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sadness

i’m fine. i’m obviously going through some temper tantrum things right now. disappointed that the summer is nearly over and i didn’t enjoy it the way i wanted to. disappointed that i feel like i haven’t gotten anything done, that i’ve been obsessing.  and mostly i’m just really tired.

i do have to tell you though that after i posted last night, i felt some relief. like my personal alcohol obsessing will stop soon, and that i can find some new kind of normal — whatever that is. i know. i know. moderation is virtually impossible, and i do believe that. i would like to go back to some magical place where one glass of wine is enough and is soothing.  i know it doesn’t even exist but i’m really pitching a giant sized (internal) temper tantrum right now.  i don’t know how to articulate exactly what’s happening, but something is definitely up.

And yes, i’d like to be able to stop resisting and start just living, and i’m not sure how to navigate that yet, or if i can.

but also, to complicate things terribly, the 20 year old daughter of a colleague/work friend of mine is going to die today. i know the family fairly well, and the daughter and i have hung out on several occasions… the loss of this young girl, the knowing that after a week of uncertainties that she is now off of life support, and they are waiting for the end … this seems (understandably) to have pitched me into a “why bother” kind of despair.

i’m glued to my facebook page waiting for her mom to update her status (for the last time). i was up through the night waiting for the news, watching people post pictures of the girl, tagged, everyone saying how great this kid is/was (and she really is an amazingly bright soul). I’m far away, i can’t travel for the funeral. i can’t even reach the family in a meaningful way now with all the influx of communication they’re getting. and it’s not the right time to say anything except sorry. it’s really all just horrific. i slept a bit more early this morning, and now i’m up again. drinking coffee, crying, and waiting.

i think struggling is unfortunately a part of life, and me wanting the struggle to be silenced with booze is my default reflex. i think of my friend’s daughter, who is right this minute navigating her way into another phase of life, and i just fucking want it all to stop.  all of it.

the end of an experiment

As I come up to my 60 day anniversary, i’m finding myself in a place similar to where I was when i was coming up to 30 days.  Am i continuing this sober experiment or not? I won’t bore you with all of the thought processes, because i think they’re predictable. I didn’t set out to quit forever, my goal was dry july. I’ve done nearly 60 days with your support and encouragement. but i don’t feel like i’m doing it for myself anymore.

i continue to vacillate between pink clouds and wishy-washy-ness in the same day, moreso in the last 10 days.

sigh. I feel like i’ve spent my summer doing this, and i regret it, which is ridiculous. But i feel like i’ve wasted my summer staring at my computer screen and trying to find answers in books instead of being out in the world (or baking in my kitchen). Being on quasi-vacation for the month of August is also turning out to be terribly long and hot and supremely boring and mostly disappointing.  Our ‘official’ vacation, where we get to travel, doesn’t start until August 31st.  And by then summer will be over.

I should have done this differently.

So anyway. I’m just announcing this now, so that there’ll be no big shocking ending, or weirdness.  I am going to end my sober experiment at the end of the month.  i am not planning to drink that day, and I’m not going to return to drinking every day, but i’m tired of this. Like, supremely tired. Yes, the wolf is getting quieter and quieter.  Yes it’s getting easier. But to what point? I’ve lost the plot now.  I’ve saved some money and lost a few pounds and i’ve exercised my self-discipline in ways that most people don’t or can’t. That’s super.

Yes, i’ve had lots of good days, and i’m happy that i’ve done this because i got to hang out with you-all.  amazing support and guidance and grit and warmth. But lately it feels like i’m spinning my wheels, and that my life is on some kind of gigantic pause. I know that drinking a glass of wine won’t lift the pause button, but over-focussing on not drinking certainly has put me on pause …

sorry. i’m not trying to be dramatic. i’m not crying or flailing around.  i’m trying to be real. every time i post something like this, i think i’m going to delete it in 10 minutes. i’m tired of thinking about drinking. that’s the name of this blog. i’m in a pit now of thinking too much again, just on the other side of the topic. I am not drinking. And i don’t have specific plans to drink.  I’m just really really tired of the pause button feeling. i don’t know how else to describe it.

Dehydrate the wolf

If you can picture booze like a Big Wolf With Black Eyes, he represents the voice in your head.  Now you have to very calmly starve the wolf. Or better yet, you have to dehydrate him by not giving him anything to drink.

At first he’ll be mad at you. “Where’s my drink?”

You’ll say … I have all this free time now. I can’t talk to you, wolfie. I’m running, baking, singing, reading, cleaning, spending time with my kids. I’m paying my taxes, cleaning off my desk, enjoying the weather.

The wolf will taunt you. “Everyone else is drinking, why can’t you?”

You’ll say … sorry, wolfie, can’t hear you. I’m too busy cranking up the volume on my new iPad that I bought with all the money I’ve saved. 50 days of sobriety @ 3/4 bottle of wine per day =  $225.  And some days were more, and other days included booze in restaurants, so it’s really more like $400 (or probably even $500).  At an even $10 A day, that means that in a year it’ll be $3,650 saved.  That’s a trip to Australia. That’s a small car. That’s a new wardrobe, le creuset cookware, and 2 new books a week with money left over. Sorry wolfie, can’t hear you, i’m COUNTING MY MONEY.

The wolf will throw temper tantrums. “Why can’t I? What about now? When is this sober thing finished? Can I drink in a few more days? When exactly can I drink again?”

You’ll say I’m too busy snuggling with my husband, staying awake for conversations, i can see the look in his eyes, how proud he is of me, how supportive. i would never want him to look at me any other way, wolfie, don’t you understand that one glass of red wine does NOT equal my marriage? I pick my marriage. I pick it every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I pick meaningful conversations with friends. I pick sober laughing. It’s the best. Have you tried it wolfie? Sober laughing? you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

The wolf will nearly be dehydrated. He’ll try a few more last-chance, desperate attempts. “You’re broken,” he’ll snarl. “you bitch, you can’t be fixed, you’ll always be a fuck-up, you suck at this, you might as well quit now.”

And you’ll say:  You want to fight? I’ll win. I’ve got so much more energy now that i’m sleeping through the night. I can outrun you wolfie. I’m light on my feet now.  I’ve got so much more spunk, clearer thinking. I’m planning to take over the world, wolfie, me and my clear-headed genius.

What is that? Sorry I can’t quite hear you. Your voice is so quiet wolfie. are you nearly dehydrated? you’re going to dry up and turn to dust.

[puts palm of hand up to lips and blows across the surface … dust disperses, wolfie is specks of gray in the air … and then gone]

You can wait and see … or you can fuck it up. Your choice.

Day 50 … thank you very much.

Long run Sunday, and on the run I realized something yucky and profound.

when i first met my husband, i’d only ever dated assholes and idiots. I’d had 3 boyfriends over 20 years, including two long periods of being single.

First, Mr. Laywer, met in high school, dated through university and law school. On and off for 8 years including several years where we lived on opposite sides of the country. Mr. Lawyer was sensitive, very very smart, could not commit to a relationship.  Together, apart, together, apart for years… He wouldn’t move to where I was (even though going there had originally been his idea but he’d chickened out at the last minute).

Second, Mr. Engineer. Super wealthy family, led a somewhat sheltered life, smart.  was so important that we once went on vacation in two cars, in case he had to come home to deal with his job … We dated full-time seriously for 6 months, and then slept together for another 2+ years. i waited and waited and waited to be “the one” for him. Never happened.

Third, Mr. TrainWreck. charming, compulsive liar, super manipulative. Angry, strange relationship with money (he didn’t have any plastic), strange relationship with alcohol (he had an AA tattoo but said it wasn’t his — i kid you not). i fell very hard for him. super hard. he could smell that kind of desperation a mile away and used it. lies and weirdness from the beginning that i refused to see.  never met any of his friends in 6 months. Super angry, temper, walking on eggshells.  One day he just stopped calling. i knew things were in a desperate state, so i only called timidly a few times the first week, then when he didn’t call back i stopped calling. never went to his house. figured if he was gone, it was best to let him go.

got some good therapy. left that city and moved back closer to my family (but not THAT close).

Met my husband, Mr. Belle. Here’s our story:  he asked me out, i went, we had 3 dates, he spent the night, he never went home. That’s it. I never had to say “when will I see you again?” He’s easy going, happy all the time. he’s self-contained, not needy, no demands. He does dishes (and cleans the bathroom). He’ll go out for milk at 10 pm if I decide I want to make pudding. We read the same books, we walk a lot. we enjoy each other’s company. he eats my recipe trials.

There is no drama in my marriage. We don’t fight and make up. We don’t get angry and sleep in separate rooms. Some days I think he’s a turd, but i usually don’t say anything, and then it passes.

This is a long story, here’s the realization i had this morning.

I’m so used to drama from my stupid childhood that I expect drama (and/or I create drama) when things are going well.

When I first met my husband, i was literally waiting for the other shoe to drop for an entire year.  Like i felt terrified that i was going to find out something that would prove that he was an asshole/idiot, and that he was too good to be true.  Husband was always reassuring when i was wacky worried. He said “you need a lot of reassurance” and then he gave more reassurance…

AND NOW…

I think that i’m treating my sobriety the same way. I’m expecting some drama.

I mean, how can you just give up booze and then go merrily on your way? What about the teeth-knashing, late nights, relapsing, disaster, crying, promising to try harder the next time.  I seem to be skipping most of that. (i’m good at teeth-knashing, but only when i work myself up into a pms frenzy.)

and in thinking about relapse, as i was last night, i wonder today in the cool light of sensible morning, if i was trying to MAKE some good-old fashioned drama.  “Everybody look at Belle, watch her fuck up.”

when really, i don’t need to fuck this up. i don’t need to create any drama here.

And just like the early days of my marriage, i can just stop waiting for the drama. and i can turn away from the temptation to CREATE drama. and i can say, with some certainty, “YES this is pretty good. It’s better than you thought you deserved, and yet here it is.”

“You can wait and see. Or you can fuck it up.  Your choice.”

If all of the drama in my life is self-created, because i’m uncomfortable with calm and peaceful wellness, then i need to give that up (again).  Drama and struggle don’t have to be something i pull along behind me, like a worn sweater. Drama and struggle are optional.

I am not drinking, and that’s just the way it is.  I need to get over myself.

No Drama Here.

Ode to red wine

i don’t usually post twice in one day. but i’ve been thinking about drinking just about the whole day. it’s like my toddler-brain is having a temper tantrum. and it sounds like this:

“why can’t i ‘take a few days off’ and then restart. other people have done it. relapse is normal. i think i’ll have myself a relapse.  would today be a good day for a relapse? well it’s the weekend, that’s always good. i’d like 2 glasses of red wine. yeah, i think i’d like some glass of wine, i mean, who wouldn’t.  well maybe i should wait until i have 50 days of sobriety (instead of today, day 49) because that would be a nice, round number. better to relapse on a ‘good’ number day.  better not to just fall off the wagon, how about if i plan to fall off. and god i don’t want to regret the relapse, so i’ll plan for it. and anyway, i was really only going to do 30 days and then i extended it to 60/90 and now i’m nearly at 50, so that’s good enough. what was the point of this anyway. this not drinking thing is tiring. i don’t want to post and read blogs any more, but i know that’s just me retreating so that i can have a few glasses of wine. i want it all to fucking stop — all the noise, all of it. i want the magical “i don’t need booze thanks” to fill me from top to bottom. and then i’d like some golden silence. instead of having to work at it. if not, i’m going to pour wine onto it until it shuts up.”

[stomps toddler-like feet, and slams imaginary door]

well that’s special, isn’t it? i’m not drinking tonight. i am baking a chocolate cake (9:32 pm). it’s gigantically hot tonight (40C/105F) so that doesn’t help. i will wake up tomorrow in a better mood, will have my sunday long run, and will get up super early to beat the heat …

here’s my (not yet famous) poem:

Ode to red wine.
fuck you
fuck fuck you
fuck you
fucker.

~ love, Belle xoxo

helping me to ‘be’ good

i’m enjoying rereading my journal from 2004, it’s quite entertaining, especially my thoughts pre-husband, when i was single for such a long time. In February 2004, I was doing a week without TV and without reading, and here’s a bit of my thought process, seems to fit today:

“It’s a transition, so some parts are harder than others, it’s about feeling uncomfortable temporarily. If we always want to feel good, then we’d stay well in from the edges of life so that nothing ever sticks us. Or [we can choose] a short-term discomfort for a longer-term gain. It’s not about helping me to ‘feel’ good, it’s helping me to ‘be’ good.” (Feb 24, 2004).

hope you’re having an easy day. good food. a laugh or two.

Sobriety is like a little car

I started writing about the ideas of early sobriety (less than 15 days) on Suzy’s blog, and also on Jen’s, but want to elaborate …

Right when you first quit, there are lot of questions, a lot of unknowns. part of why we ALL struggle in the first days is because it’s all so new, so foreign to how we usually live.

Questions like: “How will i go to a party and not drink? I won’t be any fun! How will i manage sober sex? Sober dating? How will i deal with stress?” and my personal favorite: “Is this no-drinking thing forever?”

And so on.

The initial question-asking stage of sobriety is deafening.  there are a billion things to consider. Or so it seems.

and yet, bit by bit, it gets easier. we read a few books and we  blog and/or read other sober blogs, and we comment, and maybe we do a meeting (or not). We run more (or not), we sleep better, we begin to feel more comfortable in our own skin.

in a few more days, some of hazy grayness starts to lift. For me it was around day 34 but i started off intending to quit only for a month, and so i farted around a lot in the first month with what-if ideas, and maybe everyone does that, or maybe you’re more focused than I was and your grayness will lift sooner.

Now here’s my metaphor:

Sobriety is like a little car, rolling downhill, that gathers momentum as it goes. But if you stop the car too soon (by giving up, by having just one drink), then you never get to experience the momentum it can gather with time, and you’ll just get to experience (repeatedly) the ‘starting over part’. which we agree, stinks.

it doesn’t take very long to feel better and to have a clearer head. so keep the car rolling, and feel your way through the grayness.

Sobriety is like a little car, and if you’ve got the little car already on its way downhill, however slowly, don’t do anything to stall. don’t change your medication, don’t suddenly quit your job, don’t buy a dog, don’t stop going to meetings. You want the car to keep moving, right? Downhill, yeah? Slowly gathering momentum. Don’t get impatient that other people don’t notice how great you are. Don’t confront your spouse about their radically different life plan. Not now. Not now.

protect your little sober car.

(and now, to mix metaphors) You need to walk around like a blind person with your arms outstretched, saying “don’t come near me with your drama, your shit, your demands. Stay the fuck away from me. I’m protecting me. See my outstretched hands grasping for the wall, grasping for something solid? Stay over there and gently guide me if you like, but do NOT dare come inside my arms-stretched-out space and fuck with my sobriety. Don’t tease me, don’t cajole me, and don’t bait me.”

(back to our regularly scheduled metaphor)

“Because i’ve got a little car of sobriety rolling downhill,” you say. “And some days it’s all i can do to keep going. but i ain’t pulling over. Not now, not for you. If this car stalls, it might not start again.”

Get out of my way. Sober car coming through …

Need to take a nap in the middle of the day and afraid you won’t fall asleep quickly enough? Drink.

was just reading this lovely newly sober post, and I wrote a comment and I wanted to share part of it here.

i know that empty ‘hole’ feeling you keep trying to pour stuff into. except most people can’t articulate it as well as you have.

I am particularly struck by your comment of gulping before bed. I used to do that, too. And now – 46 days later – i look back and think “what the hell WAS that? you’d already had 4 glasses of wine, and yet you took some to bed to drink JUST before turning off the lights … why? to feel a buzz? you’re going to be asleep. To guarantee that you will sleep? sheesh i think the first 4 glasses and the fact that it’s 1 am would do that just fine.”

It’s like a switch gets turned on, and we keep drinking till we fall down (literally or figuratively).

not drinking might be a struggle some days but it HAS to be better than living like that … who wants to go THERE again and feel so desperately empty … [blech].

Before I read Jason Vale & Allen Carr, i never had any idea that perhaps the booze itself was creating the ‘hole’ feeling.  i never considered that the alcohol was making me feel empty. i just thought some part of me was broken and that i was trying to fix it with booze.

what a bunch of bullshit.

we are ALL broken in our own small (or large ways). that doesn’t mean that adding poison will be helpful : ) I know, i know, that seems like a “duh” moment now, doesn’t it. I can assure you that while i was drinking, booze seemed like the ONLY solution to ALL problems.

Lonely? Drink.

Irritated? Drink.

Stressed? Drink.

Need to take a nap in the middle of the day and afraid you won’t fall asleep quickly enough? Drink.

Vacation? Drink earlier.

Feel wickedly hung over? well, a small drink does wonders to make you suddenly feel “much better”.

Holy shit, batman.

i’m glad for today and I’m glad that i’m moving into a new part of my sober time, because it’s all seeming a LOT clearer now. And when my 3-year old whining brain periodically says “yes i know all that but I WAAAANNNT it anyway,” i am now better equipped to say to the 3-year old,

It doesn’t matter if you want it.  it’s not good for you. booze is a bottomless pit of emptiness that can’t be filled. get over it. find something else to do.

<le sigh>

[ps if you haven’t read the Allen Carr book, Easy Way to Control Alcohol, then i recommend it.  Yes, it’s basically the Jason Vale book rehashed. Yes, it’s the same ideas in virtually the same order with almost the same examples.  BUT it’s very well written, has some different examples, and uses a Pitcher Plant analogy of sliding to the bottom that is very helpful. If, like me, you were a tiny bit sad when you finished reading the Vale book, because you were riding high and then were sad that the book was over … well, you’ll be pleased to pick up this second book. I’m reading it more slowly, I don’t want it to be over! I like being tucked into their world (Vale’s and Carr’s). In their world, booze is poison, and we are MUCH better off without it … when i hang out with them, i believe this to be the truth and i’m thankful.]

tuesday weigh-in

day 45. all is well. i haven’t had any of the “holy shit i had a drink” dreams. Instead i dreamt that i was handed a glass, and had a sip of wine and then spit it out, shouting to the hostess who served it to me: “I don’t drink!”

not only is “all well” with me today, but i’d like to continue feeling like this please. yesterday and today (so far) have been surprisingly settled, calm, happy, even days. Better than i’ve felt in a LONG time. Maybe the best that  i’ve felt, ever. happy but not manic. content but not wacky. just good.

Now let’s talk about the 3 very small slices of chocolate cake i had yesterday. miniscule, really, but 3 nonetheless. I did mention that i wanted to do some baking during this vacation, and yesterday i got down to business.

i know that running 5 days a week, at my slow pace and for short distances, is all about mood control and not about weight management. I’m completely fine with that. I love running, and I don’t need to change anything about how i’m doing it. But my level of running does not permit me to eat ANYTHING i want.

yes, early days of quitting booze meant that i really didn’t have any choice. I needed the sugar and the calories and i needed it a lot.

but today is day 45 and i’m feeling good. so i’m going to slowly and gently begin to rein in the cake.

need a t-shirt made up:

“Must Eat Less Cake”

on my run today, i decided it will be best (for me) if i do something ‘out loud’ and accountable.  Since i know from the law of attraction that what we focus on EXPANDS, then i will focus on pounds lost, so that i can watch that number grow.

Since quitting booze 45 days ago, as of today, Tuesday morning, I am down 2.2 pounds. not bad considering said cake. Every Tuesday morning for the next several weeks, i will post my total weight loss so that I can watch the number increase … sort of like watching my sober days increase.  My current sober goal is 90 days (and beyond). my current weight goal is 15ish pounds (possibly beyond, i’ll see when i get there).

If you’re interested in joining me, you can go and weigh yourself now (2.2 pounds = 1 kilo). Yes, you can weigh yourself now, even if you’ve just eaten. Think how low the number will be by comparison next tuesday when you weigh yourself first thing : ) There’s no right time to start. There’s just now, and i’m starting here. i didn’t want to take on too much in the first 45 days, but now i feel OK with charting my numbers.  nothing strenuous. no big diet. just conscious awareness. and mindfulness.  Are you gonna join me?

 

I learned what I knew already …

Day 44. I am well, i having nothing new to report. I’m not having cravings. I learned nothing yesterday.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I think i learned these things, but i knew them before, but yesterday i learned them again.

  1. I feel better on days when i run (i’m running 5 out of 7 days now, sometimes only 20 minutes, but the 2 non-running-days stick out in the calm of the week).
  2. The longer the run (40 minutes+), the better. Therefore, Sundays are usually the most calm and peaceful and resourceful and relaxed that i feel all week.
  3. I used to really love adventures. Maybe moving to foreign-land used up my adventure quotient and then drinking buried the rest. This weekend, however, husband and I did two walking tours, one Saturday and one Sunday, and saw new and interesting parts of the city, discovered gardens, beautiful views, drank bottled water, took a gazillion photos, and enjoyed being outside in the sun.
  4. Sunshine makes me feel much, much better. Living here is an improvement over our last city, and i hope our next move is another improvement again …
  5. On our way to the walking tour yesterday afternoon, husband and I had a “joking” conversation on the train, but it might become real. I asked him what was the best part of our new lives here in this new city.  He told me: his new favorite hobby, which costs quite a bit of money.  The more money he has for it, the better. He can do it cheaply but would prefer to do it more often, more expensively. And he’d like a budget of maybe $300/month to go hog-wild (all-out). (god, what’s a universally understood translation of hog-wild?) (well, as much as he wants).  My new favorite thing to do here makes money. it’s the coolest funnest thing ever and it actually generates revenue. The “Joke” was me saying: “we should figure out how you can have as much $ as you need to enjoy your hobby, and I’ll just do my hobby more often to pay for yours.” His eyes lit up, really, it was soo sweet. I don’t really think he’d enjoy me doing mine as much as i’d like to (it’s quite disruptive and sucks a lot of my time), nor would i really want him gone 4 out of 7 nights doing his… but i think we’re on the way to finding a good compromise …
  6. i’m guilty on this one-month vacation of feeling bored, and that’s completely my own creation. beginning today, i want to get more done – even if it’s just cleaning, even if it’s just reading more books. i want to look back on the vacation and feel like it was worth taking the time off AND i want to fill up my time more, even if it’s just reading in the park, so that there’s less room for the demon bitchy booze cravings. Less time in front of the computer searching (for who knows what), and more time outside.
  7. I’m in charge of how good I feel.  Time to play that hand a bit better.

Happy Monday : )