Thursday, December 17, 2015

Six months.

Six months ago today, on June 17th, I had my last drink. Drinks.

As I wrote, back on June 22, 2015, just days after I stopped:
Wednesday. Something changed. I realized I couldn't save that bottle. It was fancy, after all. I would drink it, then would be done. One big glass in these fantastic large, expensive wine glasses my mother in law bought me for Christmas. That's it. I even waited for my husband to get home, it was at least 6:30pm. I put the bottle of wine, the rabbit opener and the big glass on the counter so he could see it was unopened.Yay, I don't have a problem honey.

Drank one glass. And by one glass, I mean a giant glass half filled, so about 8 ounces. First sip was lovely, but not as fantastic as I'd thought it would be. From then on, I basically ignored the taste, smell, what-have-you and drank that wine like it was my job. Lay on the bed, tuning out everyone, watching my show, drinking that wine. Finished the glass and got another. Watched more tv. Think I may have topped off one last time, can't be sure. But a few things I do remember:
I felt tired.
I felt like I needed air and hoped I just slept through the night and didn't spiral into getting sick.
I felt sad that I drank, practically without realizing what I was doing, and how much I drank. Even if I couldn't pinpoint how much that night, I knew it was a lot.
Walking downstairs the next morning and doing what has become the norm lately...checking the bottle. Checking to see what was left and how that amount directly related to how I would feel the rest of the day. Most of the bottle still there? Great! I'm doing fine. I did it. I didn't drink too much. I controlled it. Half a bottle left? Well, not great, but there are two more glasses in there you could space out over the next two days. A third of the bottle left? What the hell happened? Why did I drink so much? What's freaking wrong with me?

Lately I've been questioning, wondering if I'd stopped for long enough. That, obviously, I could stop cold turkey if I wanted to, so maybe I could just have a glass of wine every once in a while.

But, reading the above post, it brings it back.
I guess I won't be spiking my eggnog this Christmas.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Well THIS sucks.

I'm in the hole again. I discovered the hole last October, when I fell downdowndown. Tears, hopelessness, despair. Anger, frustration, exhaustion. The problem is, I don't have wine this October to make me feel better, or at least make me feel numb.

I am like Sisyphus, except it's not one big boulder but a million tiny pebbles I must keep swatting up that hill just to watch my children swat them back down again.

I run around like a crazed juggler, trying to keep all the scarves in the air, but my children swat them back down again.

It's like playing tennis against three other players, for each ball I get to and swat back over the net, three more come flying back at me.

It is exhausting. I am losing. They are winning.

Yesterday was bad. I am finding myself having ugly thoughts about these people I love. I am having a hard time and ALLIWANTTODO is drink. I cannot believe I can't have a glass of wine. At this point, I am dreaming (literally) about drinking. Each evening, when shit gets crazy around here I drink my mocktail (seltzer/lime/Pom) and simultaneously enjoy it and feel completely unfulfilled and annoyed. Annoyed that I can't have the red wine and I clearly NEED the red wine. I am unhappy, I am angry and frustrated and the wine WILL make me feel better. I know this. Then, I have to tell myself that the wine will make me feel freaking awesome for about 3 sips then it changes. Changes into a mindless attempt to fill whatever gaping, gnawing black hole is eating away at my chest.

I am so very tired.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cool weather cravings.

The weather has cooled recently and I find myself struggling with cravings. My "trick" of filling my wine glass with seltzer, Pom and fresh lime is losing its effect when the house is cold or it's raining outside. I'm trying hot teas but I'm not able to put them in my wine glass so the satisfaction isn't there. I need that big, stemmed glass it seems.

I'm finding myself thinking about warm red wine a lot these days. It seems to be everywhere, people talking about it, actors on tv drinking it, friends posting on Facebook, etc. I clearly remember that taste and, still, can tell myself that it was only that first pour, that first taste, that was magical. That, after that, it just became like any other liquid, I didn't really think about it, just kept pouring it into the glass and, then, down my throat.

But, I really wish I could find a suitable substitute. I've tried many things but nothing matches that warm, viscous, sharp feel like a nice red.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Side effects.

I was pretty proud about quitting alcohol cold turkey. It's kind of a big deal.

But, now I just realize that I substituted one addiction for another. Sugar is a problem, a big one. I have a impulse control issue. It was wine, now it's sugar. I crave it, I can't control the consumption, it's awful.

I have been a pretty healthy adult: running, wise eating choices (except the over-abundance of alcohol, of course)... but the results from my physical were shocking. My cholesterol, which I have never had a problem with, skyrocketed in three months. Three months! And I know it's those peanut M&Ms/Iggy's bread and butter/chocolate chips-which-are-supposed-to-be-used-for-baking.

My face is a mess. Sugar messes up your skin, people. Breakouts, puffiness. It's a real freaking mess.

I can't help myself. I know I should not grab a handful of chocolate chips. I KNOW this. And now, I have to figure out how to quit or drastically reduce THAT as well as live without alcohol. Yes, I realize they are both sugar. And it's everywhere.

What do other people do?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It's official.

Today is August 19, 2015. The day I've been waiting for. It's been over two months since I quit drinking. You know what that means, right? Now I can answer, 'a couple of months' when asked how long it's been since I quit.

Why is this so important to me?
This is something I'm actually asking of myself. It's not the headline for an explanation to follow.

I am torn daily between feeling this is going so well (the non-drinking...not life in general, exactly) and incredulity that it's 'only' been 4, 5, 6 weeks. I feel proud that I've stopped something I really didn't think I could ever do, yet almost embarrassed it's been only a month or 6 weeks.

Weird. I'm sure the reasoning behind this is staring me in the face, but I can't see it.

Now, on to three months when I can say, 'oh, a few months'! I'm am a weirdo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What the heck happened?

What the heck? Shite is hard again.
Can I blame it on August? August, as much as I try to make it otherwise, really sucks around here.

It's humid (which drains my energy beyond all rational explanation), summer school is out (my middle child is on an IEP and attends six extra weeks of school), rules and structure have slowly slipped away and the shite has hit the fan. As it does every year.

Anyhoo. Last August was the worst for me. It preceded what turned out to be a really difficult year.

In August of last year, above mentioned middle child had some major behavior issues which sucked all the life out me and made me sadsadsad and a little defeated. Then, I had a bit of a major mental freak in September. You know, the kind where you are so troubled, your friend makes you go see your doctor, but she's on vacation, so you see her colleague who you've never met, and you proceed to hysterically cry during the appointment and that doctor doesn't even try to disguise the fear and panic on her face as she writes you a prescription for zoloft and diazepam and helps you schedule a visit to the psychiarist stat. No? Oh. Maybe that was just me. Then Husband lost his job. Yes, it was a job working for a boss who tried to kill Husband's spark and destroy Husband's soul, but it was a steady job, and Husband actually liked doing the job and many other people he worked with, so losing that job hurt Husband.

This was just about the time I started really hitting the wine/cocktail/beer with gusto. I mean, people even told me it made sense to drink more during such a stressful time, so it just seemed to make sense.

But I digress...where was I? August.

So, here we are again. And, I'm tah-rye-ing, I really am. But I'm pissed. Irritated. Short-tempered. I'm working on keeping my shite together, working so hard my upper torso is rock hard. Not in a fit way, but in a muscles-knotted-from-tension way.

After a particularly hard few days (which not-coincidentally coincide with a heat wave...oh the humidity!) of an almost-four-year-olds practically constant screaming (if she's not tantruming, she's actually screaming for fun), combined with the constant noise of three children (I shite you not, all of my kids are hummers/chanters...yesterday in the car on the way to a morning activity camp the little one was happily chanting, 'nighnighnighnigh' idea what that means...the middle child was angrily whispering WHISPERING! creepy contrary phrases to her sister. There is actually no human way to concentrate during this. The only thing missing was oldest child's constant battle noises (you know...twiptwip/bshhh/ppttttppttt/pcowwww!)

Wait...lost my thoughts...a few hard days...yes. So, I've turned to Lord of the Flies* parenting. You know: Work together or perish in violence? I tried to get the girls back to camp this morning. I had everyone dressed and ready. Then they started in on each other again (can't we all just get along??), and oldest child did something upsetting (hacked the parental control of his kindle), so I stopped. I went outside with the dog, watered some plants, came in and made more coffee and stopped. Stopped talking, stopped injecting myself and my perceived helpful policing of their arguments, just...stopped. Went upstairs with the dog and coffee, hid the kindle and ipad (just in case!) and folded laundry. Of course, eventually they are asking for tv. Thankfully, I'd already hidden the remote.

So far, I'm keeping it together. Heck, it's almost 2pm and I haven't even yelled yet! The younger two are actually playing together fairly well (yes, they have every pillow from the living room and den, plus two blankets, most of a box of saltines, a few juice boxes and granola bars scattered all throughout the downstairs). But my head hurts, my neck hurts, my chest hurts. Yesterday I had a fleeting thought of cold white wine. Fleeting, but the thought was somehow comforting. Egads.

Husband called to say he has a work thing tonight. I told him we are fine and I'm keeping it together. He suggested yoga. Yes. I should stretch this shite out. Off I go!

*youngest child is only dressed in underwear and has marker all over her face...all she needs is a spear and conch.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What's my problem?

Seriously, what's my freaking problem?

Whatever it is, it's still there, and I can't quite put my finger on it. I'm annoyed/irritated/what-have-you, but by what I can't pinpoint...

The drinking-as-solution habit is still on the fringes of my brain. This morning, as I was making the bed, I caught what I'd believed to be a bottle of red with a white label (a fancy one I'd enjoyed in the past) standing on the floor next to my husband's side of the bed (because, why not, right?). It took just another instant to see it was a water bottle, but in that millisecond that my mind had played that trick, I'd actually thought: 'mmm, that will be good later'. Then I saw it was a water bottle, then I'd thought to myself: 'you don't drink. you couldn't drink that even if it was a bottle of wine that your husband just happened to leave on the floor of the bedroom.'

It seems in big social situations (the fancy wedding we'd attended on Friday, the Girlfriend's Weekend I'd just returned from...all of which had an assortment of enticing alcoholic beverages)...drinking isn't a problem. First of all, no one seems to notice and, if they do, no one either forces me or is concerned about doing it in front of me (as I've requested by the way). So, those big situations are really not a big deal.

Instead, it's a hundred tiny moments in my 'real life' which want to send me over the edge and fill that glass with wine. And, that's pretty disturbing to me. Here's why:
My life is good.
I want for nothing.
I have a loving, fairly healthy family (immediate and extended).
I have a house in a nice neighborhood in a lovely town with good schools.
There is no real hardship.
My problem seems to be I am a woman who has no problems but can't handle her shit.
Dang. That is bad.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I'm out.

So, I've told pretty much everyone I speak to on a regular basis.
My husband.
My closest girlfriends.
My neighbor with whom I socialize frequently.
My sister.
My dearest friends from college.
My mother-in-law.
My mother.

My husband. His reaction was mild. 'How are you going to just stop?'...It's like he's forgotten how willful I am. When I decide something, I can stick to it. Not always in a good, 'oh aren't I so strong' kind of way. More of a controlling way. I smoked in college, when I was a waitress and that was the only way of taking a break without getting flack from management. When my boyfriend (now my husband) mentioned he didn't like it, I quit. That day. Never smoked again. When I decided, after watching the Boston Marathon in April 2008, that I needed to run a marathon, I joined a running group, ran my first half marathon that fall, and ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. And, then trained for and completed two more marathons and many half marathons...just because I said I would. Now, in other aspects of my life, I am amazingly lazy... but when I really want something, it happens. I am willful.

My closest girlfriends. One is also a psychologist so her reaction was measured. No surprise, no shock (granted, I've been talking about my drinking for our whole relationship, so she must have known it was coming), just a calm 'good for you/how are you feeling' sort of reaction. The other was surprised, and I was having an off day, so rambled on my explanation of why, so I think I came off as less than finite in my decision to quit.

My neighbor. Well, she had a stronger reaction, but she is a strong personality in general. She expressed loud shock, but after I explained my reasoning, she made the lovely comment, 'well, if anyone can do it, you are made of iron!' Isn't that great? You know how I love when people complement my will, my intelligence, my housekeeping, my child-rearing, whatever. I'm a sucker for a complement.

My sister. Another strong-ish reaction, but I don't think it was a reaction to what I was doing, in quitting, but more a trigger to what had been in her own brain for a while. After the phone call on July 9, she even emailed an apology for her reaction, and on Sunday, on July 12, she stopped as well. My sister, who used to wear the mantle of having a hollow leg because of how much liquor her tiny body could hold, quit. She read these pages and the Mrs. D book (seriously, a lifesaver) and just quit. Drinks plenty of seltzer and juice, of course, but no wine, no liquor.

My dearest friends. Again...measured yet supportive. More like a feeling of 'hmmmm, ok' than anything else. I think they were surprised and scared at how this may have meant a real problem they had no idea existed because we do not connect that often anymore. One of them did gently ask if there was some sort of problem, and I explained my reasons and then that was it. It wasn't the most important or interesting thing we spoke about the whole weekend, just something that was shared, like many other pieces of information longtime friends, separated by distance, share during a weekend together. Oh, and they drank (not like I would've prior to quitting, that's for sure). But it didn't bother me in the slightest. And there was a guest that weekend, who, for whatever reason (I think probably nerves as we didn't know this person too well), drank more than they should've and became sick. And, I sat there, stone sober, as that person was driven home, feeling complete sympathy. No judgement. How could I judge when I'd been in that situation too often myself? But besides sympathy was relief. Relief I would never have to wake up and wonder what I said or did, how I'd behaved.

My mother-in-law. This one sort of cracked me up...I'm not sure if she was just playing her cards close to her chest, but this was the second weekend I'd spent with her since I quit and she seemed to not see that I wasn't guzzling her wine like I'd done every other time we'd ever spent together (besides pregnancy) in our lives together! She gestured to my wine glass (full of seltzer and a splash of orange soda) and asked what I was drinking. I told her and also told her how I don't drink anymore. Ever. She was quietly surprised and, eventually it turns out, completely intrigued. Asked all sorts of questions on how I got to the point where I actually quit. I don't think she was gathering information for herself, she is happy with her wine, but still, she has alcoholism in her family and I think she was curious to have first hand knowledge on how and why someone gives it up forever. And, maybe she did have concerns about herself, but she's reserved and private in many ways and I don't think this is info she would ever feel comfortable sharing with me.

My mother. Well, she was tipped off by my sister a week or so beforehand. My sister had talked to my mom and told her she wasn't drinking and my mom was so happy for Sister and proud...called her an inspiration (which she is). She then explained that I had quit and spurred her on to quit as well. When I called my mom this past Saturday, we spoke of all sorts of news, then I mentioned how I know she spoke with Sister She said she was happy for us and that, since she spoke with Sister the previous Monday, she had not had any wine either. I sort of knew that would happen and for some reason felt bad about it. I think that's part of the reason I kept the quitting to people wouldn't react as if it was a judgement on what they were doing. Some people are fine with alcohol. Many people I know, actually. Just not me. I'm not sure about my mom. I don't think she drank near as much as I did, and as much as Sister tells me she did, but who knows? My family are masters of containment. We share only light feelings and edit down any personal info that may be unsavory.

There are some others I have to tell.

I am getting together with above referenced Closest Girlfriends and the third friend in our quartet this weekend. The third friend doesn't know...or at least I haven't said anything...but I know she will be nothing but supportive.

My sister- and brother-in-law, though I'm sure they will not blink an eye. Maybe a few jokes in the spirit of love and family, but I really cannot imagine either of them making any sort of big deal out of it. I'm sure they will be relieved to hear I'm not pregnant, because, really, what else could they have thought after spending the 4th of July weekend with me and not seeing me ingest a single a glass of wine or cocktail?

My brother. I can't believe Sister and/or Mother haven't said anything to him yet. They speak with him often, I speak to him only at family gatherings. Not out of animosity, I adore him, but because we just get wrapped up in our lives and then, boom, it's Christmas again. I'm curious to see how he feels about it because he's part of the reason I ended up stopping...that conversation he and I had years ago at my parents house when he said he'd quit for a while and I agreed to quit with him, and then we were both posting drinks and bar visits on Facebook within the week.

My beloved former-sister-in-law. Again, an easy tell. But I cannot wait to spend time with her the end of the Summer, when she and the boys come to visit, so we can hash out the minutiae of our life, as we do each time we get together. It's cathartic and sort of our 'thing' we have with each other.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Here's what drinking didn't actually do.

There are some things I always had such guilt and anxiety about, because I'd always associated them with drinking wine.

For example:

My memory, or lack thereof. I used to not remember what I'd had for dinner last night, what, and/or if, I'd had eaten that morning, had I taken my pill? And on and on. God forbid someone would tell me what I said in the past...especially if it was not flattering or went against my thinking. How could I argue?

Well, guess what? That's just my brain. I have not had any alcohol for almost 2 months and still, each day, I cannot remember these things.

Nausea. I used to wake up most mornings with a bit of a nausea. I'd assumed it was the wine specifically, now I think it was sugar and carbs. I've come to this conclusion because it's still an issue, and in lieu of wine, I've been stuffing my face with candy, nuts, chips.

To think, all that guilt, all that worry, for nothing.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Books! Books!

So, I began with "Mrs D is Going Without: I used to be a boozy housewife. Now I'm not. This is my book." by Lotta Dann. So glad I found this book. It pushed me over the edge and gave me confidence to quit drinking alcohol forever. Not just moderate (which I couldn't do anyway), not just abstain for a few months (which I'd done with my pregnancies, only to jump right back into the bottle afterwards). I love her and owe her a great debt.

Then, "A Drinking Life: A Memoir" by Pete Hamill. Fantastic storytelling. Very densely packed with imagery and memorable stories. The first 95% of the book is about his life before he quit drinking. I have to admit, I got antsy to get to the part where he gave it up for good. The final 5%, where he discusses what happens, is amazing. I'm so glad I read this. The analogy of "I realized that for years I'd been squeezing my talent out of a toothpaste tube. I'd misused it and abused it and failed to replenish it with deep reading and full consciousness." Pure gold.

Currently, "Drinking: A Love Story" by Caroline Knapp. One of those books where, on my Kindle, I've only read up to chapter 3, yet I've highlighted 75% of the text already. Her methods and background differ, but when she speaks of the "greediness" one feels when the wine is out...
Oh shit. Shit. I am completely relating to this woman and decide to look her up online to see what she's up to. She freaking died. In 2002. Of lung cancer. In the beginning of "Drinking" she relates how her father died of cancer, how he smoked, how she smokes...shit. I feel so bad. Dang.


"Kick the Drink...Easily!" by Jason Vale. I've just started this, but already found something of a gem, "I feel elated to be free from what was a constant struggle to gain control. I feel so relieved to be mentally and physically free."
Yes. That is how I feel. The knot of anxiety is missing from my chest. I'm not thinking about what to drink, how much, should I moderate, are people I'm with aware of just how much I've drank, is there enough for me to have another glass, etc. I feel relieved. That is definitely the best word for how I feel. I love how he writes, "free from the constant struggle to gain control." I'm all about control. And, drinking was an uncontrollable thing, a huge effort to even try to control.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What's in that glass?

I still drink out of my big, beautiful wine glass. Every afternoon. Sometimes even in the mornings. I love how it feels, I love how it clinks on the table as I set it down, that sound is like a Zen meditation chime to me.
However, now it contains only water, or seltzer, or another sweet non-alcoholic drink.

Besides water, I mostly drink:

An iced tea brew consisting of herbal teas: 2 peach, 2 raspberry, 2 green/nectarine. I brew it, put it in the fridge and drink cold as is, or add seltzer or soda.

Flavored seltzers. Lime, orange, lemon usually. On their own or mixed with the iced tea or soda.

Sodas. Normally, sodas are not something that agree with me, they make my innards wacky. So, I cut them with the above iced tea, or seltzer.
Some favorites have been:
Whole Foods Italian Soda in Lime or Grapefruit. They are freaking gooood mixed with seltzer or tea.
Belvoir Elderflower Lemonade. This is light, not too tart and actually looks a lot like Sauvignon Blanc.

I know I'm clearly replacing my wine habit with a sugar habit, so in an effort to not jump from one problem to another, I rarely drink the soda straight, I mix it with herbal iced tea or seltzer. It still is a remarkably satisfying replacement to the wine.

Monday, July 6, 2015

First test, sort of.

So we went away for Fourth of July weekend. one noticed. Or if they did, no one said anything as I drank wineglasses full of soda, iced tea or seltzer. The only time alcohol was mentioned (in regard to me, anyway) was when my mother in law said, "there's wine in the fridge, help yourself!" and that was it.

And I didn't say anything. I was a bit worried about having to have "the talk" and tell people I'm not drinking and why...I don't have that answer by the way. And many times over the weekend I came close to mentioning why I was drinking soda or iced tea, but just didn't. I felt like that was going to make it bigger than it was. No one really cared. Not in an uncaring way, but in a way that led me to believe they didn't care if I was drinking alcohol or not.

I'm not sure what's a good thing to tell people. I come from a family that is fairly stoic. We do not stand for complaining or whining about one's problems, and we inwardly (and sometimes, outwardly) judge people who do do that. I mean, my sister has survived two(!) different types of cancer and my father had circulation issues which led to multiple amputations of his toes/foot/leg. I mean, come on...can I really tell them, "oh, yes, I am an alcoholic", that sounds a bit too self-serving and dramatic to me.

For responses which do not sound too weak or overly dramatic, I have so far:
Alcohol didn't agree with me.
I feel better without alcohol.
I was worried about my innards (we have sugar issues in the family, I don't want to drink myself into diabetes.)
Stopping has helped remove that constant pain in my chest and reduced anxiety.

These are all true, they aren't too pathetic sounding, and they're also non-judgemental. I don't want to make my family feel like I have quit alcohol because of how bad it was, how I drank too much (when I'm fairly sure other family members drink more), anything that implies I believe I've done something good or am somehow better than my family because of this thing I'm doing.

That reminds me of a part of Pete Hamill's book, "A Drinking Life", which really spoke to me:
"And there was some residue in me of the old codes of the Neighborhood, some deep adherence to the rules about never, ever rising above your station. Getting drunk was a way of saying I would never act uppity, never forget where I came from. No drunk, after all, could look down on others. Being drunk was a great leveler, a kind of Christian act of communion. Who could ever point the finger of harsh judgement at a drunk if we all were drunk?"

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sugar. Oh shite.

Well, I see now that my evening glasses of fancy non-alcoholic beverages (carbonated juices, natural sodas) are my body's way of getting that sugar it needed each night in the form of wine. Took about 30 seconds of online searching to see sugar binges accompany quitting alcohol. Great. As I'd written in my last post, none of this is original. Shite.

I am not going to quit sugar. I just cannot go there right now. But instead of having two glasses of sugary drink followed by a few Ghiradelli squares, I'll have one topped with seltzer, to both cut the sugar and make it last longer. I know this sounds exactly like when I began the long process of quitting alcohol. Trying to moderate. It didn't work with wine, I had to quit it outright. But that's wine, not food. I'll try what I'm currently doing with wine...replacement. Instead of Ghiradelli squares, I'll eat handfuls of blueberries. Yes, it's still sugar in my body, but at least there are other good qualities to the blueberries (or raisins, oranges, peaches, etc.) that the chocolate doesn't provide.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

None of this original.

As I read and finish yet another book from a person who has given up alcohol, I come to the conclusion none of what I'm experiencing is original. I'm often reading these books and saying to myself, Yes. Yes, that's it exactly.

The most recent is Pete Hamill's "A Drinking Life". I think it was one of the books I randomly selected when I began this process of tentatively testing out if I could even do this alcohol-free life. It's a memoir, and the first 90% (according to my kindle) is his life, growing up in NY. It's lovely and well written. However, when I finally got to the third part of the book, Dry, I began to get that feeling. That thrill of reading something someone else wrote (years ago!) that I can completely relate to.

From "A Drinking Life":

"I had a tremendous craving for sugar and began to eat more ice cream and candy than I had since moving away from Sanew's. In the mornings, I felt clear and fresh."

"I liked reading myself to sleep a lot more than falling into a swollen stupor."

"Getting drunk was a way of saying I would never act uppity, never forget where I came from."

"Being drunk was the great leveler, a kind of Christian act of communion. Who could ever point the finger of harsh judgement at a drunk if we all were drunk?"

"I began to think that I only had to give up one drink: the next one. If I didn't have that drink, I'd never have another. If that was the trick, then the trick worked..."

"Now I had more time than I'd ever had as an adult. I had gained the time I once spent drinking and the time I needed for recovery."


I love this. This act of finding out that this has been done many times over. I'm not the first to do this. I always marvel that as I age (I'm mid 40s now), I'm constantly learning how little I actually know. (And, what the hell is up with the sugar?? I'm eating candy every night. Bizarre.)

I knew nothing of Pete Hamill. Never even heard his name. But from reading his memoir, I'm stunned. He's pretty well-known. Has had an amazing life and worked with and socialized with a lot of famous people. I love that I've thought that in my life I'd learned quite a bit, knew a respectable amount. And then something comes up to make me realize how small I am, how small my knowledge base actually is. It's kind of cool.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Is this just a big honeymoon?

I'm doing so well. Drinking my iced tea or seltzers out of my big wine glass. Not craving the wine, beer, prosecco, etc. at all. I've even told three people about my new alcohol-less-ness! My husband (who I believe is cautiously positive...he hasn't said much), two good friends. One I knew would be supportive. She reacted brilliantly, didn't act too surprised, just happy for me. She also noted she had no idea about all the mental work I did in regard to my drinking, and how exhausted and anxiety-provoking it was. The second reacted well. She is a very opinionated person, I thought she would react in a skeptical manner. But while she was surprised, she was very supportive. It was great and reinforces the fact that no one cares. I mean, they care about me, but no one cares if I'm drinking alcohol or not.

I feel so light. Technically, I'm not. I weigh the same, but I feel thinner. I feel less puffy. I feel like my belly has reduced. Again, I weigh the same, but I feel 5 pounds lighter.

I still cannot believe the chest pain, that awful, painful, constant knot is gone. I had no idea how constant it was, how raw my nerves always were. Things around me are the same but, my perception and, most importantly, my reaction is different. I can keep calm with much more ease. I realize now it wasn't just during my wine hours that I'd be irritated by the kids fighting or interrupting, it was most of the time. In the car, the girls sniping, or asking questions constantly...I couldn't keep a thought in my head, I'd get so pissed off at them because I couldn't think.

Then, occasionally I get panicked, darting thoughts. Thoughts of how I will react to real temptation. I haven't been tested at all really. This weekend is Fourth of July. We always go to my in-laws. There will be much to drink. Beer, wine, mixed drinks (my husband is something of a cocktail aficionado). I've already stocked up on my fancy bottles of fizzy: sparkling juices, natural sodas, etc., which I will bring down with me. I think I just have to get through the first few 'first times' and I won't feel as panicky.

I worry, though. Is this the 'pink cloud'? Is this just a big honeymoon period? I'll try not to worry on that too much. So far so good.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


I don't miss the alcohol. I have been having herbal iced tea or a sweet fancy drink in my big 'ol wine glass each evening and that seems to be doing the trick.

I am much calmer. I've had a painful, burning knot in my breastbone for as long as I can remember. Anxiety, stress, something. I take Sertraline (Zoloft) daily to help with the knot and the anxiety. It helps a bit. But, since I've stopped drinking so much alcohol, it's gone. No shit. Truth. Gone. I still get stressed, but the knot is gone. Some tightness appears, but I can breathe it out. I feel like I can think clearly and get around the anxiety and stress which is causing that knot. This is huge and I will remember this the next time I think I could just have one drink with friends.

Here are a few things I've noticed, some I need to work on:
Sugar. Oh lordy, I've been drinking and eating more sugar. Because I can/I deserve it for quitting alcohol, etc. I've sort of become addicted to sweet drinks  now (ah, a fun pattern...addiction!). Starbucks peach green tea lemonade, Belvoir Elderflower Lemonade, 'natural' sodas. It's kind of defeating the purpose of getting rid of wine if I'm going to ingest just as much sugar. Yes, I'm not ingesting alcohol, but if I'm worried about my innards, ingesting a ton of sugar isn't a good idea. I'm working on that.

Friday, June 26, 2015


So, it's been just over a week.

I'm parenting with less guilt.
I have three kids. They each have their own fabulous-ness and bring joy in different ways. They also each have their own way of annoying the hell out of their parents. My girls, the two youngest, live to irritate each other (and, thereby, irritate their parents with the endless bickering and finger pointing). Guess what? I care so very much less about that. I can stand aside and let them do it. And, use the ultimate battle tool, walk away. When we are together and they start up with the teasing/arguing/tattling on each other, I just say, Oh you're going to do that? Well, I have to go. Then I walk away. Refreshing!

I am now realizing that I'd start off fairly patient (except for when the two girls go at it, oh man, that always tightened my chest no matter what time of day), then as the day would go on, my irritation would rise up and I'd be raw by 3 or 4, and start planning the wine to relax me. Then, I'd start drinking and become the opposite of relaxed:
These kids were interrupting constantly!
These girls bicker and draw me into their dramas!
These kids are irritating me!
Can't I just enjoy my wine in peace?

So, I'd get my wine and retreat. To the kitchen with the internet on my phone, my room to watch tv, just try to retreat. Husband comes home so I 'punch out' (our term for no longer on the parenting clock), and leave him to manage them.

But I feel different now. Yes, all the daily irritations are still there, but the wine is not. So, I manage. And, since the alcohol is not there, I do not feel guilty and I do not retreat.

I used to get so irritated that I would snap and yell at the kids for whatever minor infraction pissed me off that day, then would feel so much guilt I would have to confess to my husband when he arrived home. The burden of losing my shit on my kids would be so great, it would eat at me for hours or days even.

Now, I'm not feeling that guilt. My youngest can push my buttons like no other. She's three, so she's in the constantly testing phase. And she's freaking good at it. A prodigy, even. After a long day of testingtestingtesting (and a lot of deep breathing on my part), she decided to pee on her bedroom floor. Correction: her bedroom carpet. Just because. She's been potty-trained for years. She rarely has an accident, and if she does, it's because she's asleep. No, this was just to see what would happen. Well, nothing good happened. I sort of lost my schmidt. Yelled, smacked her bum, made her stay in her room with the door shut, no dinner, just go to bed. She doesn't just stay in her room so I just locked all the other doors on that floor, shut the top of the stairs gate, and left her. Went down, took the dog into the yard, let her yell.

Husband came home, told him the story (but not as a confession, just as a reason he could hear her yelling from the driveway) and then I waited her out. I didn't give in to stop her from yelling, didn't care if the neighbors could hear and would judge my parenting skills...or lack thereof. And, most importantly, I didn't feel guilty about my behavior. We are not spankers in general. If we've ever laid a hand on the kids it was more in the stern sit-you-down-in-timeout sort of way. Yes, they've been smacked in their lives, but it's not our go-to discipline. In fact, whenever I've smacked one of our children, for whatever reason, I was consumed by so much guilt I had to confess to my husband. Sometimes not even waiting for him to get home, I'd have to call/email/text my confession.

But that day, when I told my husband the story, I realized: I didn't feel guilty. I felt calm, strong, in control, but not guilty.

I also related the part of the story where, upon hearing me yell loudly at her sister, my middle girl reacted by randomly yelling. I went downstairs and calmly walked over and yelled at her (well, spoke sternly in a loud tone): I get to yell at your sister when she behaves badly, you cannot yell because you don't like it, you just have to suck it up and deal with it! Got it? She nodded and apparently 'got it' because she went about her business.

And, instead of feeling guilty about the exchange, I thought: Yes, it's true. I get to yell about bad behavior. I was not 8 ounces into a bottle of wine, I was clear-headed, what she did was bad, she should not do it again, she should not think it's funny (as she did when confronted with the puddle), I did what a parent should do. It's ok. And I didn't feel a shred of guilt. Not even about the smack to her bum.

Today is the first full day of school vacation. I will have the girls together all day. I am going to do a lot of deep breathing and walking away from bickering, I'm sure. But I feel good. Better than I have in ages. I sit here and type this as my youngest sits on my back, playing with a contraband tape measure, and I feel good. Happy. Joyful. Yay me!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Being tired.

That was a big thing with me.
Somewhere around 3pm each day I'd start getting...tired. Looking ahead, I'd plan on my wine as a pick me up. It wouldn't actually pick me up, it would deaden me somewhat, make me irritable. But the thinking was, wine will smooth it out, wine is tasty and satisfying and the tiredness won't be so hard to manage.

Now, that I am not drinking, I'm still tired. But not having a drink planned for 5pm means I have to figure something out. And I'm realizing that being tired is not the worst thing. Recognizing I'm just tired is good. Have a snack or heck, go lie down for a bit. It's better to have your kids watching Diego or Mulan than to tough it out through the tired feeling and snap at them for the rest of the evening.

Eventually, I'd like to tackle the tired thing. I'm sure a combination of better eating and regular exercise would help, but I'm not going to push. Not trying to make a whole new me just yet. That's too much pressure.

I think just coming to the realization that I get tired...and that it is ok to be tired, it's not a character flaw...I think that's progress for me, no matter how small it seem to the outside. Identifying an uncomfortable feeling and managing it, not burying me, that's huge.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

That dream.

Huh. Had an odd dream in the early hours of Saturday. It shook me, actually.

In those weird, early, birds chirping but the sun isn't quite up, hours I had a weird dream. A dream I was tempted to drink again. It's cloudy. I've never been good about retaining details of dreams beyond a few hours, but the feeling has stayed with me. Anger and annoyance. I feel like there is a part of my brain messing with me. Daylight me doesn't want to drink. At all. Really. It's amazing.
But, sleepy me needs to work out her stuff. And I remember being prodded to drink. Was it from a friend or loved one, or myself? Can't be sure. I do remember that I was telling myself (in the dream)...don't do it. It wasn't so much a scary nightmare and a panic. I woke up feeling pissy at myself.

Then, Sunday night, had another weird dream. A consumption dream, but not alcohol. I remember I was in a foreign land and I wanted to buy something, anything, from that place. Must buy something. I bought boots, like sneakerish Doc Martens, because they were from this place and on final sale, no returns. Bought them and put them on. I felt like there was dirt or something in them, so I took them off, removed the insoles and shook them. A tiny mouse and babies fell out of the left shoe. Not scurrying mice, but kind of clumped together, like she'd just had those baby mice. I had a faceless friend stick their hand in and clear the mice out so I could put them on. Then, when I did (gross, what the hell?) I realized they were a size and a half big and and didn't match exactly. But they were final sale, so I had to keep them.

So, in conclusion, alcohol-free dreams are messed up.

Monday, June 22, 2015

All done.

First post ever.
I stopped drinking alcohol on Thursday, June 18, 2015. My last alcohol consumption was 2/3 bottle of fancy red wine. I'd bought that wine, along with another bottle of fancy white, the previous Sunday. Drank most of the white Sunday and Monday, leaving a mouthful in the glass and thought, that's it, I'm done. This is too much, I'm drinking too much every night. That bottle of red I'll save for the upcoming Friday, when I was planning a girl's night with some close friends. I won't drink until then, and then that bottle of red will be the last and I'll stop.

Tuesday evening, on my way back from a doctor's appointment to relieve the babysitter, I realized my husband had class that night, wouldn't be home until late, and there was nothing better than a giant glass of red wine and a couple episodes of OITNB while my husband was out. Luxurious, free time, with wine and tv he doesn't enjoy. And, I even had a new bottle in the house! I mentally fought inside my head. But, I was going to stop drinking...I really shouldn''s making me feel bad...but husband is will be relaxing and luxurious...just have one glass for pete's sake, you don't have to drink the whole the glasses out, make the bottle last a few days...

And I did it. I fought and won. No drinking that day.

Wednesday. Something changed. I realized I couldn't save that bottle. It was fancy, after all. I would drink it, then would be done. One big glass in these fantastic large, expensive wine glasses my mother in law bought me for Christmas. That's it. I even waited for my husband to get home, it was at least 6:30pm. I put the bottle of wine, the rabbit opener and the big glass on the counter so he could see it was unopened.Yay, I don't have a problem honey.

Drank one glass. And by one glass, I mean a giant glass half filled, so about 8 ounces. First sip was lovely, but not as fantastic as I'd thought it would be. From then on, I basically ignored the taste, smell, what-have-you and drank that wine like it was my job. Lay on the bed, tuning out everyone, watching my show, drinking that wine. Finished the glass and got another. Watched more tv. Think I may have topped off one last time, can't be sure. But a few things I do remember:
I felt tired.
I felt like I needed air and hoped I just slept through the night and didn't spiral into getting sick.
I felt sad that I drank, practically without realizing what I was doing, and how much I drank. Even if I couldn't pinpoint how much that night, I knew it was a lot.
Walking downstairs the next morning and doing what has become the norm lately...checking the bottle. Checking to see what was left and how that amount directly related to how I would feel the rest of the day. Most of the bottle still there? Great! I'm doing fine. I did it. I didn't drink too much. I controlled it. Half a bottle left? Well, not great, but there are two more glasses in there you could space out over the next two days. A third of the bottle left? What the hell happened? Why did I drink so much? What's freaking wrong with me?

Thursday, June 18, I decided that was it. All done. I'd wanted to quit for a long, long time. I remember having a discussion with my brother years ago, at our parent's house. He said something along the lines of wanting to stop drinking. Maybe it was his increased interest in running or a less-than-great doctor's visit, I can't remember for sure. But I remember saying I'd do it with him, in solidarity. I even think our sister was in on it. But I also know within weeks or days even, we were all at it again. But when I agreed, it wasn't just in solidarity, it was because I had concerns about myself, just didn't want to do it on my own at that time.

I read Glennon Doyle Melton's book "Carry On Warrior" and her admission that she was sober secretly thrilled me and freaked me out at the same time. How the heck did she do that? I didn't know anyone who didn't consume something: wine, beer, pot, pills. How does one relax? How does one deal with a busy life and stress without something at the end of the day? What does she do at 5pm? I loved the idea of it, but it just wasn't practical. She was just one of those people. Those tiny, fit, loving, happy, successful, beautiful people that can just do that sort of thing. (If you read her book, as I've done twice, you know she is not those things, but I rationalized the opposite to myself anyhow).

I'd been talking with a good friend about my drinking for a while. She asked some questions that let me feel that since: No, I don't drink during the day. Yes, I can skip a day (if necessary). Yes, I can manage my life, family and work, that I probably was ok. Don't worry about it so much. I think this was because I've also be suffering through some heightened anxiety in the past year and she was worried fretting wouldn't help.

Then I started to look (secretly, stealthily) online. Looking for books on real people (not self help people, not doctors) who stopped. Like Glennon, but with actual info on how they did it and how if felt. I was embarrassed to actually get the books from the library, so I got on waiting lists (waiting lists! for books on how to stop drinking!) for the electronic kindle versions of books. And I found a blog "Mrs. D is Going Without" which I could access while waiting for the books from the library. That was it. I read her beginning posts for an hour, then I ordered her book (kindle version, of course! I didn't want people to see me reading a book like that, even though the title doesn't give anything away). I read her book. I read it all the time. I highlighted 50% of it because it was so like me and what she said I knew I'd have to go back and re-read when things were harder. I called up her blog on my phone and read it while I walked the dog each evening, alone.

And, finally, I knew I would do it. I don't want to say I'm trying to stop. I don't want to try. I want to do, so I will. And here is why I know I can:
I realized that those last two bottles of fancy wine didn't taste as great as I'd anticipated.
I'd had my other go to drink, a sidecar, a few weeks before, and it also wasn't as great as I'd anticipated.
I'd had my third go to drink, champagne, a week before, and again, not as great as I'd anticipated.
There is a theme here.
It was a habit. A habit that was confused. I think it was more about the timing of the situation. How I could tune out somewhat from the worst, hardest part of my day, dinner time. The kids become unruly, there's so much noise, fighting, stress, I want to go away from it, but cannot leave (I am the primary caregiver of young children until my husband gets home each night). So I leave by visiting another, pretend, grown up land. I pour my fancy wine into a lovely fancy goblet. I love the sound of that wine glass when it 'tings!' against the table as I rest it down. This is what grown ups do. I will drink that wine and it will relax me, subdue me, take me above the din of my children and their messy noise.
But, see, it didn't actually do that. What it did do was take me away, but to a surly, irritable, 'leave me be and go play!' place. And then, I didn't even want to cook, or even eat, the meal I'd make for them. I just wanted to sit with my wine, possibly watch them all eat and 'relax'. Oooh, I was going to relax if it took a whole bottle to do so.

And, each glass of wine would contain a mental fight and so much guilt. I would work myself up inside:
I love wine! I love the taste/smell/color!
You are drinking too much, can't you just have one glass and be done with it?
But this is what I do, I love good wine, everyone knows that.
Your innards are a mess. You already have had messed up sugar is not going to help that. Look at your face. Look how puffy you are getting, look at your sagging neck. Drink more water, for pete's sake.
I'll space out the rest of the wine. I'll just have one normal glass tomorrow.
What the hell happened? Why did you drink that last glass? You didn't even taste it.

I've always had a compulsive nature. Consume, consume, consume, until it's gone, make sure I get as much as I can. Obsess over things. My brain is always buzzing.

So I read Lotta's book. I got inspired. I woke up Thursday and poured the remaining wine into tupperware and froze it (I use it for deglazing). I felt relieved. I actually felt relieved that I was finally doing it.
At 5pm I took a note from Lotta and poured some iced tea I'd made into my fancy wine glass. And it was freaking great. I think it really was having the glass of pretty liquid in my hand that I needed, that I wanted.

Each night I go to bed happy. Each morning I wake up excited. In Lotta's book, she refers to the 'pink cloud' and that I need to be aware of this common condition. And maybe so. But it has been 4 days and I feel great.

I feel:
Less bloated.

The pain my chest, that constant soreness at the breastbone, has released. I sometimes feel it, and I breathe and try to visualize me dealing with what the cause, what directly preceded that feeling. Ooh, look at me, dealing with things! Not stuffing them down! It's so novel.

So there. There we are. Today is Monday, June 22. I haven't had a drink in four days. I'm done!