After my blog yesterday I talked to Husband about my feelings and had him read my blog. We talked it out and it was great. We had a booze free day, walking around Rovaniemi, going out for ice cream, shopping at H&M, booking a tour for a midnight sun adventure, cooking a simple dinner and playing cribbage. Fantastic. We even woke up and took a jog together this morning. Then he encouraged me to sign up for a yoga retreat in Portland that I'd been pining after but thought was too expensive. Husband!
Self-care, routine, and not demanding too much of one's self. These were the topics of the Bubble Hour episode on "Sober in the Summer" that I listened too as I jogged this morning. Of course I'm thinking a lot about drinking/not drinking. I'm out of my routine, I'm on vacation, and I've been neglecting my self-care bubble a bit. I'm back!
But the demanding too much of myself while in Portland, what might that look like? I know I do that, usually by too many scheduled social events. I can say no, I can enjoy my alone time when I only have 2.5 weeks this year to connect with my community. Blood pressure just rose a bit thinking about it. See the people that make me feel good, don't let in-laws dominate my time, quality over quantity.
I'm stressing a bit about it because last night I had a dream that combined where I am now (where Santa Claus comes from) and guilt about how I'm failing my loved ones when I come home for a visit. In my dream it was Christmas and I was panicking because Husband and I didn't bring any gifts for anyone and there were a huge disproportionate size pile for us. So uncomfortable and embarrassing!
Okay, back to the positive. Yoga retreat, camping, spending time with loved ones that make me feel strong, loved and enough when I don't come bearing gifts.
This morning I woke up feeling resentful about yesterday. A delayed emotional response, yet again. What was I resentful about? That the day's events revolved around Husband's drinking. And I don't anymore. I need a break from it, but didn't realize it until this morning-after yesterday where we got a drink in one bar, ate dinner in another bar, stopped to get beer at a store for later and then had a drink in another bar before heading back to our apartment. Then I got some sauna time. I went to bed and Husband had more beers!
We were out of sync yesterday.
When I traveled with CW and HH in Paris, drinking never came up because they didn't drink either, it was such a surprise to explore traveling as newly sober with other non-drinkers. Now I'm exploring traveling with a drinker, Husband, who I will do most of my traveling with over time. It's time for me to think through a bit of what I want that to look like, so as not to get stuck in silent resentment and open guilt.
I got to get out of this funk today. It's still before noon, I can still hake it and have a full day in the positive. Even just writing this has unburdened me. Blogging is the best!
Well, yesterday was a completely lovely day plagued by craving for beer. And like many abstainers, I didn't wake up regretting that I didn't drink yesterday. But the thoughts of wanting to drink peppered throughout the day were more than an irritant, they were a bit alarming!
Alarming because I had been thinking that I'm "over that." So much so that I have thought about wrapping up this blog at six months because I have nothing more to say. Foolish me, I'm not cured. Foolish me, any new environment or really any new may bring out a reaction in me or at least give me pause to reflect on who I am now in this new space with myself.
Husband and I are staying at a little cabin next to a lake. All there is to do is relax and look at the water, read and get in and out of the sauna. With so much free time to do nothing I couldn't help but romanize a beer on our cabin's porch. It would taste so good, would help me relax and settle me. I know. iknowiknowiknow. Walk through the whole thing. And I did. We would run out of beer and I'd be craving more, I would be embarrassed at how many bottles we went through for our host to recycle. I would have slept terribly, I would have...I would have...but I didn't. But mentally I felt close, a nudge closer to: "I could have..."
So now what??
I'm going to sit by this lake all day, now sipping tea, listening to the birds and the rolling thunder. I will meditate soon. Finish my book today. Eat lunch, light the stove for the sauna. Stay up to watch the sun set at 10:53pm but never get dark.
In the middle of all this, if I feel shaky, I will find some blogs to read, I will listen to the Bubble Hour. I can't imagine calling a friend...but I could research an AA meeting in Portland where I could meet another another person that I could call in the future that would understand that call, who would know what to say. I sure don't know ehatI would say. "Hey friend. I feel like drinking...I know it is stupid and I shouldn't but....?" I feel dumb already. Does that make me too proud to ask for help?
See my photo of tea and my lake view from the porch. What a beautiful day, not to be squandered by my demon thoughts. I'm going to mediate, drink my tea, and love my sober life today.
Just arrived in Helsinki, the start of our travels and trek back to PDX. And this afternoon I had a pretty strong urge to drink. I'm thankful Hasband didn't indulge my statement, "maybe I can just have a couple of drinks while on vacation."
I thought for a second about creating a rule: if I was in another country from where I lived I could drink. Short term, controllable, clear lines. And I knew it wouldn't work. And then I got sulky about for a half second: "no fair, look at everyone having a good time, relaxing with a beer or crisp white wine, I want to be able to do that!"
But then I walked through it. I would get a beer and it would taste so good and the effects I wanted would happen for a bit. The warmth, relaxation, contentment, the fun of the notion of drinking. Then I'd have another to intensify those feelings and another until I went from content and relaxed to weighted and too tired and lazy to do anything else besides continue to drink more. That would sedate me from actually exploring as much as I want, lead to bad food choices and hangovers. No thank you.
Got through that one. More soda water, a coffee and later when it started to drizzle hot chocolate tastes so good and appropriate for my chill.
Then when Husband bought an assortment meant of beers to drink at our place, instead of MORE soda water, I decided to branch out and try some treats: juices and flavored soda waters.
Another monthly benchmark has come to pass. Five months. That is sizable. That is a successful new habit. I said I wanted to stop drinking and I have done it for 152 days. One hundred and fifty-two days. Substantial.
I now can go days without thinking about drinking or that I'm "doing" something to not drink. I feel like myself in my own skin, at ease with others, with my choices.
Watching the documentary Lipstick and Liquor-Secrets in The Suburbs confirmed for me that I'm in a different place in my recovery than before. While I bet this documentary would be helpful to many many women I didn't gleam any new information from it, in fact I was frustrated by the continued rhetoric around alcoholism being a blameless disease that can't be controlled by will power in one breath then in the next saying all alcoholics can do is ask for help to stop drinking. Huh? Why don't the books and documentaries I've seen acknowledge the quagmire they present? I find it a irritating thought loop that isn't helpful for me to understand myself, my actions and my mental patterns that led and can lead to more drinking.
Back to the documentary. It showcases many middle and upper-middle class women and their stories about recovery. In between each story their is enlongated mystery about Julie. A little cliff hanger in between each of the stories of hope and struggle, but I'll say no more to keep from a spoiler situation. Their stories were diverse and they told them well. I could have done without some of the recreations of events and dramatic spinning of liquor bottles and wine glasses.
This documentary's audience seems to be a 50s middle class suburban white woman who is shamefully and secretively drinking or new to sobriety and struggling with feeling guilt and alone.
The school year is over in about a week. There are the normal stresses and zoom of this transition, but I'm sitting solid in this. End of the year celebrations, "No thanks, I don't drink anymore." Fine.
But in a week in a half, my world becomes the unknown, I re-enter the zone of "sober firsts" again without a true retreat into a comfort bubble.
Husband are traveling to Finland for 10 days, this I'm actually feeling okay with, I love the shit out of soda water and will save hundreds of dollars not drinking.
Then Portland. Old friends, tons of unstructured free time. Should be fine, but it is still an unknown that I can't completely be prepared for. I do plan to go to a few AA meetings. I am curious and excited about having that experience and potential support.
Then there is time with Dad. I'm curious to see how he responds to me not drinking. I don't think we will talk about it, he doesn't adjust his drinking to what others are doing around him, or if others are around him. A friend of Husband and I is also visiting us while we are visiting dad. Here is a direct quote from his email to us:
I'm down for whatever you guys want to do, as long as sobriety is not on the list.
Soon, that stresses me a bit. He is a dear friend but that is what we have always done with him is get shit faced together, talk critical theory, cultural studies, art, literature, old school hip hop. High brow shit storm. He may be the one case that really struggles with my sobriety because he is a real heavy drinker and I'm changing the game of our friendship. Or maybe he won't care as long as he can continue to drink as usual.
Outside of travel logistics this is what swirls around in my mind.
On my birthday in May, sarted thinking about my new year ahead and combining it with the advice to give back to the world to support my recovery.
I decided the following for my 39th year on this planet:
#1. Give 39 hours (or more) of my time to causes I believe in
#2. Give $390 to a cause I believe in
Since then I've been thinking and planning this out. I figured out the volunteer work - I will volunteer at an animal shelter here in Cairo on Saturdays. 39 hours before May 18 is doable.
I also found a scholarship for Sudanese Refugees in Cairo that is organized by a student group at our school and partnered with: Stars There are many refugees here, while they can stay in the country, they are not provided any services by the government. I'm going to pay for a woman to earn a bachelor degree for about $290. Yea, total for the 3 years needed to graduate.
I'm feeling good about these decisions.
The actual drink as turned into a strange creature. I'm not interested in drinking it, but sometimes I'm compelled by it. I found myself staring at Husband's whisky with a slight rush of grabbing and dumping it down my throat. What if...? What would it feel like? It wasn't an edgy, "I'm about to relapse" situation. It was surreal, a feeling like the urge to jump off the edge of a cliff. Drinking has become a foreign surreal thing. I won't grab that drink just like I won't jump off that edge.
I think I will soon be emboldened to start telling my story (outside of this anonymous blog). While still in the beginning phase of feeling comfortable saying, "I stopped drinking," I can see that this is a step. A step where I grow and bit by bit shred that shame and fear of stigma to boldly tell anyone that I'm in recovery. I'm really starting to grow into this new me, it less uncomfortable and more natural than those first adolescent steps into sobriety.
I feel less like a fake. I'm not trying out "being sober" anymore. I just am.