Last night, right on cue, out came the tears. Five days without drinking and the enormous number of things I am trying not to worry about overwhelmed me. I started a conversation with my partner about some of it--academic worries, which maybe makes me sound precious but it's really, "What am I doing with my life?" and to me, that stuff is important. I'm not going to try and trace out all the issues here. Just that we started to talk about it, and I said how scared and overwhelmed I was, and I started to cry. As usual with me, it's not sweet little tears tricking down while the late evening sun breaks through the clouds and I smile radiantly, over it before it even began. No, it's swollen eyes and bright red nose and hiccupping through what I'm trying to say. People say that once you stop drinking, the emotions start to come through, you feel them whereas before you just numbed them out. I've said it myself, both earlier times I quit drinking. But then sometimes I doubt all that. What if it's just a nice story we tell ourselves so we can coddle ourselves for a while? Am I just being fanciful? So last night, after the crying, and the good conversation (my partner <I mean husband, ahem> really is great!) I felt better. And I remembered, Oh yeah, that's what happens. You feel it and you go through it and then it goes away.
I guess I am starting to accept that I have been numbing myself again for the past few months. There have been plenty of things to numb, that's for sure.
Lately I have been thinking about my mother. She has advanced dementia now, so she can't walk, and she can't talk coherently, and her memories are scarce and fleeting. But she's become about as sweet as a person could be, and she's still, even without most of her ability to talk, very funny. I think fun might be what has pulled her through her life. She loved to go dancing, and she told me years ago that when she married my father, she made a deal with him: she would move to the rural place he was from, and have kids, and do all the married stuff. But she would only do it if he agreed to go out dancing every week like they did when they were courting. When we were kids, my parents did just that, went out dancing at least one night a week. Sometimes two. My parents both had rough childhoods, and their adult lives weren't so easy either. They never learned to cope sensibly with much. It wasn't the way things were done where I'm from. Instead, they did the best they could with the tough times: my mother pursed her lips and said nothing when she was angry, while my dad swore a blue streak, and then they both settled back to some kind of normal. They met at a dance, and they were both great dancers. I think dancing was their escape, the sheer fun of twirling around the dance floor enough to obscure the drear of daily life. In pictures, my mother often looks a bit dour, except when she's dressed up to go dancing. Then she looked radiant!
Where I am from, fun is probably the central cultural value. People danced and drank and laughed and then went back to what they had to do and soldiered through, and yes, occasionally they developed lifelong grudges and just never, ever spoke to certain folks again, and some drank too much and just fell away from the world. No one, no one went to therapy or dealt with emotions. I've been thinking about this because I think culture matters. That world is more a part of me than I like to admit, or than I understand. I can talk a good game for a while about feelings and acceptance and so on, but after a while, I feel like some made-up west coast hippie freak show. It all starts to feel like I have lost myself, that part of me that wants to just whirl out of the dreary world and have fun for a while.
I don't much know what to do about this, so this is not a post with a nice conclusion. I have to get a better grip on it, though. Reading through my old posts, which I just about had to force myself to do, it's terrifying to see that there are so many patterns in my thinking about drinking, and quitting, and drinking, and quitting again. And I see that this suspicion I have of all the talk about feelings and so on is what starts to lay me low. But whirling away from things I don't want to deal with into the land of fun only works for a while.
So that's where I am. Still not drinking, or planning to. I am serious about the 100 days, and that part isn't the hard part for me. The hard part is coming to some kind of peace with who I am in a way that doesn't outright reject the world I'm from but doesn't pitch me headlong into the problems that that world always brings me.
Thanks for reading if you're sill here. Peace.