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 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 7, 2020

I’ve never gotten this far. This is kind of crazy. In 20 years. I’ve drank through the flu; bronchitis; viruses. Sure, I’d go a day or two maybe if I was vomiting. But that’s about it.

Let’s play with some math. Let’s say I got sick 3 times in a year. We’ll call it 2 days without alcohol. I’ll subtract 270 days for 9 months of pregnancy. That’s 120 days out of 7030 that I didn’t drink. That is… 1.7% of 20 years. I did not drink on 1.7% of the days in 20 years. Holy fucking shit. Sure, I’m probably forgetting about a couple days here and there but that will take me up to what – 2%? 3%? Even 5% is fucking problematic.

Anyway. I went to another women’s meeting last night and that’s the way to go for me. I saw some familiar faces and met more nice women. I have another at 5pm today. I’m still feeling a bit raw and afraid to go out or even connect with people who actively drink. I need to protect my energy. First and foremost. We’ll see.

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.