So exhausted at the end of my first Dry Anniversary. One month. 30 Days. Countless hours. How tired I feel today is a global feeling of the month itself. It's hard work being present all the time and having so many first sober experiences. I am tucker out. Time to go to bed!
Starting tomorrow it is definitely new territory for me-there is no way I have ever been dry for more than a month in over 18 years. Another milestone, another first. Yay me!
When I return to Egypt, I will have to celebrate this moment a little. But right now the biggest gift I can give myself is more than 8 hours of sleep.
Today wore on me a bit-I'm out of my bubble. I'm at an IB training at Brussels. I knew there would be Belgian beers and wines in all the restaurants but I did not expect there to be a wine and beer BUFFET at lunch! They don't skimp. My previous self would have done her best to get a good buzz on for the afternoon session. I would have taken a big pour of wine, gone back for seconds and then would have plotted about how to get more without anyone really noticing.
One realization I've had, is that along with the goal of getting buzzed, I would have thought of the "saving." Free wine? I have to get as much of that as possible! I'm such a cheap ex-drunk. I even thought that a little bit at dinner last night. I ordered the mussels and fries and it came with a free beer. What a waste to not drink it! Its free! But I asked for a soda water instead-still free. But not as cool as a free beer.
If I did have wine at lunch I would have been distracted and tired at the session, thinking about more booze and then after the session at the official reception I would have thrown back a couple glasses fast before settling into some conversations, drinking both beer and wine, and stayed until the end to take advantage of the free booze and then ordered more at dinner. I'm at about 6-8 drinks at this point? At least most of it was free my cheap-ass drunk self would say. And The school's paying for this too, hahahahaha.
Instead, 10 minutes into the reception I left with another participant who also wanted to walk back to the hotel in the daylight. A 45-minute walk through beautiful Brussels, a nice conversation, and I took myself out of scene that was starting to cause me strife-Belgian beers and wine everywhere, everyone seemed to be drinking but me. That can't be true but it felt like it. I started sweating the questions that might be asked and wanted out, and found a way out that was both social and healthy.
I'm back safe in my hotel bed. I'm going to walk to the the training again with the participant. It could be healthy book-ends to each day of training, a way to relax and re-energize instead of scouting out a pub and drinking in with strangers.
I'm at the Cairo airport, drinking a cappuccino and blogging! One idea that I fully embrace from the sober community is "the firsts" of sobriety. The most mundane thing can be the biggest shake-up or realization that it has been decades since I [fill-in-the-blank very or situation] sober. Airports are one of these experiences. Airports had become a place of luxury, excess, and pub crawls. Husband and I would book longer layovers to avoid stress and to allow us to bar hop around the airport: finding the perfect environment and the IPAs or types of wine we couldn't find in whichever developing nation we currently living in. We would spend tons of money on booze and bar food and brush it off-it is the beginning/ending of vacation-we deserve it!! It was mostly fun, but then I was be so dehydrated on the plane, have to use the bathroom and be too foggy to read whatever beloved book I had planned to read for hours straight on the plane. Remorse usually set in: too much $$ spent and precious time lost in the flog of drink.
I'm traveling alone today and going back to my solo travel style of my early 20s when I was too poor to drink in airports. I will sit here with caffeine, reflect on my new dry experiences and read some of my book when I'm ready. I'm feeling good about all of this.
When I'm feeling good, this all seems too easy. Stop drinking? No biggie! Just decided and here I am. Then I re-read yesterday's post or many of my previous posts and realize that I'm manic and really don't know how I feel about all of this. (and the obvious: I have never been successful at stopping my drinking before) It really is an experience that starts close, inside me and slowly my understanding and sharing is rippling out, little by little to my life. I image it to be like a little kid explore her world. First you know your house, then the yard and driveway, then the street, around the block...exploring out in rings from your home, from your center, into the greater world. One step at a time when you feel ready.
My center: in my own head and my immediate actions.
First ring out: Husband and Dog Face
Second ring out: my inner circle friends
Third ring out to infinite: uncertain
So, I'm about to see old drinking friends and I feel really shaky about it. Too far out from my center.
Yesterday was so busy that I didn't make time to reflect or post. But the power is off again and here I sit with candles and Dog Face and some anxiety. This is day two of my first sandstorm. I liked the novelty of the sandstorm, a cool first experience, but it caused an 11 hour delay in my flight for a conference I have to attend. So stressful, I so wanted a whisky as I searched the web and called airlines to try to figure shit out. Instead I ate ice cream and peanut butter, using pieces of dark chocolate as a spoon. Sober indulgences! And now I have a stomach ache. But I did luck out and get travel things sorted before the power went out.
As for the title of today's post. In Brussels I will meet up with some old teacher friends who are big party people. I made plans to meet up with them before I stopped drinking, and now I feel a bit out of sorts. I want to see them, maybe for dinner, but after that I know it won't be fun to be around them and dangerous for me. And how to tell them I'm not drinking. Should I be casual? "I'm not drinking now...health stuff" and let the questions come and not dampen their party mood? Or be straight up and say, "I stopped drinking so I'll just be joining you for dinner" or say nothing and keep ordering club sodas? Can I even muster the phrase, "I don't drink anymore." That is conclusive. I can barely say that to myself, this past tense of drinking. I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.
I'm also traveling with a colleague, when we go out to dinner and she wants wine, do I say I'm a non-drinker (another version of I don't drink anymore)? Just say none for me tonight? I don't know how much to reveal and how to just act natural. Not every one drinks with every meal, it is not strange, it is not strange. IT IS NOT STRANGE. It is strange for me, at 38, to not have drink with dinner.
Then I think about the new people I will meet in the future, what will I tell them? And then a thought crossed my mind and I heard myself say, "I used to be a lot of fun when I drank, but don't any more." Am I mentally preparing for apologizing for not drinking anymore?!?! Ugh! Gross! See? One of many problems I have with my drinking is I still associate it with enjoying life, being a adventurous, liberated woman who is not square (very important). Emotionally, I feel I'm loosing those things about myself by not drinking. I'm cutting my association the crowd I find attractive and have felt accepted by, I'm isolating myself from my community and being boring. Sigh, I caught a glimpse of my 16-year mindset (just want to be cool...I'm a rebel....fuck [fill-in-the-blank]), That mindset will take a lot of convincing that I am a non-drinker AND I'm fun and I'm still me. And above all that I'm lovable as is.
On Day One, very hungover, I did not drink at a party. This past week-end was my first dry party with my inner circle of supports and a real sense of clarity. I felt both strong and that I was in a sociological experiment.
My little posse got there on the earlier side, snacking and watching the last preparations of dinner. People were sipping some stuff, nothing out of the ordinary. Then the second wave came in and beers were out, Pimm punch poured, wines popped. Party on. Then the third wave came in hammered-the birthday boy and golfing gang were lit. Squinty eyes, red faced, blurry smiles and ready to bring the party up a notch.
One lady "disappeared" and was taken home suddenly with an drunk induced asthma attack, the golf gang kept up the pace even with gentle reminders from partners to drink some water now and then.
I heard someone say, "I love drunk [friend's name]!" I used to hear people say that about me. I was amusing and obnoxious when drunk. I had egos that got drunk themselves. I usually took it as a compliment, felt popular. I wondered if this praise fueled this guy's drunken ego too.
If I was drinking, and the more drunk came in, I would have hung out with them and done my best to join their level of fun as quickly as possible. I would have been oblivious to the conversations of amusement and concerns. I never considered that others would watch and assess my intoxication through my walk, face color, eye shape, slurs and topics of conversations. I wouldn't realize there was a population that did not find drunk me fun to be around. I always thought everyone was as drunk as me. When drunk my world was what was right in front of me, the rest of it faded away. I would have stayed until I was the last one there, slept like shit, been hungover all the next day, cancel the desert hike and ordered pizza.
Being on the outside of the drunk and looking in was a revelation; a theory turning to practice. I didn't miss out on anything by being dry. I could see the facade a little easier-surface level bonding, shallow conversations that looped or didn't make real sense. They were having fun, they really were, but I bet they paid for it the next day and had blurry memories of what made it fun in the first place.
Another thing I noticed was that the drunks didn't notice that I wasn't drinking. I bet they assumed I was as drunk as them. I know that was an assumption while I was drinking, and the next day it was a hope: for forgiveness or forgetfulness of whatever I might have said or done the night before. How often did I make a fool of myself around sober people when I didn't know they were around? I cringe thinking about it.
A good learning and self-reflection experience. I needed too. All of this is needed to remember why I need to keep on keeping on with my not drinking.
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