Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A practicing alcoholic

ISM:  a distinctive doctrine, theory, system, or practice

Interesting what this suffix means.  We've all heard of CommunISM, FascISM, ExistentialISM, TraditionalISM.......and, of course, AlcoholISM

It is a suffix that also implies a condition and we've heard it along with hypothyroidISM and other medical conditions.

It made me think.....is Alcholism just a medical condition or is it really a system or practice?  I've always thought of alcoholism along the lines of being a medical condition.  One who has it is an alcoholic.  But again, that invokes visions of someone who sneaks a bit of hard liquor with breakfast, who has it in their coffee mug during the day, who passes out on the couch at night while their kids fend for themselves or that person wandering around the streets in a stupor.  

Not me, the person who never drinks before 5pm, who has never passed out and woken up on the couch (once I think I awoke in the guest room but had put myself there and just didn't remember), who has never felt too bad in the morning to get up and make lunch, get showered, drive the kid to school, go to work.  (I HAVE felt too bad to go work out but then getting myself to go workout even when not drinking is a bit of a feat in of itself.)

But it hit me that I have been practicing Alcoholism as a theory, a system, a practice.  I think I have known this and my choosing the moniker of HabitDone implied this.  

I am a practicing Alcholic even if I don't view myself as an alcoholic. I have implemented all the processes and systems of alcoholism even if I haven't happened to go off the deep end.  Genetically in that sense I think I am just lucky.  But I am certainly affecting my health in the long run, maybe have already done significant damage that I can't see.

This whole process of quitting drinking seems to go one of two ways:
1) 1 step forward 2 steps back
or
2) 2 steps forward 1 step back

When I first quit I was just trying to prove I could do it.  I mean I couldn't be that bad if I went 125 days without alcohol.  That was a great step forward for me.  But I really feel I then took two steps back when I went back to drinking.  I was more hyper aware of what I was doing to myself.  Before I had been focused on just wanting to go days without drinking.  Now that I knew I could, I felt immense guilt that I wouldn't go back to that abstinence.  I think I weigh more now then I did when I started my blog....about 2 years ago.....with the intention of losing weight!

I've watched others and seen sobriety just "click".  I guess we all have to get there in our own way.  Reading the blogs for me has been a way of keeping in touch.  Keeping the pulse alive, the desire to quit alive, knowing that I wanted to get there someday.

The hubs and I went 5 nights last week without alcohol.  I wrote my blog post.  

(Here's the personal point in the post.  If you know who I am from reading this, you can let me know.  I guess we are kindred spirits if I am writing and you are reading this since I don't think anyone "stumbles" upon my blog very easily.)

My parents came into town Saturday night.  I knew they would bring wine.  I also knew I would rather drink wine with them then deal with my Mom and her questions or her "knowing" looks if I said I wasn't drinking.  It's funny how people who probably think you drink too much, but don't say, will still bring you wine.  I devised a plan to drink my alcohol free wine without her realizing it.  Don't ask me why I want to hide not drinking but I think the reasons are just very convoluted.  I'll work through that baggage at some point.

Then, about 20 minutes before they arrived, someone texted me and asked if I had seen facebook that day.  I had not. It was one of those days where I hadn't checked it.  I did.  My heart broke apart.  We have a person at our school, a dad, married with a beautiful wife and two lovely girls.  A police officer of many years who went on all my son's field trips because his daughter was in my son's class.  In fact, my son just roomed with him on a recent trip.  This dad apparently died at age 47 of a heart attack all of a sudden.  Came home from working...and died.  Family did CPR to no avail.  

Sometimes you meet people who exude a "light".  His spirit was so bright, so vibrant, he always had a smile for me.  He befriended everyone and made everyone feel comfortable.  I always looked forward to his humor, his witty ways livened up any assembly, field trip or any chance meeting.  His wife and kids loved him so much and he them.  I love my dad but this gentleman would get father of the year.  I envied his girls a dad like they had.  They will miss him so much.

(I also wonder if anyone is reading this blog who knows to whom I am referring, but might not know exactly who I am, just that we both knew this same person.  He touched soo many lives in soo many areas that that is quite possible.)

So of course I drank.  I'm not quite there yet where I can get through a moment like that, I admit.  My husband and I joined in on a few bottles with my folks. The hubs and I drank more than the folks but, again, other than the unhealthy factor, all was fine and we all tucked in rather early that night.  It was kind of nice, drinking by the moon, remembering how wonderful of a person this man was.  It was thinking of his family that just kept doing me in.

But we hopped back in the saddle.  No alcohol since, no desire to drink in the evenings other than cravings.  It's like mindfulness.  I've been trying to stand back and observe my thoughts when they start to go down a path where they need to be reigned in.  I don't desire to feel that stress so by observing my thoughts, asking why I am thinking those things, I get to the root of my anxiety and the desire to have my thoughts run rampant subsides.  I don't want to be drinking so I try to stand back and observe the cravings.  I do have thoughts of wine but my thoughts of why I don't want wine seem to be taking shape sooner and they fight the cravings.  I look forward to many more nights of not drinking.

Weekends are hardest.  My next test will be getting through the next few weekends without caving.  Another test will be over Memorial Day when I vacation with the family again.  I'm not sure how I will handle that, what I will decide.

Whatever my path, I am so happy right now.  I finally feel that I am moving ahead on this path and not backwards.  Eventually this habit will be either done or permanently changed.  Alcohol is no longer going to have the upper hand in my life, of this I will make sure!

HD


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Wanting the time alcohol doesn't give me

I can't think of the last time I had time on a Saturday morning to sit down with my tea and just write.

I do get about 30 minutes, grabbed in bits throughout the day, to read blogs.  I just haven't had time to comment nor write my own post, but I'm still here, reading all of your words and feeding my soul.

I just reread my last post.  Now that it's a month and a half later, it's interesting re-reading my thoughts.  In March I knew I had gotten to the point of wanting to be free of alcohol's clutches but it's clear I wasn't ready. 

A series of events.....an elder-care issue that was sudden and emotional, both extremely joyful and rewarding yet sad and depressing at the same time, a vacation to paradise and then an in-law visit, led me back to regular drinking, despite my proclaimed intentions.

I wasn't avoiding the blog.  I literally had no time.  Drinking in the evening steals hours where I need to get stuff done so I end up doing it in the early morning to compensate.

I think that's the problem with not-rock-bottom or as I've heard it referred to before, gray area drinking.  When it gives you that relaxation but doesn't make a fool out of you.  When you know it's a health risk but it "appears" to help you keep your sanity and deal with life.  When it's a tradition in certain situations where you can't imagine not imbibing.

I feel like this last month was a goodbye of sorts to my old friend, alcohol.

My grandmother is my drinking buddy and my best friend.  God bless her, she is in her nineties and I used to always have wine with her when I came to visit.  Sometimes we (I) would have a bit too much but normally it was just drinking the evening away and we had some really wonderful talks.  Occasionally I would not remember the conversation but mostly I have only cherished memories with her as we drank.  Moving her into a retirement home (her decision) was incredibly emotional for me.  I wanted a few more of those evenings with her knowing they were coming to an end.  I won't be staying with her anymore now that she moved and so I know we can't have those evenings anymore....I'd have to drive home afterwards.  So we had wine together and got through the emotions of the week.  No drunk moments just a softening of the soul as we each needed it.

I then went to paradise for a week.  My body image is very low.  The hubs thinks I'm hot and look like Ursula Andress.  Haha.  Just a "few" pounds off.  I actually went on my first vacation where I said "fuck it".  I don't have to look great.  He thinks I look awesome and should wear a bikini, that's enough.  Although I didn't wear a bikini, couldn't pull that one off.  Then again, I envy all those women on the beach wearing one when I would have been too self-conscious doing that.  Going to a beach and seeing folks, many pounds heavier than yourself, confidently wearing bikinis or letting their flab hang out and not give a shit is empowering.  Makes me think what the heck am I worried about?  So what if I have flab, get over it!  In order to tune it all out, I drank wine every evening.  The strange thing is I slept like a baby.  No waking up and not being able to sleep.  Well, I guess in paradise I wasn't thinking about my everyday life so if I did wake up, I could go right back to sleep.

The in law came to town for a week and we had a good visit.  Near the end, though, both hubs and I were drinking too much.  It continued afterward and we were back to drinking at home too much.  Again, no bad moments but way too unhealthy, not remembering the last parts of the evening, feeling sluggish in the morning and gaining weight again.

The final issue has been peri-menopause and hot flashes.   I get them every 45 min to an hour.  This is the longest period they have lasted.  I have had them since February.  Everything tells me that alcohol makes them worse but when I drink in the evening it keeps them at bay.  I do read that they are stress related so maybe there is something to the fact that as my stress level drops when I'm drinking I relax more.  They don't go fully away but slow down for sure.

But it's time.  I've realized that I want the time back that alcohol takes away from me.  I want that more, now, than I really want that drink.

During these next few months I hope to:
- truly resist and win over cravings, track any drinking
- heal my mind and then focus on exercise
- create new habits and ways of dealing with stress that don't involve alcohol
- get out and meet some girlfriends.  My grandmother will not be likely to be around forever...

Making it through the last month and a half with no rock bottom moments, just a realization that this habit is so unhealthy, has made me stronger.  Not confident that I can drink without issue, just more confident that I really might be able to quit.

It's clear I don't want it in my life, I just need to be strong enough to push it out.

It's day 6 here today.  Hubs and I are off the sauce for now.  I've had some slight cravings.  Short ones but powerful enough for me to ask the hubby if maybe we should just drink every 4th night, or only on weekends, lol.  I don't even really mean that when I ask, not sure why I do.  Fortunately he hasn't caved and I'm getting stronger. 

It's actually easy now because I am still tired.  Still not wanting what alcohol can give me because I don't want the time sink.

This past week I noticed a few things.  A client wanted an evening phone call and my first thought was "oh no, I can't because I'll be drinking".  Then I thought "oh, wait, I can!"  I had a great 7pm phone call.  Then, my son needed help with a project and I volunteered to help him.  It took much longer than I thought but I wasn't pouring wine while doing it.  Last night we all watched a movie and I realized it had been awhile since we'd all sat down together other than dinner.  I've been getting my house cleaned again and my bills in order.  I like this.  I feel peaceful.

AND...I'm up this morning, bright and shiny, taking time to blog.  Not drinking is so much better on so many levels.  I just need to persevere and keep on heading this direction.  I really don't want to go back.  I don't want to numb myself through events like I did this past month and a half.  I didn't really feel I missed out when it came to the eldercare issue, the vacation, nor the in law visit, but I missed out on the other stuff that didn't get done.

Looking forward to the next few months.....one day at a time.....

HD