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.

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.

Sober October

l’m always trying to come up with some sort of gimmick to help me make better lifestyle choices. Sober October is no different. I’m going to try it. I have several things on my calendar that will be challenging but I’m gonna give it a shot.

This is my power season so I don’t need anything to dull me out. I need to tap in. Once again, I am already scrambling toward excused days. Apparently some people raise money for a charity while not drinking. I’m not sure I’m ready to take it to that level of sharing and sponsorship. Mainly because it’s terrifying. I don’t have a big level of trust in myself.

I would love to know how it feels to have good sleep and not wake up late and exhausted. Also, I caught a glimpse of myself in a reflection at the store the other day and it was really alarming. I looked old.