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no explanation, no justification

dinner last night, group of 9 people.

mr: “where’s your glass?”

Me: (looking around for my tea cup) oh, it’s in the kitchen.

mr: “are you on or off?”

(he knows that i was off-alcohol the last time he saw me in May)

Me:  off

mr: “oh.  next time i’ll check first, before i say i’m coming to dinner, to find out if you’re on or off.  It’s not the same if you’re off.”

Me: (big smile, shrug with a ‘what can you do” look on my face. no explanation, no justification.)

Yes, at these group dinners, this one guy and i often *drank a lot* and could get quite loud and hilarious. So he’s missing his drinking buddy. (Thank god i knew enough from everyone else’s blogs to realize that his behavior was textbook stuff.)

But also, more tellingly, the last time i saw him in May, and i was off, he said then that he also wanted to cut back, felt he drank too often, living alone it was the only way to fill evenings, etc.

So i’m sure it sucked rocks for him to have me sitting there last night, cheshire cat-like, having a lovely time at dinner, sober.  I didn’t try to *hide* that i wasn’t drinking. in fact, at dinner, while everyone else enjoyed the homemade cocktails, the champagne, the wine, and the grand marnier that i put on the table … I made a big pot of tea and put it on the table next to my plate, and over the course of the evening i proceeded to drink the entire pot.

not one single person gave a shit. except mr-lonely-drinker-why-do-you-have-to-be-my-mirror.

OK so i guess i’m still gloating.  good morning day 19. I’ve never been here before 🙂

pink clouds can bite me

well after Mrs D’s comment about Pink Clouds, I also googled it.  In my brief and ridiculously condensed version, pink clouds are when you’re having happy times in sobriety .. so happy, in fact, that you might fall off the cloud on the other side and then drink.

sounds fantastic!

well, i’ve been thinking about it, and here’s what i have to say about pink clouds.

bring them on. all good days are good days.  i’ll take some glistening highs, thanks, because they beat the shit out of hung over lows.  i’m going to inhale my pink clouds and really blow pink smoke.  Crashing on the other side? i really am thankful for the warning.  i’ll be on the watch.  think i’ll be on careful watch for ANOTHER pink cloud that i can leap on to just as this one is on its way out…

in other news …

went to my first sober concert last night. every single person in the small venue had a beer in their hand. every one.  it’s like they’ve all been brainwashed into believing that the only way to enjoy a live musical event is if you’re mostly hammered (see what i’ve learned from hanging out with you-all?).

it was the first concert i’ve ever attended where i wasn’t waiting for it to be over. honestly, most shows, about 45 minutes in, and i’m ready to go home.  agitated. checking my watch, are we done yet? not last night.  i was dancing and listening and people watching and band watching. I was silently retuning this one’s guitar and i was wondering if that one ever stopped moving.

when it was over, we came outside and there was a little bit of light left in the sky (love living as north as we do now). i told hubby that i really loved living in this foreign-to-me country, and that we hardly ever go out anymore on weeknights and should do it more often.

i wonder why we haven’t been going out more.  probably because after the first glass of wine at dinner time, all motivation is lost.  all energy to do anything.

can’t believe i’ve been living in this amazing city and haven’t really been taking advantage of it.  (Can’t believe i’ve been living in this amazing LIFE and haven’t been taking advantage of it …)

bring on the pink clouds.  they can bite me 🙂

he wouldn’t say *shit* if he had a mouthful.

the talk with the husband.

i guess i knew it would happen eventually.

i say something like “i know i don’t tell you much about what’s going on online, but i just want to say that i’ve found a really great group of women bloggers and i’m surprised at how much it’s helping me.  I don’t want to talk about not drinking all the time, or you’ll think i’m online getting brainwashed, but it really is helping me a lot.”

he says: “i think it’s great, whatever you think helps …”  and then he adds with some surprise, “i never thought you’d stop drinking on your own like this.”

me: “really?”

him: “I’ve been thinking for a long time that we drink too often (nightly). i just never thought you would stop. i figured i’d eventually have to say something.”

[gulp] i know he never would have said anything.  this guy wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful of it.

me: “how long have you thought we’ve been drinking too much?”

him: “since we lived in XX” (4 years ago).

me: “i figured you’d find me boring now that i’m not drinking. you said that N and G were both boring once they stopped.”

him: “not you.”

me: “and when we go on vacation, you’ll be thinking ‘why can’t she drink with me?'”

him: “no.”

me: “well i’m not sure what i’m going to do at the end of Dry July.”

him: “you’ll probably just continue.”

[god, what is he saying?]

me: “continue drinking socially?”

him: “continue not drinking.”

and while he may match me one-for-one when the wine is open, he never initiates it. he never is the one to buy it, to plan it, and if there’s no alcohol in the house he doesn’t drink.  i think now he’s just been drinking to keep me company or to avoid conflict.

yesterday i was on day 16, and i asked him when was the last time he had 16 days in a row with not one beer, and he said he didn’t drink daily before he met me (7 years ago)…

spectacular. fantastic.

of course, i know that feeling disappointed, or sad, or resentful are key triggers to drink … but i’m not being triggered. i’m actually feeling very zen and at ease with my decision to stop. there is wine in the house for an event we’re having this week, and it is not speaking to me. he was out last night and i watched a show on the computer and made muffins.  i’m sure there are difficult days ahead, but i’m honestly feeling that it has not been that hard to stop.  some brief moments of cravings that pass quickly. and most days, no cravings at all.  i’m very aware that i’m still counting days (and in some ways this seems like the longest month on record). and i know that there are challenges ahead at day 40 or 50 or 90.

i thought i was doing this just for the month of july, but perhaps not.  three drinks a day, every day, just isn’t how other people consume alcohol. and i’m really not interested in having a glass of wine with dinner now and then — as nice and romantic as that may sound. To me it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.  i hope at some point in the future it’ll seem appealing to have ‘just a glass’ but i know for now, it sounds like a special kind of hell.

and i never want to have ‘that’ conversation with my husband…

daisies and sunshine rocketing out of my ass

About a week ago i started this blog (a week! OMG it seems like such a long time ago). I’m now on Day 16 of Dry July and i know for a fact that I would not be here if i hadn’t started this blog.

This is the first time i’ve made it to 16 days, ever, in my life, and it’s the first time i’ve actively reached out for help and accountability. Coincidence? I think not.

I tend to think a lot (no shit!) and left on my own, i think myself into “logic loops” that get me drinking again.  My most recent one, from May, went like this:

I think i’ll give up wine for a month. I’ve done it for a week at a time before, so I’m sure that a month won’t be hard at all. Ack day 3 sucks. Groan day 7 is rotten. Day 9 i’ve had enough of this shit, and if i’m only giving up for a month, that means i’m going to drink eventually.  and if i’m going to drink eventually then i might as well drink today. Experiment ended at day 9.

This time round, i realized the noise in my head was escalating right around day 7. I’d been reading a sober blog, and decided i’d get brave and start my own.  Now it hasn’t all been daisies and sunshine rocketing out of my ass, BUT for a week I have been collecting ideas, and i’ve been discovering NEW thoughts that I can feed into my logic loop instead of my old recycled ideas.

Instead of mulling over: “eventually i’m going to drink”  … now i’ve replaced that kind of thinking with “i like this stillness and quiet-headed-ness, and i’m so glad I have time to take care of the REST of my life.”

I’ve started an amazing blogroll of like-minded folks (who knew you were all out there?). And i’ve been very surprised and super happy to find such compassion, lack of judgement and in particular a lack of “see what i did, do that, if you don’t do what i did you suck” kind of preachy-ness that i thought would exist here.

who am i kidding, i figured everything sober was going to be preachy “do as I say” shit, and since i knew that wouldn’t work for me, i had never explored any other kind of community. so to find such kindness and non-platitude (non-platypus) support, has been worth the price of admission. and then some.

I thus happily begin Day 16 knowing that I will not drink today 🙂

*it blunts, numbs, fills time…*

i called this blog “tired of thinking about drinking” because there’s a lot of noise in my head about booze. when to have it, how much, how close together, did he get more, will there be enough.

but i’ve never come across text that explains this ‘noise’ better than my new friend Cleo:

She writes:

“Moderation does not work for me. Been there so many, many times. My brain is addicted to wine and the addicted brain needs absolute clarity. *Maybe just one* starts up too much discussion between all my selves.  *None* is easier for all of us to understand.”

I’m going to print this out and tape it to the edge of my computer monitor so that i can stare at it. My selves. yes, the noise in my head is my rational self talking to my addicted self. and yes, firm boundaries and absolute clarity means no bargaining.

this new note will go up next to the one that’s already attached to my monitor.

I wrote this (to myself) in the fall (perhaps mid-october-ish), i wrote this after consuming my 3 drinks:

“It gets between me and my life, between me and you, between me and serving, between me and fun.  it affects my weight, my sleep, my enthusiasm.  it blunts, numbs, fills time, expands into the space allowed.  adds nothing, feels bad, sad, argumentative, irritated.  this isn’t the real me.  And escape? There’s nothing to escape from, it isn’t bad here, there’s joy and beauty and ease here. don’t need to ‘go’ anywhere else.”

Day 14. I always feel better when …

today begins day 14 of Dry July.  i do love a (nearly) half-way point.  even in running, on a long run i love the ‘turn around point’ because then it’s all downhill in my mind. in the second half, i don’t have to check my watch, i just run until i’m home again.  the second half is sooo much faster than the first half.

running and being sober. hmm, similarities?

  • when running, especially on long runs, i often feel like a bag of shit for the first 20-3o minutes, and i now know that’s normal. i know to just keep going through the crappy part and then it’ll feel better
  • never quit during those first 20-30 minutes, just wait for it to feel better.  it always does.
  • i don’t always feel like going for a run but i always feel better when it’s over
  • some runs give me that amazing runners high, and some don’t. can’t tell which will be the ‘good’ days. just have to do them all.
  • always feel better on the days when i run than the days when i don’t
  • i eat less on running days than other days (hmm…)
  • listening to This American Life on my tiny shuffle can pass the longest hour, running uphill, in the cold pouring rain. (i should use this diversion more often in real life)
  • if I start with walk 2, run 2, eventually i can do a marathon (i started sobriety with 2 days on, 2 days off, then worked up to a week off, 2 days on.  now i’m doing 30 days off.  i guess my marathon is coming up!) i know this analogy won’t work for everyone, super problem drinkers probably can’t practice being sober.  i could. i’m one of the lucky ones.
  • during a marathon, i will be looking around on the side of the road for a place to puke (i won’t puke, but i’ll feel like it) … but once i cross the finish line, i will be soooo elated; i slept that night for 12 hrs and I was on a super-big-high that lasted two weeks, and it truly changes your life and changes your belief in yourself and what you CAN achieve

god and computers

This is the beginning of day 13 in my Dry July.  And while yesterday was a shitty day, i made it through.  in fact, the computer problem is slowly resolving itself, and the family illness seems to have improved overnight.

I subscribe to Notes from the Universe and on wednesday, when faced with the worst aspects of my dead computer, I got this message:

“If you knew I answered whenever you spoke to me, Belle, would you be still enough to hear me? Prepare to be amazed, [signed] The Universe.  PS/And if you knew I was listening, Belle, to everything you thought or said, might we talk again like old times?”

I have to tell you this made me smile. I began to prepare myself for a miraculous computer recovery. Low-and-behold, when the new part arrived yesterday, i plugged it in (after leaving the machine off for 4 days), and … yes, it worked.  it’s limping along a bit lop-sidedly, but it’s open enough for me to get access to my most important client files.

Now I don’t want to freak anybody out here, and i love and respect everyone.  Really I do.  but I don’t believe in god. I love and adore people who do believe, and one of my best friends for the past 20 years is an evangelical christian who often covers me in ‘angels’ when i go on car trips. To her, I say, bring on your angels, i can take all the help i can get.  but me, personally?  well, I believe in me, and the power that I have to make changes in my life.

that said, i kinda believe in the universe.  does that even make any sense? i believe in some kind of shared ‘good vibes’.  i believe that i create my own reality. me. me. but i also know that if i ask my husband to ask for better weather, then better weather arrives (for some reason it doesn’t work if I ask myself).

i believe in synchronicity, i believe in making your own luck, and i believe that sometimes – occasionally – the universe lifts you up.  I got such love and support from the online community yesterday, that i think you’re part of my collective universe. that and a delivery of a computer part from Amazon, combined with a text from my sister that family is doing better… All is well this morning.

Thanks for being part of my universe 🙂

crying seems to help

this is day 12 for me, and i’m having a weak day. i know that there will be good days and bad days.  and that bad days don’t mean that i am going to drink.  it’s still my first impulse, though. i know that sometime that will fade. but not yet.

i am having lots of things in my life that are making me sad, all on the same day. family illness, computer failure, crummy not-summery-weather. i also slept in today, perhaps too late, and so i’ve been dragging all day.

crying seemed to help. and it’s 6 pm here, european time. it’d be normal for me to have a glass of wine right now.  more than normal, it’s what i’ve always done. instead. instead i’m trying to rescue a dead computer, i’m going to roast a chicken for dinner. i’m going to drink some more tea. i’m going to have a bath. and i’m going to count on tomorrow being easier.

i’m glad i’m on day 12 and not on day 2.  but i do feel like going to bed and crawling under the covers to HIDE…

 

what if alcohol was a ‘place’

alcohol is like a place.  it’s where I go after dinner.  it’s where I go on vacation. it takes me to a tunnel of fuzzy numbness. it takes me away from here. it’s a place I go in my mind.

if alcohol was a place, I want to say now that I DON’T GO THERE ANYMORE.

i don’t go to the fuzzy, hiding, numb place. I don’t go to the artificially loud, thinking all of my jokes are hilarious, place. I don’t go to the place where i feel crummy the next day – both physically and emotionally.

I’m not sure all the time where i’m going instead, but not knowing — and occasionally feeling completely lost — has to be better than going THERE.

staying ‘stuck’

What do I gain by staying ‘stuck’ in my old ways?

If I stay the same, it keeps me in the pack of everyday-ness. I can just remain a dreamer / non-achiever like everyone else. If I’m successful in making big changes, my family might be jealous, needy, or hostile.

If I stay the same, I can talk about “what could have been” instead of actually doing the work …