So I’m about to make a very big statement…I’m giving up drinking. I’ll be blatantly honest, I have more fun when I drink. I lose my inhibitions and just have an all around great time. I laugh more. Everything is a little shinier. I have more confidence all the way around. It’s awesome. Until it isn’t. Until you become someone you can’t even recognize in the mirror. Yes, Diane definitely leaves the building and in her place is this fun, awesome, confident girl with a drink in her hand.

I stopped drinking for almost four years and felt great until I slowly picked it back up again. A glass of wine here and there. A night out with a friend. Seemed harmless enough to me and didn’t seem to cause a problem in my life. Until it did. A very big one.

In the last six weeks I have been drinking heavily on the weekends when I don’t have my kids. Oh and throw in a few weeknights, too. Three glasses of wine will throw me for a loop and I was sometimes going way beyond that. I was lonely and was starting to self medicate. Hell, it wasn’t just the loneliness. It was happiness, it was nervousness, it was sadness. I was beginning to self medicate every feeling I had because I’m starting to wake up and it’s uncomfortable. And I wanted to be comfortable no matter the means of getting there. The problem is alcohol is probably the worst thing I could put in my body.

My body does not process alcohol very well. Even one night of drinking will leave me in a tailspin for about a week. My body goes into fight or flight mode for days as my body resets. So, let’s add several consecutive days of heavy (for me) drinking and I become anxious, depressed, reckless, impulsive, emotional and make some of the worst decisions of my life. And that’s not just when I’m drinking. For days after, I become a train wreck. And then I become uncomfortable again so I go out and have a few more drinks and then the cycle repeats. I get emotional and make rash decisions. I do things I can’t take back. I become someone I never wanted to be. This is all in an effort to be comfortable. I hate that word right now. Comfortable. The lengths we will go to be comfortable! After all, who really wants to be uncomfortable?

I guess the positive in all of this is that I caught myself before it became a much bigger problem than it already was. I was headed down a bad path for me. And I will not tell a lie. Sometimes it seems unfair that I can’t drink the way others do without it having a major impact on my life and relationships, but it’s part of my story and truth. And my story must include the part where I do everything I can to be Diane and not an imposter, no matter how uncomfortable. So I’m making this statement to hold myself accountable. It scares me but I know it’s right. Cheers to being real and uncomfortable!

The Cracks

“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

I left my marriage of 23 years and thrust myself out into the real world because it was necessary for my growth. Still, it has been so very hard and painful to let go of what you thought your life might be, what you tried so hard to pretend it was, what you so achingly and desperately longed for it to be. That is what I grieve today and have a hard time letting go of. I never counted on feeling so alone that it shakes you to your core, but I’m learning. It’s not a graceful process and I’m a curiously SLOW learner. I still find myself smiling at all the right times no matter how I’m feeling on the inside. A china knock off smile.

When you’re alone and grieving, it can easily get the best of you. Still, you have to let yourself go to that place and lose it. To that sharp edge of your darkness and light, where there may be a big crack of despair. It’s like walking a tightrope above a deep and dark abyss in the pitch black while trying to hold a candle to light your way. Jump in and feel it all. Lose it. You have to move down and through it to come up and out on the other side. I’m slowly learning, ever so slowly, that if I avoid or ignore that space, it just grows deeper and wider and will start to suck me in. I’m starting to learn to let myself go to that space and not turn around and run desperately looking for the light. To sit in that space and feel it. It sucks but is so necessary for our survival and it’s only going to make me stronger. The secret is not to dwell there. This I know all too well. Experience it, feel it, acknowledge it and then pick yourself up and keep going. Your life depends on it.

The Proverbial White Picket Fence

The white picket fence. The symbolic representation that life is perfect from the outside. It told a story. A story that I so wanted my life to be, but it wasn’t. And I couldn’t figure out WHY. I had everything, or so I thought I did. Big house, country club, a perfectly manicured lawn…all of the things you’d think would make you feel happy, but I didn’t. And instead of doing anything about it, I figured something was wrong with me. I sleepily walked through life, half there, half somewhere far, far away. I started looking around and everyone else seemed so happy, so put together, just so TOGETHER period and it only made me wonder more about myself. I found myself trying to keep up. I smiled. I laughed at all of the jokes at the right times. I wore the right clothes. I kept up appearances and I was absolutely and utterly exhausted inside. I found myself daydreaming for a means of escape between the narrow slits in that white picket fence, wading through the grass of that perfect yard. The grass had become too tall for me and it felt like weeds were circling my ankles, like I’d never get out so I just stayed and stayed. I slept walk through my life for a very, very long time, feeling ashamed that this wasn’t enough for me. Damn me for not being happy. Yes, I stayed and mentally bashed myself for not being enough on so many levels until one day I didn’t stay anymore. I left and here I am. No white picket fence. And as hard as it has been, as hard as the lessons have been and will continue to be, I feel more alive now than I ever did before. I FEEL again. And my feelings are raw and hard much of the time. It’s not all rainbows and daisies. It is real life.

Lost in My Perfect Life

I am really writing this blog for myself, but feel if I can help one person along the way, I may as well share it. This blog will be far from perfect – perfect words, perfect grammar, clever expressions and witty sayings…this blog is about life. Messy. Happy. Lonely. Full. Empty. Hard. Crazy. Sane. And all the things that life is. Real stuff. The things my child self never expected…I thought you just grew up and things fell into place. You got married, had children, created memories and just lived a happy life forever after. I laugh now as I write this and remember how I fell into that said life. The problem was I got lost behind that quaint and cute white picket fence. You know, the one that symbolized happiness, the one that told everyone you’d made a perfect happy little family, the one that helped hold all of the dreams and giggles and memories and abundance of love you felt every day in this perfect little life. I got very lost. And I find myself here, starting over again in an effort to find myself for the first time in a long time. This road has not been shiny and smooth and paved in gumdrops, but I’m still grateful for all of the lessons I continue to learn (which are many) which is what this blog is all about…stay tuned.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.