Tag Archives: milestone

Milestones…and fatigue

15 Jun

11:21 am

Wow, I can’t believe how fast time is flying. Which, I suppose, was my goal: keep my mind dial on “future focus” so that I don’t dwell on The Girlfriend, or, so I don’t give her the time (my life) that she doesn’t deserve. And, now that that’s behind me, the future is here, and I have a lot more important things to think about.

Aside from stressing on how I’m going to earn money, though, life has been pretty fantastic–things are unfolding. Moving right along, as a friend recently commented. And, you know, honestly, it’s been so few and far between, the number of times through all of this that I’ve thought, This would be better with a glass of wine. The longer we go in our period of sobriety, it just happens, this letting go of the Myth of Alcohol–we don’t need it.

To summarize the past month or so, many a milestone has come and gone and I’ve just been trying to keep up (on the outside world, let alone on my blog): my brother’s wedding, the “confrontation,” which turned out to be not much of one, with The Girlfriend; our 2-week trip; planning my “voluntouring” vacation (for which I leave this Thursday); my 40th birthday this week (for which I had a surprise party thrown by my brother’s new husband, during their wedding weekend no doubt!); a beach party for my birthday yesterday (for which my boyfriend and I made a bunch of pretty tasty eats); and in between all that, my 450 day-milestone on June 11th and my 2-years-blogging anniversary on June 14th (I started this blog two years ago on June 14th, and have been sober–more or less–ever since).

Throw in a flu last week and, unfortunately, a UTI (ladies, you know the urgency of getting antibiotics started, especially when you have to wait through the weekend for a pharmacy to open up)–well, this girl is feeling like she’s on the inside of a tornado!

Alas, I think that’s how I planned it, y’all. Far, far better to be busy and occupied than to be dwelling, and drinking.

On that note, I have to run. Sorry I’ve been so MIA. I have the feeling that things might get even crazier in the next few weeks, but I will definitely try to keep you up to date with more frequent posts. (Come to think of it, the next one is going to be on unmet needs and a sense of purpose as antidotes to addictive behavior–it’s been on my mind lately.)

Why we binge

29 Mar

1:16 pm

So, it’s been almost two whole weeks since my sober “birthday,” and while I felt (feel) proud and capable and free, the usual stuff continues to come up: worrying about my motivation levels crapping out on me and then, not being able to earn a living; worrying about the wedding in May, where I’m going to have to see my brother and his girlfriend; wanting to drink, surprisingly, out of boredom, out of a general sense of, OK, Now what? The usual stuff is still there, and while I feel much more balanced and able to deal with it, I still do want to drink. More like, I want to have ONE glass of red wine after a hot shower–like, a bubble bath for my insides. But then I remember the million reasons not to, and I let the fantasy go.

Maybe I simply need to set a new goal. Another year? Le sigh. I’ll say it: this “sobriety” thing is getting boring. In quotes because, sometimes, I just don’t think I NEED to be sober. I don’t think I “am an alcoholic.” I used to binge, but…that was out of hand, circumstances sucked, it was a bad time in my life, right? The problem is, I know in my heart that a sacrifice will have to be made on my part if I decide to start drinking again: if I start USING (yes, using) alcohol as reward, as fix, as “bubble bath for my insides,” eventually it will morph into needing it–or at least, feeling disappointed when I can’t have it. And, that’s a prison of the mind. One which I never want to be sentenced to again.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately–more clearly, indeed–about why we binge.

Most of us understand what we mean when we say, “a case of the fuck-it’s.” Fuck it. FUCK IT! I can’t hold back; I can’t hold on; I can’t hold up; I can’t repress, restrict, be good, be appropriate, care. I DON’T WANT TO.

I don’t want to…ANYMORE.

We drink because of this self-imposed “anymore.” We need a break from all that…holding in, holding on, holding above; out; away.

All this time, I’ve been telling myself the story of me: I can’t control myself, I am a binge eater, a binge drinker. I have no self-control.

What was really happening was the opposite. I was CONSTANTLY controlling myself, holding myself back, doing what I hated, not saying or doing or feeling what I believed was “too much,” or “too revealing.” I was repressing feelings, restricting emotions. I was, literally, not allowing myself to eat during the day–of course, I binged when it got too exhausting, or irritating, or I got just plain hungry. I was dabbling in that by the time I was in middle school; it ramped up to full-on bulimia by the time I went to college. I fixed that…only to have it come back in the form of binge drinking.

I think when we binge drink, we feel that particular remorse of “letting go” when we “really should have kept our drinking in order” more intensely than others. And that serves to feed the mentality that makes us want to binge in the first place–oh, hey, I’m flawed, I fucked up again, I can’t control myself, I suck. It seems that there are a lot of drinkers who never berate themselves for “over-drinking.” I think we feel such deep remorse not because we are overindulgent, but because our ideas of indulgence are off. Yes, we are “over-indulging.” However, why is that, in and of itself, such a terrible thing?

It’s a bad thing if you’re always monitoring yourself, and worrying about what others are thinking.

Why would loving someone–or being loved by someone–be a form of self-indulgence? Why would having sex with whomever I want be indulgent? Why would working a job that doesn’t make my brain hurt, eating enough food, walking instead of running–why is that considered by me to be indulgent? We restrict, and we repress–I was afraid to be expressive and therefore, I had to hold myself in all day. Of course it feels good to finally say, I’m just going to fucking DRINK now and not stop until I feel like it!

I think this is learned behavior that can, fortunately, be un-learned. It’s like, we act like children and throw tantrums. The problem is, there is no adult in the room, let alone a parent. Most of the time, we are very lucky when anyone helps us out of our drunken mess.

Back when I first got sober, my counselor hit that nail on the head during one of our sessions when she asked me, What do you like about your day? Uh, nothing. And, could it be that you are rebelling at night, when you drink? Uh, yeah. Maybe. Duh. Of course. And, going a little deeper, I saw that I am not an overindulgent, selfish slug, but someone who is the opposite in her daily life–to a fault, exhausting my resources trying to “carry the weight of the world” when no one asked me to, when no one wanted to be forced to feel grateful. I know that my behavior was learned, and dysfunctional. But, it wasn’t because I lacked self-control. What I lacked was self-respect, and, well, balance. And treats. And love.

During a food or drink binge, my most basic goals seem to be this: releasing (of emotion, of personality that I have been holding in); soothing (the irritability of having to “keep it sucked in all day”); erasing (zoning out, not having to pay attention, not having to “be on,” not having to work or parse information or create). I’ve said it before, but I used to drink so that I couldn’t work–write in my free time, basically. I was afraid of not only failing, but also, having to confront that maybe I didn’t want to write in my free time, that maybe I wasn’t good enough, that maybe I would have to accept that taking a break was necessary, not a waste of time.

So, why we binge? It’s complicated. And, the more we do binge, the more we compromise our innate capacity to put it into perspective. In other words, don’t get down on yourself, and, find other ways to narrow in on that much-needed releasing, self-soothing, and zoning out. Easier said than done.

Happy Saturday, all!

Epilogue; prologue–ONE YEAR SOBER!

19 Mar

11:44 am

Some of you were like, Hey, how come you saved the best for last? Well, of course, I wasn’t going to gloss over my ONE YEAR SOBER “BIRTHDAY” today!

First of all, WOWIE, thank you ALL for your awesome, supportive comments. Second, I must clarify: I have two brothers; the one with the girlfriend is NOT the same as the one who is getting married in May. So, I am not the photog at her wedding…

Anyway, the epilogue to yesterday’s “drama in my club” is this:

When midnight came, I admit, I was still exorcising my anger and bitterness by journaling. I did actually get to some good points–great points–about how I feel now and what I get from being sober. I re-read an entry I wrote last year, on this very day, when I was sitting on my couch, passed-out-ish, throwing up onto the towel strategically placed (by my boyfriend) on my chest, before stumbling into bed in a blackout. That day last March, I had nearly six months of continuous sobriety. I have not drunk since then–a full, continuous year. It took me almost two years of trying, but I got here. (Mind you, and this is important, I started trying to control my drinking all the way back in, oh, 2004! I was blacking out then, things got really bad in grad school–I even tried AA in 2006–and I began consciously trying to go for days in a row without drinking starting in 2007–I made it 30 days once, back in the summer of 2008, but more often, I’d only go for 3 to 5 days before going back to my bottle.)

What triggered me?, I wondered, which is why I went back to re-read. Well, it was stuff that would probably not trigger me today, stuff that would not carry as much emotional weight: feeling isolated, feeling attacked for being a “hermit,” which I admit I had become (like, hey, does ANYONE think outside their own asses these days; my landlady literally physically jumped me when I got home that day, scolding me about how I ignore her and I can’t get away this time–needless to say, that woman has CODA issues, and I have rightfully decided to keep my distance), feeling stressed (I was running every day, almost 6 miles one day, 3 miles the next–too much). I had to baby myself then, which makes sense–in early sobriety, everything hurts your raw nerves; nothing makes sense. While my mind is still a buzz of thoughts, back then, everything triggered me to anxious and obsessive thinking.

But, we get through this shit, our minds calm down, and the obsession to drink leaves. Not entirely, but there was this shift that happened for me around 15 or 16 months (I started my journey, a first attempt at getting sober, in June 2012, so this was August of last summer), where I just stopped wanting to drink around every turn. Stopped automatically always assuming/believing that drinking equals relief, escape, fun. Now? Well, that has died down even more, and I see that it’s a real improvement; the thinking goes away. You learn how to live without the reward of alcohol. In short, your mind bounces back. And from what I’m seeing now, your mind not only bounces back, but it keeps going higher and higher!

The epilogue to yesterday’s message from the one brother’s girlfriend is this:

I DID call him, and we DID talk. I was nervous, and upset, but I got through it. And, it left me feeling VERY ambivalent. He basically insinuated I was lying about any message having been sent–she denied it (she probably forgot because she was blacked out when she sent it), and he believed/defended her–which pissed me off to no end. We are NOT that kind of family; there has never been this kind of “he said/she said” drama. That comes from her. Anyway, it bummed me out, and I expressed my frustration, that I cannot do more than I’ve done. And, he continued to keep his list, you know, the one with all the reasons on it to hate me, to hold up his (her?) grudge. And I was like, Dude, I’m not saying you can’t hate me, what I’m saying is, your girlfriend can’t bully me. I get to choose that. Period. (Plus, no one needs a reason to hate someone; hate is irrational, and no matter how many lists you make, hate is a choice, not a must, or a rationalized “to do.”)

On the one hand, he was like, I don’t know why it took you so long to call; on the other, he was like, Well, why do you have to go dredging up the past? I was confused, obviously, mostly at his utter lack of self-observation–you do realize, I wanted to say, that you’re saying two different and opposite things and that both allow you to maintain your grudge, no matter what I say or do, right? He said something about, Well, there’s nothing we can do then. And I was like, YES, brother, there IS something we can do here, and it’s what we do, as humans: we can work together toward forgiving one another, and we can work together toward reconciliation. (I actually said that; I felt proud!)

Honestly, I realize the elephant in the room is his toxic, 15-year-old relationship with cray-cray. And, I see how messed up she is, and how IF he wants to change the situation, he’s going to have to confront her, call her out on her act, and stand up for himself. One, he’s never done that in 15 years; and two, I assume that he knows that IF he does that, he’s going to unleash her beast (she’s threatened to kill herself if he leaves her; which, in my opinion, is part of her act, but which I don’t think my brother is so sure).

GAH. Talk about Relationships 101. And, I realize now that it’s none of my business anymore; I don’t need and never did need to keep this shit live. That’s my problem, wanting and expecting people to align with how I see the world, to forgive and/or like me. Lesson learned: What other people think of me is none of my business; and let it go, let it go, let it go.

However, I was proud of myself! Once I got over my fear and pounding heart, I was pretty good at explaining myself. I know I did wrong, and MY crazy while blacked out can put off anyone for good. But, what more can I do? If they want to continue to buttress their grudge just to hide from reality, well, at least I don’t have to live in that place. I did send him the email she sent, and then we “chatted” about life, and then I hung up. And then, I called my other brother–we’re much closer–and he basically talked me down for the next hour and a half. All in all, it was cathartic, if not healing. I’m still not looking forward to the wedding, but at least now I KNOW I can stand up for myself–I won’t fall down and die.

The prologue is this:

THIS is just the beginning, this sober thing here. I feel like now, (my) sobriety is taking on a shape of its own, starting to live outside myself, direct me when I’m lost, prop me up when I’m weak and scared. I know it’s me, doing this, but it’s somehow more than me. Maybe it’s simply an accumulation of this constancy of self–I can rely on myself. I can rely not only on remaining sober but also on…this Truth inside to guide me, to steer me, to fill me up, to make me righteous when I need to be, to help me–allow me–to make the right choices, and not just the superficial ones that I “should” make.

It’s growing, and building, and I’m becoming more and more sure of myself, of this path as being the right one, of sobriety as being the right choice, and not just the good choice. It’s right because it’s allowed me so much growth this year, emotional and professional. It’s right because it helps me to really see my relationships in action, and to identify problems on my end. It’s right because, I don’t know, I’ve talked about this nebulous idea before, but protecting The Body is so much bigger than just not trashing my own temple. It’s about this connection to heaven, as it were, which is here on Earth–the body, this body that I’m in, this mind and body, is a holy ground. It is where I stand; it is the only place I can be, which means, feel safe, be connected to…the Truth. A calm. Something that says, it will all be OK. There is nothing too big or scary; nothing is big or scary, actually. It’s all good, baby.

Even more, I don’t have to rely on anything outside myself to connect to this truth anymore; it is right here, and it is growing. Sure, I want to drink sometimes, but I know I can do well without. And this truth, it gets bigger now with every day sober. I can’t tell you what a strange thing this is to say, because up until about a few weeks ago, I was still struggling with Not Drinking. Sobriety is about me not drinking, big deal, no one cares, it’s just alcohol anyway. Somehow, that has morphed. Maybe it’s as simple as momentum: my sober car is rolling, still picking up speed, and I’m finally able to look back and see just how far it’s come!

So, one year is a prologue, it seems. The best is yet to come. Sounds SO preachy and AA-y, but…it’s real. I think it helps to confront your shit–I am learning to do that as it happens, and not wait (um, two years). But hey, the things I’ve learned and what’s helped me become more empathetic toward myself and others is this: we all make mistakes in our lives, but we all evolve (if we try). And strangely, as you’re fighting to evolve, sometimes it’s YOU who has to help someone else learn this about themselves. Like, to tell them, You can change, you can evolve, you are bigger than you know.

Another one is, I forgive you. I mean, getting sober has taught me that I must (not should) be prepping to forgive all the time, because I DO want to be that person who is READY to forgive when someone who’s hurt me comes with a sincere apology. Forgiveness is hard, and you really do have to be prepared to offer it to someone; I don’t want to not be able to give that. People deserve it. I deserve it. So, in addition to not being hung over all the time, I’ve been able to learn the value of cultivating forgiveness in myself–for others’ health, for my own. DEEP THOUGHTS, people. 😉

Tonight is the wine bar event–well, we’re gathering at a wine bar/resto. On the one hand, it’s just another day sober. On the other, I feel better and more hopeful and less burdened than I have ever felt. And, I feel like I am more confident and settled–this isn’t going to go away with a mood swing because this is real, I made this. I built this. And, I think the struggle is what makes it worthwhile, because without that constant fighting against the wolfie in your head, there would be no…reference point. The whole process of building your new statue–becoming sober–is what helps it stick.

Thank you, friends. I would NEVER have gotten this far without your support here. Thank you from the bottom of my heart–your comments were touching and some brought tears to my eyes.

Now, another 90 days? Another 100-day challenge? Onward for this “user bitch cunt!” (I hate to tell her, but it’s no secret I can be a cunt; and, I still love me. So, GOTCHA, bitch! Of course, I’m not above resentment yet, my friends. LOL)

(Btw, I think my present to myself for a year sober might be a trip back to Mexico–I loved Mexico City when I went a few years ago, so…I don’t know why, but it sounds like a good idea!)

300 days, and it’s getting better

13 Jan

12:42 pm

Well, here we are! Well, were, since 300 days came and went. And, to be honest, it was a day like every other: some ups, some downs, but mainly just stressed about finding money! I don’t know…it was just there.

When I think about how I spent my day, I really have to take a step back and say, Wow, that’s remarkably better than how you were spending your Sunday’s just a few years ago. Yesterday, I got up at the usual time, 10, which was fine. Early enough to have some morning left. I did some chores, took the dogs for a long walk, spent about 45 minutes chatting with my landlord/neighbor/friend, catching up on her holidays and future plans–a really good way to make myself feel more of a part of “things.” I came home, made some lunch (a spinach salad with some basalmic-oil dressing and some pasta), and then, followed up on yesterday morning’s yoga class by trying to replicate it on my own mat. Afterward, I meditated/dozed off on the mat, until about 2. I spent the afternoon trying to boost my mood to get myself to “do shit,” but I just couldn’t find the energy. My boyfriend came home from work, and we/I spent the evening walking the dogs along the back hills, grocery shopping, making dinner, talking to my mother for about an hour (I really need to call her more so that our conversations can be shorter!), and then, “binging” on our Netflix show du jour (Dexter).

I also made sure my dog got her meds in the morning and evening–she’s on doxycycline for tick fever, and she was prescribed a shit-ton of pills (a whole month’s worth, so four a day!).

Why so much detail? Well, if I was drunk/hung over, my day would NOT have included anything related to self-care or care of others/animals. It would have resembled what is unfortunately familiar to all of you: in bed until 3 pm, feeling sick, confused, and panicky, looking through my texts and email to figure out what I might have done or said last night; finally heaving myself out of bed long enough to make ramen and tea, eat that, and then pathetically slump back into my bed, feeling still drunk. I might have gotten up by 5 or 6 pm, as the light was leaving the sky, to get some air, walking a short few blocks up and down the city streets, alone. I probably would have called my mother, and then it’d be about 8 pm. Since I have no dogs to take care of in this scenario (no plants either), no boyfriend to share anything with, and no story pitching to worry about–because I have no freelance business–I’d probably go out to the corner store, buy a bottle of red, and drink that down while binging on a random assortment of Netflix shows (Intervention, Breaking Bad, or Lost were some of my favorites when I was hung over–sad, in a way, except for Lost, which I never quite remembered because I was drunk). Of course, the red would be making me feel at ease, and mainly, helping me to forget my hangover, another wasted day, and the dreadful feeling that I am missing out on SO much.

It’s the little things…but I can’t tell you how they really do add up to one HUGE thing. Like, the fact that it’s just normal now for me, expected that I wake up before 10, to take care of my dogs, to give my girl her meds on time, every day. The fact that it’s a given that I’ll have the desire to prioritize yoga, meditation, and a spinach salad on my day off–and not wine wine wine wine wine. The fact that I have someone to share my day with–that I’m not afraid of intimacy anymore (I was terrified of it, and everything that came with it, when I was drinking–it’s one reason I drank, to both avoid it and hide from my fear of it). The fact that I’m able to talk to my neighbors, that I have an outlet for feeling alone–that I see that others need me as much as I need them, that this is how it works, building community from the inside out. I don’t have to walk around alone in a cold city; I get to do it with someone else, among trees and sun.

I get to choose all this, and I get to choose to approach it with a positive outlook (that often means just ignoring the negative thoughts, the stress, the anticipation of the worst). And, I am aware of all of this, and of how good all of it is, and of how much better it is with this choice. It doesn’t always feel good–I have doubts and anxiety all the time–but it is better, that’s the truth. I look back and think, I may not have known I was dependent on wine, but I knew (believed) that I didn’t have a choice–especially when it came to the negative self-talk about how much my life sucked/how much more I wanted out of life that I didn’t have, which inevitably led to me drinking my nights away, one by one. And then, entire weekends. And sometimes, entire weeks (toward the end, I spent a few ENTIRE WEEKS drunk around the clock=yikes).

So, yeah. I don’t want to overemphasize the negative, but this post is just to say, it creeps up on you, the GOOD, and the BETTER that everyone (at meetings) bangs on about when it comes to getting sober. Sure, you sober up–there are a lot of realities I am facing now, and most of the time, reality comes with fear (whether that reality is actually anxiety-producing outside of my overreacting mind, I am not sure). But, you also GET. You get a lot. And most of it is in small changes, incremental ones that build upon one another until one day you wake up and you’re like, OK, wow, so I might want that glass of red, but honestly, I really can’t see going back to giving up all this–I can see it now, I have it now–in exchange for the “buzz” of alcohol.

As Dan Savage says, it gets better. Sometimes, getting better doesn’t mean what we want/think it should mean, though. Getting better is more complex than just feeling better–isn’t that what we tried to do when we were drinking, feel better? We never GOT better, though.

And, I guess I’ll fix my counter to 365 days on March…18th?

You should get out more

13 Oct

3:46 pm

Uh huh. Yup. I know, right?

I’ve learned not to take these comments from others to heart, to learn what I can from them, and well, to respect my process. Which has been to slowly but surely–as head and heart dictate–come out when I’m ready. When I’m wanting to. When I’m getting my mojo back, as Paul at Message in a Bottle so aptly described what seems to be happening to me lately.

Yesterday, October 12th, was the anniversary of something really horrible happening after a night out drinking (4 years ago) and something really amazing happening, which was that 1 year ago yesterday, I’ve gone for one whole year sober minus one day. Technically, I’ve got…208 days. Which is cause for celebration, methinks!

While I felt mostly pissed off and cheated and wanting to drink last night (yup, that shit still comes around and usually takes me off guard by how gale force it is!), I went to brunch today. I felt like it. I invited my neighbors, and we had some great conversation. (They were drunk, which made it easier for them to talk to me, I know. It did me some good: drunk people are VERY forthcoming, and they’re “good people to know” when it comes to getting into the somewhat closed circles here.)

Anyhoo, I’ve been feeling like “it” more and more, and that includes talking to people and not feeling exhausted after it’s over. LOL

I was reading a book the other night on happiness, and how to be happier. The author says that cutting out the things that you don’t need to do, or that suck time, is key. When I first got sober, I could only focus on not drinking, and I cut out a lot of things. I cut out my old job. I cut out making new friends. I cut out “frivolous socializing.” I cut out AA–it was too emotionally draining and it served to piss me off more often than not. I cut out a lot of things, I had to. That was my process, and it’s worked for me. I knew I had to figure out how to stop drinking and stay stopped on my own time. I had to learn how to derive the desire and motivation to not drink, and not be able to refer to a list of equations, as it were.

One of the most important things for me in staying sober has been to be honest with myself, not necessarily anyone or everyone else. Just because you’re not venting to the world, and admitting how horrible you feel to your 50 closest friends doesn’t mean you’re not working on it. Just because you put dealing with painful memories or emotions on the back burner doesn’t mean you won’t come back to them, and that they won’t get worked out.

I have to say, I feel a thousand pounds lighter than I did last year on October 12th. My mojo is coming back–I want to work, and I want to be more social again. My bigger-picture thinking skills are coming back; like, I can take in a lot more information and put it into place, without having it affect me, or my feelings, or my memories to the point where the pot gets too stirred and I feel overwhelmed. 95 percent of me is glad; the other 5 percent is like, Fuck you, man. I had to become a navel-gazing hermit for a year to want to want again?

Anyway, like I said, I was in a bad mood last night. But, I woke up this morning and made the choice to not carry it into the next day. I call it selective memory–and not the kind that happens when you black out! I also got some rejections to my story pitches. But, I made the choice to forget about it and move on–there are a hundred reasons as to why, none of which involve me, personally, or my talent, ability, and motivation to do a good story.

Slowly but surely, I’m coming ’round. The things I didn’t want to talk about last year, I’ve confronted. I’ve dealt with past trauma and mended my ways, so to speak. Some of the things I cut out last year, I’m adding back in. Mostly, things are righting themselves. Just the act of stopping drinking fixes a lot of problems that you don’t necessarily want or need to face all at once, head-on, right when you get sober. Some of the most painful of the ruminating is caused by the drinking; some of it, in the case with depression or anxiety, is not. It’s up to you, and your honesty with yourself, to figure it out. And, figure it out you will. Just not all at once.

Looking back, this has been a great year. I wish some things would’ve happened sooner (as in, socializing leads to networking leads to a job leads to a savings account), but they didn’t. Oh, well, that’s been my process. Drive your own drive, as one of my friends likes to say.

More days, is what’s next

29 Sep

11:45 am

Well, I’ve had two weeks to sort of “toy” with the idea (just an idea) of drinking again. Starting drinking again. Whatever that means, I’m not even sure. And…

I’ve decided that since it’s just right there, I’ll set my next immediate goal at 200 days (which is this coming Friday). Then, on October 12th–a mere week later–I’ll celebrate my “year soberversary,” which is in quotes because since last October 12th, I’ve missed ONE day, right in between at 6 months. So, there will be treats–more treats this time, less excuses for not allowing myself real treats–on those two days. And a mini-parade. With some glitter balls thrown in for good measure.

And then…I’ll set my goal for another 100 days! That’ll take me to what seems like a nice, even, good-sounding number: 300. This will be on January 12th, 2014. That’s the goal, 300 days.

(From there, it’s really easy to see that 365–a true year sans The Grape–is right around the corner, but, I’ll re-assess when I get to 300.)

Why all the planning and days-counting? Well, it helps. It really does. For me, sometime around my 6-month mark (the first time around), I began to see sobriety as less like a lack of drinking and more like a window of time during which I could get shit done, achieve some goals. I could sit back, take a deep breath, and not feel pressured, rushed, or anxious. It was a weird shift, feeling like I could actually rest EASY knowing that I didn’t have to drink, that I would be able to focus on other things besides drinking and not drinking.

So, that’s how this feels now. Once I get to October 12th, it’ll simply be another 100 days where I have “off” from thinking about drinking and “on” for doing my thing–plugging away, moving forward, achieving some new directions.

I start a new job tomorrow. Baker’s assistant. We’ll see. It pays minimum wage, but it’s enough that if I do that AND keep writing on the side, I can easily cover my bills down here. It’s a start, I guess. Back to the “real world.”

As I’ve said in a few previous posts, lately I’ve realized that for whatever reasons, I lost confidence in getting sober. By taking myself out of the game in order to heal, I also isolated. (And, for this reason, I sort of feel a general sense of bitterness toward sobriety, like it’s a bad parent.) Now, though, I feel like my voice is coming back, my ability and desire to use it. My presence. A sense of direction, of goal-oriented-ness.

Sure, I’ve still got a thin skin and worry about everything, let’s face it; but, that old, caution-to-the-wind, “warrior-ness” that I carried around for years is coming back. It almost did me in, carrying myself like that, so this “new me” will be a balancing act: how much to care, and strive, and achieve, and feed my hungry ego (yes, it still cries itself to sleep every night); and how much to just be and do, to let it all go and embrace a softer, gentler, less achievement-focused way of living. I still long for structure, in a way; for those 60-hour work weeks. I think my real addiction might be work, but that’s for another post.

Anyway, today’s a work day. And up most immediately? Calling my dad–it’s a difficult conversation with him; he continues to be depressed, and I have to tell him we’re not coming to visit this fall–and my brother. Gulp. My brother and I haven’t spoken for almost a year. I’m honestly not sure if he’s still holding a grudge from “the New Year’s Eve incident,” when I blacked out and screamed bloody murder at him and his (crazy) girlfriend. That was not this past year, but the year before–two years ago. I’ve been more than a little ticked off that they dragged it out this long–I tried, and tried, and tried saying I was sorry, and I ended up closing my door, so to speak. Now, I’m ready to open it, I guess; to welcome their forgiveness (if that is what it is) and–I hate to put it this way but it’s how I feel–forgive them for not forgiving me. Wish me luck.

Then, maybe some personal writing. Another exercise in patience. At least I have time–because I’m SOBER. And no hangover to make a waste of me today–because I’m SOBER. And a growing sense of “can do”-ness–you know the drill. And, a momentum, doing what needs to be done–you know why. A sense of calm, of peace, of lack of regret, of self-reliance and self-constancy–is that even a word? Self-constancy. Like, as long and wide as a desert; I am here, constant in myself. I like having this SO much that it almost brings tears to my eyes.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

What’s next?

27 Sep

11:03 am

Damn it, I KNOW what’s next.

Keep not drinking. (It’s interesting that I choose those words, and not, Stay sober. There’s something about “not drinking” and “keeping on doing it” that rings truer for me. It’s more like it’s my choice, and it’s getting me–actively taking me–to a different place.)

I’ve been at it for almost 16 months. I fell off a few times early on, and this October 12th, I’ll have 365 days–minus one, about mid-way through–sober. I am officially 180-some days sober today, so what’s next? And, the bigger picture is always, Why stay sober?

My biggest reason is that I’m finally over the obsessing. And, I have to say, it took me freaking long enough. Geez. Over a year, I’d say. I don’t want to go back there. I still have days when I want to drink, when I pout and blame sobriety for “taking me away from me,” for stealing my enthusiasm. However, I know, deep down, that these are just thoughts, irrational ones at best, and the real, true-me thoughts are soon to emerge. I’m curious to see what’s next?

Another thing, sobriety has forced me–is still often forcing me–to keep moving forward. Really, I have no other option! I can’t drink, so…I have to do. To act. Even if most of those actions have seemed to me to be miniscule, tiny, baby steps at best–at least I’m taking them and not falling backward. That is the main reason I’ve continued to not drink. I see myself moving forward, day by day. It’s a great feeling, and probably what constitutes most of what we see as “momentum” after the early days of cravings and the all-consuming thoughts of drinking and why we drank.

It’s also become a habit, to not drink, and I know that if I allow myself to go back to the “Oh, I can fix this with wine” mentality, it’s really hard to extract myself from that mud. It’s like mental quicksand, and it takes you down fast. I’ve experienced it, so my deal with myself is, When you get to place where you honestly believe that you can take it or leave it, only then can you drink. And, honestly, I’m not there yet. I don’t think I could just drink and not care, drink two or three (ooh, there’s a hangover already) and leave it. And, I’m not sure I’ll ever be there. That’s OK, though. I’ve accepted that, and I’ve accepted the patience that must counter the frustration of not knowing, and of not feeling settled with this “inability” to control things. It just IS for now, and that has to be OK, right?

Things are rolling forward. Whether or not you know or see it, you, too, are moving forward simply by the act of not drinking when you want to.

I’m curious. I want to see what it’s like out there, in Sobersville, at let’s say, a year. Will it really be all that different? I can say with certainty that things really changed about two months ago (14 months into it, almost 6 months sober time, for the second time). I suddenly stopped obsessing. The urge left me, I guess. I mean, I do still have cravings, but they’re always ushered out within a matter of seconds. I think, Ooh, a glass of… NOPE, no can do, DDG. There are the memories, the work I’ve put in, the stark futility of watching my friends stay stuck and drink to “ease their burdens,” and stay stuck and drink, and stay stuck and drink. Then, there are the hangovers. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, another hangover might kill me.

I am thankful for these rush of thoughts, but when I look more closely, I find a calm little clearing inside myself, which keeps growing with each passing sober day, and which I do not want disturbed. I worked really hard to clear this sunny, isolated patch, you know? I’m too tired to even consider letting it grow over, or worse, abandoning it for the noisy lake down the hill where all the drunken teenagers are hanging out, talking shit and staying stuck. Seriously, though, it’s where I’m resting, and frankly, I’d rather not revisit the decision as to whether or not to drink–and invite all that chaos back into my life–again. For now, this feels easier.

So, yeah. While I’m not thinking of drinking, I’m also not counting days anymore. But I think I should set a new goal, lest Wolfie-boy take note and perk his ears. What should it be? 365 sounds too long. Maybe an even 300?

And, here’s some excellent advice from Belle:

I got to 100 days then thought, ok 6 months. then once I got to six months I just sort of waited. and then once I was at 8.5 months I could see a year within reach, and then I just coasted to a year. momentum and fear of regret and just being generally pleased with life was enough for me. enough for me to want to see what happens next …

All quiet on the western (well, equatorial) front

19 Sep

10:54 pm

Whew. Busy week. We got back from our trip (we went to Disney World!), and I just spent the past few days working on two projects. Lo and behold, I submitted my first (well, except for that piece I wrote for The Fix, which sadly shut down) “serious” freelance piece!

She’s baaaaaack…!

It really did feel like getting back on the bike. You know, the one I crashed in a blackout and left on the side of the road a couple years ago. It was still there in the ditch, a bit rusty, waiting for me to hoist myself back into the seat. I’m surprised I found it; then again, I’ve learned to start giving myself more credit. (At the very least, I did what I set out to do, and I can “officially” call myself a freelance journalist.)

And, my 180 days came and went. I barely noticed it, to be honest. There was NO WAY I was giving myself the option of getting drunk within a thousand miles of my boyfriend’s parents. And, truth be told, these days I’m not thinking of “when can I drink again” without having an entire ARMY of thoughts rationalizing myself out of it.

180 days. I’m still here. I’m still not drinking. I’m still not really having the time to revisit what has become, in my mind, much more of a practical necessity than some profound lifestyle choice.

Or is it? Profound, that is?

Things are normalizing. Which, I guess, is why the “profundity” of the sober lifestyle is being lost a little bit on me. Like, I find myself getting annoyed whenever I think or talk or read or write about not drinking. Am I still sick, or can I believe that I’m healed? I feel like things are getting back to normal. I really feel it to be true. The “normal” before I got sucked into the drinking vortex–the obsession, then the need to drink in order to get excited about doing just about anything.

Yes, being sober is GOOD, but, well, good like a grilled cheese sandwich is good on any continent and in any language. What I’m saying is, I remember not drinking as being normal, and this, this sober thing is simply the new normal. Not profound, not really a big deal. Just my new normal.

A hard-won new normal, that is.

I’ve already told you that I believe “alcoholism” is a mental *disorder*–this implies, of course, that I also believe that I can take away the “dis” and be left with the “order”. In the real world, I’m not so sure how this will pan out. I feel like I could drink and not go overboard, but…feelings aren’t facts! I sort of believe that I could probably stop after two glasses, but I’m definitely not sure I would want to. Would I throw caution to the wind and get shitfaced, with all the resulting drama that comes with blacking out? Or, would I be able to “control” that urge? Or, would that urge simply not be there, and I’d realize after two glasses that I’m drunk and I “should” stop?

Technically speaking, I could drink. I have my own permission, in a sense. I made it to 180 days, which was my goal. Healed or no, I can technically drink. The past few times when I actually had a craving–and, let me say, I never imagined that they would subside to almost nothing, but my cravings pretty much don’t exist the way they used to–I dismissed it. I thought, Eh, I don’t want to feel drunk. I don’t want to feel that wave of acid rush down my stomach. I don’t really have a reason to drink–I don’t need to drink, so why bother? I’m happy without the booze, how would it make things better? Like, I actually THOUGHT THESE THINGS.

Granted, I’ve been at this for a little over 15 months. Still, it’s almost like I don’t have the energy to drink. Or, I don’t want to blow it, and I could, I guess, if I drank. Even if I didn’t get that drunk, it might put me back a day, or two; or, I’d feel guilty, or like I’d lost momentum/self-reliance. Sobriety guarantees certain outcomes, like, waking up and being able to try to get work done/get work done. I’m making incremental steps forward in the freelancing, and this is good. I wish I was doing more, and going faster, but lately I’ve realized that for whatever reason, I have to take things slow. And that includes work. Baby steps, and don’t overdo it, and turn it off at a certain hour–these, along with not drinking, are my new normal.

I also am beginning to enjoy working to live instead of living to work. On the other hand, my energy is coming back, SLOWLY but surely, and I’m actually looking forward to getting out more, picking up some part-time volunteer work, trying (at least one) new things that don’t involve what I’ve always done (intellectual reading/writing-oriented work). These are my goals, specific to me and my own personal neuroses. Just like my drinking “triggers” are specific to me. It’s dawned on me once again just how personal a sober journey can be.

I know that most people outside of this sobersphere (and AA) simply don’t GET the significance of getting sober. Of choosing a sober lifestyle. And, eventually, I might forget why I’m doing this. Every day so far since I quit, though, I wake up and look at my life through my sober glasses–maybe I’m not doing this or that because I got sober, but I’m definitely doing it with more purpose and more gratitude. So, we cling to it, this sober lifestyle choice, and celebrate it, and throw unicorn parades with our glitter balls and sober cars. Because it works!

It’s working! Something has clicked, has shifted. Maybe it’s simply the cravings fucking-finally-god-DAMN-it subsiding, maybe it’s me becoming my “old” self, maybe it’s me accepting my “new” self? Whatever it is, it’s working!

And that, my friends, is why it’s all quiet on the equatorial front.

I can imagine myself setting a new goal, another 180 days–we’ll see. I’m not thinking about drinking, things are quiet, and I have a lot of work to do. If the next six months are like the past six months, they’re going to blaze by, me in the saddle trying to hold onto my to-do list as the wind rips it to shreds!

180 days: check

15 Sep

12:16 am

Well, folks, I made it. 180 days as of yesterday (September 14th), which was about 16 minutes ago. And, you know what? I didn’t even think about it or remember what day it was until I was well into my shower this morning (which happened early because, you got it, I didn’t drink last night and I wasn’t hung over!)!

I am good and fine and thinking about so much besides drinking, or not drinking. My boyfriend and I are in Florida, and we just spent the past three days hitting Disney World and visiting his parents. Tomorrow will be another EASY SOBER DAY with thoughts of, well, things that come naturally and freely to think about that do not involve an ounce of obsessing over wine.

YES, at one point I thought, Ooh, it’d be nice to have a glass of red right about now, when my boyfriend’s mother offered me one and then fixed one for herself–it’s the first time I’m meeting them, actually–but, it came and went and the evening continued on. All I could think was how calm I felt, how different I feel–I mean, really, I feel like I don’t even know that crazy drunk girl that I used to be–how normal it seems to just take events as they come and deal with the irritations, the laughter, the everything sober. There’s so much more out there. Oh, right, that’s called Life. Why, hello there, I remember you!

On that note, I’m going to hit the sack. I can’t wait to share more insights when I get back (Tuesday).

Thank you, friends, for being there every step of the way.

A rough few days

8 Aug

3:54 pm

But, I’m still sober. I may have burst a few blood vessels trying, but…whatever it takes, right? Right now, not drinking is the BEST thing you can do for yourself, I keep whispering in my own ear.

It’s been almost a week since I decided to alter my course of action in terms of, like, everything in my most current (and admittedly, somewhat precarious, off-base, and random) life plan. It threw me. Add to that mood swings (major!) and a general self-pitying sense of “but no one appreciates what I’m actually doing here!” and, well, you know how it goes… MAJOR CRAVINGS. Major case of the “fuck it’s,” which, I am very proud to say, I have not given into.

I wonder if it’s just “that time” again; I made it to Week 20 this past Monday, so I’m rounding up on 21 weeks soon. Around 20 weeks last time, I was SO jones’ing for a glass of wine, and I caved shortly after 22 weeks. This time, I WILL NOT let myself give in. I’ve worked WAY too hard to get here. And truth be told, it’s not wine that I want; I surely don’t want the hangover. Yet, sometimes I feel like this has become much more of a mind-fuck than it was intended to be, this not drinking thing. Maybe, I’ve been wondering, I CAN drink responsibly now? Maybe I can stop thinking about drinking (or, not drinking)?

Wolfie-boy thoughts aside, I’ve been seriously thinking about re-evaluating being sober once I get to my 180-day mark, which will be on September 14th. I think the main reason is, I need to know that this is MY choice, otherwise I start to resent the conviction (fact?) that I am living someone else’s life.

I am not sure I ever experienced a pink cloud. Yes, it’s fucking fantastic to never be hung over (I’m not sure I could deal with another hangover, which is one thing that keeps me on the wagon), but, frankly, I did everything I’m doing now. Professionally, I feel like getting sober has set me back in that I don’t seem to have the passion, the burning desire, the fuel I used to have. There sure are upsides to being sober, but I feel flat a lot of the time, and it’s been a whole year-plus since I took my last-ish drink (I’ve only had ONE slip since last October)! Most of the time, though, it’s just the same, except I’m not drinking, not being hungover, and not doing stupid shit when I get drunk (and black out).

I think I just miss “me,” and my “life,” and my friends, the city, what constituted basically everything I knew. Going out to wine bars and knowing that I worked hard to be able to afford those drinks, the apartment that I would be coming (stumbling) home to afterward, the entire setup–it was mine. I created it. I made it happen. And, I hate to say it, but I DID feel more alive when I was drinking–it wasn’t always falling down, and it wasn’t always feeling like shit.

I’m sure it’s wolfie, but, well, being sober isn’t that great sometimes. It’s not the drinking I miss that much, it’s the reward. I still feel like I’m sort of just making it through the days–when do I start to really, actually live? I see quite a few soberites doing cartwheels, and I’m starting to feel like there is something seriously wrong with me. Was I just simply that much more tethered to the bottle? Could be. It was a long 10 years, and at least five before that ramping up. I also never seemed to hit bottom, or, at least when I did (breaking an arm, spending time in jail, getting fired, being (technically) evicted, crashing a car, etc. etc. etc.), I was so impervious to pain that I chose not to feel it? Maybe I need one of those mega-support groups because I AM one of the worst alcoholics? Maybe I was so “high-functioning”–in an extremely dysfunctional reality where it’s OK to drink the way I did–that a lot of what happened to me simply came with the territory?

All these things combined make for a confused Drunky Drunk Girl, I guess is what I’m saying. And, well, a rough few days.

On that note, I have to get to work. At least I’m making SLOW progress on that front. And, inching my way back into some sort of professional reality. I’m on Day 2 of “no sugar,” which means no sweets, no Diet Coke (trying), and minimal items with added sugar. I want to see how it affects my digestion, my running, my weight, and my “satiety meter,” so I’m going to go for, oh, a while doing this. I already feel better, and surprisingly, not ambivalent: I know I can’t have sweets–it’s just like wine, I CANNOT have it–so, why bother allowing my mind to want it? Push on through, I say. There is light, there WILL be light.

143 days!

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