One week today and I’m taking care of me

A week!  Whew.  This week has not been easy.  I know this sounds crazy, and there are other factors (hormones/PMS, stress), but I swear I STILL don’t feel normal after last Friday’s binge.  Is it because the more sober time I string together, the more aware I am of alcohol’s effects on my body and brain?  All week I have felt off.  My days basically start out with me feeling like I slept well (always amazed at how great sober sleep is), then noticing that I still feel tired despite having slept well.  I feel foggy and slightly off.  But happy to wake up sober and with no real hangover.  Midday I feel energetic, then by 3 or 4 I start craving wine and thinking about how/why I could abort this mission.

Starting to recognize that as Sheila (my wolfie) and separating myself from her.  She keeps it up until about 8 or 9pm, at which point a switch flips and I find myself literally THRILLED to be sober.  It’s so weird.  The whole time Sheila’s in my ear, I have gripping, horrible anxiety.  My chest tightens up and my stomach is in knots.  It’s a physical reaction, totally.  All the while Sheila’s there whispering, a glass of wine will make this feeling disappear.  And I know she’s right!!!  But I also know that she’s wrong, because it would only go away temporarily but the daily anxiety would never leave.  I KNOW if I stay alcohol-free that the anxiety will start loosening its grip on me.  I know because when I have gotten to two, three, four weeks, it’s less and less.

Some of you know from reading my previous posts that we’ve been trying to conceive for a long time.   (This month’s failed attempt makes 20 months straight.)  We’ve done all the tests, we’ve done some fertility treatments, we’re currently taking a break from those but still trying.  So yesterday I was officially a day late, which had me super hopeful!!  I’m NEVER late.  But, last night, sure enough it is another negative.  We had a family BBQ to go to, which we did and I held it together pretty well.  But when we got home I dissolved into a complete mess, bawled my heart out so hard I got a nosebleed… my poor husband.  I was a total wreck.  Typically when I get the negative each month, that’s like my free ticket to a booze-a-thon because I deserve it, I’m not pregnant, and I’m sad.  No more.  I’m determined to take responsibility for my health and remain booze free to increase our chances of conceiving.  Something I should have done a long time ago, duh.

But you would NOT BELIEVE the amount of people who, when I tell them I’m not drinking because we’re trying to get pregnant, tell me that I should drink.  I’m serious.  Anything from, “well look at Sally, she drinks a ton and she gets pregnant so easy!”  Oh, thank you so much for sharing that helpful fact with me!  Since me and Sally are identical twins, that should work for me, too!  Or the whole, “you won’t get pregnant until you just relax!  When I got pregnant, my husband and I were in Vegas and I was wasted!”  Oh, how romantic and fun that must have been for you.  I’m sure that’s exactly what caused your egg to get fertilized, the booze!  Or this one, “It doesn’t have any effect in the beginning anyway and you need to just live your life and relax.  Drink till it’s pink!”  Yeah okay you moron, I’ll just disregard the studies that show a woman’s fertility is reduced by 65% when she consumes more than 3 drinks per week, since you know so many women who have gotten pregnant while drinking more than that.  I’ve been trying for 20 months, but I should just act like the woman who got pregnant on her first try, right?  UGH!  People are so insensitive.  It really surprises me that people raise an eyebrow about this.  They wouldn’t question my decision to quit smoking for the same reason.  Or to start taking a prenatal vitamin.  Or even to quit caffeine!!!  But talking about quitting booze before the actual pregnancy and people get almost like, taken aback.

Ok that was a bit off-topic, but the point of this is that my husband is in a wedding this weekend, and we were supposed to leave this morning to go to a pool party, then the wedding rehearsal, then stay in a hotel and go to the wedding tomorrow.  Everything in my being was screaming, “Don’t do this!!!”  I just feel so fragile today.  Luckily, my unbelievably supportive husband encouraged me to stay home and rest.  I’ll head to the wedding tomorrow, but for today I get to stay home and hide, and read, and write here, and take care of me.  I have lots of tea and a cooking project to get to.  I have a 4 month old puppy to love on and a good book to read.  I’m flooded with relief that I didn’t force myself into a social situation that would have been stressful for me (I don’t really know this group of people and being in a social situation, in a bathing suit, just did not sound like a situation that wouldn’t have me running straight to the bar.).  So I get to celebrate my one week today by having the house to myself.  I’m going to get a workout in, catch up on my shows from the week, read, take my dog out to play, and that’s that.

Feeling safe with this plan.

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The longest 4 days…

So normally when I slip up, my brain switches to this voice that says, “Yes!! We get a break from all this sober nonsense, let’s live it up for a few days! We’re in ‘not caring’ mode!” And then I proceed to drink for several days, weeks, in a row before I feel so utterly horrific that I have to face up to the quitting again.

This time, I drank one evening. Five days ago. And the next morning, I wanted to kill myself. I was gripped with anxiety so severe I was sweating, had trouble breathing, was paranoid, couldn’t move off the couch, was literally gripping the blanket with white knuckles. All day, all I could think was that just one beer would take the edge off and I’d feel better. But I DIDN’T DO IT!!! I’m so relieved. Here’s the crazy thing. My alcohol-infused brain likes to refer to this approach (the one where I drink beer to take the edge off a bad hangover) as the “taper method.” And to be honest, it sometimes kinda works. The lie is that I usually don’t really taper, I mean I’ll have less for a few days, maybe even only two glasses of wine on one or two nights, but I usually carry on through and end up with a few more big nights in there. This time I had the one night, and it ended so bad that I stuck to my resolve and made it through day one. And two, three, and four. Today is day four and it is close enough to bedtime that I’m in the clear. I think.

But you know what’s crazy?? I STILL feel hungover. Not like a headache, not nauseated or anything. But I feel this lingering anxiety and self-doubt. It doesn’t feel like me. I think the “taper-method,” when it does work effectively, masks the reality of how long it takes me to get back to feeling 100% normal after a binge. (For clarification as to Friday night’s events, I intended to have one or two glasses of wine… I drank my first one twice as fast as my friend, so refilled first, that’s two within the first 30 minutes… then had two more of the other bottle, then finished the bottle while everyone else had maybe a glass or two I had four or five. This is before dinner. Then with dinner, had two HUGE glasses of red wine, this bartender seriously pours me like 12 ounce glasses, so I suppose that would actually be 4 glasses.) So the conclusion I’m drawing here is, if you drink 8 or 9 glasses of red wine in a night, 4 or 5 of which were consumed prior to eating, you are going to feel like a massive piece of cat shit for several days afterward.

Hoping tomorrow feels a little better. Each day is a little better. But it sure is starting to seem less and less worth it to throw away three perfectly great days to work on my business. It is startling to see how long it actually takes me to get back on track with life… with exercise, sleep, feeling like a human, having energy, feeling clear-headed. I feel like the more I continue to slip and drink, the more severe the consequences feel. Is this a real phenomena? Does it mean my alcoholism is progressing? It’s a scary thought.

This time I’m doing something different and WAY out of my comfort zone by seeing a therapist who specializes in alcohol dependence. I actually had a consultation this morning and my first real session will be on the 10th. So… that’s pretty good motivation to stay sober until then. To be honest, and this sounds backward, I would love to be honest with a professional and have them just tell me flat out: You MUST quit drinking, you have a serious problem. Most people would probably want to hear that they DON’T have a problem, but here’s the thing. No one in my life thinks I have a problem. My husband is starting to believe me, but the thing is that a lot of the “problem” is how freaking crazy I feel in my own head. How my biochemistry feels off after drinking and I suffer extreme depression and anxiety. But at the same time I feel like, I’m stronger than this, I can’t say I have a problem because I wouldn’t be being genuine. For some reason I think I’d be “faking it” if I said I had a problem, or that my problem is not as serious as other’s, because my life is together, I’m driven, I have a house and a good marriage, and a career, etc. But the crazy feelings are still there, and the insane, child-like grief I feel at the thought of giving up is there… so that’s something. Something that I’ve finally decided has to be addressed in a professional’s office. And I can’t help it, I want her to say to me, “I hear you, and in my professional opinion you should quit drinking.” Because then I feel like I would KNOW. You know? I would be able to tell my whacked-out, whining for wine self that this is serious, and drinking is not an option.

Writing this is making me want to run screaming to the wine cellar and grab a bottle of pinot, so I’m going to sign off, go make some peanut butter toast for dinner, and some tea. And then do a little night time yoga and get into bed and hide.