Archive | March, 2013

Day 12…and feeling proud to be starting over

30 Mar

1:00 pm

Well, I wouldn’t say I’m starting over; being sober for almost 6 months has left some profound imprints on my brain! However, for the sake of pedantry, I AM starting the count over (well, as of last Tuesday, which was my day 1). And, today is day 12. And, I’m really proud of that. Looking forward to celebrating the accomplishment a second time around: a month’s time, two months, my 90-day chip (oh, Hell’s yes, I’m bringing that baby out and wearing it around my neck like a medal that day)…

It’s going SO much easier–of course, it is. I’m USED to not drinking. I’m used to feeling better and managing the mind, as it were. Though, I think it’s more often than not that I don’t WANT to drink. I think I’ve either practiced telling myself for so long that I don’t want to drink that it’s become the norm, OR, that mantra is finally sinking in and I really don’t want to.

What I really think it is for me is, having experimented. Now, though, “relapse” would simply be a choice, not something that’s going to come over me like a tidal wave and smack me to the ground, helpless. That choice is with me every day, and while it’s a difficult one to make the first 30 days, the first 4 months–it gets easier and easier to not just say no to drinking, but yes to life! (cue unicorn and glitter parade) Plus, I’m in a much stronger–and different–place, and I know (from experiments) that drinking literally only leads to bad hangovers, wasted days, and spent money. The best part? KNOWING that I really can’t afford those things anymore. That is the process I’ve struggled with, letting go of this idea that drinking and being giddy for two seconds is worth having all of the above.

And, y’know, blacking out and calling my mom and calling my brother and feeling regret about having done both… Well, it’s a reminder as to how one drink can lead to four can lead to “Whoops, I did it again!” Unfortunately, my hangover lasted for three days. THAT was rough… Combined with my memory of my last bad drunk, which was a tremendous hangover the day I flew out last October–it all adds up to a huge incentive/preventive.

But, deep down, the reminder serves more to remind me of what I have, and not what I don’t want.

Not drinking for almost 6 months has allowed me to simply get USED to not drinking. Now, I feel much better saying no and letting others go on the same, boring circus ride of getting drunk and being hung over. I enjoy attending events sober; dinner parties are more fun for me now because I’m USED to being the “dork” who’s not gushing out some ridiculous (and irrelevant) storyline, the more reserved “adult”–in fact, staying sober has made me feel more mature. I used to feel VERY mature growing up, and I’m sure that contributed to my choice to veer off in the opposite direction with my drinking; now, I actually like that feeling.

And, honestly, I get somewhat irritated now with friends who have that first or second or third drink, and then start to mentally wander off. I KNOW what’s going on in their heads, and it definitely does not involve listening to what I’m saying! I see the immaturity and irresponsibility of drinking to excess, and well, for someone who can’t afford to do so anymore (time’s running out, yo), it just bothers me. I think it’s the case very early on with “normal” drinkers, where they realize that a tradeoff has to be made. It’s like, No duh, for them. With us, fighting a COMPULSION to drink, well, it’s a big, hairy, instructive lesson in life when we don’t drink and as a result, learn a lot about what we’ve been avoiding confronting or dealing with, personally.

What’s the point? Well, I guess it’s: months ago, I literally could not imagine feeling anything but this immense craving to drink, feeling like nothing would make it as good as a drink, believing that nothing could be fun without wine, trudging to this and that event feeling a literal hole pulling on my stomach–the hole of craving, I see it is now. It’s not lasting, and it goes away. Might take a while–I’ll tell you, I dragged my sober ass from day 90 until about week 21, after which I think I started to plan my next drunk anyway (which happened shortly thereafter). But, it goes away. Or, it’s going away.

I think I’m just seeing things differently: I’m HAPPY to be counting days, and at the start again. There’s less pressure, I suppose. It’s almost like, I don’t have to think about “possibly drinking” or “falling off the wagon” for a while now. WHEW! What a relief. Which, of course, equates to relief at having made a commitment to simply not drink, even if a unicorn explodes or the sky turns green. No choice, much relief.

Then, it was counting against craving, to just get by and not drink. Now, the pressure’s on, in the sense that I see my triggers–anxiety/depression/moodiness, things that make me feel uncomfortable and I avoid doing or pursuing out of habit or fear. What I don’t (or didn’t) need is the pressure of 6 months hanging over my head. I think I wanted to shift my mentality to, I don’t drink, is all, instead of, I am Sober. Which, I suppose, eased the weight enough for me to continue (and want to continue) the baby steps–OK, maybe a bit bigger than baby–I’ve taken to start unraveling why I drank and what I can do about changing things instead of drinking over them. Sure, it’s the real work of getting sober, and maybe I took a slight detour to dump off some shit (i.e., all those days), but it’s my truck, my gas money, and my road! 😉

Anyway, here’s to day 12!

So focused on life…I forgot to think about drinking!

29 Mar

1:31 am

Today, I had two firsts in my sobriety, and they took me by surprise.

One, I got so busy this past week that I forgot to think about drinking. Yes, it’s possible. Who knew? I mean, I didn’t even think about this blog once today, and it was only after I finished my second interview for a job I’ve applied to (we’ve been having them over Skype) that I realized I hadn’t thought about drinking or checked my blog.

Second, I went out tonight with a friend, and we ordered virgin “frou frou” drinks–all juice and mango and pink and swirls. So, I never understood former drinkers (or current ones) in AA when they talked about the anxiety that came with planning to binge or drinking that first drink. I mean, when I drank to ease my anxiety, it worked! Tonight, though, I felt physical aversion to booze; I think I may have even felt nauseated if I had had the chance to smell it. Tonight, as I stared at the tropical drinks being made for others, and when I thought about taking a sip and having that feeling of “hard booze-drunk” come over me–it made me feel anxious. Like, nervous. Didn’t I ever feel this way toward wine? Maybe. I think I just got used to blocking out that sense of foreboding when I would open a bottle, that feeling of, Oh, boy, here we go again. Tonight, I simply wanted nothing even close to rum in my drink, and most importantly, nothing even close to the anxious (to me, anyway), adrenaline-tinged high that comes with that first horrible sip infiltrating my bloodstream. From the very first sip, I thought, drinking is just…exhausting. (Disclaimer: I have never liked drinking hard booze, and liked the buzz even less. It was too fast, too harsh, and left me feeling like I was tottering on the edge of a cliff, my legs weak and shaking in the face of the precipice. Wine, on the other hand, all warm and fuzzy and making me feel excited and connected–well, until I didn’t anymore, blacked out, and woke up not remembering having said WAY too much to this person and done WAY too much with that. Plus, the wallet, pieces of clothing, expensive jewelry, and other stuff–thank God(dess), never a tooth–missing.)

This week has been busy with work, some interview prep, and the friend I went out with tonight has been in town, so I’ve been hanging with her. She’s a yoga teacher, so she’s a good person to do things with sober (and it really HELPS to do sober things with sober, or at least, like-minded peeps): it makes PERFECT sense to her to save her body instead of wasting it on the poisons of sugar and alcohol.

Honestly, I haven’t had many pangs this week, and the ones I have had have been quickly ushered out by what I learned last Monday night: while drinking may SEEM like a good option to resolve my negative feelings and thoughts/thoughts and feelings, it simply isn’t. After almost six months, it’s just automatic to KNOW, without giving much thought to the voice of craving, that it’s like, not a good idea AT ALL to drink the day before an interview. Or, the night before a get-together. Or, a day of hard work planned. Oh, and nearly impossible to train for a road race AND drink, whatsoever. After almost six months, I know that one slip will not lead me down the road to oblivion; au contraire–it’s helped to make clearer, to clarify, my commitment to not drinking as a lifestyle choice. I have too much riding on my sobriety, aka “my life,” to ruin it by drinking.

I have too much to do to remember that I want a drink!

Day 5 of unicorns, glitter, and an arsenal of AWESOME

23 Mar

1:52 pm

Hi, guys. I’m back…! 😉

Aside from having had to endure a three-day (yes, I’m not kidding) hangover, and now, what feels like a stomach flu of some sort, I’m back on it: counting days (I’m a sucker for goals), running, doing my work, walking the dogs, and looking into some new professional and personal opportunities down here and elsewhere.

I have, honestly, thought of drinking. Why not, I’ve already fallen off? It was a quiet thought, and I guess–before I beat myself up about having it–at least I heard it, spotted the little fucker, and plucked it out/cut it down almost immediately! However, WTF? We all know that we have selective memory when it comes to drinking and hangovers, but yet…this was more like, an “in” for the wolf. I left the window open a crack, and that piece of shit was poking it’s stinking nose back in. (Though, maybe it’s my fault, as I left out the dog bed for it to sleep on; sure, a *dog* bed for a wolf, but a bed nonetheless. I should trash it, and lock him out for good, I know this now.) I can see how people can relapse; not necessarily go back to drinking like they did, but go back to thinking they can–isn’t this most of what is wrong, our thoughtful obsession with drinking, and how it’s supposed to do this and that and everything else for us, but does none of those things? Still, I CANNOT BELIEVE myself, actually considering drinking after feeling so bad for two, going on three, days.

The state of mind I was in, too, was telling: I felt low to the ground, sad, depressed, shaky, and in general, uncertain. There was this feeling of not being sure, about anything. I can’t even put my finger on WHAT I was trying to feel sure about, but there was definitely a disconnect between my feet, my heart, my head, my soul…and the ground. MY GROUND. That’s what I felt, and I did not like it. I like feeling the EXACT OPPOSITE while sober, actually. I have to say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the small yet magnificent sense of mind, presence of action, and general “on it”-ness I got used to feeling while sober. It’s this that comprises my arsenal of AWESOME, which is so much better than all the lame “tools” I thought I had to deal with life while drinkin’.

I’m feeling better, and about to embark on my 7-mile run today. Ha ha. Hahahahaha. We shall see. Of course, drinking on Monday night fucked up my running schedule, and when I finally got back on the horse on Thursday, I felt SO tired that I could barely keep upright. I wanted to lie down in the gravel next to my car, or better yet, on the side of the road, and go to sleep!

See you later, friends!

And, that was a slip, not a relapse–I hope

20 Mar

10:23 pm

OK. Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Thanks for all the supportive comments–you guys are amazing!

And, it really is quite astonishing to see just how many of us are affected so deeply by this drinking thing. I mean, a lot of my friends and family just don’t get it, don’t want to know. And yet, this is a HUGE deal for me, both drinking and now, not drinking. And, I know that I can be proud of myself, even if no one in my immediate friends circle or family really gives two shits. I KNOW it’s a big deal, and I KNOW I have every right to tear it up on my unicorn, screaming and clawing at the sky–I am THAT awesome.

Sometimes, you need to throw yourself a parade.

All I can say is, I did jot some things down yesterday afternoon, even in my groggy state, and it’s a testament to the learning that comes about when you quit your habit and embrace the often difficult journey of getting to know yourself. I recognized all these things from just one slip, which is awesome. Now it’s time to put them into practice.

1. Certain things are in the past; it’s TIME to let them go–put them away and move on. Really. No more wasting energy and/or head space revisiting events, circumstances, and emotions that are in and of the past. It’s strange with feelings, though; I do think that sometimes, these need to be expunged. Emotions are evergreen and somehow persist, as if you keep feeling them fresh, again and again, no matter how much time passes. Sage? A fire ritual, maybe?

2. I struggle with connection; I want it with people, but can’t seem to get it. I feel like I don’t really know how; maybe that’s a byproduct of being an introvert at heart. I mean, the kind of connection I desire is rather intense for some, maybe. When I start to feel really isolated, this urge to connect on a deeper level intensifies, and my conviction that it can’t be–we are each our own separate reality–looms large and oppressive.

3. It’s time to get out, people. Time to start DOING SHIT AGAIN. It’s not that I don’t live, but really, I don’t have a life, let’s face it. The only way, I realize now, to change this is to change this! I can’t scold myself for being lazy, or lacking initiative, or being afraid of people–maybe I am. However, maybe I needed to cocoon while getting sober, maybe I needed to isolate to protect myself while I licked my wounds and examined the damage. Now, however, it’s time to bust out those wings and start flying around. (Today, I had a job interview via Skype AND I went downtown to a nonprofit that I’ll hopefully end up volunteering for soon. It was fantastic, and, I hate to say it, long overdue. I felt a part of things, a creator of my life; that felt good, and is the antidote to isolating.)

4. It sucks growing up. It just does. *whine* I have made the choice–and so has my brother–to not engage anymore. He is not, and will not, be a part of my life in the same way he was, ever again. I am an adult woman, having adult conversations (albeit, ones I can’t fucking remember) with my mother, who is approaching 70. All these things and more make me feel like…grieving. Grieving for choices made, for a past that I NOW DEFINITELY HAVE. It’s a process, and I have to realize that THAT is what is going on inside, even if it feels a million miles away, buried underneath a lot of protective gear.

5. Do I have any real joy in my life? When I was hung the fuck over yesterday, I wondered. Now I know that YES, I do. However, I have to cultivate that joy–one of the simplest ways of doing that is by being sober–on a continual basis. That takes effort, and focus. Sometimes–well, often–I don’t feel like I have either!

Anyway, thanks, everyone, for letting me vent. One day I suppose I’ll have nothing left to analyze or process, but that day is likely in the distant future. So, here’s to big brains. And even bigger hearts.

How to put this so that it doesn’t sound as bad as it is? I drank.

20 Mar

12:50 am

There, I said it. I did it. I would’ve had six months in a few weeks, too. Why? I guess I just felt…overwhelmed. Depressed. Frustrated. Physical symptoms of maybe a depressive mood swing that just weren’t going away–static brain, sinkhole feeling in my stomach. I had been planning it for weeks, though, so maybe the above, while real, were just excuses.

To be honest, it wasn’t fun–the drunk was boring and mechanical, I never actually felt buzzed, and what little buzz I did feel was abruptly taken away by my blacking out within, oh, about an hour of when I started drinking. Zero to 60 in like, an hour. How lame.

However, I learned a lot. And, while I still have to process some of it (I’ll do that when I’m not hung over) this, in essence, is the gist of it:

1. It still sucks to be hung over. Like, way sucks. I’ve spent today feeling alternately sluggish and anxious. I threw up a little last night (of *course* I don’t remember doing so, just like I don’t remember MOST of the conversation I had with my mom on the phone or passing out on the couch) so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There’s just a lethargy within, a damp feeling of confusion, uncertainty, sadness–it’s the hangover, and there is simply nothing GOOD here, in this state of mind/being.
2. I can’t drink normally. It doesn’t change. In fact, I went right back to where I left off.
3. Wine takes me to a dark place, a place of the past. I’ve grown used to being in the present, where there is light, where there is looking forward. Last night, I drank and went back, and got upset by events that have happened and aren’t happening anymore, that I haven’t let go. I think I simply NEED to let some things go. Let them be in the past, with no more dwelling.

And, I had SO many “God shots” yesterday, too, it was hilarious in a not-ha-ha kind of way that I drank anyway. From seeing two people I know, driving in their cars to the 5:30 AA meeting downtown as I drove by, en route to the store to buy wine; to having to go BACK to the store a second time to buy a corkscrew; to in between all of this, receiving a long email from one of my friends, complaining about the out-of-control, mean drinkers in her social circle and how proud she is of me for having almost six months sober!

Eh, I’m not really upset about having to start the count over. In fact, counting days is OK for a while, but… I realized today that counting days makes this into too much of a game. This is not a game, this is my life. In ways big but mostly small and subtle, stopping using alcohol as a coping mechanism has changed my life, my lifestyle, my way of viewing my life. And, all I know tonight is, I don’t want to–I can’t–go back to the other way.

I’m coming out…

16 Mar

10:42 pm

soon. Very, very soon. I think. I guess.

Lately–well, today especially–I’ve been feeling like I need to get out more. I do, it’s true. I work from home, I have no professional network down here, and I’ve perhaps become complacent in having my boyfriend as my sole/primary source of social life.

The thing is, I don’t know how to be all that “social” without drinking. And, if I do recall, I didn’t want to drink with others not just because I didn’t want to drink like a lady, but because I just liked being alone. Sober or drunk, I like being alone. In fact, I’ve spent a LOT of days, nights, weeks, years–as a journalist, as a drinker, as a 20- and 30-something–getting to know other people. I’m kind of digging getting to know myself. Spending all my time with myself. I feel like people want me to apologize for this, and it pisses me off.

I’m not going to apologize, and I’ve been doing my thang long enough to know that it’s quite all right to let what other people think I should be doing with my time go in one ear and out the other. I have been ignoring the crowds since I was a kid, and it’s never made me feel “happy,” but I’m not necessarily seeking happiness rather contentment, peace, creative expression.

It also bugs me when “grownups” think it’s all about them. Just because I’m not hanging out with you doesn’t mean I don’t like you and/or I don’t want to hang out with you. Maybe I’m, y’know, getting sober and going through my own shit? Did you ever ask, or wonder? Maybe I’m going through my own awkward time figuring out how and what to do as a sociable sober person. Bottom line is, it has NOTHING to do with you.

Luckily, for some reason, getting sober has allowed me to take a big step back and give–excuse my French–much, MUCH less of a fuck about other people’s drama and bullshit. I don’t need to get upset; I really don’t allow myself. And this, somehow, is happening without much effort on my part.

What’s more, I feel like enough of a loser sometimes because I don’t socialize, but even more because I don’t want to, as a sober person. And now I have to defend myself against people who force me to be the empathetic one and lay out gently but non-offensively what *they’re* missing and how *their* reaction is not acceptable to me?

Not a good way to end my otherwise good day (I pulled myself through a 6-mile run, and am now feeling relatively pain-free, so that’s A+-awesome!). I wanted to drink over it tonight. I looked at the calendar and realized that I’m probably, deep down, just waiting for the night I allow myself to drink again. (For the record, I would have zero desire to go to the bar to do it!) Am I simply living the same way, just not drinking? Have I made any progress then?

Yeah, I do “need to get out more,” but I refuse to pressure myself right now. I don’t care what anyone else or the little voice inside my head is saying–talk to the hand, bitches! 🙂

Are there any reasons left TO drink?

15 Mar

2:29 am

I’m sorry, but it’s been a week since I last posted. Since then, I’ve been to Miami and back, have worked on another editorial project, landed an interview for a (extraordinarily underpaid) job in NYC, thought way too much about having kids, begun my “serious” half-marathon training (I’m up to about 6 miles on my “long” runs). A lot has happened/is happening. Which is good. Which is/are more reasons not to drink.

I think I need goals. I think I also need reasons not to drink. However, when I take a close look–I had the “opportunity” to do so the other night–my main “reasons” left TO drink are sadness and/or disappointment. I can deal with anger, with envy, with ennui; it’s being sad, or disappointed–with feeling like I have no power over mortality, over aging, for instance–these make me want to go blotto.

Yet, the worst/best part is: drinking is not a solution. At all. In fact, drinking is not that much fun…SO, there’s really no point to it. Right? Right. (Yet, I KNOW that wine still calls, and it does so for a reason: it WAS that good. Or…was it? No, it wasn’t. YES, it SO was. Nah…not really. ARG! Down, wolf.)

It really is that simple. No regrets, no remorse, no character defects, no amends. Just a simple truth: I’d had enough, and I don’t want–cannot have–what was, which was me, literally risking my life and losing more and more of my spirit and/or soul every time I drank. Fortunately, I suppose, there was no other option but to stop drinking.

I’ve seen my peace of mind–less depression, less anxiety–simply RETURN. As if, drinking was filling up a lot of my journal with obsessive, self-loathing thoughts, and not, these negative thought patterns were inherent to my person and causing me to drink. Yes, my power is coming back, my sense of innate “sure-ness”; I can make decisions without having to over-think them AND without even thinking about thinking about them. THAT is the magic, and it happens WITH NO EFFORT ON YOUR PART EXCEPT TO QUIT DRINKING FOR A SUSTAINED PERIOD OF TIME. For me, that’s taken until oh, about now. It’s not easy, but I never would have seen the simplicity of the solution had I kept drinking and over-complicating EVERYTHING.

It’s so much more that that, too: an increased awareness, an increased ability to have fun, more motivation, the feeling that there is ground and not sinkhole under my feet. More, and more, and more than that, too. Yet, the changes are subtle, and to keep them in place does take a bit of work, mentally speaking. That’s what the first 90 days–shit, the first 20 weeks in my case–are for: to get you used to the struggle so that eventually, it feels easy.

Will I drink again? Maybe. I mean, it’s not a bad thing, alcohol; it’s how I was using it, the emotional handle I didn’t have–the lack of awareness surrounding my own tendency to binge in the face of unaddressed emotions, stressers, etc. Will I drink again? Not now, no. I’m not healed; I’m not in a safe enough place. Will I use and/or abuse wine? I don’t plan to, no. That is empowering, and liberating. I don’t NEED to drink and somehow, I don’t really want to anymore, either. Hmm. Strange days, indeed. (22 weeks yesterday!)

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