Thanks for joining me!
There is only one time that is important. Now. It is the only time when we have any power.
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
Thanks for joining me!
There is only one time that is important. Now. It is the only time when we have any power.
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
Three days ago, I had a dream about someone who was once very important to me.
It was a peaceful dream in which I had an opportunity to “let go” of several bad feelings towards this person who I have felt “wronged” me in the past.
Here is the weird part.
Yesterday, I had to travel a new way to work, due to circumstances beyond my control.
Well, on my way, I drove by an “old woman” walking down the street (35F weather – it was cold y’all). She was in a neighborhood and seemed to not be close to a destination that I could tell. I suspected she was walking to the local convenient store at the end of the long street. If so, she had a long walk ahead of her.
Now, I know if she is walking in this weather with her purse on her arm that she is not “choosing” to do so. If I were in that situation, I would hope someone safe would turn around and ask me if I needed a lift. With that in mind, I turned around and stopped to ask her if she needed a ride somewhere.
She said – “I saw you and thought that was you – thanks, yeah, I’m going to the corner store up the street and then to work from there.”
So do I know her? She seems to know me. I honestly didn’t recognize her until she got into the car.
Yes. I know her. She is:
a.) not an old woman, but a couple years younger than me – which kind of threw me off – is this how people see me? as an old woman?? and
b.) an old mutual friend of someone that I was very close to (the person in that dream I mentioned previously).
We caught up and she told me about her kids, I told her about mine. I took her to corner store and bought her a coffee.
And I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I am just amazed at how the universe works.
I really thought about why.
Why was she put in my path so soon after the dream?
What was I meant to learn from that encounter?
Here is what I took away:
We are all here to impact one another.
We are in each others’ lives for a reason.
Whether that reason is to offer or be offered the ride.
Whether you are thirsty or the one with water.
We are designed to teach and learn from each other.
And even the painful lessons are still valuable.
It made me evaluate what I learned, from that “dream” person, in real life.
From them I learned to be a softer, more vulnerable human. Previously, my knee-jerk reaction was always to be so hard, so self-protective and defensive. I was taught that letting go of your fear and allowing yourself to be fully loved and to fully give love does make you vulnerable to pain, but real love is ALWAYS worth it.
I’m grateful for the lesson and happy to have the reminder.
Happy Holidays, folks. May your lessons be painless and your blessings be plentiful.
As always: stay safe, stay sober, stay sane – or do you best. That’s all we can do.
Strong Women are like Corvettes.
Everyone thinks they want one. That is, until they get one. Both seem like a lot of fun, from the outside. They can move very fast, seem to rule the road, and take the curves of life in stride. In many cases, their power alone can make them beautiful.
But be warned before bringing either into your life: like Corvettes, powerful women are a lot of upkeep. Fixing either once broken can come at great personal cost. All this maintenance can make them a bit of a pain-in-the-ass, despite the fun.
Onc should also consider that all that horsepower can make them difficult, if not impossible, to control. This should not come as a challenge, but as a caution. Respect that power. One should work with, and not fight to control it.
Having either in your life can bring excitement, joy, laughter, and fun. Taking life at 70 mph, facing head on what life throws in your path… Pedal to the metal.
But it takes a special person to handle all that power. She is tough-looking on the outside, but despite appearances, her mechanics are quite fragile and require attention, care, and maintenance. Either can break easily if not maintained.
If you’re not very careful, you can wreck her or get yourself hurt.
So, drive carefully out there.
This one of the saddest stories about me, but I don’t remember it at all. It serves to remind me of the impermanence of life, but also of the basic goodness of mankind.
My father died suddenly at age 26. He was driving while drunk and pulled his car out in front of a semi truck on a busy road. I was 17 months old, my mother was 17. Because very few of us at 26 believe that we will actually die, very few of us carry any sort of life insurance. My father was no different. He left no money behind to even be buried, much less care for us.
My parents married when she was 15 and he was 23. This was the early 70’s, after all, and times were just.. different. They were as in love as two people of that age can be. It was all very romantic, in the way that young people romanticize marriage. I said that to say that we lived as a “typical” nuclear family. To say that I adored my father was an understatement. My first word was “pretty” and my second was “da-da.” As a man who was pretty convinced of his own awesomeness, I am sure you can guess what he taught me to call him. My mom reports that after he died, I would wait by the door around the time he usually got home from work and call out “pretty da-da” for him. Sometimes, I would throw a fit and not let her move me, and just stay there until I fell asleep. I loved this man.
Understandably, death suddenly became very real for my mom. She did not want to leave me in the same financial shape my dad had left us, so she asked her older sister to help. As a 17 year old who had spent most of her childhood in and out of foster care, my mom had few real life skills and wasn’t sure where to start. Her sister convinced her that she needed to start with life insurance, and calling around to a few agencies.
My aunt set up a meeting with a life insurance salesman. Back in those days, they came to your house. He knew why he was there and the circumstances surrounding the visit. They decided to meet at my aunt’s house, with my aunt and uncle there to help my mom decide what type of life insurance to get.
So, the salesman arrived and apparently he looked a LOT like my dad. So much so, that I thought he was my dad. I ran directly to him, and threw my arms up to be picked up. Instinctually, he picked me up. I called him daddy and kissed his face and hugged his neck. My mom, crying at this point, told me no and tried to pull me away.. The man said to her- no let her stay. He put me on his knee and played with me. No one corrected me that night. No one told me that he wasn’t my father. He just sat and played and talked to me, and loved on a little girl that so needed her daddy. When he left, I got to say goodbye to “my daddy.” My mom says that every adult in the room was crying, even him. He didn’t sell any insurance that night, but I feel that he gave a little girl lonely for her da-da a lovely gift.
I don’t know who that man is/was. I have thought about him over the years and even after several decades have gone by, the story of his kindness brings tears to my eyes. I often wish I could thank him for being so kind to that little confused girl.
I know we are living in a divisive time. But never underestimate capacity for human kindness. We are all just doing our best. I do know that there are “baddies” out there, and am not blind to humans’ ability to be truly shitty to one another.
When that knowledge makes me feel discouraged or overwhelmed, I can think back to this guy. He had nothing to gain, and yet was still kind. I don’t know him, but he has made a huge impact on my life. I choose to be like him.
Stay safe. Stay sober. Be kind.
I got Covid. This is my experience and recovery:
I am finally feeling more like myself. I realize I cannot push myself too hard. I need to let my body recover. I have had many friends ask me about what this was like for me – to have and recover from. I thought maybe documenting and sharing here might help someone.
I want to start by saying: I am one of the lucky ones. I did not end up in the hospital. I did not die from this. I have no idea about lasting effects, but the immediate danger seems to be over.
Here is a day by day account of my experience. *
Day 1 – Dry-ish cough and sneezing (maybe this is a cold?) I am working from home 3 days per week, but this is one day I am in the office – I go home to work, just in case.
Day 2 – Coughing a lot more – feeling a little lethargic – an by the end of the work day have a low grade fever. Maybe this is it? Still not sure.
Day 3 – Easily the worst day. Chills/shivering all day. Cannot get warm. Fever spikes. Feeling like ass. I haven’t been this sick in years. I want to cry. My skin hurts. I am still trying to work in my office between bouts of bundling up and trying not to die. I have a prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics and anti-virals in the house, and that evening begin a regimen of anti-viral, anti-biotic, zinc/vitaminC, extra multivitamins.** I am not sure if any of this will work, but I am pretty nervous at this point, and pretty sure I have this thing so am willing to throw just about anything at this. I schedule my test for the next day.
I have a pulse oximeter at home that measures the amount of oxygen profusing through your body – this instrument measures how well you are getting oxygen from your lungs/heart to the rest of your body. It is measured as a percent, so the best is 100%. Most people are at around 97-99. That night, my reading was 90. Scarily low, but not critical enough to go to the hospital. I deep breathe and lay on my stomach as much as possible (something a nurse friend told me to do). I was told to go to the hospital with an SPO2 reading of 88% or below that persists and will not come up with deep breathing or movement.
Day 4 – Feeling terrible, achy from all the muscle contracting from the day before. My skin feels like it’s been burned. I have a stitch (pulled muscle?) in my side/abdomen from coughing so much. Still feverish, but not as high as the day before. I go and get my test – head back home and go to sleep. I sleep almost the whole day.
Day 5 – I am still medicating twice per day with the antibiotics and antivirals (zinc+C and multivitamins). I really think this regimen is helping. I am feeling a little better than the day before. I recognize that none of this could be helping. But justify this self-medicating by telling myself that in the past I have often acquired bronchitis and cold sores on the heels of a respiratory viral infection. So, the way I looked at it, if nothing else – I am saving myself a cold sore or bronchitis. Each day, I am feeling incrementally better than the days before.
Day 6 – I am feeling better. Tired, but better. Today I lose my sense of smell. Completely. I crack and egg and see that it is rotten, but smell nothing. As a suburban chicken-lady, I know what a rotten egg smells like – and know it is a very BIG smell in addition to being a foul (pardon the pun), smell. I put my face close to the bowl with the offending egg in it to see if I could smell anything. And like from far away, with a blanket covering it, I smelled a very faint wiff of something “off.” I made myself some very aromatic lemon tea, and nothing. I stuck my nose in the cup and again, from very far away, a very faint muted smell of lemons. But 99% of the smell was gone. Or maybe it was 100% and I just remembered somewhere in the back of my brain what lemons were supposed to smell like. (?) It was a very odd, very surreal experience. I have never lost the sense of smell before. Clinically, it is a very interesting bi-product of this disease. It also let me know that I was not over this. Although I felt better, I need to still take it easy and rest, even if I felt I didn’t necessarily need it. I am glad I did.
Day 7 – I am feeling better. Feeling energized after illness is an interesting phenomenon. When you are VERY sick, even the least incremental “better” feeling makes you feel almost like you are super human. You feel so much better compared to the way you did feel that you can over-do it. I experience short bursts of energy followed by extreme fatigue. This persists for a few days. Still coughing. No fever.
Day 10 – That stitch in my side is still there, and worse. It hurts when I move, when I lay on that side, or sit for too long with my back pressed against the sofa. I’m miserable. I am still coughing, but less. No fever. I have random and unexpected bouts of fatigue. I go see my doctor about my side. She takes and xray, blood work, and urine sample. She determines I do not have a kidney infection, pneumonia, or lung abscess. She thinks I have pulled an intercostal muscle (muscle between the ribs) and pinched a nerve in my rib/back from coughing so much. I am prescribed muscle relaxers and ibuprofen (as I am past the critical phase of this illness), along with hot/cold packs to the affected area.
Day 14 – I am back to work. I am still tired and sore which may be because I still have some trouble sleeping because of my back/side. But the side is getting better. The fatigue is still there, but that also seems to be getting better. My sense of smell is hit or miss. Sometimes fully back, sometimes seems muted again. Like an off/off switch.
And most important, for me. Recovering from a disease that is killing healthy people my age in the span of a few weeks definitely makes you confront your mortality. Your own “temporary-ness.” I won’t take my body/health/life for granted again.
Regarding my sobriety journey: I have a new found appreciation for my body. I don’t feel a need to poison it further. I am not sure if this virus has healed my sometimes-volatile relationship with alcohol, but I can tell you – getting drunk was the LAST thing on my mind.
And here comes the bits of unsolicited advice:
(you knew it was coming):
Please be considerate of those that have it and will have it. It’s scary enough being helpless to this virus. Hearing scary stories about people your same age and health status dying only fuels that fear. Information is important, but man – when you are in the middle of this you feel helpless and scared because you know it could literally go either way.
If you get this- please take care of yourself. Listen to your medical professionals, but my philosophy is also to throw everything you can at it. (but please don’t drink bleach).
Once you recover, please consider donating plasma. As I understand it, there is a current shortage of convalescent plasma, given to the most serious of CV19 patients. You can find more information here: https://www.grifolsplasma.com/en/endcv19
Much love y’all.
*This is my personal experience and I am in no way saying these are typical signs/symptoms:
**Antivirals, antibiotics, and steroids are standard treatments for CV19 in the hospital setting, along with convalescent plasma.
All the people I have met that are or want to be sober talk about “the other” in their life. Some borrow the name “Wine Witch” from a popular “Quit Lit” book. Some call her by other names. I have heard her called “Booze Bitch,” “Champaign Cunt,” and even “Zelda.” I call mine ALA. The Alcohol Loving Asshole. I hope you can relate and I don’t sound like a complete psychopath – but the ALA is that little voice that craves alcohol and politely brings it up with you all the time. It is that little voice that tells you to get another beer or you’re going to fall behind. Or that the person you are sharing the bottle with got a larger pour than you (so best open another bottle to make it even). She is the one that says “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” or “it’s wine o’clock.” In short, she’s a part of my lower self. The alcohol-loving-good-time-girl that doesn’t worry too much about consequences or tomorrow. She just wants to be fed today. Forget. Revel.
So recently, the ALA has been chatting with me a bit. She has been implying that I am really over reacting with this whole “alcohol free lifestyle” thing. She has been reasoning with me that a few bad nights do not equal an “alcohol problem.” Reminding me that my therapist thinks nothing of my most recent alcohol-fueled explosion except that it was a reasonable response to a very negative stimuli and that of course I wanted to “blow off some steam.” She reminds me that my boyfriend is supportive, but he does like to drink and I may become a little too boring for him, if I keep this shit up.
As I said, I haven’t lost a job, or had a DUI, or done anything irreparable to my relationships or finances due to alcohol. It seems reasonable that I may be knee-jerk responding with guilt to a few negative experiences with alcohol, but with practice and a level head, I probably could moderate. So, the ALA was not WRONG in the assertion that I might be over reacting to a few bad nights. But as I understand it, rationalizing drinking again at around day 21 is also very normal in this journey. So it could be that I’m on the right track and the ALA is just full of shit. Thank the internet-gods for for those interwebs, audible, and facebook groups, and the combined knowledge of the human experience at my fingertips!
Instead of drinking, I did what I needed to do. I called a friend. I talked it out with someone. I was reminded that I wanted this for a reason and I needed to go back and figure out that reason and see if it was still true. I was also reminded that I have said many times that I do feel so much better sober. I feel better sober the night-of AND the next day. I was reminded that I’m not REALLY missing out on anything. I was also reminded that I may feel differently tomorrow. I was reminded to hold on. Thank goodness for good friends.
I went over to my boyfriend’s house later that evening. I drank n/a beer, ordered take- out Thai food, and and relaxed. When his daughter wanted to go to the store to get milk for cereal, I was able to drive her there and didn’t have to do any mental beer math (how many have I had? can I drive? etc.). This, in of itself, was a new development that took us all by surprise, I think. Usually it’s a matter of “sorry kiddo” once the adults are drinking – no driving. The night was fun, even without alcohol, or maybe because I wasn’t drinking. I laughed more than I have a long time. I danced and taught his little girl some line dances. I goofed off and didn’t worry about getting any “you’re acting silly because you’re drunk” looks. I was just being me. Wonderfully weird. I felt like me. No, a better version of me – relaxed, resolved. It was joyous. I slept like a baby and woke early with a clear head.
In alcohol cessation programs you are instructed to find your “why’s.” Why you choose not to drink. Please forgive me, but it occurs to me that not all “why’s” matter in equal measure. I believe the “why’s” are weighted. The positive why’s and the negative why’s are not equal.
I believe the why-I-don’t-drink’s, when based in negatives, will get less impactful with time. I believe they lose teeth over time when they are negative. For instance:
“I don’t drink because I don’t want to ever be hungover again.”
I have drunk alcohol MANY, MANY times and not been hungover and can see a point where I convince myself that I can moderate consumption to avoid hangovers. I can see this, because… well, it has happened. Repeating “Day 1” like it’s fucking Groundhog Day is evidence of that.
I can also see a time when I viscerally forget how a hangover actually feels. Sometimes the memory of a pain lessens with time. This point of view also works on the pretense that some alcohol = good, but too much alcohol = bad. Not being able to find the “sweet spot” for consumption can lead to a lifetime of trial and error with plenty of “bad nights” on the books. It also gives a false sense of “failure.” Why can’t I get this right? When really, the problem was never you- it’s the alcohol itself. It is mild-altering poison. Titrating the exact correct dose of poison (while mentally altered) to self administer for only a slight mental alteration without negative side effects is a fool’s errand. I also know this from experience.
In order to trick the ALA into shutting up and giving me some peace (at least temporarily), I have devised a new strategy. Reframe my thinking about my alcohol-free lifestyle. I am trying to look at this like a grand experiment. A challenge. I can ALWAYS go back to drinking if it doesn’t work or if nothing positive happens. But I cannot be alcohol-free and see how my life can change while being alcohol-free unless I commit to alcohol-free. Was that enough positive reinforcement of alcohol-free, or what?
When I lost 50 lbs, a part of that weight loss came from intermittent fasting. I wanted to do it, but I also was terrified of how it would feel to intermittent fast and if I would get sick, or light-headed, or have any negative side effects. I got over the fear of it and the hurdle of the heavy lift by telling myself that I could always eat. Food was gonna be there. If I decided I didn’t want to fast for the 16-18, or 24 hours, I didn’t have to. But guess what? I did. Once I got the hang of it, I fasted 4-5 days per week for 16-18 hours per day and once per week for 24 hours! I shed 21 lb in 7 wks and it stayed off for almost 2 years. I have since fallen off the intermittent fasting wagon, and will get back on… but for now, one thing at time. So, back to the alcohol-fast…
“I don’t drink because I want to see what my life can be without it.”
Going forward, I am going to try and see this as an alcohol fast. I don’t NEED alcohol to live, as I do food. So, going one year without it is going to be my challenge. One year to see what lovely changes I can make in my life personally, professionally, emotionally, and financially just by changing this one small thing. This one little thing that doesn’t add to my life, but seems to subtract from it occasionally. It’s an experiment. Let’s see what happens. And, after a year, if I see no change or if my life isn’t positively impacted by NOT drinking, I can always go back to it. For shit’s sake, it’s not like there is a limited quantity of booze around the world. It will be there in a year if I want it, I am sure.
Day 21 of 365. But for now… Also day 4 of Sober October (one bite at a time, friends…one bite at a time).🐘
Fighting the short-term desire to drink to see what the long term effects of sobriety can be! If you are struggling, reach out to a friend. Reach out to an online group. I wish you all the success in the world.
Thanks for going on this grand adventure with me!
Much love. Stay Healthy. Stay Sober.
Well, not exactly the end of the word… But definitely the end of who you used to be.
As a chronic drinker, occasional binge drinker, or every-day morning-to-night drinker, the alcohol becomes a part of you. It is how your friends and family see you. It is how you see yourself. Sometimes, it becomes a part of your identify.
I have recently been acutely aware of how friends will tell me to “go have a beer” or “have a glass of wine” if I am stressed or over-worked. It’s not a function of their coping – but how they understand my coping mechanisms.
Recently, a friend (that does not drink often) was asking me about doing some side work for him. He said “I will pay a reasonable wage so you can get liquored up at your favorite winery.” He then sent me a funny GIF of a gal drinking from a GIANT glass of wine. This was just a few days ago. It occurs to me… this is how he sees me.
As I said before, I am not sharing this AF journey with many of my friends (actually only 2 know for sure). This exchange with my well-meaning friend did not trigger me. He sent the message and GIF as a joke – but it was a subtle clue of how he does see me. I’m not angry or hurt by this. He didn’t create that image, he is just holding a mirror up to it.
It is very difficult for others to see you in a different light or with a different definition than they once did. I have been through this before, but with a much more significant change (in my opinion).
I “came out” as bisexual at age 33. I had never openly dated women. I knew I was attracted to women as well as men, but being brought up in a very strict Baptist home (the no-drinking, no rock-n-roll, no pre-marital-sex, pray-away-the-gay kind), I was never able to express that part of myself. But then, I met my future-(ex)wife and all that changed. I found the courage to tell everyone and to be with her openly. I committed myself to her and damn the consequences. It changed “my” people’s perception of me, of course. Some were very supportive, some were confused, some were angry. I lost friends and family. I was judged by some. I left a very comfortable existence. I had to start over (financially). But I was never happier than in those very stressful, early days. And even though we did break up after 13 yrs, I would not change a thing. I opened up a part of myself I had kept hidden for years. I became more “myself” than I could have been had I not met her. I will never regret it.
It was very stressful for those around me to see me differently- to have to change their definition of who I was. I lost a very dear sister-friend (we remained estranged for several years). She said “we just don’t have anything in common anymore.” It broke my heart. Another friend said “So… all the guys you dated? Was that fake? I just don’t know how to see you anymore.” Those things were very hard to hear. Hard to internalize. But I knew I was on the path of my own truth. I knew that this was what I wanted.
I kind of feel like sobriety is going to be the same, but to a lesser degree. I used to drink with many (read: all) of my friends. It is how we unwind. There is an unspoken rule to never bring up how drunk someone is / or was, because we have all been there. Many “bad behaviors” go ignored or laughed at later. I am sure my sobriety is going to cause some stress in a few relationships when I no longer engage in this behavior. They may feel I am judging them (I will not be) or that I am boring (maybe I will be).
In the past, I have shared with my drinking friends that I would like to stop or control my drinking. I have been met with everything from “Good for you!” to “That’s fine, but I’m not going to quit” and “That’s stupid. Why would you do that?” In my sexual-orientation journey of self-discovery (going from fake-heterosexual to open-bisexual), I had my ex wife, and her (straight, bi, and lesbian) friends to support me. I also had many friends of my own to support me, even if they struggled to understand. I am not sure I would have told anyone this truth about myself (even now) had I not met someone who could relate to what I was going through and been willing to hold my hand through that difficult journey.
This is why I say (and am practicing) find a sober-buddy. Find someone that understands what it is like on day 5, 12, 60, 120, or is willing to share those experiences as you both experience them. I have reached out within my sober online group and have made a couple wonderful connections. These people are going through or have gone through the same things I am. We can encourage each other when we are down in a way that I’m not sure my real-life friends can. A sober-buddy can understand the drive to drink when shit is bad, or good, or just because it’s Tuesday. They know the drive because they also have it.
I do realize that this can also backfire, especially when you choose friends on the same part of the path as you. You may both decide to hit the “fuck it” button. That can be catastrophic for you both. That is one way to look at it, and a reason to get a seasoned sober-buddy (or sponsor, if you will). For me it is easier to relate to someone that has about the same number of sober days behind them. They are not removed from those early feelings. They can understand viscerally your feelings right now, on this leg of the journey. You can also do the same for them.
I choose to look at it like having a running-buddy. Both of you have a goal. You’re both there with the same running experience, running at the same pace. When one of you wants to stop, the other is there to encourage you – saying “you got this- come on, let’s go.” You are not always going to feel the same level of motivation as your sober-buddy. When one of you is weak, the other may be strong, and vice versa.
I will say that finding a sober-buddy has been great for me. She has no expectation that I will do X or Y in any situation. I am able to “become” the sober-me in a safe place, free from the old baggage that has made this task so difficult in the past. More than once, in the short time we have been connected, we have encouraged each other needed it. Said “Come on, you got this… let’s go” when it was required. In addition, I think there is the added unspoken motivation to not let the other down. We don’t know each other well at all, but we are in this together, I think. I really do believe this has made a world of difference for me this time around.
Thanks for being a sounding board.
Much love, friends. Stay strong. Stay sober.
Two weeks ago today, I was have a pretty rough day.
I want to preface this post by saying that “Quit Lit” is amazing and inspiring – but sometimes it feels a little out of touch with my reality. I can relate to the successes and to their “pre-sobriety lives,” but you very infrequently hear about people that fail along the journey as well. What we get is the final version of success with very little “I fucked this bit up royally” accounts. Usually, the message goes a little something like: “I quit on my first try – and you can too!” Which is a wonderful message, but I think not very relatable for many of us on the alcohol-struggle-bus.
This blog post, in particular, is a very vulnerable account of my most recent (and hopefully last) failure on this journey. This blog was never meant to be a white-washed version of my AF journey – but a rather raw, honest account of it. When I made that decision, I didn’t really internalize how difficult unfiltered honesty would be. But I want it to be out there so that maybe it can help someone. If nothing else, it can serve as a reminder to me – don’t go back. You hated the way that felt.
A wise woman never did but should have said (and I’m paraphrasing): Not everything is sunshine and fucking rainbows, Punkin. Sometimes life just fucking sucks. And you deal. Or you don’t.
Best of luck on your journey and I appreciate you all.
Honestly, I’m scared shitless to post this… But with all that said…
For those of you paying attention, this blog cuts off around May and resumes just recently (September). This is because I felt that I was unable to handle my divorce, COVID isolation, fear of what was to come, and the sheer logistical maneuvering of what I needed to handle without the occasional beer or glass of wine. This was a failure on my part. Intellectually, I realized that alcohol did not help me, but just numbed me for a time. Emotionally and psychologically, the “ALA” (alcohol-loving-asshole) convinced me otherwise. I felt I was keeping it “under control.” That is to say, not losing control or making an ass of myself, generally. I thought – sobriety sounds nice, but I have a handle on it (the drinking) this time. I’ve got this. (Hubris.. always my downfall).
Well. I bet you can guess how that played out.
Enter two weeks ago.
I had to interact with my ex-spouse to give her something dear to me – but belonged to her. I wanted her to have it. It was her responsibility – and not having it would make my life easier, but at the same time, a little sadder. I had not physically laid eyes on my ex in at least 10 months. Even the divorce was no-contact. Because of COVID, it was a virtual court appearance. Quite literally, I “phoned it in.”
She was meeting me in the evening, at my house, and I was anxious the whole day leading up to it. I was off work so decided to clean the house top-to-bottom (a stress reliever for me), and stop at my local brewery to get a six pack of my favorite- to have a couple and loosen up/relieve stress before she got there.
By the time she got there, the house was spotless and I had 3 or 4 beers in me. I was buzzed, but not drunk. I was cordial. She was cordial. I gave her what she came to gather. She did not come inside. It was all very detached. All very sterile. Then she lied about something. Something that I knew was a lie. It was an old lie, retold to make me feel sympathy for her – but because this time I was certain it was untrue, the lie just triggered that old feeling of being tricked – being played – being a gas-lighted – of being a fool.
I stayed quiet. I wished her well. She left. But I was definitely set off by the lie. After she left, I finished the last of the six pack, then moved on to 3 giant “might flaws” that were in the back of my fridge. By the end of the first one of those, I was properly, pissed drunk. By the end of the 3rd, well..
A very thoughtful guy I am dating called to see how I was doing. He knew it was going to be a tough day for me and was trying to give me space – but also trying to understand how I felt and how he fit into those feelings. I am still not even sure exactly what he said – but I remember it felt like an accusation. I blew up! I said horrible, intentionally hurtful things. It is no exaggeration to say that I verbally attacked him. I am very ashamed of the way I acted and the things I said. I am sure I really hurt him. I feel terrible for that. He came over that evening and forgave me even before I asked for forgiveness, and did so quite easily, given the things I had said. I am grateful for that. When he has acted the same way towards me in the past, I have not been so quick to forgive.
So, after verbally attacking someone just trying to be there for me and literally poisoning myself to the point of being sick for days, I decided the next morning that this is it. I’m giving it my all.
I decided I would not announce it to anyone (outside of my online group and this blog), or make any sweeping public proclamations. I didn’t even tell the guy I am dating. He has been with me on this on-again-off-again journey, and I feel like he thinks my desire to quit drinking is an over-reaction to a “bad night.” Maybe it is. Maybe it’s just me being fed up with “bad nights” in general, and thinking there has to be a better way to finish this thing (life) out.
So, I decided to just do it. Quietly. Use this blog. Use my online support group. Be honest with myself first, and others. Be vulnerable. Be open to change.
I’m still working on addressing the root-cause. How do I confront my triggers? How do I ease the pain of being triggered without alcohol? How do I just feel all those feels and be okay with it? This bit is still under construction. Ever the work in progress.
But so far, keeping this journey confined to myself, that group, and this blog has been the secret sauce. I have spoken about this with two other people. But without any great detail.
For now, I don’t explain why I’m not drinking. I’m just not doing it.
I am currently at 15 days sober and 221 since I started my sobriety journey. Overall, I feel really good. I have had all the weird “chronic detoxing” things you hear about: headaches, disturbed sleep, exhaustion, weird dreams, emotional shit. But I have also had some wonderful byproducts of sobriety: less bloat, more mental clarity, better perspective, NO HANGOVERS (right now, this is #1 on my “positives” list).
I am looking forward to what 365 brings. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Financially. I am committed to 365 now. I really feel something has “clicked” in a way that it had not before. One year. I can do this. If you are struggling like me – YOU can do this.
This time is the last time.
Much love, friends. Stay healthy. Stay Sober.
Last night was a bit tough for me. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I don’t like to blog when I’m in the middle of intense feeling, or even journal for that matter. When I later read the journal entries written by an impassioned me, I find my thoughts to be disjointed and irrational. I need a little time and space to sus out why I was feeling what I was feeling. Sometimes a little space and perspective helps. For this reason, almost all of what I write will be “after the fact” and not real-time. Lucky for the reader. 😊
First, I need to be honest about a couple things.
One. I have two bottles of Prosecco in my wine rack and one left-over can of hard seltzer – you know the one that rhymes with Might Flaw. I bought the Prosecco bottles just the other day. I won’t tell the story of how the bottles got there (that is for another blog post about shame around sobriety), but for now, I will say that they ARE there.
Two. I have realized that one of my drinking-triggers is boredom. Another is being alone. I feel really terrible about that. I am an only-child (save step-siblings), GenX-er – you know the kids that were just bored and had to fucking sit with it and be okay with it? Yeah, that’s me. I drink when I am bored and alone. No great trauma plagues my mind (although there are many), I’m just bored and lonely… Woe is me. I’m not just a little ashamed of this – but being honest and seeing ourselves for who we are and what drives and motivates us is the only way to self-realization, right?
Okay, on to last night.
I could have worked out. I could have worked on my side hustle. I could have worked in my garden. Hell, I could have worked on actual work projects. I did none of those things. Maybe it’s my dopamine / serotonin receptors rebooting, maybe I’m just wore out – but I have been overly exhausted for the past 5 days. Literally, all I want is sleep. But sleep is dream filled and I wake often. Anyone else go though this early on? What is this? Hormones? Neurotransmitters firing back up? I have no idea but the thought of doing anything other than sitting on the couch last night was way beyond my capacity.
So, I sat. I was angry. I was frustrated. I questioned why I was doing this. I wanted that Prosecco that I KNEW was on the wine rack, just waiting for me. In the back of my mind, I did realize that that “one” would turn to into “one bottle” – also, it wasn’t cold… so my mind moved on to the compromise, the hard seltzer. There it was, sitting in the fridge drawer, cold. Ready for me. There was only one, so I would have to stop there, right? I mean, who would know? And I could have just the one and go to sleep. Might help me sleep soundly, even. All the same old lies.
I belong to a group online (through facebook) and wrote a quick post about how I was struggling. So many people were kind and responsive. “You can do it!” “I believe in you!” They were so ready to encourage this stranger to just hold on a few more hours. I am so impressed with their kindness. They said – hold on – go to bed early, eat chocolate, sleep will come- and it will be a new day. I didn’t call on any of my friends for support. I even talked to a few and didn’t share that I was struggling. I reached out to strangers. Not because my friends and loved ones don’t care, but because I think they can’t understand. They can’t relate. Having someone who has had to white knuckle through an evening to keep from drinking say that I can do it is encouraging in a way that well-meaning friends and family cannot be. If I had talked to any of my people about how I was feeling, they would have supported me – told me the same thing that the strangers did, but during that time, I needed experience to guide me. Experience to say “I’ve been there and if I can, you can… You got this, girl.”
So, I white knuckled it. I left the Prosecco securely nestled in its cubicle in the wine rack. I left the seltzer sleeping soundly in its refrigerator drawer.
I drank N/A beer (4 to be exact) ate too many pieces of dark chocolate covered pineapple and went to bed at 9:30 pm.
But I held on. It’s a new day. And it does feel amazing. I really hope that one day, someone struggling with white knuckles will read this and hold on too. Or maybe I will re-visit this post, when and if I need to white knuckle-it again. Seeing that I have done it once means I can certainly do it again. Either way, I am glad I did. Glad I wrote this down.
I’m thankful to my little online tribe. They pulled me through last night. If you are interested, the group is called “One Year No Beer.” It’s an interesting way to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol.
Thanks for being a sounding board, Blog-friends.
Much love. Stay Healthy. Stay Sober.
Goals: Trying to master going alcohol-free while also controlling my diet.
Effort status: Failing at one of those goals.
I started strong with a coffee for breakfast. For lunch: a string cheese, salad, and home made kimchi (I am rebuilding my gut with home grown pro-biotics). You know… good stuff. I decide to skip the salad I brought, and WALK to the local yogurt shop (the tangy pro-biotic kind of yogurt) for an after-lunch sweet. (I am walking, after all.. that’s healthy, right?) So, yogurt shop guy has a special on the board of what can only be described as a “frozen yogurt float.” Frozen yogurt, covered in a choice of cream sodas. I chose red cream soda and banana yogurt. I also buy a pint of the original flavor for my office freezer (you know, for later). I think to myself: What I am eating is full of sugar.. But I mean.. its only one sweet treat, right?
I walk back to my office and and put my frozen yogurt pint in the community freezer…. LO and BEHOLD… some ice-cream-angel has placed an assortment of single serve ice cream treats in there… I look at my “float,” which is almost gone, and think… Fuck it… I choose my favorite, and ate that delicious freebie for my after after-lunch-sweet sweet.
Go ahead… Judge me.
My consolation is, I am not going to drink today. I did not drink yesterday. For today, and the past 10 days, I am treating my body better. I have not intentionally poisoned myself in 10 days. Good for me.
But Yes… I am craving ALL the freaking sugar, and should I be awake in an hour, and not in a sugar-coma, I will probably feel bad about all the sugar I have consumed… I think I can actually hear my pancreas screaming for mercy. I may just have, possibly, given myself diabetes today.
But for right now, no… I don’t feel bad about this at all.
Effort status: SUCCEEDING at one of those goals.
Take the WIN where you can get it folks.. Life is about perspective.
Much love to you all. Stay safe. Stay Sober.
As a young person, drinking is an act of rebellion.
As an adult, not drinking is.
It’s your journey.
Keep. Fucking. Going.