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.)
It’s a love I have and one of the hardest things for Wolfie to accept leaving behind. It’s funny, long ago I listed the three things I couldn’t imagine not drinking through and now I’ve contentedly done two (visits with the two people). Now it’s apparently time for the third.
Wolfie has been all disturbed by this state fair thing though — whenever I think of it, he’s like “whooey! we get beer!” And I’m all like, no beer this time. Which he ignores (picture your cat’s face when you tell him he can’t stick his paw in your quiche). And so I’m then all like, if you think there’s a real possibility we might drink at the fair, then we’re not going.
He doesn’t answer that one. I do mean it, and I also think we’ll go because I’m feeling past this squirrelly phase and also have lined up my to-go replacement drink (!!). Including a brand new pink replacement drink insulated mug!! MNSF replacement drink is chilled.
As you can tell, I am still waiting to actually want to stop drinking beer. I realize I will never necessarily stop wanting the occasional drink, but I am looking forward to having all of me on board with this general new direction. The foundation for getting there is the trudging along that I’m currently doing — I am immensely happy with my non-drinking life and the freedom and rest it gives me, in a thousand ways; this is happy trudging. I’m just wishing for the structure of resistance in me to melt. I’m pretty sure it will. (And you know what? If it doesn’t? Who cares. I can live with it.)
However, I found a new motivating thought the other day. I’m so aware that most of them form no barrier whatsoever to actual drinking, in the moment of a craving (and this one doesn’t either, at its core), but I find it more compelling than many others. Such as the fear of starting over at day 1, or fear of regret, or the strategy of “reaching out” in a moment of emergency; none of those matter in the slightest when Wolfie decides it’s essential to drink. Why the damn hell would I reach out in a moment like that? It would prevent the drinking. Fear of day 1 and regret? Phfft.
I have, though, been able in the past several months to keep myself in a mind space of sort of suspended … decisionmaking. Just not even engaging in the argument in my head about drinking. Sort of a light, “no, not going there” intended to just get us away from day 1 and eventually into a mind space where all this is easier and less obsessive. And it’s into this way of being that I found a new motivating thought. I was relistening to an old sobriety podcast that involved a letter from a 60-something woman who had been trying to quit alcohol for 30 years. She’d had three different 1 1/2-year sobriety stints. Three times she went a gorgeous year and a half, and then drank. That could be me. That could so easily be me. Ugh. I consider a year, or two years, such the ultimate accomplishment, but people DO DRINK after that, and it could be me.
I don’t want to be that person saying those things. To make that happen, I can’t drink at the state fair. Rather than being about reaching the year and a half, it’s about not having a series of year-and-a-halfs over my next 30 years.
And so I inch along. Thanks for being here and listening.
Have a good day on Earth.