Day 760: Boozeless

I don’t talk about sobriety much here any more, but as I’m making pretty good strides with the whole plan right now, I want to give credit where it’s due: I don’t think any of this would be happening if I were drinking.

And that’s a “me” thing, not a universal thing — I know lots of people who do wonderfully and drink in moderation; and some that have gone through huge transformative experiences where drinking’s been part of their lives and it’s been fine. For them.

Not for me.

The big thing about quitting drinking wasn’t the quitting drinking part, it was the giving permission to myself to quit. I didn’t have a flashing neon “DRINKING PROBLEM” sign blinking at me; I wasn’t doing anything that radical with drinking.

But it was the one thing that a lot of other things seemed to swirl around. Food’s the other one, of course, but that seems to be at least modestly under control. And I can’t control the food when I’m drinking, which I know from long decades of experience.

So yeah. That’s just where my head’s at today; I’m rounding out a pretty great January of positive changes with food and exercise — sleep coming soon, I hope, and keeping alcohol out of it has been the crux. It took two years of not drinking for the other things to start kicking in, but here we are, and I’m happy to be here.

Day 675: Lunch With Friends

I was thinking I didn’t have much to write about today, but then remembered I’m having lunch today at a pub with friends; drinkin’ friends. And it’s nice to have the feeling that this is no big deal.

A year ago this would have been more of a nervewracking thing. But now, it’s just no big deal. I’m’a go and hang out with friends and they’ll drink and I won’t. That’s just how things go now.

It’s nice.

Day 616: Drinking is still NOT FOR ME

I had some pretty big professional news the other day; I can’t get into details other than to say it’ll make a big impact on my job and how I do it, and I feel in a way that helps me learn and grow more in my role.

So good news, on the whole.

I was feeling pretty great about that! My wife and I had bought materials to make Damson gin as Christmas presents, I was feeling fine, and thought “why not? Why not have some gin? It’s been 615 days, and maybe my biology has reset itself.

My biology has not reset itself.

It wasn’t a disaster; I didn’t get hammered, I’m not on a bender, I’m doing fine. But boy howdy, the craving for more was there in spades. I had a second small glass and then I absolutely had to call it quits, because I didn’t want to call it quits.

As far as booze goes, I’ve learned something valuable: I’m pretty much where I was at the beginning. I’ve got a strong “no” and a fantastic “yes,” but I’m not genetically gifted with moderation.

It’s no booze for me. Lesson learned and logged. Probably the last time I’ll need to learn that lesson, because if 600-plus days doesn’t reset me, I doubt a thousand, or two thousand, days would make a difference.

Day 526: Beermaking

It’s one of the ironies of my life that as I stopped drinking, my wife started getting more into beer. Not more into drinking, it must be clear — we sometimes have that “you drink and I don’t” gulf between us, but it’s not frequent. In fact, the more into beer she gets, the less she drinks, because the more she wants to drink good beer and not just whatever’s around.

So last night was a late night, as I spent a chunk of the day and evening helping her make a grapefruit ale. It’s actually a super interesting hobby; no more difficult at the end of the day than making any other recipe, it just takes a while. I’m not anti beer, I just don’t drink myself.

But the thought did cross my mind occasionally about whether this was “good” for me or not. Ultimately, it came down to yes: I wasn’t tempted to drink during the process, it was something I could support her with, and I generally just like hanging out and doing stuff with my wife. So net win.

This isn’t an activity for everyone, obviously. It also threw a couple other things off-track so I am now catching up after having to break exercise around baking bread this morning. But it was fun and wholesome. Ultimately cheaper than buying beer, too.

 

 

Day 506: Gardening Holiday, Drinking Temptation

Four hours of yardwork yesterday! Started with some week trimming, then I got to digging weeds out between the flagstones and just didn’t stop. Not a great Victoria Day holiday, but on the other hand, the flagstones look great.

Yardwork Part II this morning, right after some coffee and checking in on the foster. I have the side yard to mow, and there’s a lot more flagstoning to do. Flagstoning? Sure.

Is this the most relaxing vacation? No. But it’s getting stuff done that needs to get done, and that’s satisfying in and of itself.

Oh, snap! I almost forgot to mention! Drinking temptations LIKE A VAMPIRE rose from the grave yesterday! A full blown “your wife’s at work, you’re home alone, nobody needs to know if you have a beer, buddy” attack. Out of nowhere. Fended it off, no problem, but it’s a good reminder that you gotta be vigilant. Pow! Stupid booze.

 

Day 479: Still Sober!

It’s been a rocky month on a lot of fronts, with mood and diet all over the place. Looking back to the origins of this blog and podcast, though — I’m not drinking! So as a point of origin, I’m still going strong on the one essential front.

So that’s something.

As stated, it’s been a bit of a rough month. The funny thing is, it’s hard to put a finger on why other than “…because?”. I’m chalking it up to going hard in February/March, the cyclical nature of Me, and a truly rotten spate of late winter weather.

But I’m sober.

That’s something. And not something small. It’s been hella hard sometimes — it seems to be getting easier now, but don’t get overconfident — and that has gone from “a thing I am trying” to a pretty core component of my self-identity.

I’d flatter myself to think that it’s also made me (or doing this has made me) more self-aware and self-reflective. I’d love to say “calmer,” but I think I’m just as irritable as I’ve ever been, only differently irritable sometimes.

So yeah. Rough month. I feel good about May. And I’m sober! That’s worth celebrating… with a sandwich or something.

 

Day 340: Sobriety Challenge Accepted

It has been a kind of emotional 24 hours on the home front, and to be candid, I did spend some significant time yesterday thinking about booze. But I didn’t drink.

Also a rough night for sleep, and I think today’s exercise is going to be a very long, head-clearing walk. But I’m proud of myself for not drinking yesterday. The pull was probably the strongest it’s been since I quit. So a few things on that:

  • While I’ve never been a blackout drunk, killed-the-dog PROBLEM drinker, it’s pretty amazing the hold booze still has on me. It’s been almost a year, and a super stressful day sent me into, like, hand-twitching cravings.
  • My motivation for not drinking was mainly an internalizing of alcohol as the weakness and an inner story about how I am not going to let this problem take me down.
  • Which is interesting. But alcohol has, at some point, become synonymous with weakness and escape in my brain. Drinking = surrender. And while my willpower still needs a lot of work with food, it’s apparently pretty strong in this particular province.

So there y’go. I didn’t drink yesterday, and I’m not going to drink today. It wasn’t a “one day at a time” narrative, it was a “you’re not going to win, you son of a bitch” narrative. Not that the other doesn’t have value, it just turned out not to be my go-to.

 

 

Day 294: Lazy Sunday

It’s a late morning — partly because it was an early morning, and then I went back to bed. I sometimes get up early on Sundays, and watch movies my wife isn’t interested in. This morning it was Colossal.

I knew it was a weird indie monster movie comedy but I had no idea had a lot to say about alcohol, too. I’m trying to compress it into a booze metaphor, but I think that’s too easy. Good movie, though.

Starting the day on a movie about an alcoholic was kind of a weird beginning to it. Especially since yesterday was rougher than I thought, emotionally — frankly, it’s weird to be with drunk people when you’re sober. Sometimes more weird than others. And maybe I don’t deal as well with drunk people while sober as other sober people do.

But it stresses me out. Emotional unpredictability is hard for me to deal with normally, and alcohol turns that up about 1000 times. So I find myself crazy exhausted today — just wanting some peace and quiet and recharge time. Lots of yard work to do, and some schoolwork, which I think will be a good place for me to be today.

I feel like a bit of a wimp talking about this. “Not being drunk is hard! Waaah!” But it’s the truth of my situation. I’m not the world’s best person at dealing with emotion normally. Slam those levers into the red and roll dice every five minutes and I’m just not the right person for that job.

So I’m going to have to talk to my wife about this. I don’t think she drinks too much by normal standards, but she does get really drunk when she drinks, and it’s hard on me. I thought it wouldn’t be, but it is.

 

 

Day 293: Not Jealous (Honest)

It’s a car weekend. We don’t own a car, for financial reasons, mostly, but rent one from time to time. And my wife, with her women and craft brewing project, Harpy Hour,  has been invited to an out-of-town beer festival.

So I’m driving. This is not the first of such arrangements — it’s probably the fourth or fifth time we’ve done a day trip or longer trip where I’m the driver and she’s… the drinker? That doesn’t sound right.

And it’s fine. Not “Gunshow cartoon” fine, but generally fine. It’s taken a bit of mental jiggery-pokery to get there, though: I have to enjoy the drive, and bring stuff to do while my wife does her thing. The iPad is a godsend. My new phone plan (my phone got replaced post-theft) with its 10GB data plan will be a godsend. I’ll find things to do.

But yeah! It’s been a bit of interior work to be… okay with this. Full disclosure: I told my wife I’d be talking about this today, and she’s kind of displeased. She doesn’t like the image of me being the slave-chauffeur to my boozy spouse. Which is completely understandable. It’s not a great look.

The fact of the matter is, when there’s drinking on the menu, somebody’s gotta drive, and when I don’t drink, the choice is pretty obvious. If there were an alternate, parallel hobby set where, I don’t know, I’d go to cut-your-legs-off festivals and people were to chop my legs off as my passion, I’m sure she’d drive! But that’s where we’re at.

The positive side of all of this is I’m not really jealous (honest) and I don’t feel driven to drink by this. Strangely, being around booze is less of a trigger to inspire booze desires than stress or complacency.

But it does take work to get there. Getting over the pure selfish instinct of “I’m giving up my day for this.” I have to actually grapple with my inner child and smack that kid in the head and say “this is a partnership, dummy.”

Day 277: Hello, Bachelor Booze Brain

Late episode today — my phone was stolen out of my office yesterday, ironically while I was chasing a different thief in a different part of my building. I guess they come in pairs now. And my site requires two-factor authentication, which I receive… on my phone. It’s taken a while to work around that.

So things are a bit late due to technical difficulties.

Normally, I’d be all about talking about theft and chasing methheads, but the OTHER thing that’s been happening to me in the last two days has been the return of Booze Brain while I’ve been a temporary bachelor. Like, almost “hearing voices” level of interference.

I dropped by the grocery store on my way home on Tuesday. Next to the liquor store. And the unbidden thought was “hey, buddy! Your wife’s out of town. You could just get a bottle of medium-quality whiskey and nip away at it. Nobody will ever know!” And the same yesterday, but with the bottles of wine in our basement.

It’s not a “let’s get blotto” voice, either. It’s a “one drink wouldn’t hurt” kind of vector. But, I mean, we know where that goes.

Obviously, I didn’t. But man, it… happened. It was spooky! It’s been a while since I’ve been seriously tempted, but that was COMPELLING.

So… triumph? I guess? I think I won a battle there, but I’m too disturbed by the fact that the war’s still going on to feel great about the victory. It’s creepy.