Category Archives: Healing

Feeling vulnerable without alcohol

Telling Lynn my marital woes didn’t have the desired effect. I thought freeing my pent-up resentments to an objective therapist would help; but, strangely, the opposite happened. I walked in feeling confident and full of self-righteous anger and I left anxious and distraught. My original anger was directed at my husband for choosing the home and town we’ve lived in for 20 years. I was forthright with Lynn, divulging my frustrations. All that sanctimoniousness disappeared when Lynn asked a simple question, “What would your life be like if you had made the choices in your marriage?”

Lynn touched a sore spot and the truth hurt.  Fear crept in and I couldn’t speak of my own needs. Quietly, with eyes cast down, I sullenly spoke, I don’t have goals. If I had things to aspire toward I would be disappointed and let down. With tears and sadness I realize the reason my life is not different is because I haven’t spoken up about my needs or desires. I own the problem in its entirety.

Okay, so let’s get this straight. First my anger is directed at my husband and I see myself as the unappreciated and unloved victim and when that assertion is challenged I retreat to the safety of believing its my fault that my needs are not met.

Which the fuck is it? The answer to that question isn’t as important as how to stop my mind, no matter what the scenario, from arriving at the same conclusions. I constantly blame myself. I either don’t get something because I’m not worthy or it doesn’t happen because I’m weak.

This is hard shit to swallow because I reject either of those things. I stuff this down with my alcohol consumption and rarely do these feelings see the light of day. My wine signifies a glass of straight up denial.

Where do these ideas originate?

The obvious answer is survivors of childhood sexual abuse learn to feel unworthy. I assumed my mother didn’t stop my brother from coming into my room at night because she loved him more. With every nice gesture or favorable event that happened to this brother, I became more certain that he was worthy of good things and I wasn’t. I didn’t speak up about the atrocity that occurred against my prepubescent body; instead I stifled my voice and learned to endure life.

My therapist reiterated that my childhood left behind a belief that no one loves me but she stated, “You are not a child anymore.” She reminded me I have a voice and people around me do care what I want and need.

I wonder why I’m so stuck in my old ways.

I hate myself for turning the entire resentment issue into something bigger than it is. We “depressives” know how to blame ourselves about everything. It’s true my husband makes a lot of the major decisions but the reality is I don’t speak up for myself; I’d rather suffer in silence and allow resentments and anger to fester. How fucked up am I? I’m not a child anymore; what’s my problem that I wallow in self-pity instead of making changes to get things that I want in my life?

So, I pretty much left therapy feeling angry that my husband doesn’t do or care about my needs and, ultimately it’s my own fault because I don’t speak up.

I have always thought that no matter who I’m with I’m still stuck with myself.

Ideally I would like to learn to speak up for myself without shutting down with anger, resentments, shame, and self-blame locked inside and so, I had the best of intentions to not bring my befuddled feelings home from therapy. I didn’t want to be angry with my husband or have a pity party for myself.

Let’s just say, that didn’t work.

All day long I was a quiet, hateful, sulking angry wife. I tried to manage my feelings, but eventually I headed for the door to buy a mood altering bottle of wine. I honestly felt the need to drink was as strong as the desire a suicidal person may feel while they prepare to jump. I saw no other options to relieving my anxiety. The self-berating thoughts that play in my head were overwhelmingly strong and I did not know how to calm myself. I had no coping skills or tools in my tool box.

Husband stopped me from blowing my 90 days of sobriety by talking me down off the cliff I was dangling from. When he asked, “Where are you going?” and I replied, “I need a bottle of wine.” He responded sympathetically and was very calm as I’m sure he did not want to upset me further. During this interaction I was unsettled and anxious but not angry.

My husband listened to me complain and then he heard me berate myself for not speaking up about things I wish for in my life. He said I haven’t changed or gotten better in all the years I’ve been in therapy. He meant I continue to give myself a psychological beating. We’ve been together for 30-plus years and I didn’t want to believe him but a part of me felt he was right. I thought I was making progress in my life but he thinks I live in the past and can’t let it go.

My husband reassuringly told me everyone has pain from their past but it doesn’t define them or continue to be the driving factor in their lives. His words were like a gentle caress to a baby bunny. They felt compassionate and forgiving.

I had backed off the ledge by this point and my anxiety was reduced to a manageable level. My husband hugged me and whispered, “I love you. I want you to be my wife and tell me what you want.” I shrugged and stood limp and lifeless, drained of all emotions.

I didn’t drink, though and I’m grateful for my husband who helped me through a tough time.

I’m afraid I still won’t know what to do next time. I need tools in my toolbox. So, I called Lynn and asked if she was available for a session on Saturday. This is monumental in my life. Me asking for help. Lynn agreed and said it would be good to talk while the conversation and events were still fresh in my mind.

Daylilyœ 

Aside

The decrease in Celexa did the trick.  I’m not as tired which translates to not feeling like a freaking zombie.  When I’m numbed out on antidepressants it’s the worst feeling to forget half of what I or other people say.  I’m so glad that … Continue reading

Sobriety and depression

I took a reprieve from My Depression Chronicles and focused on a second blog to address my drinking problem http://emotionaldrinkingdotcom.wordpress.com. You might call me a “high functioning alcoholic” and when I hit bottom (as they say in the world of alcoholism) DUI’s, prison, divorce and child protective service were not involved. My bottom was high. Drinking was a problem for me but to people outside my immediate family, no one knew. I did my excessive drinking at home, mostly on the weekends between 6-10 pm.

I am feeling slightly depressed and don’t want to confuse my followers on my drinking blog so I’m back.

I’d have to say that quitting drinking has not had a positive effect on my depression. You’d think it would. I expected as much given alcohol is a depressant so if removed shouldn’t I feel better? Less depressed?

Quit the opposite. I feel dreadful. It’s been 3 weeks and a few days since my last drink. I’m lifeless. Everything is dull. No color. I want to sleep more than I did when I was hung over. It’s strange indeed. I couldn’t explain it so I did some research.

There’s a test one takes to determine the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms called CIWA-Ar. I took the test yesterday because of the way I’m feeling.

The test is based on a rating scale of symptoms and my results showed no signs of physical withdrawal. I’m not having tremors, hallucinations, sleep disturbances, memory issues, or visual disturbances; the only thing I feel is cloudy in the head and tired. I guess that is a symptom but certainly not enough to warrant a detox facility. No impending seizures or heart attacks.

Researching further I discover there is this term “PAWS” which stands for post-acute withdrawal syndrome. The PAWS symptoms come 7-14 days after detoxification. These are more subtle but no less bothersome.  PAWS is “a bio-psycho-social syndrome. … It results from the combination of damage to the nervous system caused by alcohol or drugs and the psychosocial stress of coping with life without drugs or alcohol.” http://www.drugalcoholaddictionrecovery.com/?p=37

The way I feel is as if I were depressed. But, I wasn’t depressed before venturing into sobriety. On the contrary, I was holding steady and my depression symptoms were at bay. I was and continue to take my Celexa, Wellbutrin, and Klonopin as prescribed but they aren’t working like they were. My lethargy is remarkable and I recently began consuming large amounts of diet Mountain Dew and chocolate, purely for the caffeine. That can’t be good for my biological system but I have to do something for this malaise. I’m still wiped out even with the caffeine.

I don’t miss alcohol. The idea of drinking makes me feel ill. Truly. I drive by the liquor store and feel glad I’m not self-indulging because it leads to feeling crappy the next morning. I seriously don’t miss it. In a dream I envisioned having to drink after a Saturday afternoon nap and when I woke up I was glad it was only a dream because I no longer want alcohol. I’m sure you are all saying that is weird. I think so too.

In the early days of sobriety I jumped full steam into A.A. literature and meetings. I shared my feelings with strangers and cried in my car after hearing the stories of alcoholics hitting low bottoms. I openly shared my struggles with my family. It’s as if I purged myself; now I’m either exhausted or shut down. Which is it? I don’t know. I have a sponsor who I have avoided in the last couple days. I don’t want to talk about drinking and praying and A.A. meetings. I have separated myself from that struggle because I’m tired of all of it. Is it normal to want to get away from the problem? Or the perceived problem? Or is this depression rearing its ugly head and my pattern of isolating myself when I feel low and lethargic?

I’ve not seen Lynn (my therapist) for a few weeks and I don’t want to. I have this negative attitude of screw her. When I was at my lowest I shared my feelings and she told me to stop drinking. Where was the empathy and support? Nowhere on that day. So, now I’ve stopped drinking and I’ve also lost the sense of safety I was developing with her. Emotionally separating from her can’t be good for me. Having just quit drinking one would expect this to be the time when a therapist is most needed.

I pull my hair in front of my face and take a deep sigh. I don’t have the answers.

My history of childhood sexual abuse taught me to be selfish when I feel physically or mentally distressed. I can only share my state of my mind with others for so long. Inevitably the time comes when I need to shut my feelings and thoughts inside myself. Okay, I shared how I feel and think; I learned how other’s suffer with painful feelings and thoughts; now let’s go to our separate places. 

I need alone time.

This chosen inaccessibility is where similarities with others end. I notice most women can reach out, express their troubles, and accept the assistance of others. These people join self-help groups, make lasting connections, and grow to have a broader support system. They actually appear happy and socially adjusted. Not me. I’ve been in this exact place before. I rationalize that it’s in my best interest to share painful emotions and so I force myself to do it. Then, like a turtle I retreat into my shell; returning to the safety of my private life.

Is this wrong? Have I not made some progress? I would have to say I absolutely did. Now, people in my real world, leave me alone for a while. I need time to process my newfound sobriety.

♥ Daylily ♥

The next step in healing…

Why have I’ve moved on from My Depression Chronicles to the new blog about emotional drinking?

Simply put: the depression is under control.  If I were to take a self-test for depression, I would pass. That doesn’t mean I don’t have depression; it means I am asymptomatic.

What’s the magic? My therapist is a prescribing registered nurse and experimented with dosages to find the perfect cocktail.  I take Wellbutrin, Celexa and Klonopin. (I am one of the lucky ones who respond well to antidepressants).  They have calmed my negative thoughts and allowed me to feel in control of things. The benefits of depression being properly treated reach into all areas of my life. I feel in control and I was able to lose weight, lower my blood pressure and reduce my drinking.

So, what’s the problem? Why the new blog?

My therapist rightly said that once we have one piece of our lives in order we are ready to tackle another area. How true that is. I’m ready to take the connecting flight to the next item on my list of personal areas to heal.   The next stop is to look at my drinking habits but first a walk down memory lane…

The beginning of my healing journey, back in my twenties, was focused on reducing the effects from childhood sexual abuse and learning to let go so that I didn’t continue to suffer PTSD and dissociation. Living in constant “fight or flight” with a wall up was exhausting. During this time, I developed the eating disorder anorexia. I exercised obsessively and ate barely anything. Reliving the pain of CSA was hard work and an eating disorder gave me a sense of control. I was in talk therapy but hadn’t been diagnosed with depression. The therapist told me I had PTSD and later dysthymia.

I quit smoking and starting eating healthy again when I turned 30. A few years and 2 kids later, the stress level grew and I suffered with insomnia and little desire to eat again. At age 37 my doctor diagnosed me with major depression. Paxil improved my mood and so began my adventures with antidepressants, experimenting for the next few years to find one that didn’t make me tired, hungry or dispassionate about sex. Nothing worked like Paxil for my depression so I went back to paroxetine about 5 years ago. The trouble with that drug is its side effects make me crave carbs and alcohol. Fortunately, I wasn’t depressed so I landed a decent job and made some positive connections in my community. However, from age 35 to 38 I ate too many carbs during the day and drank too much wine at night. I sincerely believe the antidepressant caused my 60 lb. weight gain.

This blog began when my weight was up, my drinking was what I call “self-medicating” and my health was beginning to suffer, with the most obvious signs high blood pressure, perceptible changes in my blood sugar and the beginnings of an ulcer.

One year later I’ve lost 30 lbs., resolved my stomach issues and reduced my blood pressure and most importantly I’m not depressed. I still have a good job and many social ties. BUT, I am still drinking to “self-medicate.”

It’s like the curtain getting pulled back to expose the wizard. What’s left is my drinking. Why do I drink? What am I so afraid of? I know the answer in its simplest form; I don’t want to feel any negative emotions. I drink to numb my feelings. That’s where the “emotional drinking” name for my blog comes from.

I stopped drinking 11 days ago and I’m prepared for the fallout. I’m not going to run to a wine bottle. I plan on facing my emotions. My head is in the right place and the time has come to uncover all that I am and discover all that I can be.

Now boarding for www.emotionaldrinkingdotcom.wordpress.com.

♥ Daylily

Upcoming events – first AA meeting and back to my therapist

My therapist hurt my feelings last time I saw her. That sounds stupid even saying it, but such an admission shows just how sensitive I am. I began with Lynn so she could help me with depression and what I defined as my use of alcohol to self-medicate. Ignorantly, I believed that if I changed my depression medications then my drinking would stop, too.

That’s not how it went down.

I withdrew from all medications, under Lynn’s watch, and spiraled into major depression. Lynn wisely prescribed a cocktail of medications and my mood improved. Unfortunately, my drinking hasn’t improved. My therapist threatened to withdraw all medications if I don’t stop drinking. She said I am mixing medications and it’s dangerous.

Our relationship had only recently begun to feel safe. Over a long stretch without seeing Lynn, I told her I missed her. Instead of answering the same Lynn said, “That’s good it means you trust other people.”

It was the very next session when Lynn played tough love and gave what felt like an ultimatum. I don’t do well if I feel unsupported by people I trust.

I shut down and accused her of giving me a threat about my meds. It hurt my feelings that she doesn’t understand my emotional sensitivity. When I withdrew in our session she tried to reassure me it wasn’t a threat and she would give me time. But the damage was done.

It’s been 2 weeks and I am scheduled to see Lynn in 2 days. In all honesty, I’d like to bring in my medications and throw them at her. What pleasure I would get watching them spill all over her carefully organized chair, table and office. And with that I would say, “Take your fucking medications and your sense of superiority and stick it up your ass.” What would be the point? To show her I don’t need her pills or her kind of therapy.

Reality check! Indifference is this therapist’s mode of operation. She would shrug her shoulders and think to herself, “There’s nothing I can do. This patient wasn’t ready to hear the truth and do the hard work.” She’s just such a hard-ass, I hate it. I wonder if this is how all addiction counselors are?

So, I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I know what the right thing is but it is difficult for me to trust this therapist. I have an urge to run instead of expose myself. But, I am going to try to do what she’s asking on blind faith. Tomorrow is Friday and instead of opening a bottle of wine I will go to my first AA meeting. It’s what my therapist thinks I need. Sounds scary but I will do it and go to therapy knowing I’m trying to do the work. I haven’t ruled out finding another therapist but for now I will see if our relationship can be restored.

Fern (formerly known as Daylily) 

Join me on my new blog.  Daylilies live for only one day and ferns can flourish in the right climate for a long time. 

http://emotionaldrinkingdotcom.wordpress.com/ 

Therapy feels wrong but who knows?

Admittedly, I am one of those people who doesn’t look any different from anyone else but my inability to stop abusing alcohol makes me a person that needs some kind of help.  I feel like it’s love, empathy and support that I need but my therapist is acting indifferent and tough.  It may be the right tactic but it feels wrong and hurts.  I want to push her away and isolate myself.

I know the therapeutic relationship mimics my personal relationships outside of therapy and I don’t know how to get help from someone who portrays themselves as indifferent.  To help understand, a total lack of affect and an abundance of intellect is my family of origin.  How can I heal within a relationship that feels so similar to my upbringing, where I hid my feelings from powerful, intelligent people.

As a survivor of CSA I battle the inner demons of self-hate and a sense of not deserving anything good.  I am dumbfounded as to find something inside me that believes I should recover just because I’m worth it.

This leads to my question: How can a person like me, who feels completely inadequate, trust her therapist and be able to get the help she needs?  This is a major road block to my success.  I want to enhance my sense of self which in turn will fuel the desire to stop drinking alcohol for my own good. Is this thinking backward?

My therapist says I must first stop drinking because it is the elephant in the room.  Sounds logical to a person with inner resources but sounds like jumping from a plane without a parachute for a person who lacks self-worthiness.

♥ Daylily

Within Us

What lies behind us, and what lies

before us are tiny matters,

compared to what lies within us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Therapist betrays me (or so I feel)

I truly believe Lynn wanted me to breakdown and cry in therapy today. There was some crying but I did not breakdown. It wasn’t because she didn’t try her hardest. She absolutely did! Contrary to what she hoped, I got angry.  I’m so pissed off I am thinking of ways to get out of therapy.

Before proceeding, I must point out that this is my perspective. By no means am I accusing her of crossing ethical boundaries but my retelling will make you think so. My perception is one-sided and self-protective.

Lynn purposefully challenged my thinking today. It came on the heels of last week when — for the first time — I opened up to her, admitted that I missed therapy and divulged a great deal of painful feelings regarding my past.

I feel trapped because now she knows I trust her so she went in for the kill.

I know I’m skirting the issue. You are probably asking yourselves about now, “What the heck is Daylily talking about?”

How I opened up. How I exposed my weakness and how my therapist turned it around and pushed my problem right up to my nose.

Once again I stated my modus operandi: change takes time. I not only tell my husband this but I also use it to reassure myself that I’m headed in the right direction. I need time to put a safety net in place for the fall out when I stop drinking. I have no idea what I will do with the feelings and thoughts that I’ve learned to numb and push down with alcohol. Admittedly, I’m scared to be alcohol-free.

I disclosed the contentious marital conflict last weekend.  I told Lynn my husband yelled at me, “Therapy is not working because you are still drinking.”

What felt like a sucker punch, Lynn followed up by saying, “You must stop drinking and then work on the emotions. The drinking is the elephant sitting in the room.”

I expected her to tell me, your husband doesn’t know how hard you’re working. Instead she sided with him.

Lynn threatened to withdraw my medications if I don’t stop binge drinking. She said, “It is the policy at our practice to decrease and eventually cease all prescribed medications if the patient has an issue with alcohol.”

It was then that I shut down. I couldn’t look in my therapist’s eyes. I felt betrayed.

Lynn asked the number one therapist question, “What are you feeling right now?”

My answer, “Cornered. You are threatening to take away my medication for depression.” I began to cry softly but not enough to ask for her help with it.

Survivors of sexual abuse are good at believing no one really cares.

When I feel cornered I want to bolt out the door. I waited as I watched the minutes tick away.

Lynn said things like, “You always have options.” And, “You can find another therapist who will not tell you what I am.”

My nasty response, “I know I have options.”

Lynn said I was angry.

“Yes, I don’t like to feel that you are siding with my husband and ganging up on me.”

She said my husband could come to the next session.

“Right,” I replied sarcastically, “So the two of you can both tell me I’m behaving badly.”

I said, “To get through that session I would need to wear a protective plate of amour.”

Lynn tried to offer assurance that she would be on my side to help explain to my husband the hard work I’m doing. I didn’t believe her. I still don’t feel she was sincere. What she was offering was an intervention. The same thing my husband suggested.

My nasty side came out and I said, “Let’s just invite my whole family and have a true intervention.”

Lynn told me she wasn’t going to take away my medication today. She tried to reassure me that she knows it’s a process. Blah, blah, blah.

My protective inner-self was hurt and I did not absorb any of what she said. She was judging me and that’s all I felt.

Lynn did offer suggestions about what to put in my “basket” to help me when I stop using alcohol as a crutch; but this is not the positive post to express hopefulness. First I need a place to express a sense of betrayal and disappointment.

Please no comments about my therapist being right. I’m a bright woman and I don’t need to be told that. What I need is support and understanding on this journey.

♥ Daylily, in a nasty mood

Binge drinking among females

This morning a news story about binge drinking among women jumped out at me on the MSN home page. I googled the topic of “binge drinking women” and found all the big news agencies are reporting a recent CDC study. Women are binge drinking more than ever.

I’m not proud of it but I fit the category. Here’s a direct quote from the article.

Recognize that most binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics, but may need counseling.

Oh, is that ever me. I am working on finding new coping skills in therapy. I don’t want to use alcohol to cope with difficult emotions. Really. Truly.

Here’s the link: http://www.cdc.gov/features/vitalsigns/bingedrinkingfemale/index.html

Daylily

Being married to a survivor of childhood sexual abuse

There are two sides to every coin

Good Evening! If you read my last post then you know I emotionally broke down over the weekend. What a crying mess I was. I spent all Sunday in bed, restoring my equilibrium. I am feeling so much better. It is not hard for survivors of sexual abuse to fall off-balance. Fortunately for me, time settles things and makes all the difference. As I go deeper into my issues there is less recovery time – which is a relief! 

My husband took the brunt of my rage but in truth I was triggered by seeing my brother who abused me, telling my step dad about the abuse and then re-telling Lynn in therapy. Only a person with trauma would know how bringing too much to the surface can put a survivor into a tail spin.

I regret how hard I was on my husband. Admittedly there are issues in my marriage, any marriage, really. What does it do to a guy whose wife wants to run away every time she feels slighted? Either physically run or mentally check out by drinking wine. Yes, he said some mean things but I didn’t tell you about how I told him, “Fuck off” and “You don’t control me.” When he didn’t want me to walk on the road at night it was because he cares. Our road is rural with no lights, no sidewalks and right now there is snow up to the edge. I was being stubborn and felt trapped and wanted to do something stupid like stumble down the road. He was angry that I was drunk. We were both at fault but I have to concede my part, that life with a survivor of sexual abuse is hard on the spouse. I can be unpredictable with intimacy and trust and half the time I don’t even know why I act the way I do.

I met my husband when we were in college and we’ve been married for 24 years. Although the relationship seems especially strained right now, most likely it’s because I am trying to grow, change and improve. There have been a lot of backslides during the past year. My emotions are up and down, left and right. My husband does try to get some control and it’s not always been that way. I have directed our relationship by pushing him away or needing him so desperately that it’s overwhelming for him. He has stuck by me through years of a tumultuous relationship. I give him credit and I recognize everyone has their limit. He hit his limit when I was drunk (again) on Saturday night. Even though I “only” drink on the weekends, I keep saying I’m going to stop. He’s tired of hearing my promises. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, I think he’s stuck in a tough position.

I’m still going to work on our relationship issues. I want to track when situations trigger anger. That is when I disassociate. I may find my husband is over-the-top with his criticisms and controlling ways but I must also see my part in our marriage dance. I’m a real bitch most of the time. I complain about everything. The house, the chores, his lack of help, the long list of things that need to be fixed, how I need help with the children’s busy schedules and that I hate to go food shopping and I wish I didn’t have to cook meals and clean up afterward. I am not the easiest person to live with. That’s the reality.

Yes, my husband is showing frustration and impatience. In some ways, I think it is his right. I’m not the warmest wife or happiest homemaker.

Thanks for reading this one. Journal/diary blogging has a way of being partial and imbalanced. I needed to try to show both sides of the coin. I know this side doesn’t make me look good. In order to make changes I must be rational and balanced.

♥ Daylily