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120 Days….. March 4, 2013

Have you seen the movie Argo? From the outside, watching trailers and such, it’s typically not my kind of movie. With all the awards it won and all they hype around it I decided to watch it tonight with Mr. D.

I’m so glad I did.

It’s based on a true story, so no spoilers here. We all know how it turned out. In 1979 the American embassy in Iran was invaded by revolutionaries and several Americans were taken hostage. Six managed to escape and hid out in the Canadian Ambassador’s house. Time was ticking away and the CIA decided it was time to get them out of there. That’s where Ben Affleck comes in as Tony Mendez. He devises a ruse based on complete bullshit to get the six out of there, and it works! I won’t give away the whole movie, but I highly recommend it if you need your faith in “nothing is impossible” restored.

Which brings me here. I realized tonight that tomorrow March 4th I will be 120 days sober.  Now, you might be asking yourself, what the hell does that have to do with the movie Argo? Bear with me, this post does have a chance.

When the embassy gets taken over by the revolutionaries the six people that escaped were just doing what they normally did everyday. The got up, went to work, and the shit hit the fan. Not unlike what happened to me. The shit hit the fan for me in November. Like me they escaped imprisonment (mine was self imposed,) even death, and found a safe place to hang out for 66 days. They were scared, tired, paranoid, mistrusting not only amongst the people that were trying to help them, but to themselves. I dropped off the grid basically for 60 Days during that time I was scared. I was worried about what people might think if I just told the truth.

While the six people are in hiding the CIA is wondering what the hell to do. They bring in Ben Affleck and after going over idea after idea of what might work, or what they could do to make this situation better Affleck comes up with the crazy idea to produce a nonexistent movie to get them home. He gets a couple of big wigs in Hollywood to back him, passports, new identifications for these people flies over to Iran pitches it to them and they say they’re not going to do it. Kinda like when I told my doctor I was going to “just stop drinking” and he said “do you know how many people say that to me and they end up right back here with me in six months?”

When the six resign themselves to the fact that they really don’t have any other choice than to trust Affleck they decide to go along with his plan. Then it gets hard, really hard. He gives them their new lives, their bios that Hollywood has decided will get them out of hell and back home. They have to become a stranger to themselves and everyone around them. Even to their spouses (there were two couples.) They can’t be who they are because who they are doesn’t get them out alive. By the way, they have to memorize their new lives and be able to believe it enough to blindside an Iranian interrogator (if needed) in two days. I had to reinvent myself. I didn’t know who I was going to be or if I would like who I really was once I (whoever the hell that is) came back. The idea of putting myself out there to other people when I forgot who Stephanie is without her liquid courage, scary.

After Affleck pitches the idea and the six buy into it. They start working tirelessly to become their new identity. When they’re ready to go, when it’s crunch time, the CIA pulls the plug. They tell Affleck not to go forward with the operation, they’re going to send in some Delta Force to get them and for him to come back. Taking the least risk, the easy way out. Trust me, it would have been a lot easier for me to make excuses and start drinking again. Affleck stays up all night, calls the guy at the CIA and tell him he’s going through with the operation and hangs up on him. The moment he decided he was going to go through with his plan, that for him there was no turning back, was a huge moment.

When I decided I wasn’t turning back was a huge moment for me. I wish I could tell you it was that moment with the doctor was when I decided I wasn’t going back, but it wasn’t. It was when I started feeling better, that is when I really had to decide. When you feel good it gives you the illusion that nothing is wrong and you start lying to yourself. You can start making excuses, it’s really easy, trust me. One drink can turn into five, I’m done living that lie.

The really weird thing is I have a crazy amount of will power. I wish I could give someone who needs a little will power just a bit of mine because it’s crazy. When I say I’m done with something, I’m done. I mean that’s it – period. Anyone that knows me can attest to that. I had to be done with drinking.

I am.

I really have to thank Mr. D. He’s put up with a lot and hung in with me. I would also like to thank the people who didn’t think I could do it, because I did.

(If you know someone who is struggling with addiction please don’t ignore it. I have decided not to go through a program, I just don’t think it would work for me. There are programs that DO want to help. It isn’t a no win situation, you can make it back. It won’t be easy, but I promise, it will be worth it.)

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60 Days… January 3, 2013

Have you ever had something so devastating happen to you that it made you want to crawl into a dark hole and never come out again?

I can honestly say yes, that happened to me. When my dad died a big part of me died. I changed. Even with the support of my husband, and friends I seemed to be getting worse not better.

I went to my doctor almost immediately after my dad’s death. I told him I was depressed, having panic attacks, and problems with my acid reflux (which I already had.) When he asked about how much I was drinking I lied. Not only to him, but I lied to myself about my drinking. He prescribed me some antidepressants and told me to cut back on drinking. The antidepressants made me more depressed. I quit taking them and drank more.

I decided to go to a grief counselor about a year and a half after my dad died. When I met with her she was shocked when I told her that he had passed away almost two years ago. She was concerned because I was still so distraught and it was starting to affect my health. I was beginning to have GI problems. She asked if I drank, I said yes. When she asked how much, I lied. She suggested that I go to the doctor to get back on antidepressants. I continued to see her, but after a year I still felt stuck. I decided to stop going because I didn’t feel like I was making much progress and the bills were starting to add up.

I went back to my doctor and over the next several months I had an endoscopy, colonoscopy, and more blood drawn and tested than I would like to remember. My blood work always came out fine, some levels were a little higher than others, but nothing to be alarmed about. They found after I had the colonoscopy that I had some hemorrhoids that would flare up and bleed, but that could be fixed with more fiber in my diet and less alcohol. When I had the endoscopy I thought for sure they would find I had ulcers. When it came back that I didn’t I couldn’t believe it. No one seemed to know what was wrong with me.

Depression, stress, feeling sick all the time, and medical bills adding up at a rapid rate, can be slightly overwhelming. Alcohol helps that right?

Around the end of October I started feeling really bad. Another test, another colonoscopy, a different doctor.

Going in I didn’t feel the same as I did with my regular doctor. I had been poked and prodded without any real answer as to what was wrong with me.

During the interview with the nurse before the procedure I had to go through my medical history with them. When the drinking subject came up I decided to be very frank with them. I was tired of feeling so sick and if being honest about that one thing could answer the question that no one could answer over the last year I thought – the hell with it. So I answered it, honestly. When I did it was like I had put down a sack of bricks that I had been carrying around for three and a half years.

After the procedure the doctor came in to talk to me and Mr. D. I’ll never forget him because he looked like Colonel Sanders. He had the white beard and hair, even the glasses were a spot on match. He told me that I had a fatty liver. No scarring, no cirrhosis ..yet. He was very frank, which I actually appreciated (he probably heard I was a no-nonsense kind of person after talking to the nurses.)

Then he said something that I will never forget. He leaned over and looked at me straight in the eyes and said “if you don’t stop drinking you will be dead in two years.” Everything in my body stopped.

I had one single thought.

teenager

I sat there in silence for what seemed like forever. I imagined Kameron’s prom, his graduation, his wedding, and grandchildren that I would not be around to see. I saw Kameron’s face and I knew in that moment I would never want him to feel the hopelessness that I have felt for so long.

I looked at the doctor and said “I just won’t drink again.” The Colonel sighed and said “do you know how many people say that to me and they’re back in six months with the same problem they had before?” He was condescending. I could tell he was frustrated, he probably has said that to who knows how many people. I looked at him square in the face and said “you’ll never see me again.”

So today, on day 60 of sobriety I can honestly say I’ve never felt better in my life. I’m not going to lie, the first two weeks of not drinking was like the worst hangover I ever had.. it just lasted two solid weeks. After that I started feeling stronger everyday. All of my symptoms that I was having are gone. It really is amazing.

I always wanted my dad to be proud of me, and he was proud of me for many things I accomplished when he was alive. I now know this is the proudest he’s ever been of me, I feel it everyday.

I’d like to thank Shawnie Quick-Raflik for encouraging me to write this. I thought I might disappoint some of you, it’s a shameful thing to admit, that is why I waited to write this. The many of you I do know.. if I hurt you in some way I’m sorry.

*If you feel like you know someone struggling, please don’t ignore it. Even though I’ve chosen to take this journey on my own with the support of Mr. D, friends, and family there are places that want to help*

Much Love, SED