Day 62: Still good things!

Well, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it hasn’t so far. I’ve been consistently feeling very good for a couple of weeks now with no black clouds in sight. I haven’t had the horrible “witching hour” cravings for ages now, and while I still have a craving now and then, it’s not so bad. I know it is still early days and things change, but it is encouraging!

Last weekend, I was talking to my dad and stepmom, telling them about various things that would normally be very stressful and make me crazy. I realized while talking to them that it just didn’t feel the same. I can handle it. Whatever it is, I’ll figure it out.

And I feel SO MUCH better knowing that I am not still poisoning myself. I’m actually working on my health. For real. I’m exercising some control over the things I can control. I mean, I’m still not doing regular cardio, but I don’t smoke (for almost 10 years now), I’m getting pretty good sleep, I’m eating better (most of the time 🙂 ), I’m stretching … and I’m OK with just adding new things as I am able to. I am going to see my doctor soon, and I am ridiculously excited that I don’t have to stress about how I’ll answer the alcohol question. The answer is 0. That’s all. I really like feeling like I don’t have to hide anything. It’s a good feeling.

Well, that’s the view from day 62.

xoxo

Ms. NL

All good things…

I have been having a really good week, and I thought I should write down the things that are good so I will remember when I feel blah again. Here goes:

I feel much, much better now than when I was drinking. I have energy just buzzing from within. Really, sometimes it is almost uncomfortable how much I can feel my internal energy buzzing when I am doing something like sitting at my desk at work and can’t let it out. It makes me dance around the house and start singing randomly sometimes (never in public, I promise! :)). When I was drinking, I was just dragging around in a fog, feeling so tired, pretty much every day. This time with sobriety, it took a long while for me to start feeling more energetic. I don’t know if it was because something had changed or if it was because I stopped drinking during cold season, but it seemed like it took a lot longer to get my energy back. I don’t want to lose it now!

My mind is so much more clear now. No more constant brain fog! I am doing a much better job at work, and I don’t have to feel ashamed that I may not be hiding my nightly heavy drinking from my co-workers any more. Thank goodness! What a burden that was.

I am feeling like I have more energy for other people again. I’m sorry to say that I was pretty damn self-centered for a while and feeling very burned out. I used to always have time to listen to others and try to help, but I felt like that was leaving me for a while there. I feel it coming back. I am more patient and loving. With others and myself. I think it’s just too difficult to be poisoning yourself every day and also have enough mental space to be there for other people.

I have been able to get up early to do a little meditating and stretching most mornings. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time but just couldn’t do it before now.

This is the longest I have ever gone without drinking unless I was pregnant or breastfeeding. Seriously – since I was 21. That is 28 years of drinking, most of them at considerably more than the recommended amount. It is a wonder than my liver is not damaged (I had it tested in the last year). It is not surprising that I am overweight and have high blood pressure, but I’m working on that now. Just took it. 121/87. Not too bad! Getting better for sure. I have to stay healthy. I have people depending on me, but also for myself! I may only have this one life, and I don’t want to spend it unhealthy, anxious and dragging around exhausted and in a fog every day!

(day 58)

What is it we really want to get from drinking?

Finally! It is Saturday (day 57!), and I can sit down to finish a post I started last Sunday. My weeks are so crazy busy that all I can do in the evenings after work is get everyone fed and collapse into bed with a book for a bit before my (very early) bedtime. But, now it is Saturday of a three-day weekend (hooray!), and it is time to catch up.

My last post was pretty down (that seems to be how it goes right now – up and down), but beautiful new friends I have through this blog helped me out of my funk. Thank you! And I had a fun time on a playdate with another mom. By Sunday morning, I was having an interesting conversation with my partner about whether we can get the feelings that we love about drinking without drinking, and we both agreed that we could. For context, my partner is an addict (I have his permission to disclose this) currently in a harm-reduction program. He is not drinking (thank heavens as he is a no-holds-barred black-out drinker when he gets going), but is struggling to get off of everything he uses. He is also a very sweet and loving guy.

During our conversation, I had one of those moments I have now (sometimes) where I could suddenly see clearly how unnecessary alcohol was. My partner often tells me that he would like me to be able to drink because of how anxious I can get and how alcohol mellows me out so well. It is true that it works very well as an instant “medication,” but in the long-term, it doesn’t seem so great. To say the least.

We had a long discussion of “fun and happy” drinking, what feeling we are really trying to achieve with alcohol at those times, and other things that cause that feeling without booze. Like the feeling of being cozy with a warm drink in front of a fire having a good chat with your friends. You really don’t need alcohol to get the desired feeling of camaraderie, belonging, stimulation, happiness, and coziness from this situation.

What I was left with was that alcohol ultimately just makes me feel NEED. Not any of the real things. Like something is missing – a hole of NEED in my chest that wants to be filled with alcohol. And I really don’t like feeling NEED, NEED, NEED.

Unfortunately, I still feel it. But, I think it is less and less each day. I think that once the NEED goes away, I will be able to feel fully satisfied with all of the activities I like to do without the addition of alcohol. I want to hold on to this. I very well may come back here tomorrow with another bummer post, but I would really like to hold on to this.

Thinking good thoughts for all of us.

xoxo

Ms. NL

Day 50: blah and more blah

I apologize in advance if this post is unfocused and rambling. I’m just going to try to write out what I am feeling right now, but I’m not sure how it is going to go.

I’m at day 50 (halfway to my current goal of 100 days), and I feel like MORE and EXCITING and INSPIRED and THOUGHTFUL and FULFILLING should be happening by now, and they are not. I’m impatient and a little bit scared. What if I get to day 100, and I’m not inspired by by new sober life? What if I decide to go to 180 days or 360 days or whatever, and the magic still doesn’t happen? Will I go back to drinking wine?

I don’t mean to be a downer, I really don’t. So, if this isn’t what you need to read right now, please feel free to look away. And don’t worry that I’m going to drink today because I’m not. I’m really not. I’m just having a case of the blahs and feeling a little cranky that things aren’t further along. I also know that I was blogging about pink clouds not that long ago.

I think I’m past the exciting first days of “this is a new adventure!” (obviously, I didn’t feel that way every day in the first 30 days…) and on to the “when does the magic happen?” I feel a little stuck. And then I think, “Well, if I’m not getting all of these amazing insights and new motivation to make life super, perhaps I should just drink?” It doesn’t help that I’ve recently been reading a few memoirs about quitting drinking where the person was drinking two, three or four times as much as I used to, and their life was in complete and utter chaos. Sometimes, those accounts make me feel like I’m not “bad enough” even though I KNOW that drinking a bottle of wine (sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more) regularly (even if not every night and some nights it really is only 2-3 glasses or none) is not healthy in any way or sane. I also haven’t had that classic spiral down to drinking more and more wine over time (except at the very end when I started taking anti-anxiety meds and all the breaks were suddenly off). But it has been consistently hovering between 3 glasses and a bottle almost every night for at least a decade so, rationally, that is dependence. And I’ve had consequences, just not big ones that I couldn’t ignore. Perhaps I’ll stop reading the memoirs for now. I just find them so inspiring sometimes.

I DO want my life to change in new and wonderful ways, and I am pretty sure I can’t make that happen while I’m still drinking. And I’m pretty sure I would hate just forcing myself to stick to 2 glasses of wine, 3 days a week or 1 glass every day. That sounds f*ing irritating just thinking about it. And I am successfully getting through hard moments without drinking where my anxiety shoots through the roof all of a sudden and all that I want is a drink. Those moments do go away, and I don’t need booze to get past it. And PROBABLY I am thinking more clearly and able to handle them better because I’m more clearheaded from not drinking. Right now, I feel like I need definitive proof that is true before I commit to that. But, it probably is.

Sigh. It’s OK. I’m going to break through the inertia and go for a walk with my family, visit my mom, and probably organize my fridge and pantry. I’m going to try to stop being such a big baby.

xoxo

Ms. NL/MNL

Why?!?!

This morning, I was pouring milk for my coffee, and the milk splattered all over the counter and down the sides of my kitchen cabinets. And I thought, “Why?!?! Why do I do these things?”

What happened was that I opened the milk from the wrong side last night, and during my efforts to get at the milk, I ripped the spout. Of course, I could have just realized my mistake and turned the carton around. And I certainly didn’t have to keep pouring from the ripped side even though I knew it would splatter milk all over the place. But did I stop? Of course not.

This morning, when I spilled the milk for the 3rd time, I finally figured out that I could just fix it. So, I did. What took me so long? Am I really that lazy (well, maybe…)? Is this how I live my life? Just doing the same unhelpful things over and over even though I know better? Even though I could fix it?

Then, it occurred to me that this reminds me of drinking. Why not just not drink if it causes problems and things are better and easier without it? Why do things the hard way (hangovers, shame, secrets, bullshit) if I can do them the easy way?
(Day 45)

Feeling flat

I’m not going to lie. I would really, really like to drink some red wine tonight. I won’t, but I would love to. Not to worry – I know that I can resist the craving. It isn’t actually all that strong. The problem is just that I’m feeling a little flat. There’s nothing really wrong. I’m just bored and unsatisfied. I went back to work yesterday (after a lovely 12 day break with very few serious cravings), and I always used to transition into cozy home mode with a few glasses of wine after work in the evening. It makes helping with homework better. It makes fixing dinner better. It just fills in the boring bits so nicely. And now I don’t have it, and things are just flat.

Once I crawl into bed and snuggle down with a book, I know I’ll feel better. Unfortunately, my sort-of sister in-law is coming over for a visit, and we have a complicated relationship. She’s just not that much fun for me to be around because, while she’s “nice” on the surface, it is impossible to talk to her about anything real. And she has a lot of barely concealed anger just seething under the surface all of the time. Damn. I hear her downstairs now. I have to go greet her soon or be thought rude.

Anyway – I’ll be great in the morning. I always am. And I know enough now to know that it isn’t worth it to throw that away for one night of wine. Day 42!

xoxo

Ms. NL

Hello, who are you?

I guess this is the part where I start with the introspection. I woke up this morning with these thoughts:

I would rather be up at 5 a.m. than at midnight.

I hate parties unless I know everyone there or I am the one throwing the party. I am shy. I hate chit chat and small talk. I like to have a one-on-one conversation with someone about real things the first time I meet them. I know this sometimes makes people uncomfortable. On the other hand, I have noticed that many people feel comfortable telling me all sorts of things about themselves upon first meeting.

I love to go dancing and hear live music. This is the exception to the up at 5 a.m. but not at midnight rule.

I love to go hiking.

I need alone time.

I love to read.

I hate yoga, but I also kind of love it, too. I know I need to do yoga because it is the only thing that I have found that makes my body feel better. I suspect the same is true of my mind and meditation.

Alcohol is not needed for any of these things. All of these things are better sober.

And now for something a little lighter…

That was a heavy post I wrote two days ago. For some reason, I felt the need to write it all out, the horrible stuff, and send it off into the past. Whew! That’s done now.

On a totally different subject, I am really loving my new sober drink: strawberry and rose hips drinking vinegar in sparkling water. You have to like vinegar, of course, but it’s not as disgusting as it sounds. I think it is a sour and tasty cocktail that is just right for before dinner.

I’m also slowly but surely making headway on the giant amount of clutter in my house. Slowly, slowly, but I’ve finally broken through my crippling inertia, and I’m making headway at last! I’ve set a goal to just do 1/2 hour a day during my days off. Not too long, and I usually end up doing more. So satisfying.

I’m also excited for my low-key New Year’s Eve. We did mellow Christmas (which was just right this year), and for New Year’s, we are going to a fun dinner with our neighbors and their kid, and then having dessert at my house with another friend and her kids. Three sober adults, two drinking adults and four girls running around screaming joyfully and causing mayhem and destruction. Good music. Bubbly drinks. Looking forward to it. 🥳

Perhaps a pink cloud coming my way?

xoxo

(Day 37)

Goodbye, 2019, and Good Riddance!

I am glad to be seeing the end of 2019. This was a very tough year. It is almost funny, the number of awful things that happened this year. So many, in fact, that (counterintuitively) one very good thing came out of it: I decided to stop drinking.

The first thing that happened was that my mom suddenly couldn’t live alone anymore. My mom has had memory problems for the last ten years. Her disease cruised along as a mild cognitive impairment for a long, long time, but about two years ago, it crossed over into mild dementia (probably Alzheimers). Now, my mom is a fiercely independent woman. She and my dad have been divorced since I was little, and she LOVES living by herself in her own place and driving herself around in her own car to do her own shopping. Until the last decade, she was the most competent and organized person I ever met. She knew how to do EVERYTHING by herself. All of this means that she refused to believe that there would ever come a time when she would not be able to live by herself.

Well, a day came when she forgot how to drive her car. So, I (as her only child) had to take the car away. A few weeks later, I received a telephone call from her. She was unable to communicate what she needed. My partner rushed over and found her extremely confused and disoriented. He took her to the hospital, and we discovered that she had somehow drank so much water that she had given herself a severe sodium and potassium deficiency. When she was discharged, the doctor felt (despite my misgivings) that she could go back to her apartment. Several days later, her neighbor called, in a panic, to tell me that mom had left the stove on AGAIN (it was the third time, apparently, but mom had sworn the neighbor to secrecy the first two times) and almost burned down her building. And that was it. Until her long-term insurance kicked in (which, thank heavens, she had been organized enough to buy), she would live with me. It took six months to get the insurance organized and all of the requirements met so she could move into an assisted living apartment. During that time, she was either inconsolably sad or ragingly angry (with me) much of the time. And I also alternated between being extremely pissed off and grieving the loss of the mother I knew.

Meanwhile, I went to see my doctor for a routine checkup. My blood work came back with the wrong number of blood cells. Nothing like this had ever happened before. My doctor said there were a number of things that could cause this problem, and over the course of several months, I was tested for one condition after another, including various cancers after other weird things popped up as she tested me. Every time I had a new test, I would wait by the computer and grow ever more anxious until she finally would email the result. Always negative. Until, finally, a genetic test came back that confirmed a mutated gene. I had a rare blood condition. It would require monthly monitoring for the rest of my life, would put me at significant risk for a “serious” cardiovascular event, and could potentially morph into something much worse. And I couldn’t tell my mom, even though she was living with me, because she wouldn’t be able to process it properly and it would cause her extreme distress.

Luckily, my dad and my stepmother came to help out, and my partner helped a lot. Needless to say, however, having my mom in the house put a huge amount of strain on our relationship. Things were tense, and anxiety was running high.

Just to put icing on the cake, my car was hit, not once but three separate times within the space of three months. Each time, it was innocently minding its own business, parked on the side of the road. The last time, I had it back from the body shop for maybe two or three weeks when a driver, wildly under the influence, came speeding the wrong way down the one-way street outside of our kid’s school, smashed into the car (while my kid and my mom were in it) and forced by partner to dive out of the way onto the sidewalk, narrowly missing being killed. Everyone was fine, thank heavens. But the car was totaled.

I have high baseline anxiety to start with. During the course of these events, I did what came naturally: I drank a very large amount of booze. While working full time, taking care of my mom, moving her out of her apartment, dealing with multiple insurance companies, and keeping track of all of the school deadlines, etc. It wasn’t working. I felt like shit every day, probably smelled like alcohol at work a few times, and constantly felt like something serious could fall through the cracks AT ANY MOMENT.

I finally got a chance to breathe after my mom was settled in her new place. It’s a great place, and she is safe and well taken care of. I looked at my life, and realized something had to change.

So, here I am. Taking charge. Life is too short to waste time, energy and creativity drinking buckets of wine. People need me. I need me. Time to take care of myself!

xoxo Ms. NL

Christmas is Better Sober Because…

It is massively easier to make a bunch of decorated sugar cookies when you are not hungover.

Staying up waiting for your sugared-up kid to FINALLY fall asleep (do you want Santa to come or not!?!?!) even though you are dog tired from making the aforementioned sugar cookies so you can sneak down to be Santa is a thousand times better without a bottle of wine + in your belly.

It is unlikely that you will randomly pick a fight with your partner for something stupid like not cleaning up the kitchen the way that you like it.

You can share in the joy and excitement of Christmas morning with your kid without a head that feels like it’s going split apart any second.

You might even feel energetic enough to go for that Christmas walk in nature your partner always wants but you are usually too draggy-ass to do.

You feel (somewhat) less guilty for all the sugar you are eating because you are saving calories from not drinking wine.

Spending time with family and friends you love needs no artificial enhancement – it’s wonderful all on its own.

Merry Christmas! ❤️

(Day 33)