Note: Possible wine triggers.
08:55 I keep getting the tally wrong (had to correct the title of the last two posts) — but I have checked my counter app and today is, if counter apps may be trusted, Day 142 of consecutive sobriety.
The other day, I spent some time obsessively trying to figure out which day of last year’s similar period of sobriety that I “relapsed.” I had not been counting days, back then. Only months, if anything. It was at about four months and three weeks. Or 142 days, I believe, if my now-more-exact calculations are correct.
Though I would not have called it “relapse” then. I called it “having wine with a special dinner.” And it was a most pleasurable and satisfying experience, in the moment. Sorry to say it.
BUT. I did that then, because I thought I had control over alcohol all figured out, and therefore must have moderation licked as well. I thought it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with wine, in which I could moderate to my heart’s content. For example, only drinking on say, special occasions, like dates with my husband, birthdays and holidays. Something like that. But though the evening went fine, moderating didn’t work out.
I just went back and spent time looking up journal entries for that period of time. How did it feel, aside from the pleasure of a relaxing evening, to have gone astray from my original intentions? How did I feel afterwards? Was there any shame?
But so sadly, there are no diary entries about this. More’s the pity. It’s really helpful when there’s actually a record of bad feelings. If you re-read them, it can stop you from repeating past mistakes.
Most of the pitiful writing I *was* doing, save for a few documentary sentences here and there, was for an online writing challenge I’d inflicted upon myself. Perhaps the pressure of that was partly the reason for my relapse.
I remember how my alcohol-free intention fell away: My husband and I were going for a last-minute weekend alone, while my parents were here visiting and could look after the kids (or rather, more or less vice-versa). I had to book us a getaway somewhere. There was a B&B nearby called something like, “Perfect Soul.” Wow! That sounded perfect (lol). I called and made the reservation.
— And would you like a dinner reservation with that?
— Yes please! Er, how much will it cost?
— €30, per person, top-notch service, with all the wines included.
Whoa. That was pricey, especially for this region. But understandable I suppose, for top-notch service at a cosy little B&B. My inner idiot asked, spur of the moment:
— What would the price be, without the wines? I’m not drinking much wine lately.
— Oh! I don’t know if we’ve ever been asked that before. Let’s see, we can give you a reduced price of €25, without the wines.
Hmm. €5 off didn’t seem to be as much of a good deal as I felt I deserved, for going four-plus months without alcohol. (Lol again. I’m showing what my subconscious was likely thinking. Funny how the mind works, when we examine things in retrospect, isn’t it? It would have been much better to be happy with paying full price, yet saying “no” to the wine in the moment itself, which would have maintained both my dignity and my sobriety. But I guess we learn expensive lessons through cheap mistakes.)
Perhaps I thought I was letting the universe decide things for me. Also, I’d been simultaneously losing my sanity from multiple life stressors that I’d helped to heap upon myself, as well as getting over-confident in my ability to control alcohol.
I also did not want to be classified (by anyone! but most of all not by a stranger in a nearby community!) as an “alcoholic.”
I did not want to have to say, to anyone, including B&B owners, “I don’t drink.” Why? Because I thought I would have to say *why* I don’t drink, to a total stranger. And I thought that “why” would have to include some very negative self-labelling, such as “Because I’m an alcoholic.” It didn’t occur to me that I could, if I wanted to, simply say, “No thanks.” And if pressed, “Because in general, I find I am happier without it.”
So far, at that point, if I remember right, the only literature I’d read on the subject of going alcohol-free was the AA Big Book, and perhaps Glennon Doyle (an old-favourite mommy blogger)’s “About” page. I didn’t know that all that other “quit lit” existed. I didn’t know that “quit lit” was even a genre. (I would only find that via “backend WordPress,” after I started blogging on WordPress. And I would only start blogging on WordPress about a month and a half after I’d first said “yes” again to wine, and about a month after I’d finished that awful write-and-hit-publish challenge which had perhaps caused me to buckle in the first place. So perhaps it was all meant to be.)
Anyway. I did not want to say to a person who would be recording my full name and address on their registry, one that I also did business under, that I was an “alcoholic,” and yet I couldn’t think of any other words to say besides those, if she were to ask why I was choosing not to drink wine on this special weekend “à deux” with my husband.
— You can decide when you get here, if you like.
— Ok, thanks.
And when I got there, it was too hard to say no. And no one was saying it for me.
So I said “yes” instead.
Yes to wine with dinner.
This one time.
I could be the perfect wife, the perfect B&B guest, the perfect everything.
“Just say yes.”
However, I did not then know that saying “yes” to wine with dinner, would mean my also saying yes to my inner wine hound yet again, one week later, when deciding whether or not to open a bottle of bubbly while communing with the Tree. Which would mean that I’d start to say yes and yes and yes, more and more often.
Until I was back to wanting to just say “no” again. And here I am now. Nearly a year later, and another 142 days.
This time, I have no urge to drink, 99% of the time.
I’m not always happy. I still have lots of issues. But in general, I have no urge to drink. I’ve become habituated to saying “No.” And yet, being okay with not labelling myself or explaining myself unnecessarily to others. Even AA promotes that idea in the preface of the Big Book. As far as I know, Bill W. never said we all have to announce ourselves as being alcoholics in front of rooms full of people. (Of course, if that works for you, that’s wonderful. I’m just saying it’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not required — not even in the original AA literature. Meetings have morphed over the past eight decades). In fact, Bill W. (a brilliant writer, by the way), stressed the importance of anonymity. So that we could continue successful living, in a world that often stigmatizes people who don’t drink, or who admit that alcohol is, plainly and simply, no matter which way you look at it, addictive.
And I have many positive results from repeatedly saying “No,” without feeling I owe anyone an explanation, this time around.
My self-loathing has become self-irritation, most of the time. My anxiety has ebbed from panic-peaks to dull aches. And these are still early days. Perhaps it will even get better.
I’ll be honest, I do sometimes yearn for and hope for a more “relaxed,” hedonistic life. Where I could just be saying “yes” to all and everything, guzzling wine to my wine-hound’s content, filling that god-shaped void the easy way. But the more I am able to see that kind of life from the outside, the more I realize it’s just not worth it.
Here’s one major difference from this 142-day round of sobriety from last year’s 142-day round. I am not telling myself, from the start, “I will be sober for the rest of my life; I will never drink wine again.”
I have instead been telling myself, thanks to seeing this phrase around “sobriety town,” “One day at a time.”
In other words, controversial as it may sound, whenever the wine-hound begins to howl inside me, crooning,
“Remember the moon, that wine-drenched night? Shall you never allow yourself to see it that way, again? Such fun as we had! And you’ve forsaken me! Come back, come back! The world will be ours once more!”
…I don’t ignore it, I don’t shun it…. I try to pat it on the head, old faithful friend that it was. “Dear sweet Hound, I love you! What a gorgeous thing you were to me. And still are! This reminder of my old self, my old carefree ways. My friend, my beauty, sweet soft companion of the night. Perhaps we’ll howl again one day, one eve.
“But not this day.
“Today I sit beside you, old beauty, and you and I will relax together in the sun, and I will sing you to sleep, your sweet soft head on my lap.
“While I, contentedly and gratefully, drink a cup of herb tea.”
So far, that has worked for 142 days. I think it’s very likely that it might work tomorrow, as well. And possibly the next day, and the next… though mostly I don’t think about booze at all. It’s only now, here, writing about it, that I think about it.
10:21 okay, the kids are shouting through the door. Though they have been playing marvellously well out there, yes, even with no technology, my time is up.
21:02 did not publish before because parenting. Also I know this post is a jumble.
I am so exhausted. Just bloody well exhausted. Having a very, very hard time.
I feel so inadequate, so exhausted, so hopeless, and so exhausted. Did I mention exhausted?
Just need to get through this brutal day.
Decided to document that because this is reality sometimes. Feels good to say it. I think writing about all that old stuff brought up some old feelings. Then I did some other difficult things today which compounded them.
But this few minutes is golden. This few minutes is everything. This few minutes is… bliss. I feel nearly restored. Yawn.
Vision and faith,
and love. Sending love and thanks. this community refreshes me.
And congrats to Dwight who has six months today!!!
omg. this post is too long. yes I know.
edit 21:14: changed title since the other one made no sense. I’m a blogging disaster.