I’m reaching the end of my 300s and my peaceableness with sobriety shifted quite a bit over the past 100 days. In my 320s I was still feeling like I’d jumped the fence but didn’t know where to go or what to do and so was crouched next to the fence waiting. Contentedly waiting for sure, but it was not a relaxed state, alcohol relationship-wise.
Now at day 396 I don’t feel that way anymore. Not sure how I would describe what I do feel, but it’s less of a preoccupation with beer and that whole habit. When the thought crosses my mind (which is often!), I stand there and sense the utter peacefulness that is my experience of my body and mind these days. And think, why would I send a herd of shouting, hockey-playing 12-year-olds; hungry, napless 2-year-olds; shrieking smoke alarms; rotting potatoes; and backed-up sewer pipes in there.
I’ve also adopted a couple of mental images of what alcohol would mean in my life if I reintroduced it. Because what it masquerades as is so apparently benign — a glass. Of beer or of wine. Pretty, fragrant, bubbly — just a glass. Since it would actually create a red alert emergency in my body, there are a couple of images I prefer and try to insert into any bullshit idyllic scenario. One is the idea that alcohol is malware. You drink it and it installs code in you (body and mind) that takes over your programming — hijacks the commands you’re used to executing, infiltrates your sensitive files, makes the computer unusuable. And you’re left helpless because you didn’t set up effective anti-malware software ahead of time, and so you’re stuck now hobbled, unable to access your programs and files and are spending hours on the phone with helpful but impotent people trying in vain to get your nice, functional system back that you were taking for granted just hours ago.
I don’t need that. Another image is of a powerfully sucking hose. Drinking a drink is like installing a powerful hose (like a superwasher only in reverse — superleafblower?) in your living room. You can barely keep from getting sucked over to it and stuck to it, unable to peel yourself off. Because that’s what it is. It’s that powerful. Believe me, I know. I’ve had like 50 day 1s, including those that don’t surprise anyone who’s long-term sober in which it takes two months, five months, eight months, two years to get back to the next day 1.
This stuff is hideously powerful. It’s beyond me why it’s legal. I was someone who drank not even that much comparatively — often only half the weeks of a month (because I had a couple of long distance boyfriends during my drinking decade and I performed the role of not-problem-drinker in their presence; I was a committed alone drinker which gave me weeks off of alcohol). And when I was alone and drank, it would be three-ish beers a night. Coulda been worse. But fuck. I’m almost 400 days out and I still think about it every day.
I think I repeat myself over and over on this, but my little touchstones for staying upright and walking on this path, which isn’t hard at all if I pay attention … very much like riding a bike now … are things from the belle world (tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com) of avoiding overwhelm, and sending an email to her “I read these but don’t reply” mailbox every night with the exact same words. Sober, [day], Adrian.
Avoiding overwhelm, which isn’t always possible but usually is because I am childless, gainfully self-employed, and married to a lovely person who demands very little of me, largely means making sure I have enough time to get everything done. With work, that’s a little dicey right now because I’m marshalling several reports across the finish line with a sponsor deadline looming, so it means working weekends, being dependent on other people meeting their deadlines, etc., and cancelling one activity later in the month that I would really love to do, but I am avoiding overwhelm. (It’s made easier by the fact that I have (generally (some exceptions)) such peaceableness in my system these days. Equanimity? It is absolutely a result of quitting alcohol.
Oh, the other little habit I have that I tweaked from before when I fell back to day 1 is counting my sober days bit by bit. Before I would get excited and put the numbers on the Mondays on my calendar going out a few weeks, admiring them. If I drank, it was so awful going in and deleting those. I now just go week by week. It’s another form of the day by day emails. There’s something important about this.
I hope you’re finding your way.
Thank you for being here.