I’m back.

I suppose it’s fitting that tonight I pigged out on fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls and french fries. That last day I posted (3 months ago), I was raving about the cures of heart&soul a good mac ‘n’ cheese can bring.

Still true.

Since then I’ve been on a little journey, a philosophical, introspective, exploratory walkabout, you might say. I think I was looking to get to the source of any lingering doubts about whether I should go completely AF, so I could be sure. Sure as a person can be.

I’ve heard it said, that while we’re driving our car, building our brick wall, walking our path, bobbing along on our proverbial sea — choose your favorite metaphor — as long as we are sober we are learning and growing in ways we may not even be aware of. We may not feel it’s happening, but OH, YOU BETTAH BELIEVE IT’S A’HAPPENIN’.

So here’s what I learned: I started to think maybe after all the months (since last summer) that I had gone with very little alcohol, maybe I would actually moderate. Maybe I was overreacting. Maybe I really didn’t REALLY want to be that person who doesn’t drink EVER. I’d learned so much and I thought my patterns really had changed…maybe I could seamlessly merge back into the flow of all the other cool and happenin’ humans I know who could drink without it taking more than it was giving. Maybe, I’d reset the clock. (I’m going for maximum metaphor numbers here.)

But then I went on a business trip to Italy. I met a fantastically intoxicating Italian. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sexy and exciting and alive. There was fun and fantasy and Italian wine and I was swept away in a very fast current. I suppose I can thank my addictive tendencies for this too, but there was nothing and no one that was going to get me off that pleasure train.

Except reality.

It was a short short ride.

When I was ripped back to reality like Christopher Reeve when he finds that damned penny in his pocket in Somewhere in Time (did anyone else see that movie? OMG I loved that movie…), where was I then? I was basically back to where I’d started…and it had happened in no time. Flat.

It wasn’t horrific. I wasn’t off the rails. There was no Leaving Las Vegas and I’ll not be writing a fantastic and inspirational sober memoir about it (although it sounded like there was potential, no? “Rachel’s Roman Holiday: One Hot Italian and 20 Gallons of Red…”) But I was back to where I’d started in many ways, only this time, I had a perspective I didn’t have before. I could see very clearly that the sadness I was feeling, the fatigue, the flabbiness mentally and physically…it was all stemming from the wine.

I had finally started to see that the only way I was going to quit for good was if I started to connect that this — leaving alcohol behind — is about something greater than this very moment. For me, for the briefest of moments, being sober had brought me closer to coming in touch with my higher purpose than I may have ever been. I know this for sure.

I say that, and even now, I sit here with that clarity just beyond reach. I don’t even feel like I’m writing about it nearly as vividly as I experienced it. It feels like it has when I’ve woken from a dream that I saw so clearly, only to struggle to remember what it felt like by the end of the day. I close my eyes and try to feel it again, to find the words, but…all I have left is a blurry memory of how it felt, and the faith that if I stay the course this time, that sureness, that purity of contact with the Universe(?) that I absolutely had glimpses of before, will return. I apologize for sounding a bit woo woo. I honestly think my ham-handed vocabulary here is also a symptom of having moved too far from it to even describe it well.

So here I am, back at Day 3. I can’t bear to read my earlier blog posts right now, knowing how many times before I’ve been so sure and then changed course.

I know it won’t be easy. But this time I’ve seen what three months of drinking again feels like, and none of it was worth how I felt before finally quitting again. I dare say, even the time with the Hot Italian. He’s long gone (many lessons learned!) and here I sit, back on Day 3, very sure that my life is meant for more than this. I’m meant for greater things. The love of my life is out there somewhere. My mind and spirit have the potential for so much more. My higher purpose is yet to show itself, but it’s not far. And the choice I have to make — every day, perhaps — is all of those things over red wine.

THAT is what I have to remember, when I go on a business trip or I’m on a summertime patio/boat/cabin with friends or I’m in Italy with a fantastically handsome Italian.

I choose the rest of my “one wild and precious life,” over red wine.

I’ll be leaning on ALL my supports — and you are a huge part of that. Know that I’ve missed you. And I’ve missed the me who was emerging. It’s a super uncomfortable place to be in the swirl of it all. If you’ve been there (or are still there) you know. Our addict minds are such negotiators, and man, they can be persuasive. That can be a painful process. Fucking Wolfie.

I’ve been loving Sarah Hepola’s 5-part Series in Jezebel, “Ask a Former Drunk.” I really loved the entirety of this #2 piece, How Do I Keep My Sobriety From Being the Thing That Defines Me?  End-to-end. So. Good.

But the first in the series, When Do You Know That You Have a Problem? had a bit that particularly resonated with me too. I mean, probably for many/most of us. It really so often is (or was) the crux of it in the beginning. The letter-writer asked this:

I want sobriety and all that comes with it, but I just don’t want to stop drinking. I mean I do, but I don’t. Does that make sense?

McKenzie

And Sarah answered:

Dear McKenzie,

I’m not sure any sentence has ever made more sense. You want the clarity and peace of sobriety, but you don’t want the emotional discomfort, personal reckoning, and social exile that giving up alcohol would entail. You want the sun-dappled joy of a Sunday with no hangover, but you want the liquid abandon of a Friday night. Over the years, I’ve had many wishes like this: I want to travel the world, but I don’t want to pay for it. I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to stop eating cheese enchiladas. I want to lead a life of meaning, but I don’t want to leave this cozy queen-sized bed.

 

Right? I’ve even said that on this blog. I want to maintain my sobriety but still get a huge wine buzz. WTF?

But then, a bit later, Hepola says this:

…Having no idea what else to do, I made a new bet. The bet was that if I could stay sober for a year, or even three months—maybe things would get better.

They did. The change was neither fast, nor easy. Like you said, quitting drinking was “the ultimate struggle.” But six years later, I can tell you that quitting drinking is one of the smartest things I have ever done for myself. It has enriched my friendships, deepened my writing and my empathy, made my sex life more electrifying and profound, and given me a peace in my own body I did not even know was possible. I thought sobriety was the end of the road, and I had arrived at a dead end, but it’s more like a door that opens up to a thousand more doors, all of them in Technicolor, all of them stretching into the horizon.

All of them in Technicolor, all of them stretching into the horizon.

This is what I want my life to be. And my bet, my hope, my faith — thanks in part to so many amazing people who have been through this and have written about it in books and blogs — is that the glimmer of connection to the Universe I felt before was truly a pinhole into this future she describes.

It won’t be easy. It won’t always be good times. But it’s the only way through.

So, day by day. Day. By. Day.

Rachel.

Day 3.

 

24 thoughts on “I’m back.

  1. Rachel! This is a brilliant post and I’m sending you love from The Sober Garden. I can relate to so much here (ok, maybe not The Hot Italian…) and went through similar feelings after a year long attempt at moderation (after achieving seven months of sobriety). Didn’t work for me either. Have a great day! x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so happy you’re back. And this is a brilliant post! Over the past few years, I also (twice!) went back to drinking to be more sure, only to eventually return with new commitment to being sober. And it really was for the best, as I learned though my own experience, very much as you’re doing now. The perspective you’re talking about having gained, that makes so much sense to me. And thanks for the link to the Sarah Hepola articles on Jezebel. I loved her book and I wouldn’t have come across them. Welcome back online, and hooray for day 3! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can so relate to this post, even the Hot Italian part, they can be very naughty boys! I’ve been flip-flopping on and off with wine for years now and like you, am trying again. I’m only on day 8 at the moment. The link you included looks great, I’m looking forward to checking that out. I also haven’t read her book either so that is going on the reading list so thanks for those. You can do it, you’re not alone in this. Have a good sober day today, hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad you’re back, Rachel. It sounds like you learned a great deal, and I’m glad you’re not beating yourself up. Day three is great. Onward and upward….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Welcome Back!!!
    I keep learning a lot of things the longer I am sober.
    I even like sober dancing better!
    You are not alone with the dreams of being able to moderate.
    I tried too, but it didn’t work for me either.
    Big Hugs!!!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey!! I kept checking your site from time to time to see if you’re back and today, you’re back!! What a nice surprise, and even nicer to hear that you’re safe and sound. Although you had a 3-month shenanigans hiatus, it’s okay… you did, you learned, you reflected and now you know what is important. You! Good work on day 3! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this post. I am in a very unhappy place at the moment and on day one again. I too want to be sober. I have had a taste of the joy that it brings but I don’t want or can’t seem to stop drinking 😦

    Like

    • I’m sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well. I know all too well what that feels like. It’s really hard! We all have our own sober journeys — I firmly believe that. Just keep reading all the great blogs out there and posting. For me, it has been an iterative learning process, concentric circles, closer and closer to the goal. Big hug.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad you’re back because I really enjoy this blog. I did 100 wonderful sober days last fall then began trying to moderate again over the holidays and, well, you know how that goes. I know I need to begin again. Good luck, I’ll be following along & joining you very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Rachel!

    Saw you on my blog and thought I’d check out yours! I love to see blogs like this…someone who hasn’t been sober 1.5 million years and is still in the struggle! It’s really helpful for those of us newer to sobriety. Although today is day 134 for me, I still feel like I could slip and fall at any moment…reading about the relapses of others reminds me of how easily this could happen…and how devastating the consequences can be.

    I’m sure you saw on Belle’s blog the other day the comment about someone who had ONE GLASS of wine after like 13 years of sobriety and then it took another 11 years to get back to day one. I was like oh dear God that’s scary. I always appreciate people who are willing to share their vulnerabilities (I try to do the same) because it helps us all share in the commonality of this disease.

    Love your blog! Stay strong! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, B! I also love hearing that it’s not all smooth sailing at 134 days. I’ll have to look for that post by Belle, I missed it. I can tell you, this time around I KNOW there is no moderation, so when that fecking Harpie starts telling me I could just enjoy a few glasses after day 100, my rational mind says even more loudly: ONLY IF YOU WANT TO BE RIGHT BACK WHERE YOU STARTED.

      I’m holding on for the miracle. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting…means a lot.
      R.

      Like

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