I'm back after a week with limited wifi and privacy because I was a chaperone on a Ski Trip with students. I spend the week with 9th graders snowboarding and supervising evening activities and in between events devouring the books Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp, Almost Alcoholic: Is My (or loved one's) Drinking A Problem? by Joseph Nowinski & Robert Doyle and started, After the Tears: Helping Adult Children of Alcoholics Heal Their Childhood Trauma by Jane Middelton-Moz & Lorie Dwinell. So while I was not blogging, I was doing massive reading and diving into the healing part of sobriety. I cried, I felt understood & exposed, connected, lost, scared, angry and empowered at different times of the week. While a physical week of beautiful mountains and fun routines, it was emotionally exhausting and I felt a bit haggard by the end of it.
After reading the first two books, I had this knee-jerk reaction to a trigger and concluded I needed to get a divorce. What the hell? That panicked feeling lasted about 12-hours until I listened to The Bubble Hour episode on Adult Children of Alcoholics and was like, "Fuck! That is how I react when I'm scared-I cut people and emotions out and start planning the logistics of my exit strategy?!!?? " I backed away from the divorce cliff and tried to peel away at the armor protecting my emotions. I have an instinct to "go-go-go" when I have dark emotions: drink it down when I can or distract myself with work, busyness, travel, task-completion...you name it to avoid feeling those dark feelings. I don't need a divorce, I need to work through my emotional baggage that I carry around, and the Bubble Hour led me to a book that is a good starting place.
I started reading After the Tears and I have been a weepy mess ever since, as I relate to the stories and the ugly traumas of my childhood surface because there isn't a shield of booze holding them down. My knee-jerk reaction to strive is a common reaction for people with a traumatic or alcoholic childhoods.
I came home and told my husband everything and we had a big heart-to-heart about our marriage, our roles, our strengths and our areas for growth. I don't know how he can love me sometimes-I'm a mess, and yes that is a common feeling of those who grew up in an alcoholic home: not feeling worthy of love. Along with the guilt. And the fear of dependency. And fear of intimacy. And the discounting and minimizing pain. And the knee jerk reactions to push away the one person who both knows me and rolls with the best and worst parts of me. Ugh, it tears me up. I have such gratitude for my husband, mixed in with the fear and shame I carry.
What a week.
I spent this evening researching a couple of books to start reading. The two that I decided on are: Almost Alcoholic by Joseph Nowinski & Robert Doyle and Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp.
I realize that while I don't want my life to revolve around being dry instead of drinking, I do need to keep it in the forefront to process and grow. Also, I have been noticing the last couple days I have been fighting mental flashes drinking. It comes out of no where: "I want a drink!" And a flash feeling: "I deserve a drink," and just plain thinking, "I want to get drunk." I miss the feeling of being drunk. It has been a long time (for me) and that little voice is getting more persistent that this dry schnanigans has gone on long enough.
That little voice I'm going to call Shelly for right now, who was one of my alter egos when I got drunk. She is the trashier, cruder version of my sober self. Fuck off Shelly. I had a couple of friends who would call me and ask if Shelly was home and if she wanted to meet them at the bar. My friends liked who I became when I was drunk.
I hope reading about recovery and other people's journeys will help me outwit Shelly's attempts to peer pressure me back to the party. She's telling me while taking a break is a good way to reset, that my drinking wasn't that bad to begin with and I could handle my liquor, I had fun, and life without booze is too extreme for my balanced life philosophy.
I need to gather evidence and remember experiences that demonstrate consistent inability for me to be a normal drinker. This is part of the reason I chose the book Almost Alcoholic to start off my sobriety reads. I'm unsure if I really classify as an alcoholic and want some scientific evidence if I can rehabilitate myself to be a moderate drinker or if this is a forever thing. Shelly is requesting that read and crossing her fingers. I'm still on the fence.
Right now I only have this blog, Mrs. D is Going Without, and The Bubble Hour for community. I listen to the Bubble Hour and they always talk about the importance of community, not only to stay sober, but to heal the issues that are lurking under the drinking. They reference all sorts of books and blogs and go to daily meetings. Where is the time for all that? Is that what I really need? It's so focused and I usually only have 2 1/2 hours each night to cook, eat, chat with Husband and anything else before bedtime. I want to workout, get 8 hours of sleep, read good fiction, listen to all sorts of podcasts, work on my puzzle, pet Dog Face. How do I fit in more community as all my free time is eaten up by enjoying my dry life? I think I need to read a sobriety book-I'm ready to give it a chance. As much as I don't want the dry in my life to be the emphasis, I do need to keep it close. There are so many books to choose from. That is my goal this week: a book to build community and help with my healing.
Any suggestions you silent community? Throw me something!
I arrived home easily and unpacked. I looked more closely at the little box of chocolates that CG gave me to share with Husband. I read the label to see what kind were in the box and underneath it said "No Alcohol." It brought tears to my eyes, it does again now as I type this out. Gratitude to CG to make sure a filling didn't have rum in it, gratitude that a chocolate company thinks of this in the first place, gratitude there is a market of people who need a box of alcohol-free chocolates.
Chocolates and alcohol brought up a memory of a guy I worked with during summer break of a college year. He told me he ate a Bon Bon once and that he itched for a drink for weeks afterwards, even though he had been sober for 23 years at the time of the Bon Bon. I clearly remember the word "itch." I was probably 19 years old and had not started drinking yet. It hit me hard that a little rum in a Bon Bon could be such a trigger. I remember thinking, "that sucks for that guy." Now, I'm proud of him, so proud of his resilience.
My first sober traveling trip a success-I stayed dry! I leave tomorrow morning to go back to Egypt. It's been a fun trip, even without the Belgian beers. I had polar experiences with meeting up with old friends while here. I told my friend CG I was not drinking anymore and she took it in stride without asking any questions besides if I minded if she got a beer with dinner. Of course I didn’t mind and then her beer never showed up and she didn’t mind. Again, something I could never do. Her husband stopped drinking a few years back so I thought we might have some conversation about all of it but we didn’t. She didn’t ask many questions and we talked about other things-our adjustments to our second foreign country, differences in our new schools and a bit about the other friend I was going to meet up with and how his drinking has isolated him a bit in their new community. We worried about his drinking together. I did express my concern with meeting up with him and the other friends visiting him because of the drinking and she said she was available to meet up afterwards if I needed an exit plan. At first I wanted a therapy session with her when I told her I stopped drinking, full with “Oh my God! That’s big! What’s going on….why? I’m so proud…” blah, blah, blah, me, me me. But I realized through writing this that her actions were more practically supportive than my desire to talk it out. She normalized the situation when we hung out and was there if I needed her. That is a friend indeed.
I left space to meet up with BT and TA. She texted me at 6am in the morning saying she was up and we made plans for dinner later that night. But she canceled after the time that we should have met for dinner. If I fill in the blanks: she got into Brussels the previous night and the group partied hard, she woke up really dehydrated and texted me before going back to sleep. They got a late start for their day trip, continued to drink, got back at 8pm and couldn’t handle much more. She texted me at 8:15pm, saying they were wiped out, sorry she was a bad friend but they were in for the night. I’ve done that many of times-tried to make multiple plans for the day and drinking prevented me from having the energy to have more than one plan a day. I was a bit relieved actually; we can always get on Skype to catch up and I don’t have a one-time encounter to try out a new dynamic with my old drinking friends.
I had a feeling they would flake, so I went to an afternoon movie with CG and her girlfriends and had a light dinner as I waited to hear from them. We went to see the movie, “Fifty-Shades of Grey.” What a guilty pleasure to see it with some lady friends and laugh at it and analyze it for its implications for young women and relationships with controlling men. We went out for pizza afterwards and no one drank…strange new world to realize that this is normal for people. If I were drinking, I would have ordered a drink and I bet that would have encouraged at least one or more of them to drink too. I would have been the drinking ringleader. I always was the one that was starting the party, many times without even realizing it. What I'm learning about the world!
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