Hello. It's been 2 months since I wrote online, and at that point, I wasn't sure I would again. However, I kept up a private version of my blog in a word file, so I could keep track of my thinking without having to worry about how what I said affected anyone else, or how other people's comments would affect me. Thanks to the kind souls who cheered me on anyway. I appreciate that.
Now I have a few threads of things I want to write about, and I'm not sure of the order. Please forgive me if I seem a bit cranky or even defensive here. I am both. But I am OK.
The quick recap is this: about four months ago, after 16 months not drinking, I decided to try drinking again. And now I am quitting again, at least for a stretch of time. And I expect some readers will quietly but knowingly chuckle to themselves, if not in the comments, and maybe trot out that old saw about idiocy being doing the same thing over and over and it not working. But listen: I have not been doing the same thing. I really did want to test the edges of whether drinking with awareness would work for me. In some ways it does, and in some it does not.
Overall, my experience has been somewhere in the middle of what I might have hoped for. Nothing terrible happened. I had lots of fun, and often enjoyed myself very much. I'm not going to sing the pleasures of drinking here, but I want to acknowledge that there are some, and they are not illusions, in contrast to some authentic pleasure that can only be had without booze. I genuinely enjoyed a lot of the occasions on which I drank. Only a few are regrettable, and even on those, the regret is pretty minor. I made a deal with myself when I started this: no guilt! No waking recriminations only to drink again and go through that again. I regularly checked in with myself to see how it was going, and tried to weigh up the goods and the bads, and I did my best to do that rationally. I don't mean to say I used a checklist or any such simplifying tool, as I can't abide the contemporary need to boil everything down to a number or a category. Nonetheless, I regularly asked myself whether it was still fun, what I liked about drinking, what I didn't like, and how I felt.
My biggest surprise is this one: over the past couple of months, I started to realize that I missed being sober. OK, that's not what I would have expected to feel at all! Sometimes I hate the whole sober thing, with all its talk of glorious sleep and clear skin and self-improvement and yoga and gratitude and new age healers. My god, I can get ranting about all that! But I think that's not what "being sober" is, it's just the direction a lot of people go with it. Not my thing though. For me, "being sober" is something less tangible, and I don't think I can entirely put it into words yet. I missed the ongoing feeling of being clear-minded. Sometimes I can start to feel like I am living at a partial remove from myself, and I think drinking makes that worse, like there is too much blur in the world, and I myself am too much made of blur. I missed the more crisp edges I had started to get used to. (Nor crisp as in me being separate from the world. It's more like having a clearer sense of what's going on. Having a better grasp on the world might be a better way to say it.) And then, though I can enjoy a bit of denial, I can't deny that for the past two months, on and off, I have been feeling awfully low. Oh, it's a fierce drain on a person, feeling like this. And I know this old feeling very, very well. I don't know that it's brought on by booze, as I have had some of it when I wasn't drinking, but I sure do think that drinking makes it worse. Also, when I feel that low, drinking starts to become a way of checking out, and part of the deal with myself was that drinking had to be fun and lovely. If I were just checking out, then I would stop again. And while I wasn't at that point, I could feel myself sliding into it.
Anyway, I made a plan. I did a few spells of no drinking for a few days, or even a week, during the four months I was trying drinking, and I usually felt better during them. For me, it's not so much the craving and caving in that's a problem (though I know it is for some, and I respect that) as it is the trying to reason through why I should drink or not drink. In the end, four months ago, I lost track of my reasons, and though I was desperately trying to find reasons in what other people said, I ended up feeling alienated in this whole sober gig, and very, very lonely. (Not blaming here. Just saying how it went for me.) The four months has been a good bit of investigating my own reasons, and I think by now I can find my own feet beneath me once again. So here's the plan: no drinking for 100 days. I kind of liked that the first time around, though getting tangled up with someone else's challenge turned out (though great for some folks) to be terrible for me, and I won't do that again. I decided this yesterday, and talked with my partner about it. I'm committed. And then I counted, and 100 days brings me to Christmas day, which seems easy enough to remember, and a nice date to work towards.
To be honest, this feels like an enormous relief. Whereas sometimes quitting drinking feels like a deprivation, deciding to take a fixed-time break feels like a present to myself. I've also made a few other changes. School was feeling ridiculously busy--I felt like I was standing in a video game that was going faster and faster and I was still keeping up but waiting for the big kerpow! So I withdrew from a few projects and made what I have to do feel manageable. And some things that were awful have improved tremendously: my partner (now my husband!) has largely healed from his terrible accident, so my time is more my own and I'm not swamped with medical/financial/ life worries. With the time freed up in all that, and once I climb out of this dark place I've been in, I will soon be able to be running and biking at my usual pace again.
And I will come back to writing about how it's going. I'm sure I will remain cranky on that front at least. As I keep on saying, I am not much given to certainty, and I find cold comfort in the absolute certainty of many of the sober platitudes. But I will keep on trying to find my own way in all this, and for at least the next 99 days, that will be without drinking.
Thanks for reading of you're still here and not put off by my cranky temper. It feels a little bit good to be heading back to being sober again. Peace.