today I have 30 days

Ten good reasons to be 30 days sober:

  1. Celebrating a new ‘personal best’ every day. That doesn’t happen much when you’re an adult, taking on a new skill and seeing progress and improvement each and every day.
  2. Sleeping through the night. Doctor thought i was premenopausal when i complained of waking at 4 am. she should have asked how many glasses of wine i was having every night (answer: 3+).
  3. No arguments.  I haven’t had one disagreement with my husband in 30 days. I can’t tell you how often I used to go to bed teary, feeling completely misunderstood. That seems to be over.
  4. Supportive sober (online) friends. This blogging world rocks, is beyond anything i could have imagined. advice to lurkers: don’t lurk. you’re missing out on a life-line that’ll make the difference. my advice to lurkers is to be brave, read, comment and write every single day (well, for the first 30 days at least!).
  5. No one really gives a shit that i’m not drinking. All the worries of not ‘fitting in’ or being ‘different’ if i gave up drinking were totally bogus. no one gives a rat’s ass. I drink tea and you drink wine? who cares. We go to dinner, you guys order wine, I say i’m not drinking, only one comment in 30 days from Mister, a social acquaintance who i see about every 6 weeks, and now will probably see even less…
  6. It is quiet(er) in my head. This is the main reason I have given up drinking. I’m fortunate to have a “high bottom”. I wasn’t convicted of a DUI, and my marriage was not in jeopardy. But I drank much more than I wanted to, didn’t seem to be able to string together many days alcohol-free. I used to spend a lot of time thinking about when I could drink, how much, was there enough, should i start drinking from my husband’s glass when he left the room…
  7. I’m a nicer person. I’m kinder and more patient and less sarcastic. Much less sarcastic. I think I see people more clearly now. now I meet a new client who talks too much, and i see lonely instead of irritating.
  8. My irritation and frustration levels are diminished. This is a side by-product of being sober that I did not anticipate. Didn’t realize that drinking made me really grumpy, and itchy in my own skin. I think i’m less impulsive, too. Certainly there’ve been NO late-night stupid emails (to friends and clients) promising the moon.
  9. Motivation levels are higher. I used to get a lot done before. Now i’m getting things done with purpose. I’m not just running all over town on some kind of ‘urgent’ mission. Now i make plans and cross things off the list.
  10. I’ve stopped straightening my hair. OK, you can laugh if you want to. But straight hair is all the rage, and for the last 30 days i’ve just stopped. (Honestly some days it takes all of my concentration and focus to get up and get through the day, remember to run, to eat 3 times a day, and to not-drink.) I have naturally curly hair that i’ve been forcing into ‘style’ with a hot iron. this has stopped. my husband now tells me he likes the curly hair better (really? you didn’t say anything for the two years you’ve watched me straighten it?) He says i look younger and less like someone’s “aunt”  (i.e. less like a cougar)…) I think it’s also an outward expression of being more comfortable in my own skin … or it shows a complete abandon of personal grooming while i focus hard on being sober.  we’ll see.

i feel i should now re-order the list, to end with something punchy and strong. Instead it ends with a vain comment about my hair. oh well. there you go. I have cute curly hair, that isn’t the least bit in style. I’ll keep you posted.

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 …

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.]

(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 ?