In limbo

So here’s how my December went.  On day 27, as you all read previously, I slipped up on the night I hosted the holiday party (how fucking predictable, I know).  And then I carried on drinking the next day, and the next.  Not a ton, but some.  Enough to demonstrate to myself that what happens when I drink one day is that I want to drink every day.  Even if it’s not to excess (although it often is), what I can’t seem to get around is that need, to like, even out.  To regulate my imbalance that comes from the previous night.  The unbearable feeling of being hung over and miserable, paranoid like I want to hide from life, and feeling like general shit about myself.  Guess what?  One glass of wine (or maybe two) makes all that misery just disappear.  And often, I can have just two or three glasses that next day.  But I can’t not have them.  That’s what’s freaky.  

So what would have been my day 30 was instead day #1 all over again.  I was not feeling nearly as motivated when I started over.  I sheepishly wrote my blog and wrote Belle (from tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com) and asked her to restart my 100 day challenge.  And guess how long I made it?  Seven days.  Yep, that’s it.  And when I decided to throw in the towel, it was also predictable… my cousin and her husband who are big partiers were coming into town and wanted to see us.  We went to dinner with them to one of my favorite places and of course, I just ordered wine without even really thinking it through.  “Fuck it,” I basically said to myself.  “It’s the holidays.  I’ll start at the new year.”

This time of year really does press upon us the idea that indulging in whatever we want it perfectly okay because we are all going to get healthy or get back on track come January first.  And who cares, really?  Do we ever think back and say wow, in such-and-such year I fully stuck to (insert goal of choice here)?  It’s arbitrary.  So dinner led to everyone coming back to our place, I threw caution to the wind and drank as much as I wanted (which was a lot), and totally disregarded the reality that I had to work the next day.  Disregarded my goals.  Disregarded the thousands of reasons why I don’t want to drink anymore.  Even disregarded that my husband and I are trying to conceive.  Yep, I’m getting brutally honest here.  

The next day while driving my cousin’s husband to his car on my way to work, in a fog, I said something about how I couldn’t believe I drank so much when I had to work.  He said, “yeah, well, I figured you must be in the clear for getting pregnant, and you were just letting loose.”  “I’m not in the clear,” I stated, as I realized myself the impact of that and how terrible it sounded, what a horrible person I must be, what an unfit vessel to bring another life into this world, and how I don’t deserve a baby if I can’t even stay sober.  “Well,” he responded simply, “it’s hard with our lifestyle.”  

The wind was sucked out of me in that moment.  For reasons to lengthy and complicated to list here, I have a hard time with my cousin’s husband.  He is, at times, awesome.  He has lots of good qualities.  But he is also, a lot of the time, an out-of-control partier, with substances including more than alcohol, and his “lifestyle” has caused him to treat my cousin in a way that I would rather her not be treated.  Most of the time, she seems not to be as concerned, but I have witnessed behavior that is totally unacceptable to me and that I don’t want to be a part of my world.  I consider myself far, far from being like him.  For HIM, of all people, to say that “our lifestyle” is remotely the same shocked me to my core.  And then I saw myself in a different light.  

Why wouldn’t he see me the same way?  All the years that we have partied together… for some reason I have always envisioned myself to be different, better in some way than “them.”  Those that take it to the next level.  But in that moment I realized, I am not that different.  I have my own issues and they may not be the same, I may not cross certain lines that I look down on others for crossing, but I am crossing lines that are not okay with me.  And I’m ignoring that.  And that makes me feel horrible about myself.  It flushes my self-esteem down the toilet.  

So.  Back to that morning.  Did that stop me?  No way.  I drank every day for another week straight.  On one of those days, I only had one glass of wine.  Literally.  I patted myself on the back for “tapering.”  But the next day, I had three glasses with lunch, three more while watching the sunset, then skipped dinner altogether and had two more.  WTF?!  

I am being honest here because I don’t know what else to do besides take a cold, hard, look.  Yesterday, I did not drink.  And today, I am not drinking.  But I haven’t recommitted to Belle yet for 100 days (take three), because I am afraid that I can’t make it tomorrow night through new year’s eve.  We invited people over, which I asked my husband to cancel at first but then today I backed out because I feel bad, we have relatives here from out of town and we already committed.  But man am I ready to quit hosting events and take some time for myself.  

I desperately want to wake up on new year’s day (as cliche as it is, I do) sober.  And clear headed.  But I do feel like I’m in limbo, like I’m on day 2 but not sure I can start counting yet, until I successfully navigate NYE.  I am attending a yoga-meditation workshop in the afternoon of new year’s day, and I want it to feel clear.  I so, so, soooooo want this.  I feel, today, like I can do it.  I am arming myself with sparkling water, martinelli’s, etc.  I have a couple friends coming who are from yoga and who are not big drinkers at all and who are not triggers for me in the way my cousin and her husband are.  

I am going to do whatever it takes tomorrow night and remember why I’m doing this.  Why I have to do this.  Wish me luck and I’ll be writing whatever happens.  Literally going to take it an hour at a time.  

 

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The new Friday

Day 5 today. Friday. Still feels weird to get to a Friday and be sober. My brain is like, “Friday fun day!” And then I remember that I’m focusing on finding new fun. Which isn’t bad really. Just different. I can’t think too much about my normal habits or patterns at the moment because it’s too overwhelming to imagine too much change at once.
Getting excited about Christmas, and have a busy to-do list this weekend which helps. Seeing two of my oldest friends tomorrow who are fairly big drinkers. I’ve been kind of hibernating since first starting Belle’s challenge the first time, haven’t wanted to have to talk about why I’m not drinking. But tomorrow should be ok because we have a daytime thing planned and no one will really question me if I pass on wine with lunch(although I’m sure they will have some.).
Starting over has been fine in one sense, like I picked up where I left off. But in another, it has felt like these 5 days have gone sooo slowwwly. Kinda feels like getting a demotion at a job. You’ve been handling more serious tasks and then suddenly you have those taken away and you’re only allowed to do the easy stuff and it pisses you off. (That actually is happening to me at work right now… Maybe that’s really my issue here). Anyway just glad to be sober today. Very much starting to understand this one day at a time thing.

Day 3

Today I feel a little more stabilized from the residual anxiety I was feeling after the weekend, but all I can really focus on is this damn cold that is lasting forever.  Woke up with a terrible sore throat, and was busy all day at work.  Had to be productive today, with several deadlines closing in.  Busy enough and sick enough that drinking hasn’t really crossed my mind, aside from a brief moment of anguish as I was thinking of some friends we hadn’t seen in a while.  My mind instantly went to all the fun nights we’ve had with them just having dinner and making our way through bottles of wine and laughter.  Sigh.  I found it nearly impossible to imagine how I’d enjoy myself being the only sober one.  

What I have to really do here is try and slowly unravel the intertwined definitions of fun and drinking.  I know it’s possible to have fun without drinking… right?  I mean, I read all of you fellow sober bloggers saying that this is true, or can be true.  I certainly remember, as a teenager, feeling like I would never be one of those people who couldn’t have fun without alcohol.  But somehow I absolutely grew to simply accept that fun = drinking and that’s that.  And it’s not just me, all my friends are the same.  Which makes me wonder if I subconsciously surrounded myself with other fairly heavy drinkers, or if it’s just coincidence, or if it’s just pervasive and not everyone finds it to be an issue?  I read a lot on these blogs that people feel they can’t drink “normally,” or like their friends do.  For me, it’s that I DO drink like my friends do.  Or at least, I imagine they all drink like I do.  (Pretty sure I’m right for the most part.)  It’s just, for them it’s fine.  Do they just recover more quickly?  Or do they really drink less than I think?  Or, is it possible that some of them do reflect on it and feel some of the negative effects I do, they just haven’t faced it yet?  

Probably the reason I was so irritated by non-drinkers before.  I didn’t want anything to make me reflect on my own drinking.  I couldn’t imagine being one of those people who I saw as hung-up, overreactionary, holier-than-thou, self-righteous, snobs.  Yep, that’s what I thought.  If I encountered a non-drinker at the party who didn’t have the only valid excuse in my mind, being pregnant, I instantly judged them and probably tried to avoid hanging around them for too long so that I wouldn’t get stuck in the land of no fun.  

My Dad is sober, for eight and a half years now.  Last year, when he came over for dinner, I chugged three glasses of wine before he and my mom came over just so I could deal with the fact that we wouldn’t be having wine with dinner.  That’s what makes me the “fun” one, obviously.  Definitely one of those moments that made me take a look at myself, especially because I brushed my teeth twice before my husband got home so he wouldn’t know I felt the need to pre-drink before my sober dad’s dinner that I was hosting.  

The only non-drinker people I’ve always admired are those seemingly rare folks who simply don’t drink because they don’t like it, or they’re health nuts, but who manage to be lively and outgoing and willing to go out with the best of us without being a downer.  People who exude fun even without alcohol.  I’m sure my natural fun capabilities are still in me and that’s what I’m after.  Might consist of different things than bars, but I’m looking forward to developing an ease, a peace, with knowing I can live a fun life this way.  

For now, I’m no fun and that’s this cold’s fault.  Looking forward to sleeping and waking up to day 4.  

 

 

Day 2. Slow (re)start.

Today I am STILL suffering from this dreadful cold.  Started on antibiotics so hopefully the end is in sight.  Feel generally lousy, from a combination of coughing, sinus headache, and lingering anxiety about my drinking over the weekend and starting all the way over.  

On the upside, I don’t feel like drinking.  At least not right now in this moment.  And that’s a relief, because dealing with a huge craving on top of all this would probably push me over the edge.  I know I learned some valuable lessons during the weekend, and maybe it needed to go that way, but I’m still bummed.  And scared.  I guess I didn’t realize how easily I could slip up.  I keep thinking about how simply I let go of the progress I made.  That in that moment, I didn’t even argue with myself.  That I just changed my mind, just like that.  

How do I prevent this from happening in the future?  What if I decide to change my mind again?  How is it that I’m so flippant, that I’d just give up like that?  Going down this road leads inevitably to questions like, “Why am I bothering with this anyway?” and “Why am I making this into a problem?” and “You are such a drama queen, always overreacting…” to which the natural response is to quit overreacting by drinking.  I know, right?  Tricky!!  And easy.  And then, of course, the “failure” of drinking this weekend led me through a round of thoughts like, “I’m just not good enough to finish that,” “Might as well abandon the blog thing, now that I’ve blown it,” etc.  

All.  That.  Noise!!  Not to say I didn’t think a lot during my 27 days of sobriety.  The thinking was exhausting.  But here’s what was different:  I wasn’t thinking nearly as many negative thoughts about myself.  In fact, despite reliving some painful memories from the past in the interest of being honest with myself, I was thinking pretty positively overall.  I was proud.  I was pretty calm (moments of cravings aside).  I wasn’t berating myself inside.  I felt confident.  I felt worth it.  

My “aha” moment of the day is that alcohol causes me to think poorly of myself.  I’m not sure if it’s physiological, or if it comes from my past, or if it’s that I’m letting myself down, or all of the above.  But I certainly don’t need that in my life anymore.  No sip of wine is worth all that noise.  

It’s only day 2 and I can’t wait to be back on day 27 and pick up where I left off.  It seems like forever from now.  But I’m glad I’m here, and that I’m writing, and I have a better idea now what I have to look forward to.  

 

Today should be Day 30, but instead, it’s Day one. Take two.

It’s taken me a while to figure out what to write about this.  I was so confident that I would succeed with this 100 Day challenge, like, no problem.  Well, I didn’t.  So I’ve been sorting out what happened these past few days.  Questioning everything.  And here I am on day one again, recommitting to a fresh 100 Days, starting today.

On Friday, I hosted our office’s annual holiday party, as many of you know.  I wrote about it several times as it was approaching because I knew it would be a challenge.  I was pretty nervous about how I would pull it off in general, let alone sober.  50 – 75 people in my house, many of them senior attorneys to me, lots of unspoken tension in our office throughout the past year, loads of booze being carted into my hands ahead of time by our generous attorney’s association… I knew going into it that it was a bad idea to take this on.  That my fledgling sobriety was totally at risk.  But it’s not like I could back out of the party; despite all the advice I read telling me to protect my sobriety first, to have an exit strategy, etc… that simply wasn’t a possibility in this situation.  If I had known that I would be taking on being sober at the time I volunteered to host the party I just wouldn’t have volunteered at all.  But I was in it, and I had to get through it.  So I changed my mind.

It was as simple as that.  On Friday, I got through a relatively smooth morning in court, tied up some loose ends, and left work early.  A co-worker met me at my house to put a turkey in the oven and I started transforming the place in preparation.  Buffed glasses, rearranged furniture, set up the bar, (danger), put out the plates, napkins, and generally worked myself into a frenzied rush to get things done on time and get myself into my dress.  Once I was finally ready, black dress on, makeup done, candles lit, I had a moment to myself.  And I thought to myself, fuck it.  I’m drinking tonight, it’s my party.  I just… changed my mind about staying sober.

It didn’t feel any more dramatic than that.  I told my husband I was having wine.  He raised an eyebrow, but he generally does not think that my drinking is near the problem that it feels like it is, internally, for me, so he was not worried.  He lets me be.  Sometimes more than I wish he would, although even if he had tried to argue with me I would have seamlessly convinced him that this was a logical decision and nothing to worry about, and that I’d go back to being alcohol free the next day.

So, I drank wine on Friday.  The first glass was, in that moment, the most crisp and delicious thing I thought I’d ever tasted.  That momentary pleasure, though, seemed fleeting.  I felt guilty for a moment.  As people arrived I let myself just not worry about it.  I had as much wine as I wanted.  I didn’t keep track.  I did make sure I drank water throughout the night.  I didn’t really get drunk.  I did get tired.  I felt heavy.  I felt a bit irritable toward the end of the night and was surprised that I felt unable to let go and really enjoy myself despite the alcohol.  Saturday I felt generally horrid, but I also have a bad cold (made the drinking decision all that much smarter!) so it was hard to tell if I was hungover or not.

Saturday I had a memorial service to attend for a family member very close to my mother.  Two hours before the service, she called and told me she was too sick to attend, and that she wanted me to speak on her behalf.  I felt shaky and didn’t have much of a voice, but I’m fairly used to public speaking so I agreed.  The experience at the church is a whole separate post in and of itself, so I’ll save it for next time.  But to cut to the chase, it was an intensely emotional day.  When we got home I immediately had a beer.  And then two or three glasses of wine.  I barely thought about it.  I thought, “I’ve already ruined 100 days.  Might as well take a couple days off.”  I felt crappy.  Sunday, the same thing happened… come 5:00, I realized there was half a bottle of wine left in the fridge.  I figured I better finish it so it wouldn’t be there anymore.

The truth is I just didn’t want to face this moment.  The redo.  The starting over.  The bummed, disappointed feeling of knowing that today should be 30 days and now I’m starting all over again.  But here I am.  And instead of feeling bummed I actually feel glad.  I feel like I was taking my sobriety for granted a little bit and still looking back on drinking with rose-colored glasses.  And over the past few days I really learned something.  I learned that all alcohol did was make me feel like I wanted more without making me feel all that good.  It wasn’t as fun as I remembered.  It didn’t feel as good as being sober.  Sure there’s that moment or two in the first couple drinks.  Sure, I felt more “normal” with a drink, like I could bond with my co-workers better, like I didn’t have to face any uncomfortable questions about myself and why I wasn’t drinking.  But in retrospect, I would rather have the feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of health, the feeling of control and confidence I felt during the 27 days I was sober.

Now, even more than before, I know what I’m doing this for.  I don’t want this anxiety I feel today that I know is a result of my alcohol intake the past few days.  Now I know for sure that it was alcohol that was causing this imbalance all along.  Now, I know that I can live without it.

So here goes, again.  Sobriety, take two.  Thanks to all of you for helping me see that life is better this way.

Day 25: Officially the longest period of sobriety I’ve experienced since… teenagerhood?

This feels like a significant achievement!!  So I’m celebrating with a cup of tea.  I am in the middle of trying really hard to kick this awful cold to the curb and today I think the end is in sight.  I was even able to return to my workout today and it improved my mood immensely. I’ve always been into working out, usually running or power yoga, lately boot camp style training classes.  I never saw any conflict in my desire to stay fit and my affinity for booze.  In fact, nothing beat a cold beer after a long, hard run.  Seriously, though.  I will miss that.

But now you know what I notice?  That “runner’s high.”  I always loved it before, but I’d often (read:  almost always) reward myself, thereby masking the runner’s high, after a workout with a beer or glass of white wine.  (In my defense, I’m an evening workout person, I never did this in the morning.  Well, at least, not on a workday.  Ha.)  The afterglow from a good workout, in and of itself, is actually pretty great.  Definitely helps in creating a feeling of wanting to stay here, in this sober place, getting my fitness back.

Had this quote on my mind today:

“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.”
― Caroline KnappDrinking: A Love Story

One thing I was always waiting for while drinking was to see that muffin top disappear!  Never could understand why my workouts weren’t enough.  Hoping that’s one thing I get to stop waiting for… or at least I know I’m actually doing what needs to be done instead of lying to myself!

So overall, today has been great.  I’m still worried about the party I’m hosting on Friday, but I’ll save that for tomorrow’s blog and keep tonight’s thoughts positive.  Took a while to feel this way so I’m gonna bask in it while it lasts.

Home sick with my thoughts

So, I don’t know about all you dear fellow sober bloggers, but I expected to feel like a million bucks as a reward for sticking to this challenge.  Today is day 24.  Which for me, means that once I get up tomorrow morning and start day 25, I will officially have been sober for longer than ever.  Well, at least since I was 21.  Probably since I was 17 or 18, but I don’t remember ever giving it any thought back then, and back then alcohol was not the only thing I was up to.

The problem I’m having today, and this is just a minor, regular old life problem, is that I’m sick with a cold.  A pretty bad one.  The kind that makes it hurt to open your eyes and swallow cold water.  The kind where you try to lie down on one side, and next thing you know you can only breathe through one nostril while the pressure mounts in the side of your head closest to the pillow, and you tolerate it as long as possible until you feel like your face is going to explode and then you turn over for the few moments of relief before the congestion settles in the other side.

So, no big deal.  I have a cold.  Whip out your tiniest violin.  I know.  But I’m just so frustrated, because I expected to be reaping the full-on rewards of this amazing self-care I’ve been working so hard at!  How could I possibly come down with a cold when I’m not even abusing my immune system, and normally I’m really very resistant to illness!  I realize this sounds ridiculous but I can’t help but feel personally affronted by the nerve of this cold to take up residence in my very well nourished, vitamin-taking, alcohol free body!  So I had to just vent a little.

On top of that, you would think, well at least being sick makes you not want to drink, right?  Wrong.  I am so bored lying around my house all day that I’ve been over thinking everything.  Like so many of you have said, the early stages are proving to be exhausting with all the thinking.   It’s like I’m actually getting on my own nerves.  Watching TV tonight, there was a scene with women getting ready to go to a dinner party and of course, drinking white wine.  I was fixated on the glass of white wine.  I could taste it.  I was insanely jealous of the woman on TV, casually drinking her wine.  If I had any wine in the house I probably would have caved.  Maybe not, I think I have more invested than that, but the craving caught me off-guard, especially since I know that if I drank even a sip my already pounding head would get so much worse!

One thing I am learning is that I need to have some strategies in place for when those moments hit.  If I’m at home with no liquor in the house, perfect.  I can get over it.  But like this Friday for example, when my house will be full of colleagues and all kinds of booze… (throwing our office holiday party… something I committed to before taking this on and probably a bad idea but too late to back out).  Yeah.  Suggestions for getting through Friday would be more than welcomed!!

For today, I’m just glad to be here, at my longest-ever sobriety date.  Cold aside, it feels pretty great.