Archive | June, 2014

I had a beer, it didn’t work, life goes on

27 Jun

9:30 am

I just wanted to check in to say that I am well.

I had a beer. It didn’t work. Life goes on.

Yeah. And, I really want to explore this idea of getting sober–or, a long period of sobriety–as actually changing your brain. I mean, I had a beer because…I guess my obsessing over “what will it be like?” was just getting out of control. I just wanted to see what it was like. AND, I really couldn’t do this thing, and be in this place, without having the local beer (it’s like, a thing here, a very memorable part of the experience of this place, is having the local beer).

You know what? Just like with the “non-alcoholic” beer I accidentally drank (it was a while ago, maybe last December?), it just did not feel good. I felt cloudy-headed, more or less. It was hard to make conversation. I felt somewhat dizzy, and like I just wanted to go to sleep. No high, no buzz. In essence, it just didn’t work.

So, while this is a good thing, right…I also felt a little disappointed. WHAT? It’s really, really not an option anymore? I had the same effect with caffeine after I had a series of panic attacks back in 2005. I used to be a coffee FIEND, but, after a couple panic attacks brought on by coffee (after a night of binge drinking), I simply could NOT drink it anymore. I went from feeling awesome on coffee to feeling…static-brained. I just don’t drink it anymore because it doesn’t work–it makes me feel bad instead of good.

On the other hand, my little experiment was a GREAT thing. In the past several days or so, I’ve basically let go of the idea of what this place WAS to me–of “enjoying” it more while drunk on the local beer. I don’t need it. It’s a new day. It’s time to move on. And, because alcohol doesn’t seem to even work anymore–it makes me feel bad instead of good–I truly have to move on.

And, it makes me wonder: why are we drilling into people this “fear” of drinking again? I mean, I’m not saying don’t gather a ton of sober days under your belt first (like, years). What I’m saying is, we don’t have to live in fear of relapse. Maybe, just maybe, it won’t “work” for us the way it used to? Maybe we truly do have to move on, and embrace another way of coping and living? I haven’t had a cup of regular coffee since 2005. Sure, it sucked, and sure, I miss it every time I smell a pot brewing, but…I simply cannot drink it! It doesn’t work. Life goes on.

It feels good to know. I can somewhat let go of the obsession, this idea that drinking–no matter how far away I get from my last drink–is the fix I want and need.

(All is well here. Communal living is teaching me to open up again, and I’m being reminded of all that I do have–and, how far I’ve come in how comfortable I am with myself. It’s been a great week, and I’ve got three left. I’ll write more soon!)

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Who am I now?, or, the art of no longer living in denial

18 Jun

12:10 pm

(I wasn’t going to post this, but I’m deciding to do so because, well, remaining sober means necessarily embracing it. And, Wolfie-boy and his ugly mange-y paw, Denial, can ruin the best of intentions. So, in an effort to embrace sobriety–and hang onto it in spite of Wolfie breathing down my neck (Oh, come ON, you’ve gone far enough, you can drink on this trip)–I’m reminding me (and you) of how I got here.)

I have to admit, I thought I was “different.” All these drunks at meetings, saying stuff like, “I had no idea who I was when I first got sober.” Pfft, please. That’s not me. *I* knew who I was, didn’t I? Don’t I? I know who I am, right? In FACT, I was the same person back then…except I drank. I still am that person, I just don’t drink.

Right? Riiiiight.

Anyway, I have accomplished some shit in my life, but one day last year, with my issues coming into crystal clear focus, I realized that it might have all been pretty much fueled by wine. And that hit me in the gut like a punching bag. Oof. Really? Have all my successes and achievements–and failures, even missteps–been a direct result of my drinking? Not in the, I needed wine to do this, kind of way, but in the, Wine was always in the picture, kind of way. And it did, indeed, allow me to do certain things. My sense of motivation–maybe a frenetic one, looking back–CAME FROM THE WINE. Sure, my brain is wired to accomplish, to want to achieve; but, in the later years, especially from about 2004 until now, was it the “wine brain” that was propelling me to do all the crazy, caution-to-the-wind shit that I did? Or, was that me?

Wait, who am I?

As I prepare for this volunteer trip (for which I, gulp, leave on Thursday), I have to admit: I have NO IDEA how to do this sober. I’ve never done it sober. I’ve gone to the country where I’m going three times already, but I’ve never seen the place through the lens of a sober person. That is to say, the past three times I’ve gone to where I’m going, I drank–like, drinky-drank-DRUNK drank!

The third time (four years ago), though, not so much. And, here’s what’s “hilarious” about that: for the past few years, I’ve been telling myself that I didn’t drink *as much* on the third trip because I “wasn’t really an alcoholic” and that I just needed to find something purposeful to fill my hole.

What really happened, I’m remembering more clearly now, is that I was AFRAID OF KILLING MYSELF based on how ridiculously I drank the first two times.

Just to semi-recap: on the first trip (over five years ago), I drank every night, till the end (3 am), and then had to get up every morning at 7 am for work (manual labor–somehow the hangovers weren’t so bad when you were sweating them out). I drank WHILE ON malaria meds, and then WHILE HAVING A BAD REACTION to said meds, such that I was in a state of acute panic/anxiety for a period of 36 hours at one point. It was a nightmare; literally, a waking nightmare. I completely blamed this reaction on the chloroquine as being an older anti-malarial that I shouldn’t have taken based on my medical history of depression and anxiety. Now, however, I have to ask myself, Could it have been the probably-dangerous combination of a shit-ton of booze plus the meds? (tilts heads in mock wonder)

On the second trip, a year later, it only got worse! I got SO drunk one night at a party (thrown by and for my host mother’s family), that I kissed an old guy, got SUPER-emotional and crazy and was yelling at people, then, managed to pass out on the outhouse seat. I fell forward onto something hard and flat with the full weight of my noggin, bashing my forehead so hard that I not only had a huge welt up there, but gave myself a black eye (days later, after the blood drained down). The host mother was chagrined, to say the least, and there was at least one person who bid me an official farewell the next morning (even though I was there for another several days).

I mean, these are just a FEW stories of how I drank there. No, I wasn’t the only alcoholic, and no, others experienced a lot worse consequences (one guy fell off a roof and died), BUT…

It never seemed to click, how exhausting and dangerous all this was–year after year after year. Once the hangover wore off and the bad behavior, forgotten, I simply moved on and pretended that nothing needed to change. Or, at least nothing needed to change *that* much.

This is stuff that makes my (bobble)head spin, like someone threw a brick at my face–how could I have lived in such denial? Not only of what I was doing–and how I was using alcohol–but of how I was lying to myself about what I was doing?! Something must have stuck (was it the outhouse incident?) because, fully realizing that it would be dangerous to binge drink like that again, I managed to control my drinking on the third trip (the dehydration factor also helped).

Fast forward to now, and I seem to have forgotten about all of this! Like, I’ve been telling myself that I didn’t drink heavily the last time because I didn’t need to, didn’t feel like it, realized that this work filled my unmet needs–no, I wasn’t really an alcoholic at home, I was just empty with want and my unmet needs.

Yes, unfortunately, I was an alcoholic at home. I drank and bad shit happened, but I kept drinking. It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

All this being said, this time around, I am not going to drink because, well, I’m sober. Right? I’ve thought about it, of course: would it really be that bad to do the two-beers-a-night thing again? I’m sure I could do it, and might even want to. BUT…a part of me really wants to see this world, have this experience, live out this dream…through the prism of a sober mind. And this, somehow, seems much more important and real than all my doubts and fears (of which I have many, namely: Will this place have lost its romantic appeal now that I’m sober? Will this idealized reality–which I could maintain as a drinker–simply become mundane? Will my supposed “dream job,” which I’ll be doing there (as a volunteer), turn out to be something I really don’t like, find to be an actual pain-in-the-ass without the nightly reward and reinforcement of wine/beer?).

You know, I am no different from all those “people in AA meetings who don’t know themselves.” And, that actually makes me feel hopeful. I am living this thing now, for real, and that must mean…progress? I sure hope so!

Well, I might sneak in one more post before I take off, but if not, travel well, my sober friends, and I’ll see you in a little bit (will post from there, but it might be random and/or sporadic).

Milestones…and fatigue

15 Jun

11:21 am

Wow, I can’t believe how fast time is flying. Which, I suppose, was my goal: keep my mind dial on “future focus” so that I don’t dwell on The Girlfriend, or, so I don’t give her the time (my life) that she doesn’t deserve. And, now that that’s behind me, the future is here, and I have a lot more important things to think about.

Aside from stressing on how I’m going to earn money, though, life has been pretty fantastic–things are unfolding. Moving right along, as a friend recently commented. And, you know, honestly, it’s been so few and far between, the number of times through all of this that I’ve thought, This would be better with a glass of wine. The longer we go in our period of sobriety, it just happens, this letting go of the Myth of Alcohol–we don’t need it.

To summarize the past month or so, many a milestone has come and gone and I’ve just been trying to keep up (on the outside world, let alone on my blog): my brother’s wedding, the “confrontation,” which turned out to be not much of one, with The Girlfriend; our 2-week trip; planning my “voluntouring” vacation (for which I leave this Thursday); my 40th birthday this week (for which I had a surprise party thrown by my brother’s new husband, during their wedding weekend no doubt!); a beach party for my birthday yesterday (for which my boyfriend and I made a bunch of pretty tasty eats); and in between all that, my 450 day-milestone on June 11th and my 2-years-blogging anniversary on June 14th (I started this blog two years ago on June 14th, and have been sober–more or less–ever since).

Throw in a flu last week and, unfortunately, a UTI (ladies, you know the urgency of getting antibiotics started, especially when you have to wait through the weekend for a pharmacy to open up)–well, this girl is feeling like she’s on the inside of a tornado!

Alas, I think that’s how I planned it, y’all. Far, far better to be busy and occupied than to be dwelling, and drinking.

On that note, I have to run. Sorry I’ve been so MIA. I have the feeling that things might get even crazier in the next few weeks, but I will definitely try to keep you up to date with more frequent posts. (Come to think of it, the next one is going to be on unmet needs and a sense of purpose as antidotes to addictive behavior–it’s been on my mind lately.)

I’m back–quick update

5 Jun

11:12 am

Well, I’m back. And, what a trip! We covered 3,000 flight miles each way, and 2,500 in the car! Needless to say, I haven’t had much time to blog, but I’ve been thinking about everyone and wanted to write a quick update.

The wedding went GRAND. The girlfriend ignored me–literally, pretended I didn’t exist/wasn’t in the room (how someone does that for an entire 48-hour period is interesting, I suppose). And, I returned the favor! 🙂

And that was that. I realized almost immediately my error in resenting her and giving her all this power all these years–she is literally powerless, which makes her irrelevant to my life. I have–and always had–the power over my reality. Beyond that, I tried to enjoy me, and my brother, and the family, and my boyfriend meeting the family, and all the amazing food, sites, and sounds!

The ceremony was magical, and I felt amazing–calm, happy, calmer and happier than I have in years. I/we were just…present. Not caring about what she was doing or saying (which was ridiculous, and I’ll blog about it later, but right now, the main word that comes to mind for her is “mentally ill”).

We then went on a week-long road trip through “the West” (of the US), hitting four states, four national parks, and two major cities. Whew. Now, it’s back to work…for two weeks. Because two weeks from today, I leave for a 6-week “voluntouring” trip to another country! If I told you which one, it might blow the anonymity of this blog, but suffice it to say, it’s a neighboring place that’s been in the news lately! I am really excited, having planned where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing, embraced a certain level of emotional and physical uncertainty, and determined my immediate next steps upon return.

I have to say, and this has happened before, when you reveal yourself to the world–your dreams, let’s say–the world responds! I was a bit nervous calling my boss here and being like, Hey, can I ghost on you for the next six weeks to go and volunteer in a developing country, and then, uh, maybe come back to my job? He was not only cool with it, he gave me his “blessing” (his word, which I appreciated so much I am quoting him!). Turns out, before becoming a real estate agent, his thesis work was on similar stuff in the South Sudan. Click. When will I learn? Stop being afraid, DDG! The world rewards–craves–our bravery of spirit and humility of soul.

Back to work. Like I said, I will dish much further on “the girlfriend” later. I must end with this: at the end of the event, I realized one thing, and that is that it is not about her, or him, or them, it’s about ME. I can’t quite explain, but I realized just how much energy I wasted putting any of MYSELF into thinking about the girlfriend’s thoughts of me, or anyone else for that matter. It’s my world, my path, my mind; no one else’s. It doesn’t matter at all what or whether she thinks of me.

Thank you, friends! You were there with me every step of the way this past two weeks.

Day 500–coming up on July 31. No thoughts or desires to drink, btw. Maybe I’ve outgrown it? Maybe, as Belle said, it just takes a longer, continuous period of sobriety to reach greater levels of freedom from the want to drink? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

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