Conversation in Recovery: Julie

Name: Julie
Age: 45
Location: Paola
Recovery Date: November 13, 2017
Recovering From: Alcohol
About Julie: I am a strong, creative, compassionate woman who is rediscovering what it means to be happy in life. I am a sober mom and wife that is navigating life without alcohol. I work everyday getting to know this woman named Julie.
Instagram: @onplumcreek
Facebook: @reifjulie
Blog: On Plum Creek

Q. Before you entered recovery, what did you think the “thing” you were addicted to gave you, did for you, etc.?

A. Alcohol gave me relief from the daily grind. Alcohol was my best friend, always there when I needed something. If I needed relief from the stress of the day, alcohol gave that to me. If I needed energy to do housework, alcohol gave that to me. If I felt depressed, alcohol made that go away. Alcohol made me funnier, skinner, and more comfortable in social situations. Like a best friend would , alcohol took care of me……so I thought.

Q. Now that you are in recovery, what have you learned about that “thing?”

A. Alcohol is a liar and it made my anxiety worse. Alcohol also made my depresion worse and tricked me into believing it was taking care of me. I have learned that I was using alcohol as a crutch to help me get through life. I used it to make my life “better” and now I see that this is a lie. Alcohol is a poison that destroys our brains and tricks us into thinking we have to have it to survive.

Q. How are you recovering (e.g., 12-step program, rehab, counseling, on your own, etc.)?

A. I am going to therapy. I went to an Intensive Outpatient Treatment program for about 4 weeks after I quit, then I did Holly Whitaker’s 8 week Hip Sobriety program. I have been a community supporter in the Facebook groups for the school for 4 consecutive schools, including the current school. This has kept my recovery fresh and relevant. I also participate in the “labs” several times a week. These labs consist of Zoom calls with a teaching assistant leading between 4 and 15 people in discussions around life and things we may be dealing with. We give a lot of support and understanding to each other and it is one of my favorite things to do. Instagram has also been a big part of my recovery, people I follow and all of the inspirational things they post, as well as, finding so many resources for further recovery assistance. I post a lot as well and love interacting with others, it is like one big support group.

Q. In recovery, how do you give yourself what you thought that “thing” provided?

A. Tools in my toolbox include, meditation, podcasts, breathing, gratitude practice, and mindfulness. I also started a blog and have put my story out there because if I can be brave and do this, maybe someone that needs help will hear my story and see that if I can do it, they can do it too. Writing has let me express my feeling in a way that I have never been able to do in conversations. I do a lot of creative things such as coloring, crafting, and scrapbooking. I read and listen to audible books which create an escape of sorts.

Q. What was your “rock bottom” or “breaking point” when you realized you needed to change?

A. Right before I decided to stop drinking, I worked night shift as a nurse, so at least three days a week I did not drink at all, but the other four I did. I would mostly drink a bottle a wine and I went to pouring it into a wine glass and having 2-3 glasses (one bottle) to not even bothering with that and pouring it into a Yeti mug (the whole bottle fit quite nicely). The pouring got annoying and so did my kids seeing how many times I did pour; the Yeti eliminated those things. Plus it started as me being fancy, drinking wine to who cares, I need the wine and to be drunk. On my days off, especially during the week, when the kids were at school, I started earlier and earlier. I did bother me and I wished I didn’t want to drink, but the feeling and desire was so strong, so I told myself it was okay, most moms drank and what was it hurting anyway. The lies. most nights, it was just the wine, but if it was the weekend and there was nothing to do in the morning, or even if there was, I would also have beers after, sometimes 4, 5, or 6. If we were with friends or family, there was always more alcohol, so sometimes it would be shots or mixed drinks. The common theme was, drink to get drunk and then unable to stop drinking. Blacking out became very common, saying dumb thing to my husband, acting like a fool in front of my teenagers, and waking up in the middle of the night with so much shame I couldn’t even stand myself. My “rock bottom” was a girls night out to dinner and a movie. We decided to take the teenagers and lots of drink were had before dinner, at dinner, and at the movie. After the movie, there was loudness, inappropriateness, and some drunk driving. In the morning, I had the usual shame hangover, preceded to have some heated texts between my daughter, who was calling me out for my behavior, and then called my sister. My sister, ever so politely, told me that I do drink a lot and I was always the “most” drunk and maybe I should try drinking less. Well, I knew this was impossible because I had been fighting with myself to drink less for years, and it did not work. I knew that the only way was to quit completely, cold turkey, and I did.

Q. What has been the hardest part of recovery so far?

A. The hardest part of recovery, for me, has been dealing with life sober, not having the escape alcohol provided and being awake and aware of the things in my life that needed attention. This includes my marriage, my relationship with my children, my passion in life, my stressful job, where do I want to be, what do I want to do? My mind was wide open to think about these things. Learning new ways to cope with stress has been very hard too, being patient, allowing for grace and peace to come into my life. Quitting drinking was actually the easy part.

Q. What about recovery has been easier than you had anticipated? 

A. Once I got past those first couple months and past all of the “first” holidays, it became much easier to feel at ease. When I first quit drinking I thought I would not be able to have fun, I would not feel the “happiness” I felt when I drank, and I would not be able to go on vacation or do social things that involved drinking. This was also a lie. I am having fun, I do feel joy, I can go on vacation and really be present and have an amazing time without alcohol.

Q. What has helped you the most in recovery?

A. Holly Whitaker’s Hip Sobriety School has been my program. Her holistic approach gave me the awareness and the tools I needed to keep alcohol out of my life. The labs that Hip Sobriety uses are like support meetings and have also helped keep me on track and accountable.

Q. Who has helped you the most in recovery?

A. Holly Whitaker, for sure. I can’t say enough about her. I know she doesn’t like a lot of compliments, but she is a wise soul that got herself sober and reinvented her life. She created this school from scratch and now it is part of a revolution. I feel honored to be a part of it and the way she teaches the material resonates with my soul.

Q. What has been the biggest surprise about recovery?

A. I can actually feel joy. I have felt true happiness. Now that I don’t have alcohol in my life, my joy is real and not based on when I can drink next. I can be home on a Friday night and not feel the urge to drink and feel happy about just being…..

Q. What role has family played in your recovery?

A. My family has been very supportive and I have been honest with them from the very beginning. They know who Holly is and are considerate when I am on the Labs. I have found that my other family members are actually drinking less now that I have stopped. My husband is very supportive and encouraging. Having the two teenagers, who are both girls, has actually kept me accountable to a certain extent. If I started drinking again, I would have to face them and that is something I am not willing to do.

Q. Knowing what you do now, what would you tell your pre-recovery self about recovery?

A. It is better than you expect. It is a journey and there will be some good days as well as some bad days, but living a life without shame is amazing. Being true to yourself and your family is amazing. Not lying to yourself, beating yourself up, or being hungover is amazing. Life without alcohol is freeing and healing and wonderful because the shame is gone, you are in control of your life, not the alcohol, and it opens up a world you have never know.

Q. What would you say to someone who is thinking about recovery?

A. If you are thinking about it then you should pay attention. There are so many ways to learn how to remove alcohol from your life. Your life will improve in ways you can’t see now, but will come into focus as the alcohol leaves. Ask yourself, is alcohol serving you in your life? Are you truly happy?

If there is anything else you want to add, please do …

Thank you for allowing me to tell you my story.

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