Archive | June, 2013

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?

Bobbing along nicely and–BAM! Another pesky issue…

10 Jun

1:52 am

That’s how I feel. I’m just bobbing in my inner tube in the middle of the ocean. There’s blue horizon everywhere–possibility–but I’m sort of just USED to it. No big whoop. And then…

CRASH! I run head first into an issue like, I have low self-esteem. Or, I may never speak to my brother again and I’m not sure I want to, and that feels really bad inside. And, all my hip-hip-hooraying for myself fizzes out of me like air from a wet balloon.

For the past several weeks (a month?), the urge to drink has been replaced by the urge to do. To Get Things Done. The necessity to move forward, before It’s All Too Late. I’ve got 12 weeks sober again tomorrow, which is good-fine-great-grand. Whatever, in a way. I really can’t even think about drinking, I have too many important tasks and decisions. Maybe next week, after 90 days? Nah, probably not. Maybe next month, after 100 days? I don’t know…I might be volunteering, or going back to school, or something else huge and stressful (what IS my problem?).

Fortunately, there are no real cravings, is what I’m saying; I’ve basically stomped them into the ground with my rationalizing and true-storytelling (i.e., If you drink, you will feel horrible and do and/or say horrible things). And, this has been absolutely amazing. A relief of the sort I never in a million years would have imagined, let alone hoped for, in sobriety. NEVER. Never never never. (I’m still waiting for the desire to guzzle vino to come roaring back, or even niggling its way in; but so far, so good. FUCK YOU, WOLFIE. HATE YOU VERY MUCH!)

Anyway, tomorrow, aside from finishing an editing project, I want to pitch a few story ideas to an editor. Yes, actually. And, no, I have no idea who this nebulous figure is, said editor, but I do have contacts at the magazine and why not? WHY NOT.

I discovered that, sans wine, I can no longer avoid confronting the existence of my sad, sorry self-esteem. I have major self-esteem issues, and of course, drinking made them worse but also, drinking was just a good cover. I didn’t have to confront them and therefore, I also didn’t have to deal with them. As for pitching, partly, I’m still making excuses why I shouldn’t, but mainly, it’s the rejection I fear now (I guess) more than the work involved in the ensuing project if said editor says yes (or the work involved in pitching more and again and elsewhere if said editor says no). OH, WELL. That’s the writing life, and I am SO SICK OF MYSELF for not actually doing it.

I can do this. And I will. I just have no idea why I haven’t believed in myself enough for this long to not even fucking try.

Like I said, bobbing along and then–BAM! Icebergs! (The good thing about being sober is, you don’t get stuck on the iceberg’s tip and start to freeze to death. You see it, drink in some of its actual stunning beauty, and then, push it aside with your toe. You are, after all, bobbing along in YOUR inner tube, on a summer’s day, blue horizon all around. And, wait, LOOK–there’s the shoreline, and there’s your Unicorn with Sparkly Teeth! She’s waiting for you! She’s still pulling your water wagon and YES, yes she IS holding a nice fizzy drink in one hoof JUST FOR YOU! And you look back, see the iceberg floating away, and sigh, Eh, it was JUST an iceberg…)

Do I see 90 days coming up? Why, yes I do!

5 Jun

11:27 am

It’s hard to know where to begin, but I guess I’ll start with, I’m still sober and it was beyond easy to not drink on my trip. And, sure I feel proud, and relieved–in that order–but above all, I’m surprised. I didn’t really want to drink! It was like, I had no time, and found every reason NOT to. I can’t drink now, but maybe tomorrow, I kept telling myself. Today’s not going to work, but maybe tomorrow I can fit in wasting a few hours sucking down expensive red poison water and planning the next 12 hours of feeling like ass? Sure, OK, maybe wolfie-boy, we’ll see.

In fact, I was so busy, and so head-exploding hot, and so…scared of what I might do, out and about alone, with no safety net and even less tolerant people of a drunken fool stumbling around yelling and throwing fists and nearly falling off the subway tracks…that it was quite easy to see disaster waiting in the wings if I took that first drink. So, I didn’t take that first drink. (Though, there was a moment on Saturday night, when I felt so weird and awkward trying to dance in front of people sober, that I was like, Give me a fucking beer; and my good friend, the one who bailed me out of many a hapless situation, both physically and emotinally, was like, Um, I don’t want to see you go down. And I was like, You’re right, fuck that.)

It was a busy trip, which helped. I do well when I’m busy, and working on my proverbial to-do list. I need to do things, I need to accomplish stuff. Which is a double-edged sword at times, especially in that town. But, I used the exhaustion factor to my advantage and simply didn’t allot any time to drink or be hung over.

It was also hot as a bitch (I mean, hotter than down here, if you can believe it), so that was a turn-off, too. Who wants to be hung over in a stanky apartment when you’ve got less than 72 hours in the Big Apple? A no-brainer…now, at least. Three years ago, I think I would’ve been busting open bottles at 11 pm, drinking until 2 (or however long it took me to pass out); and then getting up, hung over, at 8 or 9, just because I was that hardcore and had that much resilience. Not any more, and thank God(dess).

I also wanted to prove to my friends that I had changed, that things WERE different. No stumblings-home at 4 am. No silly arguments. No perilous shenanigans. Or WORSE. I wanted to be who I claimed I was and am, and I think I succeeded.

It was also, well, something freaky to walk by the hundreds of bars and restaurants, corners and crannies, old apartments, former school buildings–all places where DRAMA WENT DOWN. Drinking drama. Oy. The lack of self-care, self-respect, self-love I showed myself back then. It wasn’t about having fun, it was about fear, and self-sabotage: the blackouts, so very many of them, which hid from plain sight the horrible things I said and did and were done to me. Ugh. Anyway, these memories helped me to know that, NO, ONE DRINK WOULD NOT BE OK. One drink would likely mean at the worst, endangering my life, at the least, pissing off my host. It was like standing at the edge of a frozen lake, not wanting to step onto the thin ice and watch it crack. No, I simply could not do it.

So, lots of stuff got done, is all I can say. I got up early and went running on Thursday morning (which felt so…normal, considering that I NEVER did this in the five years I lived there); made it to my dentist appointment; went for a quick dress shop (unsuccessful); and then, hopped up to Harlem to attend what turned out to be more of an informal meet-and-greet than a new student orientation. Lots and lots to think about there, but that’s for another post.

On Friday, I renewed my drivers license; shopped and walked and sweat; went back to my friend’s to change and take her out to dinner for hosting me. She drank, and by God(dess), I had ZERO PANGS. I mean, it was interesting to see HER reaction to my not drinking, which was to ask me if it was OK if she drank. And, to see just how little I actually know about hanging with drunk people. Like, I kept having to remind myself that she was getting drunk, which would explain her rising voice, her increasing talkativeness. It was weird. I mean, I have so little experience being on the receiving end of a drunk person’s inebriated behavior that it was, well, enlightening to watch it unfold.

By Saturday, I knew I wouldn’t drink (even though I still wanted to). I went to brunch and the park with another friend, who drank with our meal and who also asked me if it was OK. (Yes, I do feel blessed to have friends that are so supportive, but I’ve been pretty open about everything.) The big test came that night, when I–wait for it–WENT OUT sober. Not a drop! I’ve been worrying about this for a long time: sure, I can go out here, sober, but can I go out, like really Go Out, in a big city, where everyone, it seems, is drinking and talking and partying all around…and not only stay sober, but have fun doing so? Yes, it sucked at first. It felt hard (reawwy reawwy hard), but once I got over the awkwardness and realized that no one really fucking cares about me or what I’m doing–all was fine. Great, actually. I had just as much fun, if not more, than if I had been drinking.

The biggest revelation I had was this: I think and care WAY too much about what others think about me. In fact, I am about 99.5 percent more conscious of myself than anyone else. And, a sad point: I looked around and realized that I, too, had no idea about what was going on with anyone else. I am so limited in perceiving others’ realities, and vice versa. In fact, the only reality there really is is how we react to our thoughts and feelings. Anyway, I digress.

There could have been the full spectrum of drunkenness at the bar, and I wouldn’t have known by just looking at people. Were some peeps a little drunk, a lot drunk, blacked out? Were some dealing with the inner hell that is alcoholism? It’s likely. What was especially poignant was realizing that I was probably the only person there even wondering about who was dealing with a personal inferno, let alone CARING about it. People don’t care about your drinking problem. And, that’s what makes it so very difficult and distressing when you’re out, as an alcoholic: you’re in a hell, whether you’re being a “good drunk” or a blacked out asshole; yet, no one knows, no one CAN know, and therefore, you’re alone.

I felt sorry for people like me at that moment, and felt again that same indignation over peeps who have not forgiven me for some of my blackout shenanigans. It’s called empathy, people; get some.

Sure, I might have drunk a beer, but there was no way in HELL I was caving–and, one beer might have been all it would’ve taken. After that night, walking home feeling so alive and empowered, I realized something: getting and staying sober is the key to actually owning your life. It might be pedantic (people who drink only once in a while to escape or loosen up, let’s say, would categorize drinking as a small detail in their lives, for instance), but it fans out. It’s about facing your thoughts and feelings and learning how to own them. And, with that ownership comes true freedom–the ability to make choices and move forward, typically. Instead of stagnating, you get to choose how things go. It really is liberation. And not from simply being addicted to ethanol.

Sunday was tiring, as I walked, and went shopping, and got my hair cut, and finally, came home and packed and got ready to go. I overslept the next morning, but hey, no worries, I’m fucking SOBER getting to the airport and nothing could be better. HOW EASY is it to travel not hung over? Jesus, I can’t believe how hard I made it for myself, always drinking the night before flying? Even though I only got about four hours sleep that night and every other night, I’d pick sleep-deprived a thousand million times over hung over.

All in all, a very surprising trip. So, like I said, I’m the Grand Marshall and this sober parade is COMIN’ through, bitches!

I’m the Grand Marshall

5 Jun

1:31 am

I just wanted to check in and say howdy. I just spent about five days in New York, and I’m still sober. And, I’m damn proud of it. Who’s directing traffic? I am. Who’s on the master float in this sober parade? C’est moi! I’m the fucking Grand Marshall, people!

While I’m surely relieved that I didn’t cave, I’m mostly surprised at my utter lack of pangs and/or desire to drink. Even while out, dancing my ass off and observing everyone else getting drunk, or drunker. Then again, I think I’ve got it a bit easier than some: around every turn, there was a reminder of some truly soul-sucking, horrifying incident that happened or that I made happen. It was easy to see the disaster waiting in the wings if I took that first drink. And so, I didn’t take that first drink. (My friends know what a drunk I was, and they were supportive, so that really helped as well.)

Anyway, I’ve got lots to share, but I just wanted to say that all is well in my little sober world. 90 days coming up on June 16th!

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