One foot after another

I remain grateful to see comments by other people on this path who aren’t all “everything’s fine and figured out!” at one year. I was very susceptible to that mindset many times in the past, and let my guard down. (It’s entirely possible that hardly anyone out there is all “everything’s fine and figured out!” at the one year mark, that I invented that idea and then amplified that message when I saw it out there.) (It’s of course also fine for people at a year to say “everything’s fine and figured out!” and/or for that to actually be the case. god bless us all.)

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Adrian’s unexpected lunch experience

Yesterday I had lunch with my uncle. You may be saying, well, THAT surely wouldn’t drive you to want to drink, and you would be wrong. I’m sure you’re right about many, many things, but not this.

It caught me very completely off guard. He’s a lovely fellow (if socially awkward in some way that doesn’t have a name). I hadn’t seen him in 13 years (since he sold me this triplex and after the closing turned and walked away in that no-name awkward way, which I didn’t handle very well internally at the time). I had emailed him a question about this building, and in the conversation that ensued we said we should have lunch some time when you’re in the neighborhood. So we did. I thought it’d be nice to see him.

It was, and it also kind of knocked me off my rocker. My mom (his sister) is dead and so is his other sister. (My mom died of cancer 15 years ago, when I was 38.) As are, not surprisingly, my/his grand/parents. Seeing him, hearing him talk, brought. them. all. back. Viscerally. Ten minutes into the lunch I was seized by the desire for a drink. Overtaken by the need. This is too much, not what I expected, can’t take it, too much grief.

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Painting over my past

I’m slowly moving out of the apartment I’ve lived in for the past 13 years. With every wall and ceiling and cabinet and door trim, I watch my tattered years of “high functioning” drinking get covered with gleaming fresh paint. Probably any time a person lives alone in one place for many years, some degree of clutter and, oh, scuz (flaking paint, general grim in the corners of closets) accumulates, but the presence of daily drinking, and the cloudiness and vague stuckness of that lifestyle, makes it worse.

Likely no one else would even notice. And it’s not like there were holes in the walls. But I am acutely aware of the dysfunctional stasis of the subtle parts of my life and functioning that pervaded life here. The unfinished projects (partially painted walls, as part of me attempted in fits and starts to change the walls to something more me, sometimes a new color (half green living room), sometimes collections of colors (a gaudy section of the living room wall that was, until Tuesday, a patchwork of orange, red, blue, etc. squares), and sometimes just white-ish, where I started repainting the hallway one day years ago). Though it’s not the main thing I remember, I was probably some level of tipsy while doing all of that. Covering it mostly with cream-colored paint is beautiful.

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300 days

A pile of days.

I am acutely aware of the healing needed from a decade of abusing alcohol, and of the healing of the tender parts of myself that I smothered with alcohol.

Life is glorious.

Adrian

Well that sucked.

I am parched and exhausted this morning.

But on track to be a 40-year-sober 94-year-old woman.

I went to the state fair last night and had a hideous time. Some combination, no doubt, of it being my first sober fair and the fact that attendance was sparse. In the more central areas it was crowded but in the farther flung parts where I like to hang out, the streets were at 25% of normal and the buildings even less. That’s good in a virus-safety sort of way, but lousy for the morale.

It makes me realize that almost all of my challenges and adjustments in this sober life are internal. I don’t have a lot of social event “firsts” to learn how to get through sober. I don’t live in a world of drunken birthday parties, thanksgivings, new years eves, fourth of Julys. My friends don’t hardly drink. Make that, we don’t make it a centerpiece of our time together (although, of my close friends, one has quit (I suspect (though don’t know for sure) because he had been drinking when he had a horrific accident a couple of years ago (fell off the roof)), one drinks probably daily and has asked me repeatedly about my quitting alcohol and I’m guessing has an alcohol problem similar to mine, another one probably has some dependence, and another one had some dependence in the past and I’m guessing does again) — my three go-out-for-beers friends). So I’m not in the position of missing social drinking. My struggle is with sober time all alone.

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Don’t want to be that person

I’m sitting at a picnic table in a city park that I discovered during the family gathering I recently survived. Been waking up early lately, and since the sunrise is getting later I can catch it. This is how I always used to live, as a teenager, getting up during the quiet, real hours before the world starts impinging. It’s a little hard to manage/coordinate at the moment because it clashes with one of my other pleasures which is watching 22 or 33 minutes of a Netflix show with my partner and my cat at night. But it’s okay, and it’s giving me a bit of additional anchor in my days these days.

Happy nine months sober to me on August 13. I’d been feeling super squirrelly about beer for a few weeks, seemingly prompted by an upcoming event that used to be a highlight of the year and have beer as an intrinsic element: the Minnesota State Fair. I’ve typed about this before. I love that thing, immersing myself in the flow of several hundred thousand human beings, viewing the beautiful vegetables, seeing what flower species is in the flower room that day (hoping for orchids), admiring the line-up of honey jars and trying to find the queen in the observation hives (I have bees but almost never see the queens), looking to see what objects Minnesota has knitted, baked, spun, quilted, canned, sewn, painted, crocheted, sculpted, embroidered, or seed-arted. And getting progressively more tipsy as the evening wears on, stopping at my familiar beer dispensaries all along the way. (Did you used to be able to drink a pint of craft beer while meandering the fair? I don’t think you used to be able to drink a pint of craft beer while meandering the fair. This whole alcohol-everywhere trend started just in time for me to fall into it.)

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Done!

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).

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Home Invasion

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.

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Wolfie as a guide

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.

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200

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??

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Spring rains, easy walking

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.

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Airports 2.0

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.

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Monday

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.

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You’re going to have to learn it some time

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.

Adrian