Monday, 4 January 2016

Round 3, Day 110: Connecting, waiting

I'm back from a lovely, sober few days away visiting my husband's family. Not drinking is so much easier these days. Once in a while over the holidays I had a little pang of wanting a drink. But I am getting much better at talking myself down from these pangs when they happen, or distracting myself until they pass. Really though, that longing for drink isn't all that intense any more. It's more like a tired, half-hearted part of me still chimes in once in a while with "maybe a drink?" but it isn't all that compelling. I know people say that when you revert to drinking again, it doesn't take long to pick up where you left off. Well, that seems to be my experience with quitting drinking for me this time around. I feel I've already reverted the habit of not drinking that I established over the past couple of years. I've already been through over a full year of not drinking, so I don't have all that many "firsts" to contend with. And having gone back to drinking twice after long spells without booze, only to find that drinking wasn't going to work any more as either an escape or a refuge, I simply can't kid myself that there's any point in it for me. That romance is dead and gone, it seems.

Because I start these posts with a tongue-in-cheek "Round 3," I thought I might make a note of what's been different this time compared to the last two rounds of getting sober. The first time I quit, over two years ago, I thought the world would open up and shake in congratulations at my having accomplished 100 days without drinking. In fact, no one cared much. Feeling like I was part of something bigger than me in this sober blog world was so important to me, but I was way too over-invested in needing connection with others, without really knowing how to connect, or who I might connect with. So when 100 days came and went and people who I thought were cheering me on missed what was, to me, an enormous milestone, I was devastated. I'd been feeling like I didn't belong after all, and I know that was a part of me moving away from the blog world, and the letdown was huge. Right now I feel so far from how sad and hurt I was at the time that it's almost hard to take it seriously, but I want to honour that feeling here. Recently, Laura McKowen wrote about the incredible loneliness of early sobriety, and I found great comfort in that. Every trace of friendship and connection in those early days was a lifeline, and every small hurt was amplified as a result. Now I'm relieved to know that many people feel like that when they first stop drinking. And because I know that, I'm more aware that I need to pay attention to taking care of myself and not let myself be too hurt by small slights online or in my day-to-day life. My first response to small personal slights is still, "She probably hates me," but I have got much better at setting those thoughts aside, accepting the feelings that come with them but not getting knocked too far off course as a result.

After drinking for a few months and then quitting again, the next time I made it to 100 days was my birthday. That time I was way more careful about the letdown that can come with sober milestones. I had been in the online sober community longer, so I felt I was developing some real friendships here. I was better at knowing what I needed and working at setting it up for myself. But I was feeling what I called at the time a "giant hole of longing," and it was tough coping with that.

This time, I don't feel so much longing or sadness or alienation. I think I am more mature about what it might mean emotionally to live as an adult. I still often feel disconnected from people, but I am working on making better connections and realizing that the feeling of disconnect is more an old habit than a reflection of how I really am in relation to those around me. My 100 days sober coincided with Christmas Day. My husband and I spent a wonderful day together--we slept late, ate a yummy brunch, went for a long walk that ended at the cinema, where we watched the lovely movie, Brooklyn. (Go see it! It's a beautiful film, one that lives up to the novel in a way that few films do.) I acknowledged my accomplishment with my husband, but we are both used to me being sober now, and we both prefer it. I didn't need to make much fuss over the number of days, nor did I want to spend time online talking about myself that day. The online sober world is an important support for me, but I often get as much support reading and commenting on other blogs as I do writing about my own celebrations and struggles. Still, I am proud of myself for getting hold of the drinking and returning to being sober, and for making it to 100 (now 110!) sober days. Sober suits me, and I am very much planning to stay that way.

Just the same, I'm in a kind of holding pattern about some things, and that means I'm on the edge of enormous stress that I can't even let myself feel right now. Based on some soul searching abut what I'm doing with my life, I've put in applications for a few school programs that would mean a change in direction for me academically. Being accepted into any of them would also mean making a big move geographically. The application process for these programs is insanely competitive, so the next few weeks will be filled with regular email checking to see whether I have been invited to an in-person interview, which will mean plane tickets and massive preparation and a couple of days being on while investigating whether a program and supervisor is right for me, followed by more waiting to see what's been decided. Or I may not make the first cut of interviews at any program, which means a couple of months of waiting and wondering, all the while working on my thesis and engaging with students in my TA duties, and trying to see if I can fill in some shifts from my old job here and there because flying to interviews will be expensive and I will need the cash. I'm excited about it all, but I'm crazy-nervous, too.

All that is just to say it's not going to be an easy month ahead. Getting sober is a good practice in dealing with trouble, though, and I am trying to use what I've learned from the sober stuff to deal with all this other stress. Today I let myself take an extra day off from all I have to do, and I spent the day reading a mystery by a new favourite writer. I think I'll just go back to that now for the day, and then tomorrow I will try to come up with a plan that will help me get things done and take care of myself. I feel a little numb, and I know that's a response to the worry and uncertainty about what will happen in all this. But I also know that many intense feelings will come and go over the next while, and none of them matter all that much. I'm happy to be where I am in my life in 2016, sober and trying to make some big life changes. I don't expect it will all magically work out, but I know I will deal with what happens as it happens. I can't tell if what I feel is calm or numb, or maybe it's flashes of that elusive thing I've heard about, patience? Either way, I have some work to do, and a whole lot of waiting. And for now, I'll read for a while longer, and have some dinner, and forget about the work and the waiting for one evening.

Thanks for keeping me company as I figure out how to live sober. I hope you're figuring it out, too. Peace and joy to you all in this new year.

23 comments:

  1. Hi Thirsty!
    I am so glad you had a nice Christmas!
    Waiting to find out about interviews would be exciting and crazy making at the same time!
    What book are you reading?
    I love mysteries, too!
    I will keep my fingers crossed for you.
    xo
    Wendy


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  2. Thanks, Wendy! Yes, exciting and crazy-making is just about right! The book I just finished is "North Sea Requiem" by the Scottish writer AD Scott. The books are set in the Highlands of Scotland in the 1950s and the main character is an early feminist struggling with the restrictions of small town life in the face of the changes that are just coming--and being resisted--at the time. The setting is marvellous and the author's critical take on social issues is very good. All that and the books are a fun read, leaning a little more towards PD James literary mystery than the currently popular blood and gore mysteries. If you read them, start at the beginning ("A Small Death in the Great Glen") and let me know what you think! Thanks for your good wishes. Glad you're doing well, too. It's so nice to see you here! xo

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    1. Let me know what you think of her. I'm onto Louise Penny now, and she's marvellous, too! xo

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  3. Hello Thirsty. We seem to be on parallel paths. I understand so much of what you write and it's a comfort to read my experience described by somebody else. Thank you.
    I wish you a peaceful journey ahead.
    Bea

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    1. Thanks so much, Bea. It's so good to know that what I say resonates with someone. I'd lost track of your blog, but I will track it down now to see what you're up to. I hope you're well, and I wish you a peaceful journey, too. xo

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  4. I always love reading what you're thinking. I can relate to the 100 day letdown- sometimes when I post a blog that I think is especially thoughtful and then no one comments I feel so bereft and alone- one of the hazards of connection coming from online rather than in person. It makes me think too abut how as people we are so important to ourselves, but then everyone else is busy being important to themselves and so can miss our important stuff. The thing I'm struggling with is making sure I'm doing things for me, and then the rest is gravy. Sometimes I need that encouragement and praise to feel like it isn't all just a big waste of time. I'll be sending big lake waves and love for your stressful time ahead. Don't forget that the unfolding is sometimes the very best part. :) xoxoxo amy

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    1. Hello Amy! Yes, the online lack of reaction sometimes feels like a big reaction. Though I often find that I don't comment on a long, thoughtful post because I plan to come back and comment later, which I often forget to do. I must try not to do that, as I'd hate to discourage thoughtful posts! I agree with doing things for oneself, but for me it's hard to know how I"m connected to the world. It's not that I want praise, more that I'm trying to figure out how it works. Thanks for being here xo

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  5. 110 days is magnificent, and you are an inspiration to me. I'm still struggling through those damned early days...Annie x

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    1. Thanks, Annie. you're an inspiration too, you know. I admire your tenacity in the face of this difficulty, and I'm rooting for you! xo

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  6. So many congratulations due!

    Congrats on 100 days. Congrats on having a lovely Christmas. Congrats on working on changing your life path!!! (That's a big one.)

    You are rocking this sober thing girl!

    Sherry

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    1. Thanks, Sherry. Cheering section comments much appreciated! I really an enjoying life these days, and that's grand xo

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  7. Love your post, as always. I am grateful for you and your story. Please keep writing. I feel that our paths are connected and think of you often.

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    1. Oh, thanks so much for your kind words! I think of you often, too, and I'm grateful for your quiet support. Isn't it wonderful to be struggling to figure this out, rather than just being drunk and unhappy! Big hug to you xo

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  8. The loneliness is a sneaky thing. It's what took me to AA in early sobriety.
    It also brought me to yoga, but that is a funnier place. There is energy in the room, but not a lot of interaction. Some days I found this only amplified my loneliness. But slowly I realized that I had myself to sit with. And when that became my reality the need for others truly deminished.

    Not that that feeling of looking from the outside goes away completely, I went on a retreat last year and the first day I got there and didn't know anyone. My initial thought was to hide in my room, alone, because no one really needed or wanted me anyway.

    I caught myself, and brushed my teeth and wet to the main area and made new friends.

    In yoga that is the ego. Trying to keep us blind to the fact we are all divine, all connected, all one.

    There is lots of love just waiting for you. Any where you look.

    Anne

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    1. Hi Anne. Yes, I see how yoga would feel odd, being with people without interacting, At meditation retreats, I have really enjoyed that, just being with people without having to talk! (And as you can probably see, I'm a talker!) I love the idea that we're all connected, and I feel that, too. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with realizing that! I do appreciate being with myself, and I do very well alone, but figuring out how to connect with people is important to me, and it doesn't always come easy. I know that being vulnerable is part of how we open ourselves to others, but knowing how to do that remains tricky at times! But I'm working in it Thanks for being here xo

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  9. Thanks so much for writing this post. I came to look at your blog via Living Sober after a comment you made to one of my posts (Rise2015) a week or so ago. It is really supportive to read about your feelings on connection and loneliness and reactions from others about what we consider big moments or milestones. I originally started my own sober path with a 100 day challenge to myself - quite unrelated to knowing there was such a thing online! I have felt great support from LS, but recently after announcing I might try moderating have felt a big loss of connection. I had just started to have positive feelings about my relationship with alcohol, but at the same time realise that I still look for so much validation from others when I need to just get it from within myself. Of late I possibly have experienced some of those feelings of not fitting in or 'belonging' as part of the group and have been working hard to adjust my thoughts to remember that sometimes when people don't cheer you on or support you that it is not because they don't mean to, but that they have their own 'stuff' going on. Good luck for your next stage of your career and all the best with your sober journey.

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    1. Hi Cherie. Sorry I am so slow in getting back to you here. I sure do hear you. When I decided to try drinking again, I felt quite cut off from my sober support, and in a way I resented people for that. In fact, many people did keep in touch with me and were supportive of me regardless of what I did, so part of the reaction was something I put on them. But some people don't want to be around moderation attempts, as they find it tempting or triggery, and fair enough. Good luck to you as you work through this. If you want to chat more, you can reach me at thirsty dot still at gmail dot com. Take care xo

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  10. I think that we miss the ebb and flow of life and circumstance when we are drinking.... it's like driving with the handbrake on, not to be recommended and the twists and turns in the road are less easy to make out perhaps? I'm really familiar with the sensation of "WHY does everything feel as if I'm trying to run through mud?" where I can be pushing at a door for ages... then it opens and woosh off I go like Alice down a slide to the next stage!

    so glad you had an enjoyable Christmas and celebrated your 'this time' 100 days. and good to hear how those milestones have evolved for you over the process - those previous landmarks are waymarkers on the journey too and can also be celebrated! xx

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    1. Prim, yes, I think you're right about missing the ebb and flow when drinking. Taking the edge off means lopping off a lot of life. doesn't it? This week it's all zoomy but next it might be thick mud again!

      And yes, celebrating the previous landmarks is important to me. I do think all of me has to be included in who I am, so I don't discount the back and forth of drinking and not. That said, I'm mighty glad to be sober! Thanks for being here xo

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  11. Hi, I enjoy reading your blog. May I ask, what is the best tip you can share about starting my own recovery blog?
    Respectfully,

    Alan
    ajbf150@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Alan. I'm glad you enjoy reading what I have to say. As far as blogging goes, there are so many ways to do it. I just write to help myself think, and that's helped me also get in touch with some new and interesting people. I guess the best way to blog is to start blogging! Good luck with it. I'd be happy to help if you have questions xo

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  12. Hi, Thank you very much for your input!

    Over 60 hours went into the article and I'm super excited to say that now it's live!

    You can see it here:

    https://www.lumierehealingcenters.com/recovery-blogs-guide/

    I've included a link to your blog. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions.

    Best regards,

    Alan

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