DAY 88, 2020

I cannot believe I am almost at 90 days. I do not miss drinking. Each time I have a craving, I flash to the headache feeling or the sloppy, mortifying person I become when I drink. I am more quiet and thoughtful. I am becoming more secure in who I am – the creative parts, the deep thinking parts, the analytical parts, the woo woo parts. I am becoming who I have been meant to be.

I don’t think this is all alcohol related. I think this is part of growing into oneself. I am sure that everyone, whether the realize it or not, is slowly changing over a 90 day period for better or worse. The good news is, you get to start a new 90 day period every day if you want.

I don’t mean to sound high and mighty about this. It’s been hard work. It’s been strange navigating my relationships as a non-drinking person. Drunk Me had few boundaries and went with the flow for the good of the fucking party. Just saying that is gross. I put up with words and behavior and situations that would now qualify as wildly unhealthy, unsafe, and unacceptable.

I feel more powerful now. I feel power in the word “alcoholic” because it indicates that I am willing to look honestly at that part of myself and not run away.

TRIGGER WARNING – depression, self-harm, suicidal behavior

I have been thinking about my twenties a lot lately. My soul was so lost. I was a ghost. I barely existed where I stood. I’ve spoken here about how I drank to fit in and to make it more comfortable to interact with people.

When I wasn’t drinking though, I was severely depressed. I tried dozens of combinations of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. At 24, I drove my car into a pile of rocks and then drove the clunking car straight to the emergency room. I was fine from the small collision. But I wanted to die. My senses were heightened. Everything in my eyesight was sharp, yet I felt like I was just a pilot in my body. That last little shred of reason left in my brain knew I needed to get help.

As I drove, I sliced into my arms and legs with a broken CD case. It was all I could find. I felt possessed. I was conflicted. I didn’t know how I would pay for this but that small pilot directed me in. I answered so many questions. The room was tan. The furniture was vinyl.

The next step is fuzzy. I did not stay overnight. I must have gone home? But looking back, I’m not sure how I escaped the mandatory 72 hour hold. The next thing I remember is going to intensive outpatient. I did that for a couple of months.

My face bloated from all of the medication. Also, you’re not supposed to drink on that shit but clearly I didn’t adhere to that. I remember being at a music festival and my friend was taking pictures (with a real camera lol) and he said to me… I don’t know if I have ever seen you smile.

I was in this perpetual heavy conversation with myself in my head. I always felt like I should be doing more and should have amounted to more and should should should all over myself. I didn’t measure up. I didn’t finish college. I stopped singing. I kept painting though. That always got me through.

I don’t remember a lot of specifics from my twenties. All of the vignettes I recall are standing in a kitchen and drinking and smoking cigarettes and not feeling comfortable. I had a boyfriend through this period of time. We had gotten engaged actually. He was a nice guy. Smart. Also liked to party. We were toxic to one another.

I remember his mom asking me why I was so sad. I couldn’t answer. Partially because she terrified me (I was not alone in this) and partially because I simply did not know. I remember one day she held my face and said I just wish you could be happy. She meant it. It was kind… and intense. But she meant it. I guess I just exuded sadness.

I think our 50th breakup might have been the last. We still talk on occasion. He’s a good guy. I know why I loved him. And I know why we didn’t last.

That was a lot. That can count as a chapter. There’s another one but I don’t have the energy for it right now.

The good news is that we all know the ending, or at least the chapter we’re in now, is fine.

I didn’t even talk about this quarantinsanity. Next post.

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 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 40, 2020

I had my first gig without alcohol on Friday. Also, it was a Battle of the Bands which I swore UP and DOWN that I would NEVER do again but playing in front of new faces and ears is good for us and it’s what we need to be doing right now. The venue had my favorite seltzers which was good but I did feel a bit out of sorts.

I was anxious. Now, we were in a completely new place and playing under pressure so I’m sure I’d have been anxious anyway but doing this without my band-aid was a little rough. BUT I did it. I felt the things. I sequestered myself. I feel like I just walked around in circles for a while. But I got through it and didn’t drink any alcohol. Afterward, we were all freaking exhausted. One of the guys brought beer to bring back but only one was opened and everyone was asleep by 12:30. Rock star life, man.

Bunch of grandmas.

It was nice to not be hungover in another city. We enjoyed a brunch and MAN I wanted a Bloody Mary. I considered asking for a virgin one but that would probably be disgusting. So, I enjoyed my tea and a great egg sandwich. Both places we ate were really on point and I am a little snobby. Way to go, Baltimore. Thank you for being a friend.

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.