Day 3: Motivation?

Well, I’ve made it to Day 3 (again), and I’m really glad. It is a weight off my mind that I am no longer drinking. Damn. As soon as I said that, I started thinking about how great a glass (you know, a bottle-sized glass) of wine sounds. But no matter, I’m not going to drink today.

It isn’t easy, though. Last night, I was very anxious, and my partner suggested some wine. He started to balk when I said I didn’t want to drink but stopped when I told him that I definitely would not just drink a glass of wine. I would drink the whole bottle. It’s ridiculous trying to pretend it is any different. He knows this from his own experience with addiction, but still, he tries to pretend. Anyway – I’m not going to pretend. If I’m going to drink, then I’m going to drink the whole bottle. Period. And I would have to be OK with that. And today I’m not.

But, no, it isn’t easy. As you may know if you’ve read my blog before, the biggest motivator for me to stop drinking is generally health. No doctor has said that I can’t drink, but it seems prudent. My disease can affect my liver, my cardiovascular health is particularly at risk as well, and I also don’t know if a history of regular binge drinking could affect my ability to get a treatment in the future. The sad thing is that doing the right thing to try to make a bad health situation a little better (but not fixed) isn’t super motivating for me. Unfortunately, I’ve never been one to do healthy things without keeping a vision in my head of an ideal outcome: a perfectly healthy me. That isn’t going to happen, and now I really have to accept that. I’m going have to resist the temptation to say, “Fuck it! I’m dying anyway. Might as well drink!”

Yes, my motivation is going to have to come from a place of wanting to stay in the present moment (since that’s all any of us have, of course) and really experience life to the fullest. And to embrace the idea of doing whatever I can – even if it doesn’t end up working! – to stay alive and healthy as long as I can.

I hope I’m not depressing anyone too much. My goal is actually to get to a point where I don’t think about the disease too much, and I just think about living. I’m fortunate to live in a city that is home to one of the best research hospitals in the country, and I have a second opinion scheduled with a doctor there for next week. Then, I see my actual doctor the following week. Hopefully, things in my brain will settle down then. And I’m going to do my darnedest to stay sober and see how it goes.

Much love and support to all of you!

xoxo

Leafy

Day 1 and Reaching Out

The last time I was here, I was very arrogantly declaring that there was no way I was going to break my promise to myself not to drink for one full year.

Well, it’s Day 1 again, and I need some help getting back on the wagon this time. It’s really hard, and I’m afraid it will not be so easy to stay sober this time. I’m about to tell you a real bummer of a story – jump off now if you need to.

Not to make excuses, but here’s what happened. Not long after the last time I wrote a post, I had some awful medical news. If you have read my blog before, you may remember that I was diagnosed with a chronic, rare blood cancer a couple of years ago. This particular condition is related to, and has a (somewhat unlikely) chance of turning into, something much more deadly. Well, the regular blood tests I have to monitor the condition turned up something strange, I had weeks of more tests and agonizing before I could talk to a doctor, and my anxiety was through the roof. It turned out to not be the MOST immediately deadly thing it could have been, but I did end up with a diagnosis of a much worse disease than the one I had before. One that will kill me eventually unless some medical breakthroughs happen soon. The median life expectancy from diagnosis is 10 years. So, in 10 years, half the people will be dead and half will still be alive. There is no treatment that I am eligible for that will beat it back (the ones they have now only treat symptoms). I’m not eligible for any clinical trials right now. When things get dire enough, I might be able to get a bone marrow transplant (but it seems that is no guarantee of a good result or, even, if I will be able to get one). I have a 10-year-old daughter who needs me. Her father is a wonderful guy with some serious mental health issues that could make it hard for him to be on his own with a kid. I don’t even have an estate plan yet because it has been too hard for me to wrap my head around what will be best for the two of them. Shit.

Of course, the LAST thing I need to be doing right now is drinking, but in the midst of all of THAT hideousness, I deliberately decided to self-medicate with alcohol. And, this time, I went right back to where I was before I started this whole journey. Drinking a bottle plus of wine or the equivalent every night. Nothing terrible happened, I didn’t embarrass myself. In fact, I had a few really wonderful, bonding times with friends I hadn’t seem for a long, long time (all of them big drinkers). Yet, the urge to continue drinking “just one more night – tonight – then you’ll quit again” is overwhelming. It is super scary. I feel stuck. Any thoughts I had lingering in the back of my head about whether I could just drink socially once in a while were clearly bullshit. I’ve upped my anti-anxiety meds, and that’s helping some. I have a therapist. Also, that glossy coat of denial has once again settled on my shoulders. I know I’ll be one of those that lives WAY past 10 years! Except that I don’t know that. I do know that I don’t want to spend whatever time I have doing nothing but sticking my head in wine-soaked sand. BUT I’m scared to face this sober. I know I have to replace this self-sabotaging coping mechanism with something else, but it’s hard to feel motivated. I wish I had a stronger spiritual side, but I’ve never been religious. I just believe in love. Anything else that happens beyond this life is unknown.

I’m not being hard on myself about it. I’m not ashamed that I’ve been drinking. But, I can’t keep doing what I’m doing.

Well, I’m not going to drink today.

xoxo

Ms. New Leaf (aka Leafy)

Day 273

It’s definitely time for an update. It has been a while.

Well, first things first. I’m still on my one-year, no-drinking plan. It has now been 273 days since my last glass of wine. That number astounds me and, at the same time, feels completely normal. Just the same way that it feels super easy to not drink, but at the same time, I still think about it and miss it. I would be lying if I didn’t say that. Honestly, I am of two minds. One vaguely remembers what it was like to feel the compulsion to drink to excess every night and worry constantly about what I was doing to my health. How horrendous it was to be drunk while caring for a young child. How insane it was to injure myself in some stupid fall because I was drinking. And the other screams, “But I’m not ready for forever!!” And argues, “You managed to quit cigarettes for 10 years and have had one only very occasionally since then without going back. You could do that with booze!” And then the first mind says, “But what if you couldn’t?!?! You are thinking so much more clearly and taking such better care of yourself now. What if you lose that?” Ugh. Clearly, I’m finding surrender elusive.

It is a good thing that I set my one-year goal and that I feel strong about it. Otherwise, I would probably give in. Last night, for the first time since the pandemic began, we went out to hear live music and have dinner (outside), and I wanted to order a drink. It felt weird not to do that. At the same time, it DIDN’T feel weird. Anyway, I couldn’t do it, so I didn’t. I’m not going to break my promise to myself. We will see how I feel when I get there.

I am under a lot of stress right now so there’s that, too. I’ve been on the verge of breaking up with my long-term partner, primarily because he won’t/can’t effectively address his own addiction issues. Ironic, no? He has been self-medicating trauma for so long that he just can’t imagine not doing it. And he becomes deeply addicted to pretty much every substance he uses. And, as soon as he quits one, he seeks out another. Right now, believe it or not, it is marijuana. My relationship with addictive substances is different than his. I know that doesn’t let me off the hook, though.

Anyway, he has been declaring his intention to quit smoking pot over and over again, but then not doing it. He is in a harm-reduction program with a doctor, and he has been declaring his intention to his doctor, getting medicine to help, and then misusing the medicine by taking it while, at the same time, not quitting (thinking that it would help him “taper off” successfully). He ran out of pot, though, and temporarily doesn’t have the money to buy more. I don’t want to buy it for him, so I am not. He doesn’t have enough of the medicine from his doctor because she, knowing him, only gave him a limited supply. And he won’t call her for more. Unfortunately, this puts him in a terrible, terrible mood. I don’t want to take his shit, so I don’t. But, MAN, it is unpleasant to be around, and I am TRULY sick of it. I know that it is his addiction making him act this way, but that doesn’t make it OK for me to have to be around it.

I don’t expect anyone to give me any answers. I’m just writing it down, and it is helping to get it all out onto the page.

In the glass-half-full news, the end of my cleanse went really well. I did get to a “normal” BMI number at the end, which was fabulous. Since then, I have been going back and forth with healthy and less-healthy eating (and doing and not doing yoga), but I’m not beating myself up about any of it. And the weather today is gorgeous, and I’ve decided to take the day off from work.

I hope you are all doing well, and as always, I’m sending you much love and support.

xoxo

Leafy

Project Report: First Week of Cleanse

Well, I’m one week into my cleanse (three weeks in, counting the elimination diet I did beforehand). It’s been mostly really good so far. I’m a little bit tired (my book says this is to be expected during the cleanse portion) and I was REALLY craving a burrito last night, but it isn’t that difficult to maintain. And, I feel very clear-headed. Plus, I’ve finally started to lose weight again. I’ve been plateaued for months after losing 20 pounds after quitting drinking. So far, I’ve lost 6 pounds in the last three weeks – two pounds per week. This is less than the last two times I did this, but it makes sense since, this time, I didn’t have to also quit drinking while I was at it. And, two pounds a week is a safe rate anyway! Four more pounds to go, and I will finally be at a healthy weight for my height. Hooray! My actual vanity goal weight is still some 15-20 pounds away, but that is certainly less important than the health goal.

Eating this way for the last three weeks has reminded me of how good I can feel when I am fueling my body correctly. I couldn’t maintain the actual cleanse restrictions (breakfast and lunch are liquid meals only) for a long time, but I definitely can and intend to eat primarily healthy, whole foods (with the occasional treat day) when this is over.

Otherwise, things are going well. I’m still working a ton, but I will get a break soon. Yoga is happening most of the time. My daughter seems to be doing a bit better this week in school. I am scheduled to finally be vaccinated tomorrow (whew!). And, it has been 222 days since my last drink.

Much love and support to all of you!

xoxo

Ms. New Leaf

Day 215 and Other News

I took a little break from blogs. Nothing terrible happened. I’ve just been very busy with work and homeschooling craziness. I’m afraid I have missed reading your posts for a while, my friends. I will be slowly going back through to catch up on what I have missed!

Work has been hideous. I’m currently waiting for my work laptop to charge so I can get back to it on this lovely Saturday morning. I’m not sure what it is about the pandemic, but I have had just one large project after another for months now. Usually, it is good to be busy, but this is a little ridiculous! I am grateful to have a job, though, so there’s that. My daughter also seems to have hit a wall. She has been flat-out refusing to do her homework at times, saying (rightfully) that she has been on Zoom meetings all day and now needs some time off. She’s also having a lot of trouble paying attention on Zoom unless she thinks the topic is interesting. I get that. But, I’m also all stressed and in her face about how she has to pay attention and be respectful towards the assignments her teachers have prepared for her. The Head of our small elementary school called me to check in, though, and the next thing I knew, my daughter was having a Zoom call with the Head of School and making plans to implement some of the ideas my daughter has for making math more fun. I love that. I hope she can engage more with school somehow. Honestly, summer can’t come fast enough.

I’m still waiting somewhat patiently for a vaccine. Assuming we are vaccinated, I am starting to fantasize about getting away to my mom’s house in the high desert/mountains for a month or so this summer. Hiking, river fun, biking … we all need some extended time out of the city this summer, I think.

In other news, I’m still making health a priority. Today is Day 215 without alcohol in my life, and it’s going really well. I have no doubt that I will make it to my one-year goal. Yep, it’s official. One year is my goal. Truthfully, living without booze is easy now. I still think about it, of course, and wonder if I will ever experiment with it again, but I’m just fine living life without it.

I’m doing yoga (regularly, but not every day), and my body definitely feels less achy and sore. I’m building more muscle and endurance, and sometimes, I throw in some cardio, too. Slow steps in the right direction.

Right now, I’m working mostly on getting my diet to a (mostly) healthy place. I decided to do a nutritional cleanse that I have done twice before to kick start my efforts. For the last 10 days, I have been on an “elimination diet,” eating only healthy foods that aren’t likely to trigger food sensitivities and slowly reducing my caffeine intake, and today I started the cleanse proper. I have a liquid meal for breakfast and dinner (usually a fruit/veggie/nut/avocado or coconut milk shake) and a solid, super healthy meal for lunch. Snacks are allowed, if needed, so it isn’t really a terrible deprivation. I’ve been feeling great on the elimination diet, and I’m curious to see how I feel on the cleanse itself. This will be the first time I have done this where I wasn’t quitting alcohol at the same time. In the past, I’ve lost 15 pounds over the course of five weeks (elimination diet then three-week cleanse) and felt great. If you are interested in reading about it, the book I use is Clean by Alejandro Junger.

Off to work now. Sending love and support to all of you!

xoxo

Leafy

Six Months!

I did it! Today is Day 183 in my (continuous days of) not drinking adventure! Six whole months. Pretty crazy. And wonderful.

At this point, it feels easy to stay on track. I have some days where I think about drinking, but not seriously. It just doesn’t grab hold of me like it used to (grab hold and forcefully propel me to the corner store!). For example, last night, I was feeling a bit off somehow. Disgruntled. We have been changing our yard to create some much-needed usable outdoor space. It used to be a sort of jungle-y tangle of weeds and previously planned and overgrown plantings, and now, it is very clean and angular and unfamiliar. I’m slowly getting used to it … but last night, I was worried it was a lot of money and effort for a product I didn’t like. And that feeling of regret led immediately to “Wouldn’t some whisky really mellow this feeling out now?” thoughts. I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that such trivial First World problems would make me feel this way, but they did. Ugh. I’m blushing just thinking about it. Anyway … my point is that these feelings were easy to push away because I know that I don’t want to go back to where I was two Novembers ago before I started this journey. When I wanted at least 4-5 glasses of wine pretty much every night. I know that if I were to drink now, there’s no way I just want one (how ridiculous!). I would have to commit to either getting drunk or stopping but wanting to be drunk the whole time. Yeah, I don’t want that.

In other news, I feel like I have been coming out of a terrible funk I shared with the whole world in January. The I’m-so-trapped-by-COVID-I’m-going-insane funk. Things are improving, slowly but surely, and my little self-improvement projects help. I’m still doing yoga most days. I have to take a couple of days off every week or so or my knees just can’t take it, but I can tell that I’m getting stronger. And that makes me want to keep going. I am also still chipping away at my house projects, but I’ve gone back to eating sugar. I’d like to improve my diet more, but I’m just not up for it right now. A piece of cake is just so much more fun to look forward to than a big bowl of kale. But, I’ll try to have the kale, too. 😊

The day is sunny and beautiful. Perhaps I’ll go sit in my new yard and try to imagine it more like a jungle and less like a mini-golf course. Sigh.

Sending many hugs and much love to all of you!

xoxo

Ms. New Leaf

It’s Not a Hangover!

I woke up this morning with a splitting headache, and it reminded me of waking up with a miserable hangover. I’m so glad this one is just because 1) I need to get a new pillow, and 2) I had horrible ongoing nightmares last night so I had a crappy night’s sleep. I think the ongoing chaos in the outside world is starting to get to me. The escalating virus crisis, the logistical barriers we are facing to efficient, widespread vaccination, and the political powder keg we seem to be sitting on here in the U.S. must be getting to me. The dream — which kept restarting after I would wake, feel relieved, and then fall asleep again — was a really obvious one about existential threats. My subconscious is not that subtle.

On the other hand, it’s a beautiful, sunny day outside, and I’m lazing around in my bed still with all the windows open and birds chirping up a storm. So far, I have no plans to get up any time soon. I’m getting a rare moment to myself as my family is downstairs adventuring in another world together (playing video games). So, the present moment is not so bad!

It is also Day 162 in my alcohol-free adventure. Getting closer to that 6-month mark! I can’t believe I’m really doing this. I won’t lie and say that I never think about drinking. I do, but I am really seeing some inner progress now. I’m on a roll! I am way more stable in the face of external chaos (crazy dream notwithstanding!), and I am making a LOT of headway in projects that have been on my back burner for so long. Some of the bigger questions about my life are still out there, hanging around unresolved, BUT I think, just maybe, I will see my way clear to resolving them eventually. In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on the things I am able to change right now. And that’s enough.

Update on my January resolutions: I’m working my way through my list of items to do. I’ve discovered that some of the items can’t be completed yet, and some of the items can’t be accomplished in one day. So, I’ve adjusted my plan to include just putting in some time on a project each day. It’s working out well. I’m also doing yoga nearly every day. So far, every day hasn’t happened, but I’ve only missed two days in the last 16. Not bad! I’m pretty proud of myself. I did have a breakdown in my sugar resolve on days 10 and 11, but I’m back on it now. The key is getting back up when you fall down!

With much love and support to all of you,

xoxo

Leafy

Day 156

Well, I imagine we all know what happened here in the U.S. this week. Amazingly, I wasn’t really surprised that Trump’s insane refusal to accept the results of our election, constant lies to his supporters, and relentless yet fruitless campaign to pressure swing states where he lost to “find votes” or invalidate votes or other mob boss-like demands would culminate in a violent attempt to take over Congress. The crowd was so violent that one of their own was crushed to death, and a police officer was killed from a blow to the head from a fire extinguisher. I wasn’t really surprised, given the escalation and the nature of Trump’s ego, but I am heartbroken. And disgusted. And really angry. And I can’t imagine where we go from here when it is possible for different groups of people to live in entirely separate, alternate realities. With entirely different sets of “facts” to guide their reactions and behaviors.

So, other than THAT …

things are OK. It’s weird that there can be crazy upheaval but, at the same time, my personal life just keeps going on. I did my yoga, I worked on my list of tasks, I tried to concentrate on work, I made dinner and tidied the house, I didn’t eat sugary things, I got my kid to do her homework, and I didn’t drink. A fairly successful start to the new year for me, if not for the nation.

I hope you are all hanging in there. It’s scary out there.

Much love and support to all of you.

xoxo

Ms. New Leaf