Day 74, 2020

I am doing well. I mean there is a global pandemic and all but as well as one can do in this situation. We are embarking on having my son home from school for the next two weeks at minimum. I have a very ambitious schedule printed out during which I will have to find blocks of time to work. I have a feeling I will be pulling nights. I don’t mind. It all evens out.

I had a dream the other night that I drank. In the dream, I hadn’t realized it. I just drank a glass that was handed to me and continued to drink without thinking. Then, in a panic, realized that I had ruined everything. I was very upset.

In the morning, it took a bit for me to realize that I had not in fact had a drink. A good friend’s Dad who has been in the program for a long time reached out to me today and we went back and forth with stories. He was also a musician and acknowledged the very specific obstacle we have to endure being that alcohol is ever present in our industry. Aside from being exposed to it almost every time we play, it’s not only accepted, but expected to partake while we are playing. I digress. I told him about the dream and about how upsetting it was and he imparted that the longer you make it, the more precious it becomes. And that made a lot of sense.

We also talked about narcissism and alcoholism and how they tend to go hand in hand. It was a funny, honest, and much needed conversation. I am luck to have such people in my life.

Not sure if I mentioned that my neighbors are also program veterans and have been checking in with me. It’s nice to know that other people have gone through this and are living productive, peaceful, and fun lives. That normal changes.

Day 64, 2020

I past the two month mark and am feeling really good. Well, in terms of the drinking. The bigger picture is a little more complicated. I’m feeling really disjointed and tired from worrying about my cousin. I’ve started a GoFundMe for her and we have gotten a good response. I’m so concerned for what her life is going to look like going forward. The septic shock has caused irreversible damage to her lungs, kidney, and extremities.

Once she is released which is likely a long way from now, my aunt is going to take her home to care for her. My aunt was a nurse for many years but is in poor health herself. My cousin’s kids are good kids but they are young adults without much direction. I’m worried for all of them. This worry is taking up a lot of brain space.

I am all over the place with most of my commitments. At work, I’m managing to stay on top of things, but it’s a big task to gear up and actually get things done. As for mu music stuff, we’re on a relatively critical timeline and I’m finding that my energy and focus on it is practically nonexistent. My business opportunity and idea has fallen to the wayside as well.

I’ve kind of dived into art. It’s a sanctuary for me to escape to. I have been listening to a lot of Mari Boine and painting. It’s grounding and helpful.

I have many angel friends who have checked in on me. I’ve been taking time each day to think about how thankful I am for the flexibility of my job, the strength of my friendships, and the oasis of art.

I did not think I’d go this deep today.

3 gigs this week. Yesterday was a wedding showcase that I was DREADING. I felt aloof and unprepared. Lo and behold, it went well and I actually felt some joy in my heart afterwards. I really love that crew. Tomorrow, a group of NY/ NJ musicians band together at the legendary Bitter End for Hemopalooza, benefiting the NYC Hemophilia chapter, which is near and dear to my heart. Hi Max! Also, get it? Saturday, we are back at our “home bar” for a 3 sets. I’m a bit worried about this one since I’m usually in bed by 11 lately… and we start at 10. So that should be interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing my people but a little worried about my first 3 set gig at my favorite bar.

Also, I just got a call. I have to appear for jury duty tomorrow.

WHAT A FUCKING TIME. Bye.

Day 47, 2020

I took a dance class over the weekend and loved it. I can’t wait until next Saturday to take it again. I was impressed with myself. I haven’t lost my ability to follow choreography relatively quickly. Afterwards, I met one of my best friends for lunch. She has also quit drinking and is doing great. We talked about lot of shared experiences with this – how bad it got, not remembering big events we attended, being embarrassing, the constant recovery mode. It was good to relate and it was a relief to know that we had just as much fun without the bottle(s) of wine.

To be honest, I have worried how my relationships will change. I think about it A LOT. I’ve already seen some friendships begin to fade and it’s a fucking bummer. I’ve retreated a lot this past month and a half because I have been doing some HARD WORK. I don’t know when I’ll resurface. I’m not ready right now.

I spent a lot of time doing all of the things. Going to all of the dinners and events. Checking in on all of the people. I had to be at all of the places. I couldn’t miss a THING. If I did, I’d become irrelevant. People would forget about me. I would fade away.

And that may be true in some cases. And that’s ok. The years of permeable boundaries and trying to be “supportive” of virtually everyone, left me depleted. I mean, the whole thing was unhealthy – my need to be liked and my need for meaningful relationships were often at odds. Being a good person will remain important but I don’t have to be everyone’s best friend. I should keep an eye out for those who return that care and focus on them. I am lucky to have a good handful of those folks.

This is as far as I am gonna because I’m on the beach of some dense and murky stuff that I am not interested in dealing with right now. My boundaries are re-forming. I have to take care of myself, my needs, and my health for the foreseeable future.

But yeah. I really loved that dance class.

What the fuck.

Day 43, 2020

In trying to re-structure my time and make up for all of the cheesecake I’ve eaten over the past 43 days, I purchased two beginner packages to local exercise studios.

I took a “mindful yoga” class on Monday which was really lovely EXCEPT for the guy next to me. I was irritable to begin with. I knew this guy was trouble when I heard him humming loudly in the hallway. He was huffing and puffing and humming and set his mat up TOO CLOSE to mine. I moved over. I had death lasers in my eyes.

Throughout the class, this creature is SNIFFFFFLING on the “breathe ins” and HAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHING on the “breathe outs”. Like, picture telling a small child to breathe in and breathe out and having them over exaggerate while shooting snots in every direction. It was like that except it was a sweaty man in his thirties.

NOW… I am married to someone who is on the spectrum and has a tick disorder. I try to be gentle-hearted with people who don’t seem to be able to control atypical behaviors. HOWEVER, I feel strongly that this was just a guy who was used to taking up a lot of space and not taking any other humans into consideration. He had a wedding band. I want to call his wife.

So that happened.

Then last night I went to a barre class. I danced for about 10 years and did some musical theater where dancing was involved afterwards. (This experiment led me to realize I am NOT a musical theater person.) I’ve taken barre classes before and kind of arrogantly enjoyed them. I’ve heard people say they were really hard and I felt pretty smug about the fact that I didn’t think they were tough at all. WELL… the class I took last night put me in my place.

I had to stop. I was sweating like a waterfall. That teacher kicked my ass. And it was good. Initially, I was like “can I just leave”? But I pushed through and was really proud of myself. My body was FUCKING EXHAUSTED afterwards and I climbed into bed at 11pm. I slept like a baboon.

I don’t know how baboons sleep but that image just made me laugh.

So yeah, I’m trying not to be a sedentary chip-vacuum. Tonight, I can try Mindful Yoga again or maybe do an online thing at home. Or go to the regular gym. I have to do one of those things though.

Day 33, 2020

I have an old drinking friend from the time I was maybe 19. She makes delicious dinners and we sit at her table and drink and chain smoke and it is gloriously without filter or airs. I’ve been wondering what our friendship would look like if I stopped drinking. I am happy to report that I went to her house for a wonderful dinner with another friend, brought a six pack of Sprite Zero, and had a fantastic time. I went home quite a bit earlier than usual (10pm seems to be when I turn into a pumpkin) but it was a lot of fun. She had no idea that I had quit drinking. I told her Friday. I felt comfortable and relieved. I also was happy to be in my bed by 10:30.

Day 30, 2020

30 days is a thing right? And tomorrow will be the full month of January. I have no intention to drink so I’m pretty confident I’ll meet that goal.

Man… I am fucking impressed with myself. I’m giving myself a pat on the back. I’m gonna reflect a minute if you please…

I am comfortable. I am well rested. I am full of cheesecake and cookies. I never realized how much I love cheesecake actually. And I never realized how terrible it is for you. My mood is more even from hour to hour and day to day. I’ve slowed down.

I did some major shopping over the first couple of weeks. I was a little overindulgent but most things were art supplies and creative items that I’ll put to good use. My creative drive is humming. I’m working on lots of wonderful projects. I’ll be submitting my Sketchbook Project book on Saturday and I’m very excited about that.

One of the things I was seeking when I decided to stop drinking was/ is a “gentler life” and I think I am finally realizing that. I’m gaining a better idea of what that means and how that feels. The grindiness of being drunk and recovering each day wears on you physically and mentally. Whatever I’m feeling right now is so much better.

I will do the same thing tomorrow and the next day. Well, one day at a time I suppose.

Day 28, 2020

It’s been a few minutes but I’m still here. Still not drinking. 28 days. I cannot believe it. As I say almost every time… I’ve never even come close to this.

I went out to a bar last week. Cabin Fever has been setting in and some friends were playing a show about a half hour away. This was my first trip to a bar since being alcohol free and it was weird. This particular bar is weird to begin with so that may have added to my vibe. In any case, I survived and am not itching to do it again any time soon.

First of all I felt REALLY self conscious. I just wanted to hide. I have a CVS receipt of physical hangups and I cannot drown them in Pinot Grigio anymore. So I’m feeling really awkward. I found it difficult to hold conversations because my self-consciousness was taking up a lot of space in my brain and I find that I simply don’t have much to say sometimes.

Other peoples’ conversations became more erratic and intense and I wasn’t riding that wave. I went outside to smoke a couple times. And I Irish Goodbyed which is something I was NEVER able to do when drinking because I had to say goodbye to EVERYONE individually. Unless I was in blackout mode. Then I would disappear. Ugh. Is having to say goodbye to everyone another shard of narcissism? Like everyone cares deeply whether you’re there or not. Hahahha.

I’ve learned a bit in the AA meetings I’ve attended and that is that alcholics are fucking selfish. I can’t disagree. This kind of self-centered and self-important behavior is not natural. I mean, I am also a recovering Catholic so there’s probably some residual guilt in ever considering oneself in any situation. Maybe I’m somewhere in the middle. Maybe it doesn’t fucking matter.

I’ve got a lot of shit to do at work this week and I’m trying to focus on that. I’m now being asked whether this “dry January” thing will end on February 1. For me, no. My response is, “I am doing this indefinitely. I need to figure out how to exist without it before I would ever consider doing it again.” I really feel like I’m fine without it. Seriously. If you asked me 3 months ago, I would not have agreed with that statement.