No alcohol required.

On my way to the hospital today to see my friend’s brand new baby, I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up flowers and a card.  And… obviously it seemed like the perfect occasion to grab a bottle of bubbles!!

Oh.  Right.  Not doing that.

Not doing “that,” that drinking thing, makes me feel like I’m not allowed to celebrate.  Like, how am I supposed to celebrate, anyway?  Fellow sober bloggers, I would cherish your suggestions and advice here.  I know I’m probably supposed to easily feel like a piece of cake is a celebration.  Or… sparkling apple cider?  Ugh.  I’m out of ideas.  How to mark one of life’s turning points?  Celebrate a birthday?  A wedding?  A holiday party (like the one I offered to host this year for my office prior to deciding to take on this 100 day challenge… don’t even get me started here, I’ll save that for another post…)?  An anniversary?  I can feel the panic setting in just trying to imagine these things.

But then, my mind says, that’s ridiculous.  Because, life.  That’s really the celebration, isn’t it.  I’m supposed to be learning how to celebrate life.  To realize that togetherness, laughter, and love is what makes a celebration.  Seems hard to imagine this applying to most situations I consider cause for commemoration.  But then.  Then I walked into that hospital room.  I held that wee little love in my arms, and looked at my best friend with admiration for what she’d just accomplished.  I felt a glow.  It was love.  It was laughter at baby’s little wiggles.  It was life.

And it was a celebration.  No alcohol required.


Day 16 and getting hit from all sides

Ok.  I have not had a glass of wine.  And I am crawling out of my skin.  So I’m going to write instead.  And make some tea.  And try to just get my brain to shut the hell up.

Today started out great.  I woke up early and got to work ahead of time.  I completed some projects I had to finish before my court appearances.  So far, so good.  I felt proud of myself for being on day 16 and not really thinking about drinking.  Well, thinking about it, but only in the sense of, I’m so glad I’m actually doing this and feeling good!!

When I came home for lunch I spent some time with my dog, ate some leftovers, and kept my eye on my phone because my best friend has been in labor all day and is about to bring a baby girl into this world!!  I am worried about her because it’s been a long day of laboring and she still has hours to go.  She will be fine, but it has me on edge a bit.

Around lunch my mood went from great to not so great.  For no real reason that I could pinpoint other than a sense of restlessness.  I mean, let’s talk a minute about this newly sober thing.  It’s causing me to think a lot about how I’m going to stay occupied.  And I’ve noticed I feel this compulsion to fill every minute.  Anyone with me here?  To suddenly relocate all my creative impulses and act on them, to have a project going at all times.  And I wonder, is this part of why I enjoy drinking so much?  To quiet that part of me that is driven to be achieving a goal with every spare minute?  Relaxing without drinking wine is a totally foreign concept to me.  Like, what’s the point of “relaxing” if I’m not socializing with a glass of wine?  I can’t just sit around wasting time, right?  I have work to do!  Laundry!  Dishes!  A new crocheting project!  Emails to answer!  Drawers to organize!  With a glass of wine, this obsessive need to be productive just melts away.  I can enjoy sitting.  Relaxing.  It’s the only way I’ve known how to relax for years.  And at this moment, I am looking back on that kind of relaxation with a whole lot of nostalgia.  And fear.  What if I don’t get to do that again???

I’m trying to focus on the big picture, to remember that ultimately, I pay for that moment with a lot of extra anxiety the next day.  And let’s be real, hanging out at home watching TV with three big glasses of wine is a HUGE waste of time!!  I just don’t notice the waste when I have a nice wine fuzz.  But right now that’s hard to remember.  Especially now.  Because we just had to rush our dog, Sunday, to the emergency vet because she was acting funny, salivating, trying to throw up but nothing coming out even though her belly has food in it.  We feared bloat and rushed her in.  Now she’s staying overnight to be monitored, and we had to fork out $1,100 already, just for the overnight stay and the fluids and x-rays!  Not the kind of financial stress one needs with Christmas approaching.  Not to mention the anxiety caused by the worry for her, all alone and scared in the hospital without us, feeling sick.  😦  It’s almost more than I can bear.  When we left her, we went to get sushi and I wanted a glass of sauvignon blanc.  Bad.  I tried to settle for hot tea, only they didn’t have any decaf tea.  Grrrrr.  So, I had a glass of water.  And I apologized for my bitchy face to the server who told me there was no decaf tea.  Blamed it on my fear about our dog who’s at the emergency and was immediately forgiven.

I am not going to drink because drinking will not help.  But hot tea will.  I think  And so will writing.  So here I am.  Getting hit from all sides and coping.  And tomorrow will be better for it.

No More Aftermath

Last night I had an insane dream.  In fact, I’ve had a lot more dreams in general since ditching the booze.  Which is cool.  But my subconscious is definitely trying to work some things out I figure.  Like last night.

I dreamed that my husband and I were in this jungle land, only it was fantastical, with creepy faces coming out of the canopy and looking down at us as we moved along.  Think Avatar meets Land of the Lost, with a little Headless Horseman mixed in.  And maybe some Jim Henson scary puppet faces.  We were on a journey to unravel a mystery.  We had learned that I had spent five years during my twenties in a coma, and that I had been sexually assaulted while in the coma.  It was our job to help find out by who, and learn what had actually happened so that I could heal.

Woah.  I mean, woah.  In the context of thinking a lot about my drinking habits throughout my twenties and thirties up to now, and reflecting on what mistakes I made and what I lost, this is deep shit.  I mean, it’s kind of true, isn’t it?  That I let myself walk through life in something resembling a coma.  That I was never fully cognizant of the consequences of some very risky choices.  That I certainly did things which I later regretted and that I am not fully healed from.  All in the name of fun.

It was so easy then to write it all off as fun.  A party.  We would laugh if someone got sick.  We would laugh at the stupid things we said or did.  We would laugh about hookups with boys who’s names we couldn’t remember and who we would give labels instead.  “Polish guy.”  “Cell phone guy.”  And don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a bit wild and free in your youth.  I don’t have a problem with that.  But for me personally, there were instances where it was a problem.  Where I woke up feeling disgusted with myself and angry at the world, and vowed to take better care of myself.  Those times chipped away at my self esteem, even if I didn’t realize that was the affect when it was happening.

Once when I was about 26, I had been in a bit of a downward spiral, partying too much on the weekends and dragging through the weeks.  Putting myself in situations I should not have been in.  Acting with a general lack of self respect.  And it got to be too much.  At the new year, I had had enough and I flew to Seattle to be with a friend of mine from childhood who is calm and soothing to me.  I journaled.  I questioned everything and seriously thought about whether I had an alcohol problem.  I took a “serious” (three week) break from drinking.  I promised myself I’d live a different life.  And for some time, I did.  I calmed down.  It was a turning point for me.  I started exercising and drank very moderately for the next year.

It is interesting to realize that was TEN years ago.  Where I hit a sort of turning point (I don’t like the word “bottom”, but that’s kind of what it was.)  And here I am again, ten years later, at another turning point.  I certainly was no longer putting myself in risky situations with my drinking.  In fact, I am living the dream, doing well in my career, living in a beautiful house with the love of my life and our amazing dog, and I have my family.  My behavior improved since that day ten years ago.  But my drinking only improved temporarily.  And the thing I’ve realized is, that even when I drink the way everyone else is drinking, (i.e., 3-4 glasses of wine with dinner, maybe a nightcap), I seem to feel worse than they do.  I beat myself up.  I worry.  I really feel the hangover and the insomnia and the foggy head, and the guilt.  And I’m slowly making a connection that for me, drinking brings up the past.  It makes me feel bad about myself, because I used to make very bad choices while drinking.  Does that even make sense?  It’s like opening up an old wound and pouring salt in it.

Of course it’s easy to forget that this is the aftermath when a beautiful, crisp sauvignon blanc presents itself, or a soft, silky pinot noir with some cheese… I’ll never not crave that.  But the aftermath is starting to overshadow the pleasure for me.  So when I’m in situations where the wine is calling, I will do as Lucy Rocca suggests in “Calling time on wine o’clock” and “play the movie to the end.”  The end of the movie for me is guilt, headache, fog, shame, insomnia, perhaps crying or picking a fight with my husband… no thank you.

No more aftermath.

Two weeks today…

Today I woke up early.  On a Saturday.  I saw the sunrise.  I did a killer workout.  My head felt clear and I noticed my eyes looked bright.  I think I am starting to feel like myself again, and I like it.

After helping my cousin pick out her wedding dress (the most perfect dress I could imagine for her!), I helped my husband pick out office furniture, then met some friends for — “drinks.”  I was a tiny bit nervous about what I was going to say, about how I’d feel being out without ordering wine, etc.  Luckily the girls I was meeting are friends from my old yoga studio, and it’s pretty normal for them to not be drinking off and on for whatever reason.  I ordered a pomegranate soda and an appetizer and just relaxed.

And… it was fine.  I am not going to kid myself and think that this means I am going to feel fine every time, or with every friend.  I’m also not going to lie and say I didn’t have a few moments where I longed to at least just take a sip of their wine.  But I didn’t.  And I realized that I still laughed, connected, and loved their company.  That it really wasn’t that big of a deal.  That I could just be me.

Then I got in my car and drove home, worry-free.

Not too bad.  Week three, here I come.

Fitbody boot camp

photo (3)

Guys!  I just finished this workout.  Like, all the way through.  I wanted to die.  I nearly passed out halfway through the burpees.  But my awesome trainer egged me on and counted me through the last twenty.  It was excruciating.  But I finished!

I signed up for Fitbody bootcamp (they are a franchise, and have several locations) about six weeks ago.  Since then I’ve lost 6 pounds and around 4% body fat!  The workouts are only a half hour, which is something I felt I could commit to in my busy schedule.  I hit a few bumps in the first couple of weeks due to getting sick and being in trial, so I’ve really only been going 3-4 times per week for the past two weeks.  But I am feeling so much stronger already.  The trainers are awesome and you get a meal plan and everything!

So this is my latest workout “thing.”  Sometimes it’s yoga, sometimes it’s running, because I get bored easily and like to mix it up.  To be honest, sometimes it’s “nothing,” too… I can easily slip into laziness!  But for now this is motivating me.  My trainer and I set a goal for me to be at 18% body fat by my next birthday (which will be… 37.  Holy crap I am getting old.)  I’ve already gone from 26 to 22.5 percent!  So I am on my way.  Thanks to fitbody.  Love those guys.

The 100 Day Challenge (Day 14)

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, 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.