Health and Expectations

In one week, I will hit my 100-day goal. Pretty exciting, and I am going to plan something really nice (for me) on that day. I think maybe I need more (not candy) sober treats to get through this rough patch. Because I’m definitely going to continue on not drinking, at least for now.

I think it is probably true that some of my recent obsessive thoughts about drinking have had to do with the expectations I had of getting to this point. I really thought I was going to see big changes (in health, happiness, etc.) by 100 days, and I am seeing changes, but they are still small. Too many sobriety books will do that to you, I think. I’m sure there must be some pressure from publishers to paint a less-nuanced picture of how the changes happen. It’s OK. I think I realize now that small things will eventually add up to bigger things, but I have to be patient with myself and the process. I also need to put in a little more effort when I am able to. However, I think a lot of it is attitude and recognizing what is going well and right. I know lots of other people have good luck with a gratitude journal, and I’m thinking I’m going to try that.

Warning: I’m now going to talk about health and weight loss, etc., here so if any of that is boring (or triggering) for you, please stop reading now!

A major motivator for me to stay away from alcohol is improved health. In the last three months, I have lost about 5-8 lbs without trying at all (depending on my water retention on that day), but I still have approximately 20-25 lbs to go to get to a no-longer-overweight state. I’d like to do that by my 50th birthday, and I have about 6 months to get there. I’ve long had a fantasy of being in really good health (as much as I can be given my blood disorder, of course) by my 50th birthday. Perhaps it is doable, and to be honest, I think I need to really start feeling healthier to stay away from boozing in the long run. I need some health momentum!

To that end, I’m trying to slow down the sugar consumption. I don’t think I really need it anymore, and it isn’t good for me. I want my new treats to be oriented toward health. One “treat” I have been indulging in, as my budget allows, is nice, high-quality, organic food from the fancy grocery store. I also need to start up hiking, yoga and cardio-based exercise again, but that is a little more tricky because I’ve been having hip pain and chronic tiredness lately. I’m finally going to go see my doctor tomorrow to try to figure this out and make a plan. It is a little scary given the diagnosis I received the LAST time I went for a full physical, but it has to be done. Big girl pants time. I also have to admit that I fell off of my regular meditating and stretching routine when my life got crazy busy for a while there. Somehow, all of this stuff needs to be non-negotiable. Something I do no matter what, even if life is nuts. Nothing extreme. Just the basics, but every day.

I’m pretty much just writing this out for me so (hopefully!) I will remember as I move forward. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!


Ms. New Leaf

Thank you

Thank you! Thank you so much for your incredibly thoughtful, caring, and very real responses to my last post. You all really helped, and I am so glad I wrote about how I was feeling instead of letting it fester.

Quitting drinking IS just so confusing sometimes. One day you are up, the next day down. But realizing you are not alone in this really helps. As does trying to focus on the good things that come with sobriety. Even if it isn’t all adding up to the amazing change you expected (too soon). A shift in attitude is all it takes. Even if circumstances remain the same. Anyway, bottom line is that I know I need more time without booze. I have only just scratched the surface here.

Thanks again! ❤️

Day 89: Almost there

Tomorrow, I will have been sober for 90 days or, roughly, three months. My goal has been 100 days so I am almost there. The 90-day thing seems to be a big deal, too, though. I go back to work tomorrow after a mini vacation, and I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance to post. So, yay me in advance!

Actually, I’m not totally sure why the 90-day thing is such a big thing. It IS true that I feel less of a pull to drink most of the time now, and it is not a huge deal to not drink in the evenings. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it! Because I do. OK. So, before you think this is going to be a mostly “yay, me!” post … BUMMER ALERT AHEAD.

To be honest (and what is the point of posting here if I am not honest), I think about having some wine (you know, now and again, not every day, and not excessively) often. I have not forgotten how it was hard to stop before the whole bottle was finished, and how my wine witch voice started telling me to get some every day as soon as I got off the train from work. Definitely still remember, but it’s like I can’t shake this feeling that I quit too soon. I wasn’t ready!!! I know this is a common feeling, but I am really thinking about what it would be like to “experiment” with a couple of glasses of wine to see how I feel. I know the conventional wisdom is that I’ll be “back to day 1” and I’ll go back to how I was before quickly, and that very well may be true. If it is FOR SURE true, then I guess I would like to know how to convince myself of it so I can just turn my back on alcohol for good. If that is what is definitely needed, I can do it. I am just having a hard time being sure about it.

Maybe if I had some really terrible consequences to remember, it would be easier to be sure. Of course, I know I don’t want terrible consequences, and again, the conventional wisdom is that I would have eventually kept spiraling down and had terrible consequences. But how do you convince yourself when your drinking (though too heavy much of the time) trajectory didn’t follow this path very closely? I had some pretty embarrassing moments and a few black outs, but the worst of that stuff happened at least a decade or two ago. That doesn’t mean my drinking was healthy for me, though. I know that. I really do, and I also know how much of a pull it is. Obviously. Here I am writing this post.

I also think that if I felt amazing right now, it would also be easier. But, I don’t. I’ve been the sickest I’ve ever been with colds since my kid was three this winter. And, even if I am not sick, I’m tired. I need a ton of sleep, and I still wake up tired. I’m going to go see the doctor and get checked out. Hopefully, we will get to the bottom of it, and maybe that will change my attitude.

I am not going to drink imminently. I’m really not. I may very well not drink at all ever after I hit my 100 days. I just feel like I need to talk this out somehow. And if anyone has any advice, I’d appreciate it. Thanks for reading.


Ms. NL

Day 85: still here!

It has been ten days since I last posted. I just wanted to surface and say, “I’m OK!” I have been unbelievably busy for weeks now, but I finally have 5 glorious days off from work and kid’s school commitments. Whew! Super tired because we were invited out at the last minute for a kid-and-parent gathering last night that turned out to be pretty fun. The lady who hosted is sober, but others were drinking wine and cocktails that only tempted me a little at the beginning. I have to admit that I haven’t tested my sobriety in many social drinking situations yet so it was good to have this experience last night. Too tired to post more now – just a quick check-in, but all is well.



The Sneak Attack

Yesterday, I had the most ridiculously hard cravings to drink. I couldn’t believe it. I had just finished telling my therapist how great I was feeling and how easy it was not to drink now, and then by the time I got in my car, I was dying to drink! Out of nowhere. And it wasn’t the kind of craving I could mostly ignore. It wasn’t musing about whether I might have some wine someday. Rather, it was the kind where I really wondered if I was going to just buy some wine and drink before my 100 days are even up. Aaaargh! But, since I know what to do, I went to bed early and read sobriety stuff.

This morning, everything was magnificently better (of course). I woke up early, drank my coffee in bed, perused the paper, etc., did my morning meditation, woke my kid up with breakfast in bed, and did my stretching. And I felt on top of the world and like everything was going to all work out. I would ultimately solve all the issues and live my best life.

Then, by tonight, I started having cravings again (but not so bad this time). The yo yo’ing back and forth is giving me a headache. I’ll be going to bed soon. Maybe with some chocolate.

It is probably because I am having one of my rare, very busy times at work, and I haven’t had a day off in 10 days. And I have the nastiest cold. Last weekend, I had to do my kid’s financial aid application for school all day on Saturday and then work on work all day on Sunday while sick as a dog. So, yeah, that’s probably it. I’ll probably feel a lot better after I get some real rest.

Of course, all this sobriety is also making me think about confronting things I don’t really want to confront. Decisions about my life that are scary and hard to make. Isn’t there some sobriety wisdom about not making any big changes in the first year? Hmmm. Could be a good plan because I’m not sure I know what kind of changes I want to make for sure. I just know that some things are not working for me. And that I don’t want to wonder what could have been on my death bed.

One thing I can do is start setting better boundaries. There is one person in my life that consistently asks me to do things that I really don’t want to do. I give in because not giving in will create so much stress, I’d rather just avoid it. Isn’t that terrible? Just writing it out here is making me realize how terrible it is. And, of course, if I drink wine, I just don’t have to think about those things. I’m artificially happy and transported to a warm fuzzy place where none of this matters so much. Hmmm. Is this where the cravings are coming from?

The boundary thing seems obvious. I will have to make a plan and execute it. Gulp. The other things can wait, I think. And now, I’m going to bed. If you made it this far, thanks for listening to my rambling thoughts.


Ms. NL (Day 75)

Day 72: the hideous dream

I had the worst insecurity dream last night about work. I was given a dedicated office space (instead of the cubicle I have now) when some people left our work and new people were hired. I was excited about it until I realized that I was moved into a closet-sized “office” space they made for me IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MAIN HALLWAY where everyone is constantly walking up and down the stairs which run directly THROUGH my new “office.” I realized that they wanted me to feel good because the new hires all got offices, but theirs were nice, spacious (and private!). It dawned on me that it was because the new hires were providing valuable work for the company while I was just doing the shit tasks. It was awful, and in the dream, I screamed at everyone and quit, storming out, and for some reason, immediately found myself in a situation where I had a baby (by arms-length artificial insemination as part of some sort of contract) with an ex boyfriend I haven’t seen in years. I tell you the last bit because it is just so odd, and I thought you might find it amusing. 🙂

So, yeah, about the work part, the thing is that I used to have a job considered higher status than the one I do now. It required a specialized graduate degree and all, and while I was pretty good at it (and it was good work where I was actually helping people directly), I was stressed ALL OF THE TIME during the three years of graduate work and seven years of practice that I devoted to it.

When I got pregnant, I decided to quit my job and just be a mom for a year. Well, one year stretched to three, and by the time I wanted to go back to work, I knew I did not want to go back to my old job. So, I took another kind of job (still at a nonprofit that helps people, but less stressful, more behind-the-scenes). It’s an OK job. Nothing to be ashamed of, and I LOVE my co-workers. It’s a great “mom” job where I can feel free to take time for kid stuff (as well as my own large number of doctor’s appointments) without fear. But, it isn’t super challenging much of the time, and my supervisor definitely keeps most of the challenging tasks for herself and gives me a lot of shit work. Last year, in desperation, I went to the bigger boss (who loves me) and got a challenging side project that I was hoping might somehow turn into a whole job. It is almost over now, and while it has been fine, it didn’t exactly work out the way I had hoped.

What does all this have to do with sobriety? Well, just as I need to do something about my social life (see last post and thank you, thank you, all of you for your wonderful support and comments!), I think sobriety may be now kicking my ass to do something about the work situation. At least, to start thinking about it seriously. It feels risky as this job gives me so much of what I need right now, but I think the dream was a way of telling me that it is also hurting my self-esteem in some way. Things to ponder.

Love and support to all of you.


Ms. NL

Loneliness and making changes

I live in a big city full of people that seem to mostly keep to themselves. It can be kind of lonely sometimes. Particularly in the middle of winter when it gets dark early.

I have my family, of course, and my downstairs neighbors are close friends, but sometimes I just wish that we had a community gathering place of some kind. A place where we could go hang out with other people in our community on those evenings when things just seem a little dull and boring. Obviously, many people go to bars for this sort of thing, but if I’m not drinking, I’m not sure I want to hang out in a bar. Also, if you’re shy like me, it takes becoming a “regular” before you really get to know anyone. And, as a mom – even if I did drink – becoming a regular at a bar doesn’t really work for me. It has to be a place where the whole family can go, but that isn’t just oriented towards kids alone.

During nice weather, cafes can sometimes be a social gathering place, and for a while, I was a “regular” at my local cafe. I met some lovely people who often gathered there, but cafes are not generally open and bustling in the evening here. The ones that are are likely to be populated with speed freaks. Not exactly what I’m looking for.

When I was drinking wine every night, the fact that we spent most evenings at home doing the same thing just with each other didn’t really matter much because the wine amused me enough (except, of course, when it made me feel even more lonely!). Now that I don’t fill up my evenings with wine, I’m realizing that I sometimes feel isolated in our little nuclear family in the middle of this big city. Where people often don’t know their neighbors and generally don’t make eye contact on the street for fear the other person may be unpredictable. Even with acquaintances, it is totally normal to say “hi, how are you?” as you keep walking past them on the sidewalk and don’t wait for an answer. Seems shallow and rude, but that’s what we do. The other day, I actually stopped and had a brief conversation with someone I used to be roommates with in college (but who was never more than just an acquaintance). He has lived in my neighborhood for the last 20 years, and once in a while, we run into each other. He seemed genuinely surprised and pleased that I stopped. Our conversation was light, but it left me with a warm happiness at the connection.

Then there’s the fact that, at my life stage, people tend to stay in their nuclear families and not just drop-in on each other like we did when we were single and in our 20s. I really miss the way that, in my late teens and 20s, people would tend to gather together in predictable places. Meet up at a certain friend’s house or a particular cafe or bar and make plans to do something as a group. I wonder sometimes if it would be different if we lived in a smaller town rather than a big city. I have my close friends, and they are always happy to make plans when I reach out to them. It just takes more effort. And it seems really difficult to make new friends at my age. We have our friends and tend not to put a lot of effort into making a new friendship with someone we meet and like now. Since I’m an overly sensitive person that has to really work on not feeling insecure about whether people like me (even though most people seem to), I can go down a dark hole sometimes if I think too much about this.

I think when I was drinking alcohol, I could just ignore this sad state of affairs, but now I can’t! I need more social activity in my life! More time with existing friends, more new friendships, just more. I’m glad I’m waking up to this, and I don’t expect to solve it overnight. But I want to put it out there into the universe that this is something I intend to work on.


Ms. NL

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.


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.


Ms. NL