The family gathering went okay! People didn’t drink much. I really think it’s true that a lot of people (probably all of us) morph somewhat into the context. One family unit in particular I suspect get a bit more rowdy when they’re gathered with their own kids, for example.
Beer-wise, I ended up buying some middle-of-the-road IPA for the two beer-drinkers after realizing that’s what they go for. None of my very creatively purchased beer got drunk (which says that a total of six bottles of beer were drunk over the whole two days). I sent it home with my dad and his wife, who will drink it over the next, oh, six months.
It’s over, my introvert was stunned but not harmed in the process, and the time together was frankly magical. People really gelled, and got to know eachother. It occurred to me more than once that had I been drinking I would have been sneaking alcohol the whole time. And would have been the only person actually tipsy (or worse).
Today eight immediate family members of mine and my partner’s descend on our little town. It’s a two-year-post-non-wedding gathering, designed to have our siblings/parent meet one another. We got married in my best friend from college’s kitchen, with him (renegade pastor) being the official signer and two other close college friends of mine co-signing, followed by
dinner with them and two other dear friends from that life moment — all of whom sort of raised their kids together. It was lovely and perfect, among a precious group of people (and no “words,” no having to smile for days straight, very cheap!, no planning!). But it meant our families didn’t meet, and we wanted to have that happen. Hence the horror of this coming weekend.
I did my drive from South Home to North Home a few days ago and had a whole series of ones on the I-want-a-drink scale of 1 to 10. I had previously been appreciating simply my ability to name the ones, as that seems to be very effective at zeroing them out and not going on to twos, etc. (This is a much nicer route than getting gripped by a 7 and crashing into a pint of beer.)
But seeing this little parade of ones as I sat still with relatively little to do became informative. I had already been seeing that I could get information about what my gut/soul is pushing for by noticing what was going on in my life/body/mind when a 1 out of 10 popped up, but the parade of ones created more of a picture.
Today’s one of those Monday holidays which I spent the middle of at the introvert’s nightmare — potluck full of people I don’t really know, and more importantly don’t really care to get to know (BA humbug!) held in honor of a loud mouth bore who happens to be moving to Denver. But I got to talk bees and saplings and implements for working clay soil, then escaped, and then made my way to a big grocery store that has a Starbucks/seating area where I will drink my half calf heavy cream whipped cream sober treat and plug in my earphones and sink into work on the laptop.
This large grocery store has a liquor section and Wolfie thought that after the coffee we could perhaps go over there and pick up something to continue celebrating day 200. Er yeah, maybe, what??
I can feel when it’s been too long since I wrote here. I have just a few “maintenance” activities that seem to keep me grounded and far from alcohol, and this typing is one of them. I find these days that I don’t have (don’t take the) time to really think thoroughly through thoughts on drinking. Since this is going to be the case for the foreseeable future, here we are. ! Gonna keep showing up.
The wedding went FINE. The pre-wedding dinner thingie went fine, too (all except me finding myself in someone’s bathroom without my reading glasses (I mean, who… ?!) and encountering, when I stood up after the peeing was finished, a bidet mechanism instead of the regular flush button. Rather, the flush button was there but was disconnected, and one’s only option was to use a couple of dials with words on them that were at the very least not legible to me but I think also half worn off, so reading glasses wouldn’t have helped). I mean, I didn’t drink nor was I tempted to. I enjoyed watching the mountain sky fade into its sunset, feeling kind of like I was back in my childhood home.
I just crossed the six month mark and am feeling somewhat more autopiloty with regard to this new alcohol-free phase. That is most welcome. It was astonishing to me (sobering, as it were) that a person who drank sporadically (though almost all nights I was alone in the house) and in the three-drinks-per-night range — i.e., could have been way worse — could still be obsessing about drinking months later. This stuff is scary shit. I am glad to be emerging into a lighter way of life with regard to this drinking problem of mine.
I also am on my first real trip in a year. It’s for the wedding of a son of a friend of my partner, but this city is also one where I did a fair amount of drinking in the past 5 to 7 years. I used to come here for work. That’s been interesting. A bit painful. A good process to go through now.
I’m scribbling some freeing musings on a pad of paper next to my computer, but they’re not done yet.
Today what I have for you guys are three very important words.
It’s hard to corral away time to write here. But I need to stay present. So here’s a Monday hello.
I have so many balls in the air. Slipping behind on some client work, have to do the first spring bee hive check (at least a couple of weeks late on that), have have have to get my partner’s taxes done (this is not even 2020 🙂 ), need to build modular fences for the raised bed to replace the ugly ones from last year and to have something to stretch the insect cloth over to protect my kalesies from the pretty but evil cabbage moths, need to get a roofer to patch the hole in the roof that’s causing the peeling paint on my apartment ceiling in home #2. And so on. Writing about sobriety takes a back seat.
One little practice I’ve been doing for a few months which I’m starting to suspect is really useful is to note when my urge to drink goes from 0 to 1, out of 10. In the past I probably ignored those, usually with no harm done, because who cares about a 1? Or even a 2? But lately I call out when I see a 1. It occurs to me to walk down the beer aisle at the grocery store. The thought of a trip to a wedding in May raises a split-second excited thought from Bernadette because it means an open bar. I smell something similar to hops and the mind slides over to beer with a casual hint of going to get one. It’s helpful to see more clearly what those things are that I consider a 1. And quite often naming the 1 leads to my taking some sort of beneficial action, like, not walking down the beer aisle.
So that’s all good, but identifying 1’s doesn’t help in the throes of a 9 attack. But today I got handed a new idea that I find promising. I have belle’s audios on infinite loop on my phone, and something she said recently made a new kind of sense to me. The old idea, which I love, is that the moment of desperation for a drink is a moment when something in you is about to learn something. Drinking in that moment, in addition to wrecking whatever string of sober days you have going, prevents you from learning the thing. The new angle on that that I grasped today is, you’re gonna have to learn the thing sometime. If you forego the option of learning it now, and drink instead, you’ll just have to learn the thing later. Might as well learn it now — I think that may be at least somewhat convincing to me and Bernadette in the moment. (I also sense that it might make me scream and cry. But when did a little screaming and crying ever hurt anyone?)
The efficiency aspect of this is appealing.
Continuing to mull over how the nondrinking life works over the long haul ….
Many of the regularly discussed in-the-moment tricks seem not to work for me. Fear of regret — remind myself that I would be back to day 1, would wake up in the middle of the night parched and pissed — nope. Of utterly no importance to Wolfie/Bernandette in the moment. Reach out for support? Nope, why would you? It would ruin this nice little insane craving that’s about to lead to drinking as the only solution.
So how to improve this situation, the odds of sticking with myself under conditions of duress? Here are some things. It’s not a complete list. I still need more to protect against the flashes.
Most mornings I wake up with my head and chest radiating heat, my skin sizzling, and my emotions pummeled by a horrid feeling of doom. The hot flash, as they are want to do, is gone within a couple of minutes. But it gives me an opportunity to come to myself, rescue, sit there with a self dwelling in a burning hell. Since I know it’s transient and I know the cause, that helps lighten the hell somewhat and give me a tiny bit of breathing room within which to practice … care. Love. Sympathy. Actions that I don’t come by easily when it comes to directing them toward myself. And from what I read, this situation is pretty damn common among drinkers.
These brief, regular bits of morning hell show me things. (The mornings are noteworthy now because the daytime flashes are dramatically reduced compared to five-six-seven years ago.) I’ve noticed that the whole idea of being present with myself has layers. The first, which for quite some time I thought was all there was, was simply not running away or tensing up / resisting. Running away with sugar, alcohol, compulsive email checking. (Which are admittedly difficult to implement while lying in bed in the morning. Maybe that’s also why these morning moments are instructive.)
How strange. I’ve been wanting to pick up pen and start thinking out loud again about sobriety, and at the end of March checked back in here to see when my last post was — to discover that it was last March and I was at day 136. I was on day 135 then. Apparently mid-November is a good time for quitting alcohol! Day 146 now.
History says I have a hard time getting past a few months, with one exception a while back. Except it’s not a “hard time” so much as unsuccessful. It’s all pretty fine, until it isn’t. In a nanosecond flash. Suddenly everything’s different and excruciatingly uncomfortable and I desperately freak out in the direction of alcohol. But I’ve learned some things (including that those flashes will always potentially exist, even when it seems they’re gone for good), and I aim to keep on trudging. “Trudging” might sound … grudging? … but what I mean to convey is a good kind of heaviness and regularity, day by day. “Heaviness” is a welcome weight, of feet falling to the ground, one after the other. Steady, landing on the ground each time.
Gonna have to spiffy things up around here. Maybe a new banner. Something botanical. Maybe a new font, too. Different but not too fancy.
Keep the serif or lose the serif?
Been awhile! Eh?!!?
Looking back at this I see that I quit writing last June, just after day 365. Continue reading
For all of you who are Belle fans, look what I walked by in Pittsburgh a couple of months ago. Wolfie’s Pub!
Bar stays open late.
I slowed down to record the moment and then kept walking.
I closed the loop. Went from having a big bigger bigger number, 200, 300, 360, 365 …. to a little one: 1 year. But it’s a little one that feels very solid to sit on.
I have a circle now, the snake swallowed its tail, and I get to start retracing the circle again.
Oh how Continue reading