Brain goblins and razor wire

“Change is an upward spiral.”

A kind and wise fellow blogger recently relayed this quote, which someone had also shared with her. I love it, although I think I’d change it just a bit to something like:

Change is a bloody, upward jig-jagged, razor wire spiral littered with the flesh of those who have tried and failed.


 Too dramatic?

Just kidding, although while I do love the image of an upward spiral, I think of the change spiral as much more uneven than a classic egg whisker. Instead it has some jigs, some jags, it expands in places, retracts in others, and has some recursive loops built in at stages along the way.

Sure, it’s nice to give myself credit for making progress, even if I’m back to “Day 3.” (again) And when I think about how much I have(n’t) drunk in the last 4 weeks, even if I wasn’t perfect, it sure is a hellova lot less than I have been drinking the last 4 years. And that’s not nothing.

That’s why some people are against counting days, I guess. If I have 30 days or 300 days and I have a drink, that’s still a shit-ton of shit I didn’t put into my body.

Yes. But.

The trouble is, I know I can’t leave any opening for thinking I can drink every once in a while, or moderately, or at some given date in the future…or that it’s really fine to give in to a craving because on the whole I’m still way ahead.

I can’t and I know it. There is no such thing as moderation for me — I’ve spent a great deal of time, money and angst proving that out — and frankly, I would love the peace of mind that I keep reading comes (eventually) with closing the door. Completely. Shut. Not. An. Option.

Would you like a drink? 

No thanks, I quit. 

And anyway, that shit is poison, right? RIGHT?

Hm. I know it is. I know. And so why can I still vividly remember how much I DIDN’T enjoy drinking last Saturday, and I sure as hell didn’t enjoy the vomitous, hungover waste of the next day…so why, then, did I still hear my old beloved wine brain whispering in my ear on the way home tonight?

C’mon, you want to feel goood. Soooothe yourself… Relapse is noooormal. They are expecting it so what’s the big deeeaal? Where is the pleasure? Wine will feel so good. What else will make you feel so good, especially after a long, frustrating day at work with so little ACTUAL pleasure? C’mon… wiiiiinnne. 

I really need to get a boyfriend.

Intellectually, rationally, I know why, of course, and I shut that shit down. I broke it down. I talked to myself outloud while I was walking down the street. (Who cares if people think I’m a little cray cray?) I asked myself: What am I feeling? Why do I think I want to drink? What do I think I will get from it? Why is this coming up now?

I saw myself walking into the corner store and picking out a bottle. In my mind, mind you, not with my legs.

And then, I decided to do something else, something we talked about in my mindfulness class last night. I decided to sit with these uncomfortable feelings. What the fu…? And breathe. Name the feelings. And really notice what was going on and why I was suddenly — and unexpectedly — craving a bottle.

Because seriously, what the fuck? What lowdown, ass hole brain goblin is messing with me when I think I have been perfectly clear I want nothing to do with alcohol anymore?

(I realize Ms. Potty Mouth has shown up to narrate tonight… Who am I to tell her she isn’t welcome? She’s on my side.)

Yes, I had a frustrating day and that old goblin wanted his juice. Jerk. He’s a fecking dopamine glutton and he’s messed with my peace and joy, mainlining off my limbic system for too long.

I got home, leashed up my dog, walked right back to that corner store and picked up two flavored fizzy waters and a package of rice crackers to complement the olive hummus waiting for me in the fridge. YUM.  #screwthegoblin #biteme

Shifting gears…

I LOVE MY LIFE COACH. She’s awesome, and has helped me come further in the last 6 months than I ever would have been able to do on my own. Times ten.

I was telling her about how I invited an acquaintance to join me at the Glen Hansard show last Saturday who had been (somewhat annoyingly) fishing around for a ticket on Facebook. When I suddenly had an extra, I reluctantly asked her if she wanted it. Why did I bother? Because of something I read in Cheryl Strayed’s recent book:

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I thought I should be magnanimous!

Hell, I’m all for doing whatever I can these days to make my life a hundred times better than it is.

So… I gave her this highly sought-after ticket and, well, I’ll just say it ended up not being a wholly positive experience. I relayed the story to my life coach because the whole thing was still nagging at me a bit.

“Fuck being magnanimous!” she said. “You need to keep your focus on all of the things you are doing to make your life better and avoid anything or anyone who causes you grief or frustration. Avoid anyone who doesn’t make you feel awesome and surround yourself with people who support you and all you are trying to do.”

Of course she’s totally right. This whole thing — the quitting drinking and all of the lessons that are inextricably linked to it — are about loving myself more and doing something about it. And leaving as little flesh on the spiral as possible.

Loving myself more. Doing something about it.

Every day.

Day 3. Rachel.



7 thoughts on “Brain goblins and razor wire

  1. Congrats on Day 3! Good job doing the mindful thing and talking yourself through the killer craving, too. I find it so helpful to do that ‘slow down and find out what I’m feeling’ thing. not easy, but helpful.

    For what it’s worth, though I know people go all kinds of ways on this one, I count days but I don’t discount the sober days ones that came before the recent drinking, if that makes sense. I really like what you said about paying attention to how many days you didn’t drink as opposed to just the recent days in a row. Days in a row matter, as you day, but all the days count! Just cheering you on here! Hooray you! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “What lowdown, ass hole brain goblin is messing with me when I think I have been perfectly clear I want nothing to do with alcohol anymore?” Ha! I know this brain goblin…he and his fucked-up kin visit us all from time to time. I’ve cleared enough fucking dungeons lately that I just let my broad sword do the talking and I whack their miserable heads off…but that wasn’t always the case. Lest I continue this fantasy metaphor, I’ll simply say: you kick ass and you’ll continue kicking ass regardless of counting days. My Mr. Potty Mouth salutes your Ms. Potty Mouth (that sounds weird, I know). They’re on our sides, as you say. Go forth and conquer! Brain goblins be damned!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Giving in to the realization and conclusion that you can never drink again is a big part of loving yourself. For people like us, there is nothing more magnanimous to oneself than just, well, giving up on the idea of never drinking again. If never truly means never, than counting days is sorta irrelevant. Why think back to the time when you stopped? That’s what counting days really is (well, for me.) I made 100 days + last year, but counted every one, like it was some sort of badge of pride. Now, as part of my own self-care, I’m focusing on looking forward to uncountable sober days instead of looking back. Oh yeah, and fuck that asshole brain goblin. Shut that douchebag down.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love and compassion for yourself. It is true, the more you decide to be gentle with yourself, the clearer it is that drinking is a self destructive coping mechanism.
    Breaking that is hard. Sitting with feelings is s why it’s good to take the first while in sobriety and bubble up – no alcohol in the house, say no to social invitations that will be hard, try different alcohol free drinks, have treats…both food treats and non food treats.

    I never really counted days because I started this as a year gift of sobriety to myself (I was pretty desperate to find a way to quit as I could see my compulsion to drink growing).

    I often counted Monday’s as they were my horrible hell days where I hated myself and my life. Every sober Monday just felt good.

    Stay sober today. Repeat tomorrow. Look for any and all support.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. i fucking love ms. potty mouth. keep her ass around! and ahhh…sitting with feelings…thats one’s not a fun one to learn, but it must be done. as drinkers, we like that instant gratification. sitting with our feelings doesn’t give us that instant gratification. the first time i made myself actually FEEL something i was used to blocking out, it wasn’t very fun. it sucked a lot really. i remember people saying “i promise, it gets better” thinking “ha, yeah, WHEN?” i couldn’t tell you when it started getting better, but it did. and it will for you. until then we have to suffer to through the shitty parts to get to the fun ones. but they’re waiting. just keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

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