Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series! I’ll be chatting to people on alcohol and on life; about their sobriety, mindful drinking and/or alcohol free period.
Ashley is based in Mississippi, USA, & we recently connected via Instagram and her awesome blog Bloomin’ Ash. She is a freelance website developer/consultant who also writes about recovery and personal growth on her blog, Bloomin’ Ash. Ashley enjoys traveling and camping with her family, connecting with other entrepreneurs, and documenting everything she possibly can on this journey called life. I’m very excited to share her story with you.
Read on for her not drinking diary …
Name: Ashley Longmire (Bloomin’ Ash)
Location: Mississippi, USA
1.What led you to think differently about drinking?
My drinking caused problems in every single area of my life. When I quit in May 2015, I was recently divorced and did not have primary custody of my children. I didn’t know what to do with my life after leaving the business I co-owned with my ex, a business that was my only source of income. I was struggling in all of my relationships, broke, and I felt helpless.
No matter how much I tried to cut back or rearrange my alcohol consumption, I woke up hungover and regretful 2-3 days per week. It took a good day or two to get back to my “normal” self, just in time to feel good enough to go back. The cycle continued on and on and on.
I finally got sick of my own crap, tired of lying to myself, and tired of making excuses. I believe that God opened my eyes and helped me fully realise that I had lost enough. It was time to surrender. I surrendered to the fact that after one drink, I had no control over the rest. It was too unpredictable. Instead of trying to control or moderate my drinking, I took responsibility for saying no to the drink in the first place. I could say no to the first drink easier than the second, so that’s what I did.
Over time, instead of saying “no” to alcohol, it turned into me actually saying “yes” to a massively better life.
2.How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
95% of the time, I’m indifferent to alcohol. That took time, but I’m thankful it’s the case now. The 5% of the time that a craving sneaks in, it’s because I’ve gotten wrapped up in resentment or I’m not taking care of myself, and I keep myself surrounded by people who will call me out when I’m obviously falling into that hole (it’s really easy to spot early, apparently).
Overall though, alcohol isn’t really a focus in my life anymore. Sober living is the focus. I’m pursuing dreams. Alcohol only gets in the way of that.
3.What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
The challenges rotate, but the biggest challenge in early sobriety was boredom. I was restless, bored, and not sure what to do with myself for months (not all the time, but enough). It took time to work through that, like any other challenge.
Overall, the primary challenge has been true humility and surrender. I confused insecurity and a low self-image for humility, but I was actually quite prideful. True humility on an on-going basis requires reaching out for help, not thinking I know better than everybody else, admitting and apologizing for wrongdoing, etc. I’m pretty terrible at all of those things, so it still takes a lot of practice. Thankfully, I’m still often wrong and need help, so I get practice just about every day!
4.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
I learned that I can lie to myself to get what I want in the moment, whether it’s alcohol or something else, and I can easily lie to myself about why things aren’t going my way. Somehow, this realization was a shock to me at the time. I am always practicing running my thoughts through a “BS meter” before acting on them. I check things out through journaling, talking to my sponsor or another trusted sober friend (or my husband), praying, or going to a meeting. Sometimes, I do a combination of all of those.
This is where humility is crucial. If I really want something, but I’m finding answers that I don’t like, I have to be humble enough to accept them and not keep trying to push things to go my way.
I also learned that life really is better taken one day at a time, not weeks or months or years at a time.
5. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
I don’t have a beautiful, calming ritual like I wish I did, but I do have a decent routine. Most mornings, I wake up around 5:30-6am. My husband and I usually kiss and talk for a bit before we get out of bed. I make coffee, and depending on how early I got up, I try to spend about an hour by myself writing or reviewing my to-do list or doing a dedicated task. I get at least 30 minutes, but I try for an hour. Then I get the kids up.
I plan to add exercise back into this routine this month! Baby steps.
6. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
– Coffee while I write or journal in the morning and evening
– Breakfast with my husband (we joke that we don’t really do date nights – which is true – we have breakfast dates)
– Quiet time: I need to be completely alone in silence for at least half an hour somewhere, at least once a day. My family accommodates this pretty well.
– My childrens’ bedtime routine.
I also have certain commitments with friends and relatives that I make time for on a regular basis, but I wouldn’t call them rituals.
7. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free & not drinking) at the weekend?
Waking up without a hangover in the first place is my very hangover-free thing to do, ha!
But seriously. If I have my kids, I love cooking a special breakfast with them (usually pancakes with different flavors and toppings, or French toast). We plan camping trips and visits to family and friends most weekends, but wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I’m usually photographing or documenting the experience.
8. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
It’s a constant project, but I’m working on making more intentional choices. I don’t want to mindlessly waste time on social media or eat junk food just because I’m looking for a dopamine rush.
I’m working on paying closer attention to how I spend my time, what I eat and what I crave. When I pay attention, I make better choices rather than going with the path of least resistance.
9. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
I’m obsessed with a lot of things, but to pick one: I’m pretty much obsessed with travel and writing. Ok, that’s two. I tried!
In any case, I’m constantly devouring any content I can about RV travel in the United States, recovery, and growing a blog. It’s a long-time dream of mine to travel and write about it, and since I just bought my first camper, I’m itching to get started somehow. Lots of podcasts, googling, writing, and planning involved.
10. And finally, thinking differently about your relationship with alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
Because I like lists, and it helps me with these thoughts, I have a list. This is all advice that I was given and that I turn to on a regular basis:
- Focus on today. Not tomorrow, next week, or next month. All I have is today, and this moment.
- Create a sober life that doesn’t mix well with alcohol (new habits, new places, new friends, whatever it takes).
- Learn to cultivate rigorous honesty. Working the 12 steps with a good sponsor helped me with this, personally.
- Writing out a gratitude list on a regular basis is very helpful.
- Writing out lists like things you can do now that you’re sober (that you couldn’t do while drinking), or things you want to do when sober, can also help. Especially when you hit a tough day.
- Service work is a big deal. It doesn’t have to be AA, although that’s a great place, but getting outside of our own selfish heads and helping other people is what this is all really about.
- Community is so important. I wouldn’t be sober today without God, AA, and the recovery community. We’re not meant to be alone.