07:09 Really glad I didn’t drink last night. My sister likes non-sparkling white, while my old poisons used to be red or sparkling, so that definitely made it easier. At the shops, it was the first time I’d bought that much wine in awhile.
For those who are curious, the way I’d handled it was by sending her an email asking what kind of wines she preferred for the weekend, along with asking whether she had any special food requests. I do this with most guests anyway so it felt fine. I didn’t mention I wasn’t drinking because I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable requesting specific wines.
Lucky for me, there was only one brand of the specific region of wine she requested so all I had to do was buy a case of it (even good wines are cheap here) and I was done. One thing I told myself before doing the shopping was that I wasn’t going to agonize over which wines to choose, which is actually the reason I went to this shop and not the other one. There is less choice at this shop, so I wouldn’t have to find myself “hmming and hawing” over this or that bottle.
I really wanted her to feel okay with drinking as much wine as she wanted. She’s a very contented wine drinker (as I used to be) so that’s no problem for me. One might say this is enabling another drinker, but basically a weekend holiday to France is not the time to hold back if you’re a contented drinker, and certainly not for the sole reason that you don’t want to look bad or what have you. Every newly sober person will have their own feelings about this and what is best for them but this is how it felt for me .
I remember when my kids and I went to that Buddhist retreat, the monastics sent an email with a bunch of guidelines, telling folks that if they are already on medication, to keep taking the medication during the retreat. They are not equipped to deal with the fallout of detox and mental illness, and that’s actually exactly how I currently feel about wine as a kind of self-medicating, when people are visiting my place (mind you, I have very very few visitors these days). If you’re a happy drinker then by all means please keep drinking while you’re here; don’t suddenly stop solely on account of me. Grumpiness, surliness and resentment due to withdrawal symptoms and having your favourite crutch missing from your life is not something I’m equipped to handle for a weekend, at this point in my own sober journey. (Of course, if someone expressed a true and sudden wish to give up alcohol, that would be a different story and of course I would attempt to help with that as best as I could.)
What I don’t understand is how do people drink a bottle and a half of wine in five hours and not lose motor control? I would have been slurring and stumbling. I was just truly glad I wasn’t drinking. It’s been a long journey to get to this state of mind; to be able to over-ride the urges to join in, the urges to taste the bittersweetness, the urges to lose responsibility and drop the inhibitions just a little, to feel “free.” But I truly felt relieved that I was not getting drunk, tipsy, whatever you want to call it. My sister and I got along great for a change.
When I’m drinking I’m not really in control of my emotions so I’m quite reactive; when I’m sober I find I am able to “let things slide” for the greater good, when those things are of little consequence at least.
It’s true that the evening dragged on for me, and I was dying to get to bed (and at midnight, I finally did say that I needed to turn in for the night, something I never did while drinking — i.e. I never knew how to be politely assertive about my needs, even at a reasonable point in the evening), but I also wanted her to enjoy her time here. She was really cool about the fact that I wasn’t drinking. I drank a near-beer and a few cups of herb tea. The last time we saw each other was last summer and I hadn’t been drinking then either, so she knew my reasons.
She mentioned it about four hours in, “you’re not drinking at all! Are you not drinking?” Then she added, very sensitively, I thought, “Sorry, I’m just curious.”
I said, “I haven’t been for the past while. Yeah, I just feel better without it. Sure I used to love the experience of drinking the wine in the moment and all, but I don’t like the side effects.” She said “I hear you. It’s true that it gets worse as we get older too.” (We are close in age so she was referring to herself as well here.) She actually seemed really loving and supportive and I was really, really grateful for that.
The last time I’d seen her and we’d talked about it, I did ask her back then if she’d ever thought I had a problem with alcohol. I was curious as to how others saw me when I was drinking, and I was SURE she would have thought so. But her reaction was immediate, “What? No, never.” She is very blunt and truthful about things like this so I was genuinely surprised. I have had this same reaction from everyone in my inner circle. It used to make things very hard for me to remain true to this course — because I care a lot about what others think (not proud of it but it’s true) — so if others didn’t think I had a problem then it could basically be a free pass. But I have tried and failed at moderating TO MY OWN SATISFACTION many times and I ultimately had to face the fact that even if no-one I knew thought I was alcoholic, even if I myself wasn’t sure if I was truly alcoholic, the fact existed that when I started drinking, I was not able to happily stop after one or two glasses.
Yesterday was such a hard day for me. I had gone off the deep end on my other blog, publishing weird stuff that I later felt not good about (not good about having published, that is; the writing ALWAYS feels good) since once again it had come from all the input I was taking in through writer’s social media, rather than from my core self. Also the stress of having my sister coming was killing me. (We haven’t gotten along that well in the past.)
Yesterday I also had to face the fact that I was an addict through and through. I believe most of us are, actually, to one thing or another, which is why I don’t love labelling myself that way, afraid that those less self-aware may misinterpret it, perhaps imagining some kind of “standard addict” life that I have never experienced, but in my own world, I am an addict. My disillusionment with wine is complete, my obsession with it is thankfully over, but now my addiction is words words words and, I hate to say it, since I avoided social media for so long, seeing others addicted to it and thinking “that will never be me”… but my addiction is also social media. I am full-on addicted to loves and likes and comments and interactions and I have to say that longing, that yearning and that focus on receiving feedback is sucking the life out of me.
Yesterday, after writing that last little paragraph on yesterday’s post on this blog, and deciding through that moment to finally get busy and do what needed to be done, it really, really took a lot of effort to drag myself away from my devices, from my words and others’, from my screens where I like to type and type and read and read and input output.
When I previously said social media was like a heroin drip for me, I meant it in the way that I imagine heroin (from reading about it in books, novels and such) to be a very needy, hungry drug, much hungrier and needier than alcohol even, and once you try it you’re completely consumed by it and can’t think of anything else — well that’s what social media has become like for me. It’s like I can’t help but get my fix every few minutes. I’ll do something, then check social media. Do something, check social media. By social media I mean everything social media, including WordPress and email. Internally I have realized that I’m seeking escape, that I don’t want to think for myself and do the next right thing; rather, I want to find something to react to. I want to take the easy way, stimulus-reaction. The hard way is to know what needs doing, then simply doing it. The hard way is focussing on say writing a book, rather than blurting out this or that stupid (or private!) bit of writing to get attention in the Now.
I’m not including this piece of writing or this blog, for now, in the above self-criticism, since this blog has a clear purpose. (Mostly, at least, when I remember it.) It’s to help me and to help others in my/their journey toward sobriety. I do need the social support I find here. I am very psychologically alone where I live and yet I am a social creature by nature. It’s the animal of social media as a whole, I’m talking about — when connection with others turns to a drive to always be liked, to always seek direction and estimation of one’s own self-worth from outside oneself. Then it becomes a sickness.
I feel so ashamed admitting that I am so addicted to social media, but then, that’s just like alcohol isn’t it. It’s funny how there is so much stigma around something so insidiously ubiquitous, around the problems of the nations, as it were. Why is that? Because the companies that profit from the use of such substances and “services” make us believe we’re sexy if we use them, unsexy if we don’t. Glamorous if we’re addicted (though that word is certainly not used — they will choose “connected, relevant”), weak (i.e. stigma’d addict), “out of touch,” if we don’t.
Yesterday I had to realize, when I finally forced myself to get away from my screen and start cleaning the damn house, that I have a real problem. I shirk worthwhile, everyday tasks; I allow tasks to sit undone; I procrastinate and procrastinate. Seeing the amount of dust in the corners, unsorted bins of this that and the other thing, book hoarding, un-filed papers etc, it was like staring in the mirror after a night of too much drinking. Something needs to change.
Admitting it is the first step.
Last night I didn’t drink, even though I was horribly depressed inside myself and filled with self-disgust for my weaknesses, my laziness, my tendency to put things off. And I was glad, am still glad, that I didn’t drink. The reason that was able to happen, even under dire psychological conditions, was because one day, over one year ago, I admitted that something needed to change about my own drinking, regardless of what anyone else thought. It’s been a bumpy road but I’m still on it. That feels good, to still be doing something that I myself wanted to do, regardless of others’ opinions.
Thanks for being here now, I truly do appreciate it,