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 it....to 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't...it's making me feel bad...but husband is out...it will be relaxing and luxurious...just have one glass for pete's sake, you don't have to drink the whole bottle...space 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 levels...wine 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!