Day Twenty-Four: About anxiety

Another long day, and I’m craving wine after work (as usual). But, it’s not too bad today. And by now I know tomorrow will be better.

I’ve been thinking a lot about anxiety today and about the connection between anxiety and alcohol. It seems common that people who have decided to quit drinking have experienced anxiety in their lives. Me, too. My whole life, to varying degrees. At times, my anxiety has been paralyzing. Other times, just a gnawing sensation in my chest that is definitely improved by a few glasses of wine.

I’ve also read a lot that anxiety gets better (eventually) when we quit drinking. That, for some people at least, the alcohol itself may be causing the anxiety. Interesting. I’m afraid that my baseline anxiety is high even without alcohol, however. Even when I was a kid, I was anxious. And when I was pregnant and breastfeeding, my fears were off the charts. And neither time was I drinking.

I’m just not sure about the connection for me except that I have definitely self-medicated with it. But, truly, it seems like I want to drink myself into oblivion regardless of how anxious I am, and I don’t know why. I just do.

In recent years, I have done most of my drinking at home, secretly. For this reason, I haven’t had an embarrassing drinking moment (where I’ve been horrified at my behavior around other people the night before) for years. When I was younger and single, I had plenty of those, but not since I’ve settled down. So, I’m not talking about that kind of drinking anxiety.

Last year, I had a scary medical adventure. At the same time, my mom (who has dementia) got suddenly worse and needed a lot more care. These stressful experiences finally forced me to seek help, and I recently started taking proper doctor-prescribed medication for anxiety. Strangely, though, I wanted to drink EVEN MORE after I started it. Even though it was working. I had LESS control over the drinking after my anxiety was medicated. Not what I expected, and it scared me enough that I now sit here, typing this blog, 24 days sober and seriously contemplating life-long sobriety.

I feel like I’m just rambling here, but I am curious. Anyone else have a similar experience? Any thoughts on anxiety and its relationship with alcohol?

Day Twenty-Three: Quick check-in post II

A full and busy day, and I’m super tired in a good way. Still sober. Not too hard today or yesterday. Thank goodness. I had a nice, sober visit with a drinking buddy. I invited her to a movie, and we had a great chat on the way home. It may not make sense to everyone, but I think I actually have more energy to have a social life now that I’m not drinking. All is well, and I’ll check back in tomorrow.

Day Twenty-Two: Feeling grateful for sobriety

I really love going to bed early, reading for as long as I feel like it, and that much more relaxed feeling that comes with morning. Yesterday was tough. But only from about 4:30-6pm. I was feeling very strongly like drinking myself into a coma, but then it just started to slowly relax it’s grip on me. And by the time I got in bed at 9, it was gone. Whew! The thing is I was never really in danger of drinking yesterday because, even though those hard things happen, I really want this new life! Despite what sometimes feels like a split personality, I am getting a few glimpses of what life could be. I’m getting along better with my partner, I’m being more present for my kid and my friends, I always feel amazing in the mornings (even when I’m tired from staying up too late with a good book – I’m reading The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, and I am having trouble putting it down). And my blood pressure was in the normal range this morning. I was shocked when I read the numbers, but it was true! All very good things! ❤️

Day Twenty-One: The monster within

Writing out the numbers of my days is getting tedious. But this is how I started, so I must continue. My OCD won’t let me change it now. After the 30 days are up, though, all bets are off.

Anyway, unfortunately, this is the 3rd day where I have desperately wanted to drink after work. There is a monster in my head, and it does not want just one glass. Oh, no, it is screaming something like (it has a foul mouth), “DAMN IT! GET ME A FUCKING BOTTLE OF WINE! RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I’M GOING TO DRINK THE WHOLE FUCKING THING!” That is what it was sounding like in my head all the way to the train, on the train platform, then back up the stairs and back to my office to get my phone, back down the street to the train, on the train, and as I walked up the street. I thought about how I was going to write about it the whole way home. And then, I felt a little better. It is still in there, but it has been somewhat subdued by the bag of candy I fed it.

Don’t worry. I’m NOT going to drink. There’s really no danger of that today. Yesterday, I stated publicly (here) that I am going to go at least 100 days without drinking so there is NO WAY I am going to let that monster win. Just out of sheer stubbornness. See you tomorrow.

Day Twenty: The witching hour

I’m two-thirds of the way to my original goal of 30 days. It has been a long 20 days. Lots of good stuff, but hard stuff, too. I’m still tired even though I get 8 hours of sleep most nights. I thought I would be bounding out of bed eager to greet the day by now. I think it is supposed to get a little easier after the first month???? I’ve been REALLY wanting a drink in the evenings for the last two days. But then I tell myself to get through just tonight, and in the morning, it is fine. Great, even, and I’m so happy I’m sober. The trick is to remember that in the evening. Tonight, I’m drinking elderflower tonic water and eating black licorice to get through. I’m safe. It is working.

I’ve been thinking of making my new goal 100 days. Forever is too overwhelming, but I think I can commit to 100 days. I’m very curious about what I will feel like when I get there.

Day Nineteen: No more hangovers!

Just checking in to say that I am very grateful to not have hangovers. Or be worried I might still smell like booze when I go to work from the night before. Or that I might not be able to drive from the extra two drinks I had in the middle of the night when I woke up at 3am and couldn’t sleep. And that I’m not doing something stupid and hurting myself in some dumb accident because I’m drunk. And that I’m present to help my kid with her homework. And that if someone had a medical emergency, I could drive them to the hospital. And that mornings are glorious. And so on. I’m glad I’m sober.

Day Eighteen: Still going strong

It has been almost three weeks now, and I’m feeling mostly good. Generally strong. I have been getting mild pangs for wine here and there, but that’s all they are. Mild pangs. Not huge cravings. And they pass quickly. This weekend, I’m going to hang out with my friend (one of my serious drinking buddies). I’ve been worried that she won’t be supportive of my not drinking because we always drink A LOT every time I see her. Well, I decided to ask her to see a movie. During the day when we can get coffee after, not booze. I’m feeling quite proud of myself for nurturing my friendship in a new way.

Today, I saw my therapist and told her I wasn’t drinking. I actually had never talked to her about any concerns I had about alcohol before. Because I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to be told I had to quit. The same reason I didn’t want to tell my doctor. Ridiculous, I know. Anyway, I realized while I was talking to her that a big part of my wanting to quit was so that I could have more clarity on some big decisions I need to make in my life. I have been using alcohol to escape the uncomfortable bits of my life and avoid having to really think about how I’m feeling and what I want to do. I’m not feeling any more clear yet. I’m hoping that will come with more time. Eighteen days isn’t a long time. I guess I need to be patient…

Day Sixteen: Life in slow motion

Yesterday was difficult. No doubt about it, but it all turned out OK. We had no electricity on our block from a huge storm (and I was feeling pretty blue), so we decided to go out for dinner in a restaurant where the lights were on. And it was good. Everyone was drinking beer except my partner and me, but I didn’t miss it much. And I woke up in a much better place after a good night’s sleep. Although I still feel unreasonably tired all day every day (despite enough sleep). It’s a little like I just want to hibernate, and when I’m awake everything is moving in slow motion.

One thing I have noticed that I am getting much better at sitting and listening to people. I used to be good at this, but I haven’t been as good at it for the last few years. Well, today, I went to brunch with a friend and was able to really be present for her while she talked about some tough stuff she is going through. I think sobriety is helping me to be quiet enough in my head to really listen. Maybe this is a benefit of slow motion.

After my friend was finished with her story, this weird thing happened: I just came right out and told her how much I had been drinking before I stopped. That was a HUGE secret, but it just came out. And she didn’t really react much. And I thought, “Oh shit! What if she always knew?!?! What if I didn’t really hide it?” And maybe that’s true (or maybe she is just cool or thinking mostly about her own stuff which is probably also true), but maybe it really doesn’t matter. Why can’t I be honest with a good friend? Of course I can.

Well, that’s it for today.