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Next Life, NO Kids: April 2016

April 22, 2016

9 Reasons I Want To Drink After Almost 16 Years of Sobriety

We attended our first cookout of the year last weekend, and I found myself eyeing the beer cooler. I noticed I was feeling a little jealous of others getting their drink on; while I stood sipping green tea.

There's something almost magical about coming up for air after the long winter months, hiding under the heavy blanket of seasonal depression. There is a part of me - even after almost 16 years of sobriety - that whispers ever-so-seductively every spring, that it might be totally okay to start drinking again.

Here are some of the reasons I've come up with over the years.

Next Life, NO Kids - 9 Reasons I Want To Drink After Almost 16 Years of #Sobriety #recovery #alcoholism

#1    I miss drinking.

Sometimes I mourn the unawareness that drinking - for me - is a horrible idea, but there is very little about my drinking career I actually miss.

I do not miss hangovers or having to ask someone to walk me through the previous night's events.  I also appreciate waking up next to a man I recognize every morning, and knowing exactly where my car is parked. 

Deduction: Even if I do sometimes miss drinking, I do not ever miss the consequences that almost always resulted.

#2    I could probably just have one and it would be no big deal.

Okay, this one might be true. 

I might be able to have just one drink tonight, be super proud of myself for beating the odds of alcoholism, and maybe even go to bed without anything catastrophic happening. I've heard many stories over the years of people doing just that. Unfortunately, many (not all) of those stories continue with two very important words that I must keep in the forefront of my mind.

"And then..."

I imagine my excitement over the ability to have just one drink and go to bed might last for a week... while I fancied how many nights a week I could put the kids to bed and have one. 

And then... perhaps after an especially horrific day,  the wait might be too much, and I would decide it okay to put them to bed a little early. I might even justify this with all sorts of rationale regarding how tired they must be after their long day at school, but really it will only be so I can have my one drink and go to bed. 

Given how quickly my priorities shift when I drink, I'd be willing to bet it wouldn't take long for me to experiment with a two glass rule, and I'm sure the glass would also get larger. Perhaps it would take years for things to get as progressively bad as they were in 2000, but I know in my heart they would. 

Deduction: One drink usually leads me to another, and the desire to be shitfaced as often as possible ruins my life.

#3    I have my shit together now! I'm married, own a house, and have two cars in the driveway. Things are different. I'm different.

The truth is, the only reason I have shit to rub together today is because I got sober. I don't "do" relationships when I'm drinking - mostly because they get in the way of my drinking, so I can't imagine my marriage lasting very long. Plus, I often forget how to be faithful when I'm drunk, and predict that to be a rather substantial deal breaker for my husband. The house? Will most likely be awarded to him in the divorce, because he'll be the one with full custody of our children. I don't play mom very well when alcohol is an option; and I have very little desire to. 

I am different - because sobriety forced me to take a look at myself and take responsibility for the choices I was making.

My life was a mess because, until I got sober, I chose alcohol over action that could have made it better. 

Deduction: If I want to keep my shit together, stay married, and continue an active role in the lives of my children, drinking is a terrible idea.

#4    I could always just get sober again if my drinking turned into a problem.

I have many friends who decided to drink after years of sobriety, with this very thought. Some of them have managed to renew their sobriety, after years of trying desperately, and some of them have not. 

Getting sober is one of the hardest things I've ever done. I'm not sure I could do it again.

Deduction: If I don't want to risk never finding sobriety or losing another 10-20 years of my life, drinking is a terrible idea.

#5    I have an incredible relationship with God today - a power greater than alcohol. It's possible I won't get so lost if I drink now... because I have a spiritual solution.

This thought usually makes me laugh out loud. When I drink, I choose drinking over pretty much everything in my life. Alcohol provides a false sense of security and becomes my solution for everything. I quickly lose faith in all things that do not offer me instant gratification, and lean on alcohol.

Deduction:  If I wish to continue having a relationship with God (and literally everyone else in my life), drinking is a terrible idea.

#6    I've grown up A LOT since I had a problem with alcohol, and I'm probably mature enough to handle the responsibility now.

See #3. I was 22 when I got sober, but had the maturity of a 15 year old girl. I was 15 when I started drinking. Coincidence? Probably not. 

When I think about my life back then, I feel tired. I remember how exhausting it was to balance all the things that I had to do (ie. parent, work, adult) and the things I wanted to do (get wasted, let loose, avoid responsibility). 

I like my life today. Maybe that's because I'm sober, maybe it's not. Either way, I'm not willing to start a fire I'm not sure I can control because I own a lot of flammable shit.

Deduction: If I don't want a 15 year old girl running my life into the toilet, while whining and crying because adulting is so hard, drinking is a terrible idea.

#7    Other people get to get drunk and still live great lives. *crosses arms and stomps foot* IT'S NOT FAIR!!!

See? Even just the thought of drinking turns me into a very large toddler.

The truth is, it doesn't matter how other people drink, how often, or what happens when they do. Experience has shown me - time and again - that a great life and alcohol don't mix.

Deduction: If I want my great life, drinking is a terrible idea.

#8    Drinking made me more fun.

I am actually not a fun drunk person. Okay, that's unfair. For like the first ten minutes I'm a hoot. After that, I'm either incredibly obnoxious or a complete drag; depending on my mood. Quite often, the only person unaware of this, is me. 

I have had way more fun since getting sober...and the kicker? I get to remember all of it.

Deduction: If I enjoy having friends, drinking is a terrible idea. 

#9    After 16 years, I have earned it.

What I have earned in the last sixteen years, one day at a time, is an incredible life that alcohol just doesn't factor into anymore. Besides, "it" usually refers to that old false sense of relief and comfort I thought drinking provided. The truth is, the high prices I paid for that "relief" were never worth it. 

Recovery has provided the opportunity to practice many other coping skills and tools to deal with stress, etc. that actually work. These tools do not offer immediate gratification the way alcohol did, but they don't ever result in my wanting to kill myself either.

Deduction:  I choose sobriety today, and the amazing life I get to live because of it. 

For me, drinking is a terrible idea.

I love feedback. If you have thoughts about this post, please scroll down and leave a comment!

If you'd like to connect with me, you can subscribe above, find me on Facebook, come join me on Next Life, NO Kids or send me an email (julie[@]nextlifenokids.com)! 

If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with alcohol or other substances, check out the Sober Mommies website for more stories and all kinds of resources. 

Related Posts:

Next Life, NO Kids - Alcohol Was Killing Me #alcoholism #addiction


Next Life, NO Kids - I Was Never A Monster #PPD #motherhood

Next Life NO Kids - I Don't Want My #Marriage Today #depression #relationships

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April 13, 2016

Adoption Feels Gray

When I was five months old, I got a mulligan - a chance at a new life - a do over. I became a "Julie," and I learned to call two strangers Mom and Dad. 

I have always known I was adopted. It was made to be a very big and special deal in my house. I was chosen. I'm sure I believed in all of that in the beginning, but it didn't take long for fear and inadequacy to make their way between the giant cracks of that foundation.

I grew up feeling, looking, and hyper-focused on not behaving differently. My relationships have always been strained by the pull of projected abandonment, and my fear that once you see me - really see me - you'll leave. I have mastered the art of pretending; all sorts of things. I have spent countless hours studying your facial expressions; adopting your lisp, laugh, or eye flutter. I have tried to be so many different people under the guise of "fitting in." But if I'm really honest with myself, it hasn't always been to fit with you as it has been to fit within you. 

Belonging is tricky, because there are just too many variables. I have to want to belong and then must be met with acceptance. Acceptance can seem a dirty word in the vocabulary of just about anyone, but when you grow up having to work for it, it becomes a chore. Plus, acceptance feels short lived when it must be earned, and makes belonging feel terribly exhausting.  

I'm pretty sure that last paragraph just summed up much of my life.

Thanks to all kinds of therapies and personal inventory, I have come to realize and process many of the lies I believe I was born with. The idea that I am innately flawed, unlovable, expendable,  and replaceable. The belief that my mother chose to walk out of my life, and that it was somehow my fault. If only I had been a cuter baby... maybe she would have stayed. It's stupid. I know that, and even as I type those words tears roll down my cheeks; not because I still believe that, but because I ever did.

It took becoming a mother myself to learn what unconditional love is, and it wasn't until my daughter was born that I could actually acknowledge and understand the incredible sacrifice. Wading through those ten months, rubbing my belly and singing her songs, trying not to fall too madly in love with her in case something went wrong. Experiencing labor,  the unpredictably exhausting yet empowering journey of bringing another human being into this world. Sitting there, just staring at every beautiful cell of her tiny little frame. Counting fingers and toes on hands and feet that looked exactly like mine, and finally belonging to someone - to something - I didn't have to control or will. 

And then trying to imagine what it might feel like to have to give it all away. That beautiful little angel, all of those feelings and the connection. To have to place that precious gift in the hands of someone else, and sign away all rights to kiss tiny boo-boos and be that one person in the whole world that could always make everything alright. 

I cannot imagine the amount of strength, courage, and selflessness it requires to give up a child for adoption, but I do know that I don't have it. 

Over the years I have had a myriad of emotion regarding the way my life began. I have felt all the feels and kicked and screamed my way through some of them. I have tried to connect to the world in ways I'm not sure I'm capable, and I have blamed it on my adoption. I have also tried to convince myself that it's no big deal and shamed myself for mourning those connections. 

I have accepted it as best I can and not at all. All along it has been the one thing I have struggled to talk about, to be honest about, and to feel, because I don't know how. I hate that I don't know how.  My adoption has been the one thing from my past I have been unable to overcome. I don't even know what that might look like. I'm not mad, I'm not sad, I'm not anything about it, and maybe that's what scares me. There's no right or wrong way to feel about it, so I don't ever know if I'm doing it right. I'm a black belt in control-freakism and quite comfortable with black and white. Gray scares the shit out of me. 

Adoption feels gray. 

I have struggled a thousand different ways with inability and/or unwillingness to accept things I cannot change, and I do my best these days to try. I do not know what my life might have looked like had my mother not given me up, and I try not to dwell there. I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason. 

It's possible that I will soon have answers to some of the questions I've been asking my whole life. It's possible that I may find some much needed closure and maybe even some peace. 

It's possible.

Possible is very gray.

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April 03, 2016

I Was Not, "Born To Be a Mom"

When I hear a woman say she was "born to be a mom," sometimes I feel envious. I wonder if I'm missing something; some gene that would have me more cosmically connected to the constant demands of my children. That sense of "must" that I just don't intuitively have.  

My husband has always been way better with the typical "house wifely" duties. I cannot remember the last time I did a load of laundry or raced to get dinner on the table, and I'm not terribly sorry I have no desire to compete with June Cleaver. 

Even while searching stock photos for this piece, I was overwhelmed by the HAPPINESS ONLY vibe that seems to accompany the word "motherhood."

I was not "born to be a mom."

At times, I can't even imagine what that might feel like to believe; while just the thought suffocates me. This is not to suggest being a mother is not an important role in my life; it's just not my everything. Being a wife and mother are definitely two of my most favorite things in the whole world, but I have never felt like they complete me or are all I need. I want more. 

I believe that better equips me to support my children in chasing their own dreams. I will never pressure them to have children or pester them about when my grandchildren are coming. I will instead encourage them to live their lives and experience all the things the universe has to offer.

The only time I ever feel badly about these choices is when I'm comparing them to yours. When I start giving into or believing the hype about the ways I'm supposed to feel about motherhood - the sacrifices I'm supposed to be making and the misery I'm predestined to brave with a smile...because motherhood is a gift not everyone gets to experience. 

Even as I type these words, I can project how many will hold issue with my audacity. After all, there are many women out there who would gladly give a limb for the abilities I take for granted -- to carry, deliver, and raise a child. To some people, my words, attitude, and even the title of my personal blog might feel like a slap in the face. 

I have been asked many times to take responsibility for the feelings my thoughts and experiences provoke. Since starting this blog, I have received generous rations of shit, judgment, and mom-shame for admitting I have so much as ever embraced the thought of a life without children.  

How dare I take this beautiful gift for granted! 
Don't I understand how lucky I am?

The short answer is yes; and of course my heart hurts for all who suffer with infertility. Of course I understand how my position - my reality - might challenge theirs. But here's the thing: that is not my fault. The pain and misfortune of others, while it may devastate and sadden me beyond words, does not necessarily dictate the feelings I have about my own reality. 

I do not know the struggle of infertility, and I cannot sympathize. The fact that I'm complaining about my children does not mean that I don't empathize with others who wish they had kids to complain about. While it may seem easy enough to pretend to know how we might feel in the shoes of another, it's ridiculous to believe we actually can. 

I can only imagine a quiet, clean house without the pitter patter of tiny feet screaming, stomping, and constant tantruming of little people. I can only imagine the joys of an afternoon nap after reading my favorite book or watching a Lifetime movie marathon. 

And maybe these are luxuries that one might give up in a heartbeat for that never-ending chaos, interruption, and noise they'd give anything to experience. Perhaps it would seem nice for a few weeks or maybe months... but I wonder if, like many of us, they might get tired and miss alone time. I wonder if the grass on the other side wouldn't look as green if we got to actually experience all the strenuous maintenance that lawn requires.  

Because of course we would both miss the amazing parts of our unique realities. The soft touch of a little hand on my cheek and all the other things I do sometimes take for granted... because I can.

We all do. We all at times take certain things for granted and feel ungrateful for the gifts we have. We don't always take into consideration the fact that others would die for them. And that's 100% okay. That doesn't make us wretched people. 

That makes us human

So, while I understand and appreciate the fact that my willingness to discuss the not-so-wonderful aspects of motherhood might affect others in a negative way, it doesn't shift my reality. I will not apologize for my humanness just because it rubs you the wrong way. 

Your feelings about missing out on the opportunities to be completely overwhelmed and crazed ALL THE TIME - because there's not a whole minute of silence or peace - does not make me feel any less overwhelmed or crazed in those moments. I have as much the right to speak up about my feelings and experience as you do, in hopes to reach and connect with other women who struggle in a similar way. 

Just because I don't feel I was "born to be a mom," doesn't mean I'm not a good one. The fact that some women share their very real struggles with motherhood doesn't have to mean they don't adore and appreciate their children. It just means that they're honest about the fact that it's not awesome all the time. 

If you still need to judge me, based on what you read on my Facebook page, Twitter, or here on this blog, have at it. If you need to pretend you know me, tear what you think you understand about my life apart, and attempt to hurt and shame me, do it up! I will continue to do my best to remember that your need to judge is not and will never be an accurate reflection of who I am. 

That shit's on you.


There's Human Shit on my Couch. Beat THAT, Single Friend - Next Life, NO Kids