i do not drink

i do not drink

even when a lovely guest is coming for dinner tonight, and there’ll just be the three of us, and he’s bringing wine to ‘share’

i do not drink

not even to be social, not even to say ‘thanks for bringing wine’ (i asked him to bring tonic water, too)

i do not drink

even though i’m grumpy and have been feeling out of sorts for a couple of days

this is not the beginning of the end, it’s just a bump in the road

i do not drink

day 42 today and sometimes it just feels like a lot of work to keep the wheels on this train …

i do not drink

 

try singing

this vacation thing, it’s kind of boring. I’m on vacation for a month but my husband is still working; we’re not going away anywhere exciting until Labor Day weekend (first weekend in September). most days i try to putter, relax, read, sit in the sun, go out somewhere, run, make dinner, and vegetate.

yesterday afternoon, one of our neighbors was having a very loud phone conversation, with her head and body hanging out her living room window. the sound of her voice got under my skin very quickly. my husband saw me and said “she’s been doing this for 4 years.”  Yes, i know, but i was irritated by her. yesterday she was making me bat-shit.  for no good reason.  i wanted her to shut up.

i went into the kitchen to make dinner and it was a complete mess.  I actually said out loud: “my outsides match my insides, i don’t feel good, I don’t know how to feel better … maybe I need loud music.”

and without missing a beat, husband unplugs the headphones from his laptop (where he’s been working), and super very loud Metallica hard rock music blares out of his computer speakers.

I start to laugh, hilariously, crying laughing. “Maybe i need loud music.”

No darling, I meant loud music that I like : ) … roadtrip music, where I can sing along at full volume in the kitchen while doing the dishes.  I will never, really, never in my life, ever need to listen to Metallica at full volume!

But laughing, really laughing, broke the irritated spell. I did put on my playlist entitled “songs to sing”, and i sang in the kitchen, doing dishes.  Husband plugged his headphones back in, surrounded by *his* music.  I had my music. Some of it made me homesick, some of it made me dance around the kitchen. And after 4 or 5 songs i felt much better.

Note to self:  if running doesn’t clear your head, try singing.  drinking is never the answer.  there’s always another tool in the tool box. That the first tool fails to solve the problem does NOT mean that the problem is unsolveable.  Reach for a different tool… try singing.

 

slamming hand in car door is not a good idea

I probably don’t meet the definition of an alcoholic. No bottom, no disaster, just a slow erosion of quality of life.

but there was alcohol consumed in my immediate family, and i have watched the effects closely, all my life.

ok, i’m not a textbook alcoholic myself, perhaps, but did the consumption of alcohol negatively affect my life? definitely. i was grumpy when drinking, i slept poorly, and i still weigh more than i want to.

did i continue to drink for a long time after i knew that it wasn’t working for me? yes. i’ve been writing things in my journal like “drink less” for years. forever, it seems.  i have a diary from 2004 and it’s right there in black in white.

Sober, I like the person i’m becoming. sure, i’d like to be able to have one glass of wine with dinner, but the noise in my head gets so loud that one drink would always turns into three. even when i have a big work gig in the morning, even when i know the next day would be a disaster.

I equate THAT with repeatedly slamming your hand in a car door.  like, if you want to feel pain, there are easier ways to get it!

Yes, we can have a conversation about degrees.  degrees of use, abuse, powerlessness.  i never want one glass of wine, i want three.  if i were to drink today, i would also drink tomorrow.

now that i’m not drinking, the noise in my head has mostly stopped.  only about once a day, or less, do i think “i could have a drink now” and then i let it go. the noise is getting tamer. It doesn’t fight back so hard.  and i’m smarter than the noise in my head. I’ve finally stopped slamming my hand in a car door. what a relief.

i am (finally) learning from my mistakes. i want to evolve.

Day 41. I’ve never been here before 🙂

Because I can … (or, “Would you give your left nut to run along the water?”)

Day 40.

I am now back to running 5 days a week, which is the level I was at before we moved here to foreign-land.

I set out to run 30 minutes today and at about 20 mins I was tired. I know enough to finish the run, and to do what I set out to do. Because the few times that i’ve given up early (in my 12 years of running), i always regret it terribly afterwards. As a result, since I don’t want to disappoint myself, I almost always finish the run, AND I’m super careful to not plan to run too far.  In the mornings when I set out, I plan my run based on how i feel, how much training, i’ve been doing, how much sleep i had the night before, the weather, etc.

And so I knew that 30 minutes was completely within my ability today. I felt like stopping at 20 minutes, but I knew I could ignore those feelings.

[The parallels of running and ‘real life’ and sobriety are many. Don’t take on too much at once, we improve incrementally, don’t quit early, don’t quit at all if you can help it – even if you have to walk instead of run, it’s always better to finish no matter how you get there.]

So this morning, I was planning to do 30 minutes. Unfortunately, I went the “long way around” and at the end of 30 minutes I was NOT at the tram station where I hoped to end up, so that i could easily hop the tram and go home.

OK, no big deal. I decided to run from where I was to the tram (so my run was in fact 36 minutes … and I thought i was ‘too tired’ at 20 minutes … ha!)

On those last 6 “bonus” minutes, I had the coolest feeling. I know it’s in part from reading everyone’s brave and amazing comments on yesterday’s post. As I was running, I thought, I’m going to run this extra bit for all of the people who CAN’T. For everyone who wishes they could, but can’t (yet). And i got goosebumps, literally, like this really warm feeling of doing something for the greater good.  I know, I know, it’s a bit metaphysical even for this chick.

But there are lots of people who’d love to be me (sober on day 40), so I just cannot fuck it up.

There are tons of people who’d love to live in this beautiful city and see what I can see. So i cannot hide in my apartment.

There are billions of people who’d give their left nut to run along the water and then take the tram home.

So today I ran extra because I can.

Today I am sober because I can.

 

 

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 : )

 

 

I have begun this day with an error

I have begun this day with an error.

I’ve had two cups of coffee on an empty stomach followed by two pieces of raisin bread toast. And now I feel terrible. Like agitated, over-stimulated, anxious, and high/low at the same time.

Yes, I’m reading the Potatoes Not Prozac book, and yes I know better than this.

Hard to believe I know better and yet i’ve done this to myself.  I could have gotten up and gone for a long run in weak sunshine. I could have read my new junky detective novel on the couch.

It’s 10:30 am and I’m already waiting for it to be tomorrow, so that I can start again.

Greetings to Day #38. It would seem like I still have issues on self-torturing to sort out …

i’m not going to pout …

triggered. and i know there’s an old-timer out there who’s going to give me an ear-full. and i’m ready for it. really, i am.

i have a friend who’s been a big drinker. drink till it’s all gone, mix in some drugs, take some sleeping pills. that kind of drinker.

He’s been sober for several months, white-knuckling it, self-medicating with all that is not alcohol. but he’s being doing a damn good job of being sober, which was his first and primary goal.

he’s just recently started drinking again, albeit “controlled” amounts of “beer only” and “not to get drunk” etc.

Now, this is making me irritated … and it’s hard for me to articulate why.

[here’s where the old-timer chimes in and says, very sternly, “Belle, look away. Not your business. Not your shit.”]

the friend keeps asking for advice. i’ve offered some bits before, months ago, but recently i’ve stopped most communication.

So my absence to him means that i’m “still drinking” …

the irritated me would like to fire off a missive filled with advice on what i think he should do or try, like the Jason Vale book, or hanging out with you folks, or even trying AA … but i know it would fall on deaf ears.

I’d also like to chime in with “i’m NOT still drinking, i’m in fact 37 days sober and doing quite well, thanks for never asking, never following up, on how i was doing.”

i am not going to email him, and i’m going to leave it alone.  i’m not going to say or do anything, and i’m going to look away. i’m not going to pout and say “i’m quiet because i’m sober, not because i’m drinking.”  and i’m NOT offering this particular friend any advice. He won’t take it anyway, and when asking for advice i think maybe it’s just to hear himself talk …

So here’s my question “old-timers” … is there a sobriety rule about hanging out with people who are trying to quit and who aren’t managing to do it very well? I know i’m supposed to take care of me FIRST. but is there any duty to help, offer a hand, listen to the particular ongoing saga? where’s the line between being supportive, kind and helpful, and being irritated as shit?

There is nothing to wait for

i think we all WAIT for things to happen. but as drinkers, it gets worse.

We wait ’til Monday to start a diet. We wait for the phone to ring. We check our email to see if something interesting is happening OUT there. We wait.

As drinkers, somewhere along the line, we give up and we stopped doing the reaching out, and instead we do the waiting.

I think alcohol makes us draw more into ourselves, and we forget to do the reaching out.

We forget that if life is like a car, then we’re the one driving it. it’s like we’ve pulled the car over for some self-examination, and now we’re waiting for someone ELSE to come along and say ‘it’s OK, you can start driving again’.

Well no shit, it’s your life. (my life, whatever). no one comes and says ‘PS, don’t forget to keep driving, don’t waste time sitting around waiting.’

No one shakes us and says ‘stop looking back, stop looking around, start looking FORWARD’.

So I guess we’re here to do that for each other. There’s nothing to wait for.

Time to make things happen.

oh god, this might just inspire me to make puff pastry and check on my health insurance and file my husband’s taxes for last year.

and you?

stay alert

the first thought i had this morning was “i don’t have time to be *sober* today, i’ve got too much to do.” Not that i plan to drink, but feeling i don’t have time to delve into the last pages of the Vale book, check on blogs, and comment on my own.

But if i’ve learned anything from other bloggers, most recently from Imogen, then it’s this: feeling like i don’t need to do this doesn’t mean that i don’t. how’s that for a sentence with a bunch of negatives.

ok, here it is again.

My advice to me:

Dear Belle:  write and comment and blog every day for the first 60 days or maybe 90 days. longer than you think. don’t give into complacency. don’t think for one second that you have it figured out. Yes, you have a lot to do today, but if you drink champagne today, when everyone else is drinking champagne today, you’ll fall over and this journey will end abruptly. stay alert.

stay alert.

there may be moments of wondering IF, and seconds of feeling like it isn’t worth it.

it is.

the postcard ‘ideal’ life

Last night, husband and i sitting at opposite ends of the couch, my feet wrapped around his legs. It’s 10 pm and we’re both … wait for it … reading. I’m reading jason vale’s book, and he’s (finally) reading the second stieg larssson book. The big floor-to-ceiling windows are open because it’s summer and a warm evening.

The last time we sat together on a friday night on the couch reading?

Never.

Maybe you had this experience as a kid, because maybe you had a completely fucked up childhood too.  did you ever have the experience of trick-or-treating, or of driving by other people’s homes, and just getting the tiniest, thinnest glimpse inside, and instantly have a deep feeling of jealousy? i’d see a bit of someone’s living room, it looked tidy, nice couch, dim lighting, someone sitting in a chair reading … and i’d want them to adopt me. I want to live here, I’d think.

Or as an adult, driving through a neighborhood, brief glances into living room windows, i’d feel terribly jealous that i don’t live there.  or there.  or there.  They’re all having such nice lives in there, I’d imagine. I wish i could go to bed and wake up in THAT life.

well last night, maybe for the first time in my entire life, i was having one of those moments that i used to feel jealous about.

i crawled right into the postcard ‘ideal’ life that i’ve been pining for.  quiet people, together, having shared quiet time, in a clean home – no yelling, no cigarette smoke, no clutter, no chaos, no alcohol, no screaming. Nice yellow light, couple on the couch together. Reading.

<sigh>