Day 80: Resuming “ordinary” struggles,

the village in the Pyreneese where I spend every summer

Long time no write, but I am back!

Wow. I am going to hit the 3 month mark soon, which is both exhilarating and anxiety inducing. Initially (in great part to survive the first few weeks) I promised myself to do 3 months AF. Now that the deadline is approaching, I am positive that I don’t want to go back to the miasma of daily hangovers, to the cycle of guilt, shame and secrecy. The 2 weeks that preceded day 1 I spent in France drinking daily and heavily (a goodbye bender of sorts). Now I in a month, I will return to France for the first time since my AF journey. For the holidays. In a month I need to break the news of my non-drinking to my French friends and my family – and somehow navigate the whole Xmas experience without drinking 

Living AF has become a habit of sorts. Here in the U.S. (where I have a healthy routine) it feels natural. I don’t really think about drinking anymore. I spend time with sober people. I am still somewhat “avoiding” situations like going to bars where I know I would be bored and feel like I am missing out on the fun. So deep down, I guess it still feels like a fragile habit, that needs to be protected until it becomes solid. Deep down and very openly on the surface, I am dreading spending Xmas with my alcoholic / drunken family. On the upside, I am excited to try all kinds of AF beer – which I haven’t had a chance to do yet. I know my family will be supportive: once I break the news to them and it sinks in, I know they won’t pressure me to drink and will offer AF options. BUT they will themselves be very drunk and pouring drinks all day long all around me: it will be up to me to stay strong. And this time, I can’t rely on drinking to get through surviving spending a whole week with them. I realize how heavily I relied on drinking to keep the peace, to get along with them. Eating and drinking together is the only family activity we have left. Sitting sober with them and watching them drink is going to be the real challenge. Maybe I should read up on some “holiday special” quit lit before going.

In other news, my life has “returned to normal” (to everyday concerns and peaks of anxiety about work) as the deadline for my PhD defense approaches. The reason for this dramatic shift of focus (from my breakup to more ordinary concerns) is that I have been back together with my partner for about a month now.

And lo and behold – all the pain of the heartbreak has magically vanished, to reveal once more the more subtle and complex pains of existing as a separate individual, going about my life “by myself” with my own resources. This time around, we are trying our very best to love each other unconditionally, but without “losing ourselves” in the relationship – i.e. we set boundaries, spend plenty of time apart, and make our own self care the number 1 priority. This is very unfamiliar and sometimes feels like I am constantly re-triggering my abandonment wound, but as time unfolds and I learn to consider my partner as “just another thing in my life” (vs. “my whole life”), I am gradually learning to love in a different way. Expressing my needs is the aspect I still struggle most with, but I am slowly learning. Slowly I am learning to trust. Others and myself. This new, “adult” kind of live still seems bleak and underwhelming and distant and frustrating compared to the fusion and drama of our previous co-dependent love, but both of our therapists are encouraging us in this direction. We also hit all of the items in a list called “green flags of a conscious relationship” that I stumbled across last night. So we must be doing something right (for now!).

In short, this is very ironic but: being sober is helping me to learn how to MODERATE in the field of love. The “hunger” feels very similar to the alcohol cravings (“I need this NOW”, “I need more/unlimited supplies of this ALL THE TIME”, “what else am I going to do with my life?”, “how can I exist and who am I without this?”)- but this time I am able to sit with it and continue taking care of myself (for now!) — as opposed to indulging to the point of excess.

Going AF and being “alone” and sober has been a huge help in teaching me how to navigate these new challenges. I still feel like a newborn learning about the world. I still worry that all my efforts might crumble at any point. I hope that I can keep this up and pursue my journey of self discovery for a very long time – but for now I am just taking things one day at a time. 

Published by nomorebeer

Learning how sobriety helps you ENJOY life.

12 thoughts on “Day 80: Resuming “ordinary” struggles,

  1. Hi Anne, nice to read you again 💕😊
    Happy you are doing well in the relationship.

    I hear you about the family and holiday and drinking/survival thing… but you might be surprised. I once got together with a family member I often have issues with, and I thought it would be hell without wine-o-clock on my part. But it turned out so much better than I thought it would. I was able to remain fully aware and thus not get triggered into old reactive patterns as I used to with this person when I’d get tipsy. And the next time they came they started drinking AF wine along with me. Not the entire time but to try it out. They saw I was able to “party like the old days” but without getting emotionally involved in petty stuff, and that inspired them.

    But actually, the less you expect probably the easier it will be. So do expect the worst, as I did. ;))

    Lots of love,
    xo n

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Anne
    I shall have a proper read of your post tomorrow but just wanted to say – good to see you back and I did see that you are establishing or restablishing your relationship albeit in a different form etc. That sounds positive and good to hear.
    Jim x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jim, yes I am so sorry to have gone off the grid for so long! I am going to work my way back into establishing a proper regular wordpress routine again. Gonna catch up on your blog now !! xxx Amme

      Like

    1. oooo thanks Anne 🙂 I’ll have a look ! Unpickled is the blog that inspired me to try this whole AF business in the first place 🙂 Yes, I think once I’ve made it through (and I’ve already let my folks know I’ll be AF) I’ll be really proud 🙂 xxx Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Really loved reading your post and glad you decided to blog again. I’m only one week into this but reading what you and others are struggling with and also gaining out of being AF has been hugely supportive. It’s the reason I have survived a weekend with 15 other people, drinking almost continually, celebrating my brother’s birthday!! Totally unheard of.

    You can do this!
    Claire xx

    Like

    1. Awww Hi Claire! Welcome to this incredible journey, how are you doing on week 2 ? Congrats on surviving the brother’s birthday sober – those kinds of milestones are crucial in building confidence and it’s wonderful you had a big one early on in your adventure !! now you are prepared and you know you can do it 🙂 can’t wait to read your blog 🙂 xxx Anne

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww Hi Wendy, I missed you !!! Ahaha I can’t wait to see whether my family will ever be capable of having a “calm” holiday – we’ll see how it goes. I hope I am calmer than last time I saw them 🙂 I remember storming out of their house and crying and… running to the bar to get a drink 🙂 sigh xoxoxo hugs and hope you had a great thanksgiving !! xxx Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing. I can very much relate to the idea of “who am I without this?”. Beong single for the first time in my life I have no idea who I am or how much I was a chameleon to those around me. Hope you get through the holidays. If you dont have a sponsor I recommend one. I call mine anything I feel a little off and it helps me avoid the slippery slope to relapse. Good luck!

    Like

    1. oh wow, this resonates so much with me 🙂 And for me, sobriety is intimately linked to discovering what lies beneath the chameleon. Or rather, the reason that pushed me to drink is the SAME that what pushed me to “Chameleon” my way into the world. And lo and behold… digging deeper into the root cause of it all (i.e. learning how to love oneself) is what gets rid of BOTH the compulsion to drink AND the need to people-please at all costs. It’s MAGIC 🙂 ps. No, I don’t have a sponsor (yet?) and am thinking of trying AA out for the first time before the holidays 🙂 thanks for the tip !!! xxx Anne

      Like

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