Well, you can probably tell from the title of this post that I fell off the wagon. It happened Memorial Day weekend. I thought I had it all under control and was feeling so damn good about everything I just wanted to celebrate and let lose. I had 3 drinks. Then nothing the next day. Then 1 the next. Then 3. And then 3 yesterday. 3 is my magic number and though nothing bad has happened I discovered that I liked my life better when I wasn’t drinking. Its the strangest thing but I had more fun being sober. I also realize that I will NEVER be able to accomplish the secret thing I want to do if I have 3 drinks on most nights. Its just not going to happen. A drink, just one, zaps all motivation, life goes into slow motion when I drink.
I’m not sure what this all means for me. I used to be a massive binge drinker but I stopped that years ago, I just outgrew it, got sick of it, was done. Can I call myself an alcoholic when my worst is 3-4 drinks? I know others struggle with the definition also. I don’t know if I want to try moderation. I can’t remember where I read this, I think it was on Belle’s blog, but the author said it was just too hard for the mind to make up excuses and play tricks when you set limits like 1 drink on weekdays, or 2 drinks on a Friday, or whatever, that it was easier just to say 0 drinks and then the conversation was over. No more going round and round in your head. That makes sense to me but it also makes sense that I need to think about other things. I need to focus on the things that make me drink most every night, like how my fiancé stresses me out and how I respond to him, why I feel a need to escape every night, why I haven’t been able to relax on my own, why I don’t value my needs, why I let my ambition get taken away, basically, why I don’t value myself more. I don’t know that focusing on not drinking is going to help with that. That is going to take some serious work, some therapy, some internal searching. Quitting drinking alone won’t fix all of that. It will however give me the space and clarity to deal with it all.
I hate it that I can go 30 days without drinking and find it quite easy but going longer is difficult. Its that part about making real life changes. You have to start doing the work then. I have a lot to think about.
I’ve made it 4 weeks alcohol free! I’m beyond happy that I made this decision, it was long overdue and I’m grateful that I have the chance to start over, there is much work to do though.
I was watching this video of Craig Ferguson talking about his sobriety and his 15 year anniversary and I was reminded of something so important to this whole thing. As I said yesterday, I can do 30 days without alcohol but going longer requires something more than plain old abstinence. At about 6 minutes in Craig begins to explain that it wasn’t alcohol that was the problem, alcohol was actually saving his life because he was self-medicating with it. The real problem was what he was trying to escape from. Alcohol was just the tool he used to do it. That is so poignant. That is what I need to remember. Not drinking does not mean I’m all better and if I don’t address the reasons I drank I will never be happy, or successful, or free.
I am not by any means an expert on this topic but I have discovered one thing that really seems to be key to staying sober– its feeding the beast during the witching hour. Your witching hour might be different from mine (wikipedia has a great definition of this) but mine happens to be right after work, “happy hour”. I have forever looked forward to that time as a way to disengage from the stress of the day. Happy hour was always so wonderful and sparkly in a swank bar somewhere downtown, and if you call it aperitivo it becomes even more so. Somehow when I drank 3 drinks from 5-7 it was okay because I’d be fine by 9 and I’d eat dinner and go to bed and be able to get up at a normal time. Actually, if I’m honest it morphed into drinking only at happy hour in the last year or two but before that it was on from like 5 to 10.
Over the last few weeks I’ve learned that if I do something during that time, like go for a run or a long walk, go to the gym, make something fun in the kitchen, go to Starbucks with a book, that I’ll feed that beast and resist the urge to self-medicate. This seems so obvious to me now and its probably what “normal” people do. How could I not see this before?
I think there is something in the brain of drinkers that prevents us from valuing ourselves. If I valued myself then I would have no problem taking a little time for myself and doing those things that make me feel better. I think somewhere along the line I got the message that I’m not worth it, that those things are for other people who are either special or weak. I know exactly where that message came from, dear mother, who still makes me feel as if any normal, human need I have is too much. As a child I was to keep quiet, needing anything, or worse asking for something got me into immediate trouble, this mindset still persists in my family, I am a burden to my mother, she had me much too young. I’ll talk about that more later but I really wanted to get that out there because if there is anyone reading this that subconsciously feels that they aren’t worth it I want you to know that you are. Take the time to care for the great gift that is you. Bloggers with more experience than me (see links in sidebar) talk of self care and I’ve gotten to the point that I really understand that now. Self care is essential.
I’m on day 26. It seems so impressive and so measly at the same time. When I was 20 I went 2 or 3 months without alcohol, only because someone accused me of being an alcoholic– but it was different then because I was so young and there was so much to do. I didn’t have a care in the word and I lived in LA where there were great things to do at anytime. I went to super swank coffee bars in Hollywood, I played pool, I went to AA meetings and found hot, inappropriate guys to go out with, I got a tattoo, it was a blast. Last year I went 33 days without alcohol, it was not a blast but it was doable. I was trying to prove to myself that I could again go a long period of time without alcohol. This time is different and I can feel this lump in my throat growing. What’s different is that I know I can go 30 days without alcohol but in order for my life to become what I want it to be I need to stop relying on alcohol to remove discomfort. Instead I actually need to address why I feel discomfort about so many things, and I need to work through these things so that I can “live up to my potential”. I can’t decide if I like or detest that phrase but I do feel I have wasted a lot of time and received nothing in return, worse I’ve grown older, gone into debt and become emotionally fragile because I relied on fu@k!ng Al K Hall to take care of all my problems. No more! I’m mad and sad all at once.
I read something that really touched me last night I want to share it with you. The author was talking about becoming independent in life (from men, bad relationships, financial problems etc) and it seemed to make sense for alcohol also. This is what I want…
“Women who have sprung free find themselves, quite suddenly, with the energy to engage. They cling tenaciously to life, all the while being free to rise and fall in rhythm with its tumults. There is a new experience of playfulness, of being fully alive, in which one is freer than ever before to exercise options, to accept or reject according to the desire’s of one’s truest self.” ~Colette Dowling
Its Sunday night and I’ve made it through another weekend. Sigh. I’m so happy. Something strange happened to me on Saturday. I was feeling that craving for a drink that comes after a long, stressful day. I had just finished a big project and just wanted to pour a glass of wine and put my feet up but my guy suggested going for a quick run, and here’s the strange part, I did! This is highly unlike me. I have not run in about 10 years. I have never really even been a fan of it. But, for some reason, since I’ve given up alcohol I’ve had this urge to run. I managed to do 1.4 miles, which I was pretty pleased with considering. I discovered that a 5:00 run is a great replacement for wine. It relieves all the stress of the day and gets your blood flowing. I think I might make this a habit. 🙂
I’ve made it past the 3 week mark and I am so pleased. I think the habit of reaching for a drink to calm down/comfort myself/relieve boredom is fading. I have been eating a ton of sweets but I know that is just temporary. I’m just allowing myself whatever I want, whenever I want. I can’t say that I feel great eating all this sugar but it is really the only indulgence I have right now so I’m fine with it. When I feel stable with the no alcohol thing I know I’ll stop.
But, something much more interesting happened last night! Fiancé went out with his friends and of course got drunk. He took the ferry across the bay and when I picked him up he told me that he wanted to get sober! He told me he had been bragging about me and that he was proud of me and what I am doing. ooh la la. I was shocked. This, coming from a man who has been religiously drinking red wine for over 20 years– a man who worked in Michelin starred restaurants and is a sommelier. He said things like, I’m too smart for this, I want to do something different, I’ve been to that party/bar/event a million times and I know how it ends (sounds like Lindsay Lohan!). So, we’ll see what transpires this weekend. I don’t know when he’s planning on starting this life change. I’m just happy he’s been thinking about it. He did mention that he wanted to be “normal” which made me giggle a little inside because I’ve read how so many of us want and have attempted that. I chimed in about how he had tried to moderate before and its just easier when you say you’re not drinking at all, then you can’t use birthdays/hard days/fridays as excuses.
So, I have been a positive influence for my guy. I certainly hoped that my doing this might make him think and reel it in but I never imagined this. I probably shouldn’t be too excited because I don’t know if he’ll really do it but I do know that once you admit you have a problem you can’t go back.
I hope everyone out there is doing well. ~Lulu
Day 21. I’m so happy to be doing this. My life is really changing, already, after only 20 days sober. Here is what life used to feel like: must make dinner, what can I throw together? The stairs need to be vacuumed, the dog needs a bath, the bills need to be paid, bathroom needs cleaning, need pedicure and to get hair colored. Things kept piling up and as time went on I felt more and more overwhelmed by the basic chores in life not to mention the really big things like, what do I want to do with my life and when am I ever going to start saving for retirement.
Now life feels more manageable. I mean, everything isn’t just magically better in 20 days but, each night I am able to cook dinner without dread and tick off a few items on the to do list. I even manage to clean up the kitchen and its no big deal, I have the energy to do it and don’t mind. I’m starting to think more clearly about my career and my personal life. I guess what it boils down to is that I’m starting to feel like I have options when before I just felt trapped.
Really and truly, this is the best thing I have ever done and I never want to give it up.