No More U-Turns

My life coach (C.) and my sober coach (Belle) would say (are saying) that I need more supports. Because, if I’m able to stay sober for days or weeks at a time (which I have), and then some other self inside my head  (the wine witch, goblin, wolfie…I need a metaphor that really fits for me) convinces me that maybe I’ve blown this all out of proportion and I can moderate if I really try…so I try..and I fail…then I don’t have enough supports.

“Don’t try harder, try differently,” says Belle. Yesterday, my life coach (lovingly) said it too. That I need more community. She said belonging and acceptance are so important — primal needs — that it’s damn near impossible to do anything that feels like I’m going to lose that fundamental need. That’s why it is so critical to have sober community.

Sigh. Yep.

My online community has been amazing, when I’ve stayed engaged. But maybe I do need to try SMART meetings or AA again. Yeah, I’m resisting it, but I’m also hearing my coaches (and Einstein) loud and clear: I can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. I consistently get to a certain point where I start to feel good (or bad) several weeks in, and the fecking wine harpy — yaaass, HARPY — whispers that I really can live a balanced life with red wine if I try harder. If I just commit. If I just show some discipline.

Yeah, right. We all know how that story ends.

Change takes time, and my coach assures me this is a completely normal process. She sent me this:

Stages of change - addiction

So, I’m starting again and I’m adding more supports. My coach said, “Add an unreasonable level of support.” Meetings several times a week? Ugh. OK, I’ll look into it. I found an all-women meeting tomorrow I’ll try. Blog every single day for the next 100 days? Yes. Even if it’s just a couple of lines. And I’ll email Belle twice a day for the first 30 days. And I’ll read her book and other blogs every day. And podcasts. And set up the sober coaching calls I paid for months ago. And I’ll put sleep as a top priority. And make sure I’m getting sober treats every day. And I’m going to start exercising more than just my rowing, but walking/running with my dog too. And I’m not going to go to any events where I don’t feel completely solid for at least the next six weeks or more. We’ll see. And I’m going to take 5-10 minutes every morning to breathe and meditate and ground myself for the day. AND I’m going to get a sun lamp and try some light therapy, because I don’t think the dark Seattle winter days are doing me (or my mood) any favors (we just broke a record for Winter with the most rain ever on record. nice.). I’d like to avoid anti-depressants, so we’ll see. And if I need to get into bed at 8pm to just get to the next day, I WILL. And I’m going to put dating on a pause because it’s just too triggering. Mr. Right can wait 100+ days until I’m feeling ready.

And I’ll try to be kind to myself and through this process. It’s really hard.

Because I remember last time I went weeks sober and was finally beginning to see glimpses of the bliss, and how amazing that felt. I was finally enjoying evenings without alcohol and it was so great. I wasn’t bored anymore. I felt (gasp!) happy. I want that life.  I really do. I will make it to 100 days this time. I will blog every single day no matter what, for better or worse! I admit it: I’m scared for some reason, but I want to change my life. I want the better life I know is possible. Thanks for being out there, going through this with me. It matters.

No more U-turns.

Rachel. Day 1.

p.s. It’s a bit embarrassing to look back at older posts and hear myself saying the same things, over and over. Ah the addict’s brain. Fecking wine harpy. I keep trying. I keep trying. We all know how hard this is, how manipulative the harpy can be.

I’m adding more supports this time. She can suck it.

 

Hierarchy of needs: Red, red wine

When you’re hooked on booze, the decision to drink or not really isn’t a rational one. How many lists have I made thoroughly enumerating the downsides of drinking or the upsides of not? How many times have I looked in the mirror, hungover and red-faced and decided to take a break? How many times, then, have I had another glass of wine before the happy hour struck 4?

Many.

I know people in relationships have their own sets of issues when they’re trying to quit drinking. I used to be one of them. But being single also has its particular challenges, starting with the fact that I can drink any time I want without witness except loneliness, which visits often. Wine has been my best friend and lover for several years now, and if I’m honest, it was the case even when I was married.

Anyway… this isn’t a pity party, I promise. I was just reading This Is How by Augusten Burroughs last night and he had some interesting things to say about quitting drinking that have been knocking around in my head today.

He isn’t a big fan of the AA tenet that we are powerless against alcohol, for one. Rather, he says the power is completely within us. As difficult as it is, I would tend to agree.

But more provocative, I thought, was this:

To be successful at not drinking, a person needs to occupy the space in life drinking once filled with something more rewarding than the comfort and escape of alcohol. This is the thing you have to find.

You might not. Most alcoholics won’t.

The truth is that people who cannot stop drinking are people who, however guilty they may feel and however dire the consequences, have become so addicted to the drug and the experience that they prefer it to the remainder of their lives. While they may truly want to be sober, they want to drink more.

… You can absolutely stop drinking today, right now. The question is only, do you want to be sober more than you want to drink? …

Very few people can answer this question truthfully and reply, yes. 

Yikes. What a buzz kill. 🙂

It’s kind of terrifying. Because again tonight, and last night, I was craving that comfort and escape, more than just about anything. And I can tell myself alcohol is poison (rational) and that the benefits are a lie (rational) and that my list of why drinking is bad is a mile long (again, rational)… But tonight, home on a Thursday night with my dog, after a tiring week, what I REALLY want tonight is comfort and escape. I want to feel my dopamine receptors fire as if I’m being held by someone who loves me.

And THAT’s why giving up drinking is so fecking hard sometimes. It’s not rational. Those cravings are PRIMAL, and wine taps directly into my limbic system to say, there there, I got you… don’t worry about a thing for now. just put your head here and fall asleep…

And is that really the challenge? Is that really what success will require? Finding something more rewarding than the comfort and escape of a primal longing?

Maybe so. And that’s why it takes so many different kinds of support to do this. It’s really fecking hard to not act on something so fundamental while trying to find something as or more important to replace it.

I’m still holding out hope that at some point things will turn. That this state I find myself in each night won’t feel like giving up that comfort and escape forever. Because I can’t imagine feeling like my life is without the heights of pleasure now that I quit drinking, even if I look and feel better overall — and I hope I don’t have to. I hear it gets better. I know I’m doing a lot of the right things. Tonight I’ll get in bed and push through until tomorrow because it’s finally time to sleep.

And Augusten wasn’t a total scary bummer. He does also say this:

You don’t need to take action to stop drinking… all you have to do is sit. 

In 100 percent of the documented cases of alcoholism worldwide, the people who recovered all shared one thing in common, no matter how they did it:

They just didn’t do it.

I’m putting it out there to the Universe that I hope the new bliss of being alcohol free doesn’t wait too long to pay a visit. Please, oh, please, Universe? Bring mama some big goodness.

Because, maybe it goes without saying (seeing as I have this annoying alcohol habit), but I’ve never been very good at delaying pleasure for the promise of better things to come. This is really an exercise in faith — mostly in the blogosphere and all of those who have come before me who say there are amazing things to come. This will pay off. It will be worth it. Just hold on.

Tonight I’m putting what’s left of my hope and strength in the plate and passing it around. I’m sure it will be full again when tomorrow comes.

Day 5. (again) Rachel.