I'm uncertain of how to talk about me without drink. There definitely is vernacular as I read about sobriety, and I'm not quite comfortable immersing myself in it. I know taking on the language of a group is to become part of that group; I'm resisting a bit. I'm not ready to call myself an alcoholic, so I don't label myself as "in recovery." Some of the expressions are a little kitschy for me, some words too loaded. Lots of use of: "a gift" "sober friends," "my truth," "journey," "recovery," "celebrate" "disease" "addict."
I think I need to stop calling myself sober. I'm dry. Sober is used to describe the somber, the unfun, "what a sobering thought" and it is such a particular state in the 12-step world. I read through a comment section about a woman who smoked pot. She was wondering if she still was considered sober if her problem was alcohol. Many responses said no and we're adamantly telling her to restart her sobriety date back to day one. I guess I consider the word sober to be only about the drink and when you are off drugs, you are clean. "Clean & sober" is an expression too I hear thrown around. But smoking cigarettes is still passable. Why?
I guess I'm sober, but I'm not that hardcore in my need to be 12-step textbook definition of sober. I prefer "dry" as an identity more than other labels thus far. No to addict. No to alcoholic. No to recovering. Yes to a problem and dealing with it. I've gone dry. I've dried out.
This has been a great week-end overall. I've feeling pleasantly sleepy, after an early walk in the desert with Dog Face, while EA and another friend ran 13k. I have been talking about going to the Wadi Degla since I got here, but haven't gotten my act together. And it was so early-we left at 7:30am, any boozing the night before would squashed that idea. But not today!
We got back and Husband and hosted brunch for 9 people in our new place. And strangely, there was no booze around, no one drank. I can't remember a brunch where Bloody Marys, Mimosas, white wine, sangria....some booze was not the center piece of brunch. Three weeks ago I would have been going crazy on the inside if I was at a brunch with no booze, thinking, "what the fuck people, lets get this thing going already, what are we waiting for?" and eventually would have helped myself to something and encouraged others to join me even if I wasn't hosting.
If I was hosting three weeks ago, the fridge would be full of white wine, I would have had a pitcher of Bloody Marys chilling, and be pouring as people entered in the door. But not today! Husband didn't take over that roll either, and I didn't really notice this lack of drinking to about halfway through brunch (again because I obviously just think of my own drinking or non-drinking needs!)
Dog Face got a bath, Husband and I took a walk to get cables so we can hook up our computer to the giant TV in our TV room. Movie nights! I'm going to do a little work in a few minutes, go to yoga tonight and call this a very successful day. I am loving my sobriety right now.
I've started my support group outside the household today. I've had two women in mind who would be good dry friends. We are friends but not super close friends, we hang out in the larger group and meet every couple months for our little book club. They are cool ladies that overall I want to spend more time with but also not big drinkers. E is recently pregnant and EA just isn't into drinking, maybe a glass of wine, but doesn't need to finish it or another bottle afterwards. One of those. "One of those" that I'm so appreciative of to have on my team.
It worked out that the three of us got a little alone time together before a party we were all going to later. EA and I drove together to the mall, I was all over Ikea for new fixings for the apartment and we went to pick up E on the way to the party. I didn't know that was the plan, but it was so perfect for what I needed. I was expecting to ask them to meet up for dinner and tell them then, but this was even better, no set up. I was nervous, I didn't think through what I was going to say exactly or what I shouldn't say. What I did end up saying was, "I need your guys' help tonight. I've stopped drinking and I might need some support around all the drinking..." I shared that it has been a few weeks, that I've been keeping it on the DL and that at first I thought I could just carry on normally minus the drink but that I actually need to figure out new things to do and that I'm nervous about it all.
They asked thoughtful questions that were not prying, talked about their own relationship with drinking and basically put me at ease and they seemed excited to start planning activities that did not revolve around the little expat drinking scene we are drowning in. E is a big crafter and we are planning a crafting night during every few weeks, we talked about exploring other neighborhoods and restaurants, getting dressed up to go somewhere, anywhere that doesn't revolve around the Ace Club.
I was so grateful for them, grateful for this opportunity that fell into place. And so surprised at their excitement to find another friend in me that wanted to break out of the drinking scene too. I haven't really thought much about how it would be for people like E and EA, their partners and the friend circles here are drink centric. I used to be in that center of drink with Husband and their partners along with everyone else, I thought. I really did think stepping out of the circle was stepping into dark isolation. I'm not alone, I've just been opened up to community that has been here all along. One more surprise in this journey and another reminder at how small and self-absorbed booze made me.
I need substitution ideas because I'm riding the bus home after a shit show sort of day with my bag full of work to do over the week-end and damn it, I want a drink, x5. And a cigarette! I usually only want cigarettes when I'm buzzed. But I want to relax, shed the stress, let it all go. It was a day where I couldn't complete my tasks because others didn't complete theirs, and no one showed up to my professional development session and students swarmed my office with claims their reports are wrong, unfair, etc. Ugh.
I could drink a drink and be controlled tonight. I could, just 3. But I'm not going to do that. I like the number 21, I don't want to start over. I've come so far. But this is the type of situation where solo drinking sounds so nice. It's my Friday night, Husband's at trivia, it's been a long week...me and drinking should be hanging out with Dog Face. But I'm not talking to drinking anymore, we broke up. But I miss it.
I sound ridiculous. I feel ridiculous. My frustration at the day is turning into anger and not having a drink is one more thing to be pissed at. I need to reclaim the evening. I need a game plan for the 3 hours from home time to bedtime...
The last time I drank was at trivia night, with Husband and three dudes. Rounds of IPAs kept showing up without me asking; I lost track after 5 IPAs. DY was the fastest drinker and every time he was out, he brought a round back to the table. We all drank at DY's pace that night and were hammered. We actually won trivia and celebrated with a big whisky on the house. I got so drunk and was terribly hungover the next day. That was my day one.
Tonight we are supposed to defend our title. At first I didn't really think it through when it came up and I said that I was in, but I started to get anxious about having to say I'm not drinking. It's a bar. It's trivia. They are my drinking friends. I'm not ready.
Wrapped up in this is a reminder of why I shouldn't drink: I started to think about who could be my substitute. At work I asked another friend if he wanted to be my replacement, if he had heard about trivia night. I talked about how I didn't really contribute much to the answers. He looked at me and said, "I was on your team last time. You don't remember? I guess I was the one who didn't contribute much." And this was in front of my boss. So embarrassing. So embarrassing! Then I had to apologize, and say of course I now remember, I was so drunk...and then he said he didn't remember walking home. I think that is forgiveness?
I didn't remember he was there until he reminded me. Another black out, or is that a brown out? Now that memory gap is filled in, it's brown. But fuck! I'm so glad there is a growing space between my black outs and present state of mind. As time passes it will be something I did, not something I do....regularly.
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