14:29 Gosh I love this blog. I have two other active blogs but it’s this one at which I always feel the most free. That’s because nobody knows who I am (or perhaps very few people do), nor, it feels, do they know how they can count on me to be, other than, hopefully, sober. ;))
Not that I’m anybody special. Or maybe it’s *because* I’m “nobody special” that I don’t want to be known? “Nobody special” in quotes of course, since we all know each of us is special. Special special special. Lol.
But anyway, regardless of how few people know me, I can be a bit of a slave to perceived expectations at times. Even just to my husband’s expectations, or to my parents’, or my friends’, or whose-ever. Which can be either limiting or freeing, depending on the situation. Here, it’s freeing.
I gain energy from being sober another day. Perhaps partly because I now associate sobriety with *writing* about sobriety. I love writing, and sobriety is something that feels good to write about. That’s because I *know* sobriety is a positive thing, regardless of the ridiculous stigma placed upon it by a culture that has been completely brainwashed by the less ethical among the money-making media machines. There is just no doubt in my mind about that — that sobriety (without resentment or judgement toward those who drink) is a positive, beautiful, peace-making thing. That’s why it’s been so easy for me, this time around. I am convinced.
I feel giddy with happiness today. And it wasn’t even because I’m on Day 40. I’d forgotten it was day 40 until I thought about making a post for this blog this morning (but didn’t, since I ended up doing other stuff instead — though I’m pleased to say I did do my exercises and walk with the kids this morning and got them to school on time and vacuumed the crumb-laden floor and all that good mundane sort of stuff that makes the world keep going ’round).
I feel giddy with happiness because I got around to writing the start of a book, finally, this weekend, thanks to the wonderfulness of my husband looking after the kiddos. Which they were super happy about, because they adore him. And because he makes amazing meals.
I didn’t write nearly as much as I’d wanted to or should have, and who knows where it will go or end up, but I started the “pre-writing” for it, i.e. getting past the inner critic.
I’ve never written a book before. I’ve done NaNoWriMo but still all I managed to crank out was 50K more words, i.e. daily writing. Not a book.
Anyhoo, I had posted this shite (i.e. what was meant to be the private pre-writing) on a whim over on another blog, which has a nearly-nonexistent readership (like, maybe one view per day or something — bless that one person!) and then I had gone and done more useful things — hanging out with the kids, hubster, and finally, dealing with some beautiful messes I’d kind of created in the last few months in my part-time drinking fog and subsequently left completely muddled. I seriously dealt with those messes! I’m talking composed/redacted weeks-old email drafts that needed to be written and sent and whatnots!!! Which actually involved making decisions!!!!
Making decisions, by the way, was never my strong suit. But no, that’s not 100% true. Well, I was always a bit of a people-pleasing child, which does make decision-making more difficult. (My new motto, on the other hand, is “please yourself and you will please the world.”) But I think it became especially difficult to make decisions when I added imbibing alcohol as one of my main associative life activities. You know, way back when I was 13. And this morning I read a bit more about why that increased trouble making decisions might have been…
“The final change in your brain occurs within your prefrontal cortex. This is the part of your brain responsible for decision-making. It allows you to make well-thought-out decisions, exhibit self-control, and prevent the more reptilian parts of your brain from running the show. Alcohol damages your prefrontal cortex, resulting in a decreased capacity to make good decisions.”
—Grace, Annie. This Naked Mind (p. 154). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.
I’m really grateful to the above-quoted book.
Reading it started out as a bit of a chore, for me, to be honest, since a lot of the topics (e.g. blowing down conscious or subconscious assumptions that alcohol gives us courage, that it relieves stress, that it helps us have better sex, that it is required for a sense of cultural belonging, etc. — all of which are ultimately, in the big scheme of things, not true) were “liminal points” that I had already gradually straddled or negated in my own mind, through private journal writing. (Private journal writing, by the way, was what helped me learn how to think for myself, and decide things once again.)
But this morning I was reading the chapter called “Defining Addiction: Part 2” and I was blown away by the science — i.e. the brain chemistry involved in addiction. To be honest it was a really tough read for me. I mean I had to keep re-reading paragraphs over and over again so I could feel that I had really (well somewhat) gotten it. This chapter is highlighted in like four different colours because I like to highlight as I go along and man, I could not stop highlighting!
Basically, alcohol really does damage our brains. It chemically increases cravings (through releasing excess dopamine, previously thought to be the cause of pleasure but now known to be the cause of cravings, NOT pleasure), damages our ability to experience happiness (by stimulating the release of dynorphin, a natural pain-killer or sensory-dulling agent, to counteract the excess dopamine), and it confounds our ability to make decisions (by damaging NMDA receptors in the pre-frontal cortex) — thereby perfectly closing the cycle of addiction.
“As we’ve learned, it’s difficult to control how much you drink because, over time, drinking will actually alter your brain. You have no way of knowing when that change will happen or to what degree. And just as dieting makes food more attractive psychologically, trying to control your intake increases temptation. The good news is that by overcoming the mental desire to drink, you can more easily resist the physical craving. When you stop drinking, your brain will stop compensating and repair itself. You can again find pleasure in simply living—as you could before you ever started drinking.”
— Grace, Annie. This Naked Mind (pp. 154-155). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.
So this must be what had happened to me, 40 days ago. I had overcome the mental desire to drink. I guess I’d tested it just *that* often enough, in *that* many ways. And I suppose I was lucky, because I was not heavily physically dependant. Of note:
…nicotine acts quickly. In an hour it has left your body, so the craving for a cigarette happens almost immediately. This leads to chain smoking and panic when a smoker doesn’t have cigarettes. Alcohol, however, takes between 72 and 240 hours to leave your body. It can take up to ten days to recover from the lows of drinking.
—Grace, Annie. This Naked Mind (p. 149). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.
I’m so far 63% through the book. I’m absolutely awful about finishing books, but I’m trying to change that. The way I do it now is the same as for exercise: I set a daily reminder on my phone. “Yoga.” “Calisthenics.” “Walk/run.” “Write 1000 words.” “Read 10 pages [of a book, not only blogs].” And each day I want to make those notifications banners go away. So I do them. (Good old stimulus-response working in my favour. :)) Anyway, I can now recommend this book very highly. At first I was annoyed about the “markety” feel to the book, i.e. the author keeps promoting “This Naked Mind” as a brand, in general, which I suppose extends beyond the book in terms of perhaps community and merchandise, but I feel okay with that in return for how much value this book provides to the library of sober literature in general. I personally LOVED the AA Big Book, but that’s because I don’t mind swapping out old-fashioned, male-Christian-oriented language for whatever suits me, in my imagination, especially when a book is just so well-written, and non-profit, and contains so many personal, real-life stories; just as I don’t mind glossing over the “markety” aspects of Annie Grace’s book in exchange for all it offers. She comes across as deeply honest and forthright, the book not only discloses her history in the advertising world but uses it to convey insights into the industry, and that’s good enough for me. More than good enough. This book provides an alternative to the spiritual/12-step model of healing from addiction, for those folks who just want plain logic and science, outlined in a colloquial yet very well-referenced kind of way.
Personally, I’m okay with any model of healing from addiction, so long as it does more good in the world than bad. As with everything, we can take what works and leave the rest.
But wait! I totally digressed! I meant to tell what I was so happy about.
What I was so happy about was that I took care of, or rather started taking care of, so many of those muddles I’d gotten myself into, when my brain was fogged by occasional drinking sessions, and this afternoon I was wonderfully rewarded for that by one of the marvellous people at the other end of those muddlings. She happened to see my strange book pre-writings on my other blog and offered the most helpful and enlivening and joy-making and worthwhile-making response, to the strangest part of it. Thus turning my doubts into rainbows, at least for this pink-cloudy day. (And just so happens I’m taking it one day at a time. :))
The world is a kind and generous place, with kind and generous individuals in it, when you learn to get around and do your part, with a clear and tidy-upping and helpful and generous kind of head. Gosh do I ever love sobriety! It seriously rocks!!!! And thank you fellow sobriety bloggers and readers and hopefuls, for rocking it here with me!!!!
p.s. If you are still stopping and starting, stopping and starting, all I can say is don’t stop starting. One day it will click. It really will!!!! It took me 2/3 of my life to get to this point!!! And try a few (more?) books! Books are good!!!! Here is a link to the one quoted above:
and don’t forget to forget about capitals, sometimes. and to add a few more exclamation marks. all those things are good, too. oh yeah and write 1000 words. က🧘🏼♂️
me with the Tree.
p.p.s. sorry for the ads! I don’t condone nor condemn those products, nor do I benefit financially from the ads!!! WordPress is going nuts on them because I still haven’t bought into their paid plan!!! but thanks for the free blog, WordPress!!!
Yes I’m on the pink cloud today. In a really good way. Pink clouds, if we manage our self-expectations within them, can really be okay. :)) 🌸