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.

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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.

Sunday morning, three weeks in, and some gritty realities

Mornings are my very favorite part of this journey.  The part when I get to open my eyes to a new day and feel accomplished that I didn’t drink the night before.  The feeling of a clear head.  The energy I’m slowly regaining.  The view we have from our house is something I feel grateful for every day… we are up on a hill and can see the sunrise and the sunset both from the way we’re positioned, at least at this time of year.  Mornings make me feel humble and grateful that I’m making a change.  

This morning I still feel those things, but I also woke up with a bad cold and bad cramps.  I’m fighting not to have a bad attitude.  I mean, I should be celebrating the fact that today, I have three whole weeks sober!!  But for some reason I feel a little bitter.  Like, I’m being so good, not drinking, that I couldn’t possibly have to deal with feeling sick!  Ha.  Did I expect that if I gave up alcohol that I’d never get a cold or cramps again?  If only!

This is fast approaching the longest I’ve ever gone without a drink (24 days, last year).  I realized this weekend that I’m really nervous about reaching this point.  I’m terrified that my resolve to stick with this is going to crumble when I get around the same time period I abstained before.  Not sure why I have this fear, since this time is completely different.  When I gave up for 24 days, I had intended to give up alcohol for 40 days as part of a yoga program:  40 days of yoga, meditation, clean eating and reflection.  The program encouraged to you give up sugar, meat, caffeine, or whatever you personally felt had any sort of grip on you.  So naturally I gave up alcohol… for a little over half the time.  I’ve done the 40 day program a couple of other times, and I’ve never managed the full 40 days, in fact 24 was the most.  

The difference in my thinking is profound, though, this time.  Then, I was willing myself not to have the glass of wine I wanted so desperately, solely for the detox benefits.  I had no intention at that time of giving up as a lifestyle change.  It was only meant to be temporary.  Of course I have entertained the thought for at least 10 years that my drinking is problematic, at some times more than others, but I still could not fathom the thought of giving up for good.  That knowledge that it was temporary allowed me to pat myself on the back after abstaining for a “substantial” period of time and reward myself with a couple glasses.  I’d think that would be it and I’d continue to just have a couple glasses a week.  But once I drank one day, daily drinking resumed immediately.  

Friday night I really struggled, and in the midst of doing everything I knew how to do to distract myself I knew that one thing I should do is get some gritty realities down in black and white so that I could remember why this is important.  Here are a few of my worst moments, in all their ugliness:

(1)  A Sunday morning about 8 years ago, I vividly remember waking up completely naked on a bare carpet floor with no blanket, next to a guy I was “friends” with (who was not naked, btw), and having absolutely no memory of anything that had happened in that room.  The last thing I had remembered was dancing with him downstairs, maybe making out a little.  Nothing more.  Zero.  I remember feeling horrified and vulnerable.  Naked.  Finding my clothes, trying to play it cool, shaking all over from embarrassment and the worst hangover of my life (well, ok, I’ve had a lot of those “worst” ones).  I remember going to breakfast with the group of girls who had all stayed over that night (we were at a house party/weekend thing with several friends) and confessing to my best friend at the time that I had no idea whether I’d had sex with the guy or not.  Realizing later that I had.  Feeling like I really had to get my drinking in check.  Forgetting about that feeling by 5pm that evening.  

(2)  Waking up at a concert realizing I had just thrown up all over the chair next to me.  Luckily I had wandered off to a place in the way back balcony and no one was around.  Having no idea where my friends were or how long I’d been passed out up there.  Finding the rest of my group eventually, and pretending like nothing had happened.  

(3)  Getting into screaming, ugly fights with my ex-boyfriend where I could not let anything go and feeling desperate and crazy.  Going to bed with my eyes so swollen that I had to make up excuses for my appearance the next day, or I’d just call in sick to work.  Alcohol prevented me from seeing the truth about how volatile the relationship was and kept me hanging on to a person who’s drinking was even more problematic than my own.  My self-esteem was in the toilet.  

(4)  Constant evenings after work home alone, drinking a bottle of wine to myself.  Making phone calls and talking to friends for hours.  Never thinking that anyone noticed I was drinking.  Who knows?  Maybe they did maybe they didn’t.  I was pretty good at maintaining (except in situations like the above… so maybe that feeling of being good at maintaining was a delusion?).  Calling my mom in that state.  I can literally hear my own voice… too loud, too emotional, too intense.  Waking up feeling sick.  Vowing to take a night off.  Never taking it.  

Ok.  That’s all the honesty I can handle facing at the moment.  I’m terrified to post this but I also feel compelled to tell the truth about my life with alcohol and some of the things that have happened during my 15 years of drinking.  There are a plethora of other, awful moments, but #1 haunts me the most.  In recent years my behavior has improved, but drinking still triggers the pain of all the stupid, crazy mistakes I’ve made.  

Cold, cramps and all, I’ll take this sober Sunday morning any day.  

 

Day 20 — digging in.

Things I learned today:

(1)  Getting off work on a Friday is a huge trigger.  In my post-work relief, there is NOTHING I’d rather do than meet up with friends for a glass of wine.  Or at least, I have yet to learn what else I’m supposed to want to do.  Today I had to literally grit my teeth, cry, pray, and make deals with myself not to do what I wanted to do.  I seriously questioned my decision to do 100 days.  The voice in my head is all like, “Really?  You are really doing this?  This isn’t some sort of joke?  You’ve done this long enough.  You proved yourself.  Quit overreacting and just give yourself a break.”

(2)  In order to do this, I’m going to have to get real.  Which means, I’m going to have to remind myself why I’m here in the first place.  Which means coming clean and reminding myself of some of the messes I’ve created as a result of alcohol.  

(3)  That in order to do #2, I had to revise this blog a bit.  For one, I have to do this anonymously.  Only a few of you saw the original version with my photos on it, so I figure if I switch it up now, I’m good to go.  Depending how this all goes I might be ready to own up to my issues with my name out there, but for now I know that I’ll be more honest and real here if I’m not worried about colleagues/friends/family finding this site.  

(4)  That I feel really isolated in this thing.  The thought of AA puts me off (personally — nothing at all bad to say about it but I can’t buy into the “disease” and “powerless” aspects) but I’m also finding myself wishing I had more sober friends to talk to about what I’m experiencing.  Turns out, almost every single one of my closest friends are pretty heavy drinkers.  No one would ever suspect me of having a drinking problem.  I didn’t get wasted in public (at least not very often and even then, I always held it together pretty well until I was home).  The problem rests with me and how I feel after drinking.  With the extra drinks I would sneak in before and after going out.  With my awareness that I started to drink faster and more than even my friends.  With my concerns for the way I’ve treated myself over the years.  With my health.  And with the way alcohol has chipped away at my self-esteem.  I anticipate that most of my friends, if I told them what was going on, would think I was overreacting, being dramatic, and/or they would “reassure” me that I really don’t have an issue (this is not helpful to my resolve).  So, I really need to do this, to have an outlet and sources of support outside of my usual circle of friends.  

And something else I kept thinking about today:  How much friends who are still drinking will tell you that you don’t have a problem, in an attempt to make you feel better about yourself and return to drinking.  I think this particularly bothers me because I was totally that person, and now I fear it being directed at me.  When friends of mine have questioned their drinking in the past, I remember literally rolling my eyes.  Telling them they were overreacting.  Even talking about them with other drinking friends about how they were being uptight, reactionary, boring, high-and-mighty, holier-than-thou… oh yeah.  I’m ashamed to admit that I couldn’t stand the thought of even having to hang out with a bunch of non-drinkers.  It’s actually painful for me to write this and realize this.  Even now as I’m writing, I’m thinking how fearful I am that I will be that person who others are annoyed by.  That I will be the person I used to roll my eyes at.  That I’ll be looked at as totally boring, a priss, stuck-up, and no fun.  It sounds so lame but it’s a serious fear and I’m feeling it pretty hard on this Friday night.  The last thing I want to have to do is justify my decision to friends.  Yet in a way, I do feel this need to tell my story, even if only in writing, even if no one reads it, just to get it out.  To prove to myself that I’m making the right decision.  To strengthen my resolve.  

For tonight, I think the only solution is to get in bed and try to sleep this day away.  Mornings are my favorite part of this journey so I’m trying to stay focused on how grateful I’ll be tomorrow if I do not give in.  I’ll try not to worry so much about what others might think of me at some unknown time in the future.  Because why do I care so much anyway?  

Guess that’s something I’ll have to dig into.  

 

 

Fitness and booze

Today is my 19th day and I had a little epiphany during boot camp class tonight.  Well, a couple little epiphanies.  I need these positive revelations to keep on coming, because that urge to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home is far from gone.

The first revelation was how much easier it is to actually stick to my workout schedule.  At the risk of setting myself up for failure, I have to say, that when my workout is not competing with happy hour, I’m much more likely to go.  And, I feel so good afterward that it really is kind of it’s own happy hour.  Especially when my workout consists of classes, where there are other people getting in shape with me.  Good motivation.  Before, even if I had the best intentions to work out, if anyone invited me to happy hour I immediately had an excuse to get out of my workout.  I would happily ditch it for drinks and snacks with buddies.  A couple hours later I’d get home, buzzed, exhausted, probably would have another glass of wine, and I’d generally feel like crap that night and the next morning.  Now, I look forward to the workout, happy hour’s not an option, and when I get home I feel great and sleep like a baby.  Duh.

Workout = 1.  Happy Hour = zero.

Revelation number two was along the same lines and seems totally obvious.  But I am realizing now how totally incompatible my drinking habits were with ever reaching my fitness goals.  When you suffer from a crazy hangover for at least one day of the weekend, therefore missing a workout, that inevitably leads to bad food choices, hair of the dog, lethargy, and missing a couple more days before getting back in the swing of things.  That’s like half the week, wasted!  Yet somehow I never truly faced this fact, always feeling sorry for myself for not achieving the results I felt I should see for working out and eating right half the week.  (Since I’m being honest here, even on most of my “good” days I’d plow through a decent amount of wine, I just never thought it “counted.”)  I’m loving the ease I feel around actually doing my workouts now.  I mean, it’s a hell of a lot easier to hit boot camp when you don’t have a hangover.  Am I right?  (Like I said, not rocket science here, but that’s how my denial system was working.)

What’s also easier = not grabbing extra snacks at night because I’m up watching junk TV with wine.  But oh, how I loved that feeling of checking out for the day.  It is so easy to look back on that little escape with rose-colored glasses and ignore the waking up at 2 a.m., unable to get back to sleep, the foggy-headed mornings, the fatigue.  No, the cold hard fact is that being responsible for myself and making healthy choices is just not as hard as I always made it out to be.  Turns out it’s not all that hard at all without wine in the way.  I’m surprised at myself for being surprised here.  Seems like a no-brainer.  But feels good to be honest with myself for once, and take stock of the ways booze was getting in the way of LIFE.

With that, I’m planning to ramp up my boot camp attendance this month and set a goal to lose five pounds by the new year.  Totally do-able and maybe by sharing that goal I’ll be even more motivated to stick to it.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep and 6 a.m. class tomorrow morning.

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.