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!)



I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • This post struck me. I have cleanliness OCD habits. My boyfriend works out of town during the week, so I drink and let everything in the house go to crap. I have one sober night to make sure everything is perfect before he gets home. He doesn’t care, but I care. I used to do this for me, now I let it slide. But the biggest part of me I have lost is care in my appearance. I don’t wear jewelry and if I’m off work and he isn’t coming home, I don’t even shower for three days. I miss caring about how I look all the time, not just when bf is coming home.

  • LoveloveLOVE this post. 60 days sober tomorrow and my house is cleaner than it has ever been, I exercise five times a week, and I’m tearing through books. Life is beautiful.

    • rock on, 60 days! i’m looking forward to clean house and exercise 5 times a week, that’s a super great goal! i’m at 23 days and i can see my way there. thanks for commenting.

  • yeah, i don’t know about anyone else, but i for one appreciate reading about what you learned yesterday, today, last year, whenever! : ) so please keep on writing!

    as for giving up a true part of myself, i’d hafta say my appearance. true, i am surrounded by little boys all day, which doesn’t tend toward impeccable grooming, but i have definitely gone from Fairly Hot Artsy Wife to Disheveled Frump Mom. at *least* i wear skirts and dresses, so you can still tell i’m female for crying out loud. maybe if i can keep away from the booze i’ll find some lipstick or something. there’s gotta be a tube around here someplace. God bless my husband.

  • Definitely keep writing. We are so with you. What I really let go was any attention to detail with my own personal grooming. I’m not totally sleek and groomed now but I definitely take a little more care. Last night I took off my chipped nail polish which before I would have left for another week or 3. I also clean my face more regularly at night and put on night cream. Also – I would never ever ever talk on the phone in the evening or write emails, but now I can do both. And I reckon I’ve upped my game with fashion a little more now as well. Again – don’t think I’m a total clothes horse! But I am able to put a little more thought in every morning when I get dressed, and just take that little more care. Overall I think the bottom line is when we become sober we just become better versions of ourselves in numerous subtle ways. xxxxx

    • ohmigosh, Mrs. D., i wrote about my appearance, too, and then i just saw you mentioned the same thing. and thanks for reminding me to cleanse & moisturize– no wonder my face looks like cracked earth. now if i just had more time/energy! can’t do much about the time but i do hope i get my energy back!

    • hmm, you’re right. i used to get my eyebrows done professionally every two weeks and it’s been 4 years i’ve been doing them on my own (or not!). i also gave up on makeup entirely, i thought i was making a beauty decision but really i was making a LAZY decision.

  • Ace post, Belle. I’m fastidious: hubbie calls it OCD but i call it clean and tidy lol. Everything has its place and i’ll know when something’s not quite where it should be. Oh, hell ok, OCD-esque tendencies then 🙂

    I think that’s why i’m so fascinated by The Hoarder programme and the concepts of internal and external hoarding. My mind would hoard alcohol and keep an inventory of how much we had, i’d plan how much we would need, then when drinking: how much was left and would there be enough (the massive wine racks were ALWAYS bursting so no chance ever of running out but i would still worry about it). Hoard, hoard, hoard wine in my body. It couldn’t get enough.

    A true part of myself that alcohol took away is responsibility. Sober, I am a very responsible person and like to do what i say i’m going to do but booze changed that. I would commit to being somewhere or helping someone (especially if i was drunk because then it would be the BEST IDEA EVER!) then the hungover reality meant i didn’t do what i committed to or help out where i said i would. Or i would just be drunk and not turn up. Or i would turn up drunk and fuck things up. I let a lot of people down. I want to be reliable again and for friends to trust in that.

    Apologies for war’n’peace length comment. I should have written a post about it.

    • i like war’n’peace, bring it on. love hearing from you, write as much as you like!

      i also am guilty of making promises that don’t materialize. grim. i think i want to take the whole month of August and just try to clear through this long to-do pile, this list of promises. Either tell people i’m not doing them (like, come clean about it), or find a way to make it up to them, or just do the frigging thing! here’s to be reliable, solid friends : )

  • No, keep writing these ‘what I learned yesterday’ posts!!

    I think part of it is the fact that when we drink we have, in a sense, given up on ourselves on some level, and not cleaning or really caring about anything reflects that feeling. My house *looks* clean on the surface, but yeah, don’t look closely at anything because you’ll see what my insides feel like.

    This, oh this went straight through me, “anyone else out there give up a TRUE part of yourself while drinking?”…nothing came to mind immediately except for one thought, “all of me”. Now I wonder who I am. Do you know that I don’t even know what I really like anymore? How sad is that? I’ve lost me along the way and I don’t know how to find her again.

    I think I’ll go do laundry for starters. Then the dishes. We’ll see where it goes from there. 🙂

  • Well one never knows how a post might influence others! Before using it yesterday, I am not sure I have ever written the word “fastidious”. Maybe its not such a cliche those movies/sitcoms of “alcoholics” surrounded by old pizza boxes and beer cans. The booze does make us lazy in so many ways. I know when I am feeling a bit down, tidying up and throwing out stuff especially lifts my mood. Its like you have all this clutter in your mind and you symbolically clear it out by tidying out a drawer.
    I think I gave up reading good, challenging literature. Thats what I want to get back to. However the blog world takes up a fair amount of time and for the moment – and I am very happy with that. It’s helping me hugely in my transition to Act 2 and I love my new friends
    And no Belle, I am not tired of reading your what I learnt yesterday posts. They are lovely – each one – and influence me too. e.g I am listening to all my Coldplay CDs at the moment.
    Cleo xx

  • In AA they talk of ‘cleaning house.’ That is referred to Step Four where we do that fearless and searching moral inventory and get rid of all the garbage in our life that provided a foundation for our drinking. But many an old-timer (or not) will also tell a newcomer to seriously clean house. A good illustration of this would be the scene in 28 Days when Sandra Bullock came home from rehab, and looking at her apartment through sober eyes, saw just how bad her ‘outsides’ had become as a result of her drinking.

    In early recovery I slept my ass off and cleaned like nobody’s business. Go get ’em, tiger :- )