I love the moments that reflect so clearly how different my life is now. I get to see how my life has turned on its head, how I’m so much more peaceful now.
(Though I do have this nagging addict bitch inside me who thinks the best thing possible right now would be to start having beer sessions again. But anyway.)
My partner is gone for several days and I’m home alone. For the past few years, I’ve lived here with him part time and lived in my old, beloved city the rest of the time. It used to be half and half, and now I’m more here. I think that the back and forth lifestyle had its benefits with regard to my drinking — I drank there, alone, and didn’t here, or at least not very much. (When I would leave here for “home,” I couldn’t go even one night without a trip to the liquor store.) It was good for me to have days and weeks at a time when I didn’t flood my cells with ethanol. But my drinking problem was unmistakable, and it was starting to creep in here.
In the past, when he’d go on a trip I would drink here just like I did there. It was sort of shocking how easily that lifestyle infused this place if I happened to find myself alone in the house. Nobody to see me drinking. There was one day a few years ago when I drank all day long, kept a bottle of beer always open, had a whole day vaguely impaired. (That’s a state that something in me wanted always, and still wants. Yuck.)
So he’s gone now till Tuesday. I noticed today how calm and quiet I am here, with no thought of drinking. (Well, there is thought of drinking, but it’s the same mumblings inside me that have been there for the past couple of weeks.) I putter around at home and wander around town with no ever-tightening rubber band pulling me toward alcohol. It’s astonishing to see how much I’ve changed, how at home I am now in my own mind and space. It does help that I have a big work project that needs to be finished by tomorrow night. It’s fun, intense work — deep editing on a topic I love, that’s like play to me. So that helps. But I think I’d be fine without that.
I picked up a book last week called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, and it’s interesting to get a look at the brain changes that accompany the formation and the deconstruction of habits. I find it cool to know something of the neurological and cellular events that take place when I create a habit and or dismantle one. It’s also informative to know why “old habits die hard.” Even when a habit (say, drinking alcohol) gets over-written by other habits, the first one doesn’t go away. Knowing about that cellular reality helps me not let my guard down. Those mumblings, the clamorings wanting a drinking binge? Knowing the outlines of the science helps me counter the addict who thinks that a few drinks would be no big deal.
I am aware that drinking isn’t any old habit. Addictions are special (god damn it). But I do think that my alcohol problem is/was/is pretty much psychological. My cravings are psychological. And I think that plops them more easily in the category of habit. A habit with a [screwed up] reward structure.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m both feeling happy and easy in this alcohol-free life and noticing a persistent, but pretty quiet voice wanting some beers. It’s all fine. The tide has shifted. I’m in a gloriously awkward phase and loving the peace of it.