The four discomforts

From what I can tell, the discomfort that I used alcohol to try to obliterate came (comes) from four different directions. Two have to do with my feeling judged or attacked by other people or simply by voices inside my own head, and two are productions of my own physiology. All are deeply uncomfortable, and I haven’t dealt with that very well. I sketched out a map a couple of weeks ago, and the discomfort is right there in the middle. Continue reading

8 things I love about not drinking

Today is day 60. Two months. I am so happy to be here.

8 things I love about not drinking:

Sleep. Most nights I fall asleep early with a clear head, have long, full dreams, and wake up glad to be alive. In grad school I ran into sleep disturbances and learned, the hard way, the deep value of sleep. Since then I have guarded it jealously — or at least I thought I did. I let alcohol mess with my sleep for far too long. It’s a major example of how easily I let alcohol damage something I cared deeply about. I drew the line for lots of other things, but alcohol I gave a free pass.

My mornings. I’ve always loved the early morning. My ideal Continue reading

Sesame oil massage, my salvation

It may sound funny, but one of the handful of practices I’m trying really hard to faithfully do is a daily sesame oil massage. It’s really a sesame oil smear, since it’s hard to give oneself an actual massage.

At a few different times in the past I’ve gotten into doing these regularly, and every time (just like the “morning pages”) they were simply transformative Continue reading

My knock-down drag-out fight with discomfort

During these almost two months of not drinking, I’ve had a chance to see more clearly what’s up with me. What my demons are. Over the last many months and years I’ve gotten bits and pieces of the story, seen light flashing off odd corners of my mind and emotions (yes, my emotions have odd corners — and yours??). But in the quiet of these mornings and evenings that I experience with a clear mind I’ve come to see the various parts and how they fit together.

I’m a ruthless systematizer, and while that serves me well in Continue reading

Early signs of alcohol dependence: 20/20 hindsight

I wasn’t one who drank in high school, or even college. I hated the taste of the stuff, and for that I’m grateful. I also had no money. For many years into my thirties I lived on temp jobs and tiny grad school stipends. There really is a direct correlation between my increasing drinking and my having a job with a livable salary. So for that very low bank account all those years I’m also grateful.

However. Continue reading

Thoughts on moderation at day 50

I’ve toyed with the idea of moderation, thought it’d be so nice and convenient and non-black-and-white to still have a beer every once in a while, though I was never real hopeful about that as a possibility. The last few months have showed me closer up what an on-and-off relationship with alcohol would look like. It’s not pretty.

I’m at 50 days, four times longer than I’ve ever gone without drinking before. Continue reading

But who’s counting?

I realized this morning that yesterday was the first day I didn’t think about the number of days since my last drink. I forgot about day 48!

Nice. This slowly diminishing preoccupation with the actual fact of my not drinking, combined with freedom (for now at least) from cravings, is giving me space to delve more and more into what it’s all about. I’m starting to really see the dynamic of avoidance, the drive to repel discomfort Continue reading

What to drink now?

I love beer. Craft beer, the hops, the cool labels, you know? And so it makes me sad that I am saying good-bye to the craft beer aisle forever.

On the other hand, I’ve said good-bye to a thing I really love to drink – for the sake of profound new health and connection with myself. How fucking cool is that? Extremely, if I do say so myself.

What do I drink at 4 p.m. now? Continue reading

My approach to quitting drinking: Put in place a few conditions and let self heal

Here’s my overall approach to this quitting drinking thing. I am doing a small number of practices that calm me down and settle me, and not doing some that jar, jangle, or fry me, and then waiting. Living my life, giving myself time and space to heal. I feel that there is a force toward health and wholeness in me (in everyone), and my job is to get out of its way. I’ve become an expert at interfering with it madly, and it’s time to stop.

This approach depends on an assumption I’m making being true – in that sense it’s an act of faith. Continue reading