Day 41. In my early days as a TV feature reporter in St Louis I would log onto a media gossip website to see if my name was mentioned.
It was. Only members of the media were supposed to be on there and they all had code names to mask their true identity.
I remember an entire thread about my weight and “black pants.” I weighed 35+ pounds more than I do now. Carried most of my weight in my hips and thighs. Still do.
This was in the throes of my food addiction. Even though I exercised everyday there was no way I could work off all the excess sugar I was consuming during my daily binges.
As a feature reporter, you can’t hide behind a news desk. You’re head to toe, in action. I would disguise my thick, pear shaped figure with black pants. Tried to anyway.
I had lots of black pants. Various styles and sizes since my weight fluctuated. I wore them every day. It was my uniform. Bright colored, solid top. Black pants.
Obviously people had caught onto my attempt to camouflage my weight gain. Comments went back and forth about the size of my butt.
As painful as it was to read, I logged on everyday..sometimes multiple times a day to see if anyone came to my defense or had something to add. I only remember the insults.
One day I asked a veteran news anchor at the station what she thought of this gossip site. She told me she “didn’t.”
I was confused. “What do you mean?” She explained that she didn’t care what was on it. “Had no use for it.”
My mom used to say something similar. “What other people say about you is none of your business. Only you know the truth and that’s what’s most important.”
Had a reminder of that today. This time from a friend who is on her own sobriety journey.
I told her I was considering shutting down the blog. That I was concerned with what people were saying about me. Mostly my close friends.
But added “this is the one thing that’s kept me from drinking.” When I come close I picture myself having to write about it. Confess. That is the final thought I have as I stare down the picture in my head of me drinking.
I often will re-read my posts. Remind myself where I’ve come from. Why I did what I did. Why I want and need this to work.
She responded “so you’re going to stop something that is helping you because of what other people think?”
I’ve read and been told that in the early days of getting sober, you must make it your number one priority.
Stay away from people, places and things that trigger you. Do whatever it takes to keep you from drinking.
I have. I’m a nighttime hermit in constant contact with my support system.
During my binge eating days I couldn’t resist reading those hurtful comments, collecting tabloid magazines to analyze the bodies of thin celebrities. Logging onto eating disorder sites…the ones where women cheer each other on during fasts and starvations.
The never-ending negative talk in my head was fed by those sites and magazines. They would trigger my binges.
This time.. Same song and dance. Different lyrics and choreography.
My focus shifted. My obsession. Morphed.
Instead of body image and weight it was to do lists and achievements. Perfectionism of a different kind.
Fueled by social media. The comparison game.
These triggers wouldn’t result in drinking binges immediately.
The busy-ness was enough to numb out for awhile.
Must keep going. Must keep doing. Must not stop. Must not feel.
I wouldn’t become aware of this pattern for years to come.
The drinking started out as a reward. “With all this running, I DESERVE a glass or two of wine at the end of the day.”
“With all this responsibility I’ve EARNED this drink to relax.”
This was my alone time. My recharging time. My self care.
The drinking culture doesn’t help.
Today it’s normal to be a drinking mom. No need to reveal how often. Just don’t get a DUI, don’t drink during the day..unless with friends of course. Act like a lady when you do it. And you’re fine.
You can even sport a tee-shirt, hat and coffee mug to brag about it. Because drinking is so “fun.”
It took 40 days and 40 nights of me denying myself of this daily ritual to see exactly what was happening and where it came from. Two glasses a night…turned into two bottles a night over 8 years.
The first 30 + days of sobriety were so emotional. So schizophrenic. I could only see flickers of clarity.
So on this 41st day I can see that what started 8 years ago was the beginning of a slow decent. So gradual I didn’t even notice I was falling.
Last night I went to bed before my husband for the first time in years. Couldn’t wait to read and have my new kind of “alone time.” Didn’t want a glass of wine. Not that night.
Just an hour before I was on the phone with a very dear friend who asked me “so without a doubt you believe you are an alcoholic?”
My response. “100 percent.”