I started off doing this really naively and thought life would continue mostly as normal. It would just be me not drinking and not spending long nights at the bar-that would be the change. And I still feel that way much of the time, then I start looking at sobriety blogs or listening to The Bubble Hour. From there I learn about all the complexities to lifestyle, identity and loved ones that sobriety impacts. After I read or listen about sobriety I’m left teary-eyed, with a knotted stomach and slightly panicked. I can’t tell if this information are veils being pulled aside to help me see some truths or if they are causing unneeded angst about situations that don’t parallel mine.
I did not realize how far reaching my non-drinking quest would become in my life. Sometime sobriety feels like these tentacles growing out of me and wrapping themselves around everything around me, it affects everything. I don’t think I need to make sobriety the center of my world like some people need to-I’m not going to do a career change to focus on sobriety, I still don’t want friends that are specifically recovering alcoholics, even though I’d like to ask a resource person some questions face-to-face as I go through this. Fuck, only at Day 16! Doesn’t feel like such an accomplishment sometimes. I feel like I’m learning how to roller skate in front of everyone that are professionals and not picking it up very fast. They are staring bemused and I’m feeling so stupid and an object of ridicule. Ugh. So much unnecessary shame.
I need to tell Husband what I’m planning to do. It’s time, and we are now moved into our new place, love it! I have some weeks under my belt to prove to myself and show him that I’m serious about this and I need his support. I don’t know what that support will look like yet, we will have to figure it out together. I hope he does not come to resent me taking the fun out of our lives. I hope that this brings us closer and does not divide us into drinking and non-drinking camps. That is the worst fear of them all-will there come a point that I have to choose between sobriety and my husband?
After two weeks, not drinking has seeped into my subconscious. I had a dream last night that I was meeting up with a mixed group of friends to spend a week-end in a cabin up in some snowy mountains. We were getting settled in, it was so cold and with deep snow, and I started the fire place to get us warmed up-and to stall from us going to get a drink. I remember there being lots of conversation about drinking as people milled around and unpacked, "let's go get a drink after this" and other such normal sentiments when a group is starting a week-end trip together. Normally I would be the one who promotes getting the party started-have a bottle in the bag to drink as we unpack, I don't have a problem, hahaha, I always prepared. But in my dream I was my new non-drinking self and no one knew it yet-biographical and accurate besides the snow and mountains since I live on the edge of the Sahara Desert. I felt so anxious about being exposed as a traitor when we would go down to the lodge and some one would order a round and I would say no. My dream ended before the actual ordering of drinks, I left the dream harboring my secret with the building anxiety of rejection from my friends. Sounds about right. And by the swollen eye lid this morning, I bet I was woken up by that damn mosquito that got me during the night on my hand and arm too.
I'm going to take that dream as a good sign. I'm practicing what I will do and how I will feel in upcoming social events where it becomes obvious that I'm not drinking....for weeks now people are seeing glimpses of it. Funny that my dream ended before the actual practice, because I feel I haven't really had too much practice in real large party situations or true sitting at the bar with rounds coming by. They will come and what will I say as the dudes hurl the "what the fuck" sort of comments at me and tell me to stop being a pussy? How to I make light of it as I hold my ground? I need more tools in my bag of tricks. As some guest on The Bubble Hour said, I'm white-knuckling it through early sobriety.
Husband said this to me tonight as we were packing, "Your not drinking is starting to scare me." Happy Two Weeks For Me! A very exclusive party of one. He said it lightly and I lightly asked what he meant, he said nothing, and I said, "Don't worry I'm still the same girl you married." (where the hell did that come from??) and he replied, "Really? Are you? Just joking." And we moved on to fill more boxes and dance to the music.
I understand why he might be getting scared. We are the bestest drinking buddies. And that IS who he married. And that is the big question: will I still be the same girl he married if I stay sober? Am I still me? And another reason why he could be scared is that I'm not pleading with him to help me stay sober like when I tried to do it before, and I'm just doing it. Shit, I guess we are co-dependent. (as I'm I'm about to write out my next sentences.) I always thought that I would have better luck drinking less (or quitting) if I lived alone because I just wouldn't keep alcohol in the house, and that would just work, right? Since we are married it always felt unfair to ask Husband to stop drinking at home because of my issues, and if he did not drink at home for a short time it seemed to always slip back in-usually because I felt guilty depriving him the pleasure of his normie habits. Or I've asked him to hide bottles and pour his drinks in secret because it was the pouring that was a trigger. Or I've just asked him to not pour me drinks even if I asked, and he says he can't say no to me....All of these situation are so convenient for both of us, right? I just set myself up for failure each time by putting him in charge of my drinking or blaming him for my drinking, and he got to keep his favorite drinking buddy and not alter the flow of our household.
What will our marriage be like without me drinking? Who am I if I do not drink? We mostly have fun drinking together, loosen up and connect. We get into conversations that need to happen (but sometimes they are blurry or forgotten the next day), he is a happy, loving drunk when I can be firey, ok let's be honest: I can be an aggressive, offensive, and an angry drunk and whatever irritants I am feeling towards him come how when I'm really drunk, so attractive! But outside of the drinking fights, we really don't fight-and that's an issue. We have needed booze to bring it up in order to make up. A pressure release valve.
And I now admit that booze has bonded us, been our friend and facilitator-when it is taken away what's there to replace it? That is a scary question. For Husband too, this is scary because he doesn't want to really now how much he is drinking, he does not collect the data about himself like I do. And now, when it is just him drinking, it is much more obvious how much he is drinking by the empty bottles throughout the week. And who wants that? I hate those people who made me feel like I have a drinking problem! Not that I have made any comments about his drinking amounts, but the fact that I'm not drinking is probably enough. For the past two weeks he has been living like that...it must be shitty but he keeps telling me he is proud of me and I keep pouring him a drink when we get home from work.
And I thought this was all so easy! What would be easy to just go back to the way thing were...not rock the boat, but just be a moderate drinker instead. That's the only thing that has to change. EASY! I can't be a moderate drinker. Or I can be until I'm not and don't know it until the next day after I slept like shit, hungover and asking delicate questions about the night before because I blacked out at some point. I can't go back. I have to remember it always ends that way: hungover and a black memory of my embarrassing moments.
I'm feeling good, things are much easier than they ever have been before when I've cut drinking out, why? Is it really just my resolve? My secrecy? This blog? Time of year? Luck? The Pink Cloud?
As easy as it is, I did experience my first legit trigger, at work, which is not a place where I have ever drank. A colleague came to see me about an issue, and it was her Southern accent that made me viscerally want a whisky. Part of it is because I have build a persona of her as this badass older lady with a mint julep and a shot gun on her front porch (all with love). And that made me want to drink when I got home, so I could feel a little badass too.
Let me think about my triggers:
It's just before bed and I'm sneaking a blog post to my stranger danger sober support group. Husband doesn't know I have a blog, no one but a couple of strangers who accidentally clicked by here do, and I plan to keep it that way for a while. I think I would feel silly or ashamed or judged if Husband were to read this. Eventually I will tell him it exists, but this feels to raw and personal for some one who really knows me to read-so ironic because it is on the internet. I guess I assume my family and friends will never stumble upon this on their own-I'm safe. And those strangers who do stumble here are looking for sobriety blogs.
I'm in the double digits. That's something. I like mini celebrations, even if it isn't over a drink.
It really is Revolution Day here in Egypt. On this day in 2011, protests started that resulted in President Mubarak stepping down after 30 years. To celebrate the day off we are hosting a true Sunday brunch (since we normally have to work on Sundays and can't brunch it up.) I'm making cornbread and potatoes, Husband is making some baked egg dish. I'm going to make up a pitcher of Bloody Marys-leaving the vodka to be pour into individual glasses so I can drink some virgin Bloodies-I do love them.
We are also having our own little revolution-we are breaking our lease and moving to a much nicer apartment next week-end. It might be the new sober energy, but I got super vocal about my discontentment at this place-horribly small kitchen, old torn furniture, terrible layout, low ceilings, so cold inside, loud street & construction outdoor, mirrors on every wall, etc. and asked Husband if we could just look to see what's out there....and we signed a new lease the same day we looked and here we are: having to face our sweet landlords and telling them we are moving out. They will keep our month's rent deposit and I have to remember this is a business contract. But I do feel torn up about it. I'm dreading the conversation, but it is so worth it to have a place where it feels good to walk into everyday...sober.
I just burst into tears after reading the first comments at the bottom of a sobriety blog. More on this blog later, I love it, because I have to address the crying. The first comment read,
"I am going to read each of the months as I am going through them. Thank you for organizing them this way. It's a great help!!"
I've said the same thing to myself about a year ago when I tried to quit, (then quickly changed my mind to "cut down" only after a few days), yet again convinced that I really don't have a drinking problem, I just needed to reset closer to moderation. After reading this comment I thought to myself: pathetic! So earnest and pathetic. I am so pathetic, "these" people are so pathetic. Just get it together...(me and all of you)...why can't I? Then a sleuth of thoughts came rushing in at me Let me see if I can recapture some of them to make sense of it-thank God for this online “diary” where I can spew to strangers...if anyone chooses to click on my pathetically titled blog that seems more about staying hydrated. Self-hate, I have a lot of it right now. And judgement. I have a lot of that too.
#1-I am not these pathetic people (I am feeling so judgmental). I have not gotten to the point of losing jobs, family, friends or health because of my drinking. I have never had an intervention and the amounts I drink are so little compared to others' stories when they try to stop drinking. Then I think "at least I'm not that bad, see I really am on the edge of being a moderate drinker, I don't need to quit." Then I think maybe they are the ones judging me and my stupid blog and attempt to quit drinking, "you think you have a problem? Go home little girl with your 5 drinks and a hangover, this recovery thing is for the big boys." Delete blog and go have a drink.
#2-These are my thoughts after 8 days of not drinking. What the fuck? I'm crying about my pathetic future already in the morning of day 8? In the blog post, Mrs. D is in month two of recovery and she mentions a book where the author warns that the 9th month of recovery is where many people relapse. 9 months? That’s 8 months and 3 weeks away from me. By 9 months this should be cake, a story to tell, I thought the hard part was now, the first month. I don’t know if I am up to the challenge, seriously I really don’t know. But it makes me feel gross to read any self-help stuff besides Mrs. D, too cultish, too pitiful, cultish, too far away from my story to relate.
#3-I’m scared. This is hard, I don’t know how to do this, who am I in all of this? Before last week, people in recovery made me uncomfortable because they were so intense: counting days, talking about the journey, telling horror stories of what they were like before they stopped-a real downer. Actually made me want a drink just to celebrate that wasn’t me. But now (fucking 8 days in) I’m starting to get it a little more...how hard it is and the tools and tricks necessary to keep doing it. That makes me want to cry again-I don’t want to be that person that is so self-absorbed in counting days, bleak, and telling cautionary tales a year from now-I’m fun, I’m adventurous, I’m well-rounded! How can I stop and not turn into that bitter haggard man chain-smoking cigarettes with a Sprite?
Okay, writing some of this has helped get the emotion out. This is the place where I can be the weak, desperate, dark, confused lady with a problem. In my real-time life, I’m still just taking the day off of drinking...everyday until I’m not.
I like to see the benefits of what I do. I track my hours & quality of sleep, my steps, my running distances, temperature, weight, periods and heart rate. That does seem excess when I have it spelled out, but I like to see what's going on with me and if I'm improving.
Maybe I'll see improvement in my temperature (its too low) the longer I'm without booze because my metabolism will rise. Maybe I'll have deeper sleep and loose those pounds I thought would come off if I would just cut down on the drinking. Maybe next blood test I won't need cholesterol meds. All maybes because it is too soon. Too soon to see if this really can be a life style change.
In the meantime, I can calculate how much money I saved this past week by not drinking. (This is a compost of a possible week when I'm not trying)
Sunday= Sober Sunday=$0.00
Monday= 3 Laphroaigs at home & ½ bottle of wine at home=$16.00
Tuesday= 3 (20oz) Sakaras beers out, 1 Laphroaig at home= $9.00
Wednesday= 2 Laphroaig at home= $8.00
Thursday= 3 IPA beers out, 1 Johnny Walker out=$26.00
Friday= 3 vodka drinks at home, ½ bottle of wine at home, ¾ bottle of wine out, 3 (20oz) Sakaras out= 36.00
Saturday= ½ bottle of wine at home=$4.00
$99 a week.
That's actually quite a lot of $$ for mostly home drinking, and of course sometimes we go out more, sometimes I drink less than this when I'm trying to drink less. At least I have been mostly home drinking, which saves me money, (awkward laughing) If I could only be that social drinker that drinks out, that cuts out most of my drinking . That would really limit how much I drink, but that is even a slippery slope, right? RIGHT??!!?
A week ago today, I woke up hungover on the first day of my week-end...like always. But not today! I woke up at 7:30am and I have a whole day ahead of me to do whatever I want! I won't be couch-bound, pizza-eating, sick, depressed, piecing together the end of the night TODAY. And this is a 3-day week-end, I have two more mornings of waking up without an alarm and without a hangover and without regret.
Last night Korean dinner was fun. People were surprised that I wasn't drinking, I said I'm on the edge of not feeling well, which is true and that was it. Husband and I did get a little of pressure to go to Dive Bar after dinner, but I stood my ground that it was time to go be horizontal on the couch. And here I am feeling fresh for the day-Dog Face will play, I will jog, cook and eat well.
I'm super proud of myself that I have gone a whole week without, and without too much pain. I know that it is early in this experiment, but my mindset helped to make it easy to just not drink. I hope the longer I go the more that time just builds momentum and this becomes normal. I haven't gone a whole week without drinking in....hmmm....I can't remember. Years?
I'm always trying moderation tricks, it was always an internal conversation: "I should take tonight off...or maybe only drink beer...or only a 1/2 bottle of white wine...ok, water, wine, water, wine, pace myself with the slowest drinker, etc." and then those plans for moderation fail. I fold, I forget, I wake up hungover and wondering how I might have embarrassed myself. Not now. Hopefully never again.
My first sober week-end!