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 4, 2020

Attended a meeting last night. Saw some of the folks I met on Thursday. This morning I had a therapy appointment. Now I’m at Starbucks using their WiFi like a fancy person. I still have no idea what I’m doing when I come here. It’s another language I’m not interested in learning. There is one… “barista” here who becomes visibly annoyed when I order a medium black tea. You mean Venti? Sure. Whatever medium is. What kind of black tea? Christ.

I went to Urban Outfitters today because my head was cold and my hair looks ridiculous so hat. I tried on a pair of pants and laughed and laughed. I felt like a grandma walking in there. Everyone who worked there was either in a half shirt or looked like they were in their pajamas. Kids. I don’t get it, but hi fives to them. I wore ridiculous shit too. The many hair colors. The Doc Martens. Glitter. I wore most of the stuff in there 25 years ago. Adorable. But it is clear that I do not need to be shopping there anymore.

Speaking of shopping, it appears that I have been doing a lot of that lately. I really need to rein that in. I have a tendency to compulsively shop and I’ve definitely been doing that. A caveat is that I usually do some shopping for myself after Christmas because of sales and not receiving Christmas presents anymore. If it continues past this week, I’ll re-examine.

I did an afternoon meeting today. It was nice. Maybe about 10 women and they were very nice and welcoming. I got more numbers. I’m not sure when people get sponsors or if you have to seek them out or what but I’m not there yet. I think most of the women I’ve met are not in that role yet. Someone in the Facebook group I’m in suggested making the gym part of my nighttime routine and I love it. That’s what I’ll do tonight. Saturday night should be pretty empty there.

No sleep till?

Up, dog walked, double tea and English muffin made, iPad out for writing. All before 10am. Who is this?

For starters, this is a person running on fumes. I slept for about an hour and a half, woke up for 3 hours, slept for 3, watched some Facebook videos, and gave up. When this happened yesterday, I tried real hard to fall back asleep at 8am. I probably ultimately dozed off around 9 until noon. Intriguing shit, man. So yeah, I’m probably gonna need a nap.

I already received a check-in text from one of the women I met last night. I thought that was really nice. I’ll read a bit this morning, attend a meeting in the afternoon, hang out with W, and then go to a Kundalini yoga and meditation class tonight. I’m terrified because I don’t really know what that is. I have a therapy appointment tomorrow.

One thing I’ve learned from years of warring with depression, is that I need to set up safe places and lighthouses when things get rough. I think I’ve been navigating that pretty well so far. Unfortunately, the support at home is minimal. My husband, who is not much of a drinker, has been having wine with dinner despite telling me he didn’t have to drink. He has not checked in with a “how’s it going?” Or “how are you doing?” Or even a pat on the back. This is par for the course. I can’t worry about him or his lack of empathy right now because my focus is on getting through this. My parents are unaware that I am quitting. I’m not sure if they really know that I have a problem. I typically keep it in check around them and make up for it at home. They’re not really drinkers either. Thus, meetings and networking, and building a support system from scratch.

Shit. I am so tired.

Meeting 2

I had meeting #2 of 2 this evening. It was a women’s meeting so I felt less apprehension. As I walked in, a woman asked if I was here for the meeting and sat down beside me to chat. She introduced me to several other women before and after the meeting. That small act of kindness went miles in making me feel comfortable. This was a “Step” meeting and I honestly had no idea what to expect. I know one of them is to “make amends” but that’s about it.

This meeting was about Step 6. I am no expert but it sparked discussion about the defenses we hold onto. Kind of the shadow self and why it is there and how to deal with it. One woman commented that she chose to change ways when they brought her “enough pain” and everyone chuckled. There was a common feeling that we all had pretty incredible tolerance for pain. The discussions at tonight’s meeting were more meaningful to me. Maybe because I felt welcomed. Maybe because it was all women. I don’t care why. I just care that it did.

Afterwards, some of the women stopped outside to smoke. I joined them and we talked for about a half hour. I got a page of maybe 25 phone numbers and 2 of the girls texted me while we were there because I mentioned that I’m not great at reaching out. I always feel like I’m burdening people. They let me know the meetings they’d be attending over the next few days and invited me to join them.

It was a relief to talk to these women who FUCKING UNDERSTAND. The anger. The shame. The relentless agony of craving and fear of missing out. The HOURS wasted for NOTHING. The quick thrill of the first glass and the disappointment in chasing that feeling until the wee hours of the morning. Never learning the lesson that it will never happen. Each assured me that it gets better.

I reached out to a couple of (male) friends who are in the program and received such warmth and support from them. Each offered to accompany me some time. A couple of faraway friends who are sober now also offered to be a sounding board. It’s incredible how much people want to help you once they have been through it. I suppose that goes to show what a fucking dark place it can be before the starting line.

One woman and I laughed about how we thought we could drink like normal people but the fact is that “normal” people would never ever have that thought cross their mind.

I’m cautiously optimistic. Today was a really good day. I have my meetings lined up for the weekend including a yoga class tomorrow night. I’m hoping this feeling continues. I hope I can get away without facing too much FOMO this weekend.

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.