Fastidious

I’ve been thinking about the word fastidious since reading a blog post from Cleo … One of the great things about blogging is how new friends   can trigger an idea or a feeling, certainly unintentionally, that get you thinking …

Anyway, thanks Cleo 🙂  Just by being you, you’ve helped me a lot.  Here’s how.

I used to be fastidious. Before I met my husband, and i was living alone, I cleaned the house once a week. I changed the sheets every week. I loved a clean and spare space. I also drank less, 2-3 beers a night, and not every night. i only bought 2 or 3 at a time, never bringing more than i intended to drink that evening.

Since meeting my husband, i’ve had to adjust my standards on cleanliness … two people sharing the same space can’t ‘have it their way’ all the time. And i really adore my husband.  He’s just not terribly tidy.

Last night I came home (husband was still out), and read Cleo’s post. And it used the word fastidious, and i thought – hey i used to be like that. what happened?

wine is what happened. when i got married, we started having wine with dinner most nights. it was part of me playing house, i think. He also provided a built-in drinking buddy, and would unfailingly go out in the snow to get more wine when we ran out. he matched me drink for drink, we watched bad tv, played cards. sometimes we argued, sometimes we sat in separate rooms on our separate computers. he usually did the dishes after dinner (or not). And somewhere along the line i just gave up on the idea of having a really clean and tidy life.

yes, so i’ll start again. last night i came home and read Cleo’s post and saw the word fastidious, and thought – that used to be me.  And alone in the apartment, no alcohol to weigh me down, i started cleaning (thanks also to Mrs. D’s reminder that it’s a good way to clear away the gray clouds).  I didn’t work too hard or too long, but I did make good surface progress. i folded laundry, i sorted through some recycling.

i know you’re getting tired of me writing these early morning blogs about “What I Learned Yesterday” – but here’s what happened.  just by reading your blogs, i got a few ideas.  then i internalized the words and the feelings.  then i puttered away at cleaning up.  and THEN i felt pretty great! i would never take on housecleaning after dinner if i was drinking. (in fact, i had a close look at my bedside table last night and i can’t believe i let it get that disgustingly dirty and linty and covered in balled up kleenex.) i used to be a fastidious, and i think as my wine consumption ramped up from occasionally to daily to 3-4 glasses a night, i just GAVE UP having a clean and tidy house. OK obviously i gave up lots of other stuff too, but this one thing seemed really clear to me last night.

anyone else out there give up a TRUE part of yourself while drinking? (i just stopped typing to look around the office and i can see dust and other bits that need attention, gotta go!)

 

Gray Cloud of Swarming Thoughts

As the day wore on yesterday, I seemed to slip into a funk, where it felt like a gray cloud hung thickly over my head. Sunny outside, cloudy in my head.

I tried to find the source of the irritation — Mr. Anus client? or was it writing about mr anus that set this off? the low thrum of toothache, the completely frustrating ongoing computer problems, or the state of my office disarray.

I couldn’t come up with any reasonable explanation. But I knew FOR SURE that I was feeling antsy, and found myself rehearsing what i was going to drink and how it was going to feel when my 30 days of Dry July finishes … I could see the wine-thought-process coming, literally like a Gray Cloud of Swarming Thoughts moving in. A weather system you can see on the horizon as it slowly trudges towards you, and then envelopes you, overtakes you.

So right at dinner time, when I should have been sitting down to eat with husband (especially since we were eating early because he had to go out, and so i’d intentionally started simmering the spaghetti sauce at 3:30 pm just to have it all perfectly timed to eat early) … well right when it was time to sit down, i told him that i thought i’d better go for a run.  and that i was going to stay out until i felt better.

he’s mister easygoing anyway, he doesn’t care what/when we eat.  he ate on his own, and went happily out for his evening.

on my run, at the turnaround point, a children’s choir was singing in the park. Dressed in blue school  uniforms (in July?), and they were english-speaking, so that makes them tourists. To be honest, they didn’t sing very well but the sound was sooo sweeeet, especially in the sunny late afternoon, mostly empty park, a few stragglers listening, two moms dressed in matching blue t-shirts holding up a iphone to film them. Who were they performing for?

The song they were singing seemed like the answer to my problem: Coldplay’s “Fix you…”  [lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones].  If i wanted to run until i felt better, then that did the trick. literally it was like the cloud lifted right then and there. sun shining. light switch flipped on. goosebumpy shivers listening to tiny kids singing, in english, for me. I even sang along, standing there in my spandex shorts and ponytail.

Note to Self: Run until it goes away, and don’t come home until the feeling is gone. (And how long did it really take?) A whole, big, endless, oh my god, gigantic … 20 tiny minutes. Note To Self #2: Play Music. Loud.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI-o25K6B-E?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

you are a gigantic anus

i have a brand new client who is truly a gigantic anus, and a seriously irritating human.

I’m not in AA but i know enough to know that irritation, frustration and resentments are triggers for wanting big quantities of vino.

most weeks, most days, Mr. Anus broadcasts his shit elsewhere. About once a month, or so, he unleashes on me.

Like last night.

last night, he got in my face (by email) about something i’d done wrong. i explained as clearly and kindly as i could, that i was doing what we’d agreed, but that if he wants me to now start doing something else, he can write out the NEW steps and i’ll do those …

you know this kind of guy, right? you send him something short and sweet, and he fires off a long email back, that starts with a bristling: “let me make this very very clear …”

blood boiling. i realize i’m being triggered.

we come across lots of anuses in life, and i have (thankfully) removed myself from the reach of most of them. I even avoid family members with a ten foot pole if they’re anuses.  i just don’t DO anus anymore, and haven’t for years (maybe 7 years or so).

Except for this client. He’s really the only anus i have left.

last night, i respond politely to emails. i allow myself to feel truly irritated.

then I say out loud, in my empty office, hoping my husband can hear me… “I want to go out for dinner, I don’t feel like cooking.”  He says fine.  Then I say, still alone in my office, again quite loudly and firmly: “I’m not going to drink.”

I said it out loud so that I can hear it, and so that hubby can hear it.  So that in the restaurant, there’ll be no question of offering/declining.

I can’t extract all the anuses that exist in the world. Some of them will be neighbours, or parents, or clients, or sisters. I can distance myself as much as possible, put on my teflon face, get the fuck out of dodge, and I can firmly state out loud “I’m certainly not drinking because of YOU. You are a gigantic anus.”

there. i feel better already 🙂

thus begins Day 20.

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 🙂

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 🙂

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.