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.