So many numbers today: 100! 200! 1001.06! 48!
It's been 100 days on this second round of not drinking alcohol. (200, if you add this round to my first 100-day round of not drinking, which I count because it's all me walking the same road.) And I did what I set out to so, putting $10/day into a separate I-didn't-drink account, so that now has $1001.06. And it's my birthday: I'm 48 years old today.
That's a whole lot of numbers. They matter, but they don't begin to count or measure everything that matters. When I quit drinking last summer, I didn't plan for it to be forever, and I fell into the 100 day challenge, but somehow I expected something special would happen once 100 days came and went, and then all the problems of this cursed drinking thing would be resolved. Of course, that didn't happen. The challenge is great, but 100 is just a nice round number. I think that, last fall, in expecting some big change, I unthinkingly nurtured the seeds of being irritated with the whole sober gig. This time, I think I know better. So I'm pleased with this 100 day accomplishment, but there will be hundreds more, and they all matter. Now I think celebrating anniversaries isn't as much focusing on this one day as it is acknowledging all the days. So here's to sober days, every one of them, mine and yours!
I'm also pleased with my new bank account. I decided to keep it going until the summer and then, depending what my income is for the fall, see if I can do one full year. I have vague, distant plans for a longer trip related to school, and a year of daily tenners would be a big help there. Money isn't very important to me, but putting the bit I have to better use, rather than drinking it, seems like a way of underlining that this is a good way to live.
Then there's this birthday: hooray for having been born! I don't do much that looks like big celebrating on my birthday, but I do set aside some time to reflect on life, and I find that celebratory. A year ago, I was diagnosed with pneumonia on my birthday, and I was very concerned that the horse-tranquilizer antibiotics I had to take might interact badly with alcohol. (In case anyone is wondering: yes they did.) This year, I'm pleased that I've put so much effort into dealing with this drink problem: admitting the problem, quitting drinking, accepting that it's an addiction. The acceptance part has been the biggest struggle, but I've made my peace with it. Yes, this is addiction, and no, addiction does not play nicely with moderation. Lesson learned. This coming year, I won't drink, and that feels like an enormous gift to myself.
Beyond just not drinking, I am making a commitment to face this giant longing that consumes me sometimes, the gaping hole behind my addiction. It's getting better, except when it isn't, if you know what I mean. The past couple of weeks have been harder, and I know that's partly because I was too busy for a few weeks, and I set aside the deep caring routines I've put in place over this rough winter. I need to keep doing all that work to support myself as I go along here. For me, it's not going to be enough to just not drink. I need to learn to sit with that enormous, deeply uncomfortable longing, and look into it with an equally enormous love. I know sometimes, like this week, I have a post-stress hangover reads as, "Give me wine! Give me sugar! Give me something goddammit but get me out of here now!!!" When I finally get a break, the break looks suspiciously like The Void. It's scary as hell and I want out of it. This year, I promise myself to sit with that discomfort and the gaping hole behind it. I know I have a hunger I can only feed with love and acceptance, and all those things I think I crave are just pacifiers that don't really get to the heart of anything at all. This coming year, I'm putting my energies into this. Accepting the hunger, and feeling the love.
OK, that's all pretty serious for a celebratory day. But I'm celebrating, too. I slept in and ate a delicious slow breakfast. (Potato, mushroom and chard with garlic, hot peppers and shallots, cooked in cream with poached eggs on top, a dollop of creme fraiche, and some free range bacon on the side. I really do love good food!). I'm enjoying taking my time, reading, writing, and thinking, with a run thrown in just because it's raining and I love running in the rain. Later I'm meeting my partner and a good friend for dinner and a movie. It all feels pretty darn good. A happy birthday indeed.
Thanks as always for reading. Your company along the way is such a huge support to me, and I'm grateful for that. Wishing you peace and joy, and much love in your lives.