Fun While It Lasted…

Not to worry, still sober, just not feeling terribly enthusiastic about it today. The freshness and excitement of a new activity, in my case sobriety, has started to dull a bit on Day 11. I craved the relaxation of a nice glass (bottle) of wine (vodka). I fantasized about downing shot after shot as the world gradually melted around the edges. Then I did the unthinkable, I forced myself to finish the fantasy – to play it out to the natural conclusion, and it went something like this:

6pm – Get that first strong drink down and feel the tension melt away as if by magic.

8pm – Begin slurring and stumbling in front of the children.

9pm – Overshare on Facebook.

10pm – Make ill-advised internet purchases.

11pm – Pass out with a moderate case of the spins.

3am – Wake up with a full bladder, headache, and dry mouth. Stumble to bathroom. Chug full glass of water. Lay awake awash in shame and regret.

4am – Still awake. Have to pee again. Somehow still thirsty. Damn water.

5am – Realize I won’t be falling asleep. Take Ibuprofen. More water. Check news on phone. Trump is still president. Fuck.

6am – Fall back asleep.

6:30am – Alarm goes off. Hit snooze 7 times. Hate myself.

7am – Lie in bed although it is becoming alarmingly late and will most likely be late to work. Open phone and see several Facebook notifications. Have vague memory of posting. Check post. Nearly die of embarrassment. Delete post and hope everyone else on feed was also drunk and doesn’t remember.

7:30am – Jump suddenly out of bed realizing the time. Get lightheaded. Sit back down. Through on stretchy work pants and cardigan. Hair in ponytail. Makeup will have to be done en route.

8am – Hate myself and swear I’m never drinking again while sitting in miserable traffic.

9am – Coworkers ask if I’m well. I murmur vague excuse about having a headache while sipping Gatorade. No one is fooled.

12pm – Check bank account. See unknown charges. Become detective to see what Drunk Me bought. Wonder why Drunk Me thought I needed a box of baked cheese snacks and a sweater for the cat.

2pm – Start craving a glass (bottle) of wine (vodka).

6pm – Rinse and repeat.

Am I really willing to give up nearly 11 days of sobriety for a fleeting moment of “relaxation” just to fall back into the miserable cycle? That’s what addiction does to the mind. The beginning almost seems easier, because the pain of the addiction is fresh and real. The further out you get from the acute withdrawal the less it seems like a big deal. The wine witch creeps in and starts whispering.

Maybe I’m overreacting? Surely I can drink on occasion. I’m not a real alcoholic. It wasn’t really that bad. I just needed to recalibrate. I’m fine now. Just one glass. Just one more glass. I’ve earned it.

No. I’ve earned sobriety. I deserve to be the best version of myself I can be. I’ve shed too much blood, sweat, and tears building my career and getting my education to pickle my brain and risk my job. My family deserves to have me fully present. I’ve taken the classes. I’ve read the books. I’ve survived the days of early withdrawal. I’ve have hundreds of Day 1’s and I’ve failed every. damn. time. And maybe I’ll fail again, but not today.

The First 10 Days

Since I did not start this literary journey until my 9th day of sobriety (I hate that word, makes me sound so stodgy, I’ll need to come up with a better adjective), I am going to use this post as a brief overview of how my first days uninebriated (slightly better) went.

Day 1: A Saturday. Was planning on starting this new adventure on January 1st (as I’m not terribly creative), but I was feeling gungho and thought I should just start early so that I can be the designated driver at my husband’s work holiday party that evening, which was to be held at one of my favorite drinking spots. We accidentally arrived at the party 1.5 hours early because he neglected to update his calendar with the appropriate time. I strongly considered ordering a bottle of wine to pass the time, but realizing that by the time his boss and coworkers arrived I would already be louder and friendlier than I should be, decided to hold strong, and ended up playing games on my phone in the car until the appropriate party start time. I spent the evening sipping iced tea and coffee, watching my husband’s coworkers get hammered, and was grateful I could drive us home safely just as the others were starting to think that shots might be a good idea.

Day 2: Sunday morning – Woke up without a hangover! What strange new world is this? Did copious amounts of laundry and had a quiet day. No cravings to speak of.

Day 3: Oh shit, I’m being a real asshole today. This was a rough one. I didn’t necessarily want to drink, but I was extremely moody, overwhelmed, and short-tempered. Happy New Year’s Eve kids! Had a house full of teenagers playing video games and eating me out of house and home. Watched the husband drink his beers and judged him.

Day 4: It’s New Year’s Day! Woke up quite late with a nasty head cold. Otherwise, I had a lovely quiet day sipping tea and soup. I had to return to work the following day and allowed myself to enjoy my last day of rest.

Day 5: Back to work. This is where the triggers come in. Until this point I had been off for the holidays. Now I had to return to deadlines, urgent emails, staff problems, etc. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job, really. However, I have never done my job without having a little something to take the edge off at the end of the day. At around 2pm on a typically workday I do a mental inventory of the remaining alcohol in my home and determine if a stop off at the grocery store might be in order, and I don’t stop thinking about it until I get that first sip upon entering my home. Today, as usual, the thoughts started up and I decided to try a substitute. I picked up a few different types of non-alcoholic wine and beer and gave them a try. Not too bad – not alcohol, but not bad. I don’t particularly enjoy soda or juice as years of dry wine and dark coffee have made them taste cloyingly sweet to me. The non-alcoholic wine still tasted more like juice than wine to me, but not as sweet, and I can drink it in a fancy grown up glass without feeling like a child pretending, which is frankly one of my favorite aspects of drinking. It also helps with the issue of peer pressure. Yes, I’m an educated, self-possessed woman who does not need to give in because others are doing something, but damn if that FOMO isn’t real, and the fake wine allows me to sip on something without making me feel like I’m standing out. (I do realize for some people drinking near beer and fake wine might be a slippery-slope to trigger town. If that is the case for you, by all means find your own method. I’m just trying to find what works for me.)

Day 6: The bestie. This was on a Friday and the bestie came over, as has been a near weekly tradition for the last 15 years and inevitably involves copious amounts of wine. I was not feeling particularly strong, but I chose to observe how I was feeling throughout the night. She had her Malibu and soda (which I hate anyway, way too sweet) and I had a non-alcoholic sparkling pineapple water. At one point we were laughing about something and she commented that even stone sober I’m still a total weirdo, which I took as a high compliment, particularly since I was worried I would be boring. It turns out, if anything, alcohol pushes my personality into annoying territory, and frankly, I’d rather be boring than obnoxious (Far less regret and embarrassment).

Day 7: Bonus to waking up without a hangover this morning – my youngest daughter had her 9th birthday party at a trampoline park today, which normally would have been a nightmare with all the screaming, light, and movement. I would have normally been overwhelmed and grumpy. Today I was actually enjoying being there and watching my daughter and her friends play. My husband and I even got out there with them for a bit, which we have NEVER done before. We ended the day with a date night at a great Italian restaurant and we both opted for water. I focused on actually enjoying the food and ambience – the flavors, the texture, the decor, the twinkling lights. It was lovely.

Day 8: This is officially the longest I’ve gone without a drink in over two years. I felt good. I was productive. I did shitloads of laundry. Did I mention I have 5 children? Dear God, the laundry. And the dishes. And the cooking. The Eldest Child can drive now, which is a godsend, as she is the “involved one”. If there is a club, class, volunteer opportunity, or extracurricular that will require constant driving, she’s in it. She makes me very proud and very tired.

Well, we’re all caught up. Day 9 was in yesterday’s post. Today is Day 10 – double digits, and I won’t lie, the alcohol witch whispered at me during that 2pm hour, but I came home, poured a nice glass of fake Chardonnay, and am sending my musings out into the great unknown.

Day 9 – Well, Here I Am

Yes, that title is a bit confusing, particularly as this is obviously my first blog post. It is, however, my 9th day of sobriety. I had my last alcoholic beverage on December 28th, 2018 and I have no intention of looking back. I’m tired of it – tired of the 3am guilt, tired of the dehydrated mornings, tired of the space alcohol takes up in my brain. I think about it from the moment I get up (regretting my weakness from the night before and promising to make a change) until the time I pass out at night (after a bottle or 2 of wine and several Amazon purchases I will not remember in the morning). So, I’m making a change and putting my journey on the internet for some added accountability.

This isn’t something I feel like I can share in “real life” due to the nature of my career. I am a social worker by education and in management at a large nonprofit organization. I literally work with people needing addiction treatment and have helped many clients down the path to sobriety, followed by going home and downing a bottle of wine just to “cope” with the stress. It takes a special level of cognitive dissonance to be an overly-enthusiastic drinker while in this field, but I am nothing if not the master of excusing my own behavior. Yes, I drink more than the guidelines, but those are only guidelines, suggestions really. I can do it all! I can raise a family, manage a household, work full-time, complete my doctorate, and drink everyone under the table while doing it! I’ve earned the right to relax at the end of a hard day (and during a normal day, and all day on the weekends…).

The truth is I’m a big old hypocrite. How can I teach others what I am unwilling to implement in my own life? How can I dispense wisdom about mindfulness, healthy coping mechanisms, and living your truth when I shamefully drown my stress and anxiety with alcohol. So here I am. I’m looking forward to the journey (and scared shitless).