10 things i’m grateful for

thanks to jen for the prompt to write this post. Ten things i am grateful for:

chocolate swiss roll
  1. my health: there is nothing the matter with me. i sleep through the night, my heart beats, my lungs function, i run, i eat, i have nice hair.
  2. my husband: my first experience with unconditional love. he really really loves me. a lot.  he’s doing the dishes right now. oh, he just came and filled up my cup of tea while i’m typing … he’s adorable.
  3. the online blogging world: never knew this existed, can’t believe i achieved anything in my life before, without this kind of support.
  4. i’m super grateful that we live in europe, in a beautiful city filled with amazing things to look at, things to do, and provides us with new adventures every day
  5. high school:  i hated the popularity contest stuff, but i’m damn grateful for the second language i studied, which now enables me to live in europe … and i learned to type 65 wpm in high school and that means i’ll never be out of work
  6. junior high school: i hated the pimples, the ‘family living’ classes, and the conversations about birth control.  but i LOVED my cooking class and the independence and freedom that i learned from making apple crisp changed my life, and influenced my career
  7. vacations: my work life is super busy and creative, and so i love having scheduled vacations. they really rock, and they give me something to look forward to. and we’re fortunate enough to be able to take one long weekend a month and go somewhere different, even if it’s just for one night (living in the ‘middle’ of europe means just about everywhere is 2 hrs away). we’ve been to portugal, spain, italy, france, germany, england, belgium, and holland. next vacation is a beach in the north of france where they’re holding an american film festival (movies! in english!) … the countdown has begun, we leave august 31st. i’m looking forward to a sober beach vacation with lots of sleeping, reading, sand, and miniature golf where my husband kicks my ass.
  8. my friends: both those ‘back home’ who’ve known me forever, and the really great group of international friends i have here in my new city. here I have friends from all over the world; the ex-pat community is pretty amazing. i learn lots. like how the woman from tunisia can’t serve herself wine but can drink if someone else pours for her, and how one polish woman will overeat rather than say that she’s been served too much … And the woman from china who always shows up with a gift at all events, even if they’re paid events, because she really really has to give the host a gift… all the subtleties of international cultures and traditions i find endlessly fascinating. i learn so much from everyone i meet.
  9. chocolate swiss roll: it’s chocolate sponge cake, rolled up with whipped cream and shaved chocolate inside. if you think it can’t fix a bad day, you’d be mistaken. there’s a bakery near me that has these.
  10. sobriety, how great it is, even when it’s not: i’m 55 days today. i’m grateful that (for now) i’ve stopped struggling and i’m just looking forward instead of looking back.

this is living sober

I’m fine (she says, again). thanks for all of the comments, direct emails, and cyber hugs.  all received and pretty darn helpful.

I cried off and on yesterday, from grief, heat, and terrible fatigue, having slept about 4 hrs the night before.

I did manage to run yesterday, though, mid-day, mid-sweltering heat, even though i was feeling like a bag of shit. it seemed liked good advice (from nomoremerlot) and it was a scheduled running day. better to do 20 minutes than skip a day.

that I went for a run is significant because while running, I asked for a ‘sign’ that I should continue on this sober journey a little while longer, or maybe it’d be OK if i had a drink or two at the end of my two months.  I saw a bird flying by, and i thought “that’s not the sign that i should drink.”  There was a sticker on the wall … no, that’s not it.  And not 2 minutes later, literally, I came around the corner to see a gigantic car accident, big white passenger van on its side on the sidewalk, smashed up against the pedestrian guardrails, having overturned a few parked motorcycles alongside.  Traffic diverted. police with whistles in their mouths, arms outstretched. no ambulances, no people around. just this van there waiting for the tow truck.

it was a freaky clear sign, and I barely believe in that kind of shit … [this is what i wrote in an email yesterday to cricket]. but whether i believe it in or not, i asked for a sign, and i got one.  I burst into tears right there on the sidewalk beside the van. (some witness-guy watched the not-thin girl go by in tight spandex on a jesus-hot day, sweaty from head to toe, dripping from all orifices, and clearly thought i’d lost my mind.)

OK, maybe i don’t really believe in signs but, being the hot mess that I was, it did seem brutally clear. and abrupt. and fast.

in the blink of an eye, the van can be on the sidewalk. you can make a tiny mistake with huge consequences. bad shit can and does happen. not often, but it does happen. life is already fragile enough. you don’t need to add mind altering drugs to that mix, do you Belle?

it was nearly 10 pm before i got the official news that my 20-year old friend had passed away after being taken off life support.  her mom describes it as a very spiritual experience, not as painful as you might imagine. Here’s a quote from the mom’s email:

“… There has only been one message, according to [daughter’s name]. And that is Love and Happiness. So I am not suffering as much as you’d think right now. Instead, I am feeling a profound sense of peace, and even gratitude for this experience, with occasional bursts of sobbing and grief. … Going through her end of life — from the call that she was in critical condition — to her final hours and the decision to donate her organs, was the most profoundly spiritual experience I have ever had.”

When i read this i felt somewhat better. it’s certainly not every day you get to witness someone losing their daughter like this… and the girl was really a special kid. we hung out quite a bit when she was traveling alone through europe, and she stayed with us a few times, bringing her guitar and her gigantic smile. she kept in touch with me directly, outside of my relationship with her mother, and we became ‘buddies’ (as much as a 45 year old can be buddies with a 20 year old).

And it was after receiving the news that she was gone, that I checked my blog and read the comments from yesterday’s post about sadness. In particular, Mrs. D saying that this is sober life. this is it – the shitty and the rough.  Well, she says it better than I can:

“Belle, this is living sober. This is what it is. It is crying, and getting frustrated, and angry. It is sadness, it is hopelessness. It is raw, it is real. It is hard, and it is relentless. It is sober living. This is why it is tricky and it takes some work getting used to it. This is raw life, without the drug. The drug is attractive because it bends our brains and shifts our attention to a more blurry place.”

because all the way through the day yesterday, i kept thinking that a shot of grand marnier would take the edge off, would numb me — just a bit — so that i could deal better. i don’t drink ‘for fun’ or because i’m ‘thirsty’ or to ‘be social’ or ‘to relax’…. i crave booze when i want to HIDE.

thanks everyone for the well-timed truths. I am fine. Day 53.

and just a PS, i’ve been feeling draggy and shitty and out of sorts and not enjoying my vacation for about a week … i did hunt to try to find the specific point that i started feeling bad, when the unraveling began.  well, it’s the same day we learned that the smiling 20 year old was in the hospital on life support after her heart attack. I hadn’t realized the direct correlation in the timing.  [sigh]

time to have a shower and begin my day.

the end of an experiment

As I come up to my 60 day anniversary, i’m finding myself in a place similar to where I was when i was coming up to 30 days.  Am i continuing this sober experiment or not? I won’t bore you with all of the thought processes, because i think they’re predictable. I didn’t set out to quit forever, my goal was dry july. I’ve done nearly 60 days with your support and encouragement. but i don’t feel like i’m doing it for myself anymore.

i continue to vacillate between pink clouds and wishy-washy-ness in the same day, moreso in the last 10 days.

sigh. I feel like i’ve spent my summer doing this, and i regret it, which is ridiculous. But i feel like i’ve wasted my summer staring at my computer screen and trying to find answers in books instead of being out in the world (or baking in my kitchen). Being on quasi-vacation for the month of August is also turning out to be terribly long and hot and supremely boring and mostly disappointing.  Our ‘official’ vacation, where we get to travel, doesn’t start until August 31st.  And by then summer will be over.

I should have done this differently.

So anyway. I’m just announcing this now, so that there’ll be no big shocking ending, or weirdness.  I am going to end my sober experiment at the end of the month.  i am not planning to drink that day, and I’m not going to return to drinking every day, but i’m tired of this. Like, supremely tired. Yes, the wolf is getting quieter and quieter.  Yes it’s getting easier. But to what point? I’ve lost the plot now.  I’ve saved some money and lost a few pounds and i’ve exercised my self-discipline in ways that most people don’t or can’t. That’s super.

Yes, i’ve had lots of good days, and i’m happy that i’ve done this because i got to hang out with you-all.  amazing support and guidance and grit and warmth. But lately it feels like i’m spinning my wheels, and that my life is on some kind of gigantic pause. I know that drinking a glass of wine won’t lift the pause button, but over-focussing on not drinking certainly has put me on pause …

sorry. i’m not trying to be dramatic. i’m not crying or flailing around.  i’m trying to be real. every time i post something like this, i think i’m going to delete it in 10 minutes. i’m tired of thinking about drinking. that’s the name of this blog. i’m in a pit now of thinking too much again, just on the other side of the topic. I am not drinking. And i don’t have specific plans to drink.  I’m just really really tired of the pause button feeling. i don’t know how else to describe it.

You can wait and see … or you can fuck it up. Your choice.

Day 50 … thank you very much.

Long run Sunday, and on the run I realized something yucky and profound.

when i first met my husband, i’d only ever dated assholes and idiots. I’d had 3 boyfriends over 20 years, including two long periods of being single.

First, Mr. Laywer, met in high school, dated through university and law school. On and off for 8 years including several years where we lived on opposite sides of the country. Mr. Lawyer was sensitive, very very smart, could not commit to a relationship.  Together, apart, together, apart for years… He wouldn’t move to where I was (even though going there had originally been his idea but he’d chickened out at the last minute).

Second, Mr. Engineer. Super wealthy family, led a somewhat sheltered life, smart.  was so important that we once went on vacation in two cars, in case he had to come home to deal with his job … We dated full-time seriously for 6 months, and then slept together for another 2+ years. i waited and waited and waited to be “the one” for him. Never happened.

Third, Mr. TrainWreck. charming, compulsive liar, super manipulative. Angry, strange relationship with money (he didn’t have any plastic), strange relationship with alcohol (he had an AA tattoo but said it wasn’t his — i kid you not). i fell very hard for him. super hard. he could smell that kind of desperation a mile away and used it. lies and weirdness from the beginning that i refused to see.  never met any of his friends in 6 months. Super angry, temper, walking on eggshells.  One day he just stopped calling. i knew things were in a desperate state, so i only called timidly a few times the first week, then when he didn’t call back i stopped calling. never went to his house. figured if he was gone, it was best to let him go.

got some good therapy. left that city and moved back closer to my family (but not THAT close).

Met my husband, Mr. Belle. Here’s our story:  he asked me out, i went, we had 3 dates, he spent the night, he never went home. That’s it. I never had to say “when will I see you again?” He’s easy going, happy all the time. he’s self-contained, not needy, no demands. He does dishes (and cleans the bathroom). He’ll go out for milk at 10 pm if I decide I want to make pudding. We read the same books, we walk a lot. we enjoy each other’s company. he eats my recipe trials.

There is no drama in my marriage. We don’t fight and make up. We don’t get angry and sleep in separate rooms. Some days I think he’s a turd, but i usually don’t say anything, and then it passes.

This is a long story, here’s the realization i had this morning.

I’m so used to drama from my stupid childhood that I expect drama (and/or I create drama) when things are going well.

When I first met my husband, i was literally waiting for the other shoe to drop for an entire year.  Like i felt terrified that i was going to find out something that would prove that he was an asshole/idiot, and that he was too good to be true.  Husband was always reassuring when i was wacky worried. He said “you need a lot of reassurance” and then he gave more reassurance…

AND NOW…

I think that i’m treating my sobriety the same way. I’m expecting some drama.

I mean, how can you just give up booze and then go merrily on your way? What about the teeth-knashing, late nights, relapsing, disaster, crying, promising to try harder the next time.  I seem to be skipping most of that. (i’m good at teeth-knashing, but only when i work myself up into a pms frenzy.)

and in thinking about relapse, as i was last night, i wonder today in the cool light of sensible morning, if i was trying to MAKE some good-old fashioned drama.  “Everybody look at Belle, watch her fuck up.”

when really, i don’t need to fuck this up. i don’t need to create any drama here.

And just like the early days of my marriage, i can just stop waiting for the drama. and i can turn away from the temptation to CREATE drama. and i can say, with some certainty, “YES this is pretty good. It’s better than you thought you deserved, and yet here it is.”

“You can wait and see. Or you can fuck it up.  Your choice.”

If all of the drama in my life is self-created, because i’m uncomfortable with calm and peaceful wellness, then i need to give that up (again).  Drama and struggle don’t have to be something i pull along behind me, like a worn sweater. Drama and struggle are optional.

I am not drinking, and that’s just the way it is.  I need to get over myself.

No Drama Here.

tuesday weigh-in

day 45. all is well. i haven’t had any of the “holy shit i had a drink” dreams. Instead i dreamt that i was handed a glass, and had a sip of wine and then spit it out, shouting to the hostess who served it to me: “I don’t drink!”

not only is “all well” with me today, but i’d like to continue feeling like this please. yesterday and today (so far) have been surprisingly settled, calm, happy, even days. Better than i’ve felt in a LONG time. Maybe the best that  i’ve felt, ever. happy but not manic. content but not wacky. just good.

Now let’s talk about the 3 very small slices of chocolate cake i had yesterday. miniscule, really, but 3 nonetheless. I did mention that i wanted to do some baking during this vacation, and yesterday i got down to business.

i know that running 5 days a week, at my slow pace and for short distances, is all about mood control and not about weight management. I’m completely fine with that. I love running, and I don’t need to change anything about how i’m doing it. But my level of running does not permit me to eat ANYTHING i want.

yes, early days of quitting booze meant that i really didn’t have any choice. I needed the sugar and the calories and i needed it a lot.

but today is day 45 and i’m feeling good. so i’m going to slowly and gently begin to rein in the cake.

need a t-shirt made up:

“Must Eat Less Cake”

on my run today, i decided it will be best (for me) if i do something ‘out loud’ and accountable.  Since i know from the law of attraction that what we focus on EXPANDS, then i will focus on pounds lost, so that i can watch that number grow.

Since quitting booze 45 days ago, as of today, Tuesday morning, I am down 2.2 pounds. not bad considering said cake. Every Tuesday morning for the next several weeks, i will post my total weight loss so that I can watch the number increase … sort of like watching my sober days increase.  My current sober goal is 90 days (and beyond). my current weight goal is 15ish pounds (possibly beyond, i’ll see when i get there).

If you’re interested in joining me, you can go and weigh yourself now (2.2 pounds = 1 kilo). Yes, you can weigh yourself now, even if you’ve just eaten. Think how low the number will be by comparison next tuesday when you weigh yourself first thing : ) There’s no right time to start. There’s just now, and i’m starting here. i didn’t want to take on too much in the first 45 days, but now i feel OK with charting my numbers.  nothing strenuous. no big diet. just conscious awareness. and mindfulness.  Are you gonna join me?

 

I learned what I knew already …

Day 44. I am well, i having nothing new to report. I’m not having cravings. I learned nothing yesterday.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I think i learned these things, but i knew them before, but yesterday i learned them again.

  1. I feel better on days when i run (i’m running 5 out of 7 days now, sometimes only 20 minutes, but the 2 non-running-days stick out in the calm of the week).
  2. The longer the run (40 minutes+), the better. Therefore, Sundays are usually the most calm and peaceful and resourceful and relaxed that i feel all week.
  3. I used to really love adventures. Maybe moving to foreign-land used up my adventure quotient and then drinking buried the rest. This weekend, however, husband and I did two walking tours, one Saturday and one Sunday, and saw new and interesting parts of the city, discovered gardens, beautiful views, drank bottled water, took a gazillion photos, and enjoyed being outside in the sun.
  4. Sunshine makes me feel much, much better. Living here is an improvement over our last city, and i hope our next move is another improvement again …
  5. On our way to the walking tour yesterday afternoon, husband and I had a “joking” conversation on the train, but it might become real. I asked him what was the best part of our new lives here in this new city.  He told me: his new favorite hobby, which costs quite a bit of money.  The more money he has for it, the better. He can do it cheaply but would prefer to do it more often, more expensively. And he’d like a budget of maybe $300/month to go hog-wild (all-out). (god, what’s a universally understood translation of hog-wild?) (well, as much as he wants).  My new favorite thing to do here makes money. it’s the coolest funnest thing ever and it actually generates revenue. The “Joke” was me saying: “we should figure out how you can have as much $ as you need to enjoy your hobby, and I’ll just do my hobby more often to pay for yours.” His eyes lit up, really, it was soo sweet. I don’t really think he’d enjoy me doing mine as much as i’d like to (it’s quite disruptive and sucks a lot of my time), nor would i really want him gone 4 out of 7 nights doing his… but i think we’re on the way to finding a good compromise …
  6. i’m guilty on this one-month vacation of feeling bored, and that’s completely my own creation. beginning today, i want to get more done – even if it’s just cleaning, even if it’s just reading more books. i want to look back on the vacation and feel like it was worth taking the time off AND i want to fill up my time more, even if it’s just reading in the park, so that there’s less room for the demon bitchy booze cravings. Less time in front of the computer searching (for who knows what), and more time outside.
  7. I’m in charge of how good I feel.  Time to play that hand a bit better.

Happy Monday : )

i’m curious

i know there are lots of people reading sober blogs, and there are tons of people who — like me — were reading sober blogs even before they were sober. Personally, I was reading while still drinking because I was looking for ideas and motivation.  I wanted to get a sense that it would be OK to be sober.  I found out very soon that it would not only be OK, but that it would be BETTER …

I can see that my blog is getting lots of views and i’m wondering who you all are.

So here’s what i’m curious about. Can you do me a favor?

  1. Post a comment with your number of days sober.
  2. If you are an anonymous lurker, and you’re sober, you can just put Sober as your name, and then use a fake email as your email address (12345@12345.com) – tell me how many days sober. You can remain anonymous of course.
  3. If you are a lurker, and you aren’t (yet) sober but you’re looking for inspiration, you can put Hoping as your name (or whatever), and use my email as your email address (12345@12345.com). And you can pick a date when you’d like to start your sober journey (i.e. in 5 days, or on Aug 20, or whatever). You can remain anonymous, too.

I also sometimes forget how far along in the sober journey some of you are … so this will help me get a better idea.

Really, anonymous lurker is totally fine! Just chime in with where you are : )