Friday, 18 September 2015

Hello again, sober blog world. (Alt title: Round 3, day 2.)

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.

21 comments:

  1. Hi ! What a great post. I have always appreciated your simple honesty and ability to articulate this stuff-hell! Figuring out thoughts and feelings is hard work, you have an incredible gift in how you are able to do this..and I really appreciate you sharing your inner processes with us. For me personally I don't feel any 'knew you'd be back' emotions.. I do occasionally hear from people who do break a destructive drinking cycle only to be able. To imbibe occasionally without angst... My main emotion is that I want you to be happy and feel content... And I trust that you will figure out how to achieve that. In summary (long comment sorry) you rock! Love me xxx

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    1. Thanks, Mrs D. You're such a star, and such great support as aways. Sending much love and a big hug to you! xoxo

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  2. So, I have to tell you that about several years ago I also experimented with the not drinking and then drinking thing and for me, my conclusion was that I feel better when I do not drink. I can't really figure out how to be a moderate drinker and while I was ok while experimenting I could see where it was going. Like you, I missed the clear-headedness I had achieved by not drinking. I quit again 18 months ago and I think I'm good and not really wanting to drink anymore. It's not my thing any longer. At 46 years old I feel good even feeling at peace at times. I'm good here.

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    1. Yes, that can't be moderate thing is in fact, a great help. I did manage, but what a trouble! Mind arguments, justifications, wanting more, feeling like a freak for thinking about it - I guess that is my good brake. Too tiring to go trough all that, + worry about health effects. Lovely you are feeling good an at peace at times. Me too :)

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    2. Year44, thanks for telling me your story. Sounds familiar! It's good to hear you went through something similar and that it's worked out well for you. Missing being clear is a strange thing--I just wouldn't have expected that! Glad you're doing well these days. Thanks for reading and commenting. xo

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  3. That is so clear, really great to read thank you, & thank you Lotta for directing us to check it out. I do wonder if there is a point where one should tiptoe into the occasional champagne - but even writing this, my sensible side leaps up and asks WHY? you are bound to get a headache as RSW did, why drink a carcinogenic toxin? I am so relaxed (sometimes) and happy without it, so WHY? Then I think, the reason is probably societal pressure. Do i want to be a puppet of that? NO!!!
    Anyway, I know the time will come when I will take off the strait jacket and really think it through and it is so helpful to have lamplighters like you explain all this 'stuff'. Thanks XX

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    1. Kate, thanks so much for your kind words. I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment, and I'm glad what I say here might help you in the future. (And thanks to MrsD aka Lotta--I didn't know she had linked this post somewhere.) Sounds like you're doing a good job figuring things out for yourself, so hooray for that! Best to you. xo

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  4. I'm still reading. It's good to see you posting again

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    1. Thanks for being here, Chris, and for your encouragement! xo

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  5. hey you - stay cranky! cranky is the new serenity, don't you know...at least that's what I'm telling myself (in a grumpy kind of way. I ASPIRE TO cranky.)

    I was so interested in your analysis of what you missed about sobriety. as Mrs D says, your ability to articulate this stuff simply is so powerful.

    it made me think of another sober blogger - and very many apologies, but I cannot for the life of me remember who, please if someone knows enlighten me - who likened sobriety to pushing right to the very front at the rock concert of life. so you can feel the vibrations right through your body, and cannot tell any more where it begins and you start. and though the power and roar of life can feel overwhelming, once you've been there, living it, you wouldn't have it any other way. you mention clarity - I'd be interested to hear whether, for you, the clarity you mention can also shade into the kind of intensity that I've just described?

    oh, and congratulations too on your now-husband! that's exciting! so glad he is pretty much recovered. Prim xx

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    1. Hello lovely Prim! I love to think that "cranky is the new serenity" as I don't always trust serenity. Thanks for your kind words here. I'm going to have to think about your question. I remember that rock concert blog post, too,but I have searched around a bit now and can't find it. But I don't think that's quite what I mean. I was thinking of 2 contrasting images. One is a recurring image of sober late night bike rides after music shows (not rock) with my partner (must get used to saying husband--and thanks for the congrats!), and the joy of the show and cold clear night and the lights of our lovely city all looked crisp and wonderful, like a perfect autumn day, though it can't have always been autumn on the occasions I recall. I contrast that with some of the fun times I have has since starting drinking again, and each one as I recall it is a bright blur of light, like some special effect in a film. Oh, I'm not sure I'm getting it across here. Maybe I just don't like rock concerts all that much, so that image sounds wrong to me because it sounds blurry, and I really am thinking crisp and clear. I'm going to think on this and will report back in a few days! Anyway, lovely to hear from you, and thanks for all your support. xo

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  6. I can relate on some kind of indescribable level with all of what you say, especially the part about the "crispness" of sobriety and how you feel the world is just spinning around you. Thanks for coming back. I have also been sober and not been sober. I am in the middle of another "let's try it again" phase and you post reminded me just how good it was to be sober.

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    1. Thanks for understanding. I know you've thought it over from both sides a few times, as have I. Good luck figuring it out for yourself. And thanks for being here, too! xo

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  7. Yes. The relief of not having to decide, plan, evaluate if a drink is a good idea, etc is a valuable thing.


    Though I had many great times in my drinking days, my current realization that times can be great sober, wins. I think if we hadn't had great times drinking occasionally none of us would have had problems quitting. But the generalized depression and anxiety that comes with ingesting alcohol does influence daily life.

    I'm in vegas. This weekend I've gone to two concerts, gambled, eaten great meals and gotten a tattoo.

    All sober and with my sober husband.

    Our lady trip to vegas had some fun times, but I dragged myself through them all.

    This trip wins.

    Welcome back! I think it's great to hear lots of options and experiences.

    Anne

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    1. Hi Anne. Glad you're having fun in Vegas! I may be coming around to accepting that alcohol and depression are linked for me. I admire how certain you seem to be about it all, but I'm sure not like that. I know sober can be great. What I think I didn't know before, and didn't believe anyone who said so, is that even a little drinking seems to, not right away but bit by bit, erode the clarity that for me is being sober. Anyway, thanks for reading and cheering me on. I really appreciate that. Hooray for you having fun! xo

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  8. Hi Thirsty!
    I like crispy!
    I am glad your husband is better now!
    I know the feeling of teaching being in a video game! In my case it would have been a pin-ball game!
    Hugs!
    xo
    Wendy

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    1. Thanks, Wendy! Lovely to hear from you. Big hug to you, too! xo

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  9. Laaaaaady! Glad to read some of your writing again. I can SO completely relate to what you wrote about feeling low. Even when I was only drinking occasionally, it really brought me down. Yes, we still can feel depressed sober, but alcohol *is* a depressant --there's no denying that.

    Also, that crispness you describe -- there are times now that I am still a blurry mess and I think "Thank the universe I'm sober because I can't imagine how scattered I'd feel drinking." I get it. The world and all we observe can be messy -- our brain's RAM can't handle it sometimes. Alcohol slows down that processing even further.

    Anywho, I am interested to hear what you think about the 100 days, how it's different, if it's different etc. Just glad to have you back writing :)

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    1. Rebecca, thanks for reading and thanks for your kind words. Yes, the depression can be brutal and I know it's linked with alcohol. Damn, it's just plain true. I'm glad you get what I'm talking about when I talk about the world being crisp or blurry. Being slowed down isn't really a whole lot of fun. I'm really glad you're here reading. xo

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  10. So glad you're writing again. I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering how you were doing. Thanks for the update.

    I agree wholeheartedly that drinking is fun - if it wasn't NO ONE would do it! It just wasn't for me and the back and forth of it all was just too exhausting for me to continue.

    I'll be very interested to watch where this takes you. You are so good at articulating how you are feeling and what's going through your head so I know it will be an interesting ride. And BTW...cranky is not a bad thing. 90% of my life is spent cranky!

    Welcome back!
    Sherry

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    1. Sherry, I'm so touched you thought of me! Thanks for telling me that. Sometimes the online world seems a little detached from the day-to-day world, and small comments like that remind me that it isn't. And thanks for coming out in support of cranky. I'm glad to me in such good company! xo

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