Even on its best day, wine was a shitty companion. never living up to its end of the bargain. always better in my imagination than in reality.

i did post that i was having a wine craving yesterday, i’m happy to report that the feeling continues today! It’s not an overwhelming “oh my god i must drink right now” feeling, it’s more of a “i think a glass of wine would be a nice idea” kind of feeling.

But one thing i know.  i am not going to drink.  i may have this feeling, and even though i posted about it last night, it was more to say that yes i do still have those feelings.  and while i’m currently experiencing an “i should drink wine” feeling, i also know in a tiny place in my head that i will not drink.  not now.  not like this.  i would always wait a week first.  i’d always go to bed first.  I’d always blog and ask for help first. I’d always ask someone to call me and try to talk me out of it first.   i’d always cry, and run 10K, and pound sand first.  I’d make sure i’d tried every fucking thing first.

and yes, this has been enough to get me to nearly 9 months (shocking! egads that’s a long fucking time).

in response to my post yesterday, Lilly sent me this message:

I saw your post and that was something I really needed to read today. Yes, the ‘fuck its’ and the ‘smell of defeat’. I can see the danger zone approaching rapidly if I don’t take active steps to combat it – take THAT stupid Wolfie.

And Carrie wrote:

we would all be lost without you if you went back to boozing! ( no pressure!).  Hope tomorrow is a better day…

Carrie’s comment made me feel a bit bad, because i didn’t want to sound overly dramatic. I may periodically have pangs, but I also know on some level that I won’t give in to them.  I have other coping strategies… sleep, writing, running, and deciding to wait a week to ensure that I still feel like it – and I never do.  I haven’t had a slip yet in 9 months so I’m pretty thankful for that, and expect to continue just like this.

I still feel the desire to drink sometimes, but I also know at the same time that I won’t give in to it 🙂

Then carrie asked a very clever question:

What do you miss? I mean really miss, enough to start drinking again?

great question!  I don’t miss anything *enough*.  sometimes I’m irritated that I’m on the outside of everyone else’s fun, but honestly that rarely rarely happens.   it’s the first thing to come mind, though, to say – but actually I’m kind of ok being a tiny bit different (esp. when being different is better for me).  I miss the ‘off’ switch that comes with a big glass of wine.  I just wish that one glass of wine would suffice, but it doesn’t.  so I’ve found other off switches.  I miss the hazy feeling of vacation, sunshine and booze in the daytime.  but really that leads to daytime ‘naps’, being grumpy with my husband, crying (I seem to cry more when drinking), weight gain, and headaches.  and then I’d always drink more at dinnertime after my ‘nap’ … of course.

for now there’s nothing I miss enough.  and the things that I’ve gained are much much more than wine ever gave me.

Even on its best day, wine was a shitty companion.  never living up to its end of the bargain. always better in my imagination than in reality.

and on Monday April 1st I’ll be 9 months sober.  let there be CAKE 🙂

the smell of defeat lurking about …

Sober penpal VP (day #14) says that some days she feels OK about being sober, but other times she can “smell defeat lurking.”

Funny thing that.  I can smell it too, sometimes.  I’ve been feeling like wine would be a good idea for a couple of days now.  Of course, wine would be a TERRIBLE idea, but it’s been on my mind. I have weeks and days where i’m like la-la-la-la life is great, and then there’s a whiff of “defeat” and a twinge of “fuck it” …

what i wrote to VP, and what i’ll write now, again, so that i’m saying it to me too is:  you may smell defeat lurking, but it’s just a feeling, not a decision.  the smell will pass! especially if you talk about it (with others, with hubby), and if you open the windows (i.e. get outside and don’t isolate), and if you reach out for help 🙂  

VP will be fine and I will be fine.  i have moments, though, like everyone else.  I will feel crummy for a bit.  I’ll go to bed early. my brain will throw a temper tantrum. then i’ll be fine.  I will reread my post about moods/feelings and decisions. and i’ll pretend that someone else wrote it.

happy day 17 to Lilly, day 13 to Leigh Ann, and day 296 to Thirteen… and happy day 269 to me 🙂

“I do have power over alcohol — I have the power to not drink it”

Heidi sent me an email as part of her sober update for today. With her permission, here’s an extract:

I had a dream. [I was in a hotel room, on my way out for the evening.] As I passed the fridge I thought, “what the hell? I’ll just have 2 here and no one will be the wiser.  Then I won’t have to drink in front of everyone else so no one will know that I didn’t stay sober.”  I cracked the beer and felt it work its way through my veins.  It tasted so good…and I quickly finished my second drink.

I headed out the door with a smile, finally feeling relaxed.  A thought quickly caught my attention. “What the heck am I going to tell Belle?”

That’s so weird, since I have never met you and actually know very little about you … I was worried about a promise I made to you, someone I don’t know, but yet I was able to break so many promises to the people I love over the years.

I woke up a little shaken (as I do after having “using” dreams).  I was trying to figure out what it all meant.

I decided the meaning was this: I am ready.  Truly ready to stop drinking.  Ready and willing.  It’s not about me keeping a promise to someone I don’t know versus breaking a promise to my loved ones.  It’s that I have finally found myself in a place of willingness and peace … a place where no one and nothing is going to stop me from being sober.  I am in control and with the help of others I can do this.  I can stay sober.  I love going to AA but I do have a hard time with the idea of powerlessness.  I am not powerless over alcohol — but when I drink, I give up that power.  I do have power over alcohol — I have the power to not drink it.  That’s a damn good feeling.

So yes, I am sober on day 13 [of the 100 day challenge] — you were right.  The temper tantrums in my head have gone down a little bit, and I can have feelings of happiness.  I’ll take it.  This is way better than being drunk.

As for me, i’m having a lovely Sunday. Day 267. Right when Heidi’s email came in, i was getting ready to make whipped cream for a cake. thought about adding some liqueur to the whipped cream but since the alcohol won’t be cooked off, I won’t.  I really debated it for a few seconds, well it’s only half a teaspoon… anyway the answer is no.  While I do sometimes ‘cook’ with alcohol, I don’t just add it ‘raw/uncooked’ to things. I don’t want to taste it. Well, I do want to taste it but I know not to taste it.  Thanks wolfie, you can go back into hiding now!

[I know that not everyone feels comfortable cooking with alcohol, in any form (even boiled/cooked), and lots of people aren’t comfortable having any booze in the house at all. I do a lot of catering and there is alcohol in my house. I know me, and I’m OK with it. You may not be like me.]

Hooray to Heidi, and thanks for letting me share your email on the blog 🙂

100 Day Challenge (update)

To the best of my knowledge, and not taking into consideration time change (i.e. it’s tomorrow in Australia already), I’m happy to report that 13 people so far have signed up to do the 100 day challenge.  Leigh Ann is 7 days, Carrie is 11, SoberInMtl is 49 (hooray tomorrow is 50!), and VP is on day 10.

I’ve had a great week with lots of great messages from sober penpals. Some just email and say ‘sober’, while others are more chatty 🙂

I had a very interesting email from Carrie (day 11)… and with her permission, I’m posting an extract here:

it’s been a huge help to be reading blogs, writing emails about it and generally feeling part of something which is bigger than just me and the desire to stop, all by myself. The challenge is brilliant too. I am going on a trip this weekend to see a girlfriend who I would usually associate with a big drink up. Dinner/wine/chatting/wine/movie/wine and the most HORRENDOUS hangover the next morning … followed by lunch/wine blah, blah, blah. Anyway on the phone I almost didn’t tell her that I am not drinking. I was dreading the disappointment in her voice. But when I thought about the challenge, I just told her I wouldn’t be drinking. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to start again or of having to say I couldn’t overcome the first real hurdle. It wouldn’t have even involved anything major, just the sound of a disappointed friend … really what is so bad about that? People get upset, let down, disappointed all the time. It’s not my responsibility to protect them from that?!

So, I will go on my trip and I won’t drink. If it hadn’t been for the challenge, then I probably would have postponed my precious sobriety again. So, thank you for that.

anyway, i just wanted to share how genius i think carrie is. it is super amazing to get an email like that, i can assure you.

All-round, the universe has really been rewarding me this week. thoughtful emails from (virtual) strangers. Kindness everywhere.  I even had a client in the US mail me (out of nowhere) the two things i can’t get here without huge expense: mayonnaise and canned cranberry sauce. with a note that says: “thanks for helping me to become a better version of myself.”  sniff.  it’s just one of those weeks 🙂

and every message I get, every email i send, every blog i read, every comment I make, and every random box of presents I get from a stranger — all add up to a happy, sober girl.  I even had cake for breakfast.  Really, this has just been the best day!

Go Team 100, Go 🙂

toxic

My sober penpal Lilly asked me a good question about our crazy brains.

Her question was about amnesia, how we forget the feeling of being hungover. and why do we continue to drink (or to crave drinking) when we know it’s not good for us.  It’s like we forget all the bad parts as time goes on.

first, i must give my standard disclaimer. I am not a counsellor 🙂 I know nothing about nothing.  I am only 8.75 months sober.  I know nothing.  There are lot of people out there a lot smarter that I am, with a lot more experience.

but my first gut reflex is that drinking is like being in a toxic relationship (with a man, in my case, but you can insert your own appropriate gender!).  Yes, there are good days when you’re dating a bad guy. there are promises of improvement that don’t materialize. there are moments when you realize with certain clarity that you have to leave. and then later, you believe his stories. because you want to believe. because you’re not ready to leave yet. Because you think you’re broken and he’s probably the best you can get. and he really does have his good points.  He has such nice hair, and he can sing in tune (!).

we stay in toxic relationships because it’s not easy to see what needs to be done when you’re in it. Which is why the sober blogs are so damn helpful, as I can rely on the genius of others who’ve been there to see right through my lame rationalizations.

we stay in unhealthy relationships because we have low-self esteem  on some level, probably not consciously, we don’t think we deserve better.  clearly, if we deserved better, we’d be out there ensuring that ‘better’ happens to us.  instead we hide.  we pull the tent flaps down around us, and we say ridiculous things like “next time…” Next time I’ll make sure I eat something first.  Next time I’ll have a glass of water every second drink.  Next time I’ll stop when everyone else stops.

we stay in abusive relationships because our vision of reality becomes warped and we can’t really see what is right and what is wrong. we have moments of clarity, hungover desperate moments, and then once the sun is shining and he’s cleaned up for you, and he’s smiling that smile, you say “oh it wasn’t that bad.”

and while I got all jiggy on the blog earlier this week about me NOT being superhuman, one thing I think I DID do, that perhaps other people don’t do, is I decided to improve my situation BEFORE it got bad.  I got sober early. I didn’t wait till the last minute, I didn’t try to find ten hundred different ways to continue drinking. I figured that getting out was probably worth trying, and once I was out, I realized how much better I felt, and how much stronger. yes, I do deserve more. yes, I was previously hiding in a tent (yes, someone who owns a company or two can still be hiding in a tent, not really facing all the glorious things the world has to offer).  I decided that it was better to be ‘single’ (sober) than to be in a ‘bad relationship’ (spending every evening with a bottle of red wine).

and everything else we believe about booze, when we know better, are just excuses. because we don’t think we deserve more.

and really, really, you do.  deserve more. tons and heaps more.

we may not even realize it, but in trying to quit, it’s like we’ve already raised our hands and said: “Me! Me! Hey, look at me! I want something else.  I don’t even know what it is yet, but this thing I’ve been doing ain’t working. I know I need something better/different. I know that something better is out there for me.  I’m going to go out and find it. I’m not going to wait in this shit hole any longer, thinking it’ll magically change. Holy I have no idea what I’m doing, at all.  All of my usual coping strategies have been left behind.  But I’m doing it anyway.”

Another thing, and i forgot to mention this, but i think the booze itself made me depressed.  I don’t drink because I was depressed — the booze made me feel lethargic and like a bag of shit.  The booze itself got into me and changed me. And then there’s wolfie …

Thanks to Lilly, cuz I really do love questions like this. They make me think hard.  I was in a toxic boy relationship before I met my husband.  we only dated for 6 months but it was like train wreck from start to finish.  why was I there? I must have believed that it was the best I could do (I was 35ish). I believed his lies (and it was all lies, including his name). He (literally) had an AA tattoo on his shoulder and he told me it “wasn’t his.”  hahahahahahahahaha … but oh, he was cute and could sing in tune.  and said such nice things to me… Thankfully my husband, who can’t even tell white lies, is also cute and can sing. and isn’t a gigantic jackass.

What do you think?

I am not special. I am not terminally unique

Cleo posted a comment on my last post about how it was good to see that i wasn’t superhuman after all 🙂 I started to write an answer to her in the comments, but have now copied it into a separate post here so that it doesn’t get lost.

I hope that anyone following my blog for a while would see that I often have crises, where I decide I’m going to drink, give myself a week to consider it, and then change my mind.  that seems to be how I’m getting through this.  Postponing tricks my wolfie, and for that I’m thankful.  there’s nothing very superhuman about me at all, I can assure you.  I’m a grumpy wife 2 out of 4 weeks a month. i suck at paperwork and taxes.

but I have decided that if I do ‘fall off the wagon’ that it will be a considered thing, not a “fuck-it” thing, because i don’t want to regret the decision and have to start over again.  This is the thought process that has kept me going to this point.

Today I can say that I don’t see myself ever drinking again, but I know that in a few days, or when I next get a cold, I’ll drag out all of my woe-is-me nonsense and my “fuck-it” threshold will get quite high.  I’ll decide to drink in a week, like I did as recently as valentine’s day, and then the week will pass.

this second, today, I am in a very good place. I’m nearly 9 months sober.  And for today, right this second, I’m good.  I’m terrified of what Paul wrote about on my blog, that there aren’t any happily-ever-after moderation stories.

The other thing about sobriety/recovery, at least for me, is realizing that I am not special. I’m not the one person who’ll succeed at moderation where others have failed.  I am not terminally unique.  Really, I’m like everyone else.  If I wanted to quit drinking in the first place then it’s because my level of alcohol consumption was a problem.  Doesn’t matter how BIG of a problem, it was a problem.  So I’m doing what I need to, to continue to not drink. For me that’s included blogging, and being a sober penpal to a few people.

and i don’t want to start over again cuz it takes a while to feel as good as this.  and so i’m not fucking with it.  maybe i could moderate? Maybe this is true.  But where i am now is *greatness* with no regret and no guilt and no extra weight (i’ve lost 10 pounds so far) and more running and more inspiration and better sleep and a third fun passion job thingy…

i’m certainly not superhuman.  i’ve realized that i can’t learn all the lessons in the world first-hand. i’m willing to take the advice of others.  and baby, that is rocking-good-times easy 🙂 cuz there’s lots and lots of genius out there, and this blogging world brings me in contact with them day after day after day.

love,  me

100 day challenge followup … “It’s like folding in the middle of a bad poker game”

I’ve received lots of emails from people interested in doing the 100 day challenge. It’s a pledge to not drink for 100 days, no matter what.  Even if there’s a zombie apocalypse.  Even if all the kittens on your block get squished the same week.  even if there’s an amputation. No drinking for 100 days. Some people are well on their way, and will be adding 100 days to their current number. Others are just beginning.  Amy is on day 101, Mystery Girl is on day 8. Lilly is 7.  Jenny is 33.

I’m day 260, nearly nine months. Sometime i think i’ll revisit the idea of moderation when i get to my one year soberversary. I’ll be on vacation July 1st.  I can picture it now.

But I recently wrote: “And really, moderation, god, I love the idea of that. I really really do. sometimes I think I’ll try moderation at one year.  but mostly I’m afraid to try.  afraid because of what I read online.  more than afraid, terrified I guess.  I don’t want to fall off and not be able to get back inside again. someone also wrote on my blog something about moderation working for people who don’t really need to moderate…”

for all the times that i half-assed tried to moderate, i was really only white knuckling it. Only drink every second day? OK, let me try to remember, is this an on day or an off day. Only drinking for special events, does today count as special enough? Only drinking twice a week, when does the week start (Sunday or Monday).

It was a lot of noise in my head. and this blog is called “tired of thinking about drinking” because i thought a lot about how much, when, too early, he drank more than i did. Too often.

the truth is, this is easier.  Sobriety is easier. I won’t say that being sober is a gigantic walk in the park.  it has its challenges.  but it is SIGNIFICANTLY easier than trying to manage the consumption of booze.  Why is it so hard to quit drinking, especially the first weeks? Cuz we ain’t equipped to cope with life without our security blanket. Our buffer, our ‘off switch’, our ‘equalizer’. But thankfully after 30 days it gets easier, then at 60 days we stop obsessing about reading sober blogs and books.  Near 90 days the clouds start to life and we feel more like our old selves.

Thus the 100 day challenge.  Our old selves + 10 days for good measure.

So will i drink on my one year anniversary? some days it seems pretty darn tempting. But really, what does that even really mean?

Frankly, it further convinces me that even almost 9 months later, the wolfie voice is still in there.  it’s still whispering sweet nothings in my ear.  I’m much better at ignoring wolfie. My life is gigantically improved now that i’m sober.  If i gave wolfie even a glass of wine, wouldn’t he just get up on his hind legs and start SCREAMING at me? Fun? Not.

In an email to Amy this week, i wrote: “I do not plan to drink. I sometimes play games with myself and say ‘in a week’ when I’m feeling crappy and that seems to be enough to move on through.  in a week’s time I’ve forgotten and all is well again.  I seem to be able to withstand anything if I think it’s almost over.  and then the times of ‘needing’ to withstand are now getting further and further apart, thankfully.  so I can say it’s getting easier.  a lot easier.  and I’m fucking proud of myself. There’s plenty of boozing and alcohol abuse in my extended family. I quit before I had any real problems. I got out early, like folding in the middle of a bad poker game. I just cut my losses and got out.”

if you’d like to do the 100 day challenge, you can read more about it here.  Or you can do your own version. Or you can keep playing poker with a loaded deck, cheaters, liars, and phonies… Nah. No time for that shit!

search engine results: “champagne no thanks”

Here are some of the search phrases that people have used in the last 30 days that have led them to my blog…

  • tired of thinking about drinking
  • jason vale alcohol
  • best things about being sober
  • tired of thinking of drinking
  • does behavior change after sobriety?
  • its great being sober
  • drinking in bed and fucking
  • slamming hand
  • tired of thinking at work
  • i will do today what others won’t
  • champagne no thanks
  • now that i’m sober i see what changed
  • pink cloud luncheon
  • i think this too much drinking wine is all nonsense
  • tips for getting past the drinking witching hour
  • 2’s up wolfie
  • another word for freedom
  • i get more done when i am not drinking
  • whats a good headline for being sober
  • i think i’m at that point to kill someone
  • change the behavior and the thinking changes
  • i think about alcohol all the time

Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

today i am 8 months sober. and i couldn’t be happier about it.

thankfully the first 30 to 60 days of “will this ever end” feelings have … well, they’ve ended.  The answer is yes, there is an end to thinking about drinking. At least for me. At least for now.

I’ve been riding on a pretty good sober-high since i recovered from my shitty cold x2. This is the longest stretch where I have not thought about drinking at all.  It doesn’t even register. Had a shitty day on Wednesday, super tired, disappointing, guy wanted to hire me for catering, came here and said he couldn’t hire me after all but stayed and ate all my samples – took up 2 hrs of my time – and then asked to take home the leftovers … and my response was to complain, and eat pie AND cake. I did not even think of having a drink. (ok, yes, I will later replace pie and cake with apples, but for now this is a huge and gigantic improvement of monumental proportions. i didn’t have to ‘bat away the idea’ of drinking, it didn’t even come up as a thought.)

what’s different?

sober pen pals. i wrote an email to Jenny that i’ve already posted here, but in brief it says: “Day one is behind you.  hungover, regret, disappointment, it’s all finished.  already behind you.  Day one was the hardest (and most exciting) part …  you’re already doing it.  the thing you’re waiting for is here.”

And in writing to Jenny, it seems to have firmly lodged in my own brain in a kind of concrete way.

That and Amy’s genius post about just fucking giving it up already … “Out of all the glorious things in life there is only one thing you cannot have: alcohol. Drop that shit like a bad habit.”

and DDG is in a similar place, i think, a place where we’ve abandoned the shit, and are embracing the new reality. and we are beginning to feel ‘recovered’.  There’s no big drama. I’ve adjusted to the newly found quiet in my head. And i’m moving forward… Like I told Jenny, doing the same thing today that worked yesterday.  Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

Headline: “Being of Service Shuts Up Wolfie”

in an email i wrote to my sober penpal, Lilly:

I don’t know anything about anything.  I don’t know about moderation cuz I never tried it.  I’m afraid of it.  I’m afraid of relapse so I don’t try anything.  And I’d only want to moderate if I thought that booze was useful… which I don’t … And the idea that it’ll be OK with just one glass is wolfie talking; it’s not common sense (which of course you know).   And anyway, nothing gets worse from NOT drinking.

and in an email to Jenny:

no day going forward will be as difficult as the first 3 days … from now on they’re all pretty much the same.  I honestly think that deciding to start [like really and truly do it] is the hardest part.  then once we quit, we brace ourselves and we hold on tight with white knuckles … but the real drama is already behind us.  Day one is behind you.  hungover, regret, disappointment, it’s all finished.  already behind you.  Day one was the hardest (and most exciting) part.  And now … well, now, your sober car is rolling downhill.  you just do today what you did yesterday.  Get enough sleep, get outside, drink fizzy drinks starting at 5 or 6 or 7 pm.  stamp your feet a bit in a temper tantrum.  have a bath.  write something down.  then repeat tomorrow 🙂  no really, you’re already doing it.  the thing you’re waiting for is here.

and in an email to Amy:

being sober is fine with me because being drunk really isn’t that interesting, comparatively.  There’s no ‘one glass of wine’ … There is only a choice between sober and loving it, and feeling like a bag of shit.

being sober penpals with you-all (and Jen and Leigh and Whineless and Jackie here and there) is truly fabulous. Someone posted a comment that i was working the 12th step.  if working the 12th step is the same as making sure that I help me first, making sure that I don’t have a drink, that in explaining things by email it helps ME to travel on this highway just a little bit easier, then YES i’m doing the 12th step.

I’m sure the 12th step is supposed to be *selfless* in some ideal world.  I’m sure i’ll get some lessons in AA in just a minute … (here come the comments!).

But here’s what i think.

in being of service i am talking to myself.  when i write to jenny, i’m really writing to me.  i’m explaining stuff to myself.  When I write a blog post, it’s to talk to myself, or to work something out for me.

if you think you don’t have it “in you” to reach out just remember that you’re really helping yourself. it is in the helping of others that we ‘fill the hole’ and avoid the PIT. and any other metaphor you’d like to throw at it.

and when I explain things to myself, it really shuts up wolfie and THAT is my favorite sport.