the call were much higher than I’d planned due to a number of frustrating finger-pointing situations all outside of my control (but extremely high-stress). Unfortunately agency life has taught me that bullying doesn’t disappear after high school.

Deep breaths. Deeeeeeeep breaths. 

Today, I am 100% the Hot Mess Mom. And ya know what, that’s OK.

I used to be this mom every morning*, thanks to alcohol. Staying up too late the night before, waking up sluggish with brain stuck to the side of my head, irritable  and impatient with the boys – which always guaranteed they’d slow down and become more difficult, and pretty much ineffectual until my second cup of coffee – I was always late to daycare, ALWAYS. Sometimes, dropping them off in tears. It was a complete nightmare, and part of the reason I quit.

Life is getting easier these days, for a number of reasons, but quitting has been one of the biggest factors.

Gratitude Postscript

I’m grateful to have a stable freelance job right now, even if that means I have moments of stress like today. Overall, it’s a great “perma-lance” job and I enjoy it.


*Listening to This Naked Mind’s chapter on the effects of alcohol withdrawal yesterday, this thought really hit home: When we drink heavily, daily, we are in a constant cycle of withdrawal when not drinking. The effects of withdrawal are chronic exhaustion, irritability, rage, and an inability to cope with the daily, common, stressors of life. HOLY SHIT. That was pretty much me on a daily basis. And yes, my life is stressful and anger-inducing at times, guaranteed. But alcohol was only making that much, much worse. And my ability to cope with all of the stress in my life was greatly reduced by something I THOUGHT was helping. How wrong could I have been. 

Here’s an article on some of the highlights from This Naked Mind (by another author), that go into greater depth on alcohol’s effect on the body and mind.

Day 149


Not only did I go to bed early last night but I even ended up getting up 45 minutes earlier this morning and fitting in my 15 minute workout before the day started.

Granted, boys also got up early and interrupted it, joining me in the moves to much hilarity, “Mom, why are you wet?” but our morning went so much more smoothly than it typically does after that. I was able to shower, get boys and myself dressed without rushing, even eat a normal breakfast (no cereal bars and shakes on the way out the door today!), and drop them off EARLY, in preparation for an important client presentation.

That went well too, and as I reached the middle of my day, eating a salad and contemplating a new book on meditation, I was starting to feel a little cocky. Man, I’ve got my shit together today! Then I had the thought as I normally do, “just wait, Self, the other shoe is about to drop”.

And it just did. 

After the creative presentation, I marked up my notes on the PDF we reviewed – making sure I captured everything the client said and our own commentary in response, and then Replied-All to the meeting invite… sending the PDF to the agency team AND THE CLIENTS by mistake.


The Creative Director pointed it out, asking “Did you mean to send that to the clients?” and I felt my stomach lurch. Immediately ran to his office to wring my hands and apologize. I did so well in the presentation – why did I have to go ruin it with this stupid junior move?! Then, I ran around to the account folks – heading it off at the pass; “I don’t think there was anything incriminating in my comments! I’m so sorry!” And then, back to my desk to double-check.

Turns out, there was nothing all that offensive in my markups, and as far as I can tell no one is that upset, but DAMN. Life wanted to teach me a lesson: don’t think you’ve got it all under control. You don’t. Life is life, and you’re human.

And that’s OKAY.


Gratitude Postscript

I’m feeling very grateful those comments didn’t include anything defamatory about the clients. But now I need chocolate…

Day 148

Zig Zag, by Ophelia Pang


Crashed and burned off my little zen pedestal of “Wait before you speak” this morning… feeling the stress of a multitude of home and work-related projects that need to get done somehow in my “free time” over the next couple weekends, and launched into C about not wanting to be the primary parent this weekend. This was pretty much the worst thing I could have done if I wanted his help, which was what I needed to ask for, really.

So, after a morning spent at the computer (thanks to his help, in spite of my attitude), I came down to lunch with an apology. The words “Don’t React” on our bedroom mirror are shaming me these days.

The afternoon was filled with a sugar-filled birthday party (do we really need to feed kids huge slices of fondant, candy and cookies for 2 hours to call it a birthday?). Now we’re back home – kids parked in front of the TV while C cooks dinner and I wrap up some work emails.

I can’t say it was that stressful of a day, but man – parties like that leave me feeling the old familiar, Damn I’ve Earned A Drink feeling. I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself that I’m not even able to smoke a little pot tonight (staying 100% sober on weeknights as much as possible) when I remembered – I can find other rewards. I can’t believe I’m almost 6 months in and I still need to remind myself of this!

So tonight’s reward is going to be a new Betty Rocker workout, as I join a friend in a body-weight workout challenge over the next 30 days, followed by a little Netflix, hopefully meditation, then bed at an early hour.

Ya hear that, Self? EARLY HOUR.

Gratitude Postscript

Feeling grateful for a good workout plan right now. Just finished the 1st day and am hopeful about doing this for 30 days… even might try getting up a 1/2 hr early and fitting this in before boys wake up. Fingers crossed!

Day 147


Today’s theme was mind-body connection.

After talking at length about the tie between physical and mental pain with my good friend S at boys’ gymnastics class, we headed over to a restful but long 1.5hr yoga class where the focus was on aligning our minds with our bodies. 

The instructor ended the class with the thought, “Yoga helps our bodies become strong and flexible, but ultimately it is a practice of the mind.”

When I stop and listen, my life is trying to tell me to slow down and pay more attention to my body’s reaction to things, and to take heed of my emotions as well. Alcohol was so good at separating mind from body that I’m realizing I’m not good at this. I used to think drinking was only affecting my physical health. I had no idea the extent to which it was affecting the rest of my life and my essential Self. 

The body’s physical response to life can tell us so much, as can our emotions if we care to listen. But that takes awareness, patience, mindfulness… all of which require one to STOP, PAUSE, BREATHE.

I have a tiny slip of paper posted to the dash in my car, with an acronym that I find helpful to read over and over: S.O.B.E.R

  • Stop
  • Observe
  • Breathe
  • Expand
  • Respond mindfully

Now, all I need is to actually DO IT.

Gratitude Postscript

Today, I’m grateful for my friendship with S – our conversation this morning was as good as any therapy session. She is one of the few people in my life who really GET IT right now. I’m also grateful for learning how to be more in tune with myself. 

Day 146

Dancing at a friend’s wedding, 100% sober.


Yesterday was my 41st birthday. At the point in the day when I wrote yesterday’s post, it honestly hadn’t even occurred to me. But my boys and C reminded me quickly enough. And the evening was filled with joyful surprises: the boys singing Happy Birthday in French (!? Apparently they learned at daycare?), C turning off the lights and bringing in a tiny ice cream cake with candles, thoughtful gifts from a new woodworking tool to a lovely book of photography that made me cry, dear friends reaching out with intention – asking questions about how the year went and remarking on specific memories – not just tossing over the obligatory Facebook happy birthday. I feel so incredibly grateful, even undeserving.

What a year it’s been.

At this point last year, I was in such a dark, desperate place. And now, it’s like the light has been turned on, revealing more goodness than I ever knew existed, as well as all the dust and dirt that has accumulated over the years. If this past year was about waking up, I hope this year is about moving forward.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.
― Neil Gaiman 

Day 145



So lately, I’m failing at my goal of holding back and not reacting, especially when it comes to my marriage. I don’t want to beat myself up over it, but I wish I could get a little quicker at catching myself before it happens. It wasn’t until late last night that I realized I’d been reactionary during a disagreement and probably did some damage.

Listening to my audible book today, something hit home.

The author mixes in mini-chapters called Liminal Points, where she does some myth-busting. Today’s Liminal Point was about alcohol giving us courage. In a nutshell, it doesn’t. It numbs our senses so we don’t feel the fear, but in the end it chips away at our confidence and the behavior we may believe to be courageous in the moment is often just stupid.

What I found applicable to my recent failings is the thought that emotions should be listened to. Ignoring our emotions can have negative consequences. In the case of fear, we could even get hurt. With anger, we never get a chance to learn WHY we are feeling angry (the deeper Why, not the surface Why: “She wouldn’t watch TV with me” vs “I felt rejected and hurt”), and then learn to deal with it in healthier ways. Years and years of burying our feelings cause us to become out-of-touch with ourselves. And when you’re out-of-touch with your core self, you’re not able to love that person for who they really are.

It all comes back to love.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Rumi Lara Maurino

Gratitude Postscript

I’m grateful for this morning’s workout and potential yoga class tonight, and more importantly, I’m grateful for my husband who, so far, has not been reactionary about my angry outburst last night. 

Day 144


Now that I have my commute back, I’m listening to This Naked Mind on Audible. I like her mix of science, medicine and personal anecdotes.

Although I’m only a few chapters in, her description of the problem with AA’s definition of alcoholics is one I can get behind. It took me years to come to terms with my own issues with alcohol because I was always able to say, “Well, I’m not THAT bad. I’m not like THOSE people. I’m not an alcoholic.” Because to me, alcoholic meant someone who had a genetic or other proclivity toward alcohol abuse, a unique type of person with a “disease” or an “allergy” to alcohol. Someone who was less able to resist the addictive nature of alcohol. And more often than not, someone who had bottomed out because of it.

If someone had explained to me in my 20’s or 30’s the simple notion that alcohol is an extremely addictive substance, and anyone who struggles to control their alcohol intake has a serious issue that needs to be dealt with or they will become an alcoholic, I might have seen the light sooner.

I know for me, it took a large number of signs over the years, big bold blinking “caution” signs in my personal life, and finally my therapist saying to me, “What if I were to tell you that everything you’re struggling with right now can be traced back to alcohol?” for the lightbulb to go off.

And when I realized the truth of her question, I decided to give myself a test. If I couldn’t stick with a reasonable plan to moderate (even tapering back initially to make it easier on myself), I would quit. Turns out, I couldn’t moderate. Not for any length of time. I always found some excuse why this night or that circumstance was exempt, until I was back to the same-old, same-old.

And I could trace the slow increase and dependance over the years.

The idea that only SOME people are prone to alcoholism, that it’s a disease or an allergy, is a dangerous one. Because the truth of it is, anyone can get addicted to alcohol. No one is immune. And it makes it harder for high-functioning heavy drinkers like myself and others I know to admit they have a problem – because, hey, we’re not an alcoholic by society’s standards!

Now, I’m off my soapbox and headed downstairs to read something lighter, then bed.

Gratitude Postscript

I’m grateful in many more ways than one for my female friends. Today, I’m specifically grateful for two good friends who like to share book recommendations: that I have such strong, intelligent women in my life, that they count me to be a friend, and that we share a love for reading.

Day 143

Lamberts Point Pier 6, Norfolk, Virginia


Back to work and the regular routine, thank god.

Kids off to daycare, work work work, therapy, work work, dinner, boys’ baths, workout, groceries, mindless Facebook scrolling, now bed. Goal is to be IN BED by 11pm [Edit: I was unsuccessful].

When in doubt, stick to the routine. I was starting to feel lost without ours!

Somehow, over the holidays, I lost a bit of my sobriety mojo. I’m still 100% dry, but I need to get the motivation for mental and physical healthiness back. Hopefully, the routine will give me the mental space to combat the laziness and get back on track.

Gratitude Postscript

I’m grateful that today’s creative review went better than last week’s. I’m chipping away at a number of freelance projects that had been overwhelming just a couple weeks ago, but small steps are adding up.

Day 142

Five Minutes Of Pure Sculpture, by Anthony McCall

President’s Day Monday

In the wee hours of the morning today, an analogy for sobriety came to me as I pondered all I’m seeing in my life now that I seemed unable to see before.

Drinking is like sitting inside with all the blinds drawn, in depressive darkness. You can see some details of life dimly, but it isn’t until you choose to open the blinds that you can see the whole picture. And while the light shining in brings warmth and positivity with it, it also exposes all the dust and hidden messes you’ve been able to avoid in the darkness. The world around you becomes bigger, brighter, and at times, also more overwhelming.

Gratitude Postscript

I’m grateful for the light, in spite of the overwhelm it brings.