Accomplishment

Yesterday I was offered a drink, and in a situation where normally I get snockered. It was a planned event, and  For the days leading up to it, I was afraid I’d just say “yes” when offered a drink and then I would feel like crap.  I didn’t plan to drink, but sometimes, it seems scary to think I can blow everything with a drink. Anyhow…

When my friend asked me, “aren’t you drinking anything”…I started thinking all of these overractionary things…like “why does everyone have to drink?”….or “how am I ever going to get along in a drinking world?”  …BUT…

When I replied ,”I set some health goals for myself and drinking isn’t a part of it”, my friend replied, “That’s great, good luck in your goals…maybe I should try that too.”  This person isn’t a heavy drinker or anything, but that’s not the point.

The point is that it was okay.  It was more than OK.  Do you know why my friend so pointedly noticed I wasn’t drinking???…Well, because normally in the same situation I’d polish off a bottle.  So, it was different than the norm that instead of bottles of wine, I brought club soda and a veggie tray to the event.  But the nice thing I’ve discovered is that for the most part, I think I can retrain people to expect me to bring the healthy stuff and in time that will be how they will see me.  They see me now as “wine girl” because that’s what I did.

I woke up this morning feeling so proud of myself.  It was really pretty nice to leave an event, and be able to drive, come home and spend time with my daughters, etc.  What on earth did I ever find so damn appealing about figuring out how to get home after drinking?  Or trashing the rest of my evening because once I started at a social event, I’d come home and drink more?  And accomplish nothing. Another wasted evening.   You know, it was never really appealing.  It was a lie.  The IDEA of having a couple of drinks, IS appealing.  It’s just not likely or quite possible for me to have a couple and then go on my merry way. For me to have “a couple”…  I’d either drink more, or “white knuckle” it and be miserable.

This morning I feel as if I’ve been given a gift.  And my new found sober-life is like a precious baby.  It is so vulnerable right now and I must care for it and nurture it.  I have to beware of the dangers that lurk that threaten it…  I have to feed it good things that will help it grow strong.  I will revel in every little victory…every first step, every situation I navigate successfully, every day that I get healthier.

 

 

 

 

I am staying away from alcohol.  It’s really better in many ways.  I’m thinking clearly, living in the moment and not spending any money on wine.  BUT…my sleeplessness (I forgot that’s why I initially started kicking back wine every night) has returned.  I am falling asleep at around midnight to 1am then waking at 7.  It’s just not quite enough sleep and I need a plan to help resolve my sleep problem.   Here are my goals for today:

1.  Eat healthy balanced meals (no processed food). I usually do this but can get off track, especially when I’m tired

2.  Exercise vigorously. Drink a ton of water.

3.  Take a melatonin supplement at 11pm and lie down for the evening.  No chores, exercise or work after 9pm.

 

I’m going to do these things for several days in a row, then evaluate how I feel physically and mentally.  I am convinced that eating healthy, exercising and sleeping well are essential to my success in this journey.  I’ve always strived to be healthy…and for the past couple of years it has occurred to me how crazy it is to buy organic veggies and juice them in the morning, exercise, then take in 500 calories of wine in the evening.  Counterproductive.

I’m beginning to see that my pattern, for years, has been to 1.  Begin an exercise program, goal, class, etc.  2.  Have something or someone (including me) screw it up 3.  Get upset, pissed off, have anxiety  4. Relax with bottle of wine to relieve anxiety 5.  Wake up next day, problem not resolved (or worse), feeling too crappy to do anything about it. And so the cycle ensues…

I must change that.  So the first (of many) problems that is surfacing is my lack of sleep.  So I’m going to take appropriate and healthy actions to remedy this.  And if that doesn’t work I’ll go to the doctor.  What I know for sure is that a glass of wine is not an option.

Right now I am feeling hopeful that I can live a life without alcohol. But I’m also scared…but I’m not sure of what.  My resolve is strong, yet it seems like it would be so easy to blow this…all it would take is someone handing me one glass of wine and me taking a sip.  I mean, it’s not as if a bottle of wine is going to chase me down the street and pour itself down my throat right?

This morning I am feeling hopeful, a little more in control, and pretty scared at what I have ahead of me.  I haven’t drank for 9 days…it has been difficult and not difficult at the same time.  It has helped me tremendously to read the blogs of others who have successfully found a life without alcohol.  With each day my thinking becomes clearer, and it is making more and more sense to say that I can’t drink at all, and that my life is far, far better without alcohol.  Period.

This new life won’t work for me if I view it as I am “missing” something…ie the glass of wine in my hand at parties, in the evenings after work, on holidays in my backyard…for a long time, part of me has fought the whole idea of sobriety because I don’t want to be limited to drinking soda and miss out on all the fun.  I don’t want to be the odd-ball that drinks water and tea while everyone else is having a blast with a beer in their mugs…and that line of thinking kept me trying to moderate my drinking…I started making rules to moderate…no weekdays,  only at home, only not home, only at the bar, not at the bar.  I think sometime a few years ago it stopped being fun.

The only way this will work is for me to let go of the (false) idea that Alcohol=fun.  Alcohol=feeling better.  Alcohol=pleasure.  Alcohol=friends.  I can’t just stop drinking because I’ve hit a “bottom”.  For me that’s fear-based… If it was only about a “bottom”…then I could figure out a way to manage my drinking and my life to avoid the “bottom” so that I could drink until I get old, or get liver disease, or trip and fall and bust open my head (or one of many other glorious ways that problem drinkers destroy themselves).  I want and need to see this thing for what it really is.  And the reality is that I could, if I try hard enough…if I put ALL of my energy into it…I could moderate…for a while anyway.  But what does that really mean?  “Moderation” for a problem-drinker means counting glasses of wine?  Mentally obsessing on how much I’ve had, how much I can have?  Always wanting more?  Wondering am I over the legal limit?  Do I look drunk? What did I say last night? Who do I need to apologize to?…Did I mess up and have more than planned??? But…It could work…I mean really many problem drinkers DO make it work…and they find a routine where they don’t have to drive, and the people around them tolerate their drinking, and they just slowly, slowly, slowly drink themselves to death.

I don’t want that anymore.  And the reality of trying to moderate…is that for a problem drinker…moderation is HELL.  It zaps so much of my mental energy that there is little left over for anything else.  So, I think I cannot drink anymore.  I must become a non-drinker.

So, I’m searching for a way to embrace my new identity as a “non-drinker”.  I want to own it. I’m tired of hiding from it.  Right now, this week and in the next few weeks, my focus is to figure out the practical part of this…How do I refuse drinks in social situations?  (So far I’ve been saying “no thanks, I have to work tomorrow”).  What should I be eating to keep a level blood sugar and reduce potential cravings?  How do I cope with stress now that my wine is gone?  (I’ve taken up an exercise program to help with this).

I think I’m actually doing this.

 

 

Mixed feelings

Made it through my first Friday night, and my first drinking/social event, without wine.  And it really wasn’t that big of a deal to anyone.  No one insisted I drink, or really even noticed for that matter.  The hostess of the party offered me wine and I said “I have to be up early” and she offered me a bottled water instead.  I thought I would be on the edge of my seat all night, pining for a drink.  Actually, it was nice to be present and clear-minded.  I don’t think every evening will be that easy, but it was a pleasant suprise that I was OK without my glass of wine last night.

The nice bonus is that I wasn’t worried about how much wine I’ve had all night.  Wasn’t worried that I couldn’t drive.  Wasn’t looking at everyone else’s glass to see if they were drinking more than me.  Wasn’t trying to figure out if everyone around me was more/less drunk than I.  I still felt a little alone, being the only person there not drinking.  I don’t think that I want to put myself in drinking situations on purpose for a little while…but I was OK.

I stayed up a little too late.  My body’s not used to getting to sleep on a Friday night without a few big glasses of red wine.  But I did get 6 hours sleep and I feel OK.  I’m a little annoyed that I don’t feel fantastic…I mean seriously, I didn’t drink last night at a party, shouldn’t there be a parade for me today? Shouldn’t I feel fabulous?  Even though I am physically OK, I have so many conflicting thoughts going on in the background of my mind right now…too many thoughts to sort out really.

Today I have another “hurdle”…After work on Saturdays I almost always stop by the bar across the street from work to have “a glass of wine”.  Now that I think about my routine it amuses and scares me that I so skillfully lied to myself:  The bar offers wine either by the glass or by the bottle.  Of course I’d buy the bottle because it’s cheaper.  I’d tell myself “I’ll have one glass here then take the rest home”.  So. many. times. I would drink the bottle over a couple of hours…unwinding, talking to the locals, sometimes even striking up new business or making new friends. In my mind, I was a professional woman out socializing after a long week of work…unwinding, making connections… But more often than not, it goes more like this:  I drink the whole bottle, I say or do something that I will regret, I buy a second bottle to take home with me, I drive with an elevated blood alcohol level, I spend extra money to buy dinner so I don’t have to cook, then I arrive home late and my teenagers look at me knowing I’ve been drinking.  And I know better.  And I feel like a shitty mom for not being alert and present and cooking a great dinner. So I complain about the mess in the house, pour another glass of wine and do the dishes.  Maybe say something about how I divorced their father  because he’s a raging alcoholic who abused me.  Then some more wine, a movie, and I slip away into a wine coma with my kids right there with me on the couch watching a movie.  In my wine-coma, I’m thinking I’m happy because I’ve drank enough to quiet my anxiety, my kids are next to me and fed, and everyone is content enjoying family time.  In reality, my kids have watched their mother get drunk…and they can’t say anything because  I’ve gone to such great lengths to “normalize” my “wine ritual”…so I’ve created conflict within my kids, and they don’t have anyone they can talk to about it because the person they need to talk to is the person they need to talk about, who is inaccessible because she’s in a wine coma.  I know this pain first-hand because I lived it when I was younger, when my parents and brother used and abused alcohol and drugs.  I worked so hard all my life to distance myself from that kind of life…to be a good mom…and yet somehow this wine-monster has snuck up upon me slowly like a big suffocating snake that seems to almost have engulfed me whole. What have I done?  Is it too late? I am crying now at this realization.

 

 

This is for real

Today, marks 5 days without my afternoon glass of wine.  I like the way that sounds…”afternoon glass of wine”.  Ha.  If my real pattern was to have only had one afternoon glass of wine….I wouldn’t be writing this blog.  I wasn’t really firm in my resolve on Monday morning when I said I was quitting drinking for a while…I wasn’t sure that I had a problem…I mean maybe I can just quit for a while and reset my brain (whatever that means) and become a normal drinker? That was one of my hundred thoughts on Monday morning after polishing off 8-10 glasses of wine all day Sunday.  In these first five days, I’ve encountered some expected things, like clearer thinking and not being hungover, but what I didn’t expect…is what is blowing me away:  I can think clearly enough to see how I’ve really been living…and I’m seeing the folly in my own lies (mostly to myself)…

You see I’ve stopped drinking before.  Most of the time it was because I was “watching my carbs”, or “training for a race” etc.  I’d never just said I was quitting drinking without some “cover up” reason that could deflect attention away from the real reasons that I needed to abstain.  After all, I’ve told myself,  “I have self control.  I’ve lost 45 lbs since my divorce.  I quit smoking 6 years ago (a 1.5 pack-per-day habit).”  I mean, I live in Texas…where everyone is always drinking, all the time. So I’m just doing what everyone else does right?

And I’ve had some very obvious signs that have pointed to me being a problem drinker…things I suppose I’ll get into talking about over time…I mean the obvious stuff like hangovers and driving drunk and blackouts.  These things have been a normal (and in my mind secret) part of my life for about two years now.  Yes…it was about two years ago that my drinking when from “kinda controlled” to “problem”.

The obvious things have never really seemed to “wake me up”.  I knew they should have.  I’ve told myself a million times that I’m in danger.  Then about two weeks ago I ran across this blog, and started reading and reading and reading.  And so Monday I stopped drinking…with a half-hearted self promise that I was pretty sure would last only a few days…

Then I woke up today and realized that these five days are the longest I’ve gone without a drink in…I HAVE NO IDEA HOW LONG! And in my new found ability to think clearly…I’m 100% sure that the best course for me is to remove alcohol from my life.  I’ve been 99.9999% sure for a while.  This 100% thing is a pretty big deal for me.  I can’t turn back from it.

So now I am scared. And relieved.  And scared.  And really kind of angry that I can’t just have a glass of wine with dinner.  So I think this is for real.  I have quit drinking.  5 days today.  Haven’t told anyone yet.