Watch out for the Boomerang

boomerang air directionI got home tonight from my business trip. Wasn’t here 30 minutes when an intense wave of fatigue washed over me, followed immediately by agitation and a powerful desire to head to the corner store, get a bottle of wine and drink my way to oblivion.

What the hell. So much for my few days of POWERING through the business trip, fending off alcohol at every turn. I’ve heard about watching out for these boomerangs: You make it through a really tough time and feel all proud of yourself and let down your guard and – BAM!! – the desire to drink drops on your head like a ton of bricks.

The voices in my head were LOUD, questioning my decision to quit drinking, pleading for that relief. Badgering me, taunting me.

BUT. Don’t worry. I didn’t cave.

I’m learning.

S.H.A.L.T. Oh hell yes. (I’ve modified AA’s H.A.L.T. and made my own…)

I tell myself: Thou SHALT not drink when feeling SAD. HUNGRY. ANGRY/AGITATED. LONELY or TIRED.

I knew I was feeling tired. Very tired. But inexplicably, I was feeling agitated and a bit lonely/sad too. So, instead of letting myself jump into the wine-filled rabbit hole, I went into self-care overdrive:

  • I turned off the TV because it was only making me more agitated and not helping me unwind.
  • I told myself: Not Today. 
  • I listened to Belle’s “Sober Jumpstart” audio lesson about “Pre-lapse/Relapse” — twice. She said some good stuff about how my WORST sober day is still WAY better than my best drunk day. Aaaand how DAY ONEs suck ASS. (Well, she said “rocks,” but I’ll say ASS. ‘Cause they do suck ASS.)
  • I walked to the store in the pouring rain with my dog, Bub, to buy tea — I ran out — so I could have a cozy, early night in bed. I got soaked and it was kind of nice. Cozy, even.
  • I bought myself a chocolate truffle because I have NOT been giving myself enough sober treats lately. I also found some new low-cal NA flavored soda that look really good. One is grapefruit and the other is cucumber. I’ll try those tomorrow.
  • I took a shower, washed my face and applied a facial mask; brushed my teeth. 🙂
  • I turned on my heating blanket and now I’m in bed, getting ready for an early night to sleep. And I mean it. I need to sleep.

I wasn’t going to write tonight but I’m really trying to use all my tools, especially when it gets tough. Trying to keep asking for support, even when I don’t want to make the effort. I’m willing to listen to the lessons of others, and this is what I’m told to do SO I’M DOING IT.

Belle also said, “Don’t listen to the voice in your head.” Yeah, that fucking voice asking me if I really needed to quit. If I could do moderation. If I can go 9 or 10 days and have a drink only on special occasions, wouldn’t that be good? Wouldn’t it?

Uh, no. It wouldn’t. Today in the airport, after I sat with my co-workers in the bar while they had a round of drinks before getting on the plane (in retrospect, maybe I should have stayed at the gate), I found the voice VERY loud and getting louder. So I played it out. What would happen if I had a glass of wine at the airport? That’s easy. I would have then had to order at least one, probably two more glasses on the plane. I’d take a cab home, and walk straight to the store with my dog and buy a bottle, and drink too much of it, then be sick tomorrow and feel like shit. And regretful. And pissed and like a failure.

But it doesn’t have to even be this particular scenario to be useful. I’ve already proven to myself that moderation just does NOT work for me. Wine becomes all I think about. Wine-o-clock becomes all I look forward to. Nothing was getting done in my life and it was getting worse. Two bottles a day on the weekends instead of one-and-a-half. One-and-a-half bottles a night on the weekdays instead of one. Even on nights when I rowed. I’d head to the store after practice and pick up a bottle. I’d START a bottle on a weeknight at 8:30pm and still manage to finish it in front of the TV before bed.

Ah, what a picture-perfect life, no?

I was starting to look like a drunk — puffy and flabby — because of course, I was exercising less and less. And I am a fairly athletic person. This is not OK.

I was bailing on friends more and more often because I either wanted to drink by myself or I had already started and couldn’t show up. And when I did show up, we almost always had to drink. Breakfast? Bloody Marys! Lunch? That’s easy, wine! Happy hour? Always! Live music? I regret how many amazing shows I’ve seen that are a blur because I’d already drunk so much wine before the show that I could barely focus.

I was anxious. I was sad. I was worried about my future and about money, yet I was spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars A MONTH in wine. I cringe to think of it.


Alrighteee…. I didn’t intend for this to be a rundown of all the reasons that IT’S TOTAL BULLSHIT that the voice in my head is questioning my decision. I guess I needed to write it down, again. Here. For myself and with you as my witness.

Watch out for that freakin’ boomerang, is all I’m saying, and DON’T LISTEN TO THE WINE GOBLIN’S VOICE IN YOUR HEAD. That’s the addiction talking. That’s a lifetime of programming talking. It is changing for me, it’s just a jig-jag path of progress.

One more thing: Thinking about Bradley Cooper as a sober guy having an amazing life really helps me for some reason. Isn’t that weird? BRADLEY COOPER? Haha! I don’t know why it does, but it does. Maybe it’s because he’s HOT. lol.

Oh, Bradley, if only you knew. 😉

Headed to bed. Today I did not drink. Here’s to tomorrow being a brand new day of JOY and a happy sober me. I really don’t want to be white-knuckling this. Tomorrow is Day 10 again. I have a ways to go before the voices quiet, I know, but I’ll just try to be present in today. Learning.

xo Rachel. Day 9, Bitches! PHEW!



Staying in the NOW (and counting all the money)

Day 2 and I’m really tired. Didn’t sleep enough last night, which I know is a no no if I want to protect my sobriety. Rule #1: Get enough sleep.

So today was another too busy day at work and I came home really tired, but actually feeling strong about not drinking. Hungry, but not craving wine.

But oh, it wouldn’t be that easy… About every 20 or 30 minutes now, a thought floats through my mind — completely on its own, without my active participation — that it would be so nice to have a glass of wine right now. It’s like there are two competing Rachel brains: the tired, but contented me who keeps looking at the clock to see if it’s too early to head to bed yet, and the Rachel brain who is still possessed by the red wine. Pssssss….hey…..Rachel….hey! Hi, yeah….listen….just walk to the corner store and get a bottle like you always do. Sooooooth yourseeeelf…c’mon just do it….

Dayum, that’s wild. Thank goodness I’ve been reading so many amazing sobriety blogs which have convinced me that this is normal and will pass. I’ll sit with it and breathe. It will pass and I know it’s bullshit anyway. I’m just really tired. Wine may seem like it’s soothing, but it’s not. It’s all a facade. It ends up stealing my self-confidence, my power, my energy. It’s systematically taking my beauty, my time and my money.

My money. I just did the math — a worthwhile exercise for anyone who hasn’t actually done this. Maybe I’m just late to the party, but I’ve never seriously taken a look at how much I spend on alcohol. I mean, I’ve done it in small doses, like Oh, I quit drinking for 3 days and look I saved $60. Damn!

That’s not nothing, but that’s not THIS.

For the last few years I’ve been drinking a bottle of wine every day. (Yeah, I know. That’s not cool.) And often more on the weekends. Often much more.

But for the sake of easy math, let’s call it a bottle a day, at about $20 a day (including tax). That’s not a super cheap bottle, but it’s about what I’ve been spending. Sometimes more, sometimes less. In one year I’ve spent at LEAST $7,300. And that’s a conservative estimate. It’s not counting going out, or special occasions and “special” bottles, or the weekends when I drank two bottles a day BECAUSE SATURDAY, or weekends away with friends when I made sure I had plenty of wine to stay well lubricated all weekend. And that’s definitely not counting all the times I was well on my way to too buzzed and I raised the paddle or shopped online or committed to expensive trips across the country. Yeah, the wine alone is pretty easily more like $7,500. Or $8,000. The rest, a lot more.

And seriously? Holy shit. Why have I not done this exercise before? (Okay, I know why.)

That’s a really nice trip to South Africa. Or Cuba. Or freaking Antarctica on a luxury cruise ship to see the penguins. That’s a nice chunk of change in my 401K (which I’m sorely behind on). That’s an amazing wardrobe refresh which I am long overdue for — and would probably look better on me after I lose that layer of wine club chub. That’s giving $1,000 to eight of my favorite charities and feeling awesome about it.

So, all I have to say to the boozy old Rachel brain, the boozy echoes of days/months/years past is: I QUIT YOU. So leave me the hell alone, please.

I’m asking nicely.

Day 2 feels like week two, but that’s partly because for the last couple of months I have been trying hard to quit for good and doing better and better at it. Lots of days off, punctuated by days of too many bottles in between. I’ve been going at this for a while. It’s a process.

But I think this is it this time. In 3-1/2 hours it will officially be Day 3 and I’ll be fast asleep. My first big goal is 30 days — December 8 — and seeing as I’ve never gone more than 9 days in a row, this is quite a goal.

But feeling good right NOW. Nighty night.