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!
Going out with friends tonight for Korean food. I fear the peer pressure and annoyance I'll get for not being the "normal" me. Usually, after Korean food we go to "dive bar" and play darts, drink soju & beer,. Not tonight. I think I will try out my phrase, "I'll start with water..." But I will need something else too, because I don't want to lie and I don't want to tell the whole truth either. It's easier to confess to the blogosphere than the people know of what my plan is, my vague plan if I'm quitting for a month or on the way for forever. I feel more obligated to the blank space out there, the possible strangers than my friends to keep on not drinking. Like I said, none of my friends would want me to stop drinking and I can imagine them trying to talk me about of any of this, convincing me I don't have a problem. And I want to believe them.
Part of the challenge is that these are newer friends, I've only been in this country for 6 months and it takes time to find one's crew. But what have bonded us is of course having fun while drinking. I'm now re-thinking this identity and so fearful of falling out of the circle. I won't be fun anymore, I won't be cool anymore. I have to remember if that falling out happens it will probably will be mutual-I won't be having as much fun at "dive bar" without the drink. Ugh, this scary and lonely.
What I already miss about drinking:
#1 The suspension of time
#2 Feeling rebellious and fun
#3 Being in the "in" crowd
#4 How relaxed I feel
#5 Bonding with my husband
I'm caught in the loss of my identity today. Maybe tomorrow I can list someways of what I will gain by not drinking.
I've been doing the right things this week, why am I dysfunctionally tired? It is Wednesday (my Thursday) and I'm on the early bus home instead of working out because I just need to lay down. I have the kind of tired where my eye sockets hurt and I loose my train of thought in the middle of talking, and can't recall my colleagues names to send them emails. Usually I would blame the midweek drinking on my exhaustion and why I might skip the gym toward the end of the week, now what? Could it be that I over-blame alcohol? Is it that my body is working hard to heal? Can I be healing after 6 days?
I almost missed my bus on purpose and struggled through a workout. But, I decided to listen to my body instead. And I need to rest, not workout. In my research about food, health and my metabolism that led to my decision to stop drinking was many articles about listening to one's body. I thought I was doing that pretty well, but I realized I wasn't in many aspects and especially when it came to alcohol.
When I listen to what my body says about alcohol, I definitely have addict tendencies:
#1. I love the burn and radiating warmth in my body during my first few sips of whisky.
#2. When I get buzzed, I drink faster because I want more of THAT feeling.
#3. I get both irritated and self-conscious when sharing a bottle of wine with slow drinkers. "Why is their drink just sitting there?!?!?" "I can't even top of their drink because its full and mine is empty again" and "I'll never get a buzz this fucking way" and "should I offer to pay more because I drank more than my share?"
#4. My hangovers effect me all day long, I don't feel myself until after a full night of sleep the next day. Yet, I have been known to drink over that hangover and it goes away...until the next day. When I say I don't feel myself, I mean physically sick with stomach issues, getting dizzy, really foggy mind, depressed, and not able to really concentrate on anything, no energy.
Four more reasons why I need not to drink.
I'm still in the game. Even after a night of trivia in a smoky bar, with mild surprise and peer pressure, club soda was my only friend. I'm exhausted and have been all day, where is the energy that comes from sleeping early and sober?
If I was not trying to quit drinking [forever] for a month, I would definitely drink a few whiskies and at least a half bottle of wine tonight. I haven't had a drink in a few days and my hangover-self is fading. Also I have reasons to celebrate-working out twice after school this week! Both mornings taking the dog out to play before work! A successful workshop I ran today with some teachers!
This will be the first time in a while to break that pattern of drinking the day after Sober Sunday. Husband is already home and has cracked a bottle open and might even have a drink waiting for me. I will say no. I have to say no.
I have a 45 minute bus ride to remember that yummy fun whiskys are not worth the risk; the risk of how it will ruin my next day.
Let me count the potential ways my tomorrow will be ruined if I were to drink tonight.
#1. I'll go to bed late and sleep like shit. Possibly take a half (I swear) sleeping pill to help and still kick the dog off the bed and get annoyed at husband's snores because I'm the one who can't sleep.
#2. I'll move slowly in the morning and not have time to take the dog out for a walk and fetch. She'll just get the back door opened and me pointing, telling her to go outside. She won't possibly get excercise until the next morning potential. Her hopeful face breaks my heart.
#3. After school I will skip Arabic class, lying about having to work late and go home on the early bus.
#4. Tomorrow is trivia night and I'll either skip out because I can't handle another late night and order in something unhealthy because I can't bear to cook. Or I'll go to trivia and start drinking beer, ear unhealthy pub food, feel good in the moment and have another day like this potential day. The poor sweet dog, it's killing me!
I'm on the bus heading home from work. Yes, it is Sunday. To make things easier to understand I should clarify where I am and a little bit about me.
I grew up outside of Chicago and currently live in Cairo, Egypt. Since the Islamic holy day is Friday, the week-end is Friday and Saturday. Sunday is the new Monday. I've been here for 6 months and I still call Thursday Friday, I don't think I'll ever get it right.
My husband, dog and I moved here to taking teaching positions at an American school, I'm riding the school bus home-at many international schools staff and students both can take school transport home. A good time to listen to music and blog. Bus bloggin'!
I thought that living in a Muslim country would make it easier to cut back on drinking, but no...I've brought myself with me. Alcohol isn't illegal here but there are restrictions which I had hoped to slow me down, but no, that is not the case. These are some of the restrictions: you can only buy foreign-made bottles of alcohol at duty-free shops within 4 days of arrival by an international flight, and you can only buy 4 bottles AND you can only do this 4x a year because they mark your passport. Also, most restaurants don't serve alcohol but the ones I go to do.
But here is plenty of alcohol to be had:
#1 Egypt makes their own crappy wines and beer. They make other liquors too but I don't really like anything but wine, beer and scotch. And to make it that much easier I can order home delivery from a webpage. This is a Husband duty, and we never run out of crappy wine and beer in the house.
#2. We live in a neighborhood with a large expat community. There is a couple of bars with legit foreign whiskies and wines. We even belong the club associated with the U.S. Embassy where they have an IPA. I drank at least 4 of them during trivia night on Thursday night-which we won btw, and received a drink ticket as a prize. We celebrated with a scotch each. Those were my last drinks.
#3. I hang out all expats (Brits, Scots, Candians, Americans) and mostly teachers. Many max out their alcohol imports and drink large numbers of crappy beer and wine at the bar where all the expats hang out in the neighborhood. A prefect storm. And I fit right in. Until I'm trying not too.
#4. Husband and I traveled over winter break and between all the restrictions we managed to bring in 12 bottles of scotch and 2 bottles of gin. Where there is a will there is a way.
#5 I even set up hosting Air B&B travelers and giving them a free night for picking up scotch at the the airport for us.
There is more, but you get it. I brought myself with me and have set myself up to be stocked and to continue having fun the ways I know best.
Husband and I both know we drink too much, but he doesn't get the hangovers I do. We dedicated that Sunday we would designated day of sobriety. It has a nice ring "Sober Sunday" and it is the easiest day to do it, our Monday night. But some Sunday's are too rough and we need a drink, or we watch "Madmen" or "Boardwalk Empire" and have to have a scotch, or sometimes it was a great day and a drink is needed. A drink is aways a great accompaniment for however I might be feeling.
The end of day 2 is when I decided to start to log this journey.