“Can’t” feels like a rubber band about to snap.

This is how I was feeling two days ago when I wrote the last post about feeling Meh. Drinking Brain was in full toddler tantrum mode – “CAN’T? Don’t tell me I CAN’T have a drink!! Because I can if I WANT to. I’m an adult and in a very gray mood and there is nothing wrong with having a little bit to drink once every two weeks, everything would feel better right now if we did it with some booze, I don’t even want to drink every night so there is obviously no problem here, RIGHT?!”

The above is an abbreviated version of the conversation hubs and I had as we went on a long walk early Wed. evening. A walk that left us feeling so much better, he is the strong one and said yes I really want to drink too, but we’ll feel regret it if we do. I reluctantly agreed.

Then as soon as we got home he said well maybe I should go get some beer. I was so frustrated and sick of having the circular should we / shouldn’t we discussion I said fine just do it already.

I didn’t even finish this half pint (4 units?) of whiskey and still felt gross the next day. And then we drank yesterday night too, because… there is beer in the house and no PLAN to not drink it!

(Tried to insert my pic of almost finished half pint but that’s how bad with technology I am I can’t even figure it out.)

Ugh. ugh. ugh. I want to do this. I really really want to. Looking back to that walk two days ago it was like some strong force had totally taken over my mind. And then the next day (I’m quite disconnected sometimes and don’t do internet on my phone) I read all your lovely comments on my post telling me this is normal and the first few weeks are the hardest…. and knew I needed to start over. AGAIN.

Day….13? Meh.

How can less than two weeks feel like such a long time? And at the same time – what is wrong with us that such a short time without alcohol feels so MEH?

As before, most nights I am happy to not drink. I was never an every day drinker. But on the nights that it sounds good – the nights where I have been responsible all day, thinking about everything there is to do, thinking about the heavy issues in life – those are the nights I wish I could just zone out, feel a bit sillier, enjoy some mindless tv.

I realize there are other ways to unwind, but I do not want to go through the effort to learn how to unwind. I am tired. Even though I sleep very well, usually 8 hours per night, easily 10 when I don’t have to be up for anything. Maybe this is just one of the stages of early sobriety and detox? Maybe eventually my body will catch up on sleep and I’ll have SO MUCH energy? How long? I am not a patient person. At this point though, I feel like my curiosity about the benefits of sobriety still outweighs my desire to drink.

It’s also been much colder than usual here in Minnesota. We went from laying on the beach last week to hats and scarves and distance learning this week. I know it is temporary (sun and 80 predicted again for next week), but it is a preview of how hard this winter will be. We have been seeing family and friends frequently outdoors, but not yet comfortable being indoors with anyone. Cases are rising. Lots of schools started back in person. Holidays are coming. It’s depressing to think about. One day at a time….

Respect / Privilege (re: addiction)

One thing on my mind a lot after muddling through only one week of abstaining from alcohol is: I have SO much more respect for people who battle more severe forms of addiction, in much worse circumstances.

If I find it challenging to not reach for the bottle when I am a little bit bored / annoyed / wanting to numb out some of the news or regular challenges of life, how much harder must it be for others.

So I want to acknowledge and appreciate all the privilege I have that makes this sober experiment easier for me:

-It IS an experiment. It’s a choice. If I continued exactly as I was before, I would not die or ruin my marriage or lose my job. One of my best friends was a severe alcoholic in her life before kids, before I knew her, and she once said “if I ever started drinking again, I would die”.

-I have the most wonderful, understanding, and supportive husband ever.

-I don’t struggle with any mental or physical health issues.

-I don’t have social anxiety if I can’t drink.

-I have a great group of friends in which it’s a non-issue if I’m not drinking. They wouldn’t care or probably even notice and like doing non-alcohol related activities.

-Same with family. My family does love to drink and I love to drink with them, but we have a good relationship and they wouldn’t pressure me.

-I have time, to process my thoughts, to read “quit lit”, to write this blog, to plan healthy activities.

-My kids are for the most part lovely people, no stressful behavioral issues or anything.

-Really no major stress in my life outside of oh the whole pandemic thing that everyone else in the world is dealing with too. But we are financially comfortable and not dealing with any family illness or other crises.

So basically, if I can’t do this now… when am I going to do it? I know life won’t always be this easy and I want to be ready to handle it in a healthy way when that time comes.

Day 7

I have noticed a distinct pattern. The first few days are always easy, we are so optimistic about doing this long period of sobriety. But by Day 6 it starts to seem like foreverrrrr since the last drinking day. My attitude shifts to “fuck it, this is boring and pointless, I want to do whatever I want, I want to break the rules….” I want to experience all these benefits of long term sobriety, but I am not a patient person.

We didn’t drink though. Hubs had a very long rough day at work, the kids were demanding and annoying, topped off with a stressful trip to the large grocery store where people are NOT following the mandatory mask order.

In any other case I would have texted hubs how weak I was feeling, knowing he probably was too and then maybe we could decide to be naughty together. But I didn’t want to convince him, I want to do this for real this time.

When he finally finished working around 9 p.m. he told me how much he wanted beer (not to sway me, but just admitting it). And I said I know but that’s the point of this to find other ways to deal with the stress. And he said what else is there, I’ve been sitting in front of a damn screen dealing with bullshit all day. He went for a short walk anyway and felt a little better. I felt guilty, this is not even really drinking related (well I suppose in a ‘which of us is better equipped to deal with the stress way’ it is) …. but he works so hard and has so much responsibility while I basically get to lounge about with only the kids to answer to (as tiring as that can be, I do not have time to write a volume about how stay at home parenting is still “work”, but I’ve also worked in an office job and would take this ANY day). I get to nap, see my friends, sit outside in the sun, exercise…. which is amazing even if it is usually interrupted 100x by the kiddos.

Ok that was long and there is no other point to this post besides documenting Day 6 feelings! Almost done with Day 7 now and feeling strong. Thank you to all of you out there ahead of me who assure me it will get better and it’s worth it to keep going!

August Recap

I truly believe in the power of documenting and measuring a situation as a step to improvement. Part of my college studies had to do with process improvement, and there is a tool called DMAIC that is widely used. D = define problem you are trying to improve. M = measure the current situation as a baseline. A = analyze… what is causing the problem (we could use A for alcohol since this in universal in our crowd!). I = Improve. What is your plan to solve problem? C = Control. Measure the improvements and then ensure the method is sustainable.

Soooo… I have spent years messily Defining my problem with alcohol. Here are the Measurements for August:

Drank 11 out of 31 days. Over a third of the month, in a month where if you would have asked me ten minutes ago before I counted this up, I had done very well because I was trying to abstain! What proof of how our brain plays tricks! But the reality is I was pouring alcohol into my system every third day, getting less than adequate sleep 1 out of 3 nights where my body tried to detox itself and digest all the snacks I’d inevitably eaten right before bedtime.

Here’s a further breakdown:

Wed. 8/5: Went 4 days sober and then decided this is boring, why can’t we try moderation? (For the zillionth time). Woke up next day regretful and with a headache.

Thurs 8/6: Felt shit all day. Read Jason Vale alone in the park and then decided to go buy some vodka because he said it’s ok to keep drinking while you’re reading the book. And also because I wanted some respite from feeling bad about myself all day.

Sat 8/8: Had decided to go booze free again, but then my ex pulled that shit with taking the kids to the Dells and I found out right before bed and I was so angry and there was beer in the house so I drank some.

Sun 8/9: Very upset all day trying to figure out the Dells situation, missing my kids, had a couple beers just to feel back to normal.

Tue 8/11: Was determined not to drown myself in booze, but my sister called with some major relationship problems and wanted us to come out for emergency therapy. Perfect excuse to get wine.

Sat 8/15: Didn’t want to ruin my bday weekend with drinking, had a healthy evening paddleboarding and allowed myself two beers with a late dinner. (But tall, strong beers). This seems very moderate to me but STILL had a slight headache next day.

Tue 8/18: Had a nice light beer with my sis after a long hot day with kids. And then of course 3 vodkas and another strong beer after she left. Totally regretted it. Spent the next day debating if I should drink again that night.

(Was actually VERY proud of myself this week for only drinking ONE night of the week that hubs has to spend away).

Sat 8/22: Hubs comes home, we hadn’t discussed any new sobriety plan so of course had some drinks. Two tallboys and two shots of whiskey for me over the course of the evening plus plenty of food. Seemed moderate, but felt shit the next day.

Sun 8/23: So shit that finishing the rest of our beer seemed like a good idea, besides we were having a “make up” bday celebration now that the whole family was back together.

Tue 8/25: We decided that when our current stash of beer was gone we’d be done again. Except we only had the beer I like. So I stopped to get hubs a 4 pack of tallboys to even it out, it was very hot and he was stressed with work so I figured we’d have a couple tonight and finish tomorrow. Except he drank all 4 (ok I helped with one). But, yikes.

Wed 8/26: Last drinking day, AGAIN!

I’d say out of those 11 drinking days in August I truly regretted about 6 of them.

Now we’re back on the sober train, Day 6 today. I’m already feeling bored and impatient, but have learned a lot this month.

Booze Free Dreams?

I was unsure how to title this – basically, I have been having dreams about alcohol, only on nights when I haven’t had any. Mostly they are the type of mild, forgettable dream – there is beer and I’m not supposed to be having any, it’s just part of a larger dream story…

But last night. Oh, it was one of those dreams that is just FUCKED, that haunts you and keeps you awake at 3 a.m.

I had been hurt, in some sort of attack or mugging. My Ex (who is a police officer) was helping me to the station, where my beautiful hubs arrived to take care of me.

Later I found out I was the cause of it all – drunken driving the wrong way down a road. I was so ashamed and shocked, but willing to get help, ready to change. I was telling this all to a good friend when suddenly we were all two decades older. I caught a glimpse of my husband, haggard looking. I thought I was still young, that everything was fine, but she said “K, you have been together 20 years. He has moved out, but is a good person so has still been taking care of you.” I was not only a drunk, but in and out of the insane asylum. My Ex did not exist, I had made him up in my mind as something to direct my anger towards.

I suppose this is as much about booze as my past relationships. But everything is entwined, huh? Just needed to get it out before starting the weekend….

Oh, Jack…(Another Battle of the Brains)

We went to picnic outside at my grandma’s tonight. I had a few fleeting thoughts during the day of how I’d usually drink on this occasion, how nice it would be in the heat, on a night I’m alone with the kids. My Rational Brain was strong, it said “not a good idea!”. Even though I am “allowed”, I haven’t made any deals with hubs or officially started our challenge.

Before we left Alcohol Brain thought “I wonder if my mom will bring wine. Maybe I should ask her. Because then she will and I can drink some…” Rational Brain “No, don’t do that”.

After an only slightly tense time with a mix up in our take out order / kids in the hot car / super sketchy neighborhood we are finally on our way, I text Mom “Omg did you bring wine? This neighborhood is so nasty”.

She had only brought light beer, as had my Aunt. People, although the temptation of alcohol is strong, I do still have standards!

But my Grandma says “I still have some Jack upstairs!” (My 89 year old grandma gifted me a homewrecker size of Jack Daniels years ago, which I insisted she keep at her place for when I came over, because I’d drink it too fast at home. Of course I didn’t tell anyone that last part).

Alcohol Brain fixated on the Jack. Ooooo how I love bourbon. But I was obviously not going to have her go up to her 3rd floor condo to get it. And we are not supposed to go inside because of Covid. But I had to pee. So did my 9 year old. Perfect excuse.

I opened the closet “Mama, what are you doing?” “Getting a drink” “You shouldn’t” “Why? Do you know what this is?” “It’s whiskey” “Yeah… it’s really not good for you… like…” “Like cigarettes!” Chimes in the 9 year old. “Right, kind of. Except I don’t drink this stuff multiple times a day every day like cigarette smokers. But it’s still kind of addictive, and it’s not good for you. So you’re right, I shouldn’t have any today”.

I can’t give this win completely to Rational Brain, because the kid helped a lot. So here I am, sober and dumping the whole story out before bedtime which I otherwise would have told no one ever. And I’m happy about it.

Rational Brain vs. Drinking Brain

One of the mental exercises I have been trying, as recommended by some quit lit somewhere, is to really try and notice how I feel when I am drinking, or thinking about drinking.

On Wednesday I decided to have a light beer with dinner after a long hot day out with my sis and our kids. It was nice for about the first 3/4 of the beer. Then my head felt a little fuzzy, my stomach a little sloshy…. but most of all that VOICE in my head. The Drinking Brain… “when is she going to leave, I want more alcohol, right now, I want a strong drink, I want to be more zoned out…”

Of course I had already started, so 3 shots of vodka and 1 strong tallboy (of beer I don’t even like, but it was all that was left…) I passed out and woke up regretful. I thought it would be fun, I thought it wasn’t that much, I didn’t go to bed too late. I am documenting all of this as a reminder to myself and anyone, that the Drinking Brain had once again, for the zillionth time, lied to me.

I had a headache All. Day. It was a really nice day otherwise, I just felt so off. And by the time evening rolled around, I had dinner plans with friends but after that would be alone in the house in the first time…. ever? I just wanted a bit of relief from feeling shitty all day. So much of the day was spent debating in my head whether I should drink or not. Drinking Brain vs. Rational Brain. I was nearby the liquor store, had it all planned out what I would buy. After all I am allowed, right? We are not on our official challenge yet.

I realized I was running late and skipped the store. It would be closed by the time I was done with dinner. There’s another open later further away, but by that time my Rational Brain had won. I went home, had tea, slept early, and felt so good this morning. SO happy about my decision. The first thing I thought waking up was “I am SO glad I didn’t drink last night.”

I think a big part of this sobriety thing is retraining our brains, to say no to an addictive substance that has tricked us so many times. I can feel my Rational Brain growing stronger and have no desire to drink tonight, even though I have guests coming and there is beer in the house. And that is a sweet relief.

Sort-Of-Sober Birthday Weekend

Let me start by saying I’ve not at all abandoned my long term sobriety plans, it was just too much to think about (which barely makes sense, what is there to think about? “Don’t Drink”?) with all the schedule changes… but I’m sure most of you know what I mean.

We are all already exhausted with virus talk (how safe is that or that, what is the risk/reward trade off, what are other people doing, I can’t believe they did that, who can we interact with, what will school look like, how will we socialize, our government is a fucking mess (WHAT IDIOTIC THING DID TRUMP SAY TODAY?!!), how will we keep our sanity??!!!!) …. and we’d finally settled into a somewhat nice summer routine only to have our final couple weeks messed up by my ex (how big of a risk was that, how long should we quarantine, what if so and so gets tested, are the tests even accurate, how long do results take, how safe is this for the grandparents, GAHHHHH HEAD EXPLOSION).

Long story short still drinking a bit. But honestly I’m way more “meh” about it than I used to be, not enthusiastically embracing my last drinking days. Maybe Jason Vale is getting to me. We went to my mom’s Sat. for my b-day eve, which is normally a trigger as everyone drinks and there are large bottles of hard liquor. Can’t tell you, shamefully, how many times I’ve gone over intending not to drink, then giving in and eventually finding some container to sneak some liquor home with me.

I was offered vodka & lemonade but stuck to the mocktail I’d brought in my to go cup. We picked up food on the way home around 8:30 and then I had two tallboy beers and could barely finish. That is definitely less than I’d normally drink but STILL had a little headache the next day. Birthday was lovely anyway, even though I had to say goodbye to hubs for his week of quarantine from my kids, but then they came home and we went to my mom’s again and it was great. No desire to drink at all.

Have made lots of fun sober plans this week and don’t think I’ll drink but I’ve learned from all this journaling…. my mindset can change quickly!

Calming Down

I’d been in a somewhat irrational hyper emotional state since the events of this weekend, but am finally feeling better today (Wed). Something that helped a lot was having the time and cool enough weather to do some yoga.

Pre-pandemic I was kind of a gym rat. I LOVED going to group workout classes and relied on them for my sanity. I often said that my favorite heated yoga class was a form of therapy.

I suppose I’ve been active enough the past few months, simply because I’m outside a lot with the kids, but it’s not the same as a dedicated class time, an hour out of my usually messy house, someone to tell me exactly what to do, no interruptions.

This is why I’m TOTALLY excited I finally got it together to organize some group fitness classes in our local park. Starting next week, 2x per week for 6 weeks, hired an instructor, invited a bunch of neighborhood moms. I think it will really help keep me on the sober track.

What are your go-to methods to calm down?

p.s. if anyone has an interest in doing online yoga – I subscribe to CorePower On Demand for $15/mo. – it is my favorite in person studio and even though I don’t love doing yoga at home it’s better than nothing. They have all different styles, levels, and class lengths, you can try a month for free!

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started