I've been busy with school, and will be for a few weeks at least, but I want to try to keep up on posting to remind myself what's going on with me. So here goes:
Since I made the commitment to stop drinking for a new stretch of time, I feel so much better. Some days I feel so calm, it's like I've been drugged, but I think this might be natural, and the crazy up and down of my normal days are the drugged state. Now the hundreds of mice running wheels in my mind seem to be sleeping and eating and doing whatever it is mice do when they're feeling all right. They deserve the break, poor critters.
Most of the time, I haven't wanted to drink. I'm being careful to structure my evenings away from booze. As soon as I hit what would have been wine-time, I make myself a lovely drink (cranberry and lime with sparkling water is a new favourite, but I keep trying new ones) and I sit, savouring the taste, and the pretty colour in the glass, and the relaxation after the day that the drink signals. Last time around I stopped doing that as soon as I didn't feel I really needed it. Now I think the sensuous pleasure of a pretty drink and the signal that it's time to relax after the day, all that might be an important part of what I was getting out of drinking. If that's true then I need to include it as a way of taking care of myself while I'm not drinking.
A few nights ago, I did have one of those piercing longings for wine. I came home as my partner was eating a little snack and sipping a glass of wine. It looked like the perfect thing to do, and I wanted one, too. I was tired and hungry (yes, I know they are triggers for everyone) and it had been a busy day, and I had arrived home too late to cook what I had planned for dinner. So a perfect storm of wee disappointment and fatigue. I sat on the couch for a few minutes, thinking, "OK, if you really want to you can just go ahead and have some wine. Is that what you really want?" It isn't. I know it. I have made myself this 13 weeks promise, and I'm not breaking it for a little weepy spell of being tired.
Instead of cooking, we decided to splurge and eat out at a fancy place we've been wanting to try. Before we went I carefully pictured myself sitting in that restaurant ordering some deluxe no-alcohol drink. But that restaurant was full, so we went nearby to one of my regular haunts, the cosy local where I've enjoyed drinking wine and reading a book with dinner for years, long before I even met my partner. The couple at the next table had glasses of red wine, and they twirled and swirled and fondled those glasses like they were in love with that wine. When I looked away, at the menu, I discovered that the restaurant doesn't even have a mocktail list, and their price for sparkling water is truly alarming given the quantities of it I can drink. I wanted to treat myself, but I couldn't figure out how to do that without having wine, which I wasn't going to do. I could feel the evening start to slip away from me. But I really didn't want to be like a spoiled child who can't just enjoy what's on offer because of wanting something that can't be had. So I asked the server if they had decent pomegranate juice (they do) and I made up my own special drink order: a wineglass with a little pomegranate juice topped up with soda water and a wedge of lime, no ice. For a minute I felt like one of those difficult people in restaurants who always makes a big fuss, but I got over it, and when my glass came, it was pretty, and the drink was good. The wineglass twirlers left, and my partner and I enjoyed a lovely meal after all.
That's a frightfully long passage about not having a drink, but I really do want to remember what happens. That awful mix of sadness and longing didn't exactly go poof when I shifted away from it, but it got smaller, and by the time I'd sipped and eaten, I was glad I had kept with my plan. Reminding myself that shifting away from little disappointments is just a bald fact of adult life actually helped me. Mainly, I wanted to enjoy a dinner with my partner, and I knew it was well within my reach to wreck it with my tricky mood, and I did not want to do that to him or to me, or to us.
Lately I am working very hard at practicing a dispassionate kind of mindfulness, noticing, "Oh yes, I see, this is the kind of thing that makes me want to drink. Isn't that interesting." Yesterday, work was a brutal mix of being short-staffed and crazy-busy, with a big dose of coworkers passive-aggressive decisions and reactions to it all. And I just didn't engage. I arranged for my own breaks to get covered and stated clearly that I would work as best I could to cover but I would not work overtime or skip my meal or breaks. I offered critical suggestions for how we could do a better job covering the schedule but didn't get caught up in it when coworkers decided to be heroic or irrational or enraged (or, in one case, all three) at the day. And when I came home afterwards, I noticed that I was foot-sore and mentally exhausted, but I was also pleased that I hadn't got caught in any of it. I made a fizzy drink and read the New Yorker for an hour, and by the time my partner arrived, I was starting to relax. No wine required for that. Just some rest, and time, and some paying attention to how I felt. These little "hoorays" seem so huge to me. I know putting this together over and over is a part of the work I need to do, and doing it reinforces how important it is to keep it up. Hooray indeed!
I started writing about peace and calm, and instead wrote about two wee crises that got stirred up over the past few days. It's true, they happened, but peace and calm feel like the main thing in my days. I am sleeping and eating well and reading lots, not getting as much schoolwork done as I'd like but trying my best. Every time I feel the worry-mice start up, I say, "No. Not that." And I go for a walk, or read something, or make a cup of tea or a fizzy drink instead. I think it's going well.
Lots more to say, but now I'm going for a walk in the almost sunshine, and then I will write two more pages of my thesis. And that will be an OK kind of Monday for me.
If you're reading this, thanks for the support. Peace and joy to you.