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.