Yesterday I was immersed in my last big writing deadline of the semester. I spent the day alternately writing (obviously!), walking around the block to calm down, and trying to get around that terrible angst that kicks in when you wish you had another week but you really need to wrap the project up and send it in. And man did I ever want a drink! I know, I know, it does't work for me, not anymore, not in the long run. But all the things I do to calm myself take time, and I just didn't have much time, so I was tense and uncomfortable all day, and I didn't get anywhere nearly enough sleep. This morning I was up at six for a final proofread before submitting the paper. It won't be my best work, but it is done, and I met my deadline, and now I can sleep for a couple of hours before I head to work.
Anyway, I didn't drink. (I knew I wouldn't, because I'm not going to drink! But not drinking is still work sometimes, and I get that you don't always really know for sure, even when you're sure. Does that makes sense?) Every time I get through some difficult time without drinking is a little accomplishment. It reminds me of long bike rides I've done, especially the part of every long ride when I think I can't go on, and I start to imagine myself just getting off the bike and lying down by the side of the road, hoping that if I play dead, some nice driver in a pickup truck might rescue me from the self-imposed torture of biking. But I love biking. I wouldn't do it if I didn't. And later, I'm always so proud of myself that I finished. Some of these school deadlines seem the same. For all my whinging here, I really love the work, and though this semester has been really hard--as I was killer depressed for half of the term so I had to do 13 weeks worth of work in about six weeks--I still love it. And I did it! I didn't die. I didn't drink. I didn't have to drop my courses and defer for a year, which I was prepared to do if things got any worse for me a couple of months ago. Now I just have my thesis defence this coming week, and then I have a little time to recuperate before the short intercession begins.
In exciting news, I was accepted for grad school and granted a good-sized fellowship to fund the school, so next year I can keep on with the studies without having to spend half the week at my day job. Hooray for that! I really do love this work, and I know I'm lucky to get a chance to do it here in this middle age. I can't credit my success so far with being sober, as I was drinking (with on and off periods of quitting) all the while I was working on this degree and applying for the next one. But I knew I could neither cope with the workload if I kept drinking at the pace I was going, nor could I afford to cut down my work hours and live on student funding if I was drinking as much as I had been.
This semester was a whole lot harder without drinking. I almost feel like I shouldn't say that, because it might sound discouraging to some people, but it's true. It was easier for me to do the massive work of writing and deadlines on my old wine-as-reward system. I need a new way of working, and I haven't quite figured it out yet. But the old way wasn't sustainable anyway. I will figure it out, I know. Time helps. The main thing for me (and that's why I'm writing this) is not to pretend that it's all good or always better or that it's suddenly easier without drinking. I just wanted to remind myself that, even though it's been hard, not drinking is worth it. I'm committed, and I see from other people that it gets better, even though it's not a smooth and steady ascent. (One of my sober blogging pals decided to end his sober spell yesterday, which made me sad. It also made me question what I was doing. There's no point pretending we're not all in this together, what we do effects the rest of us here. We're social creatures all the way through, we people. So my main point in writing this, even though I'm really dead tired here, is to do a little reconnaissance mission and remind myself what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. It's moral support for myself, though if you're reading this, you're party of that support.)
OK, I need some more sleep before I head to work for the day. If you're still here too, thanks for reading. I really appreciate your company along this getting sober way. Peace and joy and happy Saturdays to you, and a nap if you need one!