Day Four: Honesty

I’m reading “Unwasted, My Lush Sobriety” by Sacha Scoblic and she talks about how reflexive lying became when she was drinking. She says becoming more honest and direct was one of the results of her sobriety.

In an earlier post I wrote about keeping secrets but I wasn’t really thinking of myself as a liar exactly. Sins of omission, yes, but not outright lies. Well usually.

Then today my teenage daughter asked me how the not drinking wine was going and I said “fine.”  She answered with a surprised “really?!” And I thought to myself – well no not really. It totally sucks actually.

Huh.

Now I’m wondering how often I do this, gloss over my feelings, downplay things. Cover.

I hid lots of hangovers for sure with “fine.” I had a rule to never complain about a hangover unless my husband had one too, so once or twice a year I let loose and admitted to feeling like crap. The rest of the time I would only admit to being a little tired. Or maybe I would say I thought I had one more glass than I should have.

Is pretending a lie? Pretending to remember things I didn’t. Pretending to feel great when I didn’t. Pretending to be happy about something when I wasn’t.

Last year when I quit I gave myself permission to say no more often, to complain about things I wouldn’t have before. I remember thinking – well if I can’t have wine, then why should I put up with this?

Hmmm… lots to think about.

Day Three: Two Carrots

I wrote this about four months into my sobriety in 2016:

I’ve been trying to put my finger on this very fleeting little, flit in and flit out thought/feeling that comes upon me once in a while now. It’s a very good feeling but so foreign and surprising that I can’t hold on to it when it comes and so fast that I can’t quite describe it. I think it’s a realization that my thoughts about drinking (the thoughts that I’ve had for so very, very long) are… warped? an illusion? I can’t name it yet. I think it’s the truth trying to get through, but wolfie is still hanging on. He’s got his jaw clenched, his eyes shut and his claws dug in. Here I am in my fourth month and I think it’s just barely coming through, like a radio station that cuts in and out. Of course, in my head, I can think rationally about alcohol and how negative it is, how stupid our cultures are for embedding it so deeply, etc. But this is different than a rational thought in the front of my brain. This is a realization, maybe a feeling, deeper inside. Maybe it’s like the difference between thinking something in my rational mind and believing it to be true deep down. It’s terribly difficult to explain. It’s the opposite of the sad feeling I get when I think about the shiny glass of wine in the sun that I “can’t” or “am choosing not to” have. This is a feeling that all of that angst is silly, some sort of illusion of truth.

And last night when I was getting ready for bed, this same feeling came over me again, very briefly. On only day two?! I’m looking forward to seeing if it keeps coming back. I’m thinking of it as a carrot to keep me moving forward.

This got me looking for other carrots. On day 148 sober I wrote:

No longer craving/needing daily replacement drinks. Still eating something sweet at night, guilt free. Not thinking as much about drinking or not drinking. Thinking about my to do lists, my marriage, my kids, my walks, and my recent reading projects instead. It’s all good stuff even when it’s not. I like going to bed sober and waking up feeling healthy instead of crappy.

Yay me.

As I type this, the witching hour is approaching, but so far I’m feeling pretty good.

Day Two: Home

We’ve been back home a couple of hours. As we were going through the mail, I came across a wedding “save the date” and an invite from a friend to happy hour. Sigh.

The Voice is pretty loud at the moment. In these early days it’s hard to imagine life without this compulsive desire for wine. But I know it’s possible because it went away the last time. I just need to be patient.

Drinking is so much easier than being patient.

No worries though – home is a wine free zone.

 

T-6: History

I’ve been trying to remember when things started to go wrong.

I can remember having a conversation with someone at work about how many glasses a night was the “right” amount. He said two. I thought to myself hmmmm but I often drink three. That was about ten years ago. Have I really been questioning my drinking for ten years? A decade? Holy crap.

But I can also remember some pretty questionable drinking behaviors when my daughter was a baby.  That was fifteen years ago. But I didn’t question those behaviors at the time.

And then there was the time I went late to a family gathering because of a hangover, twenty years ago. Another time a family member teased – has there ever been an event when you weren’t hungover? I just laughed it off and she did too.

I guess we drink too much before we start thinking we drink too much.

And can you believe the people in my life were surprised when I quit last year? Most were very surprised. Even my husband was surprised and he’s been with me throughout all of it.

No wonder so many people continue to drink despite negative consequences.

T-12: Support

I know for sure I will drink before the end of 100 days if I rely solely on my own willpower. With willpower alone, I’m only good for a day or two of sobriety, to be honest. But add in some accountability measures and I can go for months, maybe years, maybe forever. I know this is true because I did it before and I got to a very peaceful place.

Yesterday I invested, literally, in sober support by purchasing Belle’s sober jumpstart class. I’ll be emailing her daily to report that I’m sober and to reach out during the hard days.

I’m also planning to continue bogging daily, so thanks in advance to all of you for reading. Even without comments, I can see that people from all over the world are watching each day and that will help me stay on track.

What else? Every two days I’ll be rewarding myself with a treat – shiny things, things that smell good, things that taste amazing. 🙂 I am looking forward to this part!

I have family support too, but I learned the last time around that those relationships are complicated and I do better at home when I get my support from outside. My husband is wonderful, but he doesn’t understand The Voice and the power it has. I think he wants to understand but just can’t because he’s wired differently when it comes to alcohol. He will drink a beer or two in a restaurant and come home to drink soda even though the fridge is fully stocked. I watch with wonder every time he does this strange thing. 🙂

My darling 15 year old daughter is very happy I’m going to quit again. She said to me yesterday about my decision to start drinking again last year – you got free and then gave it up because you thought you could control it. She shook her head at me and I shook my head along with her. My baby is wise beyond her years.

Does it sound like I’m ready? Yes, I’m pretty ready. I’m scared too. And sad. But also proud of my decision.

 

T-13: Second Thoughts

Every time evening arrives and there’s no wine, The Voice comes slinking around the corner.

This is terrible. You love red wine. Don’t commit to forever. That’s not what you want. Other people take breaks and then try moderation. Don’t be crazy. Be realistic.

I think I need to respond with anything that soothes the voice and am not above lying. I’ll say, ok, it’s just a 100 days. And that immediately seems to satisfy. Or I say maybe I’ll drink again when I retire. As long as the door to drinking again someday remains open, the voice calms down and accepts the plan.

Here I am talking to my own self as if it isn’t me but another entity completely, living inside my head. And I think I can trick it! It sounds irrational but it also makes sense that this voice is silent in the morning during the shame-filled hangover. Not much good to say about wine then, is there?! No, this voice waits until you feel a little less toxic and wine seems less like poison, say around 4pm or so. That’s when the voice comes out of hiding.

Belle calls it Wofie. I’ve heard others say Wine Witch. To me it’s just The Voice. And I’m coming to accept that it’s addiction talking, seeming to have a life of its own. It makes me sad that I let this happen to me, did this to myself. But at our house we say, about many things, it is what it is. And then we move forward.

T-14: Instead

I got my first comment yesterday – thanks Anne! Anne made the lovely suggestion I give myself the Christmas gift of sobriety. Or more directly – why not start now?

I should start now. I know I should. The reason I’ve decided to wait is that I’m about to go away for Christmas and early sobriety away from the comforts of my own home is more than I can handle right now. Not to mention early sobriety in my mother’s house with no place to escape to. So right or wrong, good or bad, I’m waiting.

Which brings me to the “instead.” Instead of beginning sobriety, I’ve been waiting. And doing a lot of thinking. Every day I think something like – when I quit drinking, what will I do instead? How will I do life sober instead of the way I’ve been doing it?

On my birthday I thought – how will I celebrate instead? – By making sure to choose a really amazing restaurant with food I could never make at home and challenging the server to bring a “very fancy” drink with no alcohol.

Last night at a dinner for my husband’s work where I knew no one, I thought – how will I navigate social situations instead? – By putting on my work face, the one I wear during the day. I know how to be charming sober.

In the evening when I want to unwind, I think – what will I do instead?  – Have a bath, listen to music, read, or just go to bed. I know numbing out with alcohol is not necessary.

When I drink with friends and we’re excited about the wine, I think – how will I do this instead? – By becoming the girl who brings really interesting, colorful concoctions to try. Virgin mojito anyone?

The list goes on and on because alcohol is everywhere and woven into every setting. I know how difficult it is to give up. I know it’s much more difficult than I’m making it sound with my “insteads.” And I know it’s pretty presumptuous and hypocritical to post this while still drinking.

But I also know that for me to succeed, I will need to be proactive with things to do and say and think, instead.

T-15: The Voice

No, not the TV show. 🙂 This is the voice we all hear inside our own heads. It’s us. It’s our thinking.

So last night, I didn’t drink any alcohol at all. It was fine. Drinking would have required going to the liquor store, and I didn’t feel like doing that, so I didn’t drink. A rare occurrence, yes, but not a very big deal. Except being sober past 6 o’clock seemed to turn on this voice, this series of negative thoughts about sobriety. Thoughts like – you know you can’t do this. It will never work. You’re crazy to consider it. Life without wine will be a flat, boring, misery with nothing to look forward to. Ever. Wow.

This voice was so clever. It didn’t say you need to drink right now. No, that would have been too obvious. Instead it focused on the imaginary future. The imaginary boredom and misery.

Now something else occurs to me. This is the same voice that two or three glasses into the bottle says – you know you’re going to keep going. And then I do.

Maybe this voice isn’t really me. Maybe it’s the addicted part of my brain talking to me, coercing me. It’s clever because who knows us better than our own brain?

Is it possible with enough time sober to dry this pickled section of the brain out, to get it to shut up? To stop trying? How long does it take? I’m afraid my last attempt wasn’t long enough. My clever brain tricked me by saying- look, three drinks in a sitting sounds like a lot now. It doesn’t sound appealing. That means if you’re careful, you can control it.  You don’t have to be that girl – the one who doesn’t drink. You can have it all – the perfect life.

Or maybe the truth is – it never really completely dries up and goes away.  It gets quieter, for sure. But maybe it’s always hanging around, looking for an opportunity to get back to the old ways of thinking.  Is this why people talk about protecting their sobriety?  Maybe the truth is – any voice (at least in my head) that says there is a good reason to drink alcohol is this voice. And maybe it’s just the addiction talking. Maybe it’s not really me.