I’m 2 weeks away from 11 months and I’m still conscious of the days. STILL feeling wobbly about long-term sobriety. Does it ever get better? How does it get better?
Thing is, there will be days when I’m certain in my direction and feel a sense of conviction. But then other days or weeks will come along and I’ll feel the drift downwards, towards the ground. The thoughts of drinking are entertained. There comes the pull to drink. For example a couple weeks ago, at dinner in a cute pub near where we live, with dark walls and muted voices, I was feeling “itchy”. It wasn’t the scene itself, though the special drinks menu sounded nice with its rose-flavored-this and honey-lavender-infusion-that. The wine glasses in stacks on the central butcher block table, wine bottles behind maroon curtains with stripes and tassels; actual cork sheets on the wall (basically feeling like you’re IN a bottle of red wine, gently bobbing dreamily). As we have been there many times through all kinds of weather and feelings, I wouldn’t say it was the scene.
Maybe it’s my expectations of sobriety. Which sure have gotten me into great troubles, procrastination, feelings of flaccidity, headaches and disappointments, in the past (and still do). Because though people on the internet often admit to life being still difficult at times, they also seem to come from a certain conviction about their sobriety at its core. Sam Lamott spoke candidly (the first time I’d heard that sentiment from anyone) on an episode of the Unruffled Podcast about how he didn’t feel so ensconced into his sobriety until after a year or so. That if people were not feeling so hot and heavy about a life of not-drinking, then to wait it out basically, because the time would come, just later than we’d think.
Which was huge to hear for me. And I have clung to that at times.
So, back to the night at the restaurant. We were eating and talking and I started talking about a triggering thing – my family – bad topic for the dinner table ALWAYS but I couldn’t stop. My husband had his 1 beer that he always has when we eat out. Then I started talking about how when I had a year of sober (which I hoped I could make it to), that I couldn’t wait to start drinking again. Which I knew in and of itself was a red-flag. But at this point, I just saw no reason to keep going with sobriety. That by then I would have truly “tried everything” and still felt much the same.
I admitted that I had greater clarity, especially at work. Less anxiety. Anxiety used to seize my stomach and my chest, I couldn’t breathe, it felt like knives into my guts. And that was just about having to cross a street or speak to someone I didn’t like. I had to force my way through every stinking day, until I was home, alone often being better. Because alone, I didn’t have to feel all the things that comes off of other people. Intuition it could certainly be, vibes.
Still though, I never felt in control of myself or how my days/ nights went. Except when I was alone, unseen, unheard, in my apartments. Then I could look around and feel safe and fantasize and have my little conversations in my head and enjoy and dream. Uncriticized, often even not by myself.
So the stabbing anxiety attacks had lessened thankfully. I attribute that to a regular meditation practice as well as giving up caffeine fully in Feb 2017. So my mind starts to say things like, well what if all this anxiety was mainly from the caffeine all along, not the drinking?
But, I never liked alcohol. From the start to the finish. I just never knew what else to do. I did end up liking it somewhere in the middle and I certainly depended on it, as part of the anxiety circle, but again, not living my best life, hanging out with people who were seriously bad for me, caffeine, not enough exercise etc – all impacted the circle.
Anyways, so I mentioned that to my husband and he seemed rather incredulous. Perhaps the beer had loosened his already chatty self a bit more. He said how I had for some many years now told him all the things I’d learned about the reality of alcohol use and gotten him to almost stop his own drinking, after really looking closely at it, and now I was going to go back to drinking myself? Had I told him all that just to try to convince myself? Was it all a waste of my time and effort? What would that mean for him then, would he start to drink more again? And so on.
All of which, obviously, was NOT something I wanted to hear or consider. It was pretty awful and made me angry. Because it all seemed unfair and some of it obvious (like, of course I was trying to convince myself) and frustrating, because it was not HIM I was talking about dammit! I was talking about myself and p.s. he just had a beer for crying out loud.
And I got heated and he got heated and was talking strange. I reflected that in the past, had I been drinking too, I would have gotten much more heated and much more loud and perhaps left the restaurant, because when he gets like that, there is absolutely no dealing with him. Me, being a person who will hammer away at someone until they comply with the truth, it more often than not would have hooked me. Hooked a big sharp metal hook right into my brain and yanked me for miles, for days, weeks, sometimes years in cases, dragging along behind his wagon and I would have slammed my head and body into every rock along the way.
I would have woken up and gone to bed, with that fucking conversation. I would have went over and over it with my psychiatrist, I would have never been able to like, deal with it. How wrong he was, how unfair and un-seeing his views were. And so on.
As it was, the dinner felt ruined and we tried to walk afterwards and that was ruined and then at home he was still being a dick and that was ruined too and I ended up yelling obscenities (sigh…again) at bedtime and waking up pissed off.
I imagined how it would have gone had I been drinking, and it was even uglier. So I was certainly glad not to be drinking.
And I have reflected many times, how drinking would not have been right in different situations. Like basically there are no situations where drinking would have felt right (except for prior to sex – because sex is still just…well…an issue). Like when we went down to visit his daughter – we went to a cool hip place to eat and it was in this historical town with tons of things going on and I considered a glass of wine. But I instantly walked myself through it. I knew I would have the glass and whether I felt guilty or not, would be ordering another one. Then be worried about where/when I would get more alcohol. I would have to suggest going somewhere for a drink and then that might make my husband say something shitty like “Oh you’re going to get drunk now?” – something like he would say.
And that would ruin the fuck out of it all. And I would stew. Seethe. And throw alcohol on it. At it. And any happy-go-fucky feeling I may have had would switch over into the guilt of drinking and the feeling of that I “wasted my getting wasted” on this shitty time and then we would get back to the daughter’s house and I would be thinking “that’s it? what now? what now?” and my innards would be reaching desperately for the fun, where’s the fun WHERE ARGGHHHH!! That all too familiar tantrumy feeling that used to rule my drinking life.
The next day after the restaurant scenario, I wrote in my journal for a long long time and ended up realizing that absolutely I cannot CANNOT add alcohol back into my life and that there was NO value in it. WOULD not add it back in. And texted my husband that info. We have not spoken further on it. I asked him if he got the text and he said yeah and that was all.
And several days went by and it’s not nagging me and it’s not tempting. I know it’s not there and I am so thankful to be free.
Then yesterday…I thought faintly of how I wanted a couple shots of something. And I wanted to feel it burn. And I knew that I would then need cigarettes (which I quit like 13 years ago). And then wine. Again, this was all faintly. Just like half ideas. If I wasn’t typing them, they would’t have even been full thoughts.
Many people I’m sure would say that those thoughts were my addict speaking or my wine witch or whatever. But I don’t think it’s those things. Because at this point, how could it be those things? Because it never going away ever? Everything goes away. So alcohol thinking is the only thing? It’s like styrofoam? Oh come the fuck on. I don’t buy it. I don’t know what to think.
I do know that I also was thinking yesterday how that reachy feeling that I get or when drinking really is an issue or other drugs – it’s when I feel like I don’t matter. It’s not so much a disconnection. It’s a feeling of totally not thinking I matter enough to be good to myself.
But, again, I know all this…but still. And it feels like a see-saw. One I cannot relate to anything. Yesterday I felt agitated (I almost always do on Sundays) and annoyed. But that is nothing new. There’s been hundreds, thousands of times that I felt like that.
Sigh..I think I just need to let it ride at this point.
And hopefully my end will soar back up again. Or at least head in that direction.