Monday, December 31, 2012


I got to thinking this morning about the things I want to accomplish next year. Days like this were made for promises. When I was drinking the last/first day of the month was the perfect day to swear to myself that today is the day that I quit drinking. A fresh start. A month unsoiled by hangovers and blackouts. I was saved!


Quitting drinking was always my New Year's resolution. I cannot remember a year that I didn't make an agreement with myself that this was my year: THE YEAR I GOT SOBER. And then I would get hammered on New Year's Eve and blam. All bets were off. I was suspicious that because I started the year hungover I would have to spend the whole year hungover. That was why I couldn't stop. I'd dealt my hand that one night. Forces at work beyond my control. I'd have to wait until next year. Booze logic y'all.

Two reasons I finally quit the day I did: a-) I was so hungover I could not get out of bed until almost 1:00 in the afternoon and b-) December 7th is the day my oldest son was due. This felt like an opportunity to find myself; a whole brand new fresh start. Tired old sick old used up me. Born.

Resolution is defined in so many cool ways that relate to sobriety. Complex to simple. Act of answering: solving. The act of determining. From dissonance to consonance. The settling of a pathological state. Expression of intent. The point in a literary work where the main dramatic complication is worked out. The ability to make recognizable the individual parts of an object. A measure of the sharpness of an image.

I think resolution might actually mean sober. 

So now, along with the thousandty things sobriety has brought me already I can add fresh New Year's resolutions. Here they are:

Run another marathon in October
Write thank you cards
Control spending
Chip away at debt
Have a real, week long family vacation
Monthly house organizing project newest and best one: STAY SOBER.

I'm certain I would love to hear yours too. I can pretty much guarantee it. :)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

HIGH FIVE! Sunday 12.30.12

Once again, here's where you can post about something or things that was high five-able about your week. It/they can be big or small or even medium. And you can include your days/weeks/months/years sober too. And I will shower you with friendly words of encouragement.

Since I'm here right now, I'll go first.

Some people will say I'm crazy, and if you did, well...that might be like you knew me. Lucky for me crazy means silly and off the wall instead of I need an army of therapists. (Hmmm. I might, however, need those too.) BUT! I gave up sugar this week. I ate too many Christmas goodies and I was getting a bit doughy. (wahn wahn wahn... ba dum bum)

Sugar was making me feel like shit. I, however, just kept right on shoving cookies into my mouth night and day. (No need to wait for 5 o'clock for cookies!) I'd have two or three when I got home from work. Then four or five after dinner. Then another three or five before I went up to bed. (*note: I go to bed about 8:30 or 9:00. Not a lot of time between dinner and heading upstairs. I was out of control!) The wine was gone, and in it's place...

I started to feel like this:

 (Impetus behind cookie bingeing: I read in one of my I-got-sober memoirs that she ate candy in bed every night and it helped. So this was my excuse. It sounds familiar, right? Weeeeelllllll....other people can drink a few times a week/eat candy in bed every night and be fine...I'm sure it's OK for me too.) But myself was not buying it.

Y'all, there's this part of me now that sticks up for me. It whispers, "Hey. Hold up. Don't do that. That will make you feel like crap- in your bod and in your head." And then there's this part of me that listens. They cooperate to make sure I keep feeling good. Oh.


I had to sit here for a while and think on that. Twenty-four days sober today. High five.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Recipe Post: Cocoa Walnut Date Balls (can be sugar free if you want them to be. Wow! A poem!)

I ate all the Christmas cookies I could get my hands on this holiday. I told myself nine cookies were fine, at least I wasn't on my ninth glass of wine. Now that Christmas is over I'm getting a handle on that tiny fiasco. These little guys are delicious. Great for breakfast, snack, or dessert after dinner with some hot tea, an afghan, and a book.

Cocoa Walnut Date Balls

2 cups walnuts (use any kind of nuts you like, and mix them if you want too. I just think chocolate and walnuts are one of the most delicious things in the history of man so there you go.) You could use peanuts. I don't because I do the whole Paleo thing. (unless I'm downing handfuls of Christmas cookies)
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder. I use Chatfield's.
2/3 c. Medjool dates
3 tbsp. toasted shredded coconut (optional)
2 tbsp. honey (optional)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
pinch or 2 of kosher salt

Pulse nuts in a food processor until a fine-ish meal forms. Add other ingredients. Process until combined. Mixture should hold together when you pinch it between your fingers. Dump mixture on parchment paper. Coat hands with oil. (I use coconut oil) Grab a bit of the mixture (enough to make a bouncy ball sized ball) and push it together. It won't really "roll"... you just squash it together in a sort of roundish shape. Refrigerate.

Fine-ish nut meal.

All the rest of the ingredients. Just toss 'em all in.

Mixed up. Much like me when I was drunk. Luckily this stuff is mixed up in a good way.

Parchment paper is one of the best things in the entire world. 

TA DA!!! Yummy deliciousness awaits.

First Recipe Post: Root Veggies with Mint

One thing I love to do is cook. Unfortunately I used to use that as an excuse to drink loads of wine. Now that I'm not drinking anymore I am having more fun being creative in the kitchen and not being wasted by the time everything is finished. Which means I actually want to eat it and not just pound more wine. So...drum roll! Here's the first recipe!

Root Veggies with Mint

Root Veggies of your choice. For this particular endeavor I used two largish beets and a rutabaga. Unless it was a turnip. Be adventurous! Carrots, parsnips, even sweet potatoes will be yummy.
1/2 c. fresh mint
1 or 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
kosher salt to taste
clementines (optional)

Boil water. Add your root veggies. Cook until tender. (I also like to roast mine in the oven. Either method is tasty.) Let cool. Then...
Peel them. I guess you could peel them first. I just always do it 2nd since the peel just slides right off.
Cut them up. Cubes, semi circles- whatever. The world is your oyster.
Toss with the mint, olive oil, balsamic, and salt. Use more or less of all of these depending on your own tastes. Add some clementines if you have 27,000 of them almost molding in the fruit bowl like I do.

Beets and mystery veggie peeled and ready to chop.

3D mint. I grew this. Mint never gives up. Even when it's 28 degrees.

Ready to toss together. That wooden spoon is the first gift I ever gave my husband. 

Ready to eat! Remember if you use beets they will make everything magenta. Including your hands. 

The Voice

I'm not sure when I picked up the voice in my head that runs a pretty much constant commentary starting when I wake up. Oh, wait. That's me. So maybe I'm really wondering when I got to be such a damn downer. I don't really notice until I'm peeing first thing in the morning feeling a little grumpy and I suddenly think, "Why am I in a bad mood already? Nothing has even happened yet!" I have to chuckle to myself since it's so stupid to wake up mad at nothing, but it's annoying. Ooops. I'm being a downer again.

That voice makes mountains out of molehills. Mountains that I can climb all day until I have blisters on my poor little soul. That voice can take a small burst of impatience and turn it into me being a terrible mother in my head for hours. Me: "Everything is fine. Everyone gets impatient." Voice: "No they don't. You suck you suck you suck you suck." That voice was the thing that told me to drink, too. Me: "Drinking makes me miserable." Voice: "So what? Just go get wine and you'll feel so much better. You're drunk you're drunk you're drunk you're drunk."

I used to ask my me voice to get stronger when I was running. I would beg me to step up and save me from the voice- don't listen don't listen don't listen don't listen. When I was running I would feel so strong and capable and me would step right up and say "We've got this" and I would believe it until 5 o'clock or so when the voice would push me aside and suddenly I'm at the store buying cigarettes and overpriced beer. Before you knew it the kids would be in front of the TV and I would be in the backyard smoking with my first quick drink chillin' on the air conditioner unit. I always liked it in the summer when the A/C would come on and blow the smoke away so the neighbors wouldn't know I was smoking. A forty-one year old woman hiding in the trees.

In a moment of clarity I realized that the reason this voice probably started was when I was waking up hungover and guilty and I had the constant tape on replay "You suck you suck you suck you suck". Twenty years of that can be hard to undo. I know that. I really know it. I know in my heart I have to be gentle with my breakable new self; I'm only twenty-one days in for goodness sake. Give "me" a break. But sometimes I feel so good, so real, that when the voice pops up I feel so surprised: "'re still here?" And isn't it odd that the part of me that's doing the healthy thing feels bad, instead of the part that's wanting me to self destruct?

I hate that fucking voice. Now I just need to learn not to listen.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Feeling Stuck

I'm having the "I'm about to have a revelation" feeling. Like my soul has it's head stuck in the porch railing bars, but oh look! the fire department is on the way with butter and a ladder. This little girls' name is Tong Tong, and she was trying to sneak off to play when she got stuck. The metaphor here is suitable. 

But look, you can see the fireman in the background. She fucked up, but here's someone to rescue her. 

I am my own fireman. 

Twenty-one days sober today. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Merry Christmas Y'all!

I'm nineteen days sober today. It seems like a lifetime. I woke up this morning and felt so deep down grateful that I'm not hungover today. Really deep down grateful.

It's no surprise to be writing about sobriety as a gift, the best gift. No one can tell you or make you, you just have to one day wake up believing that you are going to be able to do it. And then tell yourself over and over and over and over that you are doing it. And then it gets easier, and then whoops, harder- then OK again. When I wake up in the morning and I don't have that awful feeling of dread, dead tired and sad- I just know, for that moment, that I can make it one more day, one more week or two- that I can string those days together until they become a collection and starting over seems so stupid. It feels good to say big numbers like 17, 18, & 19 in my head.

Sobriety is a present in every meaning of the word. Pre-sent and pres-ent. An offering and a moment. A gift and a time; the gift of time. A hard-earned struggle-y hoot and holler look at me go this sucks ass ever changing present. And it fits just right.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

HIGH FIVE! Sunday 12.23.12


Here's where you can post about something or things that was high five-able about your week. It/they can be big or small or even medium. And you can include your days/weeks/months/years sober too. And I will shower you with friendly words of encouragement. 

I'll start. 

Last night the kiddos were together in the tub. Which mostly always goes sour at some point. (But they always want to take a bath together. Hmmmm.) Last night it was all about a floating frisbee. (twenty seven toys in the tub and they always want the same one) "I want the frisbee!" "NO! I WANT THE FRISBEE!" Scuffle, splash, grab...youngest hits oldest. Me in calm soft voice making youngest get out of tub. Drying him off. Not talking. Being gentle. Putting on pj's. Having a story. After things have calmed down looking him in the eyes telling him not to hit. Bedtime was saved! And I was not a tired screechy banshee. (Well, I was tired, but I was not a banshee) Go me! 

I said "no" to a friend this week when I needed to, and she really wanted me to say "yes". Phew!

I am seventeen days today. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I've been Reading a Few Good Books

Reading memoirs about now sober people has been a hobby of mine for years. I keep waiting for Anne Lamott to write one because I love her and would totally follow her advice just because she said so. I have read Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp more times than I can count. (You can read about it here) I borrowed it from a friend years ago. I've read it so many times that I had to finally throw the raggedy book jacket away. (Is there a statute of limitations on "borrowed"? I think by this point I should just call it "took".) I also love Mary Karr's Lit. (Here it is)

I think it made me feel better about the way I drank to read about women who also drank. A lot. (And by a lot I mean drank a lot, not felt better a lot. That part was only a little.)

I've been reading two books these past few weeks that have helped enormously. Don't be put off if you aren't a parent, they both have some solid suggestions. You can substitute words like husband, partner, or cat for the children ones.

The first is Mommy Doesn't Drink Here Anymore. (voila!) Reading it helped me realize that to get sober you have to stop hiding, put yourself out there and ask for help. OUT LOUD.

Another is The TurnAround Mom. (ta da!) I bought this at the same time I bought the Mommy one a year or so ago. And then it disappeared. Only to reappear two nights ago while I was looking for something to read. Wooo ooooo ooooo (make mystical noises here y'all if mine doesn't make sense). :) It is chock full of the good advice every  recovering  living person needs to see from time to time. My favorite bit was about really looking into your children's eyes several times during the day. You could do this with lots of people. I have conversations all the time and then realize I wasn't even paying enough attention to remember if I'd even seen the person I was talking to. But don't get too creepy about it. Freaking people out might not be the best esteem builder.

Sixteen days today! La la la. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two Weeks

I am so grateful to have two weeks (!!!!) sober today. :)


I have tried to quit drinking so many times before- for twenty years I have tried.

Twenty years.

Two weeks.

I feel like I have lived more in this two weeks than I have in that whole twenty years.

Here are a few grand things about being sober. If you aren't sober you might read this and say to yourself, "Self? This won't be true for me." Don't believe that for one second. I didn't think only two weeks would make a difference, but they have. It's so big I might have to take you outside and show you the sky just so you could see. And if you are sober this might remind you fondly of those early days, those days when you were tender and determined, and scared too.

Grand Things:

1-) I get up before dawn- on purpose. I have almost two hours before I have to get ready for work to have time to myself to do what I love- write. :) And there's hot tea, and free yoga at 6 o'clock. The most amazing thing is that I get up without an alarm. I just wake up and know it's time to get up. An even more amazing thing is how fucking happy I feel when I get up. I still have that inventory that runs thru my mind- the old drinking days check in: did I embarrass myself? did I fight with my husband? was I bad with the kids? but that lasts about two seconds and then I remember that I don't drink anymore and I don't have to worry about shit like that. Sooooo, grand thing #1: No guilt check in the morning.

2-) I have lost about four pounds. My body is already different. My face is breaking out some, but I can see my cheeks and my knuckles. My eyes y'all. I look into them and they are clear. They look right back at me, they don't skitter away to hide. #2: I can look myself in the eye.

3-) I am running regularly again. And pushing myself. And having these terrific hands-in-the-air moments where I feel so triumphant I just have to run with my arms all the way up like I just won the NYC marathon. It's hard to run and cry though. Watch out for that. #3: Feeling triumphant.

4-) I'm comfortable in my head. Even when I'm feeling like I should probably have a big gulp full of chardonnay I still feel OK. #4: Being able to be with myself, even when my self is being bratty.

5-) Last, and most important. I might cry on this one. I am being a mom again. I'm paying attention. I'm being more patient. I'm listening. I'm taking time to just We are laughing more. My youngest isn't biting his nails as much. I still need to set better boundaries- guilt makes me give in when I shouldn't. (The whole "make everyone ok no hurt feelings" thing) But. #5: I am being a mom again.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's a Social Situation

Bowing out of social invites is hard. Especially with people you used to drink (a lot) with. I'm still sort of deciding how I want to put it when asked me to come over and hang out. "We'll have some wine" (too much wine) "and hang out." (get drunk) On the playground isn't where I really want to get into a discussion about my drinking or the reasons why I quit.

I discovered yesterday that saying, "I'm taking a break" results in the "Are you crazy?" look from drinking folk. Well, let me clarify. Folk who drink like I used to drink. I don't think people who have a casual relationship with alcohol care either way. However. It's really uncomfortable to try to explain while pushing a pair of four year olds on swings. It went like this:

She: "Hey! You and the family should come over for dinner over the xmas break! We'll make pizza and have wine!"

Me: "Well, we're pretty busy, and I've been taking a break from drinking."

She: "A break? From drinking? Why would you do that?"

Me: "Well, it's pretty expensive, and I was just feeling like I needed a break..."

She: "Well, your husband can still drink can't he? Is that allowed? Or is he on a break too?"

Me: "Well, no he's not on a break" (he's the one glass and fine type by the way) "but we'll see."

I can't really covey the confused, baffled, almost offended look on her face here. Kind of like she was smelling poop and sucking on a lemon while trying to figure out the answer to 219 + 26. I'm sure I had a similar look, trying to say no without hurting her feelings. Maybe I should have just been honest.

She: "Hey! You and the family should come over for dinner over the xmas break! We'll make pizza and have wine!"

Me: "Oh, no. We could not possibly do that. I quit drinking because it was ruining my life. Coming to your house would be one of the most dangerous things I could do right now because you are a lush, just like I used to be. But thanks though." DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!

It brings up the feeling that I have to sort of weed through people who aren't good for me. Not that they aren't good people, just that they aren't good for me. And also the feeling that these sorts of friendships will naturally fall by the wayside, that there really isn't a need to force the issue. And that I have a choice in the matter.

I'm the sort of person who, when faced with a tough social situation, always makes it work for the other person. Even to my own detriment. I will make myself hurt, or sad, or uncomfortable- take the blame when it's not my fault- just so someone else doesn't have to suffer. And I am terrible (terrible!) at standing up for myself. I'm a *gasp!*.... people pleaser! Now that's a shocking quality in an alcoholic, hmmmm? I am also bad at asking for help. (The two go hand in hand I think) And then, joining our couple...saying yes when you really mean no! A trifecta of personality flaws.

So, I'm curious. How do you handle situations like this, especially so early in sobriety?

My First Beer Dream

I had my first "I drank a beer" dream last night. I was sitting at a long table with lots of other people eating food. I got up to leave, looked down, and there was a full pint sitting at my place at the table. Without a thought I reached for it and drank it right down. Then I had that "oh, wait.!" feeling and realized "I don't drink anymore! What did I just do!" moment. Which was quickly followed by that "Weelllll, you've had that one, might as well have more!" moment.

And then I woke up. Phew!

Thirteen days in and I'm finally dreaming again. I'm slowly starting to sleep through the night. I'm like a new baby, waking up every three or four hours and being awake from 1 AM to 4 AM tossing and turning, just thinking and thinking and thinking every which thought, every which-a-way. Yelling at myself in my head "Shut up! Go to sleep! Huh, I wonder what I should do on Thursday, and I wonder if they need for post it notes for Jack's class. I should have checked on that earlier. Now his teacher probably thinks I'm a slacker mom. I am a slacker mom. Why do I suck as a mom?..." This can go on for hours.

But last night I woke up, fell back to sleep. Woke up again, fell back to sleep again. I like that. All that midnight worrying is exhausting!

I have been more anxious about drinking this week. I'm feeling stronger, but more fragile. I started crying listening to a Nick Drake song in the car. Washing the kids hair. While running. It's like I'm feeling more, turning up emotions like turning up dirt. I have these moments where I feel like "oh! I feel like me." And then I check in, and sure enough. Just me. Not hungover me. Not drunk me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I'm Telling Mom

My parents both had parents with varying degrees of alcohol problems. They varied from awful to terrible. My dad's father was an embarrassing alcoholic. He committed suicide when my dad was in his late teens/early 20's. My mom got the best of both worlds- two alcoholic parents. Her father was a drunk and a cheater, her mother was a drunk, she popped pills, had some issues with agoraphobia, and died of an on purpose overdose of pills and booze. Her father died from brain cancer in his 50's-ish. I try to imagine my parents as children- handling home life and still going to school, playing with friends, being children with all this craziness swirling around them. I want to punch my grandparents in the face for hurting them (and all their siblings) the way they did. The way they still do.

My parents rarely drank when I was little. My mom tells a story about my dad coming home and mixing up drinks for a few nights (weeks? I don't remember) and she put her foot down and said, "No way are you drinking every night. You'd better stop that right now." So he did. I remember both of them being relatively open about their parents and the way their alcoholism affected their lives. They instilled in me a fear and a curiosity about alcohol.

I told my mom yesterday that I quit drinking. I told her why. I told her I was afraid, I was honest about what was going on with me. That was hard. It was hard to watch her cry, knowing that the thing she'd feared most for me had come true. It was such a balm to my soul to hear her say through her tears, "I AM SO PROUD OF YOU."

So much of our suffering goes on alone. Alone in the dark, filling one more glass, just one more. Alone in the stark light of day making promises to try to quit again, to do better. To drink less, only one or two. To only drink on the weekends, or just on Friday. So much of my suffering was from hiding. From glossing over the truth to look like things were fine when they weren't. And they weren't and they weren't until finally I needed them to be fine. To stay alive, present in this life I needed my voice to be heard. I needed to feel real. Authentic. I needed to say out loud, "I am an alcoholic. I need help" and "I can never drink again."

That's why I told my mom. And that's why I'm telling you, every day. Because every day I have to remember my truth, my story. And I have to be proud of that. And I am.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Free Booze

Last night we went to my husband's Christmas party.

I prepped him and myself for my first event as a card carrying sober person. (Well, I guess I could make myself a card. Maybe I should. And I would make one for you too. Just let me know if you need one.) I told him it might be hard for me, and we might have to leave really early. I made it a point to bring the kiddos as a "Mommy-can't-party-down-look-here's-the-kids" shield. Thoughts of sparkly soda water danced in my head. I promised myself I would eat food. Some of everything. More than one dessert if I wanted to.

(sidenote: I never really noticed this before but at other parties over the years I never ate the food. I was too busy hopping back in line for another drink. Which could be why I wound up so drunk.)

The bar was beautiful. The house was beautiful. The kitchen.Was.Incredible. But the bar was too. Scotches glowing amber in the festive lights, giant bottle of Grey Goose vodka, thousands ( I am exaggerating a little here) of beers on ice,  champagne chilling and looking so fine in the bucket and in everyone's hands.

(another sidenote: Champagne/sparkling was my favorite. Towards the end of my drinking era I latched on to a particular brand of Prosecco and I could finish the bottle by the kids' bedtime.)

We got there around 6 o'clock, and a few people were already sort of hammered. There were loads of people, the house was huge, and I knew about three people. (One being the woman my husband introduced me to on the way up to the house.) I'm not the greatest at small talk, and I can be a little shy. Until I've had a few glasses of wine. Then it's easier. Then after five or six you've latched on to your new very best friend, or they've latched on to you. Without that I'm not quite certain who to talk to or how to be. I'm not so sure a drink-y social event full of strangers was the best idea on my tenth day of sobriety.


Y'all, I did it.

I drank a lot (A LOT) of Pellegrino. I ate pimento cheese and biscuits, guacamole, tasty chicken wings. The kiddos and I tried all the desserts, and then a maple bacon donut when they arrived. My husband sort of fussed around me like a mother hen while trying to be social. I stayed downstairs in the playroom with all the kids. I made awkward conversation with a few mothers who came down to check on their children. I hooted and hollered at a few rousing games of table top Foosball. I scared a little girl into laughter several times who was playing with what looked like a Whitesnake band member wearing a cape with an action Incredible Hulk. I remember all of it. Every bit. And by 7:15 I had had enough. I don't think I've ever thought that at a party before.

I told my husband we had to go. He went up to pass out goodbyes while we found our coats. I knew he didn't want to leave, but he did without so much as a dirty look. (damn sober wife.) The children talked in excited voices about how much fun they had. I stumbled around in my brain trying to wrap my head around the fact that I just went to a party with delicious free booze and I didn't have any.

But, that booze wasn't free. The cost for me is huge. It would have cost me a good night's sleep. It would have robbed me of sitting here, right now, writing for me and for you. It would have put me right back to day one, to starting all the fuck over again. It would have taken this day, and more days, and then my whole life away from me. So I will remain booze free.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sober Like Sunday Morning

Back in the Drinking Days:

7 AM    I'm huddled under the covers. The bedroom is dark, dark. My breath reeks of booze and cigarettes. I'm fuzzy and on the surface of sleep. I can hear one of the children stirring. Ugh. Why do they have to get up sooooo early? (As if this is some sort of new thing. Like they normally sleep 'til noon, what's this sudden waking up around 7 o'clock thing?) I send them down to watch TV or play Wii. That will give me another hour (or three depending how hungover I am). I finally get out of bed around 10 o'clock, glare at the overflowing laundry basket, overwhelmed by all the things I think I need to do. I'm already thinking about naptime.

I used to try to tell myself that those hungover mornings were ok because it wasn't every morning. I cringe at the excuses I often offered myself to make the way I drank seem kosher. I feel so desperately sad for that woman. I want to gather her into my arms and lead her out of it, wrap her in a warm sweater and make her whole again. Make her unafraid to be alive again, let her know that she is just fine, just the way she is.

Here in the Sober Days:

7AM      I woke up a little after 5 o'clock. I checked on the boys, came downstairs and made a cup of tea. I've been thinking, writing my daily email to my sober pen pal, and working on my blog. I've got plans to make a grocery list and head out for a run. I feel amazing. Clear, and here. Not wrapped in the smog of a guilt laden hangover. HERE. Available to do things like start laundry, and make breakfast. I don't feel bewildered, I feel like a million bucks. I feel like I am alive. This rocks.

Ten days into my sobriety and I feel like a totally different person. I can actually see, in my mind's eye, my old sad self: a whole separate woman from who I am now. The biggest relief comes from not having to hide anymore, not having to pretend I feel fine when I don't. Not having to act like I didn't have too much to drink last night. Not faking remembering a conversation or something I said or did because in truth I have no idea what you're talking about.

Being sober isn't easy. Hard things never are. But on days like this it's the easiest thing in the world. Just like Sunday morning.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

No Deal

There are these deals you make with yourself when you want to quit drinking. There are the promises, the white knuckling through just one more minute. Then the fast trip to the store for wine etc. all the while telling yourself, "Turn the car around. Go home. Go home. Go home. If you don't buy it you can't drink it." But all you can hear is the need. The need to check out, to turn off, to get out of here while you are sitting right here.

My deals would always go something like this: On a hangover day I would decide that I was not going to drink anymore, or if I did I would limit myself to two or three at the most. That would soothe for a few sober days and then it would just feel like time to have some wine. At the store I would buy two bottles and a six or twelve pack of beer. I would have to share with my husband after all, and we wouldn't want to be irresponsible and have to drive to get more if we ran out. (ah, booze logic) I would tell myself it was OK, lots of people drink, lots of people drink too much, and lots of people drink waaaayyyyy more than me. And I wasn't drinking before 5 o'clock or so, and I didn't drink every day. It was fine.

So I would break my deal with myself. I would have not just two or three but seven or eight by the end of the night. And in the morning, hungover and tired and broken again I would make more deals. But it didn't matter what I promised, I was always back at the store.

I've been waking up desperately early excited to start my day. I've been writing this blog and doing yoga every morning. Maybe that's all it takes, maybe it's as simple as finding something else to do that fills you up instead of filling up your cup. It's having a purpose, lifting yourself up to something with tangible soul-full meaning. Being able to face each day proud of the day before instead of cringing when you wake up trying to remember if you made an ass out of yourself last night.

I can't say for sure why this time is different. I know I just got to a point and something clicked inside my soul and I can't undo that now. I know I'm through making deals, I'm ready to walk the walk, talk the talk, do anything it takes to keep this new fragile peace with myself.

House of Straw, House of Sticks, House of Bricks, House of Bone

I am so grateful to be here on day six of being sober. I had an awful time sleeping last night, and the title of this post (almost made the typo "past" hmmmm) came to me. 

For years I have sworn to myself I was going to stop drinking. Always scared to stop for good. I thought I could never give up the promise of a glass (ok, really bottle or two) with my husband on our nights off together. Or the reward of a hard week's work. Or what do I do at New Year's? How do I eat out? Good intentions, terrible results. That's my house of straw. Built out of and around empty promises to myself. It wouldn't stand, wouldn't last. I built the same one in my heart for years thinking it, faking it, lying to myself that I was sincere. I meant it. I wanted to quit. But when a powerful urge comes along, straw is no contest for the will to get drunk. In an arm wrestling match between straw and wine the straw loses every fucking time. I should know, I put money on that silly bastard for years. At least 20 of them. 

Every once in a while I would change my blueprint and find some sticks.Shore those intentions up right! I wasn't lying to myself, that straw just wasn't what I was needing all along. Here was what I needed! This house of sticks. Now I can hide in here, cringing and wailing my way through almost a week beating the intentions away until I beat too hard and broke the stick and I was hungover again. And again. And again. 

Lately I started making houses from bricks. From big ideas and big intentions. Tentatively reaching out and saying to my husband and myself out loud "I think I might be an alcoholic. I have a drinking problem. I need to stop." I felt it too, felt those bricks crushing my heart when my good intentions again got flooded by too much wine, too much guilt. I felt myself drawing that soft part of me back, back behind the bricks where there were no mirrors to show my aging face, my tired eyes, my defeated heart and soul. 

Last Friday I built a house of bone. A house strong and pure. A house where I can open my heart and lay it all on the line and not care if it hurts or embarrasses me because being honest means I don't have to feel like a liar anymore. I don't have to be ashamed of who I really am anymore because I don't have to hide the way I drink, and I don't have to act like I feel fine when I'm really dying inside from being hungover and a loser. A house where I can be just me, and be safe, and not worry about being judged or forgetting conversations, or blacking out. In this house there is always enough even when there isn't any, there is always plenty, plenty, plenty. This house is made of bone: sturdy, strong, bona fide, honorable, unburdened backbone. In this house the door is wide open, and I always know the way to get there.

Most Deserving

I discovered a pen pal from reading online blogs about women who are sober. I was writing to her this morning and had a CGM- what I've dubbed a "Clear Genius Moment" These are the truths you discover when you've realized that you just drink differently than everyone else and that this time you really, really have to follow through and quit. Really quit. Forever (gasp!) quit. 

It amazes me how fucked up my logic got when I was making excuses to pardon my out of control drinking. One of the best ones was, "I deserve it." Then it meant: I deserve to relax. I am owed a chance to let my hair down, to be free of the responsibilities of being a parent/wife/in charge of something. This feels good, and I love it!

 Now it means: I deserved to treat myself like shit. I deserved to drink until I was physically sick and exhausted all the next day (and as I got older into the next). I deserved to check out of my life because it was too damn hard. 

But mostly it meant I was getting what I thought I deserved. 

That really makes me take a step back and say WHOA! I mean, I thought I liked myself a lot more than that. By giving myself the freedom to drink wine from dinner until midnight a few days a week-wasn't that love? Isn't that what I deserved? Even though it was a struggle to get out of bed (and if I didn't have to work I didn't-just park the kids in front of the TV for a few hours) and I would feel mostly awful all day I told myself that wine was a reward. It was just what I needed.

How on Earth could I have thought that was OK? 

I'm going into day five of my sobriety. And I'm scared. And optimistic. I'm scared of going back to who I used to be. After all she is only five short days ago. But today I know that even as short as it is now, my sobriety is precious. And I deserve it.

Different From You, Same As Me

I might drink just like you- always watching for the last bit, making sure that doesn't happen (unless there's particularly drink-y company over who out drink me and don't know the rule about saving enough for the end of the night since running out before passing out is never a good thing and then my husband then has to go just up the street for overpriced beer). 

You might drink like me- a few in quick succession to start while you cook dinner, sneak outside for a cigarette or two while the kids are parked in front of the TV. Delaying dinner by ten more minutes so you can sneak outside one more time before the whole dinner/bath/stories saga starts and you know you can't just leave in the middle of all that. 

Or you might be a person who has one glass of wine with dinner, or maybe two and not finish the second. I have always wanted to be that person, but that idea fades quickly after I've had the first glass. Mmmmmm. MORE! My head announces, not even pretending to pay attention to logic. Or the children.

I'm starting my fourth day sober today. Last night I told my husband the news that I MUST quit drinking, that I am scared, that I don't want to be this person trapped in a time warp any fucking more. And he was scared, and said "OK" a lot which just pissed me off because I wanted a whole big unnecessary conversation filled with drama and "oh no" and "you don't mean it". He knows me well, and so the conversation was short and sweet, right to the point. He: "Yes, I can see why you think you have a problem. I will support you one hundred percent." Me: "Waaaaa, waaaaa, all you say is OK. Waaaaaaa, waaaaaa." Learning to listen to the other side of conversations will be one benefit of pulling my head from my ass. 

I was thinking this morning that I am a liar, and also an attention junkie. But by liar I mean to myself- I make up all these elaborate excuses and reasons for things to be acceptable to others in my head, although it is totally not necessary. My dramatic behavior (random passionate outbursts, random passionate suggestions for changing things around the house, random fits of anger at the children or my husband- pent up frustration that penetrates days of my life) all to get some kind of attention, anything! To get someone to really notice me and listen to me. (a ha!) Except I'm only me in fits and starts, just someone trying to hide who I am and what I'm doing with some moments of authenticity ever now and again.

Looking forward to today. And scared fucking shitless of it too.  

Gasping for Air

I woke up hungover again Friday, December 7, 2012. I woke up a few times, barely reaching consciousness when the kids brought up the french toast I'd promised to make, mumbling some sort of goodbye when my husband took them to school. I'd had who knows how many beers and cigarettes the night before. I finally woke up enough to get out of bed at 12:40 PM. My day off mostly gone. Sad because I didn't get up to practice spelling words with my oldest who had his classroom spelling bee that day. Suffocating because the truth was big and huge and staring me right in the puffy face. "You must quit drinking or you will lose it all."

I've been promising myself I was going to quit drinking for as long as I can remember. Journals from my early twenties until now all declare my intent to give up booze and start living. My most fervent wish in all these writings is to give up alcohol. And why, why it clicked on that day? And did it? Or am I on day 3 of sobriety again only to cave at day 5 because I feel OK again, OK enough to drink, to smoke cigarettes- because I deserve it, that's why. And everyone isn't perfect, certainly not me. And it's not every day, only one or three times a week. Big deal. So why the fuck not? Who cares anyway? The kids don't notice I'm half drunk during bath time and stories, and I'm sure my husband doesn't notice that by the time he gets home I am a few drinks away from blacking out. And I manage to get up and go to work, or save these binges for nights when I have the next day off and the kids are either in school or can play video games and watch TV all day while I sleep it off, unable to come down and play with them because I feel like total shit. I tell myself they'd rather be playing video games anyway, and the dogs like laying around all day, and that lazy days are what everyone needs, right? Right.

I did something different this time. I called in sick to work two days in a row, not hungover, but as a tender gesture to myself that playing "life is normal life is normal" isn't going to work anymore. I am terrified- TERRIFIED that I cannot remain sober and will have to trip and roll in my own homemade gutter hundreds of more times before I die from loneliness and shame. My broken self hunched over in front of my two glorious children who grow up to become glorious in spite of me not because me. 

I have been reading blogs written by people JUST LIKE ME. This helps immensely, and I always do better when I have some words to read, to balm my crazy mind with a layer of clear-coat healing. I emailed an author of one of these blogs, and she emailed me back

I am tired of being afraid to admit that I have a problem with alcohol. A big one. I cannot drink if I want my life to shine. Period. 

I have a drinking problem. And I want to be sober. And alive. And free.