In the last two weeks I haven't been able to crave out time to blog. I have missed my captive time on a bus for blogging. Here I am on a bus, blogging again.
AND, in addition to not having the routine space for writing, I haven't felt the need to blog out my feelings and thoughts relating to not drinking. There hasn't been any strife to where I'm at right now.
I have thoughts over and over about how I don't miss "that" in relation to a story or a behavior about drinking, and that is enough to give me pause to appreciate what I have going.
Everything is just becoming more and more normalized. I am just me, no longer me-without-the-drink. I forget I'm not drinking.
7 Months Sober, In A Good Place
I am feeling great. In general and specifically about where I'm at with sobriety. It seems that I prefer to blog when there is strife, and since I'm having less and less of that, I have less to say online. I think once I get back into the routines and stressors of a new school year I will find more material that gets me reflecting and writing.
The other night I was sitting with some friends, me with my 6th soda water and everyone else with their beer or wine. It was early evening and in the shade it probably was about 96 degrees. Most of the group was suffering from jet lag and not feeling well due to the lack of sleep, the heat and the dehydration headaches that comes from heat + sweating + drinking. I commented that since I'd quit drinking I'm hardly ever dehydrated. This launched off a sharing of stories when they had quit drinking: for 7 months, 1 month, a few years. All of them talked about how they lost weight, they never felt better....even giving well informed facts about metabolism, and the vicious cycles of drinking, bad food, no exercise. Very self aware. Very stuck. The conversation moved on, and after all that sharing about how beneficial quitting drinking was, what hung in the air was that quitting drinking just so unimaginable or undesirable even with all the known benefits that would stop their dehydration headaches, feeling shitty, being overweight. I used to be right there with them. Even when I was doing cleanses I drank. I assumed I had food allergies, I worked out harder, I made drinking rules, I switched from beer to whisky to cut down calories, I slept with water next to by bed. I did so many things on behalf of my beloved alcohol. For so long I couldn't imagine life without, I thought it offered so many benefits that it was worth the downsides and that the downsides could be minimized if I could just be a little more moderate.
And now I'm on the other side and so thankful I am. Free.
I didn't do any preaching or really much sharing after my comment about not being dehydrated. I was fascinated by what they were saying and how I felt when I was in their shoes, where I'm at now; how far I've come. Above all, I really enjoyed that I was able to be open and nature and just say, "since I've stopped drinking..." to a table full of dudes drinking and the conversation bubbled up from it and flowed on. No record skipped, no horrified looks, no questions of why, how, when. It wasn't about me, my decision. I wasn't "otherfied." I shared, which made others share, and all was normal.
But I'm still quite happy with myself: publicly being the non-drinking me and no longer feeling powerless and torn about the costs and benefits of drinking. I came unstuck 7 months ago, and the momentum keeps growing.
My identity was wrapped up in my drinking. I was a drinker, and for a long while that was a positive identity to me: it signified I enjoyed life, I was fun, adventurous, edgy even. As the weeks and months tick by I'm shedding both the positive and negative of that drinker identity.
But in the void of that lost identity doesn't seem to be a new identity forming. I don't feel a kindred connection with non-drinkers/light drinkers and I have yet to meet anyone in the flesh that is in recovery. Drinkers have clear edges, you either can hold your own belly up to the bar or not. And once you prove yourself and are in the club, you really can do no wrong...all bad behavior is excused or made into a good story--and you are always welcome into the circle. That part of the identity is what I miss and I don't think sense of belonging occurs in the non-drinker side of things in the same way.
I am wrapping my mind around this drinking identity as being another discarded costume I have worn as part of the process of becoming who I am. It served its purpose, and I really mean that, to get me here...right here...in my life. Maybe there was an easier way to get here, but probably not.
It's Willpower and It Isn't
In previous blogs of mine I have stated that I disagree with the notion that I need to surrender to a higher power to stay sober. I still believe that my resolve to not drink keeps me from not drinking and that I make choices that engage my willpower. Willpower keeps me sober.
But I have had a shift in my thinking the last couple days about willpower and sobriety and the term "dry." I have been back in Cairo on my own for over a week now, long days to fill and I'm having a great time. And I'm not having to use willpower to not drink. The first day back here I poked around and surveyed the leftover food the Airbnb guest left and found two bottles of vodka in the freezer. There are also probably bottles upon bottles of whisky and stuff in the cabinet, but I haven't even thought to open it and look. Drinking isn't on my mind and I don't have to continually resist it because it is near by. I just don't.
On the other hand, I bought two mini ice creams that were scheduled to be eaten after dinner two days in a row....and I ate both before they could even re-freeze from the trip home from the store. No willpower for resisting ice cream.
The Sober School
In my Google Doc Contract from 2014, I had a couple of webpage link for references - and I picked winners! Mrs. D inspired and supported the growth of the sobriety seed of even then. The other weblink I had completely forgotten about until I found my Google Doc. The Sober Journalist was another blog I was reading at the time.
These two blogs are written by women who "quietly" got sober anonymously. They both happen to be professional journalists and eventually came out of their closets and made careers about their journeys and resources. I'm glad they are out there, and can stand squarely in their lives and histories and now publicly help others. I will remain iwillstartwithwater, I cringe when I think of an expanding circle of friends and acquaintances reading my drinking dirt mixed up in with my family shit. This summer I regrettably mentioned the existence of my blog to two different people...but managed not to tell them the name in the moment. Neither of them followed up to ask for its name so I'm safe so far. I have a few of my inner circle friends that check in here and cheer me on and that is enough for me to feel supported, understood and stripped down. This blog is mainly for me and for other people out there quietly battling it out with their drinking selves. You are so not alone!
Both above links open to pages that show my worries as I tried to imagine a life without alcohol: social isolation, boredom, judgement from friends, folding to pressures of the drinking all around me. Basically, who would I be if I wasn't a drinker?
I'm still in a heavy drinking world most of the time, and I don't mind it most of the time. I like sitting around chatting with people and I can continue to do that while they drink alcohol and I drink something else. I one main change is that I get tired earlier and go home before I would have before. A positive, for sure. And mostly I'm impressed with how "with it" most people are when drinking and talking with me, again, because many times my drinking didn't stay at a nice warm buzz.
Poking around the The Sober Journalist this morning I read that the author has created a new site with resources that she had hoped for when she wanted to quit and was newly sober. Here it is: The Sober School. Looks pretty cool! I liked this concise statement to understand my relationship with booze and have a way to explain it to others when they ask me why I don't drink anymore:
"If you’re regularly drinking more than you intend to, and it’s making you miserable, then yes, you might well be dependent on alcohol. It is not really about how much you drink, it’s how it makes you feel."
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Mrs. D is Going Without
-The Bubble Hour
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp