Watching the documentary Lipstick and Liquor: Secrets in The Suburbs confirmed for me that I'm in a different place in my recovery than before. While I bet this documentary would be helpful to many many women, I didn't gleam any new information from it. In fact I was frustrated by the continued rhetoric around alcoholism being a blameless disease that can't be controlled by will power in one breath then in the next saying all alcoholics can do is ask for help to stop drinking. Huh? Why don't the books and documentaries I've seen acknowledge the quagmire they present? I find it a irritating thought loop that isn't helpful for me to understand myself, my actions and my mental patterns that led and can lead to more drinking.
Back to the documentary. It showcases many middle and upper-middle class women and their stories about recovery. In between each story their is elongated mystery about Julie. A little cliff hanger in between each of the stories of hope and struggle, but I'll say no more to keep from a spoiler situation. Their stories were diverse and they told them well. I could have done without some of the recreations of events and dramatic spinning of liquor bottles and wine glasses.
This documentary's audience seems to be a 50s middle class suburban white woman who is shamefully and secretively drinking or new to sobriety and struggling with feelings of guilt and loniness.
"The school year is over in about a week. There are the normal stresses and zoom of this transition, but I'm sitting solid in this. End of the year celebrations, "No thanks, I don't drink anymore." Fine.
But in a week in a half, my world becomes the unknown, I re-enter the zone of "sober firsts" again without a true retreat into a comfort bubble.
Husband and I are traveling to Finland for 10 days, this I'm actually feeling okay with, I love the shit out of soda water and will save hundreds of dollars not drinking.
Then Portland. Old friends, tons of unstructured free time. Should be fine, but it is still an unknown that I can't completely be prepared for. I do plan to go to a few AA meetings. I am curious and excited about having that experience and potential support.
Then there is time with Dad. I wonder how he will respond to me not drinking. I don't think we will talk about it, he doesn't adjust his drinking to what others are doing around him, or if others are around him. A friend of Husband and I is also visiting us while we are visiting dad. Here is a direct quote from his email to us: "I'm down for whatever you guys want to do, as long as sobriety is not on the list."
So, that stresses me a bit. He is a dear friend but that is what we have always done with him is get shit faced together, talk critical theory, cultural studies, art, literature, old school hip hop. High brow shit storm. He may be the one case that really struggles with my sobriety because he is a real heavy drinker and I'm changing the game of our friendship. Or maybe he won't care as long as he can continue to drink as usual.
Outside of travel logistics this is what swirls around in my mind.
On my birthday in May, I started thinking about my new year ahead and combining it with the advice to give back to the world to support my recovery.
I decided the following for my 39th year on this planet:
#1. Give 39 hours (or more) of my time to causes I believe in
#2. Give $390 to a cause I believe in
Since then I've been thinking and planning this out. I figured out the volunteer work - I will volunteer at an animal shelter here in Cairo on Saturdays. 39 hours before May 18 is doable.
I also found a scholarship for Sudanese Refugees in Cairo that is organized by a student group at our school and partnered with: Stars There are many refugees here, while they can stay in the country, they are not provided any services by the government. I'm going to pay for a woman to earn a bachelor degree for about $290. Yea, total for the 3 years needed to graduate.
I'm feeling good about these decisions.
The actual drink as turned into a strange creature. I'm not interested in drinking it, but sometimes I'm compelled by it. I found myself staring at Husband's whisky with a slight rush of grabbing and dumping it down my throat. What if...? What would it feel like? It wasn't an edgy, "I'm about to relapse" situation. It was surreal, a feeling like the urge to jump off the edge of a cliff. Drinking has become a foreign surreal thing. I won't grab that drink just like I won't jump off that edge.
I think I will soon be emboldened to start telling my story (outside of this anonymous blog). While still in the beginning phase of feeling comfortable saying, "I stopped drinking," I can see that this is a step. A step where I grow and bit by bit shed that shame and fear of stigma to boldly tell anyone that I'm in recovery. I'm really starting to grow into this new me, it less uncomfortable and more natural than those first adolescent steps into sobriety.
I feel less like a fake. I'm not trying out "being sober" anymore. I just am.
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