Friday, January 18, 2013

One Thing and Another


I didn't realize how much of my time was devoted to thinking about my drinking. That shit was a full time job. With overtime. My whole life was my drinking habit. Morning: "Oh god, why did I drink last night. I hate myself." Noon: "I feel pretty awful. Why did I drink so much last night?" Night: "I feel a little better. How much can I drink tonight?"

When you get sober, after a while you stop thinking so much about not drinking and start trying out this person you are. At first all you can do is just keep praying. "Please don't let me drink. Please don't let me drive to the wine store. Please don't let me wreck it. Please don't make me start over again." All you are is not drinking. And relieved.

Then after a few weeks it gets different.

The choices you make in other parts of your life start to change. I am realizing that I checked out of everything because I was always aware that I might have a hangover in the morning and I learned not to promise myself to people.

This really hit home the other day when I called my doctor to squeeze in an appointment because I was sick. On the phone with the nurse at 7:30 AM:

"Can you be here at 8:30?"

Me: "Ummm.....yes." (OK, I did have to call and change the appointment to 9:15- the kids have to get to school first. Duh.)

I still went to that place in my head where I had to check in to see how hungover I was, could I squeeze in a nap before the appointment? And then I remembered I wasn't hungover, no need to check that. I don't have to arrange my life around my hangovers anymore. It floored me how much I maneuvered my life around making it easy for me to be hungover. How much I missed because I'd be too busy taking a nap trying to feel well enough to finish up the day.

I answer the phone now. I respond to emails and texts. I make plans instead of excuses. I keep those plans. And make more of them. I'm getting better.


There's something else I've noticed. I am clenched tense ready for fight or flight at all times. Last week at the dentist (look at me! Getting cavities filled! Taking care of myself!) she told me my gum line is receding in front not because I've been to the dentist only a handful of times in the past twenty years, but because I clench my jaw. So I started noticing. I am a clencher! But not just my jaw- my whole body! I am almost constantly in a state of what I'll call pre-action. A state of at-the-ready. Never relaxed. Never at ease.

I am always ready for the attack. Not TO attack, but ready to defend myself. At all times. Even while lounging watching Downton Abbey I had to consciously un-clench four different times. I have this misconceived notion that I'm a laid-back person. I've always thought of myself as easy-going. Affable. Approachable. This may not be true at all! I'm not sure what to do with that. It's not upsetting, it's just...interesting.

Sobriety certainly is entertaining. :)


  1. There is never a dull moment in sober world. I learn something new about myself every day. I just wish I hadn't waited so long.

    You are doing so's amazing really.


  2. I wish I hadn't waited so long too. Thanks for your encouragement. :) I kind of wish I had a handheld tape recorder to put all the little insights into. And then I sort of feel like a self centered ass for being so "enlightened" ;)

  3. Oh I hear this. I love the feeling I've had sober when I realise that, yeah, I can commit to doing something, say, early on a Sunday morning because I won't be hungover. I CAN take on extra work cause I can do it into the evening because I won't be drinking, which renders me incapable.

    However, I'm still at the point where not drinking feels like a fulltime job and, because I've been 'trying' for 18 months to get sober I'm a bit over that. It is what it is but I can't wait til it becomes more automatic.

    Get that friggin' tape recorder. Record those insights. Then post them here :)

  4. Free At Last, Free At Last, Oh my God, We're Free At Last!

    Isn't it wonderful to be able to say, "8:30, that's fine, I can make that. Back when I was drinking 8:30 would have not been an option, if it was am, I was too hungover and hadn't had enough to drink yet to be able to function, if it was pm, I was too drunk to drive."

    It's great to have all 24 hours back.


    1. I feel like I get a present every time I realize I can do things. Field trip chaperon? I'd love to. Play after school? Sure! Shopping trip and lunch? Sounds great! Since I won't be worried about trying to squeeze in a nap and wishing I had more gum cause I think my breath smells like booze from the night before.

      Free At Last! Hurrah!

  5. I totally relate to your "clenched and ready to be attacked" mode. Me too. I read that it's a habitual response from the past, that just needs to be made conscious and it will ease... We always hear about responding to trauma and threat with either 'fight or flight' response, but children don't have those options, so they 'freeze' instead. Freeze, clench, and wait for whatever happened to happen again. Even when/if it stops happening, we still freeze/clench, keeping on protecting ourselves even when the threat is gone. Fascinating stuff. Isn't it great to be sober long enough to learn all this stuff? Anon from Wellington.

    1. It is great to be sober long enough to start to notice things that no one else would.

      And great to feel safe enough to realize I'm clenching and I don't have to. :)