Tag Archives: drinking

Turn the Beat Around — Part 2

12 Jun

After my post “Turn the Beat Around“, a good friend of mine, who happens to be a huge
country music fan, sent me a nice note.   She said while she liked it, “to defend her love of country”, I had to “give country music some accolades for recognizing addictions too”. Sounds totally fair.  She gave me just a few examples of songs I should check out. Yes, she was right.  In my other piece, I wrote a long list of songs romanticizing drinking.  In deference to my friend, here are a few examples of lyrics from country songs that really capture the evils of addiction:

That’s Why I’m Here–Kenny Chesney

This old boy stood up in the isle
Said he’d been livin’ a life of denial
Then he cried, as he talked about wasted years
I couldn’t believe what I heard
It was my life word for word
And all of the sudden, it was clear

It’s the simple things in life
Like the kids at home and a lovin’ wife
That you miss the most, when you lose control

And everything you love starts to disappear
The devil takes your hand and says no fear
Have another shot, just one more beer
Yeah I’ve been there
That’s why I’m here

Choices– George Jones

I was tempted, by an early age
I found I liked drinkin’, oh, and I never turned it down
There were loved ones but I turned them all away
Now I’m living and dying with the choices I’ve made
I’ve had choices since the day that I was born
There were voices that told me right from wrong

If I had listened, no I wouldn’t be here today
Living and dying with the choices I’ve made
I guess I’m payin’ for the things that I have done I
f I could go back, oh, Lord knows I’d run
But I’m still losin’ this game of life I play
Losing and dying with the choices I’ve made

Some People Change —  Montgomery Gentry

She was born with her mother’s habit…
You could say: “It’s in her blood.”
She hates that she’s gotta have it…
As she fills her glass up.
An she’d love to kill that bottle,
But all she can think about,
Is a, a better life, a second chance,
An’ everyone she’s letting down.
She throws that bottle down.

Here’s to the strong; thanks to the brave.
Don’t give up hope… some people change.
Against all odds, against the grain,
Love finds a way… some people change.
Thank God for those who make it…
Let them be the Light.

Hold On–Wilson Phillips

You could sustain
Or are you comfortable with the pain?
You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin’ your worries pass you by
Don’t you think it’s worth your time
To change your mind?

I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and
Break free the chains
Yeah I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and you
Break free, break from the chains

I have to admit, that’s good, powerful stuff.  Thank you to my friend for sharing those with me (the last one was my own addition).   In response to the songs above, I agree, I don’t have anyone else to blame for my unhappiness.  When I put the bottle down, I did break free from the chains.  And I’m not giving up hope, people do change.  I’m a living, breathing example of that.  We all live and die with the choices we make.  Dr. William Glasser, the psychiatrist who developed the “choice theory” said that “it is almost impossible for anyone, even the most ineffective among us, to continue to choose misery after becoming aware that it is a choice.”  There is way too much for me to say about choice here, that’s for another post.  For now, suffice it to say that I choose to stay sober and I choose happiness.  And yes, I choose to agree that country music ain’t so bad.

Turn the Beat Around

21 Apr

I was listening to one of my favorite church songs this morning during Easter mass.  It’s called “The Bread of Life” and for some reason, every time I used to hear it, I would cry.   It wasn’t the words of the song that brought out the tears–it’s a happy song which basically says that those who believe in Jesus will want for nothing and be raised up to live forever.  Clearly, it wasn’t the song.  It was what was going on in my life at that time that made me cry.  Today, I listened and smiled with my kids next to me and I started thinking about music and what a huge role it plays in our lives.  

You can hear a song and it can instantly take you back to a particular time, event, or memory.  Driving back from Charleston yesterday, a lovely 10-hour car ride with a sick husband, my daughter with her headphones permanently affixed to her head, and my two boys acting out the WWF championships in the back seat, I heard everything from classic rock to 70s and 80s tunes to country.   Looking at the lyrics of the songs you listen to through the decades and stages of your life says a great deal.  
In elementary school, I enjoyed the deep, philosophical lyrics of artists (and I use that term very loosely) like Sheena Easton, Rick Springfield, Adam Ant, Men at Work, Taco, Loverboy, Sammy Hagar, Duran Duran, Human League….I could go on.  We didn’t know any better to realize that most of these lyrics made no sense or were completely stupid.  Who the hell was Jessie and why do we care about his girl?   If I had a nickel for every time someone dialed 867-5309, I’d be up there with Bill Gates and Oprah in Forbes.  And come on, Eileen, drive your little red Corvette to see your friends Mr. Roboto and Mickey, who is so fine that he blows minds.  When you get there, you can do the Stray Cat Strut or the Safety Dance, all while putting on the ritz.  Deep.  Very deep. 
I got into high school and learned that Whitney wanted to dance with somebody and George Michael wanted your sex. To which Debbie Gibson replied “only in my dreams”.   Huey was doing it all for his baby while the Beastie Boys fought for their right to party. Poor, abused Luka got lost in emotion with Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam.  Bananarama heard a rumor that Madonna was on La Isla Bonita and the lady in red went to the land of confusion with Genesis.  And sorry Gloria Estefan, but the rhythm never did get me.  At this moment, no sign of Billy Vera and the Beaters.  But some of those songs became important to us as prom themes, background noise to first kisses, or party music while we tried to be cool and shotgun beers in dark woods tucked inside a local golf course. 
College brought a more worldly and sophisticated array of music.  The British invasion gave us New Order, the Smiths, the Cure, Depeche Mode and many others.  It was so cool to listen to that ever-cheery Morrissey crooning things like “if a ten-ton truck crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die” and “sweetness I was only joking when I said by right you should be bludgeoned in your bed”.   If that didn’t lead to heavy drinking, I don’t know what did. Marky Mark sang about good vibrations while REM complained about losing their religion.  DNA featuring Suzanne Vega gave us Tom’s Diner, which once we got in our heads, we couldn’t stop singing all day.   How Gerardo’s “Rico Suave” didn’t walk away with the highest accolades of the music industry is beyond me.  I guess Vanilla Ice gave him some stiff competition.  Oh, and Milli Vanillli–how devastated were we when we found out that they were lip-synching frauds?  Blame it on the rain, I want to be rich. Crushing.  
It wasn’t until recently that I found myself leaving the country station on the radio a little longer. Some great music and talented artists.  But I think I have to say that of all the music I have listened to over the decades, no genre features songs about alcohol more than country.  Of course you will find songs about drinking in other genres.  George Thorogood had to have his one bourbon, one scotch and one beer.  Jimmy Buffett sang about Margaritaville and Boat Drinks, and reminded us that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.  Even my favorite opera, La Traviata, has the drinking song where Alfredo and Violetta belt out in beautiful Italian “libiamo –let’s drink, let’s drink in joyful chalices…let’s enjoy the pleasures, fleeting and fast”.  One of broadway’s most brilliant offerings, Les Miserables, includes a song called “Drink With Me”.  I would drink nonstop too if I were Jean Valjean.  
But as I started listening more carefully to the titles and lyrics of country songs, I saw a very common theme.  Here are just a few examples of song titles:  
Drink in My Hand–Eric Church
Drinks After Work–Toby Keith
Drink One for Me–Jason Aldean
Drink a Beer–Luke Bryan
The More I Drink–Blake Shelton
Save Water, Drink Beer–Chris Young
Get My Drink On–Toby Keith
I Like Girls That Drink Beer
Drink on It–Blake Shelton
Haven’t Had a Drink All Day–Toby Keith
Drink One More Round–Cory Morrow
Drink Too Much–Mark McKinney
Drink Your Whiskey Down–Reckless Kelly
Drink More Beer–Rodney Carrington
Drink, Drank, Drunk–Cowboy Troy
The World Needs a Drink–Terri Clark
Two Rounds of Jose Cuervo–Tracy Byrd
Two Pina Coladas–Garth Brooks
and…..Why the Hell Do You Think I Drink? –Joe Nichols
And that is just a small sampling.  Some of those songs are pretty funny, some are sad, and some just raise red flags that their writers should consider a stop in at the Betty their next time out on tour.  In my continued journey in sobriety, I tend to enjoy listening to the songs that talk about someone’s life going down the crapper from drinking.  They remind me of the benefits of sobriety.  The station gets changed quickly for all the songs romanticizing alcohol.  As things get better in my life with each day sober, I don’t find myself crying at songs as much.  I don’t even need Bobby McFerrin to tell me not to worry and to be happy, or have to play Pharrell to dance around “happy”.   It comes more often and more naturally.  Maybe I should work on my own song –something to the tune of one day at a time, life is a hell of a lot better sober.  Hmmm…..
I leave you with lyrics from the iconic Swedish band Abba:
Thank you for the music,  the songs I’m singing, thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be? 
Without a song or a dance, what are we?
So I say thank you for the music, 
For giving it to me.

Serenity to Laugh–T-Shirt Ideas

21 Mar

In keeping with my tagline “God, Grant Me the Serenity to Laugh at Life”…..here are some new Sobrietease-related t-shirt/bumper sticker ideas I’ve come up with:

-Jose Cuervo–I Kicked Your Ass

-Ben and Jerry Can Kick the Shit Out of Bartles and James

-I Got My Memory Back-ardi

-Margarita Was a Ho

-Jack Daniels is for Sissies. Real Men Drink Fresca

-Absolut Jackass

-I Stoli Your Hangover

-Captain Morgan Was a Wuss

-I’ll Have a Martini—Hold the Gin. And the Vermouth. Screw It— Just Give Me a Bowl of Olives

-Manhatten? Try a Harlem Instead

-Bloody Mary? Gee That Sounds Good….NOT

-7 & 7 Equals Coke Zero

-Water–The New ‘It’ Drink

-Tom Collins is Phil Collins’ Evil Twin

-It’s 8am Somewhere

-Kiss Me I’m Sober

-I Lost My Mohijo

-Sober. The New Drunk  (I can’t take credit for this one-a friend said it)

-Why Don’t We Not Get Drunk and Screw Tonight?

-Do You Want Salt and Lime With That Seltzer Shot?

-Fuzzy Navel? TMI

-Holy Shit! Is That What You Really Look Like??

-I Wasn’t a Blackout Drinker….As Far As I Can Remember…..


Stay strong.


Take a Drink, I Used to Think

31 Jan


It would solve it all, I used to think

To simply pour and pick up a drink

A tall glass, a short glass, I really didn’t care

As long as enough booze was floating in there

The first little taste that touched on my lips

Was followed by many, many more sips

Vodka and soda, tonic and gin

As much and as many as I could fit in

What’s the big deal, I was totally fine

I’d move from the hard stuff right over to wine

Before very long, one glass became four

Another bottle opened to continue the pour

Things seemed so much brighter and lighter and free

I could step far away and not have to be me

An escape, what a treat, what a break from it all

Higher and higher I would build up the fall

My bed was my haven, my solace from life

No pressure, no let downs, no more of the strife

No trying to please, no worry, no cares

No fighting, no fearing or threatening stares

The haven would spin, more often than not

Wishing, again, I hadn’t had that last shot

I’d wake up and wonder what I did, where I was

I had no idea since my brain was just fuzz

My mouth really dry, head pounding and dull

As if someone threw a big brick at my skull

The day would be long, I knew right away

But all who would see me would think I’m okay

All chipper and smiley, no hangover for me

Is what those who saw me would usually see

But those who knew better were used to my game

Though they still couldn’t see through to the guilt and the shame

How long can I go living life in this way

Drinking and wasting every single damn day

You can numb and ignore it for only so long

Then the true test will come to see if you’re strong

Strong enough to be humble, to admit that you know

That the path that you’re on isn’t the right way to go

You’ve finally come to that fork in the road

Struggling and trying to hold on to your load

You throw down your pride at last to the ground

Finally listening to the absence of sound

If you can only be silent, and open your ears

You can now finally start to face all your fears

It’s really quite simple, its hard to believe

That life is no more than a daily reprieve

Admit you are powerless, you’ve lost your control

Of every last bit that remained of your soul

If you’re willing to do this and choose the right path

Someday you might find you’ll be able to laugh

And smile again, in a genuine grin,

Not like in the stupor you used to be in

Many of those who have struggled before

Are right there to help you, they’re holding the door

And the one thing I leave you, my wisdom to share

If you open your heart, your God will be there.

























YOU Version 2.0–New and Improved! Free Upgrade Available–Act Now!

21 Dec
A good friend of mine calls me “Martha 2.0”.  The new and improved version.  She’s seen the old and helped me through the transition, very rough at times, to the new.  There will be a version 3.0.  And a 4.0….. (eat your heart out Apple).  The goal is to keep evaluating, learning, and improving. Find the bugs and problems and fix them.  It’s a lifelong process.  You can upgrade too.  It’s not exactly free (here comes the fine print):  you have to be willing to work for it.

I wish I could explain how clearly I see things now that I’m not drinking.  When I drank, it was like I was looking through a pair of glasses with lenses that were covered with water.   I could still make things out and see them, but they were usually completely distorted, blurry or just messed up. Occasionally, I would manage to wipe them clean and dry them off, but they would just go back to wet and blurry again.   They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.  When an alcoholic thinks that they can pick up a drink, and that “this time will be different”, they are demonstrating behavior that is, in fact, insane.  Every rational, logical and sensible reason why you can’t drink is right there in front of you, but so is the insanity of the disease, trying to drop your glasses in the toilet to get wet again.

I had what I considered a sizable breakthrough this week.  All it takes is for one person to say something that strikes a chord or zaps a part of your brain to turn a lightbulb on.  I wish I remembered exactly what they said, but the main point was that they realized that they had to stop blaming someone or something for their drinking.   The person, thing or issue didn’t CAUSE the drinking.   They were just really good EXCUSES to drink, or to continue drinking.  I don’t believe anyone can maintain sobriety by just stopping drinking.  You have to completely change who you are and address the excuses that lead you drink in the first place, especially your own character defects.   Work out the bugs.  Most importantly, as another wise friend told me, you can’t move on until you are willing to lay down the sword when it’s time.   Letting go of resentments can free up all kinds of memory.

Think about the vicious cycle.  As an alcoholic, the problems you experience lead you to pick up a drink.  The drinking then, in turn, causes more problems.  Things suck more, so you think that drinking will help.   It goes on, usually, until you hit rock bottom.   Not until you identify and accept the behavior as insanity can you begin to work on improvement. How great would it be if there was some Apple app that “cured” you of alcoholism.  One that took away the compulsion to drink.  An app that let you skip the horrible withdrawal and expedite recovery.  An incredible app that fixed everything you screwed up when you drank.  Unfortunately, there isn’t.  The tools at your disposal are the experience and understanding of those who have been through this before you.  Those who have worked hard to achieve and maintain sobriety.   If you are willing to do the work and use these tools, you too can get your upgrade.  Act now.  It’s vital to be plugged in during the process.  Hooking up to your HP (Higher Power) usually works best.   And there’s also a holiday two-for-one special going on now—help someone else up and you will help yourself at the same time.

Sobriety Angel vs. Drink Devil

27 Nov

It’s great to post all these pieces about my come-to-Jesus with myself about my alcoholism, how much better life is sober, how proud I am of myself, etc., but how about when things really just suck and I want a drink?  Like now.  There are days like this.  Luckily they are fewer and farther apart.  But they are downright awful.

Holidays are hard for so many people in many different ways.  Yes, I realize how incredibly blessed and lucky I am.  I don’t mean that lightly. I am truly a fortunate person, even more fortunate now that I can see that. My gratitude list is quite long.  But still, Thanksgiving for me is very difficult.  Ironically, it is my 18-month anniversary to the date.  A year and a half of sobriety is nothing to sneeze at, but its significance shrinks substantially when I’m craving a drink.  That and many other arguments against picking up seem to have their magic powers zapped from them.  That’s when the demon of the disease flexes its muscles and tries to take over.  I always picture that scene in “Animal House” when Pinto has the little angel on one shoulder and little devil on the other pulling him in different directions.  My little angel sits on my shoulder and tells me I would be throwing away 18 months of sobriety, that I would feel terrible the next morning, that I would go back to numbing my way through life, etc.   The little drink devil says who gives a flying fuck.  It would taste so good. It would take the edge off.  It would give me that deep sigh and release.  I literally start salivating at the thought of a giant glass of red wine. It’s an internal struggle that is completely exhausting.

Thanksgiving was when I stopped drinking the first time, a few years ago.  I drank all day and into the evening.  I proceeded to have an emotional meltdown in front of my friends and mother, saying some things that I regret to this day.   Another Thanksgiving, I don’t even remember leaving a friend’s house to go home after drinking non-stop.  So I should face this holiday tomorrow being thankful for my sobriety and all the wonderful things that come with it.  Then how can I sit here and STILL wish I could have a drink?  Every practical, rational and sensible reason why I can’t indulge in the wines that will be passed around the table with the Thanksgiving turkey are floating in front of my face.  Do I swat them away with a rebellious, non-sensible mental fly-swatter?  Or do I welcome them and let them permeate my thick-headed skull?

Alcoholism has been described as being “an obsession of the mind” in addition to a “physical addiction”.  So which is harder to fight?  I believe that the physical addiction is overcome earlier in the recovery period.  The shakes, the withdrawals, the exhaustion–eventually they go away.  The obsession of the mind is another story.  Clearly it’s still there if I’m talking about wanting a drink 18 months later.   However, take one sip of alcohol and it triggers that physical addiction again immediately.

Anything you read about alcoholism will tell you about rationalizing your ability to drink.  Maybe I can just drink wine and not hard liquor.  Maybe I can just drink beer instead of wine.  Maybe I can just drink on the weekends. Maybe I can just drink after 5pm.  All of these “abilities”, of course, are signs that you are not an alcoholic.  Good luck with those.   Amazingly enough, that rationalization exists well into your sobriety.  Even now I sometimes think that if I have gone this long without drinking, it may now be possible for me to just have one glass of wine.  Maybe that first drink won’t lead to a zillion others. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve been “cured” of my alcoholism.  Again, dream on.

For those of you who were hoping to read something that would help you get through a day like this, a day when it’s just plain hard to not stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head, I wish I had the magic answer.  Believe me, I do.  The fact that I am writing this at least means that I pulled the covers back off and got out of bed.  The fact that I haven’t picked up a drink today means that working hard for my sobriety has taught me to reach out to do whatever is necessary so that I don’t–call or text friends, read something helpful, listen to some meditation tapes or just try really, really hard to breathe.  To take a deep breath, pray and remember that we do this one day at a time.

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