I Am Sober Now

Because I have better things to do


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Expectations

When I would think about quitting drinking I didn’t have a list of “expectations”.  I didn’t expect my life to become perfect.  I wanted to stop waking every morning full of self-loathing.  I wanted to feel good enough, clear enough to make rational decisions.  I wanted to want to walk my dogs, make new friends, build a real life.  It seemed like a short and do-able list.

The first few weeks of sobriety were full of the relief of waking up sober after years of waking up hungover and pissed off or still loaded and more pissed off.  I was so proud of my sobriety and that warm fuzzy contentment kept any craving I felt to a minimum. The extra hours I’d gained each day from not drinking were filled with the brand new me.  The mundane chores of life were getting done.  I had visible results in my tidy house, stocked fridge and no laundry.  I was sleeping all night, my skin was clearing, my head unfogging.

I didn’t start sobriety with any idea of what a sober life was supposed to look like.  After passing the two-month mark, I started feeling dissatisfied with myself.   Ok, so you’re sober.  Alrighty then, time to take action.  Lose weight, finish some of those projects, decide what you’re going to do about your job, blah, blah, blah.

Inner critic, the judge.  Everybody has a name for the relentless voice bringing the message of Not Good Enough.  This voice is my inner bitch.  She is a mean little bitch and expects nothing less than perfection.  Apparently she is alive and well.

So to get this bitch off my back, I started to do some housekeeping on my computer documents and email inbox.  I found the following letter written to myself  almost a year to the day before I quit drinking.

Reading it reminded me of my desperate desire for sobriety and the despair I felt when I couldn’t stop myself from drinking.  I want to wrap my arms around the broken hearted me who wrote that letter.

My inner bitch has been told to take a seat in the audience and STFU.

I am sober.  Day 73.

December 14, 2012

And so here I am at 4:23 am, awake because I drank an entire bottle of wine last night as well as one of those individual bottles.  I’ve got that dizzy feeling in my head and I know if I bend over I’ll get a head rush.  I’m short of breath and have the familiar tightness in my chest.  Again.  Fuck. 

I resolved on December 1st after waking up still drunk that I’d do this 30-day challenge of not drinking.  I went a few days with absolutely no alcohol.  A few days with a glass or less.  I even stopped in a bar on the way home and ordered a glass thinking it would be better to just have one glass instead of buying a bottle.  When the waitress set the glass down on the table I took a tentative sip.  It was a shitty wine.  I took another sip.  It was still a shitty wine.  I sat there looking at the glass and became afraid.  I got up, paid my bill and left.  Major accomplishment to walk away from a glass of wine.

I was loving waking up sober.  I started eating healthy and staying on my diet.

A few days ago I brought home four little individual bottles because I was going to make a Chicken Piccata.  I drank two and cooked with one.  Even those two little bottles hit me hard.  I woke up pissed at myself.  Again.

Last night I bought a full bottle.  I think I was buying it to cook with and it was cheaper than buying more of those little bottles.  I’m not sure what I was using to rationalize the purchase.  I realize now that I go on auto-pilot when I’m going to the store to buy wine.  I’ll say “never again” every morning yet after work that thought is long gone and so is my resolve.  I’m already numb before I ever get into the store.  I just uncork the damn bottle and waste another night.  Drinking and sitting at the computer.  Endlessly.  Until I stumble off to bed to sleep fitfully and wake with that same old feeling of wasted time.

I’ve felt grief, depression, regret, anger and shame about my drinking.  I’ve prayed.  I’ve promised myself.  I spend a few hours feeling like shit both mentally and physically and then a few hours later, I’m back in the wine aisle.

I become angry with myself for my weakness.  My inability to refrain causes self-loathing.  The things I forget or leave undone gang up on me and create shame.  It’s a dark pit and I dug it myself.

I’ve never been good a delaying gratification with anything.  The drinking is just more addictive.  So, I am an alcoholic.  Full blown.    I write this because I’m hoping by putting it into real words rather than random self critical thoughts it will sink into my brain.  I don’t want to do this any more.  I really don’t.

I want to get through to the part of me that will act in my own best interest.  I know it exists.  I don’t want to die with this addiction.  I need to feel good about myself.  I desperately need to feel good IN myself.  In the morning I feel the weight of the negative emotions I carry about drinking.  They disappear when I heading out to buy the wine.  Auto-pilot.  It’s astounding the power the addictive impulse has to override my morning intentions.  Astounding.

I spend hours in the night when I’m unable to sleep and in the early mornings feeling like an epic failure.  Why can’t that feeling follow me into the wine aisle?  Why?

I rarely resist the impulse to drink unless I’ve wakened still drunk and sick to my stomach or I’ve done something I’m horribly ashamed of.  I’ve forgotten to feed the dogs dinner.  I left [Dog #3] our one night too drunk to realize she hadn’t come back in.  [My daughter] found her.  I’ve driven home drunk and not remembered the drive.  I’ve forgotten to give [Dog #1] her night-time meds.   All of this brought me great shame at the time, the shame lingers and still I drink.

I do this alone.  It’s not part of a social need to fit in at least not any more.  I’m a hermit, a recluse.  I don’t really enjoy other people’s company all that much.  I like my solitude.

Will framing it in terms of what I want turn it into a gain rather than a loss?  Will that penetrate?

  •  I want to wake up sober.
  • I want to have motivation and pride.
  • I want to spend time enjoying my home.
  • I want to spend time with my precious animals.
  • I want to really see the world around me.
  • I want clarity.
  • I want a peaceful heart.
  • I love the internal calm that comes with sobriety.

Please, let me remember this tonight.  Please.  I want to go to bed sober tonight.


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Something is Missing

We got a huge (for this area) snow storm Thursday afternoon and then freezing rain.  I spent most of the weekend housebound.  Between the nasty weather with icy roads and the mystery pain in my foot, going anywhere, even for a walk on the beach, was not a good idea.  Not being a hugely social person, I usually do well on my own for long periods of time.   Sunday morning I was feeling confined and restless.  The feeling kept growing.  I chalked it up to not being able to walk without hobbling.  It was more than that, deeper, a longing of sorts.  I couldn’t calm myself and was getting weepy and a bit panicky.  I’m sensing a lack in myself and am searching for something.  I don’t know what it actually looks like, only that it’s important.  I just know something is missing.

I spent many hours over my long weekend reading sober blogs, many of them from their beginning.  Hoping that I’ll find some clue that others have experienced this sudden gaping hole in their lives after being sober for a while.

I’ve been doing well, not experiencing strong cravings, and recently it felt as though life was smoothing out for the first time in a very long time.

I realized that while I am used to being alone, I am not used to quiet or calm thoughts.  There’s been so much turbulence in my life and the chaotic thoughts that accompanied the various dramas took a lot of time, energy and wine to manage.  I built a fortress around myself to hide while drinking.

I think what’s missing is a “real life” out there in the real world instead of locked in my head.  I don’t want to try to do this alone anymore.  I didn’t want to go to AA to get sober.  I said I wasn’t a joiner but the real reason is that I didn’t want to to run the risk of my secret getting out in my small town.  I found an AA meeting in my town at 10:30 on Sunday morning and then I had to decide which was bigger, my ego or my need for sobriety.  I went to my first AA meeting. and when my turn came, with tears streaming down my face, said out loud for the first time, “My name is Joyce and I am an alcoholic”.

Day 65 ended sober.


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Nosedive

The last few days have been really uncomfortable.  I feel like I’m drifting.  I did something to my right foot and can barely put any weight on the foot.      I want to hear the sound of another human voice.  I am drowning in this silence I created while I was drinking.  There is an AA meeting in town in an hour.  I never thought I would do this but I feel so alone and cut off.  65 days sober.

 

Pink Clouds

I’ve been feeling good for the last several days.  Really good.  Not euphoric, just a nice, solid (boring?) good.

The continuous tired feeling is receding as I become more rested with regular sleep.  If I’m tired, I go to bed.  It doesn’t matter if it’s early.  I’m tired = my bedtime.

My depression is lifting.  It’s not all black out there.  Light is poking through the cracks and I find myself smiling more often.

My appetite is scaling back from ravenous to mostly reasonable. Ewk!  The weight, but that’s another post.

My head is clearing.  The anxious self-loathing voice has taken a break.  The emotional roller coaster is parked for a bit.  I’m thankfully not numb but I’m thankfully not a raw nerve right now.

The thoughts of drinking are still coming but the intensity and frequency have diminished.  I have my fuck you wolfie bracelet that I take off only when sleeping or showering.  Bless you, Belle.  A shiny reminder of my commitment to myself.

Are these the pink clouds that come with the natural high of early sobriety? I am only at 61 days so yes, it’s early sobriety.  Of course things can change in an instant so I will enjoy savor this time while it lasts.  It’s the first bit of stability and contentment I’ve felt in many years.  It feels good,  Not euphoric, just a nice, solid anything but boring, good.

 

 


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Second Chance

Last night I had dinner with a dear friend who has been sober for over two years.  We had been very close until she made the “mistake” of getting sober and breaking up our little drinking friendship.   She was the one person I could bitch to about waking up feeling like hammered shit after consuming more than a bottle of wine the night before.  She understood because she did the same thing.  We talked endlessly about the daily morning  resolution to quit and the mindless trip down the wine aisle in the afternoon.  And then one day she quit drinking.  We met for dinner a few times after that and she would encourage me to order a glass of wine while she drank hot tea.  I felt guilty  because she wanted my company enough to insist it didn’t bother her.  I just didn’t feel guilty enough to consider how it would feel for her to watch me drink and in my selfishness, I drank in front of her.  It had to happen though – our relationship faded when she became engaged in a brighter, busier sober world while I remained in the dark isolation of alcoholism.  I missed her for a while but I was too drenched in wine to be able to recognize or care that my world was shrinking to nothing more than me and my bottle of wine.

A few days before I stopped drinking I asked her to meet me for dinner.  It had been 6 months since I’d seen her and we rarely exchanged emails anymore.  She drank her customary hot tea and I had my glass of wine.  As we sat there talking I barely touched my wine as I fought back the tears over the absence of this lovely, vibrant woman in my life.  She was polite but distant.  Her sober world had no space for her old drunk friend.  The next three nights I drank heavily  until I passed out.  When I woke on the fourth morning not just hungover but still drunk, I thought of my friend and how fabulous she’d looked that evening with healthy skin, bright eyes and brimming with enthusiasm for life.  The feeling of loss was overwhelming.  The loss of her.  The loss of myself.  Something shifted in me and that day became my first dry day.

When I had been sober for about two weeks, I wrote her a letter of apology for letting her down and not being supportive of her sobriety by drinking in front of her.  It was hard to see my behavior in writing, knowing that I’d hurt someone I love.

So, last night when I got home from dinner with my old friend, there was an email from her telling me how great it was to spend time with me again and how proud she is of my sobriety.  I am grateful to have my friend back in my life.  Thankful for her generous, forgiving spirit and my second chance to rebuild a friendship that means the world to me.

There are more letters to write, phone calls to make.  Day 54 is over.


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It’s All Coming Back to Me, Day 52

Memories of my drinking years are playing in my head these days.  Some of those memories are pleasant, many are not.   All the things I drank to avoid facing have come out of hiding bringing the feelings I was too numb to experience.

I never used to cry.  Tears are coming easily and freely now.  That release, so long in coming, is a relief.

I have  a lot of work to do.  Time to begin.


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47 Days

My computer has been down so I’ve been snatching bits of time at work to read other blogs.  I really miss reading those posts!

I received my Wolfie bracelet and was as happy as if it were a diamond ring!  🙂

47 days of sobriety.  I’m getting my life back.  I want my computer back 🙂