Here’s how it went down:

  • Woke up tired but not in a terrible mood
  • Remembered my boss wasn’t in today and perked up a bit
  • Checked my bank account and screamed like a crazy person when I saw that my balance had dropped by $400 overnight
  • Researched transactions only to find a $400 charge at Cole Haan that wasn’t mine
  • Called bank, remained calm. They found 5 other very large transactions that were blocked but somehow this one went through. Told me the card was shut down and that I should see a provisional credit in my account within 15 minutes, and if I don’t see it I should call back. They gave me a number
  • Slightly miffed but still in control of my emotional state, I finished getting ready for work and commuted in
  • Checked bank account 2 hours later. No credit. Called number. Person said they see no evidence of my call two hours prior. Transferred to three different people. Said the word FUCK sooo many times (sorry Grandma) and lost my shit with everyone. They told me a provisional credit in 15 minutes doesn’t exist and prior rep was mistaken. They finally say they will start the claim process and that my card was shut down. Look for the provisional credit within 12 hours
  • 15 minutes later, the provisional credit that was supposed to take 12 hours shows up in my account. Hmm…
  • Office manager tells me that my boss is INDEED coming in and that he changed his mind
  • My day is ruined?

Nah. It might feel like it now but I’ll breathe and things will settle. 

I remember bad mornings before I was an active alcoholic. They were annoying and stressful, but they didn’t carry the same doomsday/burn the shit to the ground/everything is fucked tone that they now have now that I’m through the thick of it and back in recovery. It’s amazing to me that my brain dives so deeply into complete despair and panic when something bad or stressful happens. I know everyone has shitty days and that it’s just part of life, but I realize and acknowledge that the level of anxiety and the severity of my mood shift when these instances occur is just not “normal”. Or maybe the feelings are totally normal but they just feel so abnormal and extra-terrifying because I’m not used to feeling them? I know there is a major disconnect between what I feel and what I’m supposed to be feeling because I run these things by my boyfriend and he’ll tell me if it sounds like irrational overreaction or a normal response. I’ll tell him what happened and tell him exactly what is going on inside of me and ask him if my reaction is normal or if it’s a recovering alcoholic reaction. Because sometimes I can’t tell what is REAL and what is a symptom of my continued recovery. Is this anxiety normal-human-being-I’m-alive anxiety, or is it girl-you-still-trippin’-and-got-the-PAWS anxiety? I don’t know sometimes. And that REAL or NOT REAL thing totally fucks with me. I don’t take boyfriend’s feedback as gospel, but it does help to hear from someone who is a bit more grounded.

And what about the bad days when I was still drinking? TOTALLY different kind of terror. The series of events above would have completely shattered me. I’m not exaggerating when I say that while I was at my worst, the thought of having to handle a situation like this would have paralyzed me completely. Bank card fraud would have elicited the same reaction in me that would have occurred if an ax murder started trying to break down the front door of my house. I would get the same fight or flight response and it felt like my body and mind were preparing for death. I would have still handled it back then, but I would have been shaking. I would have been scared to talk to the person on the phone. My voice would be quivering. I would feel completely destroyed and ready to self-destruct. And then I would drink. Maybe not right away. I would hold the feelings down as best as I possibly could until it was feasible to just get drunk and not think about them anymore. And then the whole situation with the bank would have become much less threatening and I would think, “What was the big deal?? See? Everything is okay now.” Until the next morning would come and something even more shitty would happen. Alcohol is tricky like that.

Going on five months and I feel exponentially better and more healthy than I did before, but I still struggle with real life situations that offer challenges or complications. I have to very deliberately stop myself when the panic sets in and ask the question: IS THIS REAL or IS THIS MY HEAD NOT QUITE SYNCHING WITH REALITY YET?


  1. I’m over 2 1/2 years sober, and I STILL say to my husband… am I thinking right or am I thinking like old me? Sadly, sometimes the answer is the latter. Now, call me crazy (because you wouldn’t be the first), but I think even asking the question shows the progress. Because recognizing these feelings for what they are, instead of just reacting in the flight or fight old way, is a first, isn’t it? And once your recognize, a couple of things happen: they don’t build to a crescendo within your head as they once would, and they don’t hang around as long.

    I think you are doing amazing things at 5 months, and I can’t wait to see what you do next 🙂

  2. Great post! I like how you are thinking things through–that shows how you are recovering instead of being a “dry drunk”! When things like that happen it really feels as if we’ve been violated in a way. You dealt with it ( without drinking) and now you can be more confident when something else comes along and you can recall that experience without feeling the need to numb it! You GO my friend!

  3. I feel you this morning. After upending two cups of coffee, forgetting my corporate card on corporate travel, getting shittiest help desk person of the year to laugh in my face, and getting gate – checked on a half full flight, I am so there, ready to napalm the jungle. But I can also be grateful for another sober day.

  4. Yep ditto even at 11 months I struggle with the anxiety of less than straightforward life events – so much so I’m thinking about talking to the Dr about it. Great post

  5. I can relate all too well. What did I do before when I felt anxious? I drank. Now the anxiety is still there, and things that are completely outside my control send me into a tizzy. My poor boyfriend. Please tell me that it gets easier! Please tell me that I will one day be in control of my emotions, not the other way around! I never got the whole “emotional coping skills” lesson when I was growing up, so here I am (almost) 28 and with the emotional stability of a toddler…meh.

  6. Congratulations on 5 months!!! Oh yes, the, “Is this real” question is in my head every day. Or “Is this worth my energy in getting pissed over and ruining my day?” Glad you worked through it and can see the differences between then and now.

  7. “Burn the shit to the ground” HAHAHAHA That totally made my day! At only 6 weeks sober I already feel like that attitude has lifted,but next time I am stressed I am gonna say that and laugh myself out of it. Thank you 🙂

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