Sunday 19 July 2015

Quick update: the short answer is, I am well!

It's been a couple of months since I decided to reconsider being sober. A few people have commented or emailed to ask how it's going, so I thought I'd write a quick note to say I'm doing fine. (But listen: If you are reading sober blogs because you are struggling with the drink and looking for support from like-minded people, don't read this post. Take a look at the sidebar on my blog, where you will find posts by many people who are committed to being sober. If you're looking for support, that's what you should be reading, not this post! If you think you know better than I do and you want to save me from myself, please keep those thoughts to yourself, OK? We're all just figuring out how to live and no one has all the answers: not me, not you, not some expert! And as usual, no talk of wolves or witches are welcome here. There are lots of places online where you can talk about that sort of thing and be greeted warmly, and that's grand, but it's not my cup of tea. If you're just curious how I'm doing, or interested in a take on drinking by someone who was sober for a year and a half and now drinks, OK, read on. )

Phew! Now that's all out of the way and I can talk. Sorry to sound bossy there. I'm just heading off some conversations I don't want to have, that's all. Other than that, hello!

First, yes, I decided to drink again, and I have. And I like it. I had forgotten how much I really love wine, and how little I care for most other kinds of alcohol. I feel like I've become reacquainted with an old pleasure. And that's lovely. I have found that in certain kinds of social situations, I have more fun, and I'm more part of what's going on, when I am joining in the drinking. That's not the main part of my life, and if it were it would probably stop being fun. But as it stands, it's nice.

Also, there have been no great dramas or tragedies. I was joking with my partner that there's a truism in sober circles that tells you to "play the tape to the end." For me, sometimes the end seems to be I have some wine and a nice time. Once I drank more than was a good idea, and then I went home to bed. It wasn't much difference than what happens to people once in a while, just a confluence of being too tired and having some wine. Most likely I was sillier than usual. I don't mind that. I don't need to absolutely control every moment of my life. So my tape isn't looking so scary, or at least, not to me!

There was one evening where I shared wine with some friends and later wondered whether I may have had a better time without drinking. One of the friends I was with also has a complicated relationship with alcohol, and may have been disappointed that I decided to drink again. It was interesting, and I realized that, with that particular group, next time I probably wouldn't drink. No matter. I'm still figuring out how to do this, and I'm learning as I go.

Aside from the pleasure of drinking sometimes, and the feeling of fuller participation with the world that comes along with that, the big relief for me has been to let up on the incessant self-examination that for me has gone along with being sober and blogging. As I have said many times, I don't have much faith in the ongoing self-improvement project of contemporary psychology. Sometimes, yes, things in life get messy, and something needs to be done to make a change. But I don't think we are the sort of creatures that respond well to an endless process of analyzing and bettering, as though we were products that could be continually tweaked for greater market share or increased customer satisfaction. There is a lot of talk about acceptance on sober blogs, and sometimes that's been helpful to me. But I keep wondering whether sometimes that shades into accepting the world as it is, which I think is a problem given that the world we are in needs some change. Maybe deeper kind of acceptance would be to accept ourselves as flawed, and maybe always to some extent unknowable, and to get on with trying to make the world better.

Not that I'm engaged in a grand world-improvement project now either. But I am reading lots and working on my thesis and paying attention much more to the world and much less to myself. I don't think that's incompatible with not drinking, by the way. I just found that to keep up the not drinking, I had to keep up a set of beliefs about being sober that were nourished by reading sober blogs, and that led me to pay more attention to myself than I want to pay. Having questioned that practice, I am neither reading blogs nor being actively sober. And my take on it is this: I'm living well.

Years ago I went through a terrible depression, and when I was getting better and returning to the world, a friend expressed disappointment with me because he didn't like my pace or tone as well any more. He liked me better when I was more quiet, more interior. (In other words, when I was depressed.) I mention that because I feel the same shift in me now--I'm bored with all that being quiet and interior, and yet that may be a great deal of what makes up the bond between me and the world of sober bloggers. It's not that I can never be like that these days, it's just that it's only a part of me, and one that's less front and centre when I'm more engaged with the world, as I have been this past while. That goes along with my decision to drink again, but it's part of a bigger process of being in the world in a different way. So if I seem different, I am, and I know that, and I know it's not always welcome to everyone. But it's who I am, and I am pretty darn OK with that.

In any case, this may be my last post, as it doesn't seem to make sense to write in a sober community about the joys of drinking, or to write among people who are working on self-improvement to say that I think a lot of that is bunk. I don't want to be the poster girl for drinking, or to be put in a position in which I'm defending drinking to people who think it's an unhealthy practice. I really am just figuring out how to live, and that may end up being a more private process than this blogging adventure has been. But I did want to say hi, and say I'm doing well, before I sign off altogether.

Happy July to you all!