30 Days Sober – It Wasn’t Pretty

So I just read through my last couple of posts. Classic denial. What happened? Well, the same thing that always happens – my drinking escalated. I did drink in Italy and it was okay as I suspected. I was busy, there was hiking everyday, I was with people who didn’t drink much, (fun fact: people in Italy don’t drink rivers of wine every day). In short, it didn’t ruin my vacation, but as Willie Nelson sings…it was always on my mind.

The trouble came when I got back in my routine, back to my boring mundane everyday life. I felt alone. I grieved Italy. There I felt like I really had accomplished something. I did things daily that were out of my comfort zone. I was satisfied with myself.  No pressure. It was freeing.

I drank everyday for at least two weeks after my return until I was so depressed I couldn’t take it anymore and I quit…again.

So its been a month. I’ve journaled almost everyday. I’m reading everything I can and trying to be easy on myself. What I find amusing are those articles that pop up in my Facebook feed;  I quit drinking for 30 Days and this is what happened! They talk about weight loss, better sleep, more productivity and saved money. I would like to know how much the people who write these things actually drink? The truth is when you’re a real drinker getting sober for 30 days is hard and frustrating and all sorts and shades of awful. What these articles don’t tell you is your anxiety and depression? Well, it gets worse before it gets better. My anxiety was through the roof. I pushed so hard on my front tooth with my tongue I swear it was going to pop right out.

I was tired. So tired. Like first trimester pregnancy tired. So more productivity wasn’t a thing a for me. I had no motivation and I watched so much Netflix they stopped making next show recommendations. I guess they figured I was on such a roll I would get to them eventually.

I was a complete and utter bitch to my family. I couldn’t even stand being with myself.

I lost zero weight. Nothing. Zip. In fact, I gained. You would think after eliminating so many unneeded calories from my diet I would at least lose a couple pounds, but instead I think my fat cells are confused and banding together, waiting for the starvation to set in. In fact, as I wright this I feel so bloated I want to drink just to get rid of the awkwardness of being in this body.

I have zits.

I have spent every single dime I saved because, Damn it, I’m not drinking so I can buy that sweater, those boots, that endless supply of organic teas and essential oils.

So the first 30 days? Not fun. In fact every time I quit, it gets harder. Which really makes me think about whether I have it in me to do it again. The good news is, I made it through the first 30. The clouds have begun to part. I’ve lowered my expectations in the productivity department. Instead of painting rooms and organizing closets – it looks more like actually taking my make up off at night, moisturizing, going for a walk, reading more instead of watching TV. Actually writing a blog post…

Sleep is getting much better, my mood comes and goes, but its to be expected. I’m still full of negative self talk but I’m more aware of it and trying to correct it where I can. I’ve joined some great online support groups and am looking into alternatives to supplement my spotty AA attendance . I’m really selective with who I spend my time with. Parties are not for me right now, however the holiday season is arriving which will bring with it a whole new set of challenges.

There are times in the day when all I can do is sit in my feelings of regret and self pity and recognize them for what they are. Fear. I can no longer numb it away. Having to feel and accept those feelings is the toughest part of 30 days and beyond… that little tidbit is what they leave out of those feel good 30 days of sobriety articles.



So Much Confusion

Yesterday was all like, “Yay! Sobriety!”

Today – not so much.

I didn’t drink, I had my first meeting with a new councillor who specializes in alcohol abuse. She knows my whole story…my periods of sobriety, my attempts at moderation. The whole meeting she was taking the position of harm reduction, rather than complete abstinence. Not that she doesn’t think I should be sober – she wants what I want, but she thinks my “all or nothing thinking” is going to get me in trouble either way. She wants to take me through from the ground up and identify my triggers, looking for healthier ways to approach them. She doesn’t want me to think in terms of never again, but come to a place in recover organically.

I gotta say initially, I thought not a chance. I’ve made a million rules around my drinking, and tried to moderate but it only works for a while before I’m back to where I was. But just her suggesting I might drink again was really inviting I gotta be honest.

I told her I was going to Italy next month and expressed a fear of losing my sobriety. This has been on my mind since day one; What will happen there? Should I drink? Will I hate myself for breaking my sobriety?

She is trying to get me to a place where I confront my over thinking with real solutions. She wants to help me put a plan in place before I get there. It might include abstinence but it also could be a plan of action which includes having one glass of wine with dinner and evaluate honestly how I am feeling; putting barriers and strategies in place to achieve this.

Very tempting, but I’m skeptical.

By the time I go, if I remain sober completely, I will have almost 6 weeks. I told her I’m fairly certain I could get through the vacation with boundaries because it’s a hiking tour. Every day I will have to be physically active – which means I won’t want to sabotage it by drinking. Also, I’m going with someone who is not a huge drinker and understands where I’m at. My worry is when I get home. I’m concerned I won’t stop. My inside voice will want to have plenty of drinks before I quit, “again,” and do I really want to quit again?

I understand recovery isn’t black and white. I get it, but I have a hard time allowing myself to fail.  It is true with each attempt I come closer to my goal. I guess that’s the point? To naturally come to the decision? But how do I refrain from beating myself up? How do I stop obsessing about it, whether I’m drinking or sober? The year I spent sober was wonderful but I never stopped thinking about it. I just want to be me, but a calm, recovered me.

If I decide to drink in Italy, I don’t want to carry around the shame when I return of starting again, and I’m hoping if it is what I decide to do, I can do it and accept myself and my decision.

This is a learning process. Progress not perfection, right? Why does everything in my head have to be taken care of immediately? So what if I have been fighting this for as long as I have? Every time I do, I get closer to peace. I can feel it.

Holly Whitaker from Hip Sobriety wrote something today on Instagram:

“The goal we are working towards isn’t SOBRIETY in flashing neon lights, It isn’t measured in days and weighed in abstinence. The goal is self-compassion, self-love; to stop the shaming and the judging of ourselves, others. To loosen the shame; not tighten it.”

I came out of my meeting with the counsellor confused about what my goals are and Holly’s words were on my phone. They brought me a lot of comfort. My biggest problem is self-compassion/love and I often wonder if I could do the work on those things, if I indeed started to (gulp) love myself would I even feel the need to over drink? One thing I know for sure, I need to put the booze down now to do the work.

Will I drink again? I don’t know. I’m not even sure I will in Italy. Although I’m kinda feeling like I just got a free pass. I feel like I have a lot of thinking, reading and healing to do. Instead of letting this circle around in my head, giving me ideas to try to moderate again. I’m going to let it sit and continue on the path I started because I put the glass down again for a reason. I can’t live how I was a week ago. I only have my gut to guide me and it’s saying stay the path for now, keep going.

Don’t think too far ahead.