Day 23

Monday

On our way home. Made it through the four days without alcohol! I’m a little sick of AF drinks, might have ODed on kombucha (but also turned a friend on to it, and learned of another friend who makes her own!), and am still dealing with the blowback of the wedding night fight, but otherwise feeling great.

I’m proud of myself for staying strong, and grateful to my friends for not questioning too much. I got a few looks and the initial, “You sure you’re not pregnant??” questions, but everyone was supportive and left it alone. I actually ended up having a few long conversations with a friend who is concerned with her fiancĂ©’s drinking habits, and didn’t have much to offer except a listening ear-but I think it helped her process some thoughts.

One of the most important things I learned on this trip was that I can still have fun (in fact, maybe more fun) without the booze. My friends and I rocked that dance floor, even trying out a bunch of new line dances with the “young kids”, and I may have made a fool out of myself by wearing a horse mask and sexy dancing in front of everyone. Dead sober.

It occurred to me later that I probably wouldn’t have participated in those dances, certainly not donned the horse mask before due to lack of confidence. Somehow for me, alcohol reduced my self confidence, not the other way around. 

I also learned that there were many people, friends, who weren’t drinking much at all, and  prior to quitting, I would have been oblivious… but now, I was aware and able to take advantage of being sober to really connect with them, late into the night. Before, I would have felt like I was connecting because I was talking loudly or cracking jokes but it would have been at the expense of true connection. And I would have very little memory of the evening of the event.

I will admit to using pot a few times on the trip to escape the feeling of being an outsider, when everyone else was drunk. But I am also seeing how much this reduces the experience in the end, and causes me to question myself… plus the “toxic self-shaming” that comes the day after if I’ve had an argument or other behavior I’m not proud of (terminology from my Living Sober online group, which was also a huge support this weekend) Not sure I want to quit that yet, but I’m learning the value of being 100% present in my own life and am getting more reluctant to give that up for a temporary and somewhat damaging high.

Feeling the self-love today, in spite of the interpersonal stress between C and I. 

Day 22

Sunday

How did last night go? Horribly and wonderfully at the same time. I drank water or lemonade all night, barely missed the alcohol and had an absolute blast on the dance floor and chatting with friends, really connecting. When it started to get to the end of the night, and everyone was buzzing with booze-I slipped out and had a puff with another like-minded soul I’d met at the beach house. Great conversation and connection with everyone.

Except my husband

I won’t get into the petty details but suffice it to say, the wedding was a reminder of the love lost between us and we got in a fight.

Although I apologized twice and tried to bridge the gap, “Let’s not let this ruin our night, please?” he is slow to forgive and spent the rest of the evening either hidden away somewhere or actively avoiding me.

Even when we returned to the house, we weren’t able to patch it up-having a couple nasty raised-voice arguments in various rooms, probably within earshot of our friends. 

Part of me wants to throw in the towel but part of me realizes what a major shift I’m going through right now and the need to hold still and wait. What’s the advice-Don’t make any major decisions in your first year of sobriety?

Tired of reaching out to patch things up and being turned away, when the fault goes both ways. He does not come my direction but I so want the rest of this trip not to be ruined. Guess I’ll probably be trying again at some point or just doing my new normal of ignoring his pout and enjoying myself regardless.

Before he stormed out the last time last night, he waved his hand at me and said, “whatever THIS is, I don’t like it”. And I, in the heat of the moment said, “It’s sobriety. Get used to it!”

I’m not sure if that is exactly true but I know that my negative emotions about our marriage are much closer to the surface now that I’m not burying them under a thick blanket of alcohol. Not sure where that leaves us, but guaranteed I will be ruminating over it unhealthily in the alone time that C’s pout will afford me.

 

Day 21

Saturday

Today is the big day! My first sober wedding. And it seems appropriate that I’m wearing my Quit Ring, that arrived right before we left town. I decided to get a ring for my start date, and then similar stacking rings for important milestone dates: first month (coming up!), first 6 months, first year, then yearly… assuming I go beyond a year.

While this lovely couple commits their lives and love to each other, I am making a promise to love myself more in many ways, but primarily in staying quit. It hasn’t been until this year that I realized the importance of loving oneself first and foremost, as the foundation of a happy life and healthy relationships.

Its our adult homework, to find our truest self and love the shit out of it when we do. Not easy, but at least I’m consciously on the path now.

Vaporizer is packed, exit strategy in place, hot bandage dress ready…Wish me luck tonight! 

Day 20

Friday

We made it down, car full of friends and lots of talk about booze on the trip. But I’d packed my NA drinks and was quite content. Immediately on arrival, the beers were cracked and celebratory bourbon poured for all.

It was noted that I wasn’t drinking and I just said, “I quit”. No one questioned much beyond that, except our closest friends who started hounding me about being pregnant. I quickly squashed that rumor and happily downed a microbrew root beer.

Now it’s Day 2 of the trip and except for a few moments of feeling bored and escaping to our room (we’re in a large 9-bedroom, 9-bath beach house that backs right up to the water) I haven’t missed the alcohol one bit!

As I lay on a beach chair earlier after a long soak in the hot tub, I realized I’m learning how to relax with the aid of alcohol. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s nice knowing it doesn’t come with a penalty.

Tomorrow is the wedding and I’m looking forward to partying with the crew and the possibility of a toke later in the evening. May or may not have time to post but am holding strong!

 

Day 18

Wednesday

T minus 3 days and counting… to the first real test of my sobriety.

Tomorrow, we leave town with a few of our friends to drive 8 hrs south for a wedding on the Outer Banks. The wedding is Saturday, and man, am I anxious. I haven’t really told anyone about quitting – and this will be a large group of all of our close beach friends, so close they’re almost family. Guaranteed they will all be drinking most of the time we’re there. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I think there is even a brewery tour planned.

I’ve got my “no thanks” conversation planned (“trying to be healthier” or “it was hurting more than helping at this point in my life” or just plain “not drinking right now”), my alcohol-free drink of choice selected (seltzer & lime), and an escape plan if I get desperate (loading my purse with the vaporizer for a quick puff in the car if needed). 

But I’m still super nervous. 

I’m worried it’ll be boring and annoying to be around a bunch of folks excitedly getting their drink on, while I’m staying fully sober. I’m worried, just a little, that I’ll be seen as a downer, or get tired sooner and want to leave. Then the fun part of me gets rankled and says, well fuck that, I’m going to dance my heart out and have a blast. I don’t need goddam alcohol to do that. And you know what? I’m gonna look HOT – with all the working out and calorie loss from the non-drinking, I’m doing pretty well…and I plan on owning it.

But for the brewery tour? I may just skip out and go find a theater showing BladeRunner.

 

Day 17

Les Dames D’Abord

Rainy Tuesday

For how tremendously good it feels every night to be sober, why do I feel so sad?

Many moments in the day where I think, do I really need to give this up forever? And some romanticized notion of alcohol comes to mind – the taste of a complex beer, trying a new cocktail with friends, sipping wine over a wonderful meal with my husband.

I need to remember that it wasn’t like that for me. It became something I was driven to do. I wasn’t in control. And most of the time, I was alone! All this lovely notion of drinking with friends? It rarely happened, and when it did I was usually just holding out and impatient until I could get home and really drink.

I know all this in my logical brain, but my emotional brain is grieving.

Maybe some affirmations will help. I’m thinking about designing a poster using the thirteen affirmations from Women For Sobriety’s New Life Acceptance Program, which are beautifully written and so true:

  1. I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.
    I now take charge of my life and my disease. I accept the responsibility.
  2. Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
    My first conscious sober act must be to remove negativity from my life.
  3. Happiness is a habit I will develop.
    Happiness is created, not waited for.
  4. Problems bother me only to the degree I permit them to.
    I now better understand my problems and do not permit problems to overwhelm me.
  5. I am what I think.
    I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.
  6. Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
    Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.
  7. Love can change the course of my world.
    Caring becomes all important.
  8. The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
    Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.
  9. The past is gone forever.
    No longer will I be victimized by the past. I am a new person.
  10. All love given returns.
    I will learn to know that others love me.
  11. Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.
    I treasure all moments of my new life.
  12. I am a competent woman and have much to give life.
    This is what I am and I shall know it always.
  13. I am responsible for myself and for my actions.
    I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts, and my life.

If I do this, I’ll post it here.

Late PM update:

Still waiting for the wonderful night’s sleep to happen. So far, I’ve been struggling with getting to bed at an early hour, and when there – I can’t fall asleep. My brain won’t stop racing at the end of the day… it’s like I get a second wind around 10pm and here I am at midnight and just can’t bring myself to bed.

Hoping this settles down soon.

 

Day 16

Monday

After last night’s bleak post, I’m trying a different approach today: posting in the AM, and starting the day out on the right foot.

Today, I’ve taken a day off to spend the morning with my boys on a field trip, pumpkin-picking. Before I freelanced, I would have never felt it possible to do this due to the internal pressure that came from working on-site and “climbing the ladder” at an agency. But now, who gives a flip! I love it.

And it’s going to be a wonderful day. I’ve got my son on my lap right now (fussing because I won’t let him tear apart a post-it pad), and my other son probably writing on the walls somewhere. 

But after this post, I’m headed downstairs to fix breakfast and get on with the day. Aside from the fun morning ahead, I have a full afternoon of work, appointments and kids. Looking forward to being more fully present than I was when drinking, and then working out in the evening without concern about “giving up” a drinking evening.

While there are still many struggles ahead-in terms of hours in a day, I’m grateful and happy about my decision more hours than not.

I can do this. Go girl.

Day 15

Sunday. Tough mental day today…I can’t put my finger on why but just feeling really discouraged. It’s definitely a day I would have drank heavily to escape the mental discomfort.

Drinking helped me escape the hard work of dealing with the unhappy parts of my marriage, and now – I’m confronted with it. And although I’m trying to work on my part of things, some days just feel hopeless. The fact that I’m sober and he’s not is making it harder to find connection.

I just wrote and then deleted most of this post. Struggling with how much of what I’m feeling is petty and due to my own internal angst as I deal with quitting. 

When it comes to dealing with emotions, being sober kind of sucks.

Day 14

Saturday – full day today, including three parties and my first two “no thanks” conversations.

The first was an annual pumpkin-carving get together with our beach crew. Each year it grows, and this year it was around 50-75 people, not including kids and dogs, all carving away. Lots of beer, food, some shots of whisky and the like going around the campfire. C and I split up as we normally do – C going for the beer, and me trying to find friends to connect with – to keep my mind off the booze.

One of our drinky-est friends came over to talk politics and make plans for our next boozy evening at their basement bar, the Twilight Lounge – where T pours a heavy Manhattan, and keeps the drinks flowing all night long. We usually Uber over, and get blasted while commiserating about the current political landscape. She’s pushing me to get a sitter and come over soon – they need to talk Trump. She’s talking about Uber and making plans for next weekend, and I casually mention that I’ve stopped drinking so could DD if needed. 

She instantly grabs my arm, out of concern, wondering if I’m having health issues. I assured her I wasn’t and then went into my “it isn’t serving me at this point in my life, it was hurting more than it was helping” elevator speech which I’d thought through, but she interrupted me in my first sentence to say, “No worries, no need to make excuses, I’m just glad you’re OK” in kind of a rushy, dismissive way. It made me realize, some people probably just don’t want to hear Why.

My second “No thanks” conversation was at the third party of the day – a clothing swap at a friend-of-a-friend’s house. My girlfriend and I arrived late, dragging our bags and hangers of clothes in, to meet a house full of women – all chatting away over wine, beer and finger foods. The place smelled like chardonnay, and the mood was bubbly. The hostess immediately asked what cocktail she could get us, and I was unprepared. I stuttered out, “Do you have tonic?” She graciously offered a few seltzer options without hesitation, and I was grateful that she didn’t   push anything alcoholic. So I ended up with a mandarin seltzer and shopped the evening away, feeling quite content.

Now I’m home and headed to shower before bed. Tired but looking forward to a hangover free Sunday tomorrow…

Day 13

Friday the 13th.

And I had the strongest pull to drink tonight that I’ve had so far. Blame it on the date, or the long workday/week, or the fact that C left to go watch the Yankees game with his friends. But after putting the boys down, I went downstairs with the familiar “it’s Friday night, time to par-tayyyyy” feeling. Walked by C’s beer glass and could smell it as I walked into the kitchen. The idea of a cold, thick G&T hitting my lips, alcohol going straight to my brain – no food to blunt it… it all was so strong in my mind.

Interesting because I knew I wasn’t going to cave, but all the thoughts were there anyway. The familiar groves of “you deserve this” and imagining the ritual of fixing it – sound of ice cubes hitting the glass, pulling the lime and tonic out of the fridge. The way I like to cut the lime, twist it over the cubes before pouring the greasy gin into the glass. Then tonic – the sound, the smell… bubbles filling up the glass. Just the right amount of everything, probably 2-3 drinks in one glass.

On a Friday night like this: no husband around, kids down, stressy week over and 2 days ahead to recover, I’d easily go through 3 of these before stumbling off to bed, way too late.

But tonight, I worked on retraining the brain instead.

I mentally changed course, decided on a plan: Eat dinner, find a mindless movie to watch, then have a special drink to celebrate. Who knew Kombucha could be as fun as a beer? Talking out loud, I coached myself through this, then laughed at the absurdity of it. But retraining the brain will take efforts like these. Observing my own brain in its familiar patterns and changing course.

Hard work, so now – back to Wonder Woman.