Book Review: “I’m Just Happy to Be Here”

I have decided to restructure my book reviews a bit. I hope you enjoy it, please let me know what you think in the comments!

Title and why I chose this book:

“I’m Just Happy to Be Here”

I chose this memoir for these reasons: I love memoirs, and I thought that this one would be a good one. It looked interesting and I was absolutely right.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

It is probably good for anyone that is currently experiencing issues with drinking, reflecting on their past or is close to someone that has either of those issues. It may create a better understanding of that person’s thought patterns.

What I liked:

I loved Janelle’s honesty. It’s all over the memoir, from beginning to end. I also like how she discusses her childhood and what led to her drinking, not just starting with the drinking. I enjoyed her vulnerability because that is important in a story like this.

What I didn’t like:

The story’s timeline jumped around a bit. That’s the only thing that bothered me.

Book cover

Plot:

Janelle grew up with her mom. She was a Mormon, whose family converted after missionaries showed up at their door. Her mom became inactive later (this means she stopped attending services and didn’t go on a mission) but when Janelle was 9, she was baptized into the Church.

As a teen, she started questioning the Church, as many teens do. She didn’t believe that she was the good person that everyone thought she was, plus, she hated the rules.

For sheer example, I’ve seen an older version of the BYU honor code (circa 2003) and it was not easy for me to consider living by, but then, I also wasn’t raised Mormon. At some point, Janelle started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

This eventually equated to drinking wine while making dinner. She would drink while cooking and then have a cocktail with dinner. I used to make dinner with a glass of Pepsi of juice with a splash of Fireball. The kids knew not to touch my glass.

She discusses a difficult experience with PPD, which borderlined on psychotic, which she was medicated for. After she and her husband moved out, she began counting down the hours until she could drink.

There is something comforting about knowing when you will feel better about your day, or maybe your whole life. This used to be in the form of alcohol for me. Now, it’s probably yoga or writing.

Janelle’s story takes many twists and turns throughout four pregnancies (yes, she does stay sober throughout) and her tumultuous marriage. I was intrigued throughout and read it over a weekend because I couldn’t stop.

It wasn’t until her second child was 6 months old and she relapsed that she began to think that she could possibly be an alcoholic.

Does Janelle get a happy ending? Find her book online or at a local library. I don’t want to spoil it for you!

Feather

Quotes that I loved:

“It made it worse because I knew he simply did not have what I needed.”

At one point, my husband did not have what I needed. I needed to know that I was a good mom, person and not just a sex doll. I needed more than just my own strength.

My depression became a lot worse once I realized that he did not have it in him to give me what I needed. My drinking also got a lot worse.

In case you can’t tell, I highly recommend this book. Come back for next month’s pick!

The Drinking Article

I love Buzzfeed. I have the app, read articles, and yes, take those weird quizzes every day.

I read an article about Chrissy Teigen a while ago and it stuck with me. If you don’t know who she is, she’s a model, has a hilarious Twitter (which I follow @chrissyteigen) and she’s married to John Legend.

I don’t watch “Lip Synch Battle” but I have heard it is pretty funny. She has also battled Post-Partum Depression (PPD) and anxiety. I am very familiar with this, because of my issues with this after Julian was born. It wasn’t my favorite time as a mom. I’ve also worked with women who were at risk for and/or who struggled with it.

Wait…Is That Me?

It turns out that Chrissy has issues with drinking, and it runs in her family. She said in the article (no spoilers) that she had come to realize that her drinking made her act differently than she would like to around others and it was hurting their reputation. She said that she realized that she needed to fix herself. The link to the article is at the bottom of this post.

I have felt the same way.

My sobriety date is 1/1/17. I was a very hard drinker for almost four years. I’ve been drinking since I was a teen, like many, but later on, the drinking got out of control.

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NAMI walk 2017

In late 2011, Julian was diagnosed with ADHD and autism. My husband and I had already been fighting a lot about how to handle his behaviors, but after his diagnosis, things just got worse. At times, we didn’t speak for days. Julian had become aggressive and difficult to handle.

Things were so bad that by 2013, I had begun going out for dinner and drinks with a group of co-workers every Tuesday. I needed the escape from my life at home. It hurt a lot that I couldn’t fix my marriage- I didn’t know how to stop the fighting or the mean things my husband was saying to me. I didn’t know what to do with Julian.

I knew that drinking was fun and it made me feel a lot better. Everything that was stressing me out went away and I didn’t have to do anything but be hilarious. I’ve always been funny, to begin with, but alcohol brought that out a lot more. This continued for about two years, until September 1, 2015. My entire life stopped and shattered that day.

I found out about Jake’s death the next day, September 2. I didn’t deal with it well at all, but then, when someone you love dies, you rarely do. I partially dealt with it by downing seven shots of Fireball. Most people would have passed out at some point, but I kept crying. I’m not really sure who put the Fireball away, but someone did.

I drank my way through the next year. I drank during the day while my kids were at school- some days I was barely able to get my kids off the bus. I drank on the weekends.

Looking back, it took a lot more than it did, in the beginning,ng, to get me anywhere near drunk. My hangovers got worse. I would spend the whole day either in bed or wishing I was. My stomach would hurt so badly that I could barely eat until the pain eased.

I didn’t pay attention to this. I drank so much that I scared my friends. One sent me home from her house with a trash bag in case I threw up in my husband’s truck. Don’t worry- he was driving.

The Fun Stops

The end came with lab results from my doctor’s office. I can’t remember the reason for the labs to begin with, but my doctor called.

She knew I had been drinking, but she didn’t know how much. She let me know that my liver enzymes were elevated and that I needed to cut back or stop drinking. My liver could still repair itself at this point, but if I didn’t stop drinking soon, it would not be able to.

I knew exactly what she meant. I’ve worked in the substance abuse field long enough to know where she was going with this conversation.

I thanked her and hung up.

The next night was New Years’ Eve, and I drank one last time with a friend, our husbands and another friend. That was the last time I have drank anything. The next day was January 1, 2017, and I started a sober life.

Last night of fun

My last night of drinking

Living a Sober Life

I can’t say I liked who I was while I was drinking. I may have been funnier than I already was, but I was also obnoxious. I was clumsy as a toddler- I’ve spilled drinks in my purse, almost fallen on sidewalks, and I even fell off a barstool at my own birthday celebration. That was awful, and that story can be found in my guest blog for savvyesposito.

I also affected my kids- Cameron swears he will never drink, and I’m not sure if his siblings will follow his example. They saw me hungover, tired and cranky. They had to see me the morning after I fell off the barstool and that’s not something a kid should see.

I’m a much better mom, wife, and person. I went into therapy in October 2015 and my therapist was thrilled to see me stop drinking.

It’s hard, I won’t lie. I have been stressed. I have had fights with my husband, even though we are working on things. I’ve had bad days with my kids. I’ve had to face life minus a coping skill.

I’ve replaced it with coloring books, meditating, reading The Big Book and a weekly yoga class. I’m doing a lot better with facing my feelings and dealing with them.

I do struggle. I have had issues staying sober. You can read my thoughts on that here

Staying sober is possible. It just requires taking life one day at a time.

Chrissy Teigen article

A Talk With My Mom

My mom and I were talking today (2/6/19) and we were discussing the death of a soap opera actor that she really liked. It’s been suspected that it was due to alcohol and I told her that I had once been close to, if not, actually had alcohol poisoning.

“Why didn’t you tell me it was that bad?”

I didn’t really have an answer.

I had to think for a minute.

“I don’t know. I already had a lot going on. I was so messed up for a while and I didn’t want you to worry more.”

It’s called shame, y’all. It’s a big topic in recovery.

My mom hit me with that “don’t bullshit me” look that I’ve gotten about a thousand times in my life.

“No, seriously, Wrae. You can come to me with things like that.” She actually looked hurt. My mom’s not much for feelings so that must have really bothered her.

The Sunken Place

When you’re in the deep, dark place that is alcoholism, or even binge drinking, there is not space for telling many people how bad things are. This might even include your mom.

There is mainly room for drinking. The feelings you have go away, at least for a while. The alcohol clears out the pain and if you’re lucky, maybe you won’t remember the dumb things you did.

The emotions you’re trying to drown out are usually big. They feel too big to manage, and sometimes the usual coping skills just don’t work. I drank well before my life took a huge left turn, but Jake’s death destroyed me. The grief was too much to take.

There isn’t much talking. You don’t want to talk about why you drink- but telling someone about a wild night of drinking might be fun. It’s so hard to face up to the damage you are doing to yourself and potentially others. That day does come, however. My day came and went two years ago. You can read that story in Two Years of Sobriety

Since that day, I’ve finished therapy and started going to a Yoga 12 Step for Recovery class on Sundays. It’s one of the best things I do all week. I struggle with reaching out for help when I need to talk.

Writing helps a lot and I am able to get my thoughts that way, but I know talking is better sometimes. Honestly, it gets exhausting. When I get done talking about how I feel, I’m drained. I need a nap. I used to leave therapy tired as hell, especially if I had been crying.

All The Feels

I’m still a work in progress. I know I have a lot of people that I can talk to. It’s just a matter of speaking. Doing so requires lots of feelings- shame for even having this to deal with, guilt for having to unload on people who have dealt with my problems for over so many years, and just having to process whatever might be under the surface.

Can you tell this is not my favorite thing to do?

Quote courtesy of Pinterest

Song Lyric Saturday with Bebe Rexha

What did I think of Bebe Rexha’s song with Florida Georgia Line?

Hated it. I can’t stand them and the song itself sucked. I was like, “Come on, Bebe. You can do way better, why not with Jason Aldean or Luke Bryan?” I like Bebe. I just didn’t like her choice in crossover artists.

If you didn’t know, her first name is Bleta, which I am sure is hard for many to pronounce, so Bebe is her nickname. I follow her Instagram and Twitter because I’m 35 and do things like that. I’ve gotta get a life, guys.

I like most of her music, but for about a million reasons, “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You” is my favorite. “I Got You” was a close second.

“I can’t stop drinking about you

Without you I ain’t the same

Pour a shot in the glass and I’ll forget forever

Pour a shot in my glass, it makes everything better”

Drinking only makes things better for a short while. If you drink like I did, you pass out and it’s over until the next day.

I drank my way through a lot of pain. I drank through my issues with Matthew, the things I couldn’t fix with Julian, losing Jake and other things. The crappy part is, the problems were still there the next day. They were there until I faced them, some of them in therapy. Therapy is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, mainly because I had to do a lot of work on myself and I had to do it alone. Facing your life without alcohol sucks, but here I am, one day at a time, and as of this post, 19 months sober.

Pic courtesy of Pinterest

The Internal Turmoil of Sobriety

I’ve had a lot of comments thanking me for my honesty and openness on this blog. In an effort to continue that, I decided to not write the post I had planned, but one that needed to be written: about the inner thoughts of someone struggling in sobriety.

The Best I Can Do

My sobriety date is 1/1/2017. I hope every single day that I never have to change that date. I continued therapy for another year after that, because I needed to do more work on myself. I needed to finish the work Jake started. It was a promise I made to myself when he died. I finished therapy in May 2018.

I have the phrase “One day at a time” tattooed on the inside of my left wrist. It really is the best I can do. It’s the best that anyone in recovery can do.

I look fine on the outside. I have great kids and a husband. I finally got myself back together. Not too far below the surface, however, lies the thoughts that can ruin my life.

It’s Not As Easy As It Looks

I don’t have thoughts of drinking every day, or even every week. I do get stressed, I do feel pain. I’ve had issues in my marriage lately that are breaking my heart. I didn’t see this stuff coming but yet, here I am.

One night recently, I barely slept. I was able to sleep for a couple hours but woke up and was awake for hours. I sat in my bed, in the darkness, and among many other thoughts, I thoughts about having a couple of drinks.

I knew that my pain would be gone for a while, but when I was done drinking, it would be there all over again. Plus, I’d feel awful for ruining my sobriety and letting down everyone that’s supported me. I also knew one drink wouldn’t do it, thus a very fast slide back into heavy drinking. The kind of pain I was dealing with would have required a huge bottle of Fireball or vodka.

I’m not sure what my tolerance looks like these days, but I’m almost certain drinking doesn’t go well with RA meds. My record is tied: 7 shots on the day I learned of Jake’s death(and I barely felt that) and the night I fell off the barstool.

I didn’t drink that night. I am glad to say that. I literally talked myself out of it. I’m not sure how long it took me to do so, but I did it. How? I reminded myself of a few things:

  • I’d be so upset with myself for having to restart my sobriety time. 18 months is a lot of work. So is 18 days, years, or even 18 hours. Any time that you’re sober is good.
  • my issues would still be there later.
  • The hangover really isn’t worth it. I wake up in enough pain as it is.

Self-talk does work wonders if you do it the right way.

A few days later, the same thoughts came back. This time, I listened to music. This is one of my best coping skills. I left “Starting Over” on repeat until I felt better. I went through my reminders again and I was okay. I’m still struggling but I haven’t wanted a drink in a few days.

I know everyone’s got their own ways of coping but these are two of mine. I wanted to highlight this issue for those who are going through it. It’s not easy. It’s far from pretty. Drinking can and will ruin your life- I’m so glad I stopped. The challenge is to stay sober.

Pics courtesy of Unsplash and Pinterest