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I got drunk last night…on .5% “non-alcoholic” beer!

10 Dec

11:32 am

And I learned SO much! Mainly that, everything I’ve been telling myself about relapse is off-base…when I consider MY physiology. No, drinking again will not necessarily trigger a physical craving, or even a mental one, like before. No, drinking again is not necessarily something I want to do, or will do, anymore to ease my pain or numb my fear. HOLY FUCK. All these stories I’ve assumed and acquired about “this disease” are not necessarily true–for me.

I’m going to be brief, but basically, I accidentally drank what I thought was a non-alcoholic beer last night, and it turned out that it actually had .5% alcohol. And, boy, did I feel it!

After the first half, I felt bad–decidedly unpleasant. Slightly anxious–what’s this unfamiliar feeling going to do to me?–and like my brain was coming unglued–imagine clasping your hands together and pulling them apart. By the end of the beer, I felt fuzzy-headed and a little careless (numb), but that was about it. No real buzz.

The best part? I had ZERO desire for more. I mean, I neither wanted a stronger buzz nor wanted it to go on. I was waiting to come down, if you can believe it! I could liken it to having just taken a shower; I felt clean and cool, why would I take another one? Or, just having eaten a nice dessert; I felt sated, why would I eat more? I had no compulsion–no obsessing, no real feeling at all besides, oh, this is an interesting feeling and it will be over soon, and I’m OK with that. Next?

I have no regrets. No, I didn’t “fall off the wagon;” no, I didn’t “slip.” I MADE PROGRESS. I mean, I feel like this was my own version of harm reduction–and while I’ve wondered about harm reduction techniques as being possibly painful, the overriding feeling I had after this experience was that of freedom. I felt free. I got my fix, I satisfied my curiosity, which, I’ll admit, had been eating away at me for the past 265 days.

Yeah, I felt free. But then, I was like, Oh, FUCK, now what? If I don’t have alcohol, what will be my fix NOW? All this time, I’ve been sort of harboring romantic visions of me drinking wine in moderation “when I’m fully healed.” I never in a million years imagined that I wouldn’t want to!

Now would be a good time to drink…

22 Nov

7:33 pm

Now would be the time to drink, if there is one. I just finished three stories and well, two months’ income.

I’ve already blogged about why “now” would not, actually, be a good time to drink: it’s November 22nd, and I still have to find December’s income. I still have NO idea where that money is coming from yet–could be in the form of an assigned story, could be in the form of a story or two that I have yet to pitch. Ugh. Freelancing. And, then, there’s January, and February, and March’s income. Sometimes, I can’t imagine ever feeling like I deserve to rest, a break, a reward. Do I?

I did it, though. I picked myself up this summer, worked my arse off to grind this business to a start, and actually did it. I know being sober has everything to do with it. This has been months, years in the making. And I’ve worked really hard to get here–not just to have those handful of stories, whatever. I’ve worked hard the way you all know that this revising-your-entire-existence-on-planet-Earth is hard when you get sober.

Sigh. I still want to drink tonight, though. As a reward. As a break. It’s what I always did. It’s what I’ve always done after filing hefty stories. I’ve EARNED this, haven’t I? I’ve been planning it for months, in a way: once I get to “this” point along the way in the freelance thing, then I can drink.

I told my boyfriend I was going to drink a “couple” of glasses of wine tonight, but in my heart, I know I’m lying. For all intents and purposes, I’m not in the mood to drink.

But I still “want” to. So, what do I do? I go and grab my wine glass, fill it to the top (cuz that’s how I roll; 6-ounce “glass,” my ass) with some homemade sorrel tea, and whoa, what a surprise! Sorrel’s got a tinge of an aftertaste, and it feels/tastes very much like wine. I put ginger (along with cloves and cinnamon) in this iced tea, so it sort of burns on the way down, and once there, simmers in my belly. And, by golly, it feels like I’m drinking wine! And, no shit, I “feel” the symptoms of being drunk.

When I got drunk, I’d feel the good feelings–happy, excited, caution-to-the-wind, big ideas–and I’d feel the bad–dizzy, brain coming undone, spaced out, tired, bloated, stomach burning. Sometimes the bad would totally outweigh the good, especially toward the end when the buzz didn’t even show up. Maybe it’s my association of these feelings, similar to the ones I’m getting from the tea, with being drunk that’s making me actually feel drunk?

In any case, it just reminds me of how NOT WORTH IT it is. I just feel down, tired, spaced out, and my stomach is burning. I have that sick, wine aftertaste in the back of my throat, and I’m going to keep taking swallows of that sick, tart wine and make that aftertaste worse. Stomach’ll keep burning, throat will reflexively gag, but I’ll keep downing that wine–every sip taking me further and further outside of my head. Pretty soon, I’ll be tipsy, which may or may not involve feeling buzzed; my head will start to hurt; I’ll start to feel really dizzy; I’ll lose sense of my chain of thoughts; and I’ll feel confused, like my brain is literally coming unglued, as if big chunks of neurons are coming unhinged from one another, cell by cell.

And then, I’ll be like, oh, a bottle is gone?, and I feel nothing but numb. Not better, just numb. And sick. And drunk. And…now $10 is gone, the night is spent, and I have nothing to show for it except…a horrible day tomorrow of being hung over, of not being able to work or do anything I had planned. Ugh. It just adds up to zero.

So, yeah. While I “want” to drink, I don’t. And that confuses me, because I feel both at once. I guess I’ll just refill my wine glass with more sorrel tea and pretend I’m drunk. Or, maybe I’ll go to the bar (my neighbors are leading a pub crawl at the bar up the road) and watch all the drunken people perform their stupid human tricks?

No good can come. No good can come. I KNOW this, but… I feel left out.

You know, I used to hate those cautious people, the ones who were like, “Oh, I better stop, I’ve already had two.” FUCK YOU. I was so impulsive when it came to wine, so impulsive and dangerous in my choices, my behavior. Now, I’m turning (turned) into one of those cautious people I hated! Maybe I always was/am too cautious to allow my inner zen to be disturbed–maybe that’s the real me, and I’m just having to get used to her being around again.

And, now it’s 7:50 and the night is too old for me to start drinking now. Plus, I wasn’t kidding, I think I’m really heading over to the bar where my boyfriend works to make fun of (feel glad it’s not me) the drunkards.

200 days plus 7 weeks = almost 250 days! 50 more until day 300, and then…?

Update at 10:51 pm: so, I went to the bar, saw some people, drank some pineapple and club soda, and ate some Roquefort cheese (ugh, not only cheese, but FRENCH cheese; all I could think was, This would go so much better with some French wine). And, well, I still want to drink. I still want that “break.” I still feel left out, and friend-less, in a way. I miss drinking to socialize, I really do. Oh, well.

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea if I drank” vs. “It wouldn’t be a good idea if I drank”

9 Nov

5:34 pm

Ahh, the mind. Chattering monkeys. (Wait: I actually have more respect for primates’ intelligence than that!) Chittering INSECTS.

These days, as I just commented on Belle’s blog, I no longer look at people drinking red wine in the sun and automatically think, Oh, sigh, I wish that were me. I wish I could drink. I wish I could be happy, like them. I wish I didn’t need the wine to do it. Are they really happy before the wine? Could I be? Will I ever be?

Lately, I don’t automatically want to drink OR want their happiness. I know now that “happiness” is big, wide, not easily gotten or defined. That it takes work. That I can be versions of “happy.” That I don’t have to be “happy” to be, well, happy.

Substituting wine for happiness holds no weight for me at this point; and, that makes me sad sometimes. Sure, I miss the buzz, and I miss what it represents (fun, youth, old times, etc.), but…I know now that when the wine wears off, all you’re left with is a fake time had by all, a hangover, and your untended sadness. You just can’t live in unhappiness for long, though. I mean, I think that’s what AA means by “dry drunk,” in that, if you come to accept the fact that alcohol does not equal happiness, then you also are compelled to find happiness where it really exists. Hard work, no avoiding. Growing up. Growing OUT. EXPANDING.

For me, it’s been about “re-training” my brain, as Lisa writes about on her blog, to dissociate “reward” from wine. And, it’s also been about coming to terms with the fact that my yearning is a good thing. I think I yearn for wine–what it used to do, give, be for me–but in my heart, I feel (know) that this yearning is actually for what makes me happy. Which I’m still figuring out. This yearning propels me to continue to seek out what will bring me actual happiness. There is no illusion anymore that it’s wine’s job. It’s mine.

So, no, it would not be a good idea if I drank.

That being said, lately I’ve been noticing my mind circling around one thought: moderation. It usually manifests in the form of a sentence sneakily similar to the one above: It would not be a BAD idea if I drank.

Would it?

Like, would it be that bad? Could I handle it? I suppose the “it” here is moderation. That horrible two-drink thing. ICK. EWW. GRR.

It’s a strange shift in perspective. It would not be a GOOD idea if I drank…when I am desperate, sad, mad, depressed, or existentially challenged. It would not be a GOOD idea if I drank in “fuck it” mode. But… What?

I don’t really have many “fuck it” moments anymore. I don’t seem to have those pits of despair, those desperate, sad, mad, depressed, or existentially-challenging moments anymore. Sure, I sort of have them, it’s just that when they come, I know how to deal with them. I don’t consider wine, it is not an option. I know what ELSE to do, what ELSE to think, and I’m pretty much able to let most of the unnecessary negativity go. I no longer need to warn myself, No, it really would not be a GOOD idea if you drank right now.

But…would it be a BAD idea if I drank? In moments of calm, of joy, of nothing special? I mean, how bad could it be? I could probably manage a night, maybe more–a week, a month?–drinking in “moderation.” However, I know from experience that once you let your guard down, once you open yourself up to the possibility of using that old, tired, haggard solution to your problems, it’s hard to consider the other, better solutions.

I think this is called “well-worn neural pathways;” or, in other words, “alcoholism.” Geez.

See, I’ve been wondering lately if–and when–I will be able to drink in moderation again. (I still have hope, I’ll admit it.) And, I keep telling myself, the only way I will allow myself to try is if I truly believe that I can take it or leave it. If I could stand over a bottle of red wine and say, “I could drink you…or not, it doesn’t really matter“–only then would I be “recovered.”

And, honestly, I can’t even imagine doing that yet–going on 17 months getting sober.

I’ve seen a lot of posts and comments about moderation lately. I know what you want, because I want it, too: We want to drink without the compulsion to have MORE.

Sure, we all CAN drink in moderation, if we activate our superpowers. The question is, do we WANT to? I mean, I am able to stop after two drinks, but it sucks. IT SUCKS. My version of hell, in fact, would be having to participate in one of those harm reduction programs where you and your counselor go out to a bar, you drink your two drinks, and then you both sit there together, coming down from your two drinks. GAWD. Talk about painful. Apparently, it helps you “moderate” your consumption by helping you tolerate your compulsion. To LEARN ways to come down and then, walk away. Um, WHAT? How is that NOT Dante’s Inferno?

Every time I’ve had two drinks (in the past, let’s say, 5 years), I’ve felt nothing but one of two things: an irritating-to-extreme desire to have more, and when I know I can’t, an irritating-to-extreme agitation. Moderation just seems HARD, so, I guess I’d prefer to skip those two measly drinks than have to deal with the hard work of stopping when I don’t want to.

“You play, you pay,” is what one of my wiser roommates used to tell me as he watched me deal with the night before. Simple, but good advice. For now, I’m putting the idea of moderation back into its box and under the bed. It’ll be there when I get back, I’m sure. 😉


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