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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)…

It’s OK to not care (that much) anymore

23 May

7:46 pm

I’m here, and nothing big to report. Still got blue skies, sparkly water, green trees, and very little desire to fuck it all up by drinkin’, let alone care about the whole mess. I’m gliding, and it feels good.

FINALLY. It’s taken almost a year for my brain to repair itself; and, I really think it has, to a large extent. I’m not sure what to make of it, though, because it’s new territory. Simply put, I think I’ve just accepted that I cannot drink, for one thing. I don’t drink now, like I’m preggers or have a life-threatening illness. I can’t drink, won’t drink, don’t drink. End of story. I think I’ve not only given up (let’s just say) on feeling better, but I’ve stopped actually being 100 percent fucking CONVINCED that wine will do it for me! Which, if you look at it in a positive light, is a good thing.

Second, I don’t really have time to drink or think about drinking these days–I’ve got science and writing and travel and future plans to wrangle with, AND, I’ve started running again, so that means EITHER drinking or training, but not both (hangover + running = null set). I don’t really have the energy, either, to think about all the emotional whys and wherefores that brought me to addiction. I’m over it, and frankly, I think it’s OK to stop dwelling on it all, for now. Yup, you should say you’re sorry. Yup, you should connect your drinking to your (my) self-loathing attempts at self-sabotage. Yup, yup, yup. Let it go, though, friends. I’ve read quite a few posts lately in which peeps are running around in their heads, trying to figure it all out. It’s OK not to care about figuring it all out, for now. You can not care AND be sober. You really can!

Booze is not the problem, you (we) are. That means that other things will come up, like binge eating, or sugar, or coffee. Or, doing something instead of what you should be doing; by “should,” I mean your dharma, and we all know what it is we’re called to do, we just have to take the time to discover it. At the end of the day, only you can figure out what happens after the bottle of vodka or decanter-sized glass of wine runs out. I’ve read some posts dealing with filler addictions, replacement fixes. Look: if you can give up fucking drinking, DUDE, you can give up ANYTHING. I’m pretty sure the only thing more painful than fucking around in my head for a year, wrestling with wolfie-boy is, I don’t know, hanging from metal hooks latched into my skin? It’s a constant struggle for all of us, I’m guessing, to not cave into our other “vices” just because we don’t drink. Again, let it go. You’re doing your best. Cut back, or do one thing less than you’re doing it, or more. And, it’s OK to not give a shit about this, too!

All that matters is you’re not drinking. Everything else, if you’re a human being with a functioning mind, will fall into place…eventually. And if it doesn’t? Well, it’s OK to let that go, too.

What helps me now? Knowing full well that a “glass of wine” (haha) won’t make it better. Won’t even come close. I just KNOW THAT. Why? Because I slipped. And, I think about the scenario over and over and over and over…until it finally fucking dawns on me that wine is not really what I want. I want relief. From what, is the key question. And, thinking it through, and finding your way–like, a mental route–to that question IS sober living, whether or not you end up drinking to ease the pain. GOOD FOR YOU that you’ve arrived at that KEY question: hold it in the palm of your hand and don’t let it go, no matter how much the little jewel might burn.

I also fill my days as much as I can, and I run into the problem of feeling empty, like I have nothing inside me, like I’m just a shell of a person. And, in a sense, I am. But, I (we) are building, and filling, and creating, and being productive instead of destructive–so, move through the regret and embrace this probably common truth that we (I) are shells and start FILLING it up with stuff you like to do. Most of the time I think I don’t know what I “really really” want or like to do, but I know I like writing, and science, and I have degrees from schools, and there’s the dogs, and the boyfriend, and my cakes, and…why the FUCK am I being so hard on myself? I’m SO full, it’s ridiculous! So, even I don’t know what I mean by this “shell” thing, but again, I don’t care. For now.

Hey, I thought the other day, I can live sober. I can actually DO THIS. It ain’t that bad not drinking. What a fucking epiphany. LOL. (Hello, first 35 years of my life! Were you really THAT bad?) Even a few weeks ago, I didn’t really believe this.

The remaining immediate hurdle for me is getting over, somehow, the sense that there is nothing as awesome to look forward to as wine. Sure, I can do this and substitute that, but wine, oh, wine, there is no one but you. That goes in direct contrast to what I just wrote, about realizing that wine is NOT what I want, but hey, it’s the human brain we’re dealing with here: fucked up.

Yes, this post contains a lot of “fuck’s,” but fuck it, this is how I talk to myself sometimes. 😉

So, I’m on Day…I’m not even sure. 66. Tomorrow will be 67. Onward to 90, then 100, then…the gilt-edged 180? *glitter ball*

So much to post, but I’ll start with…Day 35 tomorrow

21 Apr

11:18 pm

But, it hasn’t been easy, or as easy as I thought it would be, I have to admit.

It’s been a few days since my last post–I’m sorry for getting lazy about acknowledging all of your amazing and supportive comments–and as seems to be the case with this “getting sober” business, I’ve gone up, down, and side to side. Some days I’m like, Aww, YES, this sober stuff is awesome! I feel good, I don’t want to drink, I’m getting shit done, I can’t wait to get more shit done. No wolfie-boy on my back, howling for a sip of red wine. Easy.

Other days–and there have been several–I’m like, FUCK THIS NONSENSE. My life isn’t that much better sober, and well, is it me, or do people just annoy me more? People–you know, I have a hard time with people, as an introvert; I just don’t get them. Choosing (being forced?) to interact with and witness other people while constantly sober? Well, let’s just say, it’s not the same without my merlot-colored glasses; I find myself wondering why so many people seem so fucked up and thinking how no one is as funny or kind or interesting as they once were. (Confession: I am REALLY FUCKING TIRED of the mainstream media blowing this Boston mess up, and I am PMSing. So, getting around me with a knife is a definite no-no at the moment, as might be taking any of my angry words to heart.)

Tonight, though, after a few days of simply biting down and letting the feelings/thoughts pass–for once, it feels, I am truly happy to have not given in. Over some bridge. At the clearing. (This has happened before, if I remember correctly back to a post I wrote last summer, but not nearly the same sense of conclusion: I don’t miss drinking once the urge to drink actually passes.)

I’d say that prior to today, not giving in was up to about 95 percent awesome; the remaining 5 percent was, Aww, man, I still missed out on getting buzzed, though! Not today. I’m relieved to have sat through the cravings, knowing full well–and trusting more and more in this experiential knowledge–that they will. Go. Away. And that, nothing–not one thing–is worth drinking over. (Yesterday I tripped while running and sprained my ankle; I cursed and cried and hated on my life, and was like, Why is this shit SO hard? All of this? My reaction was to want to drink; not that I wanted to be drunk, but I wanted to drink. Pretty soon, I was home, icing the ankle and realizing that no, I didn’t want to drink, and no, it really wouldn’t make me feel better, and no, it SO wasn’t worth breaking my 35-day streak over.) In fact, I don’t (really?) miss having been high, and I definitely don’t miss the memory loss, the confusion, the fake emotional roller coaster, the hangover, the disappointment and frustration…

Honk, honk! Sober mack truck, coming through!

Just because you think it, does not make it so

10 Apr

10:59 am

It’s been almost a week since I last posted, but I’m doing well. Great, actually. It’s been a whole week since I dumped that “temptation bottle” of wine down the kitchen sink, along with the rest of the booze in my house–and frankly, I’ve barely thought about drinking let alone wanted to drink. Day 23, and rocking it.

For a work project, lately I’ve been reading about the neuroscience of addiction. My, oh, my, how our shit gets fucked up. NO WONDER it takes us so long to heal. And here we are, blaming and hating on ourselves. Dude, the wolf voice is real.

I went camping yesterday, and a friend met us down on the beach. We got to talking about drugs and booze and he said that his ex-wife (now deceased from complications of alcoholism, sadly–she was like, mid-50s?) used to get drunk on the way to the restaurant. Like, literally, her personality would change as they were driving, before she even got near the first glass. He said he had friends who would experience the symptoms of being high–like vomiting; kind of hard to fake that–en route to get the heroin. He said they had to pull the car over for the guy to throw up onto the side of the road, miles before their pickup point!

I, for one, have found that my cravings don’t mean I really want to drink. I THINK I want to drink, but I don’t. I have experienced the feeling of being high on wine, of having my mood swing totally UP–all by thinking about, anticipating drinking. In the articles I’ve read, these reward circuits ARE, in fact, firing; the problem is, they’ve become sensitized to different amounts of neurotransmitters and different mental stimuli, let’s just say, so their firing isn’t associated with a healthy reward or a moderate amount of reward. For instance, every time I sit down and watch a movie, I want to drink. Every time I unfold my chair on the beach, I want to drink. My brain is associating these events with drinking, and bam, my reward circuits start firing.

I also read a piece where the gist of it was, there are different circuits (i.e., chemicals and neurons) for want/desire and reward/pleasure. Like, I can want to drink, but the pleasure derived from this is different than the so-called pleasure from actually drinking. Which might explain how I can feel my mood shift simply by thinking about how nice it would be to have a glass of wine. (I wonder if this applies to the whole, Absence makes the heart grow fonder, adage? 😉 )

The problem is, it’s not real.

The solution I’ve found is, let it keep happening until it doesn’t! And, miraculously, it STOPS HAPPENING. Or, it happens less, and less powerfully. Or, you learn to ignore it. Or, your brain simply starts to right itself, and dials those circuits back down to normal.

We spent all day Monday and Monday night on the beach. Back in the day (is it really in the past?) I’d feel nervous about “being trapped” in front of that much time, with no wine to escape to. I KNEW I would feel trapped, like I couldn’t breathe, having to just sit there and be; and it would make me dread going or doing things that involved just sitting and being.

Sit there and be? Without feeling irritable, trapped, anxious? NO WAY. Yet…I did it! Or, it did me. I not only had very few cravings, but there were points along the way where I felt just as high/drunk as I might have felt if I had actually drunk. Of course, better: all the happy and contentment and none of the confused descent into madness.

I was also able to just sit there and stare at the night sky. WITHOUT feeling like I wanted to interrupt the process, or disrupt it with a drink. I could sit there and just be. Wow. Who would have thought it possible?

THIS is what I’m talking about when I say the cravings “subside” after a few months. Now, more than ever, I can “see” my brain at work, and use my knowledge to defend myself against the urges, cravings, thoughts of drinkin’. They are not real. And, incredulous as it may seem to us as we embark on parting ways with alcohol, they go away. The mind rights itself. Maybe not completely, and maybe not exactly the way I’ve described, but the thoughts come less, the associative thinking dies down, and we’re left with something we haven’t seen in a long, long time: a flat terrain that is our mind, a blank canvas tethered at the ends of a solid frame that is our brain. Both are like the surface of the water on a windless day. And, my, how long we’ve waited for that calm.

So, onward. Day 23 and…not really counting. I mean, I don’t think it’ll really start to be all that exciting until day 90 again, maybe. Who knows? At the moment, I’m not really thinking how “nice” it’d be to have a glass of wine. I know it wouldn’t be “nice,” and I know the next three days (shit, let’s put it at a week, who am I kidding?) wouldn’t be “nice.” And frankly, by the time I get to this point in the thought process, my brain has given up and I’ve forgotten about the craving.

Just because you think it, does not make it so.

Healing is boring

21 Jan

2:42 am

Or, maybe I’ve just let it bore me, and therefore, define me as “bored.” Who knows, but I’m ready to rock and roll on out of this “thinkin’ about drinkin'” phase.

I feel a lot like my old self, now that I’m well past 90 days–made it to 100 last night. I’ve been having some GREAT days, with lots of coffee, running, swimming, dog walking, cooking, rastafarian food fair-going… What I mean is, I’m not sure how others feel, but quitting drinking has allowed me to literally go back to who I was. Where I left off, so to speak. Ready work, to play, to run around like a chicken with my head cut off again.

Really?, I secretly dig at myself. Or, is it the opposite? I don’t know, and that’s where I’m going to simply have to say, I don’t know myself right now and I’m going to have to live around that fact. Live anyway, y’know? Work, dream, plan, move forward, minute to minute, day to day.

See, I used to have a lot of well-defined needs, wants, and goals. Now, however, I feel like I’m not sure which, if any, of those needs, wants, and goals are even of any value! I think quitting drinking, actually, is but ONE SYMPTOM of the transition that is staring me in the face, like a disease: the disease of mid-life, of mortality. I could not both survive this disease and its symptoms AND drink, so I had to quit. And, now that I’ve quit, I see this crisis for what it is–a lot of work to do, a lot of information to parse. Sigh. I don’t even know if I’m making any sense, which is why I haven’t written in a few days.

All I know is, I’m feeling my way forward, with blinders on, and it’s NOT because I’m drunk and confused. And, I’m starting to feel like my old self, and it doesn’t mean that I want to down two bottles of wine. I might, if given the chance, though; but that’s MY CHOICE.

(Yes, this is the problem of having to go to bed sober; thoughts are still whirring, a lot of them negative, but only YOU can turn them off because you realize they’re meaningless; you can’t use The Wine, and it never did a good job anyway.)

PAWS, WAA, disorder, and, well, sleep

15 Jan

12:59 am

The last is what I’m going to be doing ASAP, so, y’all’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about:
1. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)
2. Weird and Awkward (WAA) moments (i.e., real life), and my how-to tips on how to get through them sans alcohol
3. MOST IMPORTANTLY, my germinating hypothesis (I’m sure it’s been proposed, and I’ll be the first to admit that I have not read any addiction literature but plan to get on PubMed soon and start Finding Out): Addiction is not a disease, it’s a disorder–of thought, yes, but of memory and similarly, neuronal circuitry. Yes, there is a huge difference (in my mind at least) between a disease and a disorder. Drinking causes disease, but addiction is a disorder, a dysfunctional set of behaviors.

However, I hiked my arse off today on a somewhat impromptu trip to [beautiful island], so I’m beat. I guess it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

And while I’m here, if I’m honest, I DO want to drink. I said I didn’t, but…I want the release, I want the buzz. Yet, when I re-think it, as I must do over and over, again and again, day in and day out–I really don’t want it THAT MUCH, or, at all. What would it do for me, at one in the morning? Nada. To boot, I’d have a hangover tomorrow, calories to burn, and well, I’d have LOST. Lost the game, the fight, my righteous edge, my newly reclaimed power (will blog about that soon, too), whatever. I’d have lost.

So much to share, friends, but I’ll see you tomorrow–calm, sober, and well-rested. (At 90-some days, I can’t really imagine putting up with being sick and fuzzy-headed en route to the sack. Eww. I’m glad I stuck it out, simply, and that I worked through the shit to get here. This is nicer, way nicer. The wolf voice screaming in my head at night to “drink drink drink” is finally gone; and perchance do I see my sparkle-toothed unicorn, smiling my way? YES! She’s hanging out with a baby giraffe, fluffing glitter out of her mane every time she turns her head to smile at me. (A sparkle-toothed unicorn pulls my water wagon, as she has been doing since my “first” first day of sobriety back in June. Well, why not?) 😉 )

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