Searching for pleasure

Tonight I bought a bottle of wine and brought it home.

I’m tired of this. I’m bored. I need to feel more pleasure. I just want to be normal.

I’m tired of thinking about this all the time. I’m tired of fizzy water and tea. I’m tired of feeling like someone on the outside of life.

I told myself not today and I don’t want another Day 1 and I don’t want to disappoint everyone, including myself.

I kept saying out loud, Why can’t I have both? Why can’t I just have a drink to satisfy my desire to just feel good for a little while AND still be considered sober? Why? No, it doesn’t makes sense, but that was what I wanted.

I just want to be normal. I’m sick of the waiting and the hoping and wanting. I just want to feel good again.

So I told myself, I just want to be normal for today and I bought a bottle of wine. I also bought a small bag of Sriracha potato chips, a couple of cheese enchiladas and a whole bunch of flavored seltzer water.

I came home and put the wine on the counter. I looked at my calendar with all the days on the wall crossed off — today is Day 26 and there have been weeks of crossed off days since September, but never 26 straight days. I thought about what tomorrow will be like if I just have one big glass. What if it makes me sick? I need to row tomorrow. I’ll just have one glass. 

I reminded myself that the wine is not going to make me feel so good that it will be worth it. What else can you do to make yourself feel good? 

I just want to be normal. I just want this to not be a big deal anymore. I’m over it.

I put my glass on the counter. I opened the bag of chips and opened my patio door. I looked out onto the water. I looked for the sun. I ate the chips like there was no tomorrow, without slowing down, all they way to the last one. I put the enchiladas in the microwave and turned on the TV. The Martian with Matt Damon just hit the Roku selection, but it’s still only for purchase at $14.99. I was going to wait until it dropped to rental price, but decided screw it. I love that movie and I’m going to watch it now. I need pleasure. I bought it and hit play. The microwave beeped and my enchiladas were done and bubbly. I pulled them out and sat in front of the TV with a spoon. I was going to start watching and then pour the glass. I was going to do it, I just was waiting a minute. I swallowed the melted cheese of the enchilada, bite after bite, and the emotions of the dramatic movie scenes came quickly.

Suddenly I was sobbing. Fully, loudly sobbing. I just want to be normal. I don’t want to be sober anymore. I just want to feel good. Where is the pleasure? Why does it have to be this way? I just want to have a glass of wine, that’s all. Is that so bad? I just want a glass of wine. Just a glass. My dog came over to console me, tears running down my face.

I stood up and went to the fridge for an NA beer. In that moment I knew I would’t be opening the bottle of wine. Not today. I started sobbing again, a new wave of emotion coursing through me, coming from I don’t know where. My dog stayed close, concerned. All of this pent up emotion coming out: a sadness, a loneliness, a grief for whatever this means — the bigger meaning — that I am no longer drinking and on top of it all, where has the pleasure in my life gone?

A flash of red caught my eye and it was the sun setting on the horizon, a sinking blaze reminding me to be in the moment, to savor it. But even then, I could access only the faintest appreciation of the beauty. What am I going to do?

I’ve been reminding myself why I’m doing this, and all of the reasons still hold. But despite all my effort, I’m bored. And I’ve lost some perspective. I need to find a way to pull back, get a little distance and find the goodness in my life. There’s so much of it, but today/tonight I’m just mad.

I told myself, Not today, and it’s holding for now. I worry about what this means for hitting 100 days. If I’m losing perspective and the sand is shifting under my feet. I keep thinking, If “Addiction is an elevator that only goes down,” then when is life going to get better? It’s only been 26 days (this time) and it seems like forever. This is sure a heckova lot of emotion for just giving up alcohol. Then again, plenty of people say it’s the hardest (and most important) thing they ever did.

Where is the goddamned bliss?

It’s only been 26 days.

I keep thinking about Bradley Cooper (If only he knew how important he’s been in my journey) and how he surely must have pleasure in his life without alcohol. We don’t all need to be Bradley Cooper.

Maybe my dopamine receptors are so fucked up after 25 years of drinking that they are just off-line. Yes, I find moments of pleasure that I cling to, with my dog, with films, with my work, with friends, with nature. Maybe it’s just that today was Christmas and I was alone and the sun didn’t come out until the afternoon. Maybe I triggered myself more than I realized with the talk of adopting a dog.

I don’t know. But I’m sick of this.

I’m in bed on a Friday night at 8pm with my dog and another fucking cup of tea. Now I’m just being bitchy. On past nights this has been bliss – the bed, the dog, the tea — but today/tonight, I’m having trouble finding it. I’m going to sleep soon and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day, ’cause this sober day pretty much sucked.

I told myself not today, and if I still wanted to drink tomorrow then I could decide then. If I made it to 30 days, even better, then I could re-evaluate.

I don’t know, but I do know I need to figure out where to find that pleasure. I’m reminded again about Augusten Burroughs’ point of view that I need to find something that I want more than I want to drink. It’s too fluffy to say “I want myself more,” even though that’s true. I will feel this craving until it passes, but I am going to need to find pleasure in a way that has only been a glimpse once or twice in the last month.

That’s what I need to do. Feels like my sobriety might depend on it.


Day 26.


17 thoughts on “Searching for pleasure

  1. Dear Rachel,
    Our brains are so used to the high, we don’t know how it feels like without it. We have mixed up wine with self care.
    Before I developed my dependency, I would walk, see friends, ride my bike…and that was my high. My self care was reading, baths.
    Alcohol indeed helped me for a little while…until I needed more and more…and well, that was all I could think about.
    I went through some grieving over my dear friend wine.
    But, now I am not.
    Now I am okay being sober.
    Cry, row, walk, hug dog, just don’t drink. Not today.
    With Love,

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Time does heal. And during that time are unbelievable waves. Anger. Boredom. Moments of peace. Resolve.

    They come and go. Part of it is remembering that this moment, this feeling is fleeting. It is not the rest of your life. It is temporary..

    When you row, and it gets really tough, sometimes you must dig deep to a store of energy you didn’t realize you had, knowing you can do anything for one more minute of you have to.

    It’s like that.

    I wish I knew a secret to make it easier. But I think the hard parts make it worthwhile later.

    Because there is bliss. It’s already there. You just have to remember to look inside for it.

    You are doing great. Hug yourself. You deserve it. Stay sober.


    Liked by 6 people

  3. As the others have said, I find it helps to know that these feelings and emotions are temporary. You won’t be stuck feeling this way permanently. From what I’ve heard there’s a long road of ups and downs before we’ll get any normality restored, but it certainly does test your patience in the meantime doesn’t it!?

    I bet Bradley cooper felt like shit at some point too 😉 hope tomorrow’s a better day for you x

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Rosie, and I’m sure you’re right about Bradley Cooper! Very good perspective. I don’t know why I only think about the fabulous parts of being Bradley Cooper when I look to him for inspiration. I’m sure he struggled too. Today was a better day. I’m a little surprised that damn bottle of wine is still sitting under the sink and I wasn’t tempted to drink it today. I’m going to give it away (I’m not going to tempt fate), but I got over that nasty hump. Phew.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll second everything said above and add my own encouragement. You’re worthy of all the wonderful things sobriety–true sobriety, that touches all aspects of your life–brings. You’ve already seen some of that, but like Anne and Wendy say, life continues to happen. Moods come and go; we still get into arguments with loved ones; we have shitty days when we want to say fuck it all and do something to change our circumstances. That’s just being human. We just used to turn to alcohol to change or mood or bring comfort.

    As someone who will always live with episodes of depression and anxiety and who takes five different medications to stay in the middle of the boat (to continue the rowing metaphor), I get the pain. It sounds like you’ve already put good practices in place.

    Self-care is hugely important right now. Well, it’s always important, but more so in the early days.

    One day at a time. That’s all it takes. Get your sober head to the pillow at the end of the day and you’re a bad-ass who deserves a hug, cookies, and all the fucking trophies in the world.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Robert. I was madly pulling out all of the tools and aphorisms I could think of while I was swirling toward that bottle, including “Sobriety delivers what alcohol promises.” Did I say that right? In any case, life will suck. And it will be awesome. And I’m hoping the awesome happens a lot more than it did while I was drinking. Why does a month pass so slowly when I’m aware of every minute of it? 🙂 I guess it really is a good thing. And tonight, my sober head hits the pillow once again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • YES!!! That last line made my morning. You continue kicking ass and taking names (speaking of aphorism). My early sobriety crawled by. If you want to peek into my early days, scroll back through my blog, I began it before I started rehab.

        Time is a funny thing. I was talking with my aunt about it yesterday and how our perception of time changes depending on our circumstances and ages. Sobriety can be a continuous circumstance (that isn’t nearly as fucking painful, I promise) and time takes on a different quality. Clarity of mind, one of the gifts, strikes me in tiny moments where time seems to freeze. It can happen when I look at my youngest son’s funny expression when he’s puzzled, or my dog when he sees something, or last night when I watched the clouds passing over the moon. I couldn’t do these things when I was drinking. Maybe in the old days when I drank socially and stopped after three glasses of wine or four beers (I always had high tolerance), but that rarely happened.

        Sobriety really does deliver what alcohol promises. If it didn’t, I’d be drunk right now at 8:51 AM, two days after Christmas.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope today is a better day. Some days just suck and they always will. Most days don’t. And that’s pretty much our lives! Hahahah! Being bored is normal. You suddenly have all this free time on your hands, time you used to spend either drinking, or thinking about drinking, or preparing to drink or dealing with having been drinking. It’s A LOT OF TIME. So it takes a while for you to start plugging things in again, and figure out what to do with yourself and realize what a gift it is.
    You did an amazing thing last night! All that bullshit about “just one glass!” “want to be normal” that’s addiction trying to get you to fuck up your hard work. This is hard but it’s ALL WORTH IT. Even the shitty parts:)

    Liked by 4 people

  6. You got through it. You did what you needed to do. Chips. Sunset. Martian. Enchiladas. Crying. Soothing self-talk. You did it. I recall my early days of sobriety, the roller coaster, the anxiety, sobbing in the shower. Everyone said, “Hang on, it gets easier! Just hang in there!” And sure enough, they were right. Pulling for you! xo

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I understand some of what you’re going through. I’ve struggled a lot over the past couple weeks with just wanting to be like a normal non-alcoholic and be able to use one or two drinks to just. feel. better. I’ve had periods of anger over it. I’ve had periods of what the people in the meetings call “self-pity” but I always call something else because I hate to think of myself as engaging in self-pity. I haven’t gotten past it yet, but so far I’m still staying sober each day. I’m so glad you were able to get through the evening without Taking The Drink. Good on you, friend! It’s only six months in, for me, but has been totally worth it so far and it actually has gotten a little easier (even though I didn’t believe it when people said so!) Best wishes as you trudge on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Six months and you’re still having periods of the struggle! I’m glad to hear it has been worth it, though. I hear what you’re saying about self-pity. It didn’t really feel like self-pity. It was more a mix of being sad and pissed and mourning for something lost. Maybe there’s a little fear thrown in there too, and most definitely a little bit of lonely. Of course, I pulled out the thou SHALT not drink when you’re Sad/Sick, Hungry, Angry/Agitated, Lonely or Tired, but it didn’t help all by itself. I guess that’s why we need so many tools. They all add up to a little each and hopefully it’s enough to get us through the tough patches. Tomorrow is 28 days — 4 weeks. Trudging on! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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