It just feels easier all of a sudden, because it is true. I don't drink any more. What seems to come out of my mouth is, "I stopped drinking a few months ago, yeah...it was starting to get away from me" for friends and simply, "No thanks, I don't drink anymore."
That works for now. I think it is the right amount of sharing. I do feel compelled to add the time, "anymore" or "a few months ago" to ward off the fear people will challenge me with a memory of me drinking from just over a few months ago.
And with new people recently, I don't know yet. Am I ready to be a run of the mill "non-drinker?" Or will I feel compelled to add the "anymore" to keep myself out of camp of those who have never been a drinker because of a personal conviction?
It is silly that I concern myself other these things but I do because when I was a drinker those distinctions would have made a difference to me and how I felt drinking around them. Is that my audience? I wonder if that will change at some point, where I no longer use my drinking self mentality as a touchstone to how the rest of the world thinks about drinking and non-drinkers. I look forward to that phase.
I finished the documentary, The Anonymous People. I thought it was an interesting watch to learn a little history about AA, health legislation for recovery and shifting public perception of people in recovery. It did bolster my confidence to be less anonymous about my sobriety, to question my shame and support the fight for services to help people stay in recovery.
I thought the concept for sober high schools inspired and I hope that idea grows. The kudos and critique of the AA program was nuanced and spot on while they ended the documentary on upbeat imagine of people marching in the streets a little heavy handed.
Speakers in Anonymous People did talk about alcoholism being a disease but also paralleled the fight for care to the AIDS epidemic in the 80s and 90s-both carriers of HIV and addicts being viewed as morally deprived people who caused their own sickness. A fair comparison in the perception but HIV is a physical disease while addiction is a mental health issue, more akin to the needs of services for depression, anxiety disorders and the like.
As I watched, I looked for the message and the targeted audience. The message to be less ashamed and anonymous was clear, but fell short without offering any starting places for people to get involved-from personally being open about one's own sobriety, writing congress, financially supporting programs, volunteering, etc. A list of ways to get involved at the end would have been a great battle cry for the audience. The targeted audience was a bit mixed, mostly for those in the shadows of recovery-the title gives that away, but it tried to be broad enough to include people who care about the well being of the American society - that the laws and not the prisons should support the values that addicts are sick not criminal. Overall a good watch!
The acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) helps to identify triggers and yesterday anger definitely hit me hard while at the gym. It was hot, loud teenage boys, then loud men and the ducking thing that broke me was a fly that continued to land on me when I lifting weights: on my face, arms, legs and just walking around. RAGE. I even had to throw my bar down and take a walk so I didn't throw a weight through a window. Damn those heavy handed slow flies that just walk on you, buzz into your ears or eyes. I'm angry just thinking about it. I want to throw whisky bottles at them.
It was 100 degrees yesterday and tomorrow it is supposed to be 111degrees. There are power cuts when all the air conditioners are running, I need to mentally prepare myself. Heat leads to anger for me, and sitting in a dark hot house definitely makes me want to drink. Tonight I will make lemonade and ice tea and stock the fridge with soda water to power through the long hot heat wave that is summer in Cairo.
The last couple of days I've found linking ideas in the podcasts that I listen to when I run.
A big chunk of the work I do in my recovery is to overturn and shift through my childhood to help me understand my triggers, my gut reactions and to grow from a product of my past to the better version of myself.
This American Life episode, "The Birds and the Bees" last act was about a place called the Sharing Place, where kids go to talk about death in their families in kid friendly language. What a great idea and I found myself choked up hearing a 6 year old talking about his dad suicide. I'm glad to hear that this place exists for families, to give grieving space and language for kids to process their feelings and fears. A take away from for me was thy that kids grieve differently than adults, in fits and spurts and that they grieve anew at each developmental stage as that loved one isn't there with them.
Contrast that space of open communication with the "Fine Family." A label I heard on the Bubble Hour this morning as the guest Raquel A. describes how in her family they didn't talk about emotions, especially negative ones-we are fine! Which is how I grew up.
Life is giving me a "shit gift" where I can practice openness and break my role in the "fine family." My Aunt Pammy is in the last days of dying of a long battle with lung cancer. She is my mom's older sister and of course dying in May. There has been some Facebook messaging among the cousins, aunts and uncles about her declining condition, and here is my opportunity to put my family in my center-get on the phone and listen and talk. Something I haven't done with my family for any of the deaths, something I will have to do and don't really know how to do-I've never even spoken to most of my cousins on the phone. But I'm going to now.
It has been swirling in my head, what is alcoholism? And I am ambivalent about calling it a disease, but that might just be semantics. I think alcoholism is the manifestation of addiction, and there are both physical and mental addictions.
In the recovery community there is lots of talk about the differences in alcoholics brains versus normies. This argument seems to come from a place to reduce shame and about drinking:"it's not your fault, you have a disease." I don't buy it. But I also don't think it is a moral failing on the parts of dysfunctional drinkers if they repeated fail to stop drinking.
Here's my analogy: lung cancer is the end result of smoking cigarettes for decades. Smoking is addictive. Alcoholism is the effect of drinking for decades. Drinking is addictive.
I think people make themselves alcoholics (both physically and psychologically) although, some might have physical tendacies towards it just like some will get lung cancer before others.
I don't think it is behavior free, it doesn't just happen, just like lung cancer or diabetes doesn't just happen to most people-our habits effect our bodies, I had an active role in fueling my addiction.
What are your thought? Resources?
The last few days I have been fatigued and what comes with that are emotional lows. I've been feeling a bit invisible lately in the social scene here-an afterthought invitation a couple times in a row fueled my fatigued thoughts to feel rather friendless. Not true, I know, but still I don't have my go-to friends, I pop into other people's circles when invited and sometimes I'm invited as the event is starting...a shitty invite indeed.
I have my EA friend and my E friend in the states recovering from a complicated birth and that should be enough. And mostly it is, I'm fine with flitting about and sometimes being part of groups. But when I'm tired, I'm down and my perspective is down. I see the worst.
I'm starting to come out of my fatigue, I think, and can put into a better perspective on my social life. One, it is hard to make new friends in a new place. That is clear and the biggest factor. Two, this is exasperated by the fact I live in Egypt and work often defined the pool of potential friends because of language, culture and schedules. Third, there is an even smaller pool who are in my age range of even 8 years either direction. Fourth, I'm admin and most of my options are teachers.
Writing that out and defining it helped. And that my birthday was yesterday helped-Facebook messages and surprise visit from my best friend helped. EA pushing me to celebrate my birthday helped. (She know my sadness around my birthday) thank you EA! Planning vacations with other, now far away, friends helped. Convincing myself in due time I will find my go-to friends helped.
What is causing the fatigue that leads me to these dark emotional places? That will remain to be seen. I would like to be able to cut it off before it gets started, so I don't have to be pulling myself out 3 or 4 days later. At this point I'm still blaming my menstrual cycle.
I'm at my birthday, sober and more healthy than maybe I have ever been. Ever. What a good place to be.
Usually I treat my birthday as a mini New Years, where I set up goals or plans for the coming year, usually involving health and habits. I have that mostly under control, so now what? Maybe I can start to think of some one else besides myself for a change! In why way? I need to ponder that.
Back to me and my drinking! 😅
I will have a dinner and celebration for my birthday tonight, without alcohol. Even six months ago that would have been completely unthinkable. But it no longer is, it is my reality. And I like it.
With all those exclamation points, one would assume that I am really that stoked, but while proud and full of wonder, I think crossing over that one month mark to be the most life altering. Those steps were the one that took me off the path I was on and led me here.
So I'm done counting the days now that I'm into my fourth month. I will watch the months tick by as this becomes more and more routine, but the days can just blend into living my life.
Here I am at Day 118, I know this because I count everyday. In one sense it has helped me to see the passing of time and celebrate the accomplishment one step at a time. But one the other hand, this isn't a count down. There's no end to this if I do it right. So when do I stop counting the days and just start counting the months? When do months fade into years? I think now actually, at my 4 month anniversary. I thought I was ready at 3 months but I liked the counting so it has continued. I probably have up to 6 months before it would become too obnoxious for me and everyone, but no further. I guess.
And besides, the actual counting of days doesn't match up with the monthly counting because each month isn't equal. So I'll reach 120 days a day before my date anniversary of May 16. Time to start counting months. But what about my title structure? I have a couple of days to think about it.
I also need to think of a way to celebrate my 4 months. One third of a year. That's something that can easily be represented in a pie chart. What should I do with my sober self?
This trip to Paris. This Blog. This therapy. This sobriety. This luck.
I am lucky that at a week before 39 I get to grow, reflect and live my life authentically. I am feeling blessed today, with opportunities that my mom never got and my dad will never take. I have chosen to take on the past and sort it out so that I can live in the present. I've given up the dysfunctional drinking to receive a world much bigger than I thought possible because I had no idea how small my world was becoming.
How lucky I am.