Day 19, 2020

First of all, I’m proud of myself. 19 fucking days.

Last night I woke up at 3am with a horrid stomach ache and spent an hour with my head in the toilet. It reminded me of the MANY times I had experienced this over the years because of drinking. I kept flashing back to that feeling. The grindy brain, exhausted body, confused, Jeckyll wondering what Hyde had done and why. Hoping for some relief in vomiting.

Last night’s escapade was of course not driven by alcohol however I suspect it may have been a result of the chips, sour cream and cookies I decided to indulge in around midnight. Soooooo, as stated before, I still have some shit to work through. Why am I eating so much? To fill a void. But why? What is that void? I have several suspicions based on what my life is missing. I do not feel like getting into them now.

Today I logged my only meal. An egg with cheese on toast. And tea. I’m such a fucking Britophile. Does that count if you were raised mainly in that culture? Who knows or cares.

I’m going to do a barre exercise in a bit. It’s literally the least I can do. More later maybe.

Day 11, 2020

I have not had much to write about. Things are pretty status quo over here and that’s good. Boring is good. I think I thrived on chaos long enough.

Things I have noticed so far:

    My head is more clear.
    I don’t grind my teeth as much (anxiety not as bad)

    • I stick to staying at home or going to meetings though. Have been avoiding anxiety inducing things on purpose.

    I’m a little calmer, meaning not as moody. (Not something I expected this early on.)

    I’m going to bed earlier.
    I have REALLY messed up dreams. Excruciatingly detailed and just fucking odd.
    I have found places and people who are on my team and that means so much.
    I think I can do this.

I’be been wrestling with the idea of sobriety for several years. My life and behavior have had peaks and valleys and the last couple of valleys were deep. I’ve known that something had to be done for the past 5 years, I guess. When it was simply not cute to be trashed anymore. That crazy/ hazy look does not translate into your late 30s. It just covers you in a giant red flag.

In the past year, an acquaintance posted on Facebook that she quit drinking 4 years ago and her life was much “gentler”. That clicked it in for me. THAT is what I want. Gentleness. Calm. Peace. I was under the impression that I had wine to calm me down, but it was just numbing me out and making me feel more anxious the next day. So, I’d drink to get rid of that. You get the picture.

This gentleness has called out to me. We’ve been thinking of moving west for a couple years now. I want to be near more trees and some water. Gentle. I want to have a view of nature rather than apartment buildings. Gentle. I want to hear birds rather than sirens. Gentle. I want to drink tea rather than wine. Gentle. I want to make the coziest retreat of my home. Gentle. For a while, I pictured how nice it would be to drink wine out on a patio surrounded by trees. But now I realize it’s the trees I want. I mean, I want the wine, but the trees are even better without it.

What am I even talking about?

Tonight we are meeting one of my best friends who is doing a “dry January” and going bowling with the kids. I’ve been looking forward to this all week. Tomorrow, I’ll do a meeting and then a sports ball party that I promised to pop by. I have a seltzer buddy who will be there.

Then back to the grind.

Day 2, 2020

I attended my first AA meeting last night. Well, that’s not entirely true. I attended a couple in the early 00s as part of my partial hospitalization but it didn’t stick. Obviously.

So I went last night. It was a beginners meeting. A guy talked. A few people raised their hands to talk. I sat in the back. The person running the meeting gave me some phone numbers for temporary sponsors. I didn’t talk to anyone though.

The guy who spoke said this was his home meeting. When he came 12 years ago he was welcomed with open arms. Several people mentioned that actually. I was not? I felt alone. That being said, the meeting was mostly men. And I give off an almost aggressively unapproachable vibe. It’s armor. I hate small talk. I am wary around people so I guess I send off a message of “no thanks”. Seriously. That’s why I drink. I’m much friendlier when I’m drunk. Almost aggressively friendly actually.

Many friends that I met in my teens and twenties have said – wow, I thought you were such a frosty bitch. Anyway. I did not leave any room for people to welcome me. I almost ran out of there now that I think of it. I am going to a women’s meeting this evening. Maybe that will go better. From what I understand, you have to try a few before you find one that works for you. I don’t know. At least now I know it is ok to bring tea.

I slept like shit. I knew this would happen based on the last few times I tried to quit drinking. You’d think you’d wake up the first day all refreshed but you don’t. It takes like 4 or 5 days. I’m not sure because I never made it that long. Also my kid couldn’t sleep so he was in and out of my bed. I tried listening to podcasts, white noise… nothing. It was a circus here last night. I’d love to say, well maybe I’ll sleep better tonight but I would up reading at 8:30am and falling asleep again until noon. So I shot myself in the foot. Whatever.

Today was a vacation day for me. My intention was to keep it super chill. Do some writing and reading and not much else. The kid is at school so I have had a few hours of absolute silence. It might have been nice to go for a hike or get a massage but I’m fine with this.

Day 1, 2020. Long and meandering.

I’ve been mentally preparing for this for a while now. I am part relieved and part terrified. The relief comes from letting go of the illness, shame, and anxiety that comes with it. The terror is all anxiety.

I didn’t drink much until my late teens/ early 20s. The first time I really drank at a party, several people commented about how much fun I was. I never talked much in high school. It was nice to be funny and to talk to people I never would have interacted with otherwise.

I started gigging in clubs around that time. I found that a glass of wine before performing helped loosen me up. I moved out with 800 roommates at 20 and we had parties all the time. From that point, drinking became part of my nightly routine. I was mainly surrounded with friends and we were having fun. Somewhere in the past 15 years though, it became something else.

Numbing. Avoiding feelings. Little sleep. Troubled sleep. Odd dreams. Depression. Anxiety. Shame. Guilt. Numbing. Avoiding feelings. Bad decisions. Blackouts. Lost time. Wasted time. Lots of social interaction, little connecting. Numbing. Avoiding feelings. Isolation. Shame. Guilt. Weakness. Defeat. Numbing. Avoiding feelings.

Almost a bottle of wine every night. Or the White Claws when I was trying those out. Minimally 4. Usually 5 or 6. Chain smoking. Not moving. On my back step. ALONE.

On the few occasions I honestly shared this with friends, they thought I was exaggerating. I am not. Not even a little bit.

On big gigs or celebrations, I used to throw down and have fun. Over the past 4 or 5 years, the blackouts started. I put myself in some really fucking stupid situations. I fell down. I would feel mortified when people filled me in. A 40ish tornado ripping through the party. Not cute.

I’ve steadily put on like 10 lbs each year for the past 3. I’ve never been this heavy. A bottle of wine is like 500-700 calories. Each night. Math. The drinking led me to forget my concerns about eating so that would typically result in a stop at the diner on the way home from a gig for some disco fries. Then I’d need a bagel to soak up whatever in the morning. Math.

I used to look younger than my age. Now I look my age. It’s fine but I don’t want to look older because I am vain as fuck. I know several people who look fucking terrible and it’s their lifestyle. Maybe I’m that person to someone else. If I am and it makes them re-examine their choices, then good. But watch out because I’m shaping up* this year, bitch.

I have a feeling I’ll be writing here a lot. I’m afraid of being isolated since the vast majority of my friends are drinkers, some of whom do not have a modicum of control. I am not casting judgment because that is me. I get it. I just know I cannot be around it for a while. I’ve taken the month off from gigging. Actually it might be the first two months.

I’m scared of how I will even talk to people. Even my friends. Mostly because the entire time I’ve known them, our social interaction has been doused in booze. Will we be able to talk? Will they still like this version of me? Will I still like them? What will we do? I’m dreading have to explain this shit over and over each time I reconnect. I’m sure some relationships will suffer, but I think that is just part of life.

I don’t know.

____________________________________________________

*results may vary.

Last Hurrah.

I guess I had my last hurrah last night. It was a good night with lots of friendly faces. I had a lot of drinks. I wasn’t counting. I don’t think I was acting like an asshole… but that’s the thing about drinking. You’re never 100% sure what a weirdo you’re being.

I digress. I shared with a few more people that they might not see me drinking next year. Do you see the “might” in there? That’s fear that I’ll fail. That’s the bargaining I started to do in my head as I told people. I even said “I’m not drinking in January but we’ll see what happens.”

I mean, I guess it’s ok to go in baby steps. But I’ve been feeling really good about my decision to quit and it’s kind of crazy that self-sabotage is already creeping in. Self sabotage has been a gremlin in my brain for most of my life. Panic mode. “You’re not strong enough for this” despite having proven time after time that I’m strong as hell.

In the spirit of “New Year’s Eve” lists, here are some things I will NOT miss about drinking:

  • Wine headaches
  • Sleeping through half the day due to physical recovery
  • Wondering what embarrassing thing I said or did last night
  • Constant heartburn
  • Making terrible decisions about driving… like…
  • Vomiting in the car while driving
  • Falling down/ unexplained bruises
  • Awful, spotty sleep
  • Grinding my teeth to the point of pain
  • Perpetual brain fog
  • Hours/ days/ weeks/ years of wasted time
  • Being unable to trust my own thoughts because they’re soaked in alcohol
  • Accepting problematic behavior from others because I feel guilty and ashamed that I am such a waste of a person

I am looking forward to getting to know myself. I haven’t known myself since my early 20s. The intensely quiet, sensitive, dreamer. The best part of myself. The INFP. The tea drinker and blanket dweller who is happiest with dog and book – either writing or reading.

I’m looking forward to exploring this. I’m a documenter so I’m sure this will result in lots of artwork and/ or songs. Maybe I’ll teach myself how to record some shit. There is equipment here. I know how to do (very) basic stuff. Or maybe I’ll finally get my business idea off the ground.

I also feel like this will make or break my marriage. Either the relationship improves because I stop sitting outside and chainsmoking and gulleting a bottle of wine every night… OR, I become more connected with my thoughts and feelings and gain some clout with clearer mind and heart.

In all aspects, I’m looking forward to some clarity.

Side note. I just had a bite of a chocolate covered gingerbread cookie and I wish I could show you what my face looks like. What a terrible combination – gingerbread and chocolate. I’ll finish it though because that’s how I roll.

The Goodbye Tour continues…

My “goodbye tour” has been less than successful. I contracted a miserable virus last week and had to bow out of several engagements. I’m bummed because I was looking forward to a last hurrah with these folks specifically and I also intended to tell them what was going on. I went out last night and was able to get some solid hang time with some of my people, informing them of my impending sobriety. I even directed a couple of folks over here in case they are so bored that they want to read the ramblings of a middle aged alcoholic with self control issues. Hi friends!

I drank wine last night. That’s been my beverage of choice for the “goodbye tour” and I think it’s because of how shitty it makes me feel the next day. I’m guessing that my subconscious is trying to make sure I am real about this.

I slept like shit. I feel crummy. I prattled at people. I am still on board to not do it anymore next month. Right? Right.

I keep trying to envision what it will look like when I am at gigs or out supporting friends. When I was 28, I spent some time in inpatient and intensive outpatient which is a story for another time. Part of my group therapy was a MISA group – dual diagnosis/ mental illness and substance abuse. I was not allowed to drink during this time. My husband had a gig and I specifically remember ordering some stupid seltzer and cranberry or something and feeling like I wanted to crawl out of my fucking skin. It was so hard being there. I sat outside and chain smoked. I think I brought my sketchbook too. Like… I always need a distraction when I’m out.

I am an introvert. Most people who know me would find this very funny. But I am. My default setting is quiet, observant, and under many blankets. Preferably with a dog. The drinking is how I cope with having to be an extrovert. I suppose I thought that in order to front a band, one needs to be an extrovert. It’s so fucking interesting to unpack this because I am still operating on assumptions I made when I was 22.

Anyway. I’m tired of thinking for now.

Happening.

Yes yes. It’s been a few minutes.

I’m going into treatment in January. My alcohol use is out of my control. I cannot do this by myself. I have told my husband and a couple of close friends. His reaction was “why don’t you just stop.” I’m not even kidding.

Friends have been supportive. I’m not sure if anyone believes I will actually go through with it. But I need to finally follow through with something in my life.

In order to start this thing, I printed out 180 journal pages from 2015 – present so I can see how often I have repeated myself about wanting to quit drinking. I’m very interested in this. So yeah. That is what is happening.

Therapy

My sleep has improved but now I’m a walking histamine. I discovered the cat had been napping in my closet, specifically in my pajama drawer. So I had to re-wash everything. I’m sure I dragged all that cat hair into the bed too. Ugh. We leave for vacation in 2 days so I’m just focusing on that.

I went back to therapy on Tuesday. It had been a couple of years but it was nice to be back. I really like my therapist. She remembered and reminded me that a lot of what I’m dealing with right now is the same as when I was there 2 years ago. She also reminded me that the previous cycle of frustration was about 2 years before that.

I have a big problem taking risks and walking toward the unknown. Fear has been driving the ship my whole life. Bravery pops up every now and then… but man, has it gotten lazy.

My therapist suggests that the frustration and resentment in my marriage is the main cause of my malaise. I agree to a point that it is a factor but I think there are several arms. She says my head and my heart are completely disconnected and we need to find a way to get them to work together.

At a high level, I know exactly what the problems are and I can tell you really self-aware and self-assured solutions. But my feelings are basically a knot that hasn’t been untied in 40 years and they kind of get involved and tangle everything up. We need to work on the flow. The flow. I picked flow as my “word of the year” a couple of years ago. It’s an important word to me. Who knew I didn’t have any?!

It’s funny because I always thought of myself as someone who was pretty emotionally sophisticated. But in actuality, my relationship with feelings is way more cerebral. I can break it down and label it and file away and it’s great. But my OWN feelings are so screwed up from shoving them all into an unlabeled box that I can’t even tell you, honestly, how I am feeling at any given moment. This was a HUGE eye opener for me.

So my “homework” is work on some art art focusing on fear, bravery, and potential.

Another Day of the Living Dead

I slept until 11am today which is SUPER early for me. What an early riser I am! This 41 year old woman. This mother. This employed person.

This isn’t good. I instructed my son to please get dressed today because his father will let him sit around in his underwear all day. I mean, he’s a kid so it doesn’t really matter. But I know how much more “normal” I feel when I force myself to get dressed. Considering his genes, I need to impart some of this wisdom to him however I can. So I said, “please get dressed. Sitting around in your underpants all day is not healthy.” My seven year old’s retort? “Sleeping all day isn’t healthy, mom.”

It felt like a smack. I said, “you’re right. Mommy’s not feeling very good lately.” And because he’s a needler, he felt the need to clarify, “mommy, I’m talking about you.” I love his personality. Oh, I know, kid. And I’m sorry your mom is such a dud.

My best way of connecting with him is by doing art projects together. I am always trying to think of something that won’e more the hell out of him. We’re now painting rocks and leaving them around the park. Then we go out to see if anyone took any. I asked him if he’d like to paint rocks with me tonight and he reluctantly said yes. Is he doing it to make me happy? Shit. How did this happen?

I know I’m depressed when my face feels like a mask. It doesn’t move. It just stays looking sullen. It doesn’t feel connected to my skull. It feels far away. I try to contort it into a friendly thing when I’m at work or if I have to interact with someone at a store. I’m an expert at this shit. I’ve been doing it for over 25 years.

I’m going back to my former therapist. She was wonderful. I just stopped because I was feeling better. I have a hard time being vulnerable in front of them. But I’m so done with this shit. I need to move past this.

Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions…

I’m really indulging in a lazy day. We had day 1 of our show last night so I went out to support. And drink wine. I got back late. Didn’t sleep again but I was able to get some rest this morning. I’ve got some work to do but it’s stuff I can do this afternoon/ evening. Nothing super critical.

The bar did not have had seltzers so I had wine. I wish I had something else because SURPRISE I feel like shit. Whatever. Moving on.

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

Part of me is disappointed that I have not really accomplished much today and part of me is hi-fiving myself for some self care. I’ll do a barre video later. I’d like to spend some time making art. Making plans.

There is a pretty good chance that the company I work for will be closing its doors in the next 2-4 years. I need to make a decision on how to proceed. Do I continue in my current field which is steady and pays well or do I use this time to make some plans on how to live a more creative life?

My ideas include a book (I’m currently working on this), owning/ operating a creative space for workshops, and music. I am currently a professional singer. I am lucky in that I only take the gigs that I want because I already have a full time job. I know could pick up more gigs for extra cash but the main hurdle working artists have to figure out is fucking healthcare and I am not going to go into a political tirade right now. (Stick around though, it’s inevitable if you spend any good amount of time with me.)

My truest passion is art though. It’s where I feel the most magical. Music is a close second and it’s easier to make a few steady bucks doing it than visual art. I’m also better at singing than art. I haven’t shared either here because I’m enjoying the relative anonymity.

I’ve got some books about starting a business and I’m really good at bookkeeping. I also have a few friends who I think would be great fits for running workshops. Lots to think about.