Archive | June, 2013

I have power over my cravings…

29 Jun

12:07 pm

And, that power is the power to forget about them! Or, to laugh in my own face and say to myself, Drunky Drunk Girl, this IDEA that you have that drinking will “fix” things? You’re cute.

My cravings, to reassure you, have DEFINITELY subsided. I still have thoughts of drinking, but the thoughts are much less distracting and come much less frequently (like, once a week, or twice a month, instead of every day). Smaller. They take up less space in my head, and when they do invade–or worse, start needling their way in–I know how to stomp them out. And then, I move on with my day.

I used to have to brace myself against the disappointment that followed me “out-thinking” my cravings–WHAT? No buzz?–but now, that disappointment has subsided, it, too, having been tempered by the rational FACT that wine is just not that great (compared to real treats!). And, well, I have better things to use my brain for, like, figuring out what caused me to start drinking in the first place; why I drank the way I did; and what I can continue to do, in my life, to make sure I stay full so that I don’t “need” wine to fill me up.

The thing is, you have POWER over your cravings.

Cravings are thoughts. Thoughts make feelings. Thoughts and feelings go away. You can wait and watch them leave. You can force them out of your mind. You can distract yourself and sneak them out the back door. But, they go away! Brilliant.

You have the power to let them go. And that is your biggest, bestest tool! Cravings are tied up in the neurochemistry of your addicted brain. I had pretty significant cravings up until about, oh, three or so months ago (nine months after my quit date)–they didn’t just go away. They turned much less severe, though, over those nine months, and it became more or less a psychological battle: me versus thoughts that drinking would be a good idea.

But, thoughts create feelings, which might actually be the more “real” of the two. However, like the power to let go of your thoughts, you have the power to transmute your feelings. Into? Well, into a big pile of poop (which is OK, too) or something new, like understanding. Understanding. Sitting through those thoughts, feeling that anxiety and tension in your gut–after it all goes, you might be able to say, ‘So, this is what I’m actually thinking about. THIS is what I’m actually feeling. I can deal with this!’

These days, I have exhausting dreams. And, these dreams are like, really obvious. Like, big block letters-obvious. I mean, they’re not even representative of what I’m actually going through; they’re like, the same things that happen to me in real life. For instance, this morning, I had one in which my boyfriend and I couldn’t agree on what to do, so we sat around getting frustrated (with each other) trying to figure it out. (There were scary cliffs, and riding a bus at night, and flirty “other women,” all of which meant something, too, I’m sure.) I mean, that’s what we do in real life! In my dream, however, I experienced all these clear, cathartic, and HEAVY emotions related to this experience. I never would have been able to feel that in my real life (I’m not that “enlightened”), and it really hit home, as in, Ahh, so THIS is how that makes me feel. I get it. I kind of think that’s what sitting through and then, discarding, those thoughts of drinking does for me: it allows me to transmute the blunt thoughts of “I want wine” into “Oh, THIS. Ahhhh, THAT.”

Saturday morning. Well afternoon, thanks to the heat and my dream and going to bed at 3 am last night. Did I mention it was hot? Wow, some days, it makes it hard to even breathe. Guess I’ll HAVE to hit the beach instead of working…

Happy day, friends!

And yet…

28 Jun

12:27 am

I still fantasize about drinking. Many days. Not every day, but many.

I still tell myself (subconsciously) that maybe I’ll be able to drink again some day (soon)–and that is what keeps me sober, honestly. For someone who used wine to self-medicate depression–anxiety, existential and creative angst, deep feelings of self-loathing, boredom–no, the urge has not left. But, it IS easier to deal with when I have a huge to-do list, goals; I ignore the voices that keep poking at me, telling me I can’t, It’s not going to happen, etc. etc. etc., and, well, just get to work. And then, I take breaks, I eat and drink way too much sugar, and before I know it, it’s midnight and I’ve gotten a lot on that to-do list done and it’s time to go to bed. And, I have no wine and even if I did, I know that now would not be a good time to drink it. (Going to bed kills wolfie; you can go to sleep and count on the fact that he will be gone in the morning.) So, I go to bed. And in the morning, I’ll get up, make my decaf iced coffee, walk the dogs, and gear up for another run and another long day of editing work and then, (likely) another night of on-and-off cravings.

I’m not sure they’ll ever go away. A part of me wonders, maybe I just need something bigger to invest myself in, something mightily distracting? Like, volunteering in a foreign place, or, going back to school. Both are in the works, actually. Another part of me then wonders, well, maybe I’m still running, just replacing one escape (wine) with another (being busy, biting off so much that I can’t chew let alone drink wine)?

It’s like, I cannot seem to connect “fun” and “reward” in my brain as strongly to anything as wine. Only wine will do. I know, even to me it sounds absurd. But, that’s how it feels. Even now, a year later. There is no buzz as great, as satisfying, as wine. There is no reward worth having as much as wine. I enjoy things–everything, actually–IN SPITE OF IT NOT BEING WINE. I know, I know, there are plenty of treats that I can now partake in, give myself, now that I’m sober and have the time and extra money. What I really want, though, is to end my days drinking wine; more than that, I want to not want wine; and MORE THAN THAT, I want to be able to enjoy other things as much as or more than I enjoy(ed) wine! I’m tired of this–will I ever truly enjoy life again?

I used wine to self-medicate my depression, my restlessness, my anxieties–yes. More elementally, I used it to medicate my boredom, which, according to a recent article I read, is a pathological state of mind and not simply a passing mood. In this article, they find a link between agitated boredom (where you’re actively looking to not be bored, and not finding anything that will stimulate or excite you) and damage to a small area in the brain located above the eyes. It’s the same area that is involved when your brain makes the faulty connection between wine and reward. Great. I actually AM brain-damaged!

I’ve spent my entire life trying to not be bored. Which is why I wrote; which is why I danced; which is why I excelled at school, and sports, and everything under the sun that I could throw myself into. Which is why I’ve lived in about 30 apartments in six different cities since I graduated from high school! This is, however, not all that remarkable, except in the most literal sense of the word: someone who is not inside my brain might remark, Wow, that is fucked up. To me, it’s just that I need more. I need more. Some of us just need more.

What if I drank again to overcome this pull? I mean, maybe I’ve been obsessing precisely because I’ve been withholding booze. What if I started treating it casually, and in that way, it would become casual? Prohibition was an absolute failure. Tell kids they can’t do something, and they’ll go out of their way to do it! Maybe that’s what going on now, with me? The more I focus on not obsessing over how great wine would be, the more I focus on, well, how great wine would be?

(Don’t worry, I’m not planning on drinking. Just thinking out loud… Though, I did get a lot done, and some pretty fantastic things happened today, so…what the fuck am I whining about?)

101 days and counting.

100 days…and business as usual!

26 Jun

4:34 pm

That’s sort of how I feel. YES, I made it, but eh, I’m still sober and I’ve got work to do. Which is good. I NEED goals, otherwise I tailspin into the bottom of a bottle.

First up, thanks to ALL for the continued support–especially Belle for the shout-out today, and for the brilliant 100 Day Challenge. As you may know, this is not my first time at the 100-day mark, but I have to say, it IS the easiest. There’s an acceptance that drinking will *probably* (haha) offer me nothing; even my reward circuits have re-learned this, and they finally seem to be settling–albeit grudgingly–back into what used to be a natural resting state.

What’s different this time? Well, let me remind you that I first got sober last June and went for 60 days before falling off the wagon twice in one week. Both times involved me blacking out and, once, going swimming (always safe to attempt to swim while blacked out), once, texting an ex and babble-yelling at my boyfriend with two house guests in the next room (marvelous host, I am). Then, I went for five weeks, fell off again for about three weeks, and finally got back on after a horrendous last drunk where I ended up locking someone out of my apartment and having to repair the damage, move out of my place, and get my ass to the airport before 9–all while still flaming drunk and operating on three hours of blacked out sleep. I moved here, and I went for ALMOST SIX MONTHS, which I believe I had something close to 160 days.

Now, the last time I circled around 100 days, ALL I WANTED WAS TO DRINK. The urge had not disappeared, there was no fairy dust falling from the sky and blotting out all the bad memories, overwhelming loose ends and things I hadn’t yet done (which I still have yet to do, btw). My pulsating neuronal circuits still resembled a neon sign that read “Wine ALL Night” and kept throbbing to the beat of my heart.

And, I had no idea that the next oh, two months, would be so hard.

From about day 90 (13 weeks?) to about 20 weeks–that’s almost two whole months–all I wanted was to drink. To stop this nonsense and just go back to normal, which to me was drinking. I wanted my LIFE back. The cravings were worse than ever! I had no idea how difficult it would be–everyone in AA told me that once I hit 90, I’d be OK. Well, it wasn’t like that for me. I felt angry, and bitter, like I had been cheated; here I was, TWICE past 90 days, and all I wanted–STILL–was wine! It’s just never going to get better, I kept thinking. I am permanently brain damaged.

So, I drank. That was one night, back in March, and guess what? Same Old Shit. Blacked out and said way more than I should have, passed out sitting up (I think I threw up on myself a little, too), and felt like ass for the next THREE days. It would not–could not–do. With literally no other option, I got back on the horse, (well, in my case, the unicorn), and let the slip pass.

This time around, it’s been much easier. I mean, getting back on the wagon wasn’t hard, though at the time it felt like three weeks was WAY too long to convince myself that I shouldn’t drink again. I think my sober muscles, which I had been building up over the past year, just PUSHED; and there I was, going on four weeks, then eight, and now…100 days.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the neurochemistry involved in disorders of the brain, and how it might work for alcoholism. I wonder what our drinking circuits look like: are these circuits so rigid, so inflexible, that they’ve almost solidified into place? I think so. I think it takes a lot of mental work to loosen these configurations and to dissociate them from anticipating a drink, yes. But, I think simply Not Drinking When You Really Really Want To goes a long way toward dissolving these bonds, let’s just call them. These configurations settle into a specific shape; and, that shape is kept in place by drinking when you WANT to, not necessarily because it feels good to drink. Think of it like this: add booze at any point in the early stages of recovery, and BAM, those circuits snap back into place and start throbbing again. Less and less so, the longer you are sober. But…maybe not. Everyone’s drinking problem is unique.

In any case, I’m OK not drinking, and I’ve come a long way toward replacing not drinking with like, real life, including work, friends, and future plans. I’m not so self-absorbed; I feel a lot more like myself again, able to be out in the world and not feel like my skin is as fine as butterfly wings.

I want to be excited about today, like uber-excited, but really, it’s just another day! I continue to appreciate every moment that I’m sober, but I whine a LOT less about wanting to drink. It’s been easier in that–and I think I’ve already said how incredulous I am about this development–I don’t have many cravings anymore. Like, yes, sure, OK, I GUESS it’d be nice to have a glass of wine, but, really, would it?

And, to be honest, a lot of the stuff I used to worry about, I just gave up on. Haha. I’m not going to be perfect, I may never publish a book, I probably won’t have kids of my own, I probably definitely won’t own a brownstone in Brooklyn. I probably won’t speak to my brother again. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Shut up, cousin of wolfie, who is the voice of pointless rumination!

The only thing that seems to really matter anymore is that I’ve got my foundation, my new sober house. And it is hurricane-proof. Can withstand the strongest flood. It’s like, when life starts to seem to real–when all that out there actually starts to look real–I just go inside my sober house and close the door. See ya, wolfie! See ya, cousin of wolfie! See ya, people who don’t matter and things that I’m making up about you!

MY HOUSE: cool cement floors covered in exquisite blue tiles; a tall ceiling; a breeze from the most glorious sea you could envision, twisting the sheer linen curtains ever so slightly. Oh, what? Is there a storm? Oh, wait, you said a hurricane? Nope, it’s like the dead of night inside my house, it’s that quiet. Oh, is someone coming over to knock on my door, breathe in my face, scream in my ear? OK; whatever. Tell them to go around the back, I’ll be a while. My house. Hurricane-proof. Avalanche-ready. Typhoon-resistant!

What’s next? Well, ending this long-winded blog post, for one. And then…working. Not drinking. Going to bed looking forward to tomorrow. The usual. 😉

The urge left me–NOT

25 Jun

12:03 pm

There was this guy at meetings–older dude, and sort of the “king” of AA down here. The ringleader. NICE man, lovely man. However, he always shared along one of several themes, and one was how “the urge to drink simply left him–just vanished–when he stepped foot in the rooms.” UH HUH.

This post has nothing to do with AA, but everything to do with that URGE to drink, and how it doesn’t just vanish. I would say that that is neurologically impossible, but even I know that nothing is impossible. And, what do I know, which brings me quickly to a point:

Everyone’s drinking problem is unique. The one thing that I left AA certain about was this fact. Everyone has different reasons for drinking, and different patterns of craving. Everyone might drink alcoholically–that is to say, compulsively–but they might not “be alcoholics.” Whatever that means. And, everyone’s recovery process is different, takes different amounts of time, and can’t really be compared to another’s. As with drunken war stories, you can’t compare notes. There is, in fact, no one-size-fits-all.

After a year (more or less) of sobriety, I still have cravings. I still WANT TO DRINK, YES I DO! What is different now–finally–is that I don’t believe it’s going to be all that great, or that it’s what I really want. In fact, I’m almost too tired and too busy to think about it. I know the process will likely result in my downing of at LEAST two bottles of red wine in one sitting, and then doing or saying something idiotic (or irreparably stupid) in a blackout, so…NO, THANKS. Maybe later, wolfie, like, tomorrow. Better yet, let’s set a date for next week, mmm-kay? Hmm…I think maybe next month, actually–you’ll need some time to heal after I kick you in the face and put a large boot against your skull. What? What’s that? Were you trying to say something? FUCK YOU, WOLFIE!

What’s struck me lately is how I notice other people’s “drinking problem” and/or literal, drinking problems. For instance, I went over to a friend’s house yesterday, after a swim. He’s nice, but I don’t think his wife likes me. As conversation passes, I notice that he’s drunk (well, he did have a few beers, but I realize he must have had more before meeting my boyfriend and me at the beach) and his wife is…fidgety. Maybe she’s drunk? I know she drinks (“she can hang,” as it were)–we got drunk together once, and it did not end well, for me anyway.

Maybe she’s feeling that pull? OH, do I know that pull, I thought to myself. That irritation, that want want want to drink another right now, even though there are people in my house, I don’t care about them. That FOCUS on the wine. THE WINE. That anxious flurry of activity, of bodily movement in no particular direction because you’re either already tipsy or you just can’t sit still. And, you don’t really notice it. But, I do. Why? Because my body has finally relaxed into a position of attention, of self-awareness, of calm; I am not thinking about drinking, I am thinking about YOU, about this conversation, about what’s going on in this moment. My already sharp powers of perception (ONE good thing about being an introvert all these years) are even sharper now that I’m sober enough to embrace that calm. I wonder, do I have a calming effect on her, or is she too wrapped up in her head to notice? Am I pulling out my sober card? Does she see it? I don’t think so; I think I’m imagining this…but it sure does feel like I have some super-connection with people who are struggling, who want to quit, who know they drink too much. Maybe it’s that I made an ass of myself that one time we drank (I know I did later, with my boyfriend, but I was semi-blacked out when she and I hit our stride that day)? Ah, me. What DO I know?

And then there are the problems caused by drinking. I got an email last night from a friend who had a rough drunk episode last Saturday–three hours of blackout during an event in which, from what I could tell from the pictures on Facebook, she went a little bit crazier than usual. I mean, I had developed such a–how to put it?–hollow, steel-lined hole in my heart from my blackouts in the big city, and all that they entailed, that her story made me cringe. Jesus, so many avoidable problems come up when you drink too much (like those unnecessary flashbacks from the movie “Saw,” for instance)!? It made me appreciate my now-calm life: I’d so much rather be cooking lasagne with my boyfriend after a day at the beach than spending time making out in a stupor on the sidewalk before passing out in my own vomit; only to be driven home and pass out, lose my phone, and wake up in what’s now a murky stupor and wander over to a neighbor’s to make out with him. I can hear the echo of deep space in my heart–it’s a memory that seems to have seeped into my bone marrow, stained it a shade of ink–and it makes my soul ache. (And, I’ve done MUCH worse, so I’m just using her story as an example here, not as a lesson.)

Problems, indeed.

Me? I’ve got today, and I’ve got a calm, full heart. The urge may not have left (yet), or even the compulsive behavior–I know it probably won’t, for me. What has gone, though, is any romantic notion of how fun, or fulfilling, drinking actually is.

Some days are better than others

23 Jun

11:16 pm

Some days just drag. I’m not bored, and I have so much to do–and be thankful for–yet, I have a pull in my gut that says, Go get some wine and make this restlessness go away! It feels like a mini-temper tantrum, and it’s related, I suppose, to not getting my way.

My writing didn’t go well today! Waaaaah! I didn’t get a run in, so missed out on my endorphin fix! SUCKS to be me, me, me, me, me!

Like today. Today. Grr. It was hot. Yesterday I ran five miles; today, I could barely peel my overheated self off the mattress before 10. I managed to do stuff–walk the dogs; start on a labor-intensive and highly aggravating personal writing project; watch the supermoon rise over the fucking ocean, for God’s sake!–but it was sort of in spite of that temper tantrum-y feeling. Normal people might just turn on the TV, but all I can do with this feeling is pace. I used to drink wine. NOPE. Now I get to sit with it, and watch it eat me from the inside out! Grr.

This weekend, I’ve been trying to begin compiling some “stories,” as it were, re: my drinking past, and man, oh, man, does it suck the life force out of me. Ugh. Yes, it was bad and I not only had to live through it, but I journaled through it. Now to rehash it again? Sometimes, enough IS enough, right? Well, if you’re a writer, it’s your job to mine the past. And, I just NEED to do this right now–call it 5th step work, call it gaining a bigger picture of how far I’ve come.

I feel like I’m not entitled to have fun, if I really dig deep. Well, maybe “entitled” is not the right word. I don’t deserve it? I can’t afford it? I spent all my “fun” money. Actually, I took out so many fun loans, it looks like I might be in fun money debt in perpetuity.

The good news? The temper tantrum goes away–maximum it lasts is a day; and if it doesn’t, there’s always that boring book to put me into a sleepy trance so I can blow this joint by becoming unconscious the natural way! And, you know what? My idea of “fun” is different these days, which helps me to accept passing the time more calmly, sans wine. I like just sitting, thinking. Staring, even. Nights spent staring at the moon, or the stars; while, yes, still leave me feeling bored, are what I need. And, I know this.

So, to my envy (I see you, wolfie, it’s YOU, I KNOW it’s you), I say: You can have your evenings out and your brunches. I’ll take my long walks alone with the (what’s now become a pack; more than two) dogs. I’ll take my afternoons reading or writing (trying to write). Lunch on my own. Silence all day, except for that sweet tune in my head–it’s in surround sound, and it’s nice.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a really boring book to get to… 😉

10 reasons not to drink today

21 Jun

10:57 am

I’m going to go for writing a few shorter posts over the next few days, as my long-windedness is even tiring ME out.

I woke up, made my (decaf) iced coffee (it’s too hot down here for coffee, and I haven’t had a cup of regular since 2005–true story), and watered my plants. Well, budding plants. SOON-to-be budding plants. I think I buried the seeds too deep the first time, and the only thing that’s come up is the tomato. I planted new seeds this morning and covered them with a mere dusting of potting soil. We’ll see. (I must say, for someone who grew up on a dairy farm, I sure don’t have a green thumb. Trial and error, I guess.)

So, that list. Ten reasons not to drink today:

1. I want to get shit done. Which means, I’ll be working TOWARD that to-do list, not against or away from it.
2. It’s nice today (it’s been raining a lot here lately), and I don’t want to miss the sun, a run, my walk with the dogs, a long-overdue trip to the beach later to watch the sun set. The list is infinite.
3. I don’t want to feel like absolute ASS tomorrow. Period. There is nothing like a three-day hangover to make you go, FUCK THIS.
4. I don’t want the calories. That wine gut? Turns out, it’s not been easy to lose. (Then again, maybe I should lay off the buttercream frosting?)
5. I don’t want to spend the money, and literally, pour it down the drain.
6. I don’t want to talk too much, cry too much, or have a mood swing that’s tied to nothing REAL.
7. I want to wake up tomorrow and feel proud that I made it another day. And I sure as hell don’t want to give up before I reach 180 days, as my longest stretch was almost six months. I DO believe in that miracle now, and it’s so subtle that if it wasn’t well, a miracle, I’d shake it’s little head back and forth, whisper-screaming, “YOU LITTLE BITCH! What took you so long?!”

And, you know what’s strange, but I’m having a hard time thinking of the last three! I mean, I’m so USED to not drinking, I don’t think about why I should or shouldn’t drink–I just shouldn’t, end of story. But, if I was pressed, I would delve deeper:

8. I LIKE the consistency of sobriety, the lack of both real and imagined drama–I know that I have the next however many hours, and I know I can plan to do things and they will get done. There are no distractions, no shenanigans.
9. I LIKE being able to see the horizon, and that horizon includes a further line of thought–I am more plugged into both my internal and external sources of stimuli and information, and I can react appropriately.
10. I don’t have the urge to drink. I don’t necessarily want to drink anymore than I want to…I don’t know, spin around in my chair until I get dizzy. It’s just not something I DO. Anymore. Well, for right now at least.

Anyway, happy Friday, friends!

Recovery meets real life, or, Time to get back to work!

19 Jun

8:02 pm

It’s not that I don’t like being on this inner tube, fizzy water in hand, floating down the calm waters of a river with no end in sight, because I do.

For me, recovery has been about stopping what I was doing and just…stalling for a while. Breathing. Doing nothing but focusing on myself, and my recovery. Don’t get me wrong: getting sober WAS work, but I didn’t have the stress of going into an office every day doing a job I felt was meaningless (a large part of why I drank in the first place). I had good reason to not work (and here, I use the term in the sense of “real world” work): I was getting sober. I was healing. I was putting all my energy–for once, for ONCE!–into saving myself instead of the saving the world, as it were.

Until recently. Lately, I’ve been pushing myself to get back into the world of science writing. Truth be told, I’ve been scared SHITLESS of writing on a freelance basis, well, since I graduated from boot cam—err, my master’s program in journalism. I tried, here and there over the past several years, wrote a memoir that I shelved, started and stopped a few other personal writing projects; but, I simply haven’t pitched many story ideas–what if I was ignored or worse, brutally rejected?! YES, I worked in the field, but my standards were high: in order to be a “real” journalist, I needed to be pitching and writing as a contributing editor, a freelance writer; not being assigned stories and story ideas by an editor.

It’s hard to explain this pedantic notion of what it means to “be a writer” in my mind. Whatever it is, I wasn’t it. No way, no how. Even though I WAS, actually, writing quite complex pieces every month for a magazine (and doing it well, I might add). Somewhere along the way, I lost confidence in myself as a writer–in my creativity and in my writing.

That’s been the story of my life, though: a deep-seated lack of self-confidence. Part of it is genetic: I’m an introvert. Journalism isn’t necessarily a good occupation for a lot of us writers who, yes, prefer to be alone all day. However, we grow, we learn, we stretch outside our comfort zones; it gets easier, and it becomes a job that we can do. Part of it is experience: my graduate program was pretty brutal, and I guess I internalized that criticism a little too much. I’m always fearing the worst when it comes to negative feedback and/or criticism. I was–I am–in abject fear of failure. Finally, part of it is being from the Midwest: we don’t brag. Bragging is just not in our blood. We’re nice, we let others go first, we say we’re sorry a little too much. (In fact, I wonder how different my life would have gone if I had been born and raised in New York…)

I KNEW this day would come, and maybe I drew out my recovery–quitting, staying quit, conquering the cravings, dealing with some issues–so that I could put off getting back into the real world of work.

Yet, I’ve made some progress lately on the pitching and writing front. I’ve also started the process of getting back into reviewing and assimilating the science news (which is a hefty amount of information, to be done on a gradual basis).

I think, actually, that the so-called “miracle” is on its way. I’ve noticed my confidence increasing: I’ve suddenly seemed to have arrived at this point of, Hey, I can do this, and I WILL DO THIS. It’s no longer a matter of, I’m not good enough, or, I’m afraid. I need to get back in the game. I’m a (damn) good player, and I’ve been on the sidelines for too long.

Onward! 100 days in one week… Unicorns, CHARGE! 🙂 *glitter ball*

90 days, here we are again!

16 Jun

9:56 am

Glitter balls and unicorns galore, we’re here! Well, we’ve been here before, but this time is much different.

I’ll admit, last night was hard. I had a moment. I was bored, existentially challenged–and I mistakenly went back to my old ways of thinking that wine would like, make that go away. Or, more incredulously, make it better. A good night’s sleep, a new day, the dogs waiting in the wings for a walk, and my 90-day chip from last January around my neck, I feel less whiny. 😉

I have SO much to think about regarding life choices these days that drinking is definitely one of the last things on my to-do list. Last year? Man, oh, man, I would’ve been downing Pinot and Shiraz (my favorite!) left and right in an attempt to avoid thinking about it all, let alone coming to some solid decisions and implementing steps forward. And that, friends, is the cornerstone of sober LIVING, of sobriety instead of “not drinking,” in my humble opinion. We can think a month, three, a year down the line and not hyperventilate or doomsday ourselves into inaction (It’s never going to work, I’m too depressed to make that happen, I know I’m going to fail so why bother putting myself out there, this plan feels precarious and is something I could never deal with).

The little things all add up, of course, but I’ve been working at this for an entire year, so those are actually givens at this point. Waking up with no regrets, no horrifying in-and-out memories of things I said and did, no hangover from the pit of Hell. A sense of self-reliance that almost borders on pedantry, or possibly smugness (I showed up 10 minutes early for my dentist appointment, how about you?). Improved everything, from workouts to relationships to digestion to skin tone! It’s ALL still breathtaking, in a way, previously imperceptible as relevant change. Now, these things continue to jolt me into gratitude, mainly because I can perceive them as that relevant CHANGE and GROWTH (I guess I really get off on growth, which is a great personality trait to have and/or cultivate when you’re getting sober, I’ve realized); AND, I can appreciate them as incremental steps toward what I sense is a Holy Grail of sorts–there’s more to come, and it’s golden and glowing and is wrapped in silk under a skylight in some big chamber in the desert.

The bigger things, of course, are absolutely grand. I can order my thoughts and, even though it feels uncomfortable–the doubt, the not knowing for sure, the leaps of faith that might end me up in a ditch instead of on top of the tallest building in town–I can make the necessary choices and move forward. I can sit through the angst and uncertainty that sort of pools in my gut and in my brain, and in spite of this, I can make the call. I guess it’s called dealing with life.

So, on 90 days, I celebrate the journey over my own personal journey. If we put in the work–inside or outside of AA or other recovery groups–we get better. We heal. We become stronger people. That’s pretty much it. I’m not healed, but I’m healing.

Unicorns: set, and GO! Parade’s on later, people, and I’ll be that Grand Marshall on one of the middle floats, her Pellegrino glass waving in the wind, calling out as we pass, “Sober parade, COMIN’ through…bitches!”

Bored with sobriety

15 Jun

6:02 pm

I’ve got 90 days coming up tomorrow, and honestly, ehhhhhhh. (I care, but not that much; and, hopefully I’ll be in a better mood, and better able to exist in the certain type of denial that sobriety takes; to enjoy, congratulate, relish. We’ll see.)

Right now, sobriety feels endless. Boring. I have a bunch to do, but don’t want to do any of it. It’ll be there tomorrow, unfortunately, just like my sobriety. Sure, there are few cravings; however, no number of chunks of time or chips from meetings will change that it seems to be an endless stream of…boring. I mean, it’s the same thing, day in and night out. I’ve gotten USED to feeling good, albeit, I’ve never been this chunky around my waist. Somehow, all that wine kept me thin.

I’m bored with sobriety, and I can’t deny it! Would drinking spice things up? I guess I could try to go out and socialize sober, but I really don’t have it in me. In an all-caps kind of way. I miss the escape; I want it. I NEED it.

So, it’s another Saturday night, and I’m on. On all the time. And it’s tiring. All the “Oh, this feels GREAT to be walking home sober”‘s never quite make up for the energy expended just getting through the situation, making myself believe–whispering it over and over and over again in my ear–that it’s better this way and I don’t need to drink and if I did, shit would go down… It’s mentally exhausting because I know it’s not true. Drinking WOULD make it better, at least temporarily. Drinking WOULD give me something to anticipate after a long list of things to do, most of which involve cerebral pursuits; as it stands, it’s all willpower, passing my days reading and writing and then–nothing to take the edge off. There is still more thinking, or not thinking; I’m still aware of it all. And, it never adds up. There is still a hole in the sky called the sun, the passing of time, my own sense of base purposelessness as a human being. Of course, I do have purpose, but I guess I don’t have faith that it’ll carry me through to…what? The other side? An arrival, a final Ahh, now this is IT, it ALL makes sense?

And, I can’t pretend that NEVER going out, and hitting the sack after SNL (I NEVER watched SNL on a Saturday night; the last time I watched SNL was in high school, when I didn’t drink!) isn’t simply getting old! Haha. I mean, I know it’s my fault, but this is how my sobriety has panned out–I can’t imagine it’s that much different for others. Anyway, old. Boring old. Old boring. And, worse is that there’s something much bigger (worse?) about it, I can’t seem to articulate: perhaps it’s the sense that after all the thinking and probing and clearing out, this IS all there is. This is it. Is it?

In fact, it beats me down thinking that I have to be this way–on and present–for the rest of my life. I give up to being on and present! Yet napping and working and reading and EVERYTHING else I do to get through the days is, I know, just a cover. All the tiny gifts and pep talks are just…workarounds. Something deeper–and sad to the point of being neutral, like a huge ocean that is both wonderful and jarringly impersonal–lurks; I cannot deny this.

So, here I sit, wondering what to do with my night. Options galore, but none really matter, at the very end of the day, now do they? I know they don’t, but I have to keep telling myself that they do. I know I want to drink, but I have to keep telling myself that I don’t.

One day at a time (echo echo echo)…

Today marks my year soberversary! (well, sort of)

13 Jun

11:43 pm

Today marks a year since I quit drinking. And, while I drank a total of 10 times since last June 13th, I still call this day my sobriety date.

And, it was my birthday yesterday, and while I had a few “I wish I could have a glass of white wine right now” moments, they passed almost instantaneously when I realized how “a” glass of white wine would make me feel: even more bloated than I already felt (I think I caught a bit of food poisoning on Tuesday night), and hung over the next day in 1000-degree heat (we went south, to a neighboring island, for a few days; glorious). NO, THANKS. Plus, ewwwww, I hate white wine! (Maybe I’m subconsciously making it easier on myself by craving drinks I don’t really like? Stranger things have happened.)

Pretty much an about-face from a year ago, eh? I mean, the journey…! More ruminations on this in a later post, that’s for sure. (I’m about to crash.)

Anyway, with some perspective from my boyfriend, I have to stop and congratulate myself. Here I am, thinking, Oh, geez, it’s still almost 90 days (this Sunday), and I still have cravings, and I still have a shit-ton of things I want/need to do that I’ve been avoiding doing because I’ve been sober and/or getting used to being sober, and… STOP! STOP THAT TALKING SHIT to yourself, and listen to what your boyfriend just said to you:

“It’s been a year. A year ago today, you decided to change your life. And, you did.”

Yes, I did. I mean, when you put it that way… 😉 Pretty cool, eh?

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