Check, check, checking in

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Hi there,

So much has been going on — crazy time at work, still spending three days a week in my women’s intensive program and just trying to get enough sleep — that it’s been 21 days since my last check in.

I just wanted to say All Is Well. 🙂 I’ve been working too much, but this should be the last week before it gets somewhat back to normal, and as PERFECT TIMING would have it, I “graduated” from my intensive class on Saturday, and this coming Thursday I will be headed to a yoga retreat with “Recovery” as a theme. One doesn’t have to be sober to attend (although there will be no alcohol), but the focus is about finding oneself from a place of being lost. And I’ll get to meet Laura McKowen and Meadow DeVor, which I’m pretty excited about.

I can’t wait. Thursday eve to Sunday morn. I’ll miss my Bub, but he’ll be in good hands.

And so will I.

Day 81.

xo Rachel

I miss you. Goodbye.

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Yesterday was eight weeks without alcohol and I feel alright. Not spectacular, but alright.

Something’s been nagging at me for a while, and that something is a man. He hasn’t been nagging me on purpose, but it’s the thought of him and the last time we were together that has been tightening its grip a bit. Scratching at me like the tag on the back of my t-shirt, suddenly driving me ape shit and forcing me to pay attention.

The last time we were together just over eight weeks ago. He came over to my apartment and noticed the calendar on the wall that counted off the days in big pink numbers, 1, 2, 3…all the way to 19, before starting over again. 1,2,1,1,1 2,1… When he arrived at my apartment at midnight, I had already drunk a bottle of wine. I’m sure he could barely tell — a bottle of wine over the course of a few hours would have hardly been noticeable on me then — and he’d had a few beers of his own, I think.

We didn’t sleep together, if that’s where you think this is going, but we talked a lot and laughed a lot, and I fed him a late dinner, and after he ate that bowl of pasta he moved over to sit next to me and hold my hand.

He’s wicked smart — well-known for how smart he is, in fact — and he laughed especially hard once when he made an obscure reference I understood. He said he loved it that I got it and he didn’t have to explain. I loved it that he loved it.  That he appreciated me that way. And I loved that he was holding my hand.

We’ve known each other more than 20 years and we’ve both been through a couple of marriages in that time. We’ve both been through plenty of brutal heartache. We’ve hooked up a few times over the years, but only now are we really both single at the same time.

But single isn’t the same thing as available.

I’ve been focused on me. I’ve been consumed by quitting drinking and staying quit. And as anyone who has been through this process knows, in the early days it takes pretty much every bit of extra energy one has. Extra energy, which includes all the energy it also takes from one’s work, social life, mental capacity, diet… all of it. Quitting drinking is so much harder than anyone thinks it’s going to be, and it’s all-consuming for a good while.

He’s focused on him. He’s going through a messy, contemptuous divorce with a woman who keeps saying she’s changed her mind. He’s having to sell his house and parent his kids and work through his own massive life transition, which leaves him racked more days that not.

And, he wonders if we have known each other too long. If what he really needs is a fresh start. Despite the fact that he says he trusts me like he trusts very few people, he wonders.

So. I’ve stayed away.

I made a promise to myself after my last really big relationship blew up in a spectacular fireball of hell that I would never again invest myself emotionally in someone who can’t meet me in an equal place. Who is ambivalent. Who isn’t emotionally available. I promised. And I know it was the right promise to make.

And in the more than two months since last seeing him, he hasn’t reached out. He hasn’t inquired. He hasn’t asked about how I’m doing or tried to connect. He has a lot going on, but that’s no excuse. We all know that. I know that.

And so I’ve stayed away…until today. It felt like it was time to get my answer (because sometimes I need to force my own hand and kill any sprouts of hope I might be harboring by taking a machete to the ambiguity) and I finally decided to reach out to him. I would give him the opening he didn’t actually need. I would say hello.

I got my answer. He promptly responded and nicely answered my questions but still didn’t ask about me. He didn’t inquire. He didn’t keep the conversation going. He didn’t wonder.

And tonight I want to drink. I’m not going to drink, but I want to. I guzzled a couple of fizzy drinks and stuffed my belly with enough food to give me that full feeling that would slow down my drinker’s voice. I breathed and said out loud

Ouch. This hurts. I need to feel my feelings but this fucking hurts. I hurt. 

I’m not going to drink about it, but I want to. And I’m excruciatingly clear why: I want to squish these feelings and at the same time I want to feel loved. Desired. Worthy. I want to blot out this pain and sadness, and at the same time I want to feel held and comforted and included. I want to forget, and leave for a while, and fucking let go and not care. And I want to feel deeply and care with all my heart. I want to feel so much.

I know alcohol only makes it worse. All of it. I know it does’t fix anything. And I believe I won’t move forward if I drink. I won’t heal. I know.

So.

Fuck.

I’m feeling my fucking feelings. I’m going to go for a walk with Bub and then I’m going to get in bed early and read. And sleep. And I’m going to pray and hope the Universe has big plans for me. HUGE FUCKING PLANS. And those HUGE plans include bringing my partner to me. Someone who will do all the things this guy isn’t doing and then some. Someone who wants me and more importantly, deserves me. Someone who is my champion and makes me feel like I’m amazing when I’m with him — because I am.

I know, I know, I’m supposed to fill up my own damn hole, but goddammit, tonight I just want to be loved, and desired, and held. And that’s okay.

Tonight I will let myself feel this shit and mourn the hope I had that this rare amazing man and I might try something new and cool. That we might be just what the other needs and we were there all along. That it would be a new season for us.

I will mourn that and accept that it isn’t going to happen.

My coach might advise me to ask myself and the Universe, So, who else? Who else is out there?

So, yeah, okay, I’ll try that, but not tonight. Tonight I will hurt and miss him. And tonight I will let him go.

Rachel. Day 57.

 

NA beer and internalizing being a non-drinker takes time

After my whiny whiny post on Jan 1, it got me wondering why I was having so much a sense of loss of fun. Pleasure. I really didn’t think I was feeling deprived — I mean, I’ve intellectualized the fact that it’s “poison,” all the harm it has caused in my life, and all I’m not getting done because I spent the bulk of every day when I wasn’t at work, drinking.

Maybe this was a normal part of the evolution? Maybe I just needed an attitude adjustment? Take a look around and be grateful for all the amazing things in my life? Maybe.

But I’ve really been starting to wonder if the AF beer I’ve been drinking from time-to-time has been causing this nagging flatness, or at least making it worse than it might have been. That maybe, the AF beer has been a low-grade trigger I didn’t realize.

I’m sure there are lots of articles on this — to drink AF drinks or not to drink them — and I hear that AA is so against AF beer that it considers drinking it a lapse. (If that’s true, another strike against me attending AA… Because, c’mon…) But this article was interesting about a test on rats that showed that even the smell of alcohol was a trigger for them. I wasn’t much of a beer drinker before, but I can understand it intuitively. It really does smell and taste like beer. You just don’t git no buzz on.

But better than that one, this article really articulates how I feel about not drinking now, and how the “slips” over the last several months since I really (seriously) started quitting back in August, have contributed to killing what she calls the “scratchy curiosity” of whether or not I can or want to drink ever again. (Yes! THAT I relate to!) She accidentally drank an AF beer that had .5% alcohol, and she says she felt a bit drunk from it. But instead of experiencing a pleasing euphoria, she felt an unpleasant “mechanical and empty” buzz, which she couldn’t wait to wear off. That was my experience exactly, not with the AF beer (mine is 0.0% alcohol), but with the wine in the last few months. And for me, not only was there no euphoria, but it didn’t even taste good anymore.

“After my Schneider Weisse experience, I was completely surprised by my reaction, or lack thereof. Maybe it was a lucky break; maybe I’ve simply lost the ability to get buzzed off alcohol. In any case, this experience added more to my toolset than probably anything thus far. My two slips (once at two months, another at six months) helped me to fully commit to abstinence, for instance, while this near-beer episode gave me an incentive to drink that goes beyond craving, triggers, and self-talk/Higher Power: I don’t drink because it doesn’t make me feel good. I can’t drink, not because I’m afraid of losing control, but because it doesn’t work. I choose to not drink because I know I don’t want to,instead of, I can’t drink even though I want to.

I am not saying that experimenting is safe, or advisable. Know thyself. Be mindful. Many drunks—myself included—find that abstinence is the only way to heal. I drank that small beer feeling strong and happy in my skin. Every time I drank in the past five years, however, I drank when I was feeling down; I drank to numb, to mask depression and anxiety. Now that I know it doesn’t work—when I’m feeling up, at least—I’m more firmly committed to finding another way to deal.

I am also not saying I’d go out and try this again. I know all too well the thoughts that lead to the “fuck it” mentality—the rationalizations that go from one-sip-here to two-bottles-a-night-there. It’s a slippery slope.

What I am saying is that I appreciate having taken a calculated risk—even if it was accidental. I appreciate knowing more about how my mind is working these days in response to alcohol. I appreciate not having to live within this scratchy curiosity. In fact, I appreciate not having to live in fear.

I used to think the whole point of getting sober was to be able to drink “normally” again. These days, I’ve come to believe the point of getting sober is to not want to drink—in essence, to thrive without alcohol, and not just find workarounds. For me, this is what sober living is about, and I think my near-beer accident might have been the best “mistake” I ever made.”

— Jenny Oliver

My “slips” in the last several months have been completely necessary for the larger question and answer for me, which is being sober on purpose, as a choice, and alternative to feeling shitty. And as an alternative to not reaching my full potential in so so many ways.

And I know for a fact that alcohol was keeping me down. Still, killing that “scratchy curiosity” of whether I could still get a euphoric pleasure from wine was a critical step in the process.

I’ll probably still feel a bit awkward for a while on dates, or with friends when they are all drinking. (I was recently on a date and told him I was doing a “100-day challenge” and it started to get awkward before I managed to change the subject. I’m going to try a different tack next time, saying it impacts my sleep and makes me feel lousy. ‘Maybe I’m just getting old,’ yuck yuck… and see if that works better. I suspect it will.)

And there may be rough patches in the future when I lose the plot again and wonder why I’m not drinking like everyone else. The wine goblin (addiction) is insidious, and I understand he’ll never ever be completely gone. That’s when I’ll really need to lean more on my tools and supports, my community, and remember why I chose to drop alcohol from my life.

But it’s already getting better. Getting easier dealing in those situations. I really do feel like I’ve turned a corner, and just like I don’t eat meat and a date eating meat isn’t going to make me suddenly cave to eating a big steak, the same will go for alcohol. If my friends or my date don’t like the fact that I basically have an allergic reaction to alcohol so I avoid it (“it makes me feel bad, messes with my sleep” etc.), then that’s on them, not me.

And all the free time I have to read books and walk in the sun with Bub is so amazing. Why would I regret that? Certainly it’s worth figuring out what to do with my hands at an occasional dinner.

I’m starting Brene Brown’s Courage Works semester tomorrow. It’s all part of the journey I’m on to be the best me I can be. I’m excited to start.

Day 42  – technically, but I really started not drinking for bigger and bigger gaps of time sometime in August. I’d like credit for those too, thank you. 🙂 All a necessary part of getting me to this place.

Happy sober Sunday, everyone!

xo Rachel.

 

Present for the last Sunday of 2015

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

It’s a gray and rainy Sunday in the Pacific Northwest, USA, and four weeks since my last drink. I do feel better – overall – even if there are moments when I want to put a fork in my eye for the boredom. Even if I am still craving euphoria, or any level of dopamine release into my body, and there is some part of my brain that still thinks it can conjure that with a glass of wine.

I’m coming to the conclusion (thanks in no small part to my fellow sober bloggers) that I will have to take my pleasure in smaller doses. Find it in new ways. And it may suck sometimes (that’s life), but it will be worth it.

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My New Year’s Challenge for myself: When bored, DO something. Appreciate the time (so much time). Take a moment to PAUSE, look around and observe at least one thing beautiful about your life. Go erg and get some adrenaline going (and remember a smaller pant size feels awesome and makes you very happy). Sit still and look out the window at the gorgeous view. Do a short meditation and breathe. Look at your list of projects and start just a small part of one (no need to commit to huge projects, just a little bit). Buy yourself a sober treat and savor it. Think about Bradley Cooper (but not in a creepy stalker way). 🙂 And if all else fails, it’s totally fine to re-watch any of the Jane Austen movies or Netflix series that you’ve already watched and loved while coloring in one of your beautiful new coloring books. Completely fine.

On this drizzly Sunday morning, I choose to be present, focus on my one wild and precious life, pack up the mini Christmas tree, and take a long walk in the rain with my dog. There is much beauty in this day and I’ll do my best to pay attention to it.

Rachel.

Day 28.

New milestones, new breakthroughs

Just checking in to say it’s been several days since I’ve written, but no worries: I’M STILL SOBER.

Today I passed a new milestone: 14 days. Officially 2 weeks.

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Baby Giraffe

Man, it seems like a whole LOT longer than that, since I’ve really been AF for most of the last 3 months, but 14 days is still 14 days — and the longest I’ve ever gone without a drink. On the one hand it seems like nothing (especially when I think about it in the context of so many of you who have so many more days/months/years under your belts), and on the other hand it’s bizarre to me that it has been two weeks since I’ve had any alcohol.

To be perfectly honest, it seems like much, much longer. I guess this is the double-edged sword of having a terrible memory: I am already forgetting what life was like for me just a short while ago when I came home every single night from work (and was starting earlier and earlier on the weekends) and drank bottles of red wine. One of the biggest contrasts is how much money I was spending on wine. Holy shit. A lot.

Friday was tough for about 15 minutes. Fridays were always such a huge drinking day. I had about 15 minutes of wanting that “release,” but this time, I have more tools and I’m using them. I used tools like AF beer which oddly hits the spot sometimes, then dinner in front of the TV (I know, terrible, but I’m letting myself), and the urge passed pretty quickly. I was just glad to be home with my dog after a long week and I give myself a LOT of leeway right now when it comes to doing stuff that just feels good and passes the time.

Saturday I predicted it to be tougher. Saturdays have been my drinking/relapse days historically. But it really wasn’t too bad. Yeah, I went on a long walk with my dog, and watched a movie, then had a long nap, and then WENT to a movie at the theater, and bought some adult coloring books and came home and colored a while, then read, then slept. Really, I did very little productive, but that’s OK.

I didn’t drink. 

Then today, Sunday. This morning I had to take my phone to the Genius Bar because I was a GENIUS and threw it on the ground and broke the screen. I waited next door at THE RAM, a sports bar, because I really wanted a greasy breakfast. It never even occurred to me that it might be a risky scene, and it wasn’t at all. I even ordered a virgin bloody mary to drink with my egg scramble and it was great. No problemo. It was actually kind of weird to look around the room at 10:30 in the morning and see most of the room drinking beers and other drinks at 10:30 in the morning while we watched the Seahawks football game. I’m especially shocked that I didn’t feel the urge to drink because I’ve been fighting a cold all weekend and historically I would DRINK when I felt sick. Always. Because drinking at 9 in the morning on a Sunday made me feel better, right?

Oh me oh my.

In fact, I’m going to add that to my AA rip-off: SHALT. Rachel, thou SHALT not drink when feeling Sad/Sick, Hungry, Angry/Agitated, Lonely or Tired. 

It wasn’t until later that I actually had the strongest urges of the weekend. Nordstrom has a really great new cafe/bar and I went to return some jeans and try to find new ones, which is always stressful. I hate shopping. I said to myself outloud, “beware of overwhelm,” because I was beginning to feel overwhelmed and I really wanted to head to that bar and have a drink, just like my best friend and I have done more than once. So, I got my butt out of there and headed home. I exercised for a while in the gym in my building and then I ate dinner and binged on a bit of Netflix while I colored pretty holiday images. Time sure flies when you’re doing two completely unproductive things simultaneously.

Anyway, it’s time for bed now and I spent the entire weekend alone with my dog entertaining myself, but it was a lot easier than it has been in the past. Sure, it’s only 14 days, but it was a good weekend, and that counts for a lot. I made sure I had lots of sleep and sober treats, and didn’t let myself get overwhelmed, and I did a lot of mindful things like coloring and reading. Yeah, I’m a ton of fun. 🙂

As I get more space on my last drink, I find myself having to go over in my mind all of the reasons why I quit and why I am choosing an alcohol-free life. Why it is better. Why it will get even better in the long run. Repeat, repeat. I know that’s a combination of the natural tendency we have to forget horrible things as time passes AND the wine goblin trying to get in my head and tell me Aw, it wasn’t so bad. You can drink again after you take a break and prove to yourself you can. 

Sure, I could try that. But I’m pretty sure that’s all bullshit and I’d end up right back where I started in a very short period of time. I just want to be free of the control wine/alcohol has had over me for so many years. And I want to be free of SO MUCH STUPID SHIT I’VE SAID AND DONE when I’d been drinking.

Blech.

I would also like to make an appeal to the sober gods to PLEASE take a few pounds off in the middle of the night and THAT would make it all even BETTER. 🙂 I’ve started making a more concerted effort now to eat better and exercise more again, so that should help. In the past, it would NOT have been unusual for me to drink five bottles of wine in a weekend, not to mention the bottle every night, so those calories have to be going somewhere! Right? WTF?? I haven’t been eating THAT much mac-n-cheese and ice cream. Really!

And soon, very soon, I’m going to start doing a lot more hard thinking about what I want to accomplish in my life with all this spare time. And lack of anxiety. And clarity. It isn’t going to be Olympic-level, competitive coloring, that’s for sure.

This is a good 2016 conversation to have with myself (and maybe my life coach).

Anyway, tonight I’m feeling quiet and a little dull (read: boring), but that’s a hell of a lot better than being drunk on a Sunday night. There’s time to build some excitement back into my life again, and in the meantime, I’m going to protect my little baby giraffe sobriety until she is walking a lot more sturdy on her wobbly little legs.

Have a great week, y’all.

xo Rachel.

Day 14.

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.

Oh yeah, AND IT’S POISON.

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!

We-Can-Do-It-Rosie-the-Riveter-Wallpaper-2

 

Dinner with Bradley Cooper

It’s a glorious, beautiful day today. Not a cloud in the bright sky, the ferries glide back and forth across the Sound, and tug boats and cargo ships move gently under the morning sun. No one hurries.

I feel so much better today, and resolute to find new ways to cope with the alcohol cravings when they come. I see now that drinking really was my “best friend,” a destructive, deeply emotional habit that I’ve used as a crutch for many, many years. I guess (despite what Allen Carr, Jason Vale and others might hope) I can’t expect it to be gone overnight.

Holidays are tricky times for a lot of people, drinking or not, and Facebook has only exacerbated that. I know myself well enough to know that if I’m feeling like I’m in a fragile place, I either don’t get on Facebook, or I give myself ONE post from someone else that makes me feel bad/sad/bothered, and I shut it down. I try to stay off altogether on holidays, because that one power-packed post often comes quickly. Holidays are funny that way.

As I’ve said, I’m single, and my biggest fear, above all others by an order of magnitude, is dating and having a romantic relationship, without drinking. Of course rationally I can call that hogwash and know that I can have as much fun and romance without wine (or more) than with it, but there is a huge part of my head and heart that longs for the champagne for two on the balcony looking over the Mediterranean. Sharing a bottle of gorgeous red over a candlelit dinner. Toasting an anniversary or celebration at a table with my love and our best friends. Meeting for a drink on a cold, winter night, snow falling, just the two of us and no one else matters.

It goes without saying but I’ll say it: I’m a hopeless romantic.

I know that all of these things can happen without alcohol, and yes, I’ll actually be fully present for them. (To do: re-read the chapters about this by Allen Carr, Jason Vale and Annie Grace…) But wow, the pull. The fear of rejection. The wish to be loved fully and well, and to paint a romantic picture around all of it that, which has always included wine. Always wine.

I bring up Facebook because last night and today there are so many photos of families giving thanks. So many lovers and loves. So much beauty of love and romance had by so many lucky people who have found each other. Oh sure, I am keenly aware of the Facebook illusion, but sometimes even knowing that, it doesn’t matter. You know? Sometimes I let myself slip into the fantasy of meeting the love of my life and having all of that romance we see on the silver screen and the computer screen — just before there is a surge of fear that my not drinking will somehow cut my possibilities off at the pass. That saying “no thanks, I don’t drink” will suffocate any potential love I might find before it has a chance to grow.

I know it’s not really rational, and those who might have an issue with my not drinking might have their own issues with da booze. But at my age it’s a numbers game and creating more obstacles to finding someone is nerve-wracking. Jaysus, I’m already a pescatarian (nearly vegetarian) with an egg allergy who only drinks decaf coffee. Thank GOD I’m not gluten free. Then I might as well kiss ever having sex again goodbye.

😉

I know that when I’m becoming best person I can be — alcohol free and loving life — that’s when I have the best chance of finding my amazing and incredible life partner.

Now say it ten times fast. Now ten more. 

I can know all of these things in my brain, but it may take some time for my heart to catch up. It will just take some time.

I did a Google search for movie stars who don’t drink. I figured that with their fantastic beauty, dating lives, social calendars, high profiles, etc., if THEY can live their lives alcohol free (and still be fantastically desirable and cool), I sure should be able to too. Some of those I found were addicts who got clean, and some just made life choices to eliminate alcohol from their lives because it wasn’t helping. I keep the list hanging on the cupboard in my kitchen, and when I need a reminder of how many Beautiful People I’m in good company with, it’s right there. Boom.

…and let me just say that if Bradley Cooper or Ben Affleck wanted to meet for dinner or drinks (AF, of course), I’m quite sure we would have a fecking fantastic time without a drop of wine in sight.

Me-ow.

bradley-cooper

Here’s my list. If you have other favorites who inspire you, please let me know!

  • Bradley Cooper
  • Ben Affleck
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Jennifer Hudson
  • Christina Ricci
  • Kristen Davis
  • Macklemore
  • Tom Cruise
  • Eminem
  • Eva Mendez
  • Kim Cattrall
  • Tyra Banks
  • Naomi Campbell
  • Natalie Portman
  • Jada Pinkett Smith
  • Blake Lively
  • Edie Falco
  • Ewen McGregor
  • Rob Lowe
  • Robert Downey Jr.
  • David Beckam
  • James Franco
  • Matthew Perry
  • Katy Perry

I’m going to go ahead and add Jane Goodall to the list, because I’m willing to BET she doesn’t drink and she’s pretty fecking inspiring too.

Deep breath, Rachel. Life is good alcohol-free, and love (when I find it) will be too.

Has it really only been 13 days?

Day 13. Rachel.

 

Boo yeah – Double digits

Bill MurrayI’ve never made it to double digits before. My whole drinking life. It’s been ten days without a drink, and I feel pretty good. My mind feels clear, I realized this morning I didn’t take ANY ibuprofen today (unheard of!), and I do feel a bit more confident than I have in recent months. A bit.

Although I shouldn’t have stepped on the scale this morning. That didn’t help. I’m up a few pounds in the last few weeks. I guess all that mac-n-cheese and chocolate is paying off! :-/  So, while I completely agree that it’s better to be eating than drinking, if I start putting on weight, it’s going to be a problem. I had binge eating disorder in college which I got over, but gaining weight will still be a real mind fuck, and will not help me stay alcohol free. So, today I tried harder to keep the snacking in check. Tomorrow too. I’ll figure out how to stop putting things in my mouth to keep it occupied AND still say no thanks to alcohol. I will.

I also looked really tired today. Like I’ve said, I keep waiting to start looking AMAAAAZING, which would actually be a great boost in motivation, but so far, not so much. Maybe it’s because I’ve gained a little weight? Maybe it’s because my skin is breaking out (hello toxins gushing out of my liver!), I feel like I’m retaining water which isn’t normal for me (despite the gallons of herbal tea I’m drinking), and my dog woke me up a couple of times in the middle of night, so I woke up this morning looking like I’d actually drunk a couple of bottles — without the hangover.

This is not how this is supposed to work.

I’m hanging in there. I did my best with my makeup this morning and then just hid behind a pair of chunky glasses instead of wearing contacts. Issue solved.

Now my next goal is two weeks — this Saturday. Heya, Monster inspired me to set mini-goals and as soon as I nail one, immediately start another one. I’m not always awesome at setting goals and keeping them, but now that I’ve made it to 10 days, I’m going for 2 weeks, then 3 weeks, then 30 days, then… I guess we’ll see! 100 days? Solstice-to-solstice?

Simmer down, simmer down…

First, 2 weeks. Two weeks and go easy on the mac-n-cheese. And get enough sleep. And get more exercise.

At 3:30 today the wine goblin whispered in my ear: mmm, it’s almost the holiday. What a RELEASE you’ll feel with a bottle or two of gorgeous red. That bastard is insidious.

I finished Annie Grace’s book This Naked Mind, Control Alcohol last night, and re-read my favorite (highlighted) parts of The Sober Revolution, Women Calling Time on Wine O’clock, by Sarah Turner and Lucy Rocca too. I bought that book at least a year ago, and re-reading the parts that resonated with me was interesting. They were all the same messages from Annie Grace’s book, as it turns out. I guess I just wasn’t ready to really do it yet.

In order to walk away from booze for good, it is essential that upon reaching this incredibly positive and empowering decision, you recognize that it is a step which will lead you to great things, the beginning of an exciting adventure and a whole new way of life.

– The Sober Revolution

If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that for most people, quitting alcohol is a process, and the HUGEST part is the mental shift. It took me a while to be ready, lots of negotiating with myself about moderation, lots of trials and fall-starts and lessons. Lost of frustration and shame and regret. I really do want an alcohol-free life, but despite it all, the addicted part of my brain is still fighting tooth and nail to change my mind. It will take time and practice to starve that ass hole wine goblin long enough that he finally unclenches from my brain stem. But I know the truth now and he can fuck himself.

And anyway, they say anything worth having doesn’t come easy, right?

Right?

Day 10. Rachel.

Taking care of business

Man, I got a lot done today, and had energy to do more. Was up early, breakfast, showered, laundry, dishes, read, blogged, went to REI for some things I needed (including waterproof socks for rowing!), then to the park for a 3-mile walk in the woods with my dog and a good friend, lunch, then looked up details for a return I need to make, then a (subpar, you-get-what-you-pay-for) pedicure (my toes are VERY red) and dinner (take-out pizza from a place I’ve been saying I need to try for months). Now I’m reading and taking care of some housekeeping, and it’s not quite 6pm. Feeling myself getting sleepy, so I’ll hit the rowing machine (erg) soon, and get ready for some awesome Sunday night TV. Loves me some Madame Secretary and The Good Wife.

I haven’t accomplished that much on a Sunday in I don’t know when.

At the pizza place, a *really* handsome man told me I was very pretty while I was waiting. I sure haven’t felt pretty lately. OK, sure, he was drinking wine and watching the football game which was in the 4th quarter and he’d probably been there since kick-off, but it felt nice anyway. (Is this the other side of regret? Suspicion about the authenticity of what someone tells us when they’ve been drinking?) I’ve been waiting for my skin to start glowing and for people to tell me how FAH-BULOUS I look since I quit drinking. Hehe. Hasn’t happened yet, and somehow I don’t think this counts. Does it? Nah.

It’s interesting to me now when I notice the desire for wine cropping up. Walking home from my pedicure at about 4pm tonight (oh wait, the witching hour), on a beautiful, crisp Sunday evening, the wine goblin whispered, Maybe you could have juuust one? 

Yeah, right. Just one.

Guess I’d better finish that Annie Grace book.

And goddammit, I’m almost to double-digits. I don’t want to start over again. Nine days is the longest I’ve ever gone without alcohol since I started drinking at age 20. That’s tomorrow. Tuesday is 10.

So now, I’m sitting through the mild nagging for a (delicious! ~Signed, Wine Goblin) bottle of wine with my Rooibos tea in hand. Feels like I may be getting to bed early tonight, and that is alright with me.

Day 8. Rachel.

Day 3 Monsters and Angels

- Cheryl Strayed

– Cheryl Strayed

It’s Day 3, and I admit, I left work thinking how nice it would feel tonight to slip away into a bottle of red wine in front of the latest episode of Homeland.

No. No no. Not gonna, I told myself an annoying number of times on my short bike ride home. Gah!  And I had to tell myself No to a mixer that was happening in the lobby of my apartment building. I saw them bringing in the case of red wine bottles and if I hadn’t quit drinking, I would have loved to join them and hop the fast lane to a quick buzz. Doesn’t it sound divine? Cubes of cheese (orange and white!), an assortment of wheaty-seedy crackers and WhoKnowsOrCaresWhat label of red blend in a clear plastic cup.

Who wouldn’t want that?

But I know better. What would really happen. Beyond the cubes and crackers, how it would really go down.

I would be mildly agitated by the (too) short pour the guy with the bottle put into my cup. I would joke, Really? C’mon, fill ‘er up! {ha ha! joking! but really, FILL IT UP! ahhh, there you gooo! Thanks!} I would drink it down in a few minutes and look around for any bottles that were on the table so I could just help myself. Already feeling the release, I would sidle up to the guest of honor and have what I’m sure would be a pleasant and witty conversation. I would be charming and fun {oh yes, I’m SURE, so charming and fun}, and in the next few minutes I would make my way to the bottom of my cup and go find another bottle to fill it up again.

And then I would decide that I didn’t get enough and didn’t want to draw attention to myself, so I would go upstairs, get my keys and my dog, and we’d walk the block to the corner store so I could buy a bottle that I could drink all by myself without any of the hassle of being monitored by strangers. I would sit in front of Homeland and fill my glass over and over until the show was over and the bottle was empty. And then I would think, I drank a bottle again… 

Time for bed.

It probably wouldn’t hit me until morning that I’d actually drunk a bottle and a half or more, when you count the mixer earlier. Or maybe it would. And I’d wait for it to sink in that I’d failed again. Insult added to injury.

**But that didn’t happen tonight.**

I breathed. I walked my dog to the pet store about eight blocks away and picked up a toy for the animal shelter drive at work tomorrow. I promised myself tea and some bubbly water if I could find it at the corner store. And I read the comments of some of the kind bloggers who took time to say some encouraging words today.

Thanks for this, Heya, Monster.

And for this, Untipsyteacher:

Drinking will not help.
Anything.
You are quitting for a reason.
Keep that foremost in your mind!
xo

Day 3 isn’t over yet, but I’m going to spend about 30 minutes in the gym, read another chapter of the novel I bought 3-1/2 years ago but never read because I’ve been drinking myself to sleep every night, and then…

sleep.

Rachel.