Am I an Alcoholic?

am I an alcoholic

Dun dun dun…. the dreaded question. Well I know it’s not so dreaded for some of you. Some of you already know that you are alcoholics or addicts and have become empowered by accepting this fact.

Me on the other hand, I am still struggling with these labels. Maybe it’s because I don’t attend AA and I’m not forced to get in front of a group and say out loud every day, “My name is Kelly and I’m an alcoholic” or maybe I’m still in denial.

It was always in the back of my head when binge drinking and blacking out became normal for me. I used to ask myself, Is this normal? Am I drinking too much? Am I an alcoholic? I would use anything to justify that I wasn’t. No, I didn’t get the shakes when I woke up and need alcohol right away. No, I didn’t need to drink every night. No, I didn’t hide alcohol bottles in my closet and drink alone. My friends drink exactly the same amount as me or more.

Once I faced the cold hard truth about my issues with alcohol and became sober, the question still lingered. When you think of an alcoholic, you think of homeless old men on the streets who drink hard liquor out of bottles wrapped in brown paper bags or if you’re obsessed with the show Intervention, like I am, you think of the people on there. Maybe that’s why I love watching that show – in a weird way those people make me feel better about myself. It sounds bad because I don’t think how I was acting while actively drinking was healthy AT ALL and it caused me A LOT of problems, just maybe not the kind of crazy problems you see on Intervention. Either way, it was just another way of justifying my bad habits and decisions.

So… back to the question, am I an alcoholic? I guess anyone in AA would say yes I am and I should surrender to that fact now or else my sobriety as I know is doomed. AA attenders also believe you can’t stay sober without meetings and here I am with one year and 4 months under my belt. When I researched the definition of an alcoholic, most sites told me it is a person suffering from the disease of alcoholism and someone who has become physically dependent on alcohol. An alcoholic cannot control their obsession with alcohol and therefore suffers from various issues in their lives at home and at work.

Well let’s see – physically dependent on alcohol – nope. Obsessed? Not really. Issues at home? Yes. Issues at work? No, not really. Can’t control the amount they drink – ding ding ding! We have a winner. I’ve also heard that an alcoholic is anyone who feels immensely better after they stop drinking – and well, that’s definitely me.

What I do know is I suffer from an addictive behavior and personality and I have alcohol abuse issues. Maybe that makes me an alcoholic, or maybe that makes me someone who just wasn’t meant to ingest alcohol. Maybe I haven’t dived deep enough into my recovery and discovered WHY I had these behavior patterns for so many years. Or maybe, as I know some of you are thinking…I’m still in denial.

Does it really matter? Will labeling myself as an alcoholic make a difference? Will it propel me further into my world of sobriety and recovery? I don’t know, I’ve done pretty good so far. What I do know is I can’t drink alcohol. It is not for me and my life is tremendously better without it. Although you won’t see me shouting from the rooftops, “I’M AN ALCOHOLIC!!” I do still identify with sober people, addicts, alcoholics, or any other type of label that you want to give yourself that has to do with an out of control behavior.

Some days I find myself having a hard time figuring out where exactly I fit into the recovery world and I’m still not really sure. Does this make me a weird sober person? Maybe, but I’m ok with it because it works for me. :)

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National Recovery Month September 2014

National Recovery Month 2014

I happily stumbled upon a Facebook post last week that told me September is National Recovery Month. I clicked on the website and read about this wonderful month of awareness and immediately started promoting it. What’s not to love? A whole month dedicated to raising awareness about recovery from drug and alcohol addictions and another platform to be vocal about being sober. To continue this awareness I’m going to outline what recovery month is and what it means to me.

What is Recovery Month?

2014 marks the 25th year of observing and celebrating National Recovery Month. This is the first year I’ve known about it and I am happy to be able to participate in and celebrate it. Recovery Month is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and started in 1992 by government mandate. Recovery Month provides national leadership to support the federal government’s goal to better the lives of families and individuals affected by substance use and mental health disorders.

SAMHSA’s main message is that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can recover from mental and substance use disorders. They work to provide access to affordable recovery services to those who are in need in order to reduce the health and social costs to our communities and country. Factors like inadequate capacity, discrimination, and limited public and private health insurance benefits play a part in the gap between the number of people who need treatment and number of people who receive it.

Recovery Month promotes the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery and celebrates people who have found recovery. Most of all, it spreads the positive message that behavioral health is imperative to overall health, and that people can and do recover.

How can you get involved?

Recovery month woohoo! Yeah! What can you do to help or get involved? Well first and foremost you can promote their website and share their information about recovery. This year’s theme is “Speak up, Reach out.” On the Recovery Month website there is an area where you can submit your personal recovery story and share it with the world. There are also Recovery Radio series and TV series that you can watch and share.  If your town hasn’t officially recognized September as National Recovery Month there are resources on the website to encourage your local government to do so by signing an official proclamation.

There are also Recovery Month events all over the U.S. Go here and enter in your zip code and find one to attend near you. The one that is in my county here in Southwest Florida is on September 19, when I will be flying back from Boston for a work conference. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make at least some of the event!

You can also find a downloadable toolkit on the website to educate yourself and others about Recovery Month, or for resources to hand out at events and to help you plan an event.

What Recovery Month means to me

Well I’m sad I didn’t know anything about Recovery Month last year or this year until last week, but I’m glad I found it. I think this movement is important, especially for me to speak out about and promote. I wish there were more events around my area to attend and I’m hoping I can make it over to the one there is around here.

This year’s Recovery Month theme really hits home. Since I started my sober journey, one of my main goals has been to share my story, to let others out there know that they are not alone – that if I can stop drinking they can too. Speaking up and letting people know who you are, whether you identify as an addict, a recovering alcoholic, or as someone who has just chosen to be sober – it is not only therapeutic for your soul, it also brings to light just how many lives are affected by recovery.

Too many people hide who they really are out of shame, guilt, and fear and never get the help that they deserve. Some miss out on getting the help that could turn their life around. Let’s do what we can to not let that happen. By speaking up and reaching out, we can let others know that they are not alone, that recovery is possible, and that life is out there waiting for them.

I hope I am doing my part, even though sometimes I wish I had more time to contribute to this topic and to help others. I will continue to spread the message that substance abuse and mental disorders are real and valid concerns and should be in the spotlight. It’s up to us, the ones experiencing the beauty of recovery to pass on our knowledge of joy and the possibility of an amazing life to those who are still suffering. What better time to do it than Recovery Month?

Happy Recovery Month 2014! :)

Latino Food in Southwest Florida

So I haven’t written about food in awhile and we all know how much I love FOOD! This post is dedicated to Latino food in Southwest Florida.

Obviously, because Fer is addicted to tacos and anything Mexican or similar, and I get a hankering for a pastor taco here and there, we have been on the hunt for a great Mexican place here in Cape Coral. We’ve tried a couple places and here’s what we think:

1. Iguana Mia

This is the first “Mexican” place we tried. My parents took us there on one of our first nights in Cape Coral. I put Mexican in quotes because it is your typical Mexican-American joint with fajitas and chimichangas. I had enchiladas and they were pretty good, Fer had carnitas and said they were satisfactory. The place was alright, but we were disappointed they didn’t have real tacos, pastor, or mole. We kept searching.

2. Taco Pancho

After doing some google searches, Fer found Taco Pancho and the menu online said they had pastor so we immediately got excited. We visited on a Friday night and the atmosphere was welcoming and had more of a Mexican vibe. We tried the pastor tacos and Fer also had lengua. He wasn’t too fond of the fact that the tacos came with cabbage. They were also a bit on the expensive side at $2.49 USD a pop (Dorothy, we aren’t in Mexico anymore) haha. The pastor was pretty good and we were happy to find it, but it wouldn’t give them a 10. At the time though without other options it was a good find.

Mexican food Cape Coral

3. El Taqueria Azteca

Now this was the place!! So good! A friend of mine recommended this place to us once he knew we were on the hunt for authentic Mexican. This restaurant is family owned and operated by a Mexican family from DF. When you walk in the place Mexican banda music fills your ears and you are instantly transported to Mexico. Fer and I literally felt like we were in Mexico, he was so happy! The atmosphere was inviting, homey, and the walls were filled with Mexican handicrafts, art, and sculptures. They have homemade salsas on every table, just like in Mexico. We even ordered in Spanish and Fer spoke with one of the owners about them both being Chilangos. I was psyched that they had enmoladas so of course I ordered those, while Fer ordered tacos and pozole to start. He said the pozole was almost as good as his own mother’s! The enmoladas were to die for. FINALLY, we found an authentic, affordable, delicious Mexican place in Southwest Florida!

el taqueria azteca cape coral

Pozole YUM

enchiladas with mole sauce

Enmoladas, my mouth is watering.

4. Aji Limon

Aji Limon is a Peruvian restaurant that I saw had high ratings on Trip Advisor and other sites online. We had it on our lists of places we wanted to try, but didn’t get around to it until last weekend. A friend who I play soccer with, also highly recommended it. It was the first time Fer and I tried Peruvian food and we were blown away. It was DELICIOSO! I had something called a tacu tacu with fried fish. Fer had lomo saltado and Peruvian ceviche. The service was great and we ordered everything in Spanish. The chef came out at the end of our meal and asked us how we liked everything and was pleased to hear that we LOVED it. I can’t wait to go back and try something else at Aji Limon.

peruvian food tacu tacu

Tacu tacu con pescado empanizado & Peruvian juices

Peruvian food

Lomo saltado at Aji Limon

As far as food exploration goes, we’re doing great here in Cape Coral. We can’t wait to explore more and with both of us working now we are saving more money to do so. Life is good! :)

Sober Paranoia

I’ve noticed since I got sober there has been this small inner sense of paranoia that comes and goes frequently. Paranoia about what? About touching alcohol or being seen with it, near it, etc.

When I’m out at restaurants or bars and I order a non-alcoholic drink, virgin daiquiri, or whatever, I always abnormally fear that they will accidentally put the alcohol in! I overcompensate by saying WITHOUT alcohol, or make sure I am speaking exceptionally loud so that the waiter will hear me correctly. Is this fear irrational? I think so, but I can’t make it go away! haha.

Then once I get the drink I normally smell and taste it to make sure it is in fact alcohol free before enjoying it. Even though when I have been in the vicinity of alcohol the smell just about knocks me over, you would think I would know if they ever accidentally gave it to me by smell alone.

Besides ordering drinks when I’m out, I also don’t like to be photographed with drinks in my hand. I try to never hold my boyfriend or friends’ drinks. It’s awkward for me. I don’t want people thinking I am drinking! The paranoia sets in. If I take a picture with a drink people will think it’s alcohol – if I hold Fer’s beer people will think it’s mine, they’ll think I’m a drinker!

Why is this bad? Why should I care what other people think? No one really cares about my sobriety except me right? Well shit, I never knew that. My sobriety is about me, not what everyone else perceives. This is all still so new to me.

To this date, no one has ever accidentally put vodka with my ice instead of water or put liquor in my virgin mojito, (that I know of) and I’m pretty sure I would notice.

Another thing that gives me sober paranoia are dreams about drinking. I’m told this is pretty normal to experience and I was relieved when I heard it was because I thought there was something wrong with me at first. They’ve gotten fewer and farther between lately, but they still happen every once in awhile.

When I first got sober they used to happen a lot. I would wake up in a panic, from a dream where I was still drinking, or was hungover, or had blacked out again and not remembered what happened. There are even times during the dreams where it seems SO real and I am talking with people and pleading with them that no no no, there is no way I was drunk last night or did any of those things, because I am sober! They always laugh at me and look at me like don’t you know yourself Kelly? Those dreams really fuck with your head. Luckily I try to forget about them and separate what is real from what is not, but when I am in REM sleep my body tricks me into thinking what I am experiencing is real and it is not a good feeling.

There is nothing worse than thinking I am back in that same place again, I guess that’s why it gives me so much panic and anxiety. It makes me more thankful to wake up every day with a clear head and a full heart.

 

The Beach Whale Fort Myers Beach

My birthday this year out at a bar in Fort Myers Beach. That’s water with lemon in my hand.

 

La Isla Thai Lounge Cancun

virgin mojito at Thai Lounge restaurant in Cancun

liters on the beach in cancun

A clamato preparado (ojo rojo without alcohol) on the beach in Cancun a few months back

Having a Partner Who Drinks

acceptance love quote

 

My boyfriend Fernando is a drinker and I am not. Most of you know this already from other posts and photos. I’ve received many questions asking me what it’s like to be with a partner who drinks and if it is ever a problem for me.

Fer and I met in the party scene. He is a DJ by trade and has worked in nightclubs for years. When we met, we both partied and drank a lot and at the beginning that’s what our relationship was based on. Our relationship started out rocky and any time we had an argument, alcohol was involved. In the beginning I tried to push him away and I treated him badly. I was an emotional and alcohol addicted mess. I couldn’t really figure out why he wanted to date me in the first place, and I tried my best not to let it happen.

Eventually he grew on me and I let myself feel the feelings I had for him. Our arguments would continue until I decided to stop drinking. Every argument that happened was when one or both of us were drunk. Normally it was about me getting too drunk, him having to take care of me, me not remembering what I did, or being mean while intoxicated, etc. As soon as I quit drinking our arguments stopped – I kid you not. Since the day I put down the bottle, our relationship has grown and changed so much.

I know that many paths to recovery advocate staying single and working on yourself when you first start with sobriety. Relationships can be messy, complicated, and can take away from the time and energy it takes to work on yourself. I can understand why jumping into a relationship when first becoming sober is not recommended.

The truth is, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out with Fer and I. There was a lot of hurt, fights, and anger between us in the beginning. When I decided to quit drinking, I didn’t know if Fer would stay with me to see if I would really change. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he didn’t. Like I said, I was a mess and I couldn’t figure why he wanted to be with me in the first place. I also wasn’t changing for him, I was changing for me. Maybe I wouldn’t want a relationship with him after these big changes.

Fer decided to stay with me while I committed to sobriety. He has been there with me on the best days and the worst days of my life in the past two years. His drinking habits have also changed dramatically. In 2013 when I stopped drinking, he stopped working in nightclubs and he stopped going out so frequently. He never had the issues I had experienced while drinking (blacking out, getting sick, doing things you regret etc.), yet he still welcomed his own changes. When we lived in Cancun he would still go out with his friends every once in awhile (1 or 2 times every two weeks) and he would drink and sometimes stay out late. Most of the time I wouldn’t go with them. I preferred to stay home. Sometimes I would get annoyed with how late he stayed out, but I always knew where he was and what he was doing. I trusted him and I still do. I realized some of the time I was upset because I felt jealous. I wish I could be out drinking with my friends and having a great time like he could. I was taking my insecurities and emotions out on him. It took me a long time to accept the fact that I am different and that that is just the way it is. Just because I have a problem with alcohol, doesn’t mean Fer does and it doesn’t mean he should miss out on socially drinking with his friends.

We don’t keep alcohol in our house. That doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to it being in the house when we have friends or family over to visit. I’ve told Fer he is welcome to have beers in the house if he wants, but he prefers not to. With his drinking cut back and since I’ve stopped, he likes to save his alcohol consumption for special occasions – weddings, birthdays, celebrations. He likes to enjoy the occasional non-alcoholic beer with me when we grill out by the pool.

Would it be cool if Fer was 100% sober like I am? Of course. But he doesn’t need to be and I would never try to force him to be. Just because I have issues with alcohol doesn’t mean he does. Just because I am sober, doesn’t mean he needs to be. He is extremely respectful and supportive of my sobriety and I appreciate that. If I ever thought he had problem drinking habits, I would be the first one to bring it to his attention.

With that being said, I can say being sober has helped our relationship tremendously. We almost never fight because the topic of our fighting has been removed. I also feel that me being sober has allowed us to become a closer and more honest couple. We have better communication and I have let myself truly love this man who has been there for me every step of the way. Feeling healthy, rewarding, stable love and being able to give that to him in return is an amazing feeling. He is the definition of a best friend. He has loved me at my worst and at my best. He makes me want to be a better version of myself every day. He has shown me what real love is and I am so thankful to have him in my life.

I know that relationships don’t always weather the storm, especially through serious issues like addiction. I do know that removing addictive behaviors from a relationship can change both people for the better and working on a healthy partnership is possible. I am lucky that Fer and I have been able to support each other through hard times and I have all the faith in the world that we’ll be able to make it through anything. For now, I just count my lucky stars that I am able to fall more in love every day and experience the world with my best friend.

Couple Cancun Mexico

Life in Florida Update

Life has been traveling at light speed over here in our new town of Cape Coral! I was so busy last week that I didn’t have time to publish a blog.  I apologize! I wanted to write a life update for everyone since life has been hectic and GREAT since moving to Florida.

I continued to work for Sunset World (the hotel group in Cancun) from home for the months of June and July, as well as picked up a few freelance projects to keep me busy.  I continued to job search and I actually heard back from one of the first jobs I applied to in the southwest Florida area.  I went in for an interview on July 24 and the next day they offered me the position!  I am happy to announce I am the new Inbound Marketing Consultant for Impulse Creative in Fort Myers! I actually started right away and finished up my first week on Friday (hence my super busy last week).  I was sad to finally hand over my Cancun social media accounts and blogs to my former co-workers and it was like we had to say goodbye all over again. I will miss writing about the city I lived in for 5 years and all its beauty.

On the bright side, I had a great first week at Impulse Creative.  They are a small marketing and branding agency who help their clients effectively advertise via an Inbound marketing methodology. Was that a mouth full? I know I am still learning it all myself, but what I do know is I like what I know so far.  In my recent jobs and personal writing, I have gotten to express myself and business’s needs through social media and writing.  I never really thought about WHY I was doing what I was doing.  Learning about inbound marketing has given me a new understanding of how consumers’ buying habits are changing and how this has resulted in marketing habits changing as well. The internet is a lovely place to be and everyone is using it to look for solutions to their every day problems.  I am glad that I can help give people solutions by creating remarkable blogs and content. Besides the work being super interesting, the atmosphere and culture at my new job are fun, honest, and down-to-earth.  There is a room with bean bag chairs and a kitchen stocked with snacks and drinks.  I think it’s safe to say this job is going to be a perfect fit for me.

Marketing branding Fort Myers Florida

Team Impulse Creative!

Fer has also been on the job hunt and on Friday he was offered a full time customer service position at Alorica in Fort Myers.  He is extremely excited to start working and begins his training on August 12. I am so proud of him for doing all this job applying and interviewing for the first time ever in the USA. It was frustrating at times, but he has done extremely well and I can’t wait to see him excel at his new job!

It’s nice that we can both now breathe a sigh of relief since we have finally broken into the job market.  We’ll now be able to save money and explore our new area a bit more.  Besides working, I have also been playing a lot of soccer and doing CrossFit.  This weekend I played in the Major Beach Soccer tournament that was held on Fort Myers Beach.  My team ended up with a record of 1-3, but we worked our asses off and had a blast.  I am happy that I’ve found so many soccer teams to play on in this area!  I even met another girl who lived abroad in Mexico.  She actually plays soccer and doesn’t drink! Obviously, we’ve become fast friends. :)

Major Beach Soccer Fort Myers

My beach soccer team

Another life highlight has been finding a decent taco joint in Cape Coral.  We went to Taco Pancho on Friday night after reading their menu online.  They have pastor! Nom nom nom.  When we arrived we also saw that they have mole, cochinita, chorizo, lengua, and agua de horchata! Score! We’re totally psyched we found some real Mexican food close by.

Mexican food Cape Coral

Jarritos for me, Pacifico for Fer

In my “free time” (What’s that?) haha –  I have been planning my trip to Philadelphia for Labor Day weekend to celebrate my sister’s bridal shower, and next weekend Fer and I will be heading to Miami to spend the weekend with her and her fiancé.

As you can see there hasn’t been a dull moment for us here in Florida.  We have really taken a liking to the area and Fer and I have both said we can picture ourselves in Cape Coral , or the surrounding areas, long term.  Only time and our happiness will tell.

Life has been better than amazing lately and for that I am truly thankful. :)

 

Wedding Season as a Non-drinker

I have now attended 4 weddings as a sober señorita.  Before the first one I felt like it would be this big milestone.

I felt like I had to inform everyone before I went. “Just so you guys know I will NOT be binge drinking & getting shitfaced at _____’s wedding like I normally do.”  Although I guess it made more sense for my first sober wedding that I declare that because it was only after a month of sobriety for me.

During that first sober wedding I remember feeling lots of anxiety. It was still in the days where I kind of felt like I was missing out on something.  Looking at all of my friends getting drunk and having fun –  It was hard.  Being sober was something I felt like I had to do and when it was over I breathed a sigh of relief, I did it – I attended my first wedding stone cold sober.

After that, it became normal.  It wasn’t a chore.  Just because weddings are a beautiful, special occasion doesn’t mean I have to drink.  In fact, I don’t want to drink and now I don’t have the feeling that I am missing out, because I’m not. Dancing is just as fun sober as it is drunk, trust me!

During the first two weddings I attended sober, the thought always crossed my mind, what will it be like on my wedding day?  At first I would ponder if I would be ready to take a drink by then.  That was back when I felt like maybe I would want to drink at my wedding.  Well now I know I won’t drink on my wedding day whenever it comes and that alcohol will be the last thing I’ll be thinking about on my wedding day.

All this wedding talk came to mind because my sister will be getting married this year in just 4 short months.  I am lucky enough to be her maid of honor and have been planning her bridal shower, bachelorette party, and writing a speech for her special day.

If you asked me a year ago how I felt about her wedding, my answer would have been: should I toast with champagne during my speech or not?  Looking back I feel like that is A. a really selfish answer and B. Not what my first thought about a wedding should be!  It just goes to show how centered my thoughts used to be around alcohol.

The best part about being more aware and present is that I can plan all these special events for my sister and not ever think twice about the drinking. Yes, there will be alcohol at these events, but no I won’t be drinking.  It’s just how life is for me now and I like this life.

I will get to remember and savor every moment of these amazing times.  I will sleep easy knowing I will know exactly what is going to happen.  There will be no shame, no guilt, no trying to remember what the heck happened the night before. I am no longer anxious thinking about the drinking situation on my own future wedding day.

The thing I am most concerned about right now is keeping my cool during the MOH speech at my sister’s wedding.  I loathe public speaking and I will most likely begin sobbing after the first 5 words. I will not have the crutch of alcohol there to help.

I am FINALLY coming into my own. I have an identity without alcohol, without being the party girl. It feels like the first day of high school all over again – scary, weird, and a bit awkward. I am still navigating and discovering. I am discovering ME…. and it feels damn good!

Cancun beach wedding sober

My sister and I at our friend Jess’ wedding in Cancun in April