i got a random, lovely email from a lurker (hi, y’all!), and i’m not sure if she’s using her real name in her email to me, so i’m gonna call her Miss Molly. She’s been reading my blog, and said some nice things, and then said she’d picked her quit date last week (hooray!) … I offered to be pen pals, and in addition to saying thanks, she had a specific question: How to deal with the witching hour of 5 pm to 7 pm (kids hungry, trying to get dinner on the table, scheming and planning and waiting for the wine to begin).
Now, i work from home so i can start dinner whenever i like. and i don’t have kids. so i can’t really write knowledgeably about those challenges. You might argue that without a commute and without children, i don’t KNOW stress (and i’d agree!). and c’mon really, any advice i might have on how to navigate the 5-7 pm window is only based on what worked for me. and some days i’m still using these strategies in a very conscious way, but most days i’m on sober-auto-pilot and i don’t have to think so hard.
but in the very early beginnings, i was thinking a lot, and trying to get my sober car rolling, and here’s what i did (here’s what I wrote to Miss Molly):
I guess the way to get through 5 pm would be to have a plan. I don’t know, maybe a 3-part plan : ) first, have something else to drink, already picked out, perhaps already purchased. so that at 3 pm you start to think: “can’t wait to have my black currant and lime soda drink tonight.” I think it’s important that you ALREADY have the treat in mind. before you need it.
maybe part 2 of the plan is to know, now, this morning, that you’re not going to drink tonight no matter what happens. it may be the shittiest of all shitty days, everyone vomiting, cat run over. you’re not drinking today. no matter what happens, you’ll wait till tomorrow to drink if something bad happens today. so know that you’re going to do today no matter what. even if you have to go to bed at 8 pm. which I’ve done. plenty.
and part 3 would be go to bed with a feeling of smug satisfaction that you ignored the wolf voice, and you know it’s just a voice, and you don’t have to listen to it. I think that smug self-satisfaction / gloating is NECESSARY in the beginning. it’s like saying “damn, I’m GOOD” every single day as you get into bed. “I rock. I’m a genius. I ignored that ridiculous voice. I rule. I win. look at how smart I am. look at how good I am. I am a genius.”
… you’ve probably already done one of the three things above, or all three, without even knowing you were doing it. now you can just be more ‘aware’ … and go to bed early if necessary. or even tell the kids that you’re taking a ‘nap’ and get into bed at 6 pm with the lights off. even for me, as recently as last night, I was in bed before 9 pm because I could just begin to feel the tickle of a thought like ‘well maybe this might be a good time to have a drink …’ and then as soon as I got into bed I was like ‘you’re so smart, this is so much better than drinking, and the wolf will be gone tomorrow.’
and it is.