This Is Virginia Kerr

How I outed myself to find accountability, freedom and joy. A life without alcohol.

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Day 5. Me and this guy in my hand go way back. 8 years to this weekend to be exact. That was the first time I drank wine by myself. It was only a glass or two- but I liked it. I liked it a little too much.

I had a one month old , my husband was gone hunting for the weekend and i just said, “why not?’

Well, over the last 8 years my little habit turned into a dependancy. And my one glass turned into- on some nights nearly two bottles. Yes. Two bottles of wine.

For the last year I have researched.. taken quizzes.. gone to AA meetings..confided in friends. Tried to cutback. Tried to only drink on the weekends. Tried to drink water in between drinks. But no matter what..it goes back to more nights than not.

I honestly cannot believe I’m outing myself- but I know others are silently saying, “me too.”

I know that I cannot be the person I want to be. The person I claim to be. The person God intends for me to be. With this toxic relationship in my life. Now, me and my glass here don’t allow alcohol. Instead I drink water club soda, tea..

And unlike all the other times..I am prepared. I have a tool box of tools to help me stay on track.

Books, groups, podcasts, devotionals, an inner circle of friends including those who are also in recovery. Accountability parters. Gratitude lists, exercise..plans to do things that I cannot do with alcohol controlling me.

Another tool is this painfully frightening confession. Because one thing I’ve always been is truthful. And I will tell you if I break my 90 day promise to be alcohol free. Hold me to it.

It’s only been 5 days. Yep just 5. And I’ve already seen a change in my face..my body..my sleep..my family dynamic..all of the better.

But most of all I feel the change in my soul. I wake up proud. I wake up talking to God and thanking Him instead of apologising. I wake up excited!

I refuse to white knuckle this. I refuse to look at this as what I cannot do but what I get to do because of this decision.

My plan is to blow past 90 days. But for now this is my 90 day experiment. My personal challenge to get me revved up and running for 2019.

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Day 6. Here she goes. My last bottle (who is really two bottles in one.)

Handed her off to my personal trainer today. SHe’s keeping it. Not that I want her back but it was symbolic of me saying “see ya and I ain’t coming back.” I’ve broken off a lot of toxic relationships but this is the hardest one yet.

This is the first day it really sucks. Day 6. A Friday. Home alone. Decorating for Christmas. (Don’t judge- it’s what I do on hunting weekend.)

But it’s always a red wine kinda night. With Christmas music and popcorn.

Funny how we can turn every occasion into one worth drinking to. I mean I can- Not speaking for you.

But seriously. It’s the weekend- let’s drink. I haven’t seen you in a while- let’s drink. The games on- let’s drink. My favorite movie is on- let’s drink. The hubby is out of town- let’s drink. I had a hard day- let’s drink. It’s 8pm-let’s drink. I could go on and on.

When your go-to downtime habit becomes a straight up dependency you can seriously turn every night in to a Friday night.

Am I regretting that I outed myself? Kind of. But I’m also appreciating the kind words, support and accountability.

Here’s to the first tough night and some mega Christmas decor going up!!! Oh and by the way my “Between Breaths Memoir” by Elizabeth Vargas just arrived.. I will have it finished by tomorrow. This is book 5!

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Day 8. I thought I was going to be able to say this was one day farther than my last attempt. But I found a message thread with a woman I contacted the last time I tried this a year ago. She has been sober for years and blogged about it long long ago.

I found her during one of those nights when I woke up at 3 AM and was swimming in my thoughts.

That’s what we do. We drink ourselves to sleep and then wake up and ponder why we did it again. “Do we have a problem? Maybe someone else has been up at 3 AM with the same questions. Let’s see if I can find them via Google.”

It’s another reason why I’m documenting this. Because there aren’t many if any who walk you day by day with what they went through in real time.

I still search for them. Until I find them…I read books, blogs and message the few people I know who have been successful at this sober thing..they swear that I will one day be so grateful and never look back.

I messaged a couple of them today. And guess what…a couple of those 3AM sober searchers messaged me today.

If you’re reading this and struggling with similar thoughts of “Do I have a drinking problem? Am I an alcoholic? Can I live without it?”..friend, I’m with you.

So day 8 is not the longest I’ve gone. Last year I lasted from November 26th through December 10th. Ha my half birthday. But this year when I celebrate 44 and a half. It will be sober.
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FYI I got through the weekend by decorating my house for Christmas, staying up late watching Breaking Bad (I know doesn’t sound appropriate does it) and more reading. Plus The Bubble Hour podcast.
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It also helps that my 8 year old thinks I gave up wine to lose weight and he likes to tell me how proud he is of me for “quitting the wine.” He also told
Me he read its bad for my teeth when he was at the dentist 6 months ago..

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Day 9. Got another room done today. This is my mom’s room when she comes to stay.

I purposely haven’t outed myself on Facebook because my family is on there. Not that they aren’t fully aware of my “relationship” with alcohol but I’m just not ready to talk about it with them. Maybe because I’ve told them I’d quit before.

Maybe because I like the “let’s pretend we’re all ok” game. My family is good at that game.

I don’t blame them. I don’t blame anyone but myself. But I do wonder why? Why do I need to numb out? What am I afraid of addressing? I thought i dug all those skeletons out and counted them along time ago.

I’ve read your emotional maturity stops when your addiction starts. My eating addiction started when I was 13. I drank for the first time when I was 14…got drunk too. But the everyday drinking started a few years ago. Ok maybe 5 years ago.

The hubs came home from hunting a little while ago. We will talk about the weekend. How I got through it. And what we have this week. But what about the rest of the month?

I think the biggest fear is the holiday parties, family gatherings (oh do I like to drink at those, makes me a much better player and the let’s pretend we’re ok game)

But it really is a one day at a time  goal. I plan the next day. With a back up plan, exit strategy. Make sure I have accountability partners at any events I may attend…like tomorrow night’s.

Sounds so daunting- but honestly I’ve liked the last 8 nights. remembering everything I said the night before. Not having to watch the last half of shows because I was too drunk by the end. Waking up alert.

I like knowing I’m showing up for myself and my family. I’m thankful I can help anyone who maybe struggling with a similar issue. I’m thankful for the friendships I will make by putting myself out there.

Headed back to my counselor Wednesday. Maybe she can help me figure out what I’ve been numbing out. Until then. Here’s to the double digits!

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Day 10. Just saw a girl at a stoplight. She was in her car. On the phone. Crying. Ugly crying.

Maybe she quit drinking too. Probably not. Before I turned the corner and saw her I was about to lose it.

Today’s my first day out and about and I have an event tonight. There will be drinking. And that’s fine. My frustration today is…why me? Why do I have to have this brain chemistry? Why can’t I just have one and be done. Why the hell am I seriously thinking this much about alcohol? Stupid. I’m pouting.

Had a friend at lunch today who asked me about it. Said after my 90 days maybe I can find a new normal with drinking. Not drink so much. Yea. Well. You don’t know my brain. We’ve been there done that. I always end up right back where we came from..plus some.

Right after I pulled into the parking lot I saw a message from my blogger friend. You know the one I found on one of my 3AM sober searches a year ago.

We still message each other. Never talked. Her name is Jeanne. She lives in Florida. Jeanne gives me advice. Sends me articles and just a few minutes ago her message simply read. “John Mayer. Sober two years…just ‘came out.’”

Thank you, Jeanne. I needed that.

John says while deciding to quit is a very “personal thing for everyone. For me, it’s a constant return on investment.” That he realized he was giving too much up. Too much of his potential by choosing to continue to drink.”

I have a knot in my stomach. It’s time to get it together, Kerr. You’ve got work to do. And you need some chapstick.

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Day 11. We’re getting ready for a snow day. So I tweaked our bedroom decor. Because it really feels like winter now! Bought ingredients for a fancy breakfast.

Ok. Maybe not fancy but I’m actually cooking. I don’t cook breakfast. But I am tomorrow!

Not drinking is forcing me to do things I don’t do. I got a craft project to do with my son.

Also got our snow clothes out. We’re making a whole day of it.

Got through the event last night unscathed. Other people’s drinking didn’t trigger me. It was hunger and irritation-hangriness. When I walked in- I wanted a drink. I ordered dinner and hot water and focused on people. It was good! I found myself to be way more present..instead of hunting down the server to make sure I got my two glasses of wine. I’ve always had a limit when I host events.

Just like my former food addiction. I do most of the damage at home alone.

Another big win was I fell asleep with my husband at 10:30. The last 9 nights I’ve tossed and turned for a couple hours. Apparently that’s typical in the beginning. Because your brain is used to alcohol putting it to sleep. Sorry, dude. Better get use to it. Please get use to it!

Oh and I’m noticing my belly bloat and puffy face are going down. That’s a good thing.

Off to see my counselor to discuss things. Check y’all tomorrow.IMG_2066

Day 12. I really don’t like the label alcoholic. I think it may be why I’ve resisted doing something about my drinking.

When I hear that word I think. Addict. Broken home. Lost job. Homeless. DUI. Jail.

For so long I thought that since none of those apply then I must not have a real problem. In the past, I’ve expressed my concern with my doctor. Counselor. Mentors. They all said it sounded more like a bad habit. I needed to just cut back.

But I always knew it was more. It was like a cloud that hung over me.

I have more clarity after seeing my counselor last night.

She said “you’ve coped your entire life by being fixated on things.”

Distraction with a twist of OCD.

“It’s why you’ve been successful. You’re very driven. Some fixations aren’t bad for you but they too are ways that you numb out. And while you don’t have a physical addiction to alcohol..you have a problem that could one day escalate to a physical addiction.”

So I realized you don’t need a label to have a problem. Why wait until it gets worse? Until it gets harder to quit- when you can catch it now?

She also asked me what the one thing is that I love to do. That makes me smile. That I completely lose time to when I’m doing it. I told her and she said…”yep you’ve said that before. So do that.”

I’m realizing that this relationship- fixation with alcohol has not only isolated me. It’s stopped me from dreaming. It’s pulled me from hobbies, people and productivity. It’s numbed the bad AND the good.

And let’s be honest you can numb the bad but it‘s still there when you un-numb. But if you numb the good too much…it may not stick around.❤️

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Day 13. Straight up 7.5 on the alcohol craving spectrum tonight. It’s Friday night. It’s a family tradition that we go to the wings restaurant down the street. I get the same thing every time.  Grilled chicken salad and a Chardonnay (Or three.)

It’s like my body knew it was Friday. I was mad. Irritated. Jason said we didn’t have to go. Nope. I’m doing this. I ate a piece of cheese. Some blackberries before we left. Still wanted it.

We got there and I ordered hot water with lemon. This was not negotiable.

I made it. The hot water did the trick. We talked through dinner. I was fine.

Now we’re home and getting up to run a 5k as a family tomorrow. Focusing on new activities.

Drinking some is worse than drinking none. One glass would not have done it. I’d rather go without. And I did.

Grateful my husband understands. That we have a healthy family to run in the cold tomorrow. That my God is giving me the strength to overcome this.

This is no doubt one day at a time. Sometimes one hour at a time. ❤️

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Day 15. It’s early but I skipped yesterday because. It. Sucked.

Started off fine. But something happened. I snapped. Got into a fight with my husband. That’s not common. Of course I thought it was all him until he pointed out how ridiculous I was being. I was mad that he wasn’t at the finish line of the 5k race our family ran together.
Turns out it was because our 8 year old son was puking in the parking lot.
Hello irritability, sensitivity and anxiety. Selfishness.
The rest of the day I could’t get off the couch because my chest hurt so bad and I felt sick. Total anxiety attack. For hours.
I was mad. Sad. Annoyed.
But I didn’t drink. And man did I want to.
Went to bed early. Woke up thanking God. Thank you for my devoted husband who listened to me and drank hot chocolate with me and went to be early with me.
Thank you for reminding me that I have better days ahead.
And today I saw this article. If that wasn’t validation. There are so many women suffering in isolation. Shame. Insecurity. Loneliness. Silence.
Read it. It may not be you. But it may be someone you love. They need to know they’re not a lone. They need to know there is another way.
While this may not be easy. It’s worth it. You are worth it. ❤️
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Day 16. Hit the gym to start off the week right.

Saturday was awful. Sunday was much better. I learned why problem/dependent drinkers can never drink again.
It’s as if Alcohol creates a pathway in our brain. And once those chemicals hit that pathway- the brain wants more.
While sobriety and recovery can create a new pathway and rewire your brain to eventually be satisfied with healthier ways to cope…it will default to the alcohol pathway if you ever drink or use again.
You cannot heal your brain and and have a healthy relationship with alcohol. Meaning I will always want 8 glasses of wine. Never just 1.
As much as I don’t want to hear that. It’s good to know.
My husband was shocked by that. But accepted it. I’m seeing a new side of him. I like it.
I also realized after my anxiety ridden Saturday that I’ve let some “feelings” out of the closet.
All these years I’ve tried to lock up Anxiety, Stress, Depression, Disappointment in a dark room. Alcohol was the key to keeping them locked away.
So now my feelings are free to roam and pop up whenever they want. Now I have to sit with them. Listen to them.  Figure out what to do with them. Hence the sudden anxiety attacks. My brain was screaming for me to find the alcohol and lock up those nasty feelings.
Fear is roaming around too. But I’m willing to take it on. Bring it!
The reason I decided to attack this alcohol problem in the first place is because I run a business helping people overcome fear and find their inner strength. The strength they didn’t know existed.
And I here I was hiding.
But I told on it. I outed my darkest fear/problem/addiction. And he’s dangling out there for all to see. That alone took away a lot of his power. (Or hers) I still see it as a “her.” An evil nasty frenemy.
Next step. Tell my mom. She gets in town tomorrow.
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Day 17. Told my dad, my mom and my sister yesterday.

I didn’t die. I didn’t regret it . I didn’t cry.
They said they were happy for me. They were surprised when I said I tried to quit last year. They were surprised I tried AA. One said “that’s great.” Another said “well, good.” The other said “I’m really proud of you.”
Here’s what I didn’t see coming.
My time with my mom and sister who are visiting is on a different level. I’m more interested in them. Not thinking about “can I get a drink? Will they notice it’s drink 4? I’m just going to tell them I’m tired so I can drink in my room and go to sleep.”
I was shocked my sister was shocked. For years I’ve distanced myself just knowing she knew my secret. She knew I morphed my binge eating into binge drinking. But she didn’t. I was wrong.
We staid up until almost 2. Laughing. Talking life and getting to know each other again. It was a judgment free zone that we haven’t been in together for over three years.
Yesterday was good. Today was good. In all honesty each day I get a twinge or two or three that makes me want to drink. I try to put my finger on what triggered it. I remind myself of what I’m doing later that day so I can look forward to it. I remind myself that I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do for years.
I remind myself that I’m helping the 13 year old inside me who is lost, insecure and scared see that she is ok. That she is control of her sobriety story. That the brave and strong have to do hard things to get where they want to be.
So for all you sober warriors who cringe at the thought of not drinking on Thanksgiving. Know that you are not alone. That you will be so proud of yourself Friday morning. Bring your own drinks if you have to. Figure out what you’re going to say when asked if you want to drink. And maybe try a new recipe or two to keep you busy.
The future you is so proud of you. The future you is so thankful you finally did something to heal and take care of you. The future you is cheering you on. ❤️
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Day 19. This man. He’s not on social media but he knows I’m documenting my alcohol free journey. So here goes.
He is a man of few words. Doesn’t compliment much or ask many questions.
But every single day my husband now reminds me how proud he is of me and asks how I am doing. He tells me I’m strong. And dong the right thing.
I am so very grateful for him.
Last night we hosted Thanksgiving. Nothing went wrong. Everyone got a long. It was seemingly pleasant.
My expectations: you’re hosting you’ll be busy, you won’t be tempted to drink, they aren’t big drinkers anyway.
My reality: I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming, stimulated brain that let loose. It was like PMS on steroids. I was about to crawl out of my skin: not because of anything or anyone…It was yet  another reminder that I have to undo what the last 6 or so years of drinking everyday has done. It’s conditioned my brain to expect a chemical depressant to take off the edge…numb me out to whatever seems to be too much.
I’ve never been the hostess with the mostess. But I thought I got better over the last few years.
Maybe I just got better numbing out.
I cried. For no reason. I knew what was happening. I knew it would pass. I knew it was part of the process. But it still sucked. My chest was on fire.
My personal trainer said today that she was impressed with how quickly I’m recognizing my triggers and reflecting on my reactions.
“It isn’t as fast as you think,” I explained.
I’ve literally been researching, praying, and fixating on this for an entire year.
When I failed to quit last November, I told myself…grace. Give yourself grace. God is working on you and you will know when you’re ready to jump in 100%. That time came at the end of October. I dove in November 4th.
If I had not outed myself and vowed to give you the truth along the way. I would not have lasted this long.
I look for the triggers, I journal my thoughts, I text a handful of people. I pray. I talk it out. I read.
This isn’t easy. At all. Feelings and cravings come and go. But the next day you still have you to wake up to.  ❤️
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Day 23. Celebrated with a mammogram today! It’s been two years since my last one.

I knew this toxic alcohol relationship had to stop when I started waking up like I did with my food addiction.

Waking up at 3AM. First thought. “How much did you drink last night” then “what’s wrong with you? You have no discipline.”

Followed with these loving thoughts, “Do you not care about your health? Your family? What are you going to do if you end up with cancer? Because God will get your attention some how some way.”

Then I’d pray. Promise to gain control. Try to go back to sleep. Maybe google and look for some answers. Maybe cry.

These first days have been full of anxiety, irritability and frustration. And I’ve read that’s typical of the first 30 days. You’re so raw.

But I love that these wake up calls and self loathing conversations in the middle of the night aren’t occurring. That I wake up feeling good.

Yesterday I got into it with Jason over Christmas wreaths. My OCD in full throttle. The ribbons weren’t fluffed before he hung the mega wreath on the house. (I know I sound so pleasant right) I wanted a drink so bad after that exchange. Instead I had to ask why I went off and then I chugged an entire bottle of sparkling grape juice. Did not even close the refrigerator door to do it.

My triggers are everywhere but the main ones are people and their reactions. My reactions. They are feelings of lack of control. Of trying to make people happy and feeling as if I can’t or annoyed that I didn’t speak up. Too worried about what they think. My triggers are unexpected.

Last night I was reading in front of the tv with Jason and I stopped and laughed. I realized I had no desire to drink. It hadn’t even crossed my mind since I chugged the sparkling wine at 3pm. That- I was proud of.

So today I celebrate with a mammogram. True self care. Today I’ve not felt a trigger. Today is a new day.

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Day 24. I laughed today. I was on the phone telling a friend that I was just a lush who has gotten through 24 days without Chardonnay. “Im no expert at this thing.” I shouted.

“But I can tell you one thing, Chardonnay is a bitch!”

Let’s just say I’m in an anger stage of my breakup now.

You see. I had a long affair with this tall drink of…well wine. She was my boo. She was there to celebrate, to vent, to cry, to laugh with. I could hang out with all sorts of alcohol but I would always come back to her. And in the end she’s all I ever wanted. Coffee to wake me up, Chardonnay to put me to bed. No need for water.

You can put liquor in front of me, beer, spritzers, fancy martinis…they do nothing for me. I want my Chardonnay.

I try not to look at her when I see her out with other people these days. Maybe she’s nicer to them. Maybe she doesn’t have the same effect. She doesn’t lie to them and make them feel invincible. Make them feel like they don’t need anyone else until one day you see that she’s pulling you from every positive person and activity you’ve ever had.

And now you need two bottles of her instead of two glasses. She’s greedy.

Just like any emotional abuser she controls your thoughts, your money, your sex, your friendships. She plays mind games. She gnaws at your soul.

She works so slowly you don’t even notice until the fun fades into shame. And even then she’s got you. Telling you that you’ll never have fun again without her. Your friends will drop you. Your social life is over.

But she is wrong. And once you figure it out..when you are onto her games and lies. That’s when you can prepare for your great escape. Run away. Find a better life.

Sure I may feel my pulse pick up and my heart drop when I see her.. . But I know she will never make good on her promises and we can never be together again.

And this is how I stayed sober today 😂 bye, Boo!

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Day 26. Isn’t it crazy how one day you wake up happy and the next- 💥 bam! New emotion.

It’s like your mind is a rental house. And the lease is up on a daily basis. Who will the tenant be today? What are we going to have to talk about..discuss…explore while he hangs out in my head space?
Today I apparently gave the keys over to Fear. He showed up around 9 this morning. While I was driving.
Fear cut straight through the chase.
“Everyone knows you’re a phony. All this time you talked about getting over me and my girl Anxiety and you were secretly trying to drink us away… Oh. By the way-
I told Anxiety she could shack up with me. She’s at the door. Hope you don’t mind. Fear, Lies, Shame, y’all can come in too!”
Fear’s throwing a party in my head. And to make it even worse. It’s a dry party.
But there’s plenty of comparison, peoples opinions and isolation to go around.
After mingling a while-ugly crying on my way to an appointment- I reminded Fear that I actually told my preacher the big secret yesterday.
“You sure you want me to speak at church?” I asked preacher man through my tears (crying. It’s a thing these days)
Cause you need to know I’m a functioning alcoholic. I only have 25 days under my belt. And I’m scared.”
Wait. What? That just fell out of my mouth right there in the preacher’s office?!? I said I wasn’t going to go there. Use THAT “label.” ALCOHOLIC.
But I know too much now.
I’ve learned too much. I know the truth and I cannot forget it now.
After that story…Fear, got up. Took his ugly cousins and left. Passing Courage on the way out. Her setting up camp is the only way I could have posted this today.

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Day 31. This will be short. I haven’t had a drink. But the last several days haven’t been great. The people pleaser. OCD. Over achiever in me didn’t want to sound like a whiner. Didn’t want to not end on a happy note.

I’m ok. I’m just realizing that while the not drinking is not easy- the discovering what you’ve put on the back burner by drinking is even harder.
And while being vulnerable can be healing. I’m not sure this is the right platform.

Instagram feels like passerby looking through your window. Where as I’d rather invite people to come in and have a conversation.

Sit. Stay a while. But only if you want to. That way the right people get more than the highlight reel. (Or lowlight)

So I’m finding a new place to journal. Will update soon❤️

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