No updates lately due to not a whole lot changing. Plus summer starting and suddenly being very, very busy. Plus being generally sick of analyzing my drinking habits. So when I left off nearly two months ago, I had no PLAN other than being more mindful about alcohol and trying to say no more.
Happy to say I have succeeded in both, but still have regrets some days. Still want to improve.
I feel like alcohol doesn’t hold the same allure for me that it once did. When I have drank lately it’s sometime to numb a few feelings, sometimes to join the crowd, but with more hesitation than ever. I can’t truly enjoy it knowing all that I know, with all my baggage surrounding booze.
I’ve said “no” in the past couple months more than I ever have, on occasions where in the past I would have happily used as an excuse to get drunk. Hosted Mother’s Day at my house – my mom brought wine and I didn’t have any. Went to dinner with my mom and sis and ordered tonic water. Didn’t even feel that much anxiety about it, despite my mom asking “what’s wrong with you?”. Hung out with them on the anniversary of my Dad’s death, AT my mom’s house (always a trigger because there are open bottles of booze!) and didn’t drink. Hung out on an amazing warm summer night at the park with friends who were drinking beer and I didn’t accept one. Went to bed sober many nights when hubs was stressed from work and stayed up to have some beers. (He is still working from home too so all his stress spills over to the rest of the house and I can’t say it’s any fun to have the kids home and try to keep them quiet if he’s on an important call or whatever…)
I also seem to have acquired a skill that has long evaded me – stopping drinking after starting. On more occasions than ever in my life I’ve had 1-2 beers and then didn’t want any more. Didn’t stay up way too late snacking and getting mindlessly drunk. The switch just kind of flipped off for reasons I can’t explain – maybe this past 2 years of reading ALL the things about giving up alcohol have made me not want it so much.
Not to say that I think I’m in the clear. I’m just pleased that overall there is improvement, less drinking, and less obsessing about drinking. But I need to stay mindful as to not fall back into bad habits. There are 39 days until my 39th birthday… maybe I’ll make that a goal for my next update.
So here I sit going into my second alcohol free weekend of May, the month I’m convinced I will finally drink less than ever and feel great about it.
But I don’t have a PLAN. I have tried lots of Plans. No drinking for a month, no drinking for 100 days, drinking only once per week. Everyone one of them has failed.
What does success look like for me? Right now I think success will be when I no longer feel guilty about drinking, and am no longer thinking about the topic so much. Which I hope will involve saying NO a lot to times when I used to drink, but occasionally saying yes and it’s not a big deal.
I can’t imagine never drinking again. <— I have read that written in so many books and blogs by people who now never drink.
So I ask, what was your sober PLAN? Did you try many times before something stuck? Did you go in with the goal of never drinking again, or just taking a break?
p.s. yes I dyed my hair bright pink after shaving half of it off. A physical manifestation of the inner changes I’m trying to make? Haha, or I’ve just always had a thing for the punk look and it’s my last chance before I need to look professional in the fall.
“Say goodbye to yesterday, soon we will be free. Say goodbye to yesterday, say goodbye to me.
Saturday night I got loaded. I guess that’s not surprising to you. Saturday night is here again, what am I to do?
Say goodbye to my old life, hello to the new. I’m always starting over, ’cause that seems like the best thing to do.”
-Pat McCurdy (If you know him and like him, we might be soul mates)
I’m happy to report I did not get loaded on Saturday night. But I did let hubs take the clippers to my hair and shave the entire sides and part of the back. He has never cut hair before. Resulted in a sort of punk little pony mullet and fulfilled my urge to say “Fuck It” to something.
Then I gathered my confidence, and my mocktail, and went to socialize out in the yard of our new and obviously religious (but perhaps not conservative?) new neighbors. It was a tad uncomfortable and not super fun, but I was happy I didn’t drink even though the Booze Bitch had many reasons ready to justify it.
I went to my Mom’s Saturday night, not planning to drink at all, feeling very secure in that decision. Just gonna be there to hang out for a couple hours, just got over feeling crappy after second vaccine dose (yay!), memory from last week fresh in my mind where I wasn’t going to drink there but did anyway. I didn’t want a repeat of that.
All was good until she fixed drinks for herself and my sister and said do you want one and I said Yes and then I was 3 drinks in plus another when I got home.
Unsuprisingly felt awful all day Sunday so had another 5 drinks to remedy that. Even though it doesn’t help anything, just a spiral of self destruction.
What the fuck is wrong with me. What else to do but try again in May?
Guilty the verdict that is, not re: alcohol, not today at least.
But of course after the anxiety of waiting, seeing our city prepare for the worst, the collective outpouring of emotions after it was announced …. the Booze Bitch in my head immediately said let’s drink!!!
I told her we don’t need alcohol to feel grateful. Instead of stopping to celebrate with neighbors who were out with beers and Justice signs on the busy street, we honked and waved and continued on with our plans to visit my grandma.
(My grandma who happens to live in the suburb where Daunte Wright was shot. Last week I had to tell her not to go out to the Dollar Store because it had been looted.)
Went to bed early after drinking tea, grateful Chauvin was held accountable, grateful our city is peaceful, grateful I did not use this historic event as an excuse to drink.
Happy to say I did not drink last night. Having a group workout on the calendar helps immensely, I need more of this is in my life! It’s way different than simply “exercising with a friend”. We have all pre-paid for a 6 week session so there is nothing to arrange, and there is incentive to show up. It takes care of my social needs, outdoor time needs, and gives a huge endorphin boost.
This particular group I organized, it’s about 10 moms doing strength / cardio in the park with an instructor. What else should I consider? Right now I am thinking I need to schedule some regular tennis and yoga.
Also, there was beer in the house and as soon as the kids went to bed hubs (who has been working like crazy) cracked one. I made tea and went to bed to read. I’ve been doing this more and more and it is a change from when we’d drink together (and stay up too late and eat too many snacks) but it’s not as if we have no other bonding time. Thank you to everyone who told me over and over I need to do this on my own and not part of a “plan” with hubs, it really is easier.
I realized a cycle I’m in last night when I was already feeling emotional (children being at their Dad’s an extra night, reading the Sunday obits, watching Call The Midwife, contemplating my own mortality and how my drinking habits may have accelerated it, the whole city feeling generally on edge about the Chauvin verdict….)
The cycle: Drink too much, feel awful, decide to quit for a long period of time, then the decision to quit is almost an admittance of how bad the problem was in the first place, which I don’t want to accept, so after a few days when I’m feeling fine I decide I can moderate, because then I don’t have a problem, right? But I know I do and have for a long time and when I really reflect on it am terrified of how it may have impacted my health.
This week is bringing flashbacks to the end of last May when riots over George Floyd’s death erupted in our city. Our neighborhood is a few miles from where things were the worst, but I have friends who live near the police station that was burned down and had to flee, or stayed up all night protecting their streets. I have many more friends who live blocks from the police station in our neighborhood, which was heavily barricaded, and which my ex-husband was working out of. He was a cop at the time and was in the middle of it all, and it was terrifying. Yes he’s my ex but he’s also the beloved father of my children.
Of course I drank my way through that and I know it made the anxiety so much worse, but it was also the only way I knew to relieve the anxiety, glued to the news and waiting to hear he had made it home safe. Thankfully he is not a cop anymore.
But there are National Guard troops stationed a mile from our house. Someone shot at them in a drive by over the weekend (different neighborhood, but still…) Schools have been cancelled this week. The mood is ominous. I am going to workout with my Mom’s group and try not to drink, at least for tonight.
Earlier this week I had my mid-April post already written in my head, about how I was doing so well, had only drank 2 times so far this month exactly according to plan, how I was very moderate about it, how I abstained many times when I normally would have drank (there has always been alcohol in the house and a couple Saturdays hubs has cracked beers and I was solid in my decision to have none!)
BUT. I drank twice more since then and now feel like trash. Last night at my mom’s I had made a firm decision to have none, even declined the wine they were drinking, then saw an open bottle of gin in the fridge and topped off my seltzer with it on an impulse. This scares me.
I have learned by my own experience what you all have been telling me for ages – if you crack the door open even a little for the Booze Bitch, she will blow it wide open like I’M HERE AND I’M READY TO PARTY!!!!!
So now I’m just gonna try to abstain for the rest of April
The picture above is Easter 2020. Our first holiday not being able to celebrate with family. Still so much anxiety and unknowns about Covid. I feel like I was perpetually hung over, hubs had stocked up on a ton of booze when we thought liquor stores might close down. I surely drank on Easter.
This year it will be 75 and sunny, and we are hosting vaccinated members of both our families. And I will not drink.
This was not an easy decision. I’ve named my inner Alcohol Voice “Booze Bitch”. Booze Bitch REALLY wanted to come to the party on Sunday. We started arguing about it a week ago as soon as I decided to host it.
Booze Bitch: “But it will be so warm and sunny! Your mom and sister will be drinking wine! It’s a holiday! You relax and enjoy hosting parties WAY more with wine! You can just have a little to take the edge off! You can stop early and won’t feel gross!” (This party is basically ALL my triggers rolled into one).
Me: “No. If I start drinking that early I will not stop and eat too much and get a headache. And I have to be up early the next day and it’s my first Mom’s workout Monday evening and I want to feel great. The party is only a few hours long surely I can enjoy it without drinking.”
Also Me: “Well, maybe. I could just have a little bit.”
x100 this argument in my head had been taking up space for days. Previously I would’ve gotten so frustrated with the argument I’d just say fuck it and drink. Or I’d tell myself no until about an hour into the party and decide 5:30 was an ok time to top off my seltzer with just a liiiiiitle wine and then I’d proceed to do that a few more times and again after the kids were in bed.
This time I’m saying NO loud and clear to the Booze Bitch. I am willing to sit with any uncomfortable feelings for this short period of time. I am willing to change my life for the better, even if it’s just starting with this one day.
(Pictured above – St. Paddy’s – one of the only days I *don’t* regret drinking in March!)
I did not meet the goal I set at the end of Feb. I drank on 8 days in March, about 5 of which I regret. An average of poisoning my body 2x per week. Too much, too much, this is not where I want to be. I’m not happy about it, but not super upset either. I’m learning. And making progress. Not so many months ago drinking 2x per week seemed like not a lot at all, it was hard to stick to that.
Now there are many more days I look forward to being sober, far fewer days I automatically drink just because the kids are gone, or because they are home and being annoying. I am more likely to think of an excuse NOT to drink than to stop off at the liquor store.
But still, I am coasting and not putting in any real work. I wrote the following at the top of my April planner and it is already helping to shut up the Booze Bitch, (As I have settled on a name for the Drinking Voice in my head).
“Am I really willing to change my life? Am I willing to put in the work and sacrifices?”
(Thank you to Dwight Hyde for those wise questions!)
For April, my goal is to consume alcohol on no more than 4 days. If I can’t manage this, I will try total abstinence in May.