Today I was cleaning out an old Gmail account and I found this Google Doc I created. I last edited it on February 16, 2014. That is 11 months exactly prior my true Day 1 of Sobriety: January 16, 2015. Reading it over I can see that I was trying, really trying but not succeeding again to limit/control/stop my drinking. Until this time, I'm succeeding this time. I'm at 6 and a half months sober and feeling strong, solid, fucking happy about it. I ask myself why this time it stuck and it is because I made it my own this time: by writing about it here and by not asking others to be an active participant in controlling my behavior. I control my own behavior, not anyone else. Others can give me high-fives about it, but I don't rely on them for the strength to resist a drink.
Here's the content of my Google Doc contract with myself:
Is Drinking Worth The Cost?
Benefits of drinking:
Benefits of not drinking:
Costs of drinking:
Costs of not drinking:
My drinking Goals:
Made Sunday February 9, 2014.
Hi good friends,
As you know, I like to drink and I like to drink with you guys. And you also know that I’ve been struggling with my relationship with alcohol for some time. I drink more than I want to way too often and feel physically sick the whole next day and that leaves me depressed, unmotivated and ashamed of myself. I need to cut back on my drinking, as I’m not ready to stop drinking completely at this point. Please help me by acknowledging and supporting the goals that I have made today and plan to keep until May 18, 2014.
I know that this probably is annoying... the loss of such an awesome drinking buddy. I may have to decline social gathering at times if I’m not feeling up to being around alcohol, as I know that my abilities to have only “a drink” at a big gathering usually doesn’t work for me.
Overall, I feel a bit silly asking for help, I’m not a “raging alcoholic,” but I need it as I continue to fall short of the promises I make myself about my drinking. This more public goal is the first step to acknowledge that I haven’t handled moderation very well, and that is very scary for me to consider that I might need to become a non-drinker one day...first step cutting back right now. And I’ll see how that goes.
Here are my goals:
Thanks for the love & support,
I Will Start With Water
Well, that didn't last the 3 months until my birthday, I can tell you that! Again, because I externalized the lotus of control from the beginning, I allowed myself to fold when they didn't hold up their end--offering me drinks, or giving me a look, whatever it was that had me saying, "fine already, gimme a drink!" And when I say "their end" it is as though it is if was a fair deal, like a contract I made with my friends. I was asking them to hold one side of my shit. No wonder it didn't work!
I'm back in Cairo, unscathed, ready to reflect on summertime in my old haunts where all my friends and family had plenty of drinks on hand to welcome me home.
I experienced again and again people responding to my drinking with a "oh, ok." and then thinking what they can offer me instead to drink. Like myself as a drinker, they often didn't have much or anything on hand. I used to drink: soda water, all sorts of booze and coffee. Finito. I bought myself an adorable portable cooler (lunch size) and a reusable ice pack to bring my own supplies of soda water and any other drinks I might want. This made the host feel less guilty about not having something for me, and me less sadness about drinking the dreaded tap water all night. I have come to hate plain old tap water. Add some bubbles or a splash of lime, then I guzzle it. My portable party bag makes me really happy. My soda water won't be mistaken as a mixer ever again!
So was not drinking hard? No, actually it wasn't. I enjoyed my company, I remember our conversations, I felt present and connected. I made sound decisions about food, sleep and plans.
Was being around heavy drinkers annoying? At times. There were so many conversations, plans and concerns about what to drink and how/when/where to get more to drink. Beer in hand at all times. Many compliments and discussions about how great said beer tasted and comparisons to other beers. People really do act like addicts about drinking Quite boring. I felt liberated. Freed from it all.
Such a better day today. All the drinking boys stayed respectable, drinking steadily, but no one took it too far, we stayed together in our enjoyment of the day. Dad took Husband, Visiting Friend and I out on his boat. We toured around seeing so many dolphins and a huge oil rig. We got to jump off the boat into refreshing beautiful water. It was a great outing!
We went to a new restaurant and then hung out and watched and laughed together about the craziness of Trump and Reilly's commentary on it all.
Much better today.
First and second day Dad paced with husband, we had fun. Yesterday and today, he got all slurry drunk, as he does.
The longer I stay on my visit the more my eye focus in on the signs of his alcoholism. These newly sober eyes. Yesterday he only ate breakfast and then drank all day. Today sitting next to him in the bar I noticed he had deformities on his nose - he has a real gin blossom! He talks of his ailing health with a sigh, claiming it sucks to get old. He has nothing in his fridge besides condiments and beer. He upper arms are so skinny and his belly big. Drinking is definitely shortening his life.
It makes me so sad to bear witness to it while smiling and being the devoted daughter that came to visit him so he can introduce me to all his friends. I felt so embarrassed and obligated to meet him drunk at the bar at 6pm today with Husband and Visiting Friend (Came here to see us from Bogotá) Dad slurring, his same stories and questions on repeat every 5-10 minutes. He proudly introduced me to his favorite bartenders and told me their whole backgrounds as though they are his good friends. He tries to be funny and chummy by gossiping and telling inappropriate jokes that are often bigoted and misogynistic. Embarrassing. Sad. Will not be me.
There is nothing I can do that will change his behavior, and I don't try because if I do, he will write me off as another female that tried to tell him what to do and I would loose the relationship that I do have with him. I know he cares about me deeply but it has been limited so severely by boundaries of his drinking.
Going to bed saddened. Going to bed so thankful that I'm sober.
I am deep in drinking culture down here in South Padre Island with Dad and his friends. But is it going just fine, actually.
At dinner, the neighbors invited us over to try some of their fancy Scotch that they had a long story about. The woman next to me specifically asked me if I liked Scotch and I said I did, but that I don't drink any more, and my Dad, Husband , and three of my dad's friends were listening. I said I was taking a break from drinking because got tired of the hangovers that would last all day and I wouldn't want to do anything. One of the other guys said he quit drinking for three months and it wasn't so bad...which I took to him relying and accepting me without the drink. Some one else they could understand why I would want to quit drinking. They were nice about it and didn't make me into a joke.
And that was how I told my dad I stopped drinking.
Later that night Dad actually asked me about it again and I explained myself my motives a bit more. I was happy that he brought it up and we could talk about it. It showed me that he was listening and that it wasn't going to be an untouchable topic. It went well.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. I like myself better for it and have a full life because of it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp