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!)