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Don’t Get Drunk Fridays: Me Again

Hi Everyone. I realize that I’ve barely updated my blog for awhile now. I’ve been on a deadline and I’ve had sick children and and and…I still have a few chapters due for my new book but at the same time, I know how important it is to stay current especially when it comes to the drinking stuff. I have been sober for 13 1/2 months now. My year birthday was May 22nd and it was hard earned. Some days I think that it’s all no big deal and other days it’s a huge deal, the only deal. Some days I don’t think about being a non-drinker, not even as a passing thought and then, out of nowhere, I am super pissed that I can’t drink like other people and I find myself spending quality time obsessing about “what it all means” this “being an alcoholic” thing. Like, am I really an alcoholic? That just sounds so harsh. It’s a term I would’ve made fun of before I had to apply it to myself. Am I really a sober person? Do people look at me differently or is it all in my head? When I think like this, I have to start at the beginning: the place where I quit.

Where I was: More unhappy than I would’ve allowed you to believe. To deal with the stressors in my life, I’d turned to the evening drinking, allowing myself to sink into a bottle of wine when circumstances didn’t allow me any other way I could see to relax. I found myself looking so forward to my wine that I began a bit earlier and then even earlier at night. I loved to cook because my pasta sauces were about 80 proof and before I was done cooking I had a nice buzz going too -a splash for the sauce, a splash in my glass, little more for the sauce, lot more for me. Eventually, like a stream of water rolling down a rock, my behavior wore a groove. Drinking wine felt like home to me. It was my comfort, the only way I knew to feel good. I slowly started arguing with myself that perhaps what I was doing wasn’t good for my liver. Maybe it wasn’t good for my body. But I reasoned with myself that I wasn’t hurting anyone else so what was the big deal? I might’ve gone on that way for longer but the real problem was that the wine stopped working. Isn’t that a bitch? Instead of feeling good, slightly tipsy and more loving; I just felt out of it. No amount of adjusting my dosage really got me where I needed to be and then one day in a horrible moment of clarity, I knew without any doubt whatsoever that it needed to stop. Today. I had so much to lose.

What happened: I asked for help. I called a friend, a sober friend, and asked her what to do. I didn’t feel like I had a choice but when I look back, I realize that I did have a choice, I always had a choice, and I chose wisely. I do give myself a lot of credit for that because, fuck, it was hard! I had to concede to my innermost self that I did indeed have a problem with alcohol. As much as I love the stuff, I can not safely drink it. That is huge, people! The admission! It’s big, powerful stuff. It’s not for the whiny or the wishy washy although I’ve been both. It takes a smashing of your own ego, and a lot of willingness and dare I say, desperation. I had to talk about it constantly, remind myself every day of why I was doing this and I had to do something I didn’t know I’d have to do: grieve the loss. Not drinking at night was like having a break-up with a boyfriend. I knew it was the absolute right thing to do, I knew the relationship was toxic, but damn if there wasn’t a part of me that didn’t think I could live without it. I thought about calling booze during weak moments, I wanted alcohol to comfort me through my break-up with alcohol. I wanted one last screw. But just like with a break up, one can’t get over it that way. I had to go cold turkey and eventually, eventually, slowly, slowly, as I built up more and more time between myself and my last drink, I felt better.

I had to realize that my relationship with needing to relieve my anxiety predates my drinking. The drive to unwind goes all the back to compulsively eating Halloween candy at five or even just eating thirds of macaroni and cheese at twelve. I’ve never been into meditation or long hot baths or anything that involves patience when waiting to feel better. I’m still not. Each to her own.

How it is now: Slowly I have worn a new groove in that rock. For a long time I had to sit with clenched teeth and watch TV at night wondering if anything would ever feel fun or easy again. But, like I said, I don’t notice it as much now. When I hang on the couch at night with Jon, I don’t automatically think about drinking. I wonder why So You Think You Can Dance is a big hit and I obsess over the Bachelorette and wonder how any guy could be attracted to a woman who is so completely devoid of personality but I don’t feel like something’s missing anymore. I will tell you that I still have to ask for the willingness everyday to continue on this path. I have to be willing to go through days that are hard without having an easy out. But I do it. One day at a time.

And you can too.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 2, 2010 6:08 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday18 comments  

18 Comments

  1. rebecca said,

    I love hearing about how great you’re doing staying sober and all, but I’d really like to see those beautiful girls and hear some updates on the three of them! If you have the time and all
    rebecca´s last blog post ..My Flowers Make Me Happy

    | July 2, 2010 @ 7:38 pm

  2. Corinne said,

    One day at a time is right. I needed to read this post tonight… as I sit here, at my inlaws vacation condo, with a platter of alcohol on the kitchen counter. And a closet full of wine. Seriously. I’m going freaking nuts.
    So thank you for coming to your blog and writing today :)
    Corinne´s last blog post ..Open

    | July 3, 2010 @ 12:58 am

  3. Ginger said,

    Damn! That was a great post…

    It really is like a crushing break up…
    But it really does get easier and I certainly never would have thought that 31 days ago. (It helps that I’m on the rebound with ginger ale and POM.)

    Gotta say — no pressure or anything — but I really look forward to your Friday posts.

    | July 3, 2010 @ 1:22 am

  4. GirlzMommy said,

    Thank you SO much for this post! I really needed to read that today. I’m sober 55 days today and my story is so much like yours it’s not even funny!

    This past week was tough for me and I too started with those same thoughts – missing the wine at night, enjoying being able to relax with it, wishing I could be like “normal” people, whatever that means! LOL

    But I need to remember why I stopped drinking (I couldn’t control it) do some more behavior modification when I’m home and the kids have gone to bed.

    It just helps so much to hear from other moms who sound so much like me – I love my AA mtgs but so many stories are so severe, I just have a hard time relating to some. I was blessed to have stopped myself very early and hope I avoided much of the misery you hear about so often.

    So thanks for sharing!!

    | July 3, 2010 @ 1:37 am

  5. Mommy on the Spot said,

    I really enjoy reading your posts about your journey of sobriety. Thank you.

    And a new book – can’t wait to read it!

    | July 3, 2010 @ 1:45 am

  6. Melinda said,

    “It takes a smashing of your own ego, and a lot of willingness and dare I say, desperation.” The most courageous words I have ever heard spoken/written. There was a reason you posted this tonight- as if it was just for me. Thank you thank you thank you.

    | July 3, 2010 @ 3:35 am

  7. Kelly said,

    Thank you , THANK YOU! You are helping more people than you could ever know.

    | July 3, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

  8. seekingclarav said,

    My God I feel every bit of your post. Thanks for writing that, it’s good to hear from you.
    seekingclarav´s last blog post ..Six months sober-

    | July 4, 2010 @ 3:30 am

  9. Leslie said,

    Hi – first time reader, I found you through BlogHer. I’ll be back regularly. Thanks so much for this.

    | July 4, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

  10. Javier Mendoza said,

    Wow. What a great post. Thanks for sharing the reality and rawness of your story. I love the line you added “Eventually, like a stream of water rolling down a rock, my behavior wore a groove.”

    Cheers….here is to new grooves….

    JM
    Javier Mendoza´s last blog post ..Saigey

    | July 5, 2010 @ 6:07 am

  11. muskrat said,

    I’ve always wondered why so many people spend hours every night watching TV…now I get it–so they won’t drink! I think that’s great.

    Happy for your progress.

    | July 5, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

  12. Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said,

    Ha! She really doesn’t have a personality, does she?
    Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist´s last blog post ..Book giveaway and interview- Sarah Pekkanen- author of The Opposite of Me

    | July 6, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  13. Kendra said,

    Extremely well said. Congratulations on the continuing milestones, and thank you for continuing to speak out. That takes courage.

    | July 6, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

  14. Ellie said,

    Gad, this hit home.

    I’ve missed your posts – glad to see you writing here again.

    I, too, can sail along on the seas of sobriety without giving it much thought, but when those thoughts come it’s like a rogue wave knocking me over, drowning me.

    I have come to make peace with the A word, though. I guess I realized it doesn’t really matter what it’s called – it’s just what I am.

    Mostly, I’m proud and happy to be free of the freaking obsession – when it comes now it doesn’t last long, although it can put me in moods that make my family flee for safer ground.

    I can’t wait to read your next book. Hopefully most of the madness of pushing that puppy out is passing.

    You continue to inspire, Stef. I’m so grateful you’re here.

    -Ellie

    | July 7, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

  15. Lisa H. said,

    And I thought I was the only one who thought getting sober was like breaking up with a charming, but shitty boyfriend. Oh, and the grief. I grieved so much my first year. I still have a twinge or two now and then, but I can see things from a better vantage point now. Clarity is a wonderful thing, drinking or not drinking.

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It is such a gift, as are you.

    | July 9, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

  16. Barbara Banfield said,

    Thanks for your honesty and humility Stefanie. Congratulations on your time! I loved how you compared giving up alcohol to a break-up. My sobriety date is 7/19 – I will have 22 years. Living sober in a world that encourages drinking takes some getting used.

    Being sober means we get to truly experience life. There is an aliveness and connectedness that surpasses any drunk or high. I’ve had my share of loss and heartache in sobriety but being sober has allowed me to move through it. Life will through us curve balls. How we play them determines the quality of our lives. I love that at 52, I am able to look at the world with the wonder and curiosity of a child – much more fun than being buzzed.

    The break-up with alcohol is a grieving process.

    Falling in love with sobriety is on the other side of that.

    Much peace and joy to you Stefanie.

    Barbara Banfield

    | July 14, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

  17. Desiree Cruz said,

    What an honest, and raw look at what it’s like to give up drinking.

    Much luck to you in your journey.
    Desiree Cruz´s last blog post ..What Do Food Cravings Mean

    | July 17, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

  18. lisa said,

    Your words and story have helped me so much!

    | July 22, 2010 @ 1:38 am

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