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co-dependent-weiner-style-deflection

Turns out the holidays were harder than i thought they’d be.  Yes, sober. But had to think about not-drinking more than a few times. Went to bed at 9 pm more than once just to save me from me (insert counting crows lyrics here: “i can’t keep myself away from me.”)

I didn’t realize how many booze associations Christmas was going to bring up, this being my first sober noel.  You know, decorate the tree with a margarita in hand like every year … make homemade eggnog and buy a special bottle of dark rum. oh yeah, vacations = start drinking at 1 pm.  oh and what about my personal favorite:  how do you fill all these evenings without booze?

i did a few things to cope.

  1. made a deal with myself that i was going to start drinking again when i got to 6 months … or 12 months.  I changed my mind a few times as to the actual date. Thankfully i continue to be able to resist and therefore know that I will not make a decision in haste.  i may drink again ‘later’ but not now.
  2. as mentioned, I escaped to bed as early as necessary.
  3. i voiced out loud to my husband that i wanted wine. he’d smile and nod. and then he’d change the subject. i think i was waiting for him to say “have some then.” But he didn’t. So i didn’t. I realize this is completely girly-co-dependent-weiner-style-deflection, but it’s working for me and i hardly ever ask him for big-time moral support so he’s giving it and i’m taking it …
  4. i did something completely brave and had a very very nice on-the-phone conversation with another sober chick who i admire. and it was really helpful. a lot.
  5. i have continued my daily penpal correspondence with not-so-newly-sober Amy. (She emailed me out of nowhere and said she was reaching out for help, and i suggested she report in every day by email, even if i couldn’t always answer, and yet i have found the time to answer, and it’s been very helpful for both of us i think – well i’ll just speak for me, shall i?)

i have very slowly been coming to a new realization about being sober that didn’t strike me at first.  Yes, i’m a slow learner. here I am months later and i’m JUST NOW beginning to wake up to the fact that i drank to fill time because I hate being bored. despise it. run from it. used to drink so that i could fill a whole evening when there was nothing to do.

i don’t yet know what boredom ‘means’ to me… it’s not “you’re not good enough” and it’s not “you suck.”

Boredom, for me, i think is saying something about wasting talents. some kind of guilt thing that goes like this: “The Biggest Sin of All: Not Living Up to Your Potential.”

i’ll write more about this as it becomes clearer.  part of it is parental messaging, however unintentional. i was brought up to believe that it was a tragedy if you had a talent that you didn’t use. like a “call-the-newspaper-we-have-a-headline” incident.  the guilt of not using your talents, the criticism, the complaining…

and so what if you’re good at three things.  and there’s not enough life to go around. and so you pick one of the things.  and your parent (and others, to be fair), says “you should be using talent #1. Talent #3 is great, but you’ve got talent #1 and you should be using THAT.”

Should?

How about I drink instead.

of course, it’s not as linear as that.  and this-girl-who-can’t-make-a-point-without-a-hyphen isn’t sure what it’s all about.  why does a successful chick with a business or two feel the need to drink as much as I did? yes, the booze gets you and drags you in.  but i knew what was happening and i let it happen. i stood by for a long time and watched the booze leak in, fill space, get in all the cracks. i watched it fill up entire evenings, days, weekends, vacations.

for what? so that i didn’t have to use talent #1?

good god. not that this makes any sense.

ok.  reset.  Hi y’all, i’m through the christmas season and i’ve come out the other side relatively unscathed.  i’ll leave the rest for closer examination another day.

May i present you with … day 173

When Amy started her sober adventures, she reached out to me by email. I suggested that if she needed a pen pal (someone to email progress to), that I was happy to hear from her. She has been emailing daily… and she’s doing great. Head over and show her some love.

She also asks interesting questions, and presents challenges that i haven’t thought of so much since my first sober days.  it’s good to revisit the early days’ thinking … this must be the part about ‘service’ that AA talks about. just talking to someone who’s getting started is so freaking helpful.

Here’s one piece of shared insight:

Amy wrote that she’d gone for a run, felt ridiculously good, and knew that the honeymoon would be over soon but was enjoying it nonetheless.

I wrote:

There’s no end to the honeymoon period, it’s a relief and a truly uplifting experience to get and stay sober.  it’s hard to convince someone who’s still drinking … but those of us who are sober know that the shitty part is THERE (in drinking land), whereas WE have a secret:  i.e. that it’s actually ‘better’ here in SOBER land …

🙂  Happy day 173 to me.  nearly 6 months (which will either be in 7 days, or on January 1st, depending on how you calculate a ‘month’ … and assuming we’re all alive after the end of the world tomorrow)

the 5-7 pm witching hour

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.

It’s just a mood, not a decision.

i’m fine. and sober. thanks for all the well wishes. i’m in the middle of my two-days-per-week of catering (thursday/friday) and so i’m busy and tired but i’m well.

i’m glad that i have the sober world full of very genius people who kindly share their useful (and often hilarious, and sometimes completly off-base) comments when I reach out with my ‘pangs’. I think having a cold was a real problem for me. not being able to taste, in my line of work, is crippling to say the least. i couldn’t cook meat because i couldn’t smell it to see if it was ‘off’ (it looked funny). we ate a lot of pasta earlier this week! i really was suffering from a woe-is-me feeling … and i seem to have mostly recovered. i’m back to running today, even though i still have a cough, hooray!

the other really great thing that i did – and that i’ve done before – is i decided “yes i am going to drink wine, but not tonight.” this approach is useful because I know that no matter what happens, i won’t make a rash, fuck-it, decision that i will regret. and usually after a few hours, or days, the feeling has passed, and i forget…

i actually used to feel this way about my very first career (teacher) when i was 21 years old. i’d graduated from the education program, went to work in a classroom, and a year later i stopped to do my master’s degree full-time.  and i never returned to the classroom. I used to say “when i wake up in the morning 7 days in a row wishing i was a teacher again, then i’ll go back to teaching. But if i just feel like being a teacher for a hour, or for a day, then that’s what you call a mood, and it’ll pass.”

thankfully i’m able to apply the same logic to drinking.  until i really want to do it continuously without wavering for days in a row, then the answer is NO, wait it out, it’s just a mood.  It’s just a mood, not a decision. And moods change.

 

pings and pangs

it’s not just me. others in the sober world are also experiencing ‘pangs’ … i nearly said to my husband, as he was going out to do chores, “pick up some wine for tonight.”

He doesn’t need to buy wine, in that we have wine in the house, but that reflex of saying “i want some tonight” is really my way of saying: “make sure there’s enough wine for me tonight, make sure it’s ready and lined up, because i’m going to need some tonight.” Yes, that feeling is strong. This is probably as close to drinking as i’ve been in a long time.

Examination (i.e. keep writing until something makes sense):

  • i’ve had a cold for 4 days and i can’t taste anything and so i have a ‘fuck it’ kind of attitude
  • it was my birthday on the weekend and i swore i was going to not cook the whole day and would buy my cake. and i bought a slice of strawberry cake and the strawberries were BROWN inside. i had to pick the fucking strawberries out of the birthday cake.  i don’t have very high expectations for my birthday, it’s not like i expect anything to really happen, but this year there were no gifts (mom send $, sisters and father just say hi on FB) and my husband and i aren’t buying each other presents as money is too tight and we’re trying to save for next summer’s Big Vacation to go HOME.
  • the cafe that has been hiring me to do weekly catering for them has abruptly stopped.  she didn’t offer an explanation and when i asked if she’d just missed the ordering deadline she admitted that they were slow. it’s been two weeks now.  so i went by on Sunday and there’s a bunch of food there, it’s just not mine. i’m sure it’s easier to order it all from the carrot-cake girl. even if it isn’t as yummy as mine. they’re serving reheated boxed soup instead of mine. too bad for them, my stuff is much nicer.
  • my personal catering clients are keeping me busy, but not wacky busy.  my day job has ramped up a bit and i’ve suddenly got quite a bit of computer work to do. this sitting in front of the computer (versus being in the kitchen) seems to breed the wine feelings … when i’m busy in the kitchen i know i have to be sober to get it all done.  whereas when i’m just doing one job (and not three), the urgency to remain sober isn’t there.
  • THERE IT IS.  if i’ve been filled with by an ‘urgency’ to be sober, then the urgency is fading.  i’m not sure what the point is any more.  i feel like a three year old about to pitch a tantrum.  god is this what happens to me when i’m a bit bored/sick?
  • i think i’d like a break from it all.  i’d like a dark room and a good book and a glass of red wine. When i was quitting smoking over 13 years ago, i would occasionally have one cigarette when i felt like i JUST HAD TO HAVE ONE.  and they were always disappointing and then eventually i just didn’t give in to that feeling.  With quitting drinking, for whatever reason, there seems to be a finiteness that means that i can’t just have a glass tonight and decide it’s not worth it.  if i have a glass tonight, the sober blogging world comes crashing down, AA would consider it a failure, and we’re just not that tolerant a group when it comes to periodic lapses; days counted MEAN something.  i’m not sure why it’s like this — i mean, i’m the same way, i’m not pointing fingers, i’m just observing.
  • i guess i’m rationalizing in my own ridiculous way that i wasn’t a problem drinker, and that i could probably go back to some kind of random bits of wine here and there and the world wouldn’t end.
  • When the bakery/catering work slows down — ah, is this it? — it seems to ‘not be worth it’… as if the bakery work is the only good thing in my life, the only reason to be sober, and without it i might as well be drinking.  Yes, i guess – today – that IS what i believe.
  • i think when i don’t have a cold i’ll feel better. i’ll wait until Friday and then reassess.

ack.

what’s the best part of being sober?

time for a bit of celebrating, i’m 150 days today (which really could be considered 5 months, except my official quit date is July 1st, so 5 months would be on saturday).  BUT ANYWAY. yes. I know, yeah for me. congrats and all that stuff. thanks.

But today i want to use this space, and the comments that follow, and create a place where we can write a message to all of the still-drinking lurkers who read these blogs.

[as you know by now, i really seem to have an affinity — and often think about — people who are still lurking, who know it’s time to quit but can’t seem to pick their ‘quit date’ …]

I thought that in the comments to this blog today, we could offer something encouraging to lurkers.

Can you answer this question, and post your answer in the comment space below…

“What is the ONE biggest positive difference in your life that has resulted from your sobriety?”

cuz i think if i was still drinking, i’d have a hard time understanding that anything would be BETTER in sobriety.

and i thought it would be cool to like take a personal inventory of the sober bloggers, and we can share (all in one place) the BEST part of being sober…

i’m curious 4

before we get underway, let me say that I’m fine.  better than fine. busy and happy. i’m having some weird ‘girl’ issues that perhaps come with turning 46 next week. i get to navigate the health care system in a foreign language (hooray!) but thus far all results are boring and ordinary and nothing to get too excited about.  i’m busy and running and baking and working and running some more and listening to podcasts and meeting very cool internationals who live here. i’m halfway through a two-day catering job for American Thanksgiving (!) and so there are 3 apple pies and 2 pumpkin pies on the table as we speak.  i am reading your blogs, commenting not as much as i’d like, but i’m here!  and i’m well.

now onwards to the CURIOUS part : )  This is now a regular monthly feature on my blog : )

i lurked on a few sober blogs for a bit before I actually quit drinking. This blogging community really does offer a ton of support … and then some.

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

  1. Post a comment with your number of days sober (or your sober anniversary date if you’re not a day-counter).
  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 december 1st, 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 remember and help me celebrate with you.

Really, if you’re an anonymous lurker that’s totally fine! Just chime in with where you are : )

PS/ HERE’S MY GUT REFLEX: I have no proof of this and am only going on a gut feeling here, but if you are a lurker and still drinking, then by posting something anonymously, it’s like raising your hand and saying “ok, yes, i could use some support” and i think that makes a big difference in what happens next for you.  Well, if you don’t believe me, you can try posting something and see what happens : )

Whether you think you can or can’t … you are right.

i finally had a drinking dream.

in my dream, i had driven across the country to visit my family. (in real life, i have done this several times.) in the dream, i had ‘arrived’ at my destination, the end of the road, the place with history and family and sunshine (it was sunny in the dream).

in the dream, i had one beer, a local beer, something i used craved when away.

and later that afternoon, in the dream, i realized that the one beer had awakened the wolf voice, and that i now had a tight pinched feeling in my head, a deep craving and hunger for more beer. Lots more of it.  and I knew that it was just like when i FIRST quit drinking, and that by having one beer i was going to have feel those withdrawal symptoms again, the (thankfully brief) angst of quitting was going to start all over again. (at least, even when dreaming, i realized that even one beer = quitting again …  rather than 1 beer = hey let’s have a kegger).

in the dream, i regretted the beer — because it meant i’d have to feel shitty and struggle to quit again.

that feeling of angst, feeling shitty, starting over, i’m thankful to say are NOT a part of my regular, waking life and haven’t been for 140 days <sigh of relief>.

This past week I attended a Beaujolais Nouveau wine dinner, and the woman beside me was frankly shocked that i’d go to a wine event and not drink wine. I told her that the first 30 days of quitting were a bit of a struggle, and that i wasn’t sure i was making the right decision, but that thankfully each month since has been easier, and that now at 4+ months i’m quite happy with my life, and i think that life without wine is not only ‘good’ but ‘better’.

She looked at me vacantly and said “but what about cheese?”

Cheese?

She said, “I have to have some wine when I eat cheese.”

I was pretty surprised at her thought process.  cuz having deep associations like THAT is what prevents everyone from making changes and moving forward (not just about wine but about everything).  Really? You really and truly can’t eat cheese without consuming booze? Seriously? I wonder how many other false associations she has (we have) that keep her locked in place.  how unfortunate to think like that, when in fact everything is open to change. Every character trait that we brush off as “I’m just like that” can be adapted and tweaked and improved. All of our personal “rules” we assume are written in stone are in fact written in jell-o.  come on now.  cheese with wine is the reason you couldn’t every contemplate quitting drinking? What about weddings? Apparently they can done without champagne, who knew!

I smiled and said that i felt quite proud of myself for the ‘self-discipline challenge’ and that my life was vastly improved since quitting — for all sorts of reasons.  Better sleep, I’ve lost weight, I run more, and i feeeeel muuuuch better.  a ton better. and she’s sort of shaking her head, saying “well i could never do that.”

Whether you think you can or can’t … you are right.

I wonder what other bits of my own life I still believe are written in stone that could be tweaked, improved, changed… You?

search engine topics

I love reviewing the terms that people enter into search engines that ultimately lead them to my blog. They’re both sad and hilarious at the same time …

Here are some of the best for the past 30 days:

  • i’m tired and going to my bed (note: imagine entering this into a search engine, and then clicking the results links … really? tired? go to bed then .. don’t do research about it!)
  • tired if thinking about drinking
  • how to celebrate 90 days sober
  • i am working on a book i will never finish
  • “i’ll fill the tub”
  • gigantic anus
  • ode to red wine
  • how to feel after a girl threw up in my car
  • shaking and tired day 3 no alcohol
  • i am grateful to be a young woman
  • fastidiousness or ocd
  • when does one start to feel pink cloud
  • fucking mom while she vomits
  • im afraid ill get no followers
  • hope you love my anal
  • 5 days sober and craving a drink
  • fucked before bed with glasses on
  • job i can work in different countries i’m adaptable
  • ten things i am grateful for in recovery
  • i love my husband, but i’m curious
  • belle anus
  • can i stop drinking a bottle of red wine a night?
  • i am grateful for chocolate
  • note to self: you are different. note to self: there are great things coming ahead of you. note to self: believe.

Hope you have a happy Tuesday. This is my 100th post in my 136th day of sobriety. Thanks for hanging around : )

not enough

Here’s how i know that i don’t think about booze in a *regular* way.

I’ve been sober for 135 days (since July 1st). that seems like a long time, oui? Well every so often i have a fleeting momentary thought of having “a glass” of something … one single glass of wine or of champagne. I’ll have the thought, and then I say no (batting flies away is a great metaphor).

And i know i’ll continue to say no.  Here’s why:

I was in a hotel this weekend, alone. No computer, i was having some scheduled vegetation time.

and in this crappy little hotel room, there was a mini bar.

and in that mini bar there was the following:

  • one toblerone bar
  • one kitkat bar
  • one bottle of water
  • two tiny cans of heineken
  • two mini bottles of red wine

And here was my very quick thought process (yes, even 135 days sober):

“I can’t even really entertain the thought of having that wine … because there’s not enough.”

not enough for what? to feel terrible? to feel blotto? to fill the space? to make me sleep? to make me feel like a truck ran over my life (not just my head)?

so any ideas of one glass — which my wolf voice will periodically tease me with — are actually hilarious.  one glass? hardly.  cuz when confronted with two airplane bottles of red wine and two cans of beer, i knew in a flash that it wasn’t enough.

and so i will continue to have none.  thanks just the same.