I Call Bullshit

So, a couple days ago I was super sensitive and emotional and talking about how I feel like I haven’t done any “work” towards actual recovery, and basically just telling myself that I’m just a “sober drunk”. I’ve been thinking a lot about that (and everything else because you think a lot when you’re not drunk all the time), and I call bullshit!

I am recovering. I am taking steps to better handle emotions and things in general without alcohol. I beat myself up because I don’t paint (I’m an artist) as often as I should, or exercise, or eat right or whatever! That’s just dumb. I have never been able to do anything consistently in my whole life. I get super into something for like a day or week and then when I lose interest or just don’t feel like doing said thing, I get all down on myself.    I talk myself into feeling like I failed.

I came to the realization the other morning driving to work, that I am making myself feel bad for not doing things that make me feel good. That makes no sense! Like, if I don’t go for a damn walk because I’m comfortable on my couch with my cat on my lap watching my favorite show, who gives a shit?! I am hanging out with my cat and relaxing and I’m recharging my batteries, yet, I feel shitty about it because I have placed this expectation on myself that I have to DO something.

I do this to myself ALL the time! I have to stop beating myself up over  my own “idealism”. I am the kind of person who likes to do a lot of different things. I like to paint and take walks. But I have to learn that if I don’t feel like walking on a certain day, it’s OK! I don’t paint consistently, or write, or cook gourmet food, or play music, or practice yoga, or meditate, or lift weights. I do those things when the mood strikes me. Because I enjoy them. I have to learn that it’s ok to be inconsistent sometimes. It’s ok to go with the flow and do or not do whatever I want!

One thing I DO consistently is choose to be SOBER. I choose to do one of my many, many interests, or to sit and have a good cry, or watch a funny movie and have a good laugh. I am recovering. I’m not just a “sober drunk”.  My path of recovery may not be the most common, or ideal. But, that’s just me. Nothing I do is common or ideal. I’m a crazy, creative, spiritual, introverted extrovert, and my recovery reflects that.

I set out in sobriety with the idea that I could be and DO so much more, and then I limited myself by expecting that I’d become a marathon runner or an overnight yogi. I can be and do a little bit of everything and by releasing expectation, I can be happy doing anything.

I think I just found the key to actual recovery.

96 Days

Well, I clearly haven’t done well with blogging consistently. It’s been almost three months! In those three months I have managed to stay completely sober. (Yay!)

I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t write about that period of time though, because people ask me how I did it all the time, and want to know if I go to meetings, and casually dismiss my sobriety because to them it looks like it’s been easy. It wasn’t easy… But it kind of was.

Let me explain.  I didn’t go to meetings, and to this day have not attended a single meeting. I haven’t talked to a therapist. The only thing I have done that is “recommended” is to be more mindful.  I try to understand my emotions and process in the moment and then let that shit go. I’ve been successful at learning a lot about what makes me tick, and I’ve abstained from alcohol. But, I really haven’t done any work on the past. I have been working only on my current feelings and behaviors, and completely ignored the whole “what the hell made me drink like that?” part.

I spent all of the last three months focused purely on sobriety. No matter how shitty my day was; no booze.  I got promoted; no celebratory drink. I didn’t ever even allow myself to be around open containers of booze. I isolated myself. I go to work and I come home and clean, read or draw… Or binge watch TV. Sometimes I go for a walk. I eat enough food to sustain myself. That’s it. So, while 90 plus days of sobriety is fantastic, I’m not really recovering. I’m abstaining.

I am off my pink cloud now. It’s great to be so clear-headed and wake up not hungover, but that is basically just how it is now. It’s not shiny and new anymore. I have avoided processing the loss of my relationship this entire time. I avoided old pictures and messages. I opened up a big bloody hole in my heart the other day, and read every text her and I had sent. Ever. I saw the whole fucking relationship fall to pieces. I balled my eyes out. Then it dawned on me: I am about to go through the hardest part of a breakup. It’s been 5 months, and I have to feel this now. I can’t avoid it by being drunk and I can’t push it aside. I have to process.

I am feeling anxious and lethargic, and depressed like I did in the days right after she left. I’m letting myself feel it, and I’m trying not to push it away. I’m actually crying right now… This time, I have to really process these feelings, and I have no crutch. Fuck!!! It hurts like hell, and it really blows!

I’m so grateful to be sober, but I feel like I’m starting over again in some ways because I have lost that initial pride and euphoria now that I’ve realized how emotionally fucked I still am.

So, what I meant when I said it wasn’t easy, but it was: staying sober became a habit. I just had to not take a single drink, no matter what. Once I did that for 14 days, then 30, then 60, it became “easy” in that I knew that drinking just was not an option. However, I avoided feelings that whole time in order to not have the desire or cause to drink.  Now, I have to learn how to feel and still not drink. Basically, sobriety is not the hardest thing for me. RECOVERY is going to be hard.

 

 

The Night I Chose Myself

The night that I wrote about in my last post was in mid November. It has been a turbulent ride since then. I quit drinking for a few days, then I binged. I would stop again for a day and then binge. Then, for most of December, I drank every day.

I would stop at the closest liquor store on the way home from work and pick up a Jack Daniels shooter and a six-pack. The shooter would be discreetly consumed in the car on the way home, then as soon as I walked through the door, I would crack open a beer.

For New Year’s Eve, I drank an entire bottle of champagne. Sitting alone in my apartment, I cried as I drank and wished my love (we’ll call her “M” for privacy’s sake) was here with me to toast and celebrate and make plans for the year ahead.

I told myself that would be the last night drinking. Of course it wasn’t. My last night came on the 12th of January.

I woke up with plans for my day off. I was going to accomplish things!! Ha. I had a few beers left from the night before. An empty can on my coffee table stared at me as I drank my coffee. I thought “I’ll just have one to calm my hangover”. To make a long story short, I drank three and fell asleep on the couch. I woke up at 4pm having accomplished nothing. Well fuck it.  Off to the liquor store.

I cracked open a beer and watched TV. I thought about how I was not going to be able to make rent. How I was all alone. How I had hurt myself and “M”. How many things could I have spent my booze money on? I did the math; $ 500 a month!!!

I thought about how I drank instead of painting. About my goals in life. I had a massive melt down.

I looked down at the remaining beers on the floor (because who the hell wants to have to get up and go the fridge?), and I decided then that I was done. I decided I was going to finish off that six pack and drown my sorrows in a delicious IPA for the last time- ever.

I did exactly that. The next day would be my first day that I would stay completely sober. January 13th (coincidentally, my father’s birthday) would be my sobriety date.

Something broke in me that night. Everything came together, and I realized I could not, and did not want to drown in the bottom of a bottle.

So, today is the 24th. I have 11 full days of sobriety.

The Night That Ended and Started It All

I really can’t remember the night.  I have flashes of the evening’s events that play in my mind like an old, chopped-up film reel.

I was drunk out of my mind when my partner came home.  We were technically broken up.  She and I got into an argument over text earlier in the day. She said she still wanted us to work.  Of course, my response was angry, and hateful.  She had completely cut off physical affection and intimacy for almost a year.  I was miserable, and so was she.  We’d been arguing every day.  I’d been getting drunk more and more often.

When she said she wanted it to work out, my response was something to the effect of “Are you going to act like I’m your lover and not just your roommate?”.  Only, my words were much more harsh.

I can’t remember what initially happened when she came home.  I can’t remember the words we spoke.  I can’t remember that I was crying, or that I fell, or that I broke a lamp.

The next morning, all I had to remind me of what happened was a softball sized bruise on my elbow, swollen eyelids, a broken lamp, and a broken-hearted text message from the woman I loved.

She was done.  She was tired of living with an emotional basket-case.  She was tired of wondering on her way home whether I was drunk or not.  She was tired of fighting.  She told me I was an alcoholic, and that she couldn’t take it anymore.  She was leaving me.

Two days later, that’s exactly what she did.  She packed a bag, put her cat in his carrier, and began the process of complete separation.  I cried, and begged her to stay.  I swore I’d never drink again.  She cried too, but stood her ground.

My whole future felt like it was ripped from under me.  Our plans, our life, our good times, the adventures, the companionship, and the love all just disappeared in a day.  They were gone long before that day, but as an alcoholic, I felt like she had just abandoned me.

I had just lost my love to my disease.  Clearly, I had a problem.  My great solution that night?  Get drunk.

It would be another two months before I really decided to make a change.  Even the greatest loss couldn’t keep me from continuing to live in the bottom of a bottle.