It’s OK to Feel Shitty & Think Shitty Things

A couple of days ago, I was talking to a friend on the phone. I met this woman when she reached out to me, confiding that she wants to stop drinking and needed a bit of advice. After just one conversation, I knew we were soul sisters – everything she’s experiencing now, newly sober, I experienced too. Naturally, talking to her always reminds me of certain things or feelings I’ve forgotten over time.

This time, we were talking about spending time with friends, specifically friends who drink.

“I have to be honest, there were a couple of times I wanted to drink,” she admitted.

I could tell by her voice that she didn’t feel great about that fact. After all, isn’t wanting to drink a terrible sign? Wanting to drink (and wanting it too often, or wanting too much of it) is what got us into our predicaments in the first place, after all.

But then I remembered something someone taught me years ago when I thought I was “failing” at recovery because, every once in awhile, I wished I could have a drink (or two).

 “Your thoughts are just thoughts. Don’t be scared of them. Don’t push them away. Think them, and then move on.”

I could think, “I want to drink,” but that didn’t mean I would act on it. It also didn’t mean I needed to beat myself up about it, or decide that something was wrong with me because I wasn’t 100% fixed internally.

Don’t get me wrong… if I spent hours each day sitting at home, fixated on drinking, then I would need to get some help. Thinking, “Ugh, a drink would be nice,” while sitting at a restaurant, surrounded by pretty cocktails, does not signify failure. If anything, it signifies that I’m human. Yeah, a drink would be nice. That was a thought, and a brief feeling of missing out, and there is no action to follow – besides maybe ordering a fruity mocktail.

I started thinking a lot about this concept when I stopped drinking, but it goes way beyond just sobriety and recovery. I’ve noticed that, every time I feel a negative emotion, I’ve been conditioned to try and escape it in some way. Why? Why is it so hard to sit and feel your emotion, in all of its ugly glory? Be mad. Be lonely. Be frustrated. Be homesick. Just BE – why are we so afraid to feel this shitty feeling?

I stumbled upon a quote from my ultimate hero/goddess Elizabeth Gilbert, and it touched on this nicely. She writes,

“When I get lonely these days I think: So be lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”

Every thought that enters your mind doesn’t need to mean something, or warrant a response. You are not flawed because you feel lonely or out of place or sad. You are not a bad person because you miss or want something you cannot have, and you don’t need to act on those urges either. You certainly don’t need to repress your thoughts or mask your feelings, just because you’re afraid of them. Feel them, sit with them, breathe through them, and know that, just like everything else in the world, they’re temporary.

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Eight Totally Random Things I Learned During My Time in California

It feels good to be writing on my blog again! If you’ve noticed that it’s been radio silent for a while, I have a good excuse for you.

I started writing for an amazing website called The Lala, “an online magazine dedicated to empowering 20-something women from across the globe with the authentic, positive and uplifting content.” It’s been a blast to connect with other young women and share stories that I hope will have a positive impact. However, a lot of my personal blog ideas have gone straight to The Lala, where I will be able to reach more readers. But don’t worry – my uber personal ramblings will stay on here!

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Our New Chapter!

Although I’ve “announced” our exciting news on all social media platforms, I’ve decided it merits its own blog post. Plus, I’ve gotten a ton of questions/comments about it… so here’s my chance to respond! Jeremy & I (plus Jack and Henry, of course) will be moving from Sacramento to Albuquerque, New Mexico at the end of June! Jeremy got an incredible job offer, and it was an easy decision. Luckily, I can freelance write from anywhere!

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Dear 16-Year-Old Me

Dear 16-year-old Caroline…

It’s me, A.K.A. you, but 11 years older and a whole lot wiser. First off, stop going in tanning beds right this minute and don’t let anyone talk you into getting bangs. Just trust me. With that out of the way, here are a few other things to keep in mind as you navigate the insane world of high school, college, and early adulthood. Seriously, even if you don’t take advice from anyone else, listen to some advice from YOUR DAMN SELF.

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Find What Resonates

A while ago, after I posted my 1,000 Days of Sobriety blog post, a friend made the comment along the lines of, “Thank God you’re an alcoholic so you have something to write about.” I was a little offended – my husband was a lot offended, bless him – but I mostly brushed it off… that person kind of had a point.

It’s planted a little self-doubt in my head, though. Am I beating a dead horse? Yes, Caroline, you’re sober. YAY YOU! Move along. Should I really write about it so much? Why do I feel so called to share?

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Champagne Toasts

Alcoholism, or any addiction really, is an insane thing. No matter how chaotic life is or how glaringly bad the problem gets, you can’t see the mess until you’re out of it. You’ll make excuse after excuse, rationalize the most irrational things, and pretend everything is completely fine. Until you finally, finally get the gift to see that it’s not. It’s not fine, it hasn’t been fine, and something needs to change.

One day, when I was 24 and sitting in group therapy, I had a strange internal dialogue. A woman was speaking to the group. She was much older than me, a divorcee with a string of DUIs and a broken family. She had been drinking for longer than I had been alive. A thought popped into my head.

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