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 make-believe 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 more. 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 too raw and personal for some one who really knows me to read. So ironic because it is on the internet and I hope someone does read it. I guess I assume my family and friends will never stumble upon this on their own so I'm safe. And those strangers who do stumble here are looking for sobriety blogs and are good company.
I am not telling people I have stopped drinking forever, or that I'm in recovery (I almost put it that in mental air quotes). I'm not ready yet. I'm one more story in the mix that was on that podcast The Bubble Hour, which was called, "To tell or not to tell people about your sobriety."
I have tried before to tell people that I'm quitting, or taking a break, and I have failed to keep sober afterwards. Part of it was due to not having any sober community and trying to be sober around all my drinking friends without doing anything differently. Eventually they wore me down and convinced me that I don't have a problem and that I'm so fun when I'm drinking. Another part is that I feel if I tell people now that I give my sobriety away...I'm doing it for them not myself. And right now I feel stronger than ever doing this for myself and by myself. I know I will need community close by eventually, but right now this feels good.
Another part is that by my personality. I don't like people to see me weak or imperfect. I want to practice in private and when they see me in action they see me at my best. Applied to sobriety, I want some time under my belt when I tell people so I can talk about what I already accomplished instead of what I hope to accomplish. I'm only 12 days in and I've never made it a full month without drinking that I can remember.
I'm in the double digits. That's something. I like mini celebrations, even if it isn't over a drink.
During yesterday's brunch I drink lots of coffee and tea instead of Bloody Marys, screw drivers, white wine or old fashions like everyone else. That resulted in insomnia and less than 5 hours of sleep. BUT if I had been drinking all day and only slept 5 hours, I would have been destroyed, but not today! Just tired, but functional. And I know I'll have a good sleep tonight.
I did some clicking around in some sobriety blogs, looking for some stories similar to my own-any one have any thoughts? I'm not a drinking stay-at-home mom who is isolated and bored and that's what I'm finding for women's stories so far. I'm happily married, 38 and hang out with a crew that is mostly 10 years younger than me because they are fun, social and welcoming. Living as an international teacher is arrested development for sure-there are parties, plans and someone to hang with whenever you want. It's almost like being in college forever and with more money to play. Anyways, I'm looking for resources that more closely parallel my story- a DINK who let the fun go too far. If you don't know the acronym D.I.N.K. : Double Income, No Kids.
In my searching I was led to the podcast The Bubble Hour, which I listened to while making cornbread and nodded along a bit weepy to their stories. I recommend it. I'm following it from the start and they are addressing topics that I'm definitely dealing with now. The one I need to finish is about if and when you should tell people your sober, something I'm very concerned about.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp