Where to begin.
I could start at the beginning, but that would be a very long story. I could go into the years of drinking and partying, of how my relationship with alcohol has ebbed and flowed, how it’s been positive and negative, how I’ve vacillated between party-girl and being worried about my health and my self-esteem. But instead I’m just going to talk about now. The rest will come in time.
I suspect a lot of people feel the way I do about alcohol and maybe my voice will help someone else like so many of you bloggers have helped me. (SoberChrystal, Belle from Tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking, Soberistas, and many more…)
I am not an “alcoholic.” Despite having seen alcoholism in my family and the AA model of recovery, I disagree that people are either “alcoholic” or “normal.” In my opinion, based on my own experience and working with hundreds of clients in the criminal justice system, there are a plethora of folks who fall somewhere in between. Who are experiencing problems as a result of drinking, or who are questioning their drinking’s affect on their health, but who are not necessarily alcoholics who must never drink again or risk ruin of everything they have. Some people just need to take their power back, reevaluate their priorities, and put themselves back in the driver’s seat. And I believe that people are capable of that. Not everyone. And I am certainly not saying that AA is inappropriate, to the contrary I have seen it work for loads of people and I applaud the support it provides. However, I personally refuse to consider myself “powerless” over anything. And I know, deep down, that I am absolutely not powerless, but that I have made choices that have not been healthy around alcohol off and on throughout my life. Lately has been one of those times.
I live in wine country. In the last ten years, I left my job as an 8th grade teacher to figure out what to do with my life since I couldn’t fathom teaching for one more second. I moved home to start over, and began waiting tables at a fine dining establishment where I learned all about wine. What wine pairs with each dish. What wine pairs with summer. With winter. With lamb. With love. And wow, did I fall in love. With wine, and with a winemaker, which ensured that wine was always in our lives. It is perfectly normal here to have wine with every meal (ok, maybe not breakfast). And we did. There is a certain sense around wine here that it is the civilized, classy thing to do. I noticed during those years that I was miserable much of the time, but I blamed it all on my volatile relationship and the fact that i had started going to law school at night and was working three jobs. Looking back, I know I was fatigued much of the time and I was drinking far more frequently than was healthy considering the load I was carrying. But I excelled nevertheless, graduating cum laude in 2009 and passing the Bar on the first try.
(Ok, i veered from the “now.” Sorry!)
For the past four years I’ve been practicing law and the stress of work is constant and grueling. Wine has been my easy transition from the workday to the relaxing, evening portion of the day. My reward for working so hard. The only way to shut off the constant roll of worries in my head about what hearing I have on the next day, whether I ordered an essential piece of discovery on time, whether I visited a client on time. My constant self-doubt at the job I’m doing shuts right the hell up after a glass of wine. But a “glass” to me is rarely a glass. A glass is always two, then three, or four, or a bottle. More on weekends. And despite remaining fully functional, it has been enough to make me worry about where this habit will lead if I let it continue. And I cannot lie to myself that I am not on my way to being addicted on some level, if I’m not there already. And it’s enough to make me wonder, what MORE could I be getting out of life if I wasn’t checking out every evening? Would I lose the spare tire I’ve put on? Would I sleep better? (The answer to that one is an unequivocal YES, btw!!) Would I have the energy to do the things I love to do outside of work? Those things I’ve told myself I don’t have time for because of my demanding job are likely things I don’t have the time/energy for because I’m drinking instead.
SO! This post is way too long. But the bottom line is that i read The Sober Revolution — Calling Time on Wine O’Clock recently. It’s written by Sarah Turner and Lucy Rocca. I instantly recognized myself. And it changed my thinking. It got me searching for others like me and reading blogs. I stumbled upon tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.wordpress.com, and read Belle’s inspiring words. I had already decided to take a break from drinking to figure my s*&# out, when I saw her 100 day sober challenge. After some soul searching, I signed up. So I decided to blog about this journey to hold myself accountable along the way. I don’t know if I’ll return to drinking at the end or not. I’m going to see how this feels.
Today, I feel amazing. I am up early on a Saturday with a clear head. Mornings are a reward. Evenings are hard. I’ll keep you posted.