Archive | June, 2012

There’s always tomorrow…for cravings, that is

27 Jun

2:04 am

Well, I made it.  Through the day, that is, which means I officially made it two weeks!  Which is the longest I’ve gone without drinking since last September, when I went for 13 days (yes, I caved the night/morning of the 14th day!).  The longest before that was definitely years prior, like, spring or early summer, 2008.  (In the meantime, I kept a pretty demanding job as a reporter, moved many times, made (and lost) friends, had a few boyfriends, had many blacked-out flings, and in general, sweated it out, day after day.  Yup, you’re looking at the world’s best, and most secretive, functioning alcoholic!  Or, at the very least, in the top 5 percent of ’em!  More on this in another post.)

Which brings me to the point of this post:  there IS always tomorrow, and unless the laws of physics turn on us, waiting for the gong to strike midnight is as predictable as it gets.  And that’s a GOOD THING.  Dealing with my cravings, living through them, is like practicing a sport or an instrument.  The more you do it, the more rote it becomes.  You learn to pass the time in a similar fashion, to make doing certain things or thinking (or not thinking) about other things mechanical.  You create new habits, at least in your mind.  The cravings feel the same every day, they last for about the same amount of time, and the down — the disappointment — never changes.  BUT, it passes.  Again.  And you sleep and forget about it.  Again.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

I’ve also noticed that, against Eckhart Tolle’s best advice, taking myself OUT OF THE NOW and putting myself into the future helps me resist the urge to binge drink.  I should clarify:  there is an URGE and then there is the URGE TO BINGE.  The latter usually strikes hard and fast, and reacting to it is fatal.  It’s like an anxiety attack in the sense that you have to slow your mind down, take a few breaths, and focus on NOT REACTING.  Reacting would have me down four drinks in 10 minutes.  Which would one, not be fun at that moment OR later, and two, straight up ruin this sobriety thing altogether…in 10 short minutes!  So, realizing this and fast-forwarding myself 10 minutes into the future — do I really want to have ruined it so fast, and will it have been worth that 10 minutes of binging — helps me hold the cravings at bay, too.

Off to bed before I crack open that bottle of red (yup, THAT bad boy that’s been staring me in the eye for the past few nights)!

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14 days sober and I’m pissed, says Drunky drunk girl

26 Jun

11:18 pm

And I shouldn’t be!  I should be seeing rainbows and unicorns, but I’m seeing red.  Well, pink.  I chalk it up to the anger not subsiding but getting stronger during this strange phase of withdrawal, exacerbated by my agitation and annoyance at having to grind it out every fucking day.  No drinky makes Drunky Drunk Girl pissy.

First, let me tell you that I do applaud myself.  I do appreciate that it’s getting easier, if only easier to resist the nightly (and sometimes daytime) cravings.  And yes, I feel much better physically.  Yes, I LOVE not being hung over.  Yes, I’ve gotten a lot more done.  Yet…  I feel sad, I guess is the best way to put it (in addition to irritable).  Life is sad without wine, it really is!  Sad in that it’s boring, in a way; uneventful; mellow.  There’s no excitement, no cerebral buzz to look forward to.  “Normal,” mundane life is just not enough.  It never was, I’m afraid.  (Is this me talking, or the mental and emotional crutch that wine is?  I know it’s the latter, at least I hope, but I simply can’t FEEL it to be truth yet.)

Looking back on these two weeks, I’ve come to realize that I’m agitated most of the time by the struggle not to drink, by the desire to get buzzed.  I’ve also come to accept that I drank not only to ESCAPE from reality, but also to ENHANCE my daily existence.  And that’s not a bad thing!  Yes, people, it’s not just about escape, it’s about the good stuff, too.  I like (liked?  sigh) drinking because I like how it augments, or adds, to what would otherwise be a steady, but mundane, list of days, months, and years.  I’d venture to say that’s why most of us drink in the first place.

And, when I think of those people who wrote me off, those who showed such little empathy, I can’t help but fume.  I mean, if it had been more than once for most, if it had been a constant thing, and if I hadn’t apologized so profusely — if I had INTENDED to hurt and this was a common thread that matched my SOBER BEHAVIOUR…  All I’ve got for them is one big, fat Fuck you.  Guess who’s getting sober?  Guess who’s been dealing with the remorse and the self-loathing for years?  Guess who’s gotten stronger day by day in her struggle to recognize her failings and improve?  What have you done, aside from pretend you have no issues and live in denial, which is what allows you to so easily judge others?  To them I say, Good fucking riddance.*

In fact, fuck AA, too.  I have issues with AA, but mainly I resent the approach because not only does the program demonize your problem with compulsive behaviour (which is a brain fart, not a moral failing or flaw, btw), but it also puts the blame squarely on you such that it’s always the people you’ve hurt, inadvertantly, who become the victims.  What about the drinker as victim?  I mean, I feel like part of what made me — and no doubt others — start drinking too much was a traumatic experience early in life where WE WERE THE VICTIMS!  Most people drink to self-medicate some hurt, some previously induced or present pain.  Are not we, too, the victims of our drinking disorder?  Shouldn’t we get some empathy, some understanding, and not simply lumped into a hot-mess pile of “fucked up people who deserve to be unhappy?”

Granted, I take full responsibility for my actions, but all I ask of people, especially those who have written me off either directly or in the back of their minds (Oh, she’s NEVER going to get well, she’ll drink herself to death…  all the while HOPING that I don’t, since that means seeing me happy and productive and gasp!, possibly a competitive threat):  have some empathy.  TRY.  And, just for shits and giggles, because I’m feeling rather irritable, here’s the letter I would write (if I was in the 12-step) to the people I’ve hurt who have written me off*:

Dear Judgmental Asshole:

I’ve already apologized a million times, and I refuse to continue to live in the past, prostrating myself before you over and over.  I’m done apologizing.  You don’t have the right to refuse my apology anymore.  And, let me tell you, as I exit my dark night of the soul and you enter (or will be soon entering) yours:  I hope it’s long, painful, and arduous.  I probably won’t be there when you ask for my help, my understanding, my empathy and dare you need it, my forgiveness.

SEE?  Sobriety isn’t the rainbows and unicorns it’s cracked up to be from the outside looking in.

*Disclaimer:  There are marvelous people in my life — brothers, mothers, lovers, friends — who have done nothing but empathize, check in, deal, manage, and support me and my belligerent alter-ego during the past near-decade of my out-of-control drinking, and I salute, honor, love, and admire them infinitely.

Choosing not to drink is a luxury

24 Jun

11:58 pm

Yes, it is.  And, it’s only become apparent, after almost two weeks (no, I can’t believe it either), that I have a choice!  Like my counselor was trying to tell me a few months ago, You don’t HAVE to drink.  I knew what she meant.  Toward the end (the past year or so), drinking has felt almost mandatory, DESPITE feeling sick and hung over and depressed.  It was like, I approached getting drunk yet another night with something like dread, a whiney feeling in my gut that was crying out, No!  No more!  Yet, I forced myself to indulge, because…I guess I either felt like I had to drink or the cravings made me fear that I had to.

It was eye opening the other day when I came to that juncture like I do every day, craving a drink and wondering how to move forward, which way to go.  This time, I sat down.  I SAT DOWN there, on that figurative path, and looked around.  I weighed my options — to drink or not to drink — and even though I felt a craving to drink, I chose not to.  For various reasons, one being that I didn’t want to break my sober stretch yet again, another that I didn’t want to get drunk and then get drunker and then wake up feeling like complete ass.  So I chose to not drink.  Of course, I still wanted to, so I fought through the cravings.  But, I chose!  And I get to choose every single night, day, minute, second.  I GET TO choose.  That’s pretty amazing.  And not something I’m used to relying on, since for so long I actually didn’t have the choice, whether it was due to a physical or psychological (usually this) need to drink.  I still believe I have a strong psychological DESIRE, but I no longer believe it’s a need.  I don’t think it ever was, but I could be wrong.

I haven’t felt much like talking about all the bad shit, but soon, I must (Yoda says).  I know I can’t ride this detox/Hey, I’m sober! buzz for much longer.  Ugh.  The past few nights I’ve been fighting off the cravings by remembering the shit that went down, the belligerence, the blackouts.  If there’s one thing that helps me to not start drinking, I’ve found, it’s recollecting the horrific nightmares — hell, actually — that I’ve put myself and others through while blacked out.  It’s crushing, literally.  I have had to lie down and hold my head, that’s how heavy, how weighed down my brain feels when I go there.

I’ve also been dwelling on the write-off’s, the people who have dissed and ditched, judged and walked away.  I’d like to be able to say, Yup, all y’all can go fuck yourselves for not seeing the obvious pain I was in, the fear that translated to anxiety and angerYup, all y’all can go fuck yourselves for not helping me, for not believing in me, for making it seem that I was shirking my responsibilities.  Maybe the reason I drank was not because I never HAD them, but because I had too many, for too long.  Then, I take a deep breath and try to empathize by putting myself on the receiving end of some of my blackouts.  And remembering, not everyone is a jerk, an asshole, sans empathy.  There ARE people who have cared, who have supported me through this, who have done things that no “normal” friend should have had to do.  I let it go.

Anyway, I’ll delve into all that soon enough.  And I’m sure it’ll be cathartic.  But for now, I just want to turn it off, shut it down, and fall asleep.  Sober, of course.  (12 days!)

Mornings aren’t easy, grumbles Drunky drunk girl

24 Jun

10:37 am

I can’t wake up in the mornings.  Why?  Because I have MAJOR INSOMNIA.  Probably not unusual, or interesting, but true.  I can’t believe how cliche my detox is!

I am so tired of not being able to sleep, though.  It’s exhausting, not being able to sleep!  I’m actually coming to dread the hours I have to lie in bed, feeling manic and wanting to get up, wondering how the FUCK long I have to lie there, waiting.  And, of course, all the while I’m thinking.  Last night it was about the cosmos, the planets and solar system and galaxy and galaxies beyond ours; then it was about human evolution.  (Luckily, I had a friend keep me company on the phone, discussing the minute details until he hung up and I remained there, on my back, for at least another few hours, bright-eyed and definitely NOT bushy-tailed.)  In fact, I’m starting to develop a dread, a phobia, almost, of going to bed.  And, of waking up, since I can’t remember the last time I slept for longer than 2-4 hours in total.

I also wake up every morning feeling hung over.  Sick to my stomach.  Flu-ish.  And tired, so tired.  Like, can’t peel my eyes open and can’t manage to hurl my body up and out of the bed without some superhuman force of will.  Like, still in detox!  Worse, actually, since there’s no accountable reason for feeling as shitty as I do except detox, which I should be WELL out of, going on day 12, right?

But it’s summer, I’m in [cold east coast city], I’ve got limited time in [cold east coast city], I want to start working like I used to work, I really do want to try running or doing yoga in the early mornings (so far that would be me – 0, insomnia/detox – 12); so, I ignore it and move on.  (Maybe I’m just tired for other reasons, like, it’s hot, I’m working out a lot more, I’ve got some major decisions on my plate and have been mentally exhausting myself trying to make them.  Hmm.  Maybe getting sober is simply tiring?)

WHEN DOES IT START TO FEEL GOOD AGAIN, DAMN IT?

Oh, well.  At least the nights are getting easier, resisting the cravings, that is.  Last night’s (Or was it the night before?  The good thing about feeling too tired at night the past few nights is that I have also been too tired to drink!) big revelation was, I have a choice.  Yes, I have the CHOICE to drink or to not drink.  I don’t HAVE to drink.  More on that in a different post.

Drunky drunk girl says, Woo frickin’ hoo, I’m sober

22 Jun

1:45 am

I don’t feel like writing tonight, and I think it’s a combination of being HOT (my apartment is stifling hot and I’m afraid to turn my A/C unit back on because it’s leaking all over the outside of the building) and I’m tired.  Bored.  Restless.  I just spent a few minutes discussing my “lack of craving” tonight on the phone, and why it’s so great, and now all I want to do is drink.  Sigh.

Still, the reality is clearer than ever, and maybe that’s what’s making it easier to simply say, Fuck it, why bother?  The reality is that being drunk is not significantly different or better than being sober, at least not anymore.  It’s not different (i.e., better) ENOUGH to be bothered with, and definitely not better enough to break my winning streak of almost 10 days sober.  It stinks of effort, as one of my friends would say.  And that’s simply depressing.  Might as well throw in the towel and go to bed.

Throw in the towel?  I mean, I had a very productive day but yet, I don’t feel like I did enough.  Or, I feel like my enforced (literally) “me” time wasn’t necessary, or was a waste.  That’s the thing I’m trying to change, though, the idea that I can’t do anything fun, or easy, during the day.  It’s what drove me to drink in the first place.  I realize that I HAVE to turn it off, close the laptop, put down the book, stop the working out and just…chill.  Balance — it’s absolutely necessary in that without it, I get frustrated, overwhelmed, and desperate to shut down with a glass or six of red wine.  I need to remember that I don’t have to work 24 hours a day, I can take time to play.

Sigh.  Good thing I’m tired, otherwise I’d probably stay up and feel depressed, my mind numb, my body lethargic, and say, Eh, why not?  It’s just grapes…

Going on nine, b#tches!

21 Jun

1:46 am

Nine mofo days.  Well, going on.  And, man, that bottle of red at the top of my wine rack is lookin’ purdy damn tasty.

No, I didn’t blog last night and yes, I bought a bottle of red on my way home from another super-sweateous hot yoga class, but NO, I did not drink it!  Not one drop.  Sure, I thought (and probably dreamt) about it, but somehow my willpower sustained me through the gong of midnight.  As it has tonight, to my amazement!  (In fact, I can almost feel the release of the craving, as if it moves off me like a wave receding from the sand with every spin of that second hand around the clock.  The further away from midnight I get, the easier it is to buck up for another day of sobriety.  AND, be happy and grateful about that simple fact.)

I was talking to a friend of mine tonight, and he gave me some good advice, mainly, The cravings are never going to go away, it’s just going to get easier to deal with them.  I think he’s majorly right, and that kind of majorly sucks.  Tonight, for some reason, my craving is more intense than it has been since I quit, but not unbearable or out of control.

My friend suggested switching up my routine, too, becoming more of a morning person.  Work out or do yoga at 7 am, and I bet that by 10 or 11 pm, you’ll be too tired to even think about drinking, let alone stay up to do it.  I might give that a shot; what do I have to lose?  The thing is, I’m a night owl and my “witching” hour(s) always involved sipping a glass or six of red while relaxing into the day finally being over; or, settling into a few hours of “me” time, which, to be frank, had become much less about me and more about the excuse to get drunk.

I still want to drink, but…tonight, I guess I do feel stronger, more rational.  Like, I can definitely feel my brain centering itself, no longer TOTALLY tilted to the left in favor of drinking.  It’s more…leaning to the right, with thoughts that are becoming louder, like:

If you drink, you’ll fuck up your EIGHT DAYS OF SOBRIETY.  NO!

If you drink, you won’t be able to see what it’s like after eight days, and…you’ll have to go through another eight days to get here again!  NO!

If you drink, you won’t lose that wine gut!  NO!  NO!

If you drink, you won’t be able to be that self-righteous prick at the wedding next weekend, the one who gets to look down on everyone automatically assuming she’s going to get shitfaced and do something retarded, and say, Ohhh, no thanks.  I had my last drink on my birthday, a whole 18 days ago.  NO!  NO!  NO!

If you drink, it won’t feel better for long.  And, the down will feel worse than what you’re feeling now.  I’ve been creeping closer and closer to full acceptance of the reality that, When you drink, you go up, but then you come down.  And you feel even more down because you’ve been high.  I’d rather just stay low, to be honest.  That way, there is no crash, no reality check, no down.

If other people I know can do it, I can, too, damn it.

Drunky drunk girl says, I’ve been sober for a week, what?

19 Jun

1:13 am

And counting.  As of now, I’m going on day seven — a whole week sans the grape!  Holy shit, is all I can say.

I mean, it’s not that I haven’t gone, uh, a while sober (my longest in recent memory has been two weeks, and that felt absolutely miraculous to me), it’s just, well, I haven’t gone a long, intentional while for a while (almost a year now of practically daily drinking).  Obviously, it’s really hard for me not to drink, to escape the habit of drinking.  However, for some reason(s), this time I’m getting by and feeling stronger every day.

I’ve been thinking about what’s been giving me that extra helping hand and here’s what I’ve come up with:

1.  This blog:  It’s serving as my anchor, so to speak.  I like coming to it.  I like holding it in my hands, as I would a cup, and filling it up with my angst, my craving, my pedantic need to expose — for some reason now — the minute details of my struggle with the bottle.  It’s NICE to have this blog here, as a friend, in a way, as someone who will listen.  And it’s public, which makes me feel like I’m really, really, really no longer hiding.  And that gives me added strength, for reasons that I can’t quite articulate at the moment.  (Even though I’m doing this anonymously, it still feels like I’m no longer hiding.  It feels like I’m talking to someone, and they’re getting it, and they’re maybe going to leave a comment and then, we’ll be talking about it together.  Warts and all, it’s coming out.  And the fact that hiding my problem is less important, for once, than maintaining my sobriety seems to be an extraordinary source of strength and self-love.)

2.  My work:  I hate to say it, but above all else — and that includes the rock bottoms, hurting myself, and hurting my friends and family — is my work.  I know that if I drink and get hung over this week, I’ll jeopardize my ability to turn in a good edit on time to an excellent potential client.

3.  Fatigue:  I’ve intentionally built a daily schedule that will either a/keep me distracted to the point of forgetting that booze even exists, or b/exhaust me beyond the ability to stay awake past midnight let alone drink!  Of course I wanted to drink tonight, as I was walking home from a truly exhausting bikram yoga class (I wanted to celebrate sweating out all those residual toxins by…ingesting more.  Makes perfect sense, right?).  By the time I rounded my ‘hood, I had forgotten all about getting wine, though.  I was so tired that all I could focus on was getting home, and when I finally did, I realized that it was too late to get wine.  I may have looked, had there been an actual wine shop that was open, but honestly, I was counting on the craving to subside so that I could just laze through it and crash early.

4.  Higher powah:  Uh, I’ve been trying to contemplate this in concrete terms, and I think I can safely admit that I have NO IDEA what this means beyond the ability to resist your cravings, whether they be mental, physical, emotional, or all three.  I’ve decided it’s close to one of two things:  one day a few weeks ago when I was attempting to quit (I went a few days, but this happened on day two), I was suddenly awash (yes, it felt like a cool shower flowing down my entire body) in a feeling of deep calm.  I realized that what I was experiencing was a complete absence of craving.  Holy Jesus on High!  It felt religious, actually, to be granted this reprieve.  I have not felt SANS CRAVING for at least a decade, if not more, I guess.  It’s a constant feeling, and a constant source of stress.  In this state of “grace,” it felt like anything was possible, and that booze needed no role.  I didn’t want it, didn’t see the need for it, and could imagine feeling excited, optimistic even, about life IN THE FUTURE without it!  It made me realize how controlled I am by my cravings, how they trap and depress me, and how they affect my perception of not only the present, but my possible future.  It went away after about five or six hours, but man, what RELIEF.  THIS, I decided, was the sentiment I should bottle and label, Higher Power.

The second is knowing, like your worst journalistic story assignment, the one that is due in 36 hours and that you’re pretty sure you’re not going to find any sources for and your writing is probably going to suck, too, and your editor is going to fire you for missing deadline anyway — knowing that it will be over soon.  Like feelings, and bad life experiences, cravings come and cravings go.  It’s easier for me to grit my teeth and bear it, even a week into sobriety, because I’ve learned that my cravings usually only last for a few hours, or as long as it takes for me to distract myself enough to forget I was craving it in the first place.

Well, on that note, I’m off to bed before I find myself wandering out in my pajamas to grab a six pack.

(Tomorrow, remind me to discuss all things liver.  I’ve been taking milk thistle for several months now, and while I thought it was helping (it’s supposed to help not only subdue hangovers but also heal a damaged liver), I’m not sure. Last week, my liver was feeling mushy, as if I pressed on it, my fingerprint would leave an indentation.  Well, a week later, it still doesn’t feel hunky dory.  In fact, even though it’s not aching and feeling mushy/sore, it still feels…gross.  Like, solid.  Like, hardened.  Like, yikes!)

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