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.

too long, didn’t read

What did i learn yesterday.

I’ve been struggling with deep and quite severe computer problems since the end of June, nicely timed with the beginning of my Dry July. I rely 100% on my fancy computer for work, and i’ve been huddled over my husband’s laptop since my fancy machine died.  I live in a non-english-speaking country, and i’m not terribly fluent yet in the new language, so i had been reaching back into my past and calling my tech support guy who lives in North America.  when i lived nearby, my techie guy was great and reliable, if a little overworked.  Now that i’m across the pond, he’s non-responsive, and i’ve fallen to the bottom of his list of priorities. I left 5 messages in the first 2 weeks, and when he finally called back, he suggested a fix that he said he’d walk me through later that day. I waited like a fool for another 2 weeks for him to call. but then never called again. And i’ve stopped trying to reach him.

(Truthfully, i’ve been quite consumed with staying sober — reading blogs, writing, keeping myself distracted —  that i’ve felt like i couldn’t take on any more, including my broken computer, and usually my day’s worth of energy was being completely used up just by staying sober.)

Yesterday, i woke up feeling like i’d been run over. Bad time of the month, combined with getting to bed late, combined with big summer heat. But something snapped in me and I realized I had to solve this computer problem IMMEDIATELY. Went online researching the fix that techie had told me about, found a computer store here that sold the software. Went by train 45 minutes to find the place. Explained with my broken language skills about my broken computer. bought software.

I also had my dead hard drive in my purse, separate computer problem, same timing as the beginning of Dry July, and I left it in a big Disk-Rescue store. Nice clerk helped me fill out the forms (i.e. she let me awkwardly describe what had happened and then she wrote it out in full, grammatically correct sentences with spelling and wacky accents, on the form for me).

Came home and popped in software, let it install overnight, and yes now the fancy computer works. I’m writing this on my big beauty right now! Probably 28 days of irritation and complete frustration solved for about $100 and a trip across town.  [The prognosis on the dead hard drive hasn’t come in yet, probably later today.]

TL;DR
(this post is “too long, didn’t read”)

Here are yesterday’s lesson. Here’s what I learned…

  1. Reach out for help sooner.
  2. Don’t rely on old friends to help you in a new time.
  3. Be brave in the face of language difficulties (i.e. even if you can’t make yourself understood 100%, you can start, you can try).
  4. Don’t wait for the hottest day of the summer to solve problems, start early!

And the greatest lesson of all … give your husband back his laptop before he divorces you, it’s been weeks already, and the guy is patient but he has limits! (i.e. don’t expect everyone else to be terribly patient while you sort out your shit.  do your best to speed things up when possible… and/or sort out your own shit and do your best to NOT let it spill over onto others.)

Thus begins Day #24.  Big computer is back in action, husband has his laptop back. Fingers crossed for the dead hard drive.

And I’m sitting up now, wondering what else I can take on today, as the 100% energy required to REMAIN sober seems to be decreasing slightly, to maybe 75% effort now …  Can anyone else relate ?

Fastidious

I’ve been thinking about the word fastidious since reading a blog post from Cleo … One of the great things about blogging is how new friends   can trigger an idea or a feeling, certainly unintentionally, that get you thinking …

Anyway, thanks Cleo 🙂  Just by being you, you’ve helped me a lot.  Here’s how.

I used to be fastidious. Before I met my husband, and i was living alone, I cleaned the house once a week. I changed the sheets every week. I loved a clean and spare space. I also drank less, 2-3 beers a night, and not every night. i only bought 2 or 3 at a time, never bringing more than i intended to drink that evening.

Since meeting my husband, i’ve had to adjust my standards on cleanliness … two people sharing the same space can’t ‘have it their way’ all the time. And i really adore my husband.  He’s just not terribly tidy.

Last night I came home (husband was still out), and read Cleo’s post. And it used the word fastidious, and i thought – hey i used to be like that. what happened?

wine is what happened. when i got married, we started having wine with dinner most nights. it was part of me playing house, i think. He also provided a built-in drinking buddy, and would unfailingly go out in the snow to get more wine when we ran out. he matched me drink for drink, we watched bad tv, played cards. sometimes we argued, sometimes we sat in separate rooms on our separate computers. he usually did the dishes after dinner (or not). And somewhere along the line i just gave up on the idea of having a really clean and tidy life.

yes, so i’ll start again. last night i came home and read Cleo’s post and saw the word fastidious, and thought – that used to be me.  And alone in the apartment, no alcohol to weigh me down, i started cleaning (thanks also to Mrs. D’s reminder that it’s a good way to clear away the gray clouds).  I didn’t work too hard or too long, but I did make good surface progress. i folded laundry, i sorted through some recycling.

i know you’re getting tired of me writing these early morning blogs about “What I Learned Yesterday” – but here’s what happened.  just by reading your blogs, i got a few ideas.  then i internalized the words and the feelings.  then i puttered away at cleaning up.  and THEN i felt pretty great! i would never take on housecleaning after dinner if i was drinking. (in fact, i had a close look at my bedside table last night and i can’t believe i let it get that disgustingly dirty and linty and covered in balled up kleenex.) i used to be a fastidious, and i think as my wine consumption ramped up from occasionally to daily to 3-4 glasses a night, i just GAVE UP having a clean and tidy house. OK obviously i gave up lots of other stuff too, but this one thing seemed really clear to me last night.

anyone else out there give up a TRUE part of yourself while drinking? (i just stopped typing to look around the office and i can see dust and other bits that need attention, gotta go!)

 

Gray Cloud of Swarming Thoughts

As the day wore on yesterday, I seemed to slip into a funk, where it felt like a gray cloud hung thickly over my head. Sunny outside, cloudy in my head.

I tried to find the source of the irritation — Mr. Anus client? or was it writing about mr anus that set this off? the low thrum of toothache, the completely frustrating ongoing computer problems, or the state of my office disarray.

I couldn’t come up with any reasonable explanation. But I knew FOR SURE that I was feeling antsy, and found myself rehearsing what i was going to drink and how it was going to feel when my 30 days of Dry July finishes … I could see the wine-thought-process coming, literally like a Gray Cloud of Swarming Thoughts moving in. A weather system you can see on the horizon as it slowly trudges towards you, and then envelopes you, overtakes you.

So right at dinner time, when I should have been sitting down to eat with husband (especially since we were eating early because he had to go out, and so i’d intentionally started simmering the spaghetti sauce at 3:30 pm just to have it all perfectly timed to eat early) … well right when it was time to sit down, i told him that i thought i’d better go for a run.  and that i was going to stay out until i felt better.

he’s mister easygoing anyway, he doesn’t care what/when we eat.  he ate on his own, and went happily out for his evening.

on my run, at the turnaround point, a children’s choir was singing in the park. Dressed in blue school  uniforms (in July?), and they were english-speaking, so that makes them tourists. To be honest, they didn’t sing very well but the sound was sooo sweeeet, especially in the sunny late afternoon, mostly empty park, a few stragglers listening, two moms dressed in matching blue t-shirts holding up a iphone to film them. Who were they performing for?

The song they were singing seemed like the answer to my problem: Coldplay’s “Fix you…”  [lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones].  If i wanted to run until i felt better, then that did the trick. literally it was like the cloud lifted right then and there. sun shining. light switch flipped on. goosebumpy shivers listening to tiny kids singing, in english, for me. I even sang along, standing there in my spandex shorts and ponytail.

Note to Self: Run until it goes away, and don’t come home until the feeling is gone. (And how long did it really take?) A whole, big, endless, oh my god, gigantic … 20 tiny minutes. Note To Self #2: Play Music. Loud.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI-o25K6B-E?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

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.

daisies and sunshine rocketing out of my ass

About a week ago i started this blog (a week! OMG it seems like such a long time ago). I’m now on Day 16 of Dry July and i know for a fact that I would not be here if i hadn’t started this blog.

This is the first time i’ve made it to 16 days, ever, in my life, and it’s the first time i’ve actively reached out for help and accountability. Coincidence? I think not.

I tend to think a lot (no shit!) and left on my own, i think myself into “logic loops” that get me drinking again.  My most recent one, from May, went like this:

I think i’ll give up wine for a month. I’ve done it for a week at a time before, so I’m sure that a month won’t be hard at all. Ack day 3 sucks. Groan day 7 is rotten. Day 9 i’ve had enough of this shit, and if i’m only giving up for a month, that means i’m going to drink eventually.  and if i’m going to drink eventually then i might as well drink today. Experiment ended at day 9.

This time round, i realized the noise in my head was escalating right around day 7. I’d been reading a sober blog, and decided i’d get brave and start my own.  Now it hasn’t all been daisies and sunshine rocketing out of my ass, BUT for a week I have been collecting ideas, and i’ve been discovering NEW thoughts that I can feed into my logic loop instead of my old recycled ideas.

Instead of mulling over: “eventually i’m going to drink”  … now i’ve replaced that kind of thinking with “i like this stillness and quiet-headed-ness, and i’m so glad I have time to take care of the REST of my life.”

I’ve started an amazing blogroll of like-minded folks (who knew you were all out there?). And i’ve been very surprised and super happy to find such compassion, lack of judgement and in particular a lack of “see what i did, do that, if you don’t do what i did you suck” kind of preachy-ness that i thought would exist here.

who am i kidding, i figured everything sober was going to be preachy “do as I say” shit, and since i knew that wouldn’t work for me, i had never explored any other kind of community. so to find such kindness and non-platitude (non-platypus) support, has been worth the price of admission. and then some.

I thus happily begin Day 16 knowing that I will not drink today 🙂

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 …

for today, this is easier

last night I had flashes of “I’d like a drink to take the edge off” or i was remembering how i routinely would say to my husband: “when you’re out, can you pick up some wine?” I wasn’t really craving last night, it was more like a habit, an automatic response.

maybe it’s the time of day, 7:30 pm, we hadn’t eaten dinner yet.  and I imagined an evening WITH wine through rose-colored glasses. Candles, dinner with my husband, we laugh at the table, a few glasses of wine.

And yet, here’s what really would have happened: we’d eat in the office in front of the computer, watching “X-Country Has Talent,” and i’d have 3 glasses of wine + a shot of grande marnier.  Then, inevitably, I’d get really sensitive and nothing husband would say would be right, and we’d go to bed (late) on opposite sides of the king sized bed. I’d toss and turn all night, hot, nauseous, wake too early, drag myself out of bed to work. all day i’d feel like I was pushing a truck uphill, and it’s threatening to roll back down on me.

now when I write it out like that, i have to tell you that the night with wine still seems like a pretty good trade off. and it would be, if it was now and then.  but 7 out of 7 nights a week? not so much.

i’ve tried restricting my alcohol intake before, doing something more ‘moderate.’

and how do I feel when I alternate days… drink one, rest one?

Truthfully, I feel completely irritated the entire day off, and then I usually just give up at about 8 pm and go and get some wine.  then we finish that bottle and whatever else we can scrounge up.  then i plan to quit drinking for 30 days (again), but there’s some event coming up (no matter how big or small) and I have to wait till that event is over until I can go dry again.  So then another three weeks might pass, or 8 or 10 weeks.  with wine 7 nights out of 7, 3-4 glasses a night every night.

so now today is Day 11 for me, and i have to say that this is EASIER. who wants all that angst, all that thinking, all that managing, all that trying-to-control shit.

this way, i only have to have one thought:  I’m not drinking today.  that’s all i have to do today.  I don’t have to manage the liquor supply, i don’t have to get bitchy with my husband, i don’t have to feel tired all day.  I don’t have to drink the special cooking wine that i needed for a special cake and then run around frantically, standing in line at the specialty wine store, trying to replace it.

for today, this is easier.  i’m tired of thinking about drinking.  and so today, i’m going to think about decluttering my office instead 🙂

today is day 10 and i’ve never been here before …

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiTccsRKFZU]

i named this blog after a really great Tragically Hip song.

I may not meet the textbook definition of an alcoholic, and I may never have had a ‘bottom’. but the problem for me (at least) is that i spend so much time thinking about drinking. how much wine can I have, when can i start, have i had enough, how will i sleep tonight, OK maybe just one more …

And i think that life without alcohol means that the noise in my head is just quieter all-round.

Less noise in my head means I sleep better and I get more done. Is it about self-control? sure it is. and clearly i’m lacking the self-control that would allow me to have a glass of wine, now and then, and just stop at one.

[Frankly the thought of having just one makes me irritated. What’s the point in just one? it’ll make me tired and foggy and then I’ll sober up much too quickly and i’ll still have this residual headachy, thick headed feeling. Yeah, that’s why it’s better to have three glasses instead of one.]

So i think that not-drinking entirely is an interesting and positive trade off.

I give up drinking wine, and what I get back in return is theoretically better than the wine ever provided.

Yes, OK, I give up wine’s company, the comfort, the numbness, and the glorious way that it fills up an evening and brings sunshine to meals and patios and vacations.

in return, I get back energy, sound sleep, peaceful relationships, increased productivity. I consume fewer calories, spend less money, and i gain self-respect.

gee, when i write it out like that, it seems like a no-brainer doesn’t it?

am i giving up wine FOREVER? (or just for my original intention of 30 days)?  well if giving it up forever guarantees that i get sleep+energy+self-respect, then yes, maybe this is forever. I’ll decide when i get there.

for now, all i know is I didn’t drink last night, and i’m not drinking today. it seems easy right now and i’m going to ride this wave (because three days ago i was so irritated i was ready to drink no matter what and i know those times are a-coming again).

i’m going to focus on what i’m GETTING rather than what i’m giving up.  and today is day #10.  I’ve never been here before 🙂