“Do I have enough vodka to get through the day?” This was always the question before I got sober. If the answer was “yes,” I could focus on the little things like, what were my son and I going to have for dinner that day, or did I have an exam that day that I needed to start studying for (smh), or did I need to pay my phone bill that day or make arrangements to pay it later? If the answer was “no,” I was wondering what time the store opened, if my son was home he would have to come to the store with me. I tried to make it seem normal to him that we were walking to Rite Aid, yet again, to get the biggest bottle of vodka I could afford that day. Luckily for me, this only happened every other day. So, 50% of the time. That’s balanced, right?
I lost one of my best friends recently. Sugar. Sugar has been there for me every day since I got sober from alcohol. In early sobriety, in rehab, I couldn’t get enough of Tootsie Rolls. Those little individually wrapped brown chunks of bliss. At one point, I had my mom smuggling them in to me knowing I wasn’t allowed to have outside food in the rehab facility. (Yes, I eventually told on myself. Imagine how ridiculous that conversation was!) And up until last month, after a long day, I knew whatever my current sweet fix happened to be, would be there for me before I went to bed. For a long time, I wondered exactly how I was going to stop eating so much of it. Once, I even asked an expert in recovery for advice after attending his seminar. His answer was, “When you find out, let me know.”
Now it’s been over a month since I’ve had a piece of candy or dessert. I have not had much in the way of processed carbs at all. I’m working a weight loss program that teaches a healthier lifestyle. I’m not sure why I chose now to start. I’m not a big resolution maker. I didn’t have any dire health issues that necessitated cutting out sugar. I just felt like it was time to try. I definitely prayed for the willingness to try. And now I’m soooo glad I did.
The weight loss so far is great, yes, but, if you can believe it, that’s not the main reason I’m excited. I now KNOW I don’t HAVE to eat sugar every day. I know that even if I don’t stick to this eating plan forever or even for much longer, I can eventually get my sugar habit under control. I now have HOPE.
HOPE is also what I gained from learning about and working through some of my codependency issues and that makes all the difference.
2020 was a heck of a year, wasn’t it? My favorite commercials were the ones where 2020 is a woman who meets Satan on Match.com. So apropos!! But guess what? If you’re reading this, you made it through it. For some of you, your recovery program is stronger than ever, but for others, you may feel as if you’ve gotten lost somewhere or as if you’re not as connected to your recovery as you were before all this. Don’t worry, this is completely understandable and totally normal. What we went through with this pandemic was unprecedented! We people in recovery had to adapt. We can be grateful we learned that we can stay connected and continue building a solid program of recovery by whatever means necessary. 2020 taught us to keep putting one foot in front of the other as a community.
I really missed all those warm hugs I used to get from my sober friends. I missed the intimacy of small, in-person, group meetings and the fellowship of large group meetings. I remind myself, though, the important thing is I stayed sober. My takeaway from 2020 is: if I want to continue to stay sober, I have to make sure my program is working for me, today, on today’s terms.
In Part One of this series, I gave you Melody Beattie’s definition of codependency from her book, “Codependent No More.” She says, a codependent person is someone “who has let someone else’s behavior affect him or her, and is obsessed with controlling other people’s behavior.”
This was the playbook for my entire life. So, now that I understood codependency, what could I do about it? Imagine trying to change a pattern of behavior that you have been learning since birth and have been practicing faithfully for your entire life. Unlikely right? Unless…you are highly motivated to do it. By the time I got sober from alcohol, the depth of my misery was awfully motivating.