Day 12 – Sobriety and Alcohol Math

I was thinking about the first time I tried to quit drinking (for 28 days). It didn’t work out brilliantly for me, but it did give me an idea of what to expect on this next leg of the journey. It also gave me a little insight into some alcohol math.


What is alcohol math?

Well, it is the hard numbers associated with alcohol. As I understand it, long term sobriety is associated with wonderful intangible benefits: better sleep, less bloat, better skin, more focus, no hangovers, less embarrassing situations, and more energy to name a few.

Alcohol math addresses the tangible benefits. What you can see with your own eyes that is objective (numbers) as opposed to subjective (my skin looks better)? Well, turns out, there are at least two.

Let’s start with a biggie for me – and most of us that are not independently wealthy: Money.

If I go out 4 times per week and drink an average of 4 beers at $6 each – that is $96 / wk. This translates to $416/ month and $4992/ year.  That money could fund at least a weekend get-away.  Now this is not taking into account if I get food while I am out (consider my idiotic “fool-proof” system of having a couple drinks + food = okay to drive). So even if I didn’t drink 4 times per week “out,” I most assuredly would have some food with those couple drinks and spend that $96/week easily. Sometimes it could be $96 in a weekend, hell, since we are being honest -an evening.

Now if I was going to be “going all-in” on a night out and not moderating my alcohol intake, I would arrange for a ride. I think Uber and Lyft are great ride services, if for no other reason they keep drunk people out from the behind the wheels of cars.  That said, I could spend $60 on an Uber or Lyft on a round trip from my home into town/bar/etc. If I split this, which I often did, that would equate to about $30/outing. If I did that type of outing once per week only (this is conservative) – that would add $30 to my $96/wk. This equates to a total of $126/week, $546/month, $6552/year. What asshole has that kind of money to spend on future hangovers? Apparently, me.  I’m that asshole.

A couple months ago, when I tried to complete the practice 28 day “dry-run” on sobriety (pun intended), I calculated how much money I spent (in ride services alone) the previous month. This math checks out and is a little conservative. I spent $150-$180 in paid rides alone for the two months leading up to my first 28 day sobriety challenge.

I know people that drink less than I did and people that drink more. Spending will vary for every person – but I bet if you sat down you could do this math easily. Numbers don’t lie, folks. I like money way more than I like hangovers. Just being honest.

The second kind of alcohol math I’ve considered is Alcohol Caloric Math.

Most people understand that calories in alcohol are empty calories. They serve no nutritional purpose, are high in sugar, and contribute to obesity and diabetes. It is called a “beer belly” or “wine gut” for a reason.

Some simple alcohol calorie (kcal) math:

Beer has about 153 kcal/12 oz beer on average.

Wine has 125-165 kcal (we can average this to 145 kcal/ 5 oz of wine.

Number of calories in one pound = 3500

Let’s say (conservatively) I drink 4 beers on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday.

On Friday I drink 2 glasses of wine while out at dinner.

On Saturday, I drink 3 glasses with some friends that stopped by.

For the week:

12 beers = 1848 kcal

5 glasses of wine = 725 kcal

Total empty, non-nutritional calories for the week = 2573

Number of calories in 1lb = 3500.

If I do this every week over an above my actual caloric need, and I get all my required kcals from the food I eat, these additional empty calories will equate to a 38.2 lb weight gain for the year.

How did I come up with that math? 2573 kcal *52 weeks = 133,796 kcal per year / 3500 kcal in one pound = 38.2 lb total gain. Options? 1. Eat less. Replace nutritional (food) calories with empty (alcohol) ones. 2. Work out more to compensate. Y’all, I have busted my ass to burn 600 kcal in a work out class, or on the elliptical for an hour… I do not want to spend that time burning off the booze just to stay where I am when I could be burning of excess and getting FIT. I don’t have enough time or energy to exercise all of that off. I don’t think any of us do.

These are examples for me. But if my examples don’t work for you, please feel free to calculate your own. I used a combination of excel and this NIH website: https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Tools/Calculators/Calorie-Calculator.aspx

Happy Calculating!

Day 11 – Sobriety and the Juice Paradox

Day 11 – Sobriety and The Juice Paradox

It occurred to as I embark on this journey to better health and sobriety that drinking and good health do not always go hand in hand.

I am striving to be a better me.  Better sleep. Less anxiety. Better skin. Less bloat. More energy. More productivity. More patience. As I grow into my mid to late 40’s, and the hormonal changes that are associated with “women of a particular age” set in, I wonder – what can I do to improve my health (and let’s be honest, waistline)?

With these improvements in mind, I researched medications, herbal remedies, creams, exercise, diet, fasting, and meditation. Smoothies and juicing became a part of my weekly routine, along with more movement, mindful eating, fasting, counselling, and journaling.  All of these things improved my state of being. However, sleep was still elusive. My energy levels were still often zapped, and I was not nearly as productive as I knew I could be.

But I knew that incremental positive changes would yield great dividends if I just stuck to them.

The one thing I wasn’t addressing, the one thing that could really make an appreciable difference in most if not all of these areas without costing any money – and I didn’t have to actually DO anything… was to slow, limit, or eliminate alcohol consumption. Paradoxically, even though you do “nothing” to achieve sobriety technically, it seems like a great deal of effort if one has a complicated relationship with alcohol.

So here I am, juicing, working out, doing mindful eating, fasting, spending time, energy and money on making positive changes and also drinking to excess multiple times per week – whether its 6 beers (or more), a bottle (or so) of wine, or sugary margaritas – I was undoing all the incremental positive changes that I had worked so hard to make.  

It is like doing everything you can to improve your garden. You water it regularly. You use good compost. You treat pest infestations organically. You make sure it gets the adequate amount of sunlight. You put a great deal of effort into the health and aesthetic of your garden. Then right before bed, you spray just a little bit of Roundup on the whole of your garden. Not enough to kill everything outright, just enough to keep it from its full potential.  This is how I saw the effort I was putting into my health, then undoing all that effort by binge drinking.

I’m not saying drinking is bad. I will never use this blog to preach or say “you need to quit drinking” or “you are hurting yourself with alcohol.” You know if you do and you know if you are. That is a personal realization and a personal decision. No matter what justifications I gave myself or what “antioxidants” I was getting from wine, or “stress relief” I received from those few pints of beer – I knew in my heart that the bad definitely outweighed the good.

A couple months ago, I did a “practice run” on sobriety and was able to go 28 days sober (with a couple cheats in there, for sure). I needed that practice dry-run. It helped me to put into perspective how a real go at sobriety would look/feel. Today, I am really committed this and am seeing results. I feel better. I am sleeping better. I have more patience, more energy, and feel like I have more time. My face and abdomen are less bloated. Does my skin look better? I’m not sure. I am not working out regularly yet again – but will start back soon. I wanted to get over this hump first. I feel like I am almost there. I hope to soon stop thinking about “not drinking” and focus more on the other positive changes I can make to supercharge the improvements I have already experienced from this one small change.  

This change has not been small. Not insignificant. Not fucking easy by any stretch of the imagination. But I appreciate this medium – to get my thoughts out. I am grateful for the support of friends, near and far.  Thank you for taking part in this journey with me. I hope it may help someone else. I can’t be the only one with these thoughts.

Day 8 – Sobriety as background noise

As a newly sober person, I think every day about not drinking. I think about it every single fucking day. Makes me tired. It occurs to me that a person with a “healthy” relationship with alcohol never think about “not” drinking. They just do or don’t. Either way it is of little to no consequence to them. It isn’t in the forefront of their mind. It is just background noise.

A simple happy hour invite goes a little something like this:

How I imagine it goes for a person with a health relationship with alcohol: (people I’m currently simultaneously annoyed with and envious of): My friends are going to happy hour. Should I go to happy hour and have a drink with friends after work? Maybe… Maybe not. Who will be there? I should go, have a beer or two and catch up. Maybe I can catch the game while I’m there… The question of “drinks” is just background noise to the main event – catching up with friends. Person goes to happy hour, has a great time, relaxes, enjoys the game, a beer, some appetizers and some laughs with friends.

How it goes for a person with a complicated relationship with alcohol embarking on sobriety (me): My friends invited me to go to happy hour. Should I go? I miss them, so I should go. If I don’t go, it will be weird. If I do go, I can’t drink. Can I go and not drink? Will I be miserable? If I don’t drink, will my friends have questions? Will I be boring? Will I be bored? Will I want to leave early? Will my leaving early be perceived as my being anti-social? The question of “drinks” becomes the focal point of the decision-making process. Decidedly NOT background noise. I go and try to act “normal” without a drink in my hand, feel awkward ordering iced tea or a mocktail, try too hard, feel uncomfortable, notice what an awkward banana I’m being and leave just a little too early. I then go home and work the events of the evening over in my mind for a couple hours… I want the idea of not drinking to become as small a part of my thought process as the what to have for lunch today. A decision to be made -but easily made with very little brain or emotional power driving it. I feel amazing today physically, but sobriety makes me emotionally tired. I can’t wait for this to all just be background noise.  I know I will get there eventually.

Until then, I will continue to be awkward. Continue to keep showing up. Staying strong. Knowing this is best for me. Waiting for the elephant to get a little smaller and take up a little less space.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. This platform has really helped me to organize my thoughts and keep me accountable.

Day 7 – Sobriety: 3 things I learned in the first week

Only I control my sobriety.

I am in control of my sobriety. No one can do this for me. No one can force me to choose not to drink. My reasons for drinking or not drinking are mine alone. It is not up to anyone else’s opinion about how much I drink or whether it is a “problem” by their own definition. It is up to me to decide what is enough. What is too much. When it is time to stop.

First let me say this: Friends that tell you your drinking is out of control are definitely friends you should listen to. It took a lot of guts for them to come to you and say those things. It was probably extremely difficult to confront you. Please listen to them.

In my case, it was the opposite. When I tell people about my desire to be sober, a few people have said “Hey, it doesn’t look that bad to me… How much are you drinking? Surely you can drink in moderation…” And their perception is what I wanted them to see. A ruse expertly executed to fool those around me. To them, I look “normal.” I usually drink a moderate amount and only really “tear it up” once in a while in front of friends. I don’t drink and drive or get into booze fueled trouble. I have a good job. My house is put together (until recently). I seem normal, high functioning, and social.  But what they don’t see is the wine o’clock turning to a bottle (or so) that leads to 10 o’clock, nothing done, feeling like garbage the next day, on more days than not. That part of me has been safely tucked away where only I can find her. So, because of my ability to hide my intake (for example, recycling bottles/cans in stages), I can feign “normal” drinking. My desire to be sober is my own. It is my goal. It is my responsibility. Only I control it and only I can break it. Regardless of any outside opinions on the matter, I have to look at myself in the mirror every day and ask myself – is this right for me? Right now, the answer is YES.

Let people help me

Let people help me that want to and can. Not everyone will understand my journey, but those that love me will support it. Let them. Tell the truth, as much as I am able. I am not ready to tell all of my truths and that is okay. Let those that are willing to listen hear what I can tell, listen to their feedback.

Goal: Join a sober or sober curious group. I admit I have not done this. AA is not for me (I went to a meeting several years back). I have tried a women’s only sobriety group, but I do not think I was ready for that either. I applaud those that join these groups and think if that is something you need, then you should do it.  I would love to join a group where alcohol is not even in the equation (for the most part). Something active perhaps. I will keep looking.  Meetup.com is a great place to find groups. I have poked around, but as an introverted extrovert (I know, oxymoron), I am intimidated in new groups of people on my own. There is one gal I reach out to on social media and check in with her about my sobriety. We are not very close friends in real life, but are friendly on social media. She is sober and is very open about her sobriety. I have reached out to her over the past few months with my struggle. She is a pragmatic, kind, and a take no excuses kind of gal. I like her. I won’t call her “my sponsor” – but she has definitely become my “sober sounding broad” yes, I understand the misspelling. 😊 Find yourself someone that has gone through it. I think truly they are the best ones to understand and help you.

Forgive myself / Forgive others

Grace. Give it freely to yourself and others.  I cannot wallow in my own self loathing and expect to not drink to quiet that. It is self-sabotage to remind myself of the shittiest parts of my character and past transgressions and expect to not want to drown out that little voice that keeps telling you that you are “just not good enough” or “OMG, remember that time when you…” That is not to say don’t take inventory of oneself. Do that. But when you do, give yourself grace. Give yourself forgiveness. Allow yourself to say “yes, that was shitty” and move on. Ask for forgiveness where required. Forgiveness is not guaranteed however, even if you are truly remorseful. Be okay with that. Forgive yourself anyway. I’m still working on this.

Conversely, I cannot hold the forever-grudge against someone that has wronged me. It has been quoted so many times, I am not sure who said it – but it has been said that “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Forgiving someone is for YOU not for THEM. They don’t need to ask your forgiveness for you to give it. And giving forgiveness does not mean you are weak. In giving forgiveness (especially where no forgiveness is sought) you are actually taking back your power in the situation.  You are saying that you have put this behind you. You don’t have to forget, and it is sometimes useful not to – but forgiveness is a very powerful tool in feeling whole again. I am also working on this. But I must admit, it is much easier to forgive others than it is to forgive myself.

Day 6 – Sobriety, empathy for others, and learning a new dance

Day 6. Almost a week. Feeling strong. Feeling resolute. I know I don’t have this beat yet, but today I am feeling juiced up and ready to go. I am surrounded by people who love and care for me, and are supportive of my journey. I am also acutely aware that my journey may make others feel uncomfortable. It may make others feel self-conscious of their own alcohol intake.

People with whom I have previously drank with regularly, daily or bi weekly, may start to become more aware of their own alcohol consumption in contrast to my abstinence. Just like I will feel out of place being the only one NOT drinking – when it is only two of us, and only one of us IS drinking, perhaps that can be awkward for that person. Perhaps not.

I say this because a friend that I have been drinking with regularly, who knows of my recent sobriety, asked me the other day if it “would bother me to take a sip of this beer,” because they wanted to share the taste of it with me. I said no, it wouldn’t bother me. I am not allergic to alcohol, I just choose not to drink it. I do not feel that “tasting” a drink will lead me to drink a whole glass. I am not that type of… wait… I almost said alcoholic… easy, girl.. I am not that type of over-indulger. My problem is when the second one becomes the third and so on. My “off” switch is too frequently broken after a few drinks and I go balls-deep in the hooch until I am stumbly/mumbly and acting like I have no sense. Today, this same friend is coming for dinner and texted me “I’m bringing some wine.” Previously this text would have resulted in a “Woohoo!” or “Hell yeah!” or “You better!” This time my response was “Get it.” I am not sure if they were texting me to warn me, ask permission, or if they were hopeful that they would get the “old-me” response. But it makes me curious if my not drinking is making them uncomfortable.

The more disconcerting thought is that perhaps they are trying to sabotage me or test my resolve. That thought makes me sad, and I don’t want to believe it. Edit: As the evening has closed, I’m happy to report that this was not the case, and I am ashamed that I was suspicious had so little faith in my friend. I should have known better.

I know this journey is going to make some people I know uncomfortable. It will make some people question their own alcohol intake and some will even think I am being a judgy bitch by not imbibing with them. I hope that last one isn’t true, but I am prepared for it.

What can I do about this? Be strong. Be kind. Be empathetic. I am not asking anyone to stop drinking around me. I am not preaching or telling people the ills of alcohol or how it is negatively impacting their life. Most of the people I know are aware I am writing a blog – but only a handful know what it is about and even fewer have been given access to it.

This is a not a completely solitary journey for me. I have shared with a few friends my desire to be sober. For some I have told them that it is for a specific amount of time, for others I have shared my real truth, that my goal is truly to be sober for life. The reasons for this difference in messages is as varied as my friends-sets. But in the end, this is MY journey. My truth. In many ways, this is a very selfish journey I am taking. I am laser focused on MY recovery. MY reasons. MY truth. MY. MY. MY. (That’s a lot of “my’s”).

We live in a world obsessed with self-care.  Perhaps we should try to balance our self care with our empathy for others. Ensure that we are getting what we need and still be considerate of others’ needs. Addressing of my own needs doesn’t necessarily mean neglecting the needs of others.

I need to understand how my journey will affect the people I love and be empathetic towards them. I need to understand that they see me a certain way, and it will be an adjustment for them to see me otherwise. I have created and accepted the expectations they have of me. As they can no longer count on my meeting those expectations, I need to understand this will create stress in some relationships. Especially those that are primarily based in a shared love of wine/beer/alcohol.

In all relationships there is a dance. Over time, you learn that dance, and anticipate your partner’s predictable actions so that you can react in a way that is predictable to them. This predictably leads to familiarity, which provides a sense of order. When you do not act or react in a predictable manner, it upsets this order and creates stress for the other dancer. Even if the change is positive, it still upsets the balance of the dance. I need to be patient with my friends as they adjust to my new dance moves. Perhaps some will decide they can’t get the steps and will just stop dancing with me. I need to be willing to accept that, as sad as it will be. My hope is that although the tune has changed – they will see me as just as clever a dancer as always and we will find a new rhythm that is pleasing for all of us.

Day 5 – Sobriety and the subtle art of addressing all the shit I was avoiding in my life while I was busy drinking…

The beautiful thing about drinking a lot of alcohol is that it gives you the illusion that you are temporarily removed you from all the responsibilities in your life that are weighing you down. You can be blissfully unaware that your life is falling apart around you. The downside is that when you are done drinking the problems you started with still exist, are still not handled (but are delayed), and may seem much bigger with the raging hangover you currently have. You may also have created some extra problems while being drunk, just for fun. Now you have to deal with your regular life and challenges, plus any problems you created during your drunk-capades, all while dealing with sour stomach, headache and cotton mouth caused by dehydration, exhaustion, and brain fog. When I put it like that it sounds terrible… Why would anyone drink too much? (read: at all).

The downside to being sober is that you realize whatever shit you thought you had together, was most definitely and profoundly not together – despite any facade you were able to erect to convince yourself and others to the contrary. From what I have read (and what I desperately hope), the upside to being sober long term is that you are able to address life’s challenges with more focus, clarity, energy, and determination.

The reasons I wanted to quit over the years have been varied. I have made an ass of myself more than once as a party or work function (that latter was only once – you get called “Otis” for a year at work after the Christmas party and you learn quickly to not even allow yourself to drink at work functions). I have lashed out in alcohol induced anger at people that love me. I have blacked out more times that I care to admit, having said or done things that came directly from my snake-brain and had little to do with higher function thinking but that I do not remember at all the next day. I have put myself in VERY dangerous situations that didn’t always work out in my favor. I have woken up so hungover that I have taken off work. (Side note: as I have gotten older, the hangovers are less like feeling bad and more like recovering from a car accident or minor surgery). After my more raucous bouts of drinking I would always ask myself the inevitable question: “Am I An Alcoholic?” This question has plagued my mind for years. Based on some of the details I have just admitted, some would say “yes.” Most of the more heinous events detailed occurred when I was a much younger woman. But not all. Some would say that solely because I ask the question, the answer is “yes,” until they hear how much and how often I currently drink. Then they say “maybe.” But I dislike the “Alcoholic” label/moniker. I reject the static permanence of being categorized for the rest of my life. I consider myself a person that used to drink, but no longer does. I do this because I feel it is best for me.

The reason I wanted to quit this time is because my ratio of avoidance distractions has changed in the past 6-8 months. I knew I was avoiding some big-ticket items in my life in favor of focusing on more pleasant things (working out, eating clean, working on projects at home, cleaning, cooking, hanging out with friends, dating, and yes, drinking wine). What I noticed is that the ratio of time that these activities were taking was starting to shift. I worked out less, worked on my house less, ate “dirtier,” dated more, hung out with friends more, drank a lot more and more often. What made me really take notice was when I looked around my house one day and saw it had become much less tidy than I was accustomed to, or comfortable with. My bed was unmade, my clothes were piled on the floor and on the dresser, my laundry was way behind. My floors were unswept. I had dirty dishes in the sink. My house was showing the neglect that I was showing my life in general. The big items were still being avoided, but the good-habits had been slowly removed in place of the bad. Now even my housekeeping had started to fail. My house had become a physical representation of my life. Somewhat put together on the surface, but just barely. It was time for change.

With 5 days behind me, I have addressed some of the minor details that needed to be addressed (the house is clean, for a start). I feel energized and have started to address some of the big-ticket items. There is so much to do that still lies ahead of me. I know that drinking would not help me to accomplish what I need to do.

I am currently listening to Take Control of Your life by Mel Robbins. These are recordings of live sessions with clients with commentary after every session. I highly recommend. This is not a book about alcoholism. It is about fear and how our fear and coping mechanisms to fear shape everything we do. I find a lot of what she is saying to be applicable to my current situation. So, although it is not about alcohol cessation, if you feel your life is out of control, I encourage you to listen, as it may help.

Day 4 – Sobriety: How do you know when you get there?

Now on my fourth day sober and feeling a little overwhelmed by the journey ahead of me. For the past few days, I have felt this false sense of bravado – like I have this thing licked… Like I’m just really gonna kick this thing right in the dick. As a strong, independent woman, I feel my fire and power and I’m ready to take sobriety head on… Sometimes.

Other times, like today, I feel REALLY small in the face of this. WHY I am doing this? Was it really THAT BAD? Do I really have a “problem” with alcohol? CAN I do this? I don’t have an every day problem with alcohol. I don’t have any police records, or DUI’s, or broken relationships over alcohol (except the last is not entirely truthful). These are all things I say as justification that I can, indeed, drink moderately and this whole sobriety thing is just an over-reaction to a bad night… But in my heart, I know that is not true.

Over the years I have stressed about my alcohol consumption many, many times. I know that it has been often out of hand. I know that it negatively affects my health, my performance, my relationships, my sleep, and my self esteem. I have struggled with quitting too many times to count, and all of the justifications mentioned above have led to me diving head first back into a wine bottle.

I thought surely I wouldn’t be in a position to go back and read Day Zero – Again so soon (my projection was 2 weeks) but here I am, re-reading my blog from the start. I have to say that Day 1: Not Hungover… is better for me to see inside myself on that day and remember how I felt. It helped me to remember that I am better without alcohol in so many ways. I will start listening to This Naked Mind again today. This book is a really good tool to highlight the ways in which alcohol affects us negatively. It is a great reminder that some of us are just better without alcohol. In all honestly, probably all of us are better without alcohol, but as promised, no proselytizing – we are all on our own journeys.

I hope that someone can identify with what I am going through and that maybe this helps someone, or you have some encouragement for me. I know detailing my journey in this way is helping me. It keeps me accountable and gives me a tether to travel back to the beginning. I need to be reminded where it started so I know to not go back. I need to remember how I felt on Day Zero – Again, and Day 1 – Not Hungover… I need to really feel this over and over until I understand that another “Day Zero” is an inevitable consequence of drinking until I stop once and for all.

So I don’t know how you know when you get there. I do know that I’m not there yet. I want so badly to feel free and right now I do not. Sometimes I really try and can convince myself I am. But not today. I know it has only been 4 days. I realize that I am asking a lot from this situation, very early on.

I also understand that I may be rushing the process. That going through the process may be the only way to be free. That I must feel all the feelings on the journey from here to there in order to be successful. But I have no interest in struggling with this for the rest of my life. That particular brand of sobriety makes me tired and angry thinking just about it.

If you are out there and are sober, when did it get better for you? When did you feel “on the other side of this?” I appreciate your feedback.

Day 3 – About last night…

My first weekend evening on this new journey. Last night, Friday night, was my first night of non-drinking with others who were drinking. I went with a to a friend’s house to celebrated his daughter’s birthday. There were a few little girls there. We made sushi and cake. Fortunately it was not a purely “adult” night, so it was a good excuse for me to not drink.

The other adults were drinking, and I could have certainly spent the night if I had decided to drink too much alcohol. I made sure to bring juice and kombucha in order to drink something with a little more kick than straight water or soda. (I will talk about my special juice later).

Part of me really did want to drink. Normally, even if I planned to drive, I would have had one or two drinks. I am very nervous about drinking and driving. I lost my father in a drinking and driving accident when I was a young child (he was driving). I never want to be the cause of some family’s pain. And as a mom, I never want to leave my child motherless because of some stupid action on my part. With that said, I was able to “justify” minimal drinking and driving because I had a system that I considered fool-proof. One drink + one hour = okay to drive. Two drinks+ two hours + food= okay to drive. I have not always tried to be responsible. I am ashamed to say that I did drink and drive prior to my daughter’s birth. I can only say this is because I was a selfish, immature asshole. I was young enough to not understand my own mortality, and had enough hubris to believe I could manage my drunk driving without hurting anyone or myself.

Having kids around last evening and planning to drive was a good excuse to NOT drink. So I don’t think this was a really challenging test. In addition, I am still at less than the two week historic failure point for me, so I’m not feeling confident yet. I feel like I’m still on a “sobriety-high.” I feel really good about the decision to be sober, because I have called it a “challenge.” I am treating this as a gift I am giving to myself and my body. I am not sure the idea that I plan to NEVER drink alcohol again has actually set in.

I felt really good about not drinking. I didn’t feel superior to those that were drinking, I just felt that I was doing what was right for me. There weren’t a lot of questions, because I kept busy with the kids and made it clear I planned to drive. Now when it is only adults and everyone is drinking, except me, I believe there will be more questions, and potentially more pressure.

I want to talk about my juice for a bit. Whether it is because of conditioning or because of my taste buds, I really do like the taste of beer. I enjoy the bitterness. I enjoy the bite of it. I happened upon a juice that gives me a little bit of that bite. When mixed with kombucha, it provides a sweetness and a bite (more like a cider). I used this last evening to help me sate the desire for bitterness that beer provides. I even transported it in a little howler, just be funny.

The juice is simple, but effective for me. In case you are curious, here is the recipe:

1 celery bunch, 1 whole small lemon (with peel) or one half large lemon (can also sub in lime), 1 Granny Smith apple, 1 thumb of ginger, water (about 2 cups). I don’t have a juicer, but I use a vitamix to puree the ingredients and then sieve out the pulp with a milk nut bag. I am sure you could also make this with a juicer. Chill. I mean, chill the juice- but if you want to chill after making the juice, then please proceed to do so. I encourage chilling at every opportunity. If you try it, please let me know how you like it.

Turn People Into Trees

Beautiful thought.

TheEnlightenedMind622

When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.

-Ram Dass

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Day 2- Living Sober in a Drunken World

As I navigate an old world as a new me, I have concerns that my relationships will be affected by my choice to be sober. Alcohol is everywhere in our society. It is present at every social event, even in places where it would seem out of place, (baby showers, kids birthdays). It is almost always shown in media through a positive lens. It is the social lubricant, the courage builder, the stress reliever, the night cap, and constant companion of all social gatherings. It is readily available and there is no stigma around its consumption (except while driving). Since beginning to consider my own consumption of alcohol, I have become conscious of its availability. It is almost everywhere. Choosing to not drink alcohol in a world that is so saturated (pardon the pun) is going to be tough.

I am concerned about the impact my choice to be sober will have on my social life. As I said, I am mid-divorce and my social support system has become extremely important to me. My “tribe” has helped me in ways I can never repay. They have propped me up when I could not stand (literally and figuratively). They have comforted me, cried with me, and been righteously pissed off with me. They have reassured me that I am stronger than I realize, that I can face all of what lies ahead and will come out of it better than before. I am forever grateful to them.

I have a few “tribes.” These are sets of friends that I engage with on a regular basis that may or may not interact with one another. In every one of my tribes (save one), alcohol is ever-present. Chats at the dining table over wine, laughs at the new brewery (there is one around every corner here), pies with pints, happy hours with margaritas or sushi and wine are all a part of this dynamic. Alcohol saturates almost every gathering. I find myself nervous that without alcohol my interactions will be different. Will my friendships change? I refuse to stop participating in social events because of my desire to remain sober, but will my friends find me less interesting? Less engaging? Less Funny? Will my choice to be sober while they drink become bothersome to them? Will they eventually find it intolerable? Will I?

I have two very best friends. One has chosen not to drink. Not out of a need to curtail her own drinking or out of a need to regain control, but just because she drinks so little, what is the point? I am very envious of her and may actually secretly hate her for this. (kidding). When I spoke to her about my choice, she encouraged me. She did not say I had a problem or that I should quit – but rather it was a personal choice and she supports whatever decision I make. Based on what I have told her, she agrees that this is a good decision for me- precisely because I am feeling concern about it. A person without an complicated relationship with alcohol, WOULD say that. I admit, I was annoyed with her level-headedness about it.

The other is a 25 yr friend who has been by my side through marriages, divorces, career decisions, raising children, all the phases of the adult female life, and more bottles of wine than I could count. I don’t think anyone knows the real me better than she. When I spoke to her about my concerns and about my drinking, and how I didn’t want to use alcohol as a crutch or a reward, she was encouraging. She said “You should do what you feel is right. If you feel it is out of control, then you need to reign it in. I felt the same way about smoking – so I quit.” Then she said “But I’m not going to quit drinking! I’m STILL going to enjoy my wine and use it as a reward when I’ve had a tough day or a great one!” And I get where she is coming from. I have thought a lot about this conversation. I was not asking her to quit or to slow down her drinking. However, when I spoke of my own sobriety, she seemed to be a little defensive, as though I was making an accusation or a judgement about drinking in general. I certainly am not.

From the outside looking in, I have been told that my drinking does not appear to be out of control. But I feel very much out of control – mentally and physically worse with alcohol, perhaps emotionally dependent. And in the end, sobriety is a personal choice. Drinking alcohol is a personal choice. I have no intention of a being a zealot or true-believer. I refuse to be the ex-smoker railing against every current smoker because I quit. We are all on our own personal journeys. I accept encouragement gladly and will give freely it where I can. I cannot say what is right for other people. I can only say what is right for me. And for right now, in this moment, sobriety is best gift I can give myself.

I am concerned that my friends will become bored with me and my tedious sobriety. But who knows? Maybe it will just become a change to get used to – like I changed my hair color? Maybe being sober and more present in the moment will allow me to be funnier, more interesting, and more engaging. I guess we shall see.