Speechless?

That’s how I’ve felt the past few days.  I want to write, but I feel a sense of exhaustion about trying to record the events of the past few days.  I’ve been keeping my head down, trudging forward and keeping my eye on my first big goal, which will be accomplished tomorrow:  30 days!!  I haven’t seen that number since sometime last year when I made it to 32.  32 is my all-time record, from age 17 to now, at 37.  20 years of never stringing together more than one month… it seems impossible that this is true, and yet I can’t remember a time when I would have.  I never thought there was a real problem until age 27.  Actually now that I think of it, though, I may have compiled a month or two or three at that age.  I did have a phase of really trying to cut way back/clean up.  But I don’t remember counting days or taking note of how long it had been… it simply wasn’t a part of my life for a little while, as I had been making an effort to live a bit healthier and I was dating someone who was into fitness and didn’t drink.

Because, I was always a master chameleon.  Not really knowing who I was, I was pretty good at adopting whatever characteristics whoever I was dating found attractive.  I lived for that approval.  Most relationships, drinking made this morphing process feel totally natural.  One thing that makes this sobriety thing easier for me now, is that I finally AM in a relationship where I feel authentic, loved, and whole.  It makes a huge difference to my ability to not feel so exposed and raw… I’m quite sure I couldn’t have done this in previous relationships where I was so desperately trying to make things work that were never meant to be.

The past few days have been rough but also have shown a big, bright spotlight on my emotional stability.  I am shocked at how healthily I’ve been able to process things that normally would have me hysterical.  Now, being sober, it’s so much easier to take a few breaths, assess the situation, go for a walk, think rationally about how to handle it.  Who knew?  For example, I had an incident the other day, after driving home through stressful traffic, where my dog (she’s a Great Dane) jumped out of my car without her leash when we got home — normally okay, but she for some reason has a thing about my neighbor and she charged right toward her, running and barking and then jumping around her and growling… it was awful!!  Our neighbor is like the cutest, classiest, nicest elderly woman who has been quite patient with our dog in the past, trying to befriend her on several occasions.  And our dog is such a big baby, not aggressive at all except with this woman she gets weird!  I don’t think she would actually hurt her, but at the same time I know she’s still a dog and anything can happen.  So I’m watching in horror and holding our other dog back, yelling for the dog to come back and she’s not, and it seemed to go on forever but it was probably in reality just a few seconds.

I got the dogs in the house and yelled out how sorry I was.  I reprimanded the dog and then had to steady myself for a few minutes; I was totally shook up, my heart was racing, and I felt like such a jerk for having let her off the leash even though she is normally trustworthy.  I debated for a few minutes what to do; this neighbor is overly gracious about the situation but she certainly could have called and reported it or just generally made some sort of a scene.  Me being normally terrified of confrontation, I was sure that in my drinking life, I would have just let it lie and not done anything else.  But I calmed myself down and did the right thing by going next door and checking on her to make sure she was alright.  She was shook up and I assured her I would be more careful.  We ended up having a nice chat and I felt so much better having apologized and being able to assure her that I would take it seriously and prevent further incidents.

I don’t know why this felt so significant except that I noticed this:  Although I feel I’m hiding a bit in sobriety, I’m not actually hiding from the things that matter.  This mattered.  And this, I would have hid from had I been nursing a hangover and feeling all paranoid and shaky.  Instead, I did the right thing.  I’m not hiding from real life.  I’m only hiding from my previous drinking life and that’s okay.  That life isn’t serving me.  This is, because I left a bad situation feeling good about my ability to rectify it.

30 days tomorrow!!!

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.

Wow, it’s been a long time…

I knew I had been gone for a while, but didn’t realize it had been two and a half months since my last post! A LOT has happened in the last while. A lot of good stuff. I haven’t been sober, at least not the whole time. I’ve had more stops and starts. Some drinking days and some sober days. But for some reason, I couldn’t make a decision about whether to make those sober days “official,” and keep going, or to just go with the flow and see how drinking just fit back into my life.

I have had so much going on over the past two months that there have been times I wasn’t paying any attention to alcohol at all, days when I didn’t drink and didn’t want to or didn’t even think about it. I seem to have progressed in my ability to moderate more of the time. The tricky part is, though, that it’s not all of the time. And I don’t seem to have control over which times I end up drinking too much and which times I can easily stop after two glasses. So, same old story in that arena. I guess the fact that I’m under less stress, having left the lawyer gig in the past, helps. I don’t feel the same need to drink for stress relief. It’s less a part of my lifestyle, since I’m not around fellow colleagues going to happy hour, etc. Instead, I’ve started two businesses, related to health and wellness. So I’ve got quite a good focus on staying healthy these days.

It’s not enough. I think I hoped that the urge to drink would just naturally fade away as I embraced everything I’ve been learning in the health and nutrition world. Nope, it sure didn’t. And I know it’s hypocritical of me to counsel people about what they’re putting in their bodies when I can’t seem to get my own alcohol consumption under control.

Anyway my point is, I’ve been in cruise control. Nothing really bad has happened in the last two months, in fact my life has propelled forward in the right direction in lots of ways. But I sense impending danger if I don’t recommit to this. Not only that, I know I’ll never reach my potential in my new businesses if I don’t quit drinking. And to top it all off, I know, just in this deep down way, that I won’t get pregnant unless I quit drinking. I just have this gut feeling. And maybe I won’t anyway, but at least I’ll know that it wasn’t because I didn’t give sobriety a fair shot. I’m tired of beating myself up on that front. I want the best possible chance even though our odds are slim.

I think what woke me up to the fact that I really still do need to give sobriety a chance was my 20 year high school reunion. My high school best friend came to visit and we went to the reunion together. She barely drinks… for her, two glasses of wine does her in and she has a hangover (say what??). I told her I envied her and I wished I was the kind of person that was satisfied after half a glass of wine. She didn’t say anything and I wondered what she thought of my drinking… not that she knows really. But I’m always conscious of how much more I drink than her when we get together. So we go to the reunion. And it’s really fun, more fun than I expected. Nothing bad happens. I reconnect with old friends. I make lots of trips to the bar. More than my friends. We get a ride home. No big deal. But I remember being in the kitchen afterward, talking with her, rambling… I don’t really remember what I was talking about, but I’m quite sure that I was obviously drunk, especially to her with her one or two glasses all night.

In the morning we were talking, and after something I said she told me, “yeah, you were saying that last night.” In that way that sober people gently remind you that you’ve already told that story. And it’s not that big of a deal, but I was acutely aware of my behavior at that point. And that I don’t want to be that person, the one who can’t remember what she was talking about the night before, who repeats herself. Because you can’t take that person seriously. And I was talking about my goals for moving my businesses forward and ideas for what I want to offer in this world. I realized, those goals and dreams will be nothing but that, if I don’t get my shit together. If I don’t walk my talk. I’ll never make any of it happen if I don’t take proper care of myself. And I’m tired. Tired of feeling hungover, even mildly. That foggy head, that lack of motivation, that mild paranoia.

Saturday night was one of those nights where I thought I hadn’t had much to drink at all, but when I woke up with the familiar sweaty angst at 2:00 a.m., I knew I didn’t have a realistic view of how much was too much. I replayed the night in my head and didn’t like my behavior. Again, nothing crazy, just not healthy. Not necessary.

And so I floated quietly into Day 1 yesterday. Ironically, Belle emailed to check in on me on that very day, even though I’d been quietly away from her 100 Day Challenge for a couple of months. Weird how that timing works isn’t it? Today is day 2. I am clinging to the hope that I will persevere this time, but the truth is that this is the super easy part for me. Well okay, it’s not easy. But I can press on for a while normally, a week at least, sometimes two, less often three, and a couple of times I’ve made it to 30 days. But that’s where shit falls apart. I don’t want that to happen this time. But I suppose thinking about that now, on day 2, is useless stress and I should just focus on today.

Sometimes I really wonder if I’m crazy. I really have no idea if I’m an alcoholic or not. How does one decide this? I mean, I have a fair amount of control over it, just not all the time. I don’t get crazy. I do have an off switch even if it’s not as early as I’d like it to be. It’s rare that I drink until I pass out. I don’t generally get sick or miss work or do anything dangerous or tragic. At least not anymore. But then why does it take up so much headspace? Why do I find it almost impossible to go without my drinks, even if it is just two or three? I really hate the label alcoholic, and those who truly believe themselves alcoholics seem to be so SURE. I know that it would be disrespectful of me to call myself an alcoholic if I wasn’t sure. But then, I obviously can’t quit drinking on my own. So where does that leave me? Does anyone actually know the answer to this question about themselves?

Anyway that’s where my head’s at. Kind of scrambled up since it’s only day 2 and I still feel hungover from the weekend. I’m feeling really over it, and really ready to move forward. Here’s hoping I can hang on this time. I truly missed all your kind voices of support. Keep em coming. Glad to be back here.

xo
GOTL