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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Letting it go....

Two things hit me over the head this morning when reading the blogs.  I should be moving on with my day but wanted to get my thoughts down in writing as a reference for myself later on.  So instead I grabbed another cup of tea and here I type....

First an update:  I'm floating in the middle, referring to my last post.  I thought I could perhaps convince myself to view wine as a treat, like I do chocolate, etc.  Nope.  I suppose it's just because the brain changes with alcohol induction in ways unlike the brain changes by over indulging in things not called "drugs".  I tell myself I will have 2 cups of tea a day with Stevia, and I have 6.  Probably a "drug" of caffeine and sweetener at play there.  If I drink a glass of wine, I have three, sometimes two, occasionally 4 to 4 1/2 if I have time in which to drink it without losing control, and I haven't been hungover, acted drunk, blacked out in forever.

Note: I kept the habit of cocktail hour because I thought that was important for me.  Even when I abstained I kept the habit but just had mocktails. So I drink when I have that available.  If I have sports or other conflicts then I easily don't.  Habit is huge with me.  I seem to be done with my "drunk" habit but not my "drinking" habit.  I "hear" the voice that says "oh go open another bottle", "get one more glass", but it's just not worth it to do so.  I walk out of the room, the voice quiets, I move on.  I guess that is progress as it doesn't take a lot of effort.

It's as if I have learned to control it from a certain point.  I have such an awareness of how bad it is for me that I allow myself some of what I've had in the past but not all.   I have mastered the "not going too far" but I haven't mastered the "not drinking too much from a health perspective" and still find myself wishing I drank less but, yet, then not committing to that.

SoberMummy commented on one of my posts recently this:
For what it's worth, I believe there are only 2 ways to silence the endless head chatter: 1. Is to drink as much as you feel like, no holds barred and 2. Is to not drink at all, and after 3-6 months the chatter stops forever. The problem with moderation is that the 'will I won't I' debate in your head never ever goes away.

She is correct as usual.  I have been using the wine to stop the head chatter.  I don't feel as if I am moderating because I'm really not exercising control anymore. For whatever reason, I'm just not going too far anymore to get the self-loathing, acting drunk in front of my kid, annoying my spouse or being mean, etc.  But I am still using it to silence the noise, sort of no holds barred.  That was my first bonk on the head thought today.

Anne Ainsobriety recommends just trying a longer period of sobriety and see what happens.  See how I feel.  I think she's right and I'm trying to get motivated to do just that.

Other than shutting off the noise in my head I've been trying to figure out why I don't want to cut ties with alcohol.  It doesn't feel so much as I've been having cravings like I used to, I don't really have those "fuck it" moments (well, duh, you only really get those when trying not to have wine), but yet I don't want to let it go from my life.  Every time I think of quitting completely, even if for awhile, I feel sad about it.

Lily's blog today talks about letting go of a relationship and this was the second bonk on the head thought.  She discusses not wanting to let go of a relationship because then things are left unresolved.  All those actions we regret weren't then worth anything.  It took me years to understand that's why I still grieved the loss of my marriage even though I had moved on with a much better man, loved him more, had no desire to ever be back with my ex and yet I still had moments of sadness.

This is soo analogous to alcohol.  I think I don't want to let go of alcohol because it will feel like a failure, that my drinking wasn't worth it, unresolved.  I don't want to admit I had a problem that couldn't be fixed.  If I can keep it in balance then the edges of regret soften.  But maybe this is a start. If I can put periods of sobriety into my habits so that I gradually do longer and longer time away from alcohol then it may become more of a choice and a feeling that I have resolved something. Closure is always something I crave.

Constant awareness, constant reading of these blogs, of reading new ideas about drinking have helped me immensely.  At some point I will decide to move to the far left for awhile.  For now I'm drifting in the middle but, honestly, it's a lot less work than being in between.  Admitting that it's one state or the other for me has taken a load off stress-wise but now I need to let my goals of health and wellness start to bubble up.

I definitely march to my own drummer on this.  I'll keep posting and hope to march more to the left soon!!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Moving to the left....

An older article in The Atlantic (click here for link) sums up my drinking pretty succinctly.  To pull a bit from it, it says:

"We believe that, as opposed to thinking only those men and women whose drinking has progressed to the point where they need help, that many people in the mid-range may also be suffering as a result of drinking. That suffering may take the form of declining job performance and declining health so that the individual does not yet recognize it as being related to drinking.
Here are a few signs that an individual may have moved out of the normal social drinking part of the spectrum and into the almost alcoholic zone:
  • You drink to relieve stress.
  • You often drink alone.
  • You look forward to drinking.
  • Your drinking may be related to one or more health problems.
  • You drink to relieve boredom or loneliness.
  • You sometimes drive after drinking.
  • You drink to maintain a "buzz."
  • Your performance at work is not what it used to be.
  • You aren't comfortable in social situations without drinking.
  • You find that drinking helps you overcome your shyness.
The almost alcoholic zone is actually quite large. The people who occupy it are not alcoholics. Rather, they are men and women whose drinking habits range from barely qualifying as almost alcoholics to those whose drinking borders on abuse. One thing we do know about them is that the more their drinking correlates with the above statements the more likely they are to drift further into the almost alcoholic zone."

I view this spectrum as left to right movement.  I can't say way, but my brain just processes it this way.  For me, the far left is normal (no snide political comments, please, this is just a graph!) and on the far right is what I would define as the full blown alcoholic.  I would define the movement from left to right as follows - just my personal definition that works for me on an accountability front.

Far left:  either no drinking or take it or leave it drinking.  Normal.

Middle left:  drinking a glass or two or even less, maybe every day or occasionally, but defined as one who exercises extreme control to not go further. I don't define this as healthy but just more acceptable than more to the right.  

Middle: drinking too much to be healthy.  More than one or two drinks a night, often resulting in a full bottle of wine, some sleep interruption, no blackouts, waking up hangover free the next day, still fully functioning in day to day life and coping with stresses outside this evening period.

Middle right: for some this may be Middle but with starting to drink earlier and earlier in the day.  The wine at night, whatever quantity, begins to come with hangovers in the morning, maybe blackouts, and self loathing.

Further to the right:  Hiding drinking, perhaps alcoholic incidents noticed by others, etc.

Far Right:  Can't hide it, it's affecting life, affecting relationships, can't get by without drinking especially during the day, things in life are getting worse not better.  May act as full on alcoholic as one defines it, may be very good at still hiding it as to how bad it is.

This may not be what the authors meant but it helps me figure out where I fell.  I was definitely middle right a year ago.  I didn't always drink earlier in the day and I never hid my drinking except the one time I moved a bottle off the bar to the trash sooner than normal, but I definitely had more and more hangovers, daily drinking for sure, blackouts more and more frequent and loads of self loathing.

After I first quit drinking and started again, I existed in Middle Left for quite awhile.  I attempted to give it up completely for the holidays and that didn't work out.  Then, drinking became a way of not focusing on other things.  I wasn't exercising as much in part due to bad plantar fasciitis but mostly just lack of motivation.  My workout buddy was on the injured list.  Also, I had an upcoming surgery and was sort of in a fuck-it mood until that had passed.  My court case with ex is still ongoing and I have to completely reinvent myself career wise this year.  Financially I am fortunate to not be too stressed with that, but..... self-worth, goals, desires - reinventing can still cause a boatload of stress.

I've done a lot of thinking about alcohol.  I can see why I turn to it.  For some reason, the worst is being told I "can't" drink.  When I view it as a choice, I do much better but I struggle to maintain that mindset.  After I stopped drinking and started again, I told myself it's a choice.  I can now drink as much or as little as I want.  I did okay for the most part.

When I told myself I was going to quit from November through January, then quit on that quitting, it was a different story.  I kept telling myself I shouldn't have it, can't have it and then would have it. So I ended up back more towards just left of center.  I found myself drinking 3 if not 4 glasses of wine a night, a full bottle every so often.  No nights off.

I'm trying a new tactic today.  I really want to treat wine like chocolate, donuts, diet sodas, etc.  I indulge in those from time to time but not all the time.  I'll have a diet soda out at lunch but rarely break one open at home.  I'll eat 4 to 6 squares of an 18 square chocolate bar and stop.  I can't remember the last time I ate a donut but if it was in front of me, I would eat just one.  I want to view a glass of wine as such.   I'm going to be more mindful about sipping the one glass, considering it a treat, an indulgence.  Thinking about every calorie and relishing it as opposed to using it for it's numbing power.  I'm going to appreciate the initial flush and warmth and leave it at that.  (Yeh, yeh, I know many of you think there is failure written all over this plan but again, I think a lot of this is mindset.)  If I can keep myself to one glass I can stop.  Once I hit two glasses, it's very hard to not go to three.

I'm going to keep a drinking log (I haven't been) for just myself.  I may post it from time to time or I may not.  I'm going to start an exercise log again for myself. I need the accountability even if I don't make it public.  But I WILL provide periodic updates.  I had the surgery yesterday and all good.  Girly stuff.  So in a few more days I'll begin the exercise again and I'm actually looking forward to it.

The above isn't anything profound, just a big reminder to myself.  Sort of a last gasp to see if I can turn my mindset around or if I will just have to give up drinking as a normal daily thing.  If that's the case I'll have to see if I can abstain normally and still allow celebratory events or if then I have to give those up as well.  It's certainly a process.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hypnotic failure

Well, I did two days and then had three glasses of wine last night.  This was all before dinner.  I had no more wine at dinner, drank milk in fact, had an enjoyable evening, went to bed early and slept pretty well.  Got up early this morning, too, to go for a walk.

But I still feel disappointed in myself which is an indicator all to itself.

Last night I was exhausted after a therapy session yesterday.....just an excuse, I know.  I did a lot of work at that session and while wine drinking wasn't the main focus, we did discuss how I use it to quiet my brain.

It is a drug and, unfortunately, it does work for that purpose.  The problem is that I know how unhealthy it is, I don't think it's good even in moderation and yet I still turn to it.  I can go for days at a time without it and then I turn to it again.  I guess a lot of people do....maybe even those that we consider "normal" drinkers.

At my session, my therapist tried to hypnotize me into what she called a medium trance state.   She wanted to work on some post traumatic stress she felt I was encountering.  After she promised I would not bark like a dog, I asked if I would remember the experience.  She said most certainly, that this state is one of clarity and I'll remember everything about it.  So I was totally game to give it at try.

Unfortunately I failed at this.  Utterly.  Couldn't shut off the brain.  First, she had me look at a globe in the distance.  After a few minutes, I asked if I could close my eyes.  She said yes and then as part of the hypnosis she started count down.  She said 10 and said some words.  I tried to relax.  She said 9 and some more words.  I tried harder.  Once she got to 5 I was having all these conversations in my head like I have when I'm trying to fall asleep.  All I could think of was "oh no, this isn't working and we are already at 5!" Which means I wasn't listening to her at all!!  I couldn't focus on relaxing. I felt physically relaxed sitting on the chaise but I couldn't shut up my fucking mind.  I then cried because I was a failure at being hypnotized!  Lol.

(She admitted that I seem so "chill" that she had no idea how wound up I am inside so hypnosis may not be the best approach until we work on quieting the mind a bit more in general.)

We did some more talking instead and made some good progress on my past issues.  I brought up wine and how in future sessions I would really like to figure out how to cope without it.

That's really the crux of my issue.  With self discipline, I can quit wine.  But the need to drink is still there in certain situations, usually when I need to tune out thoughts.  I don't consider myself an anxious person but this may be a form of anxiety and I just haven't viewed it that way.  My blood pressure is disgustingly low and my pulse never really races......that's how I have viewed anxiety.

I'm so aware now that I abuse alcohol that it's in a lot of my thoughts, always at the forefront of my mind.  Thinking of not drinking can become so noisy that the only way for me to drown that out is to drink. 

By being aware and admitting I struggle with alcohol issues, I have curbed some old behavior and I did make a lot of progress in 2016.  I no longer over indulge very often all at once although cumulatively I think the units still add up to unhealthy levels.  Yet, I am so loathe to give it up.

I have been struggling with feeling accountable to the sober universe....and yet....because I'm not sober 100% of the time, I continue to feel out of sorts.

I need these blogs, though.  Thanks to previous comments, I know I am still welcome.  If anyone else is feeling odd about hanging around the blogs, don't.  We all have our own journey and nobody's journey is more right or wrong than the other.  The point is that none of us would be here unless we realized a need for change.  This is just my personal journey and others have said they still want to see me blogging, so I will.

This has been such a great support structure for me over the last year.  I like coming here, reading and recharging, especially if I feel myself falling off my expectations for myself.  I love the wealth of knowledge, the sharing of ideas.  I love seeing people turn their lives around for the better. I feel very comfortable commenting on web pages.  I don't think it's hypocritical for me to support someone even if I'm not traveling on the same road and I think most others feel the same.

I haven't as yet "just cold turkey,stopped" alcohol as many have.  I'm still on the fence as to if I want to.  I honestly don't think I'll let myself get get back to that previous bad place because I can now  "think through the drink" to the blackouts, the hangovers, making a fool of myself, etc.  So I stop at a point but it's still a point further than I want to be.  I still don't have the off switch flipping early enough for my taste.

I do think that checking in here from time to time is important.  It keeps me grounded, sane and, let's call a spade a spade here, keeps me realistic that I haven't beaten down all my issues...Conscious that I am still drinking (nowhere near to previous levels but probably not at normal all the time either) and really don't want to be at some point.  It's like alcohol is slowly, albeit very slowly, losing it's grip on me.

I still struggle to let go of the idea that I can "conquer" this and give up alcohol because I want to not because I have to.

It's been suggested I might be better off trying a moderation management site.  I understand that suggestion.  The problem is that I don't really want to moderate, even though that's pretty much what I am doing.

I'm going through the Udemy course on alcohol, I continue to read some of the books suggested.  Last year I did a lot of prep work before I abstained for 125 days.  So I'm doing more prep work now to see if I can reduce alcohol's role in my life or if I need to give it up entirely.

I'm done tracking everything for awhile.  I'm going to focus on balance instead.  I will continue to check in here.  I deleted my counting and exercise pages.  I'll still track this on my own for my own edification.  I'll still mention how I'm doing here but more in summary.  I'll keep you posted!

Thanks to all of you who have hung with me since I joined up last April!  Big huge hugs!


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Recharged to reset

So after my lovely visualization of my riptide in my prior post, I just quit and coasted ashore.  So much for swimming out of the current, the pull of alcohol.

I read on another blog about alcohol being like noise that drowns out the peace of not drinking...or something like that.  I've been thinking about that a lot.

I felt like I had a cacophony going on in my head in December.....noise, noise, noise
- work very busy and frustrating
- closed on a loan for a rental property
- all the Christmas gifts to buy
- getting ready for both sides of the family to visit
- all the "should nots" about drinking
- all the "shoulds" about exercise

I just had to turn off and glide.  I felt like I turned off the noise in my head and floated peacefully in the ocean, letting currents take me where they may, dealing with things as I had to.  I didn't give any of the above "my all".  Just a little piece of myself, enough to make progress on all fronts.  I removed the pressure to do everything perfectly, as I really wanted it.

But it worked for me.

I made it through the holidays....the gifts were bought and wrapped....the house got decorated....all the meals were done for the family dinners.....the loan closed and I rented out my property already....I handled work issues without too much stress.....I exercised a little bit.....I drank some.

I think I just had to shut down for a bit, retreat from the blog world and just try to cope.  Giving up alcohol wasn't going to work for me this past month.  I would still like to get to a place where I am generally a non-drinker and I'm going to strive for that.  When I drink, I do still go beyond one or two glasses and I hate that I am pouring this poisonous shit into my body.

On a positive note, since I initially quit drinking in April I think I have had one morning where I woke up in that old "uh oh" mode, feeling still under the influence.  I had 3 nights of not remembering all the details real clear but no real blackouts.  I had no vomiting in the morning and no embarrassing slurring of words.  This is so much better than where I used to be, I have to rejoice.

My sleep was greatly affected, though.  I am very tired and I know that I need to get the alcohol back out of my system to recharge.  Going to do my best.

I didn't want to blog about my drinking and disturb the sober momentum I was reading about.  So many bloggers that I follow just "clicked" and were able to abstain and make it through the holidays.  Especially some who have been trying for a long time.  I love reading their posts.  I was always reading even though not posting.

So nothing momentous in today's post.  I just needed a "time-out" from all the expectations that I have for myself and that others may have for me.

I am back and ready to start again.  Ready to track things again, to start anew.  I really do need the accountability of tracking both alcohol and exercise.  I also acknowledge that I may also need a time-out sometime and I'm okay with that.

Today I went on an early 2 hour hike in the mountains on a beautifully sunny first day of the year.......and now it's time to clean up from the holidays, get caught up on paying bills, etc.

Happy 2017 everyone!!