Archive | August, 2012

Want to do something like drink, or something

17 Aug

2:03 am

I woke up not wanting to get out of bed. I’m going to sleep not wanting to get into bed. What’s the point?

I’d drink, but I’m counting days again and really, will it change anything? Nope.

Are these mood swings/existential mini-crises a normal part of both short- and long-term sobriety, or are they the reason why I started drinking in my early 20s in the first place? Which reminds me to blog about panic, anxiety, depression, and booze — tomorrow.

Sober dinner parties rock! Even if you’re the only one sober…

15 Aug

2:34 am

So, as I wrote yesterday, I fell off the horse Sunday night after 60 days of sobriety. It sucked, I went to my dark place, and I still feel slightly hung over, 48 hours later. BUT, I had a GREAT day today, and despite having drunk I think it was four Diet Cokes and at least two more ginger ales, it was a very healthful day, physically and emotionally.

After I took the dogs for a walk, I went for a run for the first time in a few weeks. I felt pretty good, despite having twisted or overextended my knee recently, so that’s encouraging. I think it’ll really help my mood swings if I’m able to one, set and achieve at least one goal per day, and two, get some endorphins pumping again. In the afternoon, my boyfriend and I met a few friends at a wonderfully secluded beach, and then later, we invited this couple and another over for a dinner party — awesome. I love dinner parties. Very life affirming. And…cool to do it with someone you’re dating. (I thought about the last time I did stuff like this, and, I was for sure WASTED. So, it’s…different and nice and grown up in way that it never was before for me.)

I must admit, I was a tad bit…nervous, I suppose, since we haven’t had guests since we’ve been housesitting and I usually use wine to loosen up the talking joints. Chalk it up to practice (I’ve hung out before sober, of course), or a general feeling of being at ease with my boyfriend, or the crowd (very chill), or the fact that I was flying high on caffeine — I don’t know why, but I felt good, talkative, not at all self-conscious. (Hmm, the question does come to mind: Maybe I’m just way cooler than I give myself credit for?)

Anyway, we went swimming and hot-tubbing after dinner, and I didn’t feel weird at all being stone cold sober. In fact, I totally enjoyed remembering every detail, staring up at the shooting stars, being naked and seeing my friends naked (that was something I totally would have missed if I had been drinking and something I actually surprisingly dug — it made me feel closer to them), feeling the spray of the bubbling water blow over my wet skin… I actually did think at one point, how would I be acting if I was my drunky drunk self? Overly flirty? Somewhat out of line? Totally inappropriate? I’m not sure, and I’m glad I was my mostly awkward self; anything else would have ruined a perfect evening.

I think it’ll be easy — well, easier — to get back on the horse now that I’ve got 60 days practice at being sober. I think my new goals are to fully confront my anxiety and social anxiety while sober, as well as work toward — after 60 days — living sober and not simply “not drinking.” It’s hard down here to do that, in a way, when the island culture is all about indulging in your vices. However, I just can’t see living only to stay sober; I have to eventually embrace being sober, living to BE sober. I think it’s a significantly different mindset: when you’re staying sober, you’re wanting to drink but not allowing yourself, which is constantly frustrating. But, when you’re living to be sober, you’re embracing and enjoying not drinking instead of simply grinning and bearing it.

Two days and counting. 😉

So, I fell off the wagon last night…

13 Aug

10:16 pm

…and the same shit that always happens, happened. I drank, blacked out, yelled at/harassed my boyfriend (among other classic “me” moves, like, getting into bed wet from the pool — yes, I went swimming in my blackout in the middle of the fucking night), tried to drink more but luckily, couldn’t get the bottle open, passed out naked on the couch only to wake up and stumble into the bedroom. Woke up with a raging hangover, one that reminded me just how much I HATE hangovers.

Sure, I’m disappointed, but I’m not taking it into tomorrow. Yeah, it sucks, but it’s also made me that much more committed to not letting it happen again.

And, was it even fun? No! I remember feeling…weird, I guess, after the first glass. Dizzy. The second made my brain feel numb, emotionless — quite literally, depressed. The whole point was to make me feel less depressed, and I didn’t even get the buzz! Either it didn’t work or I wouldn’t let myself show it in front of my boyfriend, who tried to stop me from opening the bottle and then had to watch me drink it and wonder how much time he had between that moment and when I’d black out and turn on him… I felt dissociated from myself, as if I was watching myself get drunk, watching myself unable to stop talking, watching myself “play” with the parrot. I remember yelling at my boyfriend for a while, going in for the second bottle (which was half full)…and then I blacked out. Per fucking usual.

The last thing I remember was going in for the white, but not actually drinking it. I don’t remember going for a swim or coming into the bedroom and continually turning the light on and off, talking at and/or yelling at my boyfriend more, passing out naked on the couch, or leaving a used pantyliner in the pool. Eww. I do remember waking up on the couch in the middle of the night and stumbling (literally) into bed, passing out for good.

The hangover sucked, the day was ruined, and I got fuck all done. But, I really do believe that this experience has made me even more committed to not drinking. To being sober. I think I needed to do it, to see if things had changed, to just get it fucking over with. Nothing’s changed, and nothing’s different. It’s not fun, and frankly, I can’t afford to drink anymore. I can’t afford to waste days, I can’t afford to offend my boyfriend and/or waste his time, I can’t afford to go there again, into that dark place. I can’t afford to be spiritually drained like that even one more time! I need light, not dark.

Some points:

1. Triggers. Need To Deal Better. I think my main trigger was the sheer buildup of sobriety! Like, the daily fucking grind of always being sober, never getting a break. Add to that hanging out at the beach all day with drinkers; my boyfriend making comments about other chics that hurt my feelings more than I like to admit; a killer PMS mood swing — well, it’s enough to make anyone succumb. I also spent about three hours on the phone with family the day before and realized that one brother thinks I’ve alienated myself from the family and need to call more and the other is still a long way from forgiving me for my batshit crazy blackout on New Year’s Eve. It just felt like major overload. Can’t I fucking do anything right? Where is MY solace, MY relief, MY release, huh? I don’t smoke weed or pop pills or do any other drugs, so wine is it.

The thing it, it’s not going to go away, life. People drinking and smoking. Job interviews and petty jealousy and family problems and life choices. Death. Mood swings. PMS. They’re all here to stay, drinking doesn’t solve anything or make any of it go away so…the only thing TO DO is to deal with it sober.

2. Hangovers. Still Suck. I am about to go suck down some rooibos tea and then Kill This Fucking Day. The shittiest part about this whole thing is that I wasted a day here, on the island. I had such a sense of accomplishment after a day spent sober, and now, well, I definitely feel like I wasted the day.

3. 60 days minus 1? Or, start the count all over? Bf says start over. I’m not sure how I feel, now that I’ve actually broken my stride. I feel much more practiced at being sober now, so I think it’ll be fairly easy to get back on the wagon. I mean, I could have killed myself if I had passed out in the pool. A family friend did just that, at 28 years old. I thought mostly about that today, not about my 60 days and the “game” of counting days. It’s not a game, it’s my life.

4. Next goal: being sober and not just “not drinking.”

I’m disappointed, but tomorrow’s another day to forgive and forget, right? Sigh.

How to not drink…

10 Aug

8:04 pm

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself since I quit…nearly 60 days ago. Yup, true story! Woot woot. GO, ME.

How do I not drink? Well, I’ve come up with a variety of ways to — as I still see it, rather bitterly — trick myself into thinking and actually believing that drinking four Diet Cokes a day is better than drinking red, glorious red wine. Here’s my running list:

1. Stay busy. Real busy. I’ve realized that the more I do, the less I want to drink, have time to drink, and think about my “need” to drink. I try not to let myself get bored or allow myself too much time to spiral from “thinking” to “thinkin’ and drinkin’.” There’ll be plenty of time to think and ponder, and sometimes, you just have to Turn It Off.

2. Turn it off. Your computer, your work, your TV, your friends, your emails and Facebooks and Twitters and all the fucking rest. Turn it off. You can allow yourself to do that. You NEED to. What do they say in AA? Don’t get too tired, too hungry, etc.? Well, don’t get too thoughtful, basically. Unless, of course, it’s good thoughtful, and not bad thoughtful…

2. Surround yourself with nondrinkers. YAWNS…But, it’s true. Luckily, I have a very supportive boyfriend (Hi!) who happens to not drink, but who also realizes the benefits to me of his choosing not to drink around me. I’ve sort of “abandoned” friends who just want to get drunk…not like I’ve got a huge circle anywhere at this point and anyway, most of my besties are mid-to-late-30s, and we’re all sort of over the shenanigans and blackouts and hangovers.

3. Eat chocolate. And ice cream. Doesn’t matter if you put it on your list or not, you’re gonna end up doing it! Cravings for sugar, HELLO?

4. Remember the aforementioned shenanigans, blackouts, and hangovers. Remember them very clearly and, however painful, try to keep them accessible if not at the forefront of your mind. (One of these posts, I’ll include a list of “shit I’ve done” in order to have it written out, for you and for me, to refer back to whenever the urge to drink hits.) Like, I know this is cheesy, but as Candy Finnigan said on an episode of Intervention when one of the weepy victims asked her how she quit drinkin’, she said simply, “Well, I had had enough.” I’ve had enough. And I sure as hell don’t want to black out and do or say something that, once again, I can’t take back. So over it. So, SO over it.

5. Remember that:
a. Drinkin’ doesn’t make a problem go away, it’s just a vacation from it. BUT:
b. Drinkin’ is NOT a vacation. Bummer.
c. Drinkin’ is NOT a reward, it is a punishment — mentally, emotionally, spiritually, not to mention, physically. You’re awesome and you deserve BETTER.
d. You will black out, and you will be hung over. (And if you’re not, then it’ll be the first time in like, EVER. Accept that the experiment has failed and your experience has succeeded…in allowing you to see this pattern rationally, from an objective standpoint. You’d get an “F” in Statistics if you actually drink after tallying all this data up!)

6. Find something to distract you from the craving, and then convince yourself that it’ll be better, way more of a sustained (longer and more nourishing) buzz than drinking. Read. Watch a movie. Walk. Run. Write. Paint. Look at the sun or the clouds or the moon or the myriad of life and animals and plants around you — just look, they’re pretty distracting. Do yoga. Meditate. Whatever takes you out of your head, even for a minute, is another step toward re-building your mind, toward *practicing sobriety.*

At the same time, I can hear the call of red wine, even as I type this. So, once again, I have to check in with myself. Seems like I spend SO much time going back and forth in my mind, mainly cuz I guess I still haven’t accepted that I cannot drink. Le sigh.

Of extremely large iced coffees…

9 Aug

9:04 pm

Nope, I didn’t cave and drink that bottle of red I bought yesterday afternoon. I hope to hold onto it like I did the last bottle I bought — on the top shelf of someone else’s wine rack, ready to uncork and serve…to someone else, some other day when I’m long gone from this housesitting gig.

I feel pretty good about it. Mostly that has to do with me making choices, and sticking with them. A not insignificant part of it, I must admit, has to do with being able to have and savor the moment when I tell my friends and family, Nope, bitches, I haven’t had a drink in 90 days. 180 days. 360 days.

(And, why do I care so god damned much what other people think? Do I even know what they think, or am I just assuming? I mean, I’d say that the people closest to me — my handful of friends who have literally saved me from accidentally killing myself while shitfaced, my family members (both brothers, mom, dad, and uncle…and some cousins, I’m sure) who have seen me black out and get crazy confused and belligerent on their asses — I’d say that all of these people would be nothing but happy, relieved, proud that I’ve quit. It’s the one or two or four assholes in my life who have taken a blackout and held it against me for years, or unfriended me, or treat me like a piece of shit whenever we hang out (but do it quietly, of course) cuz they know they’ve got an upper hand on me; it’s these people whom I dwell on and let piss me the fuck off. Why? What is wrong with me that at my age, I can’t just LET IT GO. Good riddance, and btw, I’m happier now, I’ve moved on, I’m no longer in that place, and I hope to God(dess) that you’ve got something better going on in your lives, too. Though, the vindictive bitch in me, I’ll admit it, hopes that they’re sad and stuck and haven’t moved on! Anyhoo…Jesus. Hello, rambling, negative thoughts! I don’t care, though; these torrents of thoughts are what make me drink, but also what make me able to have decent conversations with good, open, curious people.)

The problem I have now is, how to go out and not drink? Like, sure, I’ve gone out and even gone to a wedding without having drunk, but it wasn’t like, Woo hoo, I’m GOING OUT! It was more of a grit-my-teeth-and-pretend-to-smile affair, at least that’s how it felt to me. I want to WANT to go out and not drink. Not care about it. I need to learn how to be social without the “fun” that booze promises. In fact, and I’m not seeing this go away with sobriety and improved mood on my part, I really have ZERO desire to socialize, meet new people, hear their stories. Maybe I’m too old for the “fun and games” of your 20s and 30s (I’m 38), maybe I’m a burned out journalist (one of the hazards of that profession is eventually coming to treat people like commodities, and getting tired, oh, so tired, of listening to their stories), maybe I erroneously equate “relating” to drunken babbling over the top of a bar, so I’m turned off by it. Really, I’d rather stay home. And, it’s not totally because I don’t want to go out and not be able to drink. I gotta fix that. Or do I? Hmm…

I have to constantly remind myself that drinking that bottle of red IS NOT A REWARD; that’s the booze-fiend in my head talking. Drinking that bottle of red out at a bar doesn’t make the conversation more interesting to anyone but YOU; that’s the social anxiety drama queen in my head whining. I don’t need to drink to socialize, and/or sit at bars, and I know I can do it. What if…I just embrace and accept that my drink of choice will be a decaf iced coffee? The rest I’m going to have to confront — why I don’t want to meet new people, why I want to delve into myself most of the time these days, reading, writing, yoga, meditation, long walks alone — but I can do it on my own time, I guess…

Btw, thanks to one and all — and especially my friends online who commented last night — for giving me that extra reason/incentive to NOT imbibe last night. I hate to say it, but I might try and find an AA meeting soon and give it a chance…

(All that being said, I still want to drink and I’m still mulling that bottle over… Sigh. 57 days and 21 hours…)

Of dopamine and security blankets…

9 Aug

2:30 am

I bought a bottle of red wine today, the first time in over two months, and got it chillin’ in the fridge… But I hope to God(dess) that I don’t drink it! Do I like to torture myself? Am I really that much of a masochist? Apparently so.

Yup, I broke down and actually purchased a bottle of red wine tonight at Kmart (of all places, and a shitty $7 bottle at that!). OH, NO! Oh, yes. BUT, I made it past the craving or whatever it was today (severe PMS bipolar dip?) that made/allowed me to buy it and cart it home, so that’s good. I got distracted, I guess.

Did it help to get that bottle? What purpose is it serving if in the end, I choose NOT to drink it? Well, for one, it makes me feel excited. I recently watched a doc or something on TV about the neuroscience of addiction, and how people can’t, actually, say no to drugs and booze when they’re addicted. Why? Their dopamine circuits are too fucked up, and that is difficult — and deeply seated — brain chemistry to ignore. The interesting part for me was when the expert said that addicts will get a buzz just anticipating the using and boozing, and that the buzz is real. Yeah? Yeah. In fact, I’ve experienced that! It’s like, a total high from just anticipating, planning, looking forward to drinking.

When I bought the bottle, it wasn’t as huge as it might have been eight weeks ago, but a weight was lifted from my mind and chest (literally, my heart aches for red wine!) — I felt lighter, happier, excited about drinking. I had something to look forward to! Indeed, I might even become funnier, crazier, sexier, younger — or, at least, identify with that old (and DELUSIONAL) emotional self I constructed around drinking red wine. Point being, I’ve felt this anticipation and excitement before, just from having begun the planning process of drinking. My mood was noticeably altered.

I also did it to provide some kind of relief, solace, sense of security. Shit, whatever it takes, right? I know, it’s dangerous, but there’s a lot of booze in this house that I’m house-sitting for, and I haven’t touched a drop. And, the reason is not just cuz I don’t want to break my sober stride, but I also don’t want to have to deal with the fucking drama of replacing booze that may be expensive or have sentimental value for the owner. Been there, fucking done that. So, I’m learning to rationally apply what I’ve learned from my mistakes while drinking to my sober choices…at least up until this afternoon at the checkout in the big K.

It’s just grapes, my bad angel says. Just one glass.

The good angel’s getting better at holding her own, though. Why do it to yourself? Do you really need the buzz when half of it comes from just buying the bottle and bringing it home? Come ON, it’s shit wine, are you really going to go out on cheap red? What if, like last time you drank after being sober for a few weeks, you didn’t even get drunk, you just felt…weird? Will breaking your stride before you hit 90 days be worth it over four glasses of bad red wine? What about everyone who says you can’t do it (yourself included), friends who think you’re a drunk and always will be a drunk and are just waiting for you to slip up and start drinking again? Don’t you want to prove them wrong? What about your 57 days, your self-respect, winning the game?

(Sigh. So many thoughts for just one bottle of red wine…)

Feel like…drinkin’

6 Aug

1:23 am

Yup, that about sums it up. And, man, after the past few days of feeling frustrated and glum, it’s really hard not to say, Aww, come on, now, just one little glass of wine. You DESERVE it…

Sigh. I wish it were that simple, but it’s not. And that’s the most frustrating part. I want the quick fix. Bad feelings be gone! Dark moods/thoughts exit my brain! Please, just let me be. Instead, it’s constant, a permanent buzz. Last night, my brain took a nosedive into dark terre — this place that feels VERY bleak, empty, and motionless. It’s like my brain is being held under water in a dark pool, like every part has been switched off except the brainstem. I feel so lethargic, and depressed. There is nothing to do and no reason or rationale to do it. Life is pointless, and even if there is a fucking point, I won’t be told what it is or I am incapable of knowing. Sure, I could assume that I know — meditation, yoga — but really, isn’t that just a way to manipulate your mind and body into a state of calm embrace of the mystery instead of this screaming, abject horror at the absurdity?

Yeah, it’s DEFINITELY one of the reasons I drank, episodes like this. Lately, in the past many years, I’d turn to wine to deal. This time, I finally forced myself to wait it out. After, oh, about an hour, the worst of it had passed. I felt like I could breathe on my own again, and my mind started to open up, my pupils dilating enough to let in some light.

I’m glad I made it through that. However, I’m getting tired of it. Tired of having to simply fight the mind, day in and day out. It’s why I drank, and I’m not sure if it’s normal to feel this way, on varying levels, all day every day. But, I’ve had much worse depression/depressive episodes in my life, so I’d say it’s one, life in general, two, sobriety, or three, the daily grind of dealing quietly with my mood swings that is simply Getting To Me. I’d LOVE to take my brain out of my head and dunk it in a vat of red wine! Don’t even need or want to feel drunk, just want this anguish, I guess, to go away. At least for a little while. 😦

Addiction and AA? Hmm…

4 Aug

12:46 pm

Getting closer to 8 weeks sober, and that’s pretty much all that’s keeping me from cracking open a bottle of red and guzzling it these days. I just FEEL like drinking — it’s been taking all my concentration not to drink, actually. Then again, I’m much (yeah, much, I’d say MUCH) better at coping with the cravings using rational thought. As in:

If I drink one glass, I’ll likely finish the bottle, probably move on to two, or three, since I haven’t drunk for a while. Then, I’ll black out and well, who KNOWS what might happen at this point. At the very least, I’ll be hung the fuck over the next day, which will ruin it. And, I haven’t had a bad, ruined hung over day yet here (this time on island), and I’d really like to keep it that way. So, drinking equals hangover, which sucks.

I have to say, it’s amazing to me that I’ve “re-trained” my mind enough to WANT to choose not being hung over to drinking/being drunk. I’ve regained my sense enough to be able to see that while it’d be great — marvelous — to be drunk, it can only lead to bad things. Is three hours of drunkenness (or less) worth 24 to 48 hours of feeling horrible? Nope.

Again, it’s amazing to see just how you can re-train your mind, how you can overcome addiction, which is of the mind, not the body. AA would say otherwise. AA would also say that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. And I would say what I always say, fuck AA. Get over your dogmatic, outdated, and possibly never in-sync-with-addiction-science mentality, will ya?

Maybe I should give AA another shot, though. It is a community and once you’ve gotten over the hump of staying sober, it could simply be nice to have friends that get it. People who know what I’m going through, that could be there for me when I’m feeling sorry for myself and wanting to binge drink.

I dunno. Everyone talks about how helpful AA can be, and I agree that it IS helpful — to some, and as a way to quit. It wasn’t for me, as every time I went to a meeting, I totally felt like drinking after! All that talk of booze and blackouts…! It’s also a semi-load of bullshit: who made up those 12 steps? Not to mention, AA has always felt to me like you’re replacing one addiction — booze, sex, food, whatever — with another, meetings. Instead of looking inward at the circular thoughts of addiction, at your own reasons for using, or drinking, or binge eating, you’re told to look outside? To a “program?” I guess it’s a start, a method that you can use to quit drinking. Sooner or later, though, you’re going to have to STAY SOBER, which has nothing to do with 12 steps, saying you’re sorry, and turning to “god.”

In fact, I think it’s the (fake) religion of AA, like all religions, that serves the purpose of making folks believe that they’re actually managing their addictive tendencies when in fact, it’s the program that’s distanced them from these tendencies. It’s infinitely harder, I think, to take responsibility for managing an addictive personality or addictive thoughts on your own — but it’s the only way to stay sober, mentally and emotionally, and to be glad to be sober physically.

Like I said, the closest I’ve come to a “higher power” was that ONE TIME a few months ago when I felt an absence of craving. Remembering that moment takes me back, again and again, to my late teens, a time of immense…flow. Excitement. Anticipation. Creativity. All without booze. It’s possible, it reminds me, that I once felt that way SANS BOOZE, and that I can, therefore, feel that way again.

What made me start drinking? Where was that fork in the road? Was it a gradual process, a response to my social anxiety that turned into a dysfunction? Of course. Did it get out of control even further, years later, when my mind had come to rely on those circuits being turned on so that others would be turned off? Sure. I could go on, but the point is, I don’t think anyone can tell you whether you’re going to be a drunk for the rest of your life. I don’t think anyone can draw a line in the sand — your sand — and do the work for you by substituting a program with an inner healing process. In that regard, AA is as elusive a fix as some of the drugs and booze we were using!

Seven weeks sober and…

1 Aug

1:03 am

…feeling good about it. Content. Solid. And…

SO FUCKING GLAD to not have had the crazyass blackout one of my old drinking buddies had last night! I still have to check in with her to see exactly how she even made it to work today. Though, I’m so over the drama that I’m not sure I can even be bothered to involve myself: I KNOW the details; I lived through it. Finding yourself lost, drunk, confused; on subway platforms, buses, cabs, standing alone in the rain; in the middle of the night, in the early light of dawn — waking up from a blackout with that sinking feeling of Oh, fuck. And that’s all BEFORE the hangover starts and you begin to remember what you actually did. Ugh.

After seven whole weeks, I’m finally feeling like there’s something to this sobriety thing. Like, resisting the cravings and grinning and bearing it is just the beginning. I went to see the new Batman movie tonight and well, I actually felt like it was enough, the movie. Before, during, and after, it was enough. I didn’t need to feel high, or drunk, or anything but sober. I was waiting for it, but the disappointment that always seems to accompany any sort of entertainment without booze — well, it simply didn’t come tonight. Thank God(dess)!

It’s nice to just…enjoy, absorb, FEEL my sober seconds, minutes, hours, days tick by. It’s becoming more the norm, I’m fighting it less. I like waking up knowing I haven’t done something stupid in a blackout, like my friend busting a chair that she found discarded on the sidewalk in a drunken fit/rage. I like hearing the frogs and crickets at night outside, or watching tv, writing, reading a book. I like getting things done, planning my day, looking forward to tomorrow. I like going to sleep because I’m actually starting to feel tired at night. Mostly, I like being in control, claiming my choice and not giving my privacy and self-respect to other people who, if they’re drinking “buddies,” likely don’t deserve it.

And, I like standing firm in my choice, despite the fact that I get the feeling my friend isn’t really all that happy about me going on two months sober. Like, she’s losing and I’m winning. It looks like it’s for real, like it’s finally sticking this time, the no drinking thing. No one’s going to stop me, no one’s going to label me a drunk anymore. I decide who and what I be and do. It’s empowering, is what it is.

(Sure, I’d love a glass of red, but what’s holding me back is my vanity (read: wine gut), my competitive nature, these seven weeks and not wanting to “lose the game” and break my stride, and well, my ego (proving to myself and friends that I can do this)). All good enough reasons, I think, and so far, they seem to be enough. Whatever works, right?)


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