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!!!

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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

This is not how my story will end.

As usual after a setback, I’ve procrastinated returning here to the blogging world to report another defeat. It’s hard not to feel like this story is getting old, the endless attempts I’ve made to stay sober only to disappear after a couple of weeks (sometimes not even making it that far!), then return and start over with the same, tired intentions. Part of me almost feels like it’s irresponsible to keep writing, to readers who are obviously so much better at staying sober than I am and who are apparently taking it more seriously. What could I possibly say that is helpful to anyone, when I keep failing?

That’s one way to feel. The other way to feel is that I have the power to say, “This is not how my story will end.” Yes, I have let myself down countless times since I started this journey back in November. I have changed my mind about a billion times about whether or not alcohol is a problem for me. (Which is pretty indicative of a problem, all this excruciating thinking.) Yes, after 11 days sober, I had two glasses of wine at dinner with my husband on the way to the airport to New York, and proceeded to drink every day for the past 11 days. But this doesn’t have to be the end. I can pick myself up and try again.

Every time this happens I’m learning about whether I have “a problem.” Every time I pick up drinking again, it’s because I become convinced that I’m simply being dramatic and that alcohol is not a problem for me. That I’m strong enough to prevent it from becoming a problem. That I just want to be normal and that I in fact AM normal, because most of my friends drink like I do. But every time, there are more and more hints that maybe that’s not true. When I’m not drinking, I have a front row seat to actually see people’s lack of drinking. That it’s not as big a deal as I make it out to be.

When I am drinking, I’ve started to notice how fast I drink compared to other people, and that I have to concentrate to get myself to slow down to their pace. I notice that I feel irritated when I have to pace myself in this way, and that I can’t believe how slow people drink and that sometimes their glass of wine just SITS there, untouched, for what feels like hours. I’ve noticed that each time I pick up drinking again, I drink more and more in secret. That the urge to drink secretly is more and more present and seems more and more acceptable in my own head. I’ve noticed that when I am drinking, more and more often I cannot totally remember the night and I have to piece it back together the next day. This morning, it took me about a half hour to remember what happened when we got home from dinner. When I did remember, my stomach turned a bit; I had called my mom and talked to her for at least a half an hour. I’m sure she couldn’t tell I was drunk… right?

One of the things that makes it the hardest for me to embrace that I have a problem is that no one else sees it. My husband will listen to me swear off alcohol, and he’ll promise to help me, but when I decide to have a drink he doesn’t try to stop me. He’ll ask me if I’m sure, and then let me decide. I don’t know what else I’d have him do. And this last time, it was great. We had an awesome date at a beautiful wine bar and enjoyed every minute of it. I am terrified of losing the ability to enjoy wine in that way. Especially when he doesn’t see the problem for me… but he doesn’t live inside my head and feel the inevitable pull towards the daily obsession that happens after even one casual light drinking evening. Once the “I’m drinking now” switch is flipped, it’s like I’m scared to take a day off because I’d be missing out on my drinking days that will have to come to an end again soon. How crazy is that?? So I drank each day, never too much or too crazy, but a little more each day. Until yesterday, when I was happy that my husband took the dog out for a walk around the block, so that I would have time to drink from an open wine bottle I had concealed in the wine cellar, under the guise of doing laundry downstairs. Even though we were going to dinner shortly where I could order wine, and I had already had two drinks at the pool a bit earlier.

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So yeah. I have a problem. But this is not how my story will end. So here I am again, on day one. Someday I will look back on this and think, “Remember how many times it took me of trying before I quit for good??” And someone out there will be having the same struggle. And I will understand. And I will say to them, “Your story is not over. I get you. Keep trying.”

xo