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

 

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 🙂

today is day 29

today is day 29 and i’m happy for that. i hadn’t strung together more than 9 days before this attempt at Dry July. I started having regular beer/cider every day after work in 1987. I was 21.  Just one a day, it gave me a good buzz. I never drank in high school, was always afraid of alcohol, in fact, still am. That one beer a day, or every second day didn’t really expand at first.  I could buy a 6-pack of cider, and drink my one per day, taking a day off, then go and buy a new 6-pack. After about a year, i started working in a restaurant, and at the end of our shift we were allowed to have one staff drink, at $1 each. Again, i’d stay for one drink late at night, then head home. One or two beer or cider, that’s it. Go to a party and I’d have beer. I’d host an open house wine and cheese party at my office once a year, and I’d have 2 Coronas in the fridge for me.  I used to go to the store and just buy 2 beer at a time. That’s all I  wanted so that’s all I bought. I used to joke and say “i don’t buy more because beer speaks to me.” Beer hanging around my house says drink me now so i only bought two at a time. my friends though that was funny, kind of comedic, isn’t she hilarious.

in 1995 i remember being on vacation, and i bought a 6-pack every two nights, having 3 beer each night in my hotel room, putting the ice in the sink with the plug in. hotel too cheap for an ice bucket (and you can’t fit 3 beer in an ice bucket anyway).

i think there was a post-bad-boyfriend time, the business I was running wasn’t going so well. maybe it was 1999. i was drinking 3-4 beer at a time.  not every night, but often enough.  probably two or three times a week. i really hated drinking beer, though, because i hated the repeated trips to the bathroom. i know. first world problems.

things stayed right there, 3 beer at a time, and not every night, for years. Later, much later, I met my husband (2005) and we started dating. Now i had my partner in crime, my buddy, my traveling partner, my drinking companion. wine or beer at all events. it’s really not his fault. i thought i was playing house, putting dinner on the table, the bottle of red wine. i knew someone would help me drink it. I’d buy different kinds of pinot noir and open them all at once, and we’d do taste tests. he drank to keep me company, never initiated it himself, but would always go out to get more if i asked. (left on his own, like he is now, he has 1 or 2 beer a week… oh god.)

so for seven years, the husband years, the good years, the happy years, the years where we could argue that problems with loneliness have been solved, that boredom had been erased, the years with unconditional love finally provided … yes, for these seven years i’ve been drinking 5 out of 7 nights, then 6, and then 7 out of 7.  right up until 29 days ago.  you might say i was drinking to fill loneliness back when it was 3 beer alone in a hotel room. but now? got no good excuse. except laziness. i took my eye off the ball.  I’d always been afraid of alcohol, knew what it could do to ruin your life, and i’d always been very very cautious. but in the safety of married life i got lazy and complacent and forgot to watch out. cuz i knew it was calling me. back when i joked that beer spoke to me, i knew it was waiting to suck me in … as soon as i took my eyes off the ball …

i’d like to clean this up

i still have moments where i think of drinking, in an abstract way. Not “I need wine right now” but more “this is what i usually do in this time period, in this circumstance.”

For example, there’s a half-jug of mixed cocktails in the fridge from last week’s dinner, and i wish that my husband would drink it. I keep looking at it thinking that i was STOOPID to make that amazing homemade cocktail and not set aside some for myself before adding the gin.  i really would have loved a virgin serving.

And now when i open the fridge, i see the half-pitcher there, gin already mixed in, and i’d like to — ok this sounds strange but i’m just going to say it — i’d like to “eat the leftovers, clean my plate, finish the bottle, get that over and done with, finish this up.”

I have been tempted by this half-jug of cocktails, but in the “i’d like to clean this up” way, rather than in the “i’d like to get a buzz” way. what a weird OCD flash this is.  Let’s “clean this up” my head says, and that would allow me to finish a glass of beer, the last inch in the bottle, the rest of the mixed cocktails…   so now i’m wondering if anyone else has/had thoughts of “this can’t go to waste” that led them to drinking more than they wanted?

pressing the off button

Sober: Day 27

up too early, not enough sleep, didn’t run, worked hard all day, very hot, ate sugar all day, didn’t really eat enough real food, tonic water and cranberry juice for my ‘drink’ … now it’s 8:20 pm and i feel like a bag of shit. i’m going to go to bed now before any damage is done, before any more sugar is consumed. i don’t feel like drinking, but if you’ve got another fuzzy warm escape idea, i’ll take it.  i realize what i want is a break FROM MYSELF. from thinking, from the noise in my head.  endless details of running a busy life and sometimes i just need it to turn off.  Bad TV, dark room, bottle of red wine kind of “OFF”. instead i’m going to have to grumble and settle for a non-dark bedroom (we’re too far north), clean sheets, the last few pages of a good book, and a headstart on a good night’s sleep.  some days can’t be rescued. they just need to end early.  it’s like pressing the OFF button.

[button pressed, tv screen dims to a tiny point of white light in a static-crackling ocean of gray dots]

The truth is that I drink more than I want to. Point finale.

Thanks again to everyone for comments and support and love over the past few days.  it really is a gift you’re offering. you may not realize how little gestures can mean sooo much. taking the time to read, to post, to write, to share, to be honest, to back-pat, to laugh, to groan, and to sigh with relief. Thanks and thanks again.

I have a few new thoughts on the idea of moderation.  And they’re perhaps kind of radical thoughts.  But that’s just the kind of chick i am.

Lots of you were very kind to offer that maybe i would be a “lucky” moderator, maybe i’m not so far gone that i can learn to moderate.  Others expressed their touching and personal experiences with FAILING at moderation, and that’s how they knew that being sober was the only choice for them.

Now while i realize that this decision is personal to me, and it’s up to me, and i have to be comfortable with the decisions that i make … I have to say that i’ve decided to go with the collective intelligence and NOT test out the theory of moderation myself.  While it’s possible that it’s easier to adopt abstinence if i’ve exhausted all other avenues, like if i’ve tried moderation and failed… i think i’m going to skip all that.

Here’s why.

I know what the logical thing to do is.

I know from reading everyone else’s very kind comments and life stories that moderation rarely works, maybe less than 10% of the time.

I know that even thinking about having 2 drinks in August got my brain going with “when, where, how much, what if…”

I know better.

Should I try moderation to rule it out? Probably. Am I going to? No. At least not now.

In the short time i’ve been blogging I’ve learned enough from you.  I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I can take guidance from those who have been there before me.  I do not have to “see for myself.” I know, i know, i know already. The truth is that I drink more than I want to.  Point finale.  Anything else is besides-the-point.  I drink more than I want to, and i’m not going to fuck with it any more.  All those swimming thoughts of:  “only beer, only weekends, only celebrations, never more than 2, only on vacations” – i want to be done with that.

So yes, maybe this means i’ll always wonder if i could have successfully moderated, and maybe it means that at 90 days I’ll think that I can … I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.  for now i’m going to rely on collective genius.  Your collective genius. Whether you’ve got 2 days or 2 years.  I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  I just have to do what i know will work.  Not drinking works for me.

Big hugs from me in the cyberworld.

pink-cloudy AND tortured on the same day

in my last post I started to contemplate what happens at the end of my Dry July.  Day #25 today. thanks to everyone for ideas and well wishes and kindness.  it’s pretty cool that no one said “wow this girl is heading on a downward slide into hell if she keeps going on this path” … even though i’m sure some of you were privately thinking just that.

on my run today, i realized that if i’m thinking about this still this much after a month, then best to continue onwards, sober. Like cleo with cigarettes, i cannot say the same for drinking. I can’t take it or leave it. Wine is not like corn on the cob.  I love corn on the cob, and sometimes i’ll even go to special stores to find it here.  but i don’t keep track of the BEST cob, nor do i remember the date of my last cob… Even in thinking out my idea of “maybe I’ll drink twice in August” … my internal wheels started to spin and I got tense. literally. i got wound up just thinking about it.  what if I use up the alcohol on a bad night? what if I don’t get the effect that I want and I waste it.  what if I drink and then I wish I hadn’t bothered? i’m sure that two drinks will be disappointing no matter what the context. 

again, on my run today (thank god for running!), I realized that i could give up MEAT for a month and not wonder when i could have more, or how much i would enjoy it.  i could probably even give up sugar for an entire month – including the sugar hidden in stupid things like mayonnaise. Yes, i’d feel pissed off if I had to give up sugar for a month, but i highly highly seriously doubt that i’d give it as much brain space as i have given to wine in the last 25 days. would i be reading other people’s sugar blogs? really? probably, highly not.

(in fact, when i started Dry July, i gave up meat, alcohol and sugar for the first 7 days, then reintroduced sugar and meat.  it was completely fine.  in fact, planning vegetarian meals took a bit of work but it distracted me nicely from thinking about booze. Note to self.  when feeling antsy, set a different non-alcohol-related goal that will have a positive outcome, that can distract me from boozing.)

i’m sure i’ll cycle around to the idea of moderation, oh, i don’t know, like a few more hundred times.  but for now i’m staying on the wagon. I like it here, even if I feel both pink-cloudy AND tortured ON THE SAME DAY.

For now, i’m going to extend Dry July to be 90 days.  and then probably longer again.

one week from today, do i drink again

i understand this is a bizarre question and i am probably setting myself up here to receive an ear-full of exasperated ranting.

but here goes.

i originally decided to not drink for the month of July, follow Dry July, 30 days without alcohol.  I am on day #24 (and my keyboard now thinks it ès in portuguesÉ, how excellent”)

i have to say that i have been counting the days, probably like everyone else does when they quit.  but i/ve also been counting the days until July is over.

then i think: well i kind of like this sober thing here, even though itès been hard at times …

then i think: i don/t really want to quit forever.  i just wanted to stop thinking about drinking (thus the name of the blog).

god, this is a stooopid question and i can measure its stupidness by the way i feel right now, like i/m going to post this and then delete it right away.

here/s the stooopid question (ôther than how to change my keyboard back to english, even though it says itès in english it clearly isnèt!)

how dumb is it to think that i can set some rules for myself for August.  Like, maybe ièll drink twice in August, two different days, no more than 2 glasses of wine each night, and ièll look ahead and decide when those days might be.  is this just a form of moderation that everyone ELSE out there has tried and failed at (question mark)  … am i walking right into some kind of pit (question mark).  i have not really tried moderation before with any real effort. i certainly have not done it and blogged at the same time for accountability and exploration.

oh god, ièm going to delete this right now.  itès pointless.  the keyboard is hooped and i donèt really even know what ièm asking here.  well, does anyone have an apostrophe, ièll take one of those to start.  then ièd like to hear your advice.  about how i should go about ending my Dry July …  if you post a comment and later see that this post has been deleted, youèll know that iève changed my mind about asking this badly-formed-question …

you are a gigantic anus

i have a brand new client who is truly a gigantic anus, and a seriously irritating human.

I’m not in AA but i know enough to know that irritation, frustration and resentments are triggers for wanting big quantities of vino.

most weeks, most days, Mr. Anus broadcasts his shit elsewhere. About once a month, or so, he unleashes on me.

Like last night.

last night, he got in my face (by email) about something i’d done wrong. i explained as clearly and kindly as i could, that i was doing what we’d agreed, but that if he wants me to now start doing something else, he can write out the NEW steps and i’ll do those …

you know this kind of guy, right? you send him something short and sweet, and he fires off a long email back, that starts with a bristling: “let me make this very very clear …”

blood boiling. i realize i’m being triggered.

we come across lots of anuses in life, and i have (thankfully) removed myself from the reach of most of them. I even avoid family members with a ten foot pole if they’re anuses.  i just don’t DO anus anymore, and haven’t for years (maybe 7 years or so).

Except for this client. He’s really the only anus i have left.

last night, i respond politely to emails. i allow myself to feel truly irritated.

then I say out loud, in my empty office, hoping my husband can hear me… “I want to go out for dinner, I don’t feel like cooking.”  He says fine.  Then I say, still alone in my office, again quite loudly and firmly: “I’m not going to drink.”

I said it out loud so that I can hear it, and so that hubby can hear it.  So that in the restaurant, there’ll be no question of offering/declining.

I can’t extract all the anuses that exist in the world. Some of them will be neighbours, or parents, or clients, or sisters. I can distance myself as much as possible, put on my teflon face, get the fuck out of dodge, and I can firmly state out loud “I’m certainly not drinking because of YOU. You are a gigantic anus.”

there. i feel better already 🙂

thus begins Day 20.

staying ‘stuck’

What do I gain by staying ‘stuck’ in my old ways?

If I stay the same, it keeps me in the pack of everyday-ness. I can just remain a dreamer / non-achiever like everyone else. If I’m successful in making big changes, my family might be jealous, needy, or hostile.

If I stay the same, I can talk about “what could have been” instead of actually doing the work …