Whassuuuup U.K. and South Africa !!! The two visitors from yesterday 🙂 I appreciate it ! I don’t know if you ever came back and are reading this, but it warms my heart to know that the void out there is peopled with you guys. Yes, you whoever you are. If you are reading this, in a strange way, you are my friend and I am grateful for/to you.
Weirdly, this could be day 2 for me. Yesterday I was SO hungover from downing a 6 pack of heavy IPAs the night before — just because I was alone, because I could, because anything less didn’t give me a real buzz, because I felt like shit–, I felt like shit, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. Ah, the physical pain of a hangover which subtly intertwines itself with the moral pain of guilt and shame… I will not miss you !
There was still hope for me that morning, though, as I tried to sip coffee and survive the pounding headache / assaults of internal dialogue on my poor, damaged brain. I knew that I would see my partner in the evening, that he was coming to the city where I had been for the last 3 weeks, and that we were going to see a music show. In other words: I knew that would be the opportunity to have a sober evening. Yep, weirdest paradox EVER: Staying home = being drunk, and going out = a chance to be sober. Who would have thought I would end up like this! That day, I was feeling pretty depressed, and had been all week (underlying depression + secret drinking + telling no one = low self esteem/feel like shit, duh!), so needless to say that the sober evening at the show was strange. Under the headache and nausea from the hangover, I think I also had withdrawal symptoms, and at some point, experienced what felt like the beginning of a panic attack. But my partner was gentle and supportive. It’s so strange how I was able to be both very honest and very dishonest at the same time: I basically blamed most of my mood, behavior and appearance on “a wave of depression”, explaining that I was WORRIED about being an alcoholic like my mother, confessing to having daily cravings for alcohol, announcing that I want to try being sober for an extensive period of time. We have spoken about these things often before. But what I DIDN’T tell him was the shameful part (the part where I sneak around and drink and keep being a slave to my addiction, as opposed to the part who is aware, and has insights, and knows what to do to get better). How almost every night when we are not together I drink/get drunk/secretly plan more drinking around our schedule. That my shitty depressed mood is probably mostly due to the drinking, and not just the other way round, not what I had been telling myself for years: “I drink cause I feel depressed”. For the first time in 15 years of almost daily drinking, it is only just dawning on me that drinking is perhaps not merely self medicating. Drinking is perhaps by now the CAUSE of my depressive episodes. If anything, it is definitely neither helping me learn how to feel things and deal with my emotions, nor how to improve my self esteem. Anyway, I made it through the music show and the evening without a beer, despite everyone else around us holding pints. Strangely, I didn’t feel deprived at all. It was easy, because I was with my partner (who was drinking water, as if that’s a “normal” thing to do). I have gotten used to this “sobriety when in company” mode. Today however, I am back home, in the small boring city where I live. Alone, with nothing to do except “unpleasant” things like work, exercise, “be healthy”. BORING! But I want to prove to myself that I can be sober for a second evening in a row. Which is actually the first evening on my own. In two weeks I am going on vacation, and I know ( also, I hope) that I will be drinking with family and friends. So this is not Day 2 yet. It’s just a break in the daily drinking I have been doing recently. I’m thinking things like “this is practice” for when the big day comes in a month”. Or “all the sober minutes I can string together are already a form of victory”. A part of me is TERRIFIED at the thought of never drinking again. A part of me is still fantasizing about drinking in moderation, cutting down. Like “normal” people. But I know that this is the part of me who is in denial, clinging like crazy, and holding me back from giving sober living a real chance.
Sometimes, I wish things were black or white, it would make things easier. Strangely, a part of me wishes that I would just drink myself to death every day before my quit date, so that all this time would count as “BAD” and all the future, sober time, would count as “GOOD”. But it is precisely this “all or nothing” mode of thinking that gets me into trouble when it comes to compulsion and addictions in the first place. I think it is an inability to accept the “messiness” of reality. That wants things to be nice and neat, in a well-identified category, so that there is no pain or discomfort to deal with. But I know that Life is not all good or all bad, it is a complicated mess. I also suspect that sobriety will have a lot to do with accepting this complex, imperfect mess, and finding a way to surf the waves every time without a bandaid or an escape-drink. I have been listening to a GREAT AUDIO BOOK on getting sober, called “Drinking, a Love Story”, by Caroline Knapp. As a 30-something woman with a tendency to overanalyze, who has never been taught how to feel emotions or inhabit her body, I really identified with her experience. https://www.amazon.com/Drinking-Love-Story-Caroline-Knapp/dp/0385315546 The sentence that struck with me the most from it was: “The only way out of a ‘bad’ feeling is THROUGH IT, not around it”. I was on the subway while I listened to it and though I don’t believe there are “bad” feelings (only unpleasant ones), it suddenly struck me: despite what I like to think, I’ve been going AROUND, not through, all of my unpleasant emotions for years. Or most of them. Or consistently. Solitude being the feeling I am most afraid of. The idea that I might be a sad, lonely person with a pathetic life. (When in fact it is drinking alone that makes my life lonely, sad and pathetic. HOW CAN I NOT HAVE SEEN THIS BEFORE?). For the first time in my life, I want to be brave enough and face reality AS IT IS, not as I want it to be. I know this sounds cliché, but there are so many layers of depth in ways of understanding of this idea, over and over again. There is so much resistance in me. I want to learn how to stop flighting. And I am scared. I wonder if there is an end to this exhausting learning process.
So yes, I have been sober for ALMOST two days, a whole month before my set date. Things are not perfect. But I am not putting pressure on myself. I neither have to get shit faced drunk, nor to be absolutely completely sober forever. I can just BE, right here, right now, and forget about the future and about BIG decisions. The only thing I know, then, is that I WILL NOT DRINK TONIGHT: I will not honor the self-sabotaging voice in me that wants things to go according to plan, that wants me to fuck up, just because it is “not the proper date”. There is no “too early” when it comes to being healthy. We can be healthy any time we choose.
Stay strong !