Today is day 49 for me, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I got a run at 2017. That wasn’t the plan — I just quit (again) on November 21 and god damn it, it finally stuck (again).
I’m in an interesting space. Getting past the first 10 days is so lovely. But I remained preoccupied, and then reaching 30 brought more great relief. I think this is the first time I’ve hit 30 days since the first time I quit in spring of 2015. (I feel so ashamed to admit that. I know I “shouldn’t.” But damn it I do. I promised myself I’d be honest on this blog, so there it is.) But I’ve stayed preoccupied in a low-grade way. Not craving, exactly, but wanting. I have a low-grade missing of my IPAs. A gentle nervousness and awareness of how easy it is to get suddenly grabbed by my inner addict at some moment when I’m vulnerable — which for me is when I’m physically uncomfortable, often when I’m out in the world and unable to get somewhere warm and quiet with hot water in a ceramic mug. I want the nervousness to pass and I want to slide into an easier existence of forgetting more often about my struggle with alcohol.
At the same time — this is going to sound funny, but diving into the honesty again — I have this attitude that I’m actually not in “early sobriety” but rather I’m an old pro. (I’m not sure why I bring this up. Maybe I’ll figure it out by the time I finish this post.) Why is that? One reason is that I went something like five months without alcohol a year and a half ago — so, clearly I know how to do this. A second reason is that in these last 18 months, my drinking never got really that high again (with my own highs not being near as high as I read about) (which I note not to brag but to remind anybody out there in cyberland who thinks that they have to reach some certain quantity of alcohol intake before they can call “problem! over here. we have a problem” on themselves, that no, they don’t have to hit some high limit, they can call “problem” on themselves simply When There Is A Problem) (however they personally define it) (that means you!). So, like, what — if I was only drinking an average of seven drinks per week, I was practically sober already? That it’s only a delta of 7 to get to sober (0), therefore I was close all this time? And get points for that?
I don’t think so. Any amount of self-medicating is self-medicating to begin with, and when we’re talking the freaking powerful, socially sanctioned and pressured drug of alcohol, in a person who has a history of years of binge drinking, I was certainly not practically sober (she says to some unlabeled part of her self who’s sitting in there in the dark right now listening to all this).
So anyway. A couple of my thoughts on this here day 49 are…
I am hyper aware that one drink is not just one drink. It’s a life path. Since I, like many of you, don’t want one drink, I want one drink followed by its three cousins, tonight, and the same crowd of drinks tomorrow night, and oh isn’t that marvelous, we’re back on the train again chasing a euphoria that, according to reams of personal research, does not exist in that particular direction.
A craving for a drink may appear to point at a discrete thing. Glass in hand, surrounding 12 ounces of a liquid which is beer. Craving = one of these items. One of my mental shiftings right now is seeing this item for what it is — a whole nuther path. Not a point but a line. A path unto itself, a wide road demanding complete commitment.
I need to remember this because it’s not the road I want for this lifetime.
I think back to the day I started this blog and typed the first post. I felt a bright line between two options, both technically viable: “I started to see my choice as to quit drinking (or to moderate, but I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work) or to go whole hog and just devote myself to getting smashed nightly. I would end my relationship with my best friend, get another cat, and just do it. I know I could pull it off and look like a reasonably successful person. But what a waste of a life.” What a waste of a life. I’m glad I see the “one drink” for what it is.
A second direction my thoughts are swimming these days is looking back at those first 30 minutes of a drinking session. That’s what we want, right? I did, anyway. I loved the calmness of the first beer, the feeling of euphoria that I wouldn’t allow myself to feel otherwise. The euphoria unbothered by internal voices saying that if I was contented, the only explanation was that I was living a selfish life — cheating, a fraud, it was going to catch up with me, I would be found out eventually. No, with alcohol I could have my “contentment” all to myself. And if one bottle of beer provided some, then another bottle would provide more. Oh, wait, it doesn’t, I veer into wasted obliterated space with headaches. Well, I’ll drink more slowly then, prolong the first-beer feeling longer.
Erg. You know how that story ends. And ends. And ends. Doesn’t end…
I have been peering into those moments. I want to find out what I was chasing. I’m feeling more and more clued in about the nature of the pain I was trying to numb, and more and more clued in that the freedom from the grip of the voices can be mine cleanly, joyfully, and unmediated. So I peer. In moderation.
I just finished reading May Cause Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein and am going to start it again (some Corny Language, too many explanation points, and GAME CHANGER). I’ve been obsessively reading lauramckowen.com, her two-years-and-counting sobriety journey. Listening to HOME podcasts, by her and Holly Whitaker of Hip Sobriety.
Reminding myself that I am not a pro at sobriety, I am fairly new on this road. But it is at 100% already. I have everything. I’m sitting in my 49 little days feeling fairly oriented and wanting and planning to stayed burrowed into this very very real and awake life of mine.
Happy awake 2017 to everyone of you whose eyes pass across this page…