One foot after another

I remain grateful to see comments by other people on this path who aren’t all “everything’s fine and figured out!” at one year. I was very susceptible to that mindset many times in the past, and let my guard down. (It’s entirely possible that hardly anyone out there is all “everything’s fine and figured out!” at the one year mark, that I invented that idea and then amplified that message when I saw it out there.) (It’s of course also fine for people at a year to say “everything’s fine and figured out!” and/or for that to actually be the case. god bless us all.)

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Adrian’s unexpected lunch experience

Yesterday I had lunch with my uncle. You may be saying, well, THAT surely wouldn’t drive you to want to drink, and you would be wrong. I’m sure you’re right about many, many things, but not this.

It caught me very completely off guard. He’s a lovely fellow (if socially awkward in some way that doesn’t have a name). I hadn’t seen him in 13 years (since he sold me this triplex and after the closing turned and walked away in that no-name awkward way, which I didn’t handle very well internally at the time). I had emailed him a question about this building, and in the conversation that ensued we said we should have lunch some time when you’re in the neighborhood. So we did. I thought it’d be nice to see him.

It was, and it also kind of knocked me off my rocker. My mom (his sister) is dead and so is his other sister. (My mom died of cancer 15 years ago, when I was 38.) As are, not surprisingly, my/his grand/parents. Seeing him, hearing him talk, brought. them. all. back. Viscerally. Ten minutes into the lunch I was seized by the desire for a drink. Overtaken by the need. This is too much, not what I expected, can’t take it, too much grief.

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Well that sucked.

I am parched and exhausted this morning.

But on track to be a 40-year-sober 94-year-old woman.

I went to the state fair last night and had a hideous time. Some combination, no doubt, of it being my first sober fair and the fact that attendance was sparse. In the more central areas it was crowded but in the farther flung parts where I like to hang out, the streets were at 25% of normal and the buildings even less. That’s good in a virus-safety sort of way, but lousy for the morale.

It makes me realize that almost all of my challenges and adjustments in this sober life are internal. I don’t have a lot of social event “firsts” to learn how to get through sober. I don’t live in a world of drunken birthday parties, thanksgivings, new years eves, fourth of Julys. My friends don’t hardly drink. Make that, we don’t make it a centerpiece of our time together (although, of my close friends, one has quit (I suspect (though don’t know for sure) because he had been drinking when he had a horrific accident a couple of years ago (fell off the roof)), one drinks probably daily and has asked me repeatedly about my quitting alcohol and I’m guessing has an alcohol problem similar to mine, another one probably has some dependence, and another one had some dependence in the past and I’m guessing does again) — my three go-out-for-beers friends). So I’m not in the position of missing social drinking. My struggle is with sober time all alone.

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200

Today’s one of those Monday holidays which I spent the middle of at the introvert’s nightmare — potluck full of people I don’t really know, and more importantly don’t really care to get to know (BA humbug!) held in honor of a loud mouth bore who happens to be moving to Denver. But I got to talk bees and saplings and implements for working clay soil, then escaped, and then made my way to a big grocery store that has a Starbucks/seating area where I will drink my half calf heavy cream whipped cream sober treat and plug in my earphones and sink into work on the laptop.

This large grocery store has a liquor section and Wolfie thought that after the coffee we could perhaps go over there and pick up something to continue celebrating day 200. Er yeah, maybe, what??

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Spring rains, easy walking

I can feel when it’s been too long since I wrote here. I have just a few “maintenance” activities that seem to keep me grounded and far from alcohol, and this typing is one of them. I find these days that I don’t have (don’t take the) time to really think thoroughly through thoughts on drinking. Since this is going to be the case for the foreseeable future, here we are. ! Gonna keep showing up.

The wedding went FINE. The pre-wedding dinner thingie went fine, too (all except me finding myself in someone’s bathroom without my reading glasses (I mean, who… ?!) and encountering, when I stood up after the peeing was finished, a bidet mechanism instead of the regular flush button. Rather, the flush button was there but was disconnected, and one’s only option was to use a couple of dials with words on them that were at the very least not legible to me but I think also half worn off, so reading glasses wouldn’t have helped). I mean, I didn’t drink nor was I tempted to. I enjoyed watching the mountain sky fade into its sunset, feeling kind of like I was back in my childhood home.

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Airports 2.0

I just crossed the six month mark and am feeling somewhat more autopiloty with regard to this new alcohol-free phase. That is most welcome. It was astonishing to me (sobering, as it were) that a person who drank sporadically (though almost all nights I was alone in the house) and in the three-drinks-per-night range — i.e., could have been way worse — could still be obsessing about drinking months later. This stuff is scary shit. I am glad to be emerging into a lighter way of life with regard to this drinking problem of mine.

I also am on my first real trip in a year. It’s for the wedding of a son of a friend of my partner, but this city is also one where I did a fair amount of drinking in the past 5 to 7 years. I used to come here for work. That’s been interesting. A bit painful. A good process to go through now.

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Monday

It’s hard to corral away time to write here. But I need to stay present. So here’s a Monday hello.

I have so many balls in the air. Slipping behind on some client work, have to do the first spring bee hive check (at least a couple of weeks late on that), have have have to get my partner’s taxes done (this is not even 2020 🙂 ), need to build modular fences for the raised bed to replace the ugly ones from last year and to have something to stretch the insect cloth over to protect my kalesies from the pretty but evil cabbage moths, need to get a roofer to patch the hole in the roof that’s causing the peeling paint on my apartment ceiling in home #2. And so on. Writing about sobriety takes a back seat.

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You’re going to have to learn it some time

One little practice I’ve been doing for a few months which I’m starting to suspect is really useful is to note when my urge to drink goes from 0 to 1, out of 10. In the past I probably ignored those, usually with no harm done, because who cares about a 1? Or even a 2? But lately I call out when I see a 1. It occurs to me to walk down the beer aisle at the grocery store. The thought of a trip to a wedding in May raises a split-second excited thought from Bernadette because it means an open bar. I smell something similar to hops and the mind slides over to beer with a casual hint of going to get one. It’s helpful to see more clearly what those things are that I consider a 1. And quite often naming the 1 leads to my taking some sort of beneficial action, like, not walking down the beer aisle.

So that’s all good, but identifying 1’s doesn’t help in the throes of a 9 attack. But today I got handed a new idea that I find promising. I have belle’s audios on infinite loop on my phone, and something she said recently made a new kind of sense to me. The old idea, which I love, is that the moment of desperation for a drink is a moment when something in you is about to learn something. Drinking in that moment, in addition to wrecking whatever string of sober days you have going, prevents you from learning the thing. The new angle on that that I grasped today is, you’re gonna have to learn the thing sometime. If you forego the option of learning it now, and drink instead, you’ll just have to learn the thing later. Might as well learn it now — I think that may be at least somewhat convincing to me and Bernadette in the moment. (I also sense that it might make me scream and cry. But when did a little screaming and crying ever hurt anyone?)

The efficiency aspect of this is appealing.

Adrian

Ways of stopping the cycle

Continuing to mull over how the nondrinking life works over the long haul ….

Many of the regularly discussed in-the-moment tricks seem not to work for me. Fear of regret — remind myself that I would be back to day 1, would wake up in the middle of the night parched and pissed — nope. Of utterly no importance to Wolfie/Bernandette in the moment. Reach out for support? Nope, why would you? It would ruin this nice little insane craving that’s about to lead to drinking as the only solution.

So how to improve this situation, the odds of sticking with myself under conditions of duress? Here are some things. It’s not a complete list. I still need more to protect against the flashes.

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On hot flashes and doom

Most mornings I wake up with my head and chest radiating heat, my skin sizzling, and my emotions pummeled by a horrid feeling of doom. The hot flash, as they are want to do, is gone within a couple of minutes. But it gives me an opportunity to come to myself, rescue, sit there with a self dwelling in a burning hell. Since I know it’s transient and I know the cause, that helps lighten the hell somewhat and give me a tiny bit of breathing room within which to practice … care. Love. Sympathy. Actions that I don’t come by easily when it comes to directing them toward myself. And from what I read, this situation is pretty damn common among drinkers.

These brief, regular bits of morning hell show me things. (The mornings are noteworthy now because the daytime flashes are dramatically reduced compared to five-six-seven years ago.) I’ve noticed that the whole idea of being present with myself has layers. The first, which for quite some time I thought was all there was, was simply not running away or tensing up / resisting. Running away with sugar, alcohol, compulsive email checking. (Which are admittedly difficult to implement while lying in bed in the morning. Maybe that’s also why these morning moments are instructive.)

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April 2021

How strange. I’ve been wanting to pick up pen and start thinking out loud again about sobriety, and at the end of March checked back in here to see when my last post was — to discover that it was last March and I was at day 136. I was on day 135 then. Apparently mid-November is a good time for quitting alcohol! Day 146 now.

History says I have a hard time getting past a few months, with one exception a while back. Except it’s not a “hard time” so much as unsuccessful. It’s all pretty fine, until it isn’t. In a nanosecond flash. Suddenly everything’s different and excruciatingly uncomfortable and I desperately freak out in the direction of alcohol. But I’ve learned some things (including that those flashes will always potentially exist, even when it seems they’re gone for good), and I aim to keep on trudging. “Trudging” might sound … grudging? … but what I mean to convey is a good kind of heaviness and regularity, day by day. “Heaviness” is a welcome weight, of feet falling to the ground, one after the other. Steady, landing on the ground each time.

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Well, hi there

Gonna have to spiffy things up around here. Maybe a new banner. Something botanical. Maybe a new font, too. Different but not too fancy.

Keep the serif or lose the serif?

Been awhile! Eh?!!?

Er, yeah.

Looking back at this I see that I quit writing last June, just after day 365. Continue reading

Wolfie’s Pub

For all of you who are Belle fans, look what I walked by in Pittsburgh a couple of months ago. Wolfie’s Pub!

 

Bar stays open late.

I slowed down to record the moment and then kept walking.

Adrian