I Am Now a Wallflower

At this point I am not sure that I will ever be able to have a “normal” social life again. I am jesting a bit, but damn! It’s hard! I went to my friend’s bachelorette party and wedding last week/weekend and it was sorta fun for like one second and then I left. It is hard to be around friends drinking, and I felt uncomfortable, so I used my husband and baby as an excuse. Bad mama! It was just too tempting to have just one drink while my husband was at home and everyone else was tipsy, and I was scared of making that mistake, so I extricated myself from those situations. I was really hoping that I would be able to hang and party sober for awhile, but it just didn’t happen. I hope it will get easier if I keep trying, or else I might have to become a hermit. Maybe I should go ahead and purchase a cabin in a remote area in the mountains now! At least then I can hermit it up in style.

I dunno, I am really more of a one-on-one person when it comes to socializing anyway. I think I started liking alcohol because it made me feel more comfortable in crowds when I was nothing more than a wee, timid teenager. Alcohol made me louder and more carefree, and without it I struggle to feel heard in large groups. Now that I am alcohol free I think I am back to being more of a one-on-one or small group person. That is okay, but it will require some adjustments in my expectations and plans for my social life. Baby steps.

On another note, I am feeling under the weather today. I might have the flu or something because I am achy and generally icky feeling. Therefore I am going to keep this blog post short, but I wanted to thank everyone who gave me encouragement and support about being social during the past few weeks. I WAY over thought things, which is pretty normal for me, but at least I made safe, smart choices in the end. I am looking to all of you to show me how to eventually spread my wings a bit further. I know it is possible! Keepin’ the faith, yes I am.

Plus, I am 67 days sober! The days are really starting to add up without nearly as much work on my part, which is pretty damn cool. 67 days seems like a lot to me, but I know it is a mere drop in the bucket.

Have a good day, everyone. I am going back to bed.

Pay Attention!

I need to remind myself to pay attention to the small details. I was pretty close to drinking a tiny amount off alcohol yesterday evening, and I am sooo glad I didn’t. I do not want to be sliding down any slippery slopes ANYTIME in the near future. The situation reaffirmed my commitment to sobriety. It also made me think about a few things.

When is it okay to have a small amount of alcohol? In mouthwash? In a recipe? In vanilla extract while baking? Never? I wasn’t totally sure. I’m weirdly glad that I was forced to think about and reflect on the subject so I know what to do in the future. Now I have a plan. I’m ready for you, sneaky alcohol.

So… what brought on this freight train of thoughts?

Well. I recently heard a friend talking about having a bitters and soda drink, and it sounded nice. The perfect foil for the hot summer days we have been having lately. I told my husband that it sounded like a refreshing non-alcoholic drink and he agreed, so we drove to the store to buy bitters and club soda. The liquor store. I guess I should have thought twice about going there in the first place, huh? It was the only place I knew that sold the stuff. After purchasing the bitters we read the label and realized that bitters has a huge percentage of alcohol. 43% to be exact. Wow, who knew? Not me!

A bitters and soda only needs a few drops of bitters, but I couldn’t do it. It just felt wrong. I immediately got online and posted a question about it in the Women For Sobriety forums. I got five or six answers right away, which really helped me make my decision and stick to it. So…if any of you from WFS are reading this… thanks ladies! I felt supported, and I needed that. I also e-mailed Belle my daily sober e-mail and asked her advice (I am a member of the 100 Days Sober Challenge- which totally rules). She replied today in her usual helpful and thoughtful manner.

Most of the advice I received said it is best to avoid anything with alcohol in it. Recipes, mouthwash, flavorings, and so on. I knew that was the right answer in my gut, but also had a little voice in my head saying, “what’s the harm? It’s only a few drops…” Listening to that little voice could be a recipe for disaster. My husband didn’t see what the big deal was either, but he came around after I explained to him that drinking ANY amount of alcohol could be a very real threat to my sobriety.

The bitters is currently hidden in our basement in a unknown (to me) location, and we are going to give it a way to a friend.

Whew. Crisis averted.

Case of the Mondays… and Tuesdays?

Welp, I made it through my second weekend alcohol-free. That hasn’t happened for awhile. I feel good about it, but I also experienced a mild case of the Mondays yesterday and seem to be heading for a case of the Tuesdays today. I think I like having my husband home over the weekend. I also think that regardless of whether or not I am drinking, I get kind of depressed during the early part of the week. I always thought it was related to too much partying over the weekend, but I guess there is other stuff going on. The fun of the weekend is over, blah blah blah. Yesterday I snapped out of my funk by deep cleaning the kitchen. Today I might conquer the bathrooms. I’ve always felt that organizing my exterior spaces helps to keep me mentally balanced. Good old Virgo self.

Sunday evening was difficult for me. I really wanted a beer or a wine or something to take the edge off of my day. Not that my day was particularly bad… it was a totally normal Sunday… but I still experienced some cravings. I think alcohol had the ability to make boring, regular days seem more exciting in the past. It provided a sense of adventure… a feeling that anything could happen… even if all that normally happened was a hangover, a blackout, a sense of numbness, or a rare (and quite likely embarrassing) outing.

Luckily, the feeling passed. We put the baby to bed, grilled some burgers, and watched a few episodes of Breaking Bad. It was a nice, relaxing night with no regrets the next day. Yesterday I didn’t have the desire to drink.  I think I am craving excitement and need to work on adding a bit more to my life… in a way that doesn’t include alcohol. Or maybe I just need to focus on NOT DRINKING and be kinder to myself in the process. Excitement can wait. Not drinking is the important thing right now.

I have been thinking about writing a post about my history with alcohol, but the thought of doing so overwhelms me. I have been drinking in a  dysfunctional manner for SO LONG. There are SO MANY reasons why I drank. My family is a mess when it comes to alcohol, I have social anxiety,  etc. I’m not sure that writing it out all at once will really help me to heal. Maybe I will simply share a few examples (every once in awhile) why alcohol is no longer a part of my life.

Exhibit A:   I went to NYC on a college trip for a class that I was in. This was 10 to 12 years ago, I believe. We basically visited various fashion places during the day as a part of school (I was a fashion major), and then got completely loaded at clubs every night. Well, at least I got loaded… One day I was so hungover that I had to excuse myself to throw up during presentations by Vera Wang bridal, Liz Claiborne, and a few other major players. I basically spent the whole day being sick in the bathrooms at these places that I was hoping to learn from… maybe even work for one day. I thought it was funny at the time but now it strikes me as sad and pathetic. Why was I wasting my time in school in the first place? Why wasn’t I taking my life more seriously? How much of my life was I not showing up for because of drinking? I was definitely not ready at that point to admit that I had a serious problem with alcohol.

This is a very minor incident in my drinking career, but I think I will start small and build up towards the bigger and more humiliating stuff. Some of these things are difficult to write about, or even think about sometimes. But hey, my case of the Tuesdays is receding slightly. Thanks blog!

Living Anxiously

Anxiety has been a problem for me since my early teens. Coincidentally, this is around the time that I first began “experimenting” with alcohol, cigarettes, and pot. Drugs and alcohol used to ease the anxiety that I would feel in social settings. It also helped with the stress of watching my parents’ marriage fall apart (in part because of alcohol-related issues). Over the years my skills for coping with stress and anxiety have not improved much. Drinking helped to soften the emotions and hush the anxious thoughts that were often racing through my head.

In the past few months my anxiety has been off the charts. I think it was a combination of post-partum related anxiety and depression, and the horrifying way that my drinking continued to spiral out of control after the birth of my child (I quit while I was pregnant with him, and somehow thought that this break would solve everything). Alcohol was no longer helping the symptoms of anxiety, but rather making them worse. Luckily, after being sober for a week, the symptoms of anxiety are starting to ease up a teeny, tiny bit.

In the past week I have been placing myself into a protective little cocoon that doesn’t feel too scary. My husband decided to quit drinking to support me, which has helped a lot to make our home feel like a safe place. I don’t even know how to express how much this means to me, how lucky I feel to have a partner who would do this for me.

I know that I won’t be able to live in this self-made cocoon forever, and these thoughts trouble me. How will I handle the Holidays with my actively drinking (and often alcoholic) family? Will I ever be able to go out again? What will people think when they see that I don’t drink anymore? Will we be able to entertain at our house in the future? Am I still going to be a fun person? Was I EVER a fun person? What should I do when I get an invitation somewhere? And on and on and on…

When my thoughts go out of control like this I try to stop them by taking a few deep breaths and focusing on the here and now. I am trying really hard to live each day “in the moment.” I am fighting the anxiety that usually leads me to drink. I am spending time praying and trying not to think too much. I am eating healthy foods and getting as much sleep as I can (I haven’t really had a full night’s sleep since the baby was born). I am trying to meditate for at least 5 or 10 minutes each day. I am going on lots of walks. I am spending time laughing and talking with my husband and a few close friends. I am going to attend my first AA meeting tonight. I am taking steps that I HOPE will help in the future even if they are not necessarily helping too much right now.

It all just feels so shaky, like alcohol could just jump into my system with one wrong move on my part. I am trying to remember to be patient and to have faith. When I successfully quit smoking (my only other experience with addiction) it took a long time to feel normal again. I have to live one day at a time. And so far, even with some anxious thoughts and a lot of uncertainty, today is a good day. I am sober.

Last Drunk vs. First Drink

I am trying to keep in mind the connection between my drunk self and the desire to have JUST ONE DRINK. I read about the Last Drunk vs. the First Drink** recently and it really rang true with me.

My Last Drunk = Blacking out, an angry husband, morning-after shame, and anxiety for days.  The First Drink = A nice way to unwind after a tough day (or an easy day, anxious day, normal day, happy day, tired day, etc.). Every time I want to have the First Drink, I have to remember that my Last Drunk goes RIGHT along with it.

So, my last drunk. This wasn’t the last time that I ever drank alcohol, but this was the experience that made me feel motivated to stop drinking entirely. It happened the weekend before I quit. My husband was in the mood for a whiskey and soda drink, which he had not had in months, so he brought a bottle of whiskey and some mixers home from work. After the baby was asleep we started pouring ourselves some drinks. I believe I cooked dinner in the process, but we might have skipped food that night to continue drinking. I don’t remember.

Anyway, I got drunk and decided that it would be a good idea to go out to a local bar on my own. My husband and I can not go out together anymore because of the sleeping babe, and none of my friends go out very late at night these days, so I walked the 1/2 mile or so to get there by myself. This is a somewhat seedy but friendly place that I have been going to for years. I am friends with the bartenders and many of the patrons, so I wasn’t worried about my safety too much at the bar itself, but I was still walking/stumbling around town at night alone.

I was drunk. Like browning out, talking WAY to freely to everyone at the bar, being overly friendly, basically acting-stupid-kind of-drunk. I don’t really remember getting home. My husband called/texted me over 10 times while I was out that I didn’t respond to. My phone was on silent, but I was so out of it that I didn’t check my phone to see if he had called.

Meanwhile, my baby was at home asleep. My husband was worried. Everything turned out okay, but it could have not been okay under slightly different circumstances. Ugh. Writing this makes me cringe with shame.

This is why I no longer drink. The First Drink is never, ever worth it for me.

**I have been inhaling sobriety information in my quest for the brainwashing of my alcoholic self (impossible, I know), and can’t give credit where credit is due for the idea of Last Drunk vs. First Drink. Thank you to whomever came up with this idea.