Coping

Day 3 again, and Day 3 is usually when I convince myself to have a drink (or 10).  Not today, not gonna happen.  I have had several triggers and risky situations and close calls in the past 2 days so I truly am lucky to have made it to this point.  When I drink I feel awesome for, oh, I’d say about 2 hours.  Then I get lazy, lethargic, and usually eat some crappy food.  Then I go to bed, pass out, and hit the snooze button three times the next morning (my phone is set to only let me hit snooze 3 times, otherwise it would probably be more).  But when I’m not drinking, at least in the early days, I will usually be agitated and irritable but will at least eat a healthy dinner, work out, go to bed at a decent time and read, wake up somewhat refreshed and sometimes even go for an early morning run (hey, it’s happened).  I spend the rest of the day in a productive fury, actually doing the job that I am paid to do and being damned good at it.  The benefits to being sober outweigh the benefits to being drunk or hungover ten times over!

But.  Buuuuuut.  It’s effin’ hard.  It’s hard because, since I entered university, alcohol has been my #1 go to coping mechanism.  It’s how I dealt with stress, or with the breakup of a relationship, or a shitty grade on my Poli Sci report (why did I ever even consider that politics were a thing for me?).  It’s also how I handled positive things.  Thursday through Saturday bar crawling with my friends, celebrating a new job, weddings, concerts, family reunions, holidays.  Alcohol has just always been there, and somewhere along the lines I slipped from regular, social drinker, to problem drinker or alcoholic.

So I need to train myself to cope in other ways.  Fill my life with plenty of other options, of things I can do or foods I can eat or people I can talk to, so that when any of the above situations come up I don’t flounder and end up drinking because it’s the only thing I know.

Aside from alcohol, my second biggest addiction is sushi.  I could live, eat and breathe sushi.  It is my second most expensive habit, so much so that I’ve got my local sushi restaurants on speed dial and they call me by name when they see my number show up on their call display.  Yesterday I was having a particularly crummy day and was feeling like I wanted to run out and buy my usual coping mechanism, but instead decided to dial up the restaurant closest to my place of work.  Wrong number.  Tried again, wrong number.  Checked their website and facebook page to confirm the number, and it was still wrong.  Googled their name in the news.  FIRE.  The place caught fire and is CLOSED.  I feel like a toddler retelling this story, but if I could have laid on the floor and kicked my feet and pounded my fists I would have.  I work in a bit of a rough area, and sushi restaurants are absolutely not common around here.  In fact – and I did my research – this restaurant is the only one I would have been able to get to and back and eat my lunch in the 30 minutes I’m allotted each day.  I was at a loss yesterday and totally down because I couldn’t have either of my two favourite things in the world.  I’ll be honest, if a co-worker hadn’t cornered me at the end of the work day, in the 10 minute gap that I have to sneak out and get to the liquor store and still get home to my kids on time, I would have drank last night.  I was furious with her in the moment, but woke up thankful for her intervention.

So, sober warriors, how do YOU cope?  What do you do when you’ve had a particularly bad or good day?  How do you arm yourself when going to events or gatherings where alcohol would have otherwise been your go to?

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Unsettling Dreams

I have had a week or so of very strange, sometimes scary dreams.  Normally I don’t dream after I have been drinking.  I generally fall into bed, sprawled on my stomach, and I wakeup that way 5 hours later.  But the dreams I’ve had over the past several days have just been unnerving. 

One night, no matter how many times I woke up and tried to shake it off, I kept dreaming about someone trying to take my children, or me losing my children and not being able to find them.  Once, we left our daughter in a stranger’s apartment and could hear her screaming as we walked away.  We turned to go back and get her, but when we did that our son bolted in the other direction and was out of sight in a flash.  Wife was searching for one while I was searching for the other.  I don’t remember how that one ended.

Then, for two nights in a row, I was having dreams where wife and I were arguing about my drinking.  I was sneaking it, but she knew, and she called me on it.  Found my stash, started a big argument in front of my family, and told me she was leaving me.  I’m pretty sure that I had this dream because it is a very real possibility.

Last night was just… disgusting.  Have you ever had a dream in which you do something that you would never even consider doing in your real life?  Something disturbing… violent… abusive… immoral… illegal.  I am not going to say what happened because I can’t believe that something like that even existed in my unconscious mind.  I feel ashamed and like I should apologise to this person that I have hurt in my mind.  I feel dirty. 

I have always – ALWAYS – struggled to fall asleep.  As a child and teen I rarely got more than 6-8 hours and was exhausted all the time.  In university my roommate showed me a trick.  1/2 Gravol and you’re out within 60 minutes.  Of course I never just took half.  This is something that I have used to help me sleep on and off for 10 years.  And in the last 18 months, it’s been booze.  But in the last week even alcohol isn’t helping, and I’m disturbed by the inner workings of my brain.  I don’t want to think and feel and experience those things, I want to numb out like I always do.

The last night that I went to bed sober, about 2 weeks ago, I remembered the name of the man who sexually abused my sister and I when we were eight and six.  This is a man who was the son of our before and after school babysitter.  My sister and I both kept it a secret but I finally told my parents about 5 years ago.  I could remember his first name but not his last and asked my parents for help remembering it.  They refused, and told me to just get over it, probably because pursuing this would mean (to them) that they didn’t do their jobs as our parents, that they didn’t protect us and didn’t suspect anything was off.  I honestly think that I was more impacted by the fact that they devalued my experience than I was by the abuse itself, which occurred on one occasion.  So I was laying awake at 3:00 a.m., obsessing about this, and decided to do a little digging myself.  I found him in 10 minutes.  My parents, who were adults when we knew this family, are internet savvy and would have been able to find him even quicker, I’m sure. 

Jesus I think I need to see a shrink.  I think I’m more messed up than I even thought.

Is it too late for a Sober Summer?

You can probably guess why I haven’t written a post in two weeks.  Although I’d love to say that I’ve been off on adventures and enjoying the pink cloud moments, the truth is that I haven’t been able to string together more than 2 days at a time.  I have been reading that the fact that I continue to return to Day One is a good thing, but I actually feel like shit about it. 

On July 2 I proclaimed that this would be my SOBER SUMMER, but I only made it until July 4.  I attended a wedding that day and was the Designated Driver, so I had the experience of a normie and had two glasses of wine over six hours and actually had a blast.  I woke up the next morning and admitted to Belle that I had drank (I started the challenge July 2), but that I was proud of myself because in that situation in the past I a) wouldn’t have volunteered to be a DD and b) would have been out of my mind inebriated – how else would I have been able to dance to Footloose? (Side note – I am actually a better dancer when I’m not tanked.  Who’da thunk it?)  Belle responded and told me she would restart me on Day One, which in hindsight is obvious (it’s a NO drinking challenge, not a drinking in moderation challenge), but at the time I felt defeated and, guess what, used it as an excuse to keep drinking.  See what I did there?  I put the power in someone else’s hands, because taking responsibility for it would mean that I actually had to do something about it.

I had my first physical in three years last Wednesday and had gone in there intending to be honest about my drinking, but I wasn’t.  The nursed asked how much and how often I drank and I said that I drank “a couple drinks 3-4 times weekly”.  When I read the notes over her shoulder she had written down “Alcohol – rare”.  Huh?  Even with my white (big fat) lie, I was hovering around the high end of the safe drinking guidelines, but she referred to my consumption as “rare”?  I should have corrected her.  I should have broken down and told her I needed help, that I wanted a referral to the office counsellor.  But the problem is, the only time I’m honest about my drinking is here and with Belle (who, by the way, is being ever so patient with me).  Anyway, I had blood work done so I’m anticipating a call to discuss the results of this any day now.  I was probably still somewhat intoxicated when they took the blood.  Shame.

So, here I am on Day Two, wondering if I will drink on Day Three again.  Not wanting to, but not fully knowing how not to.  I have still been reading and have been inspired by those of you who have continued to push through, but have also been secretly jealous that you seem to possess some magical skill that I can’t muster up. 

Reaching out

It has been a whirlwind of a weekend and I haven’t had much time to post.  My relationship with booze has been on and  off, but better than before.  Belle says that when you continue to have Day Ones, it might be indicative of the fact that you need to change up your support system.  I have a doctor’s appointment in 8 days and plan to ask for a referral to their social worker.  My biggest fear is that they will contact child protective services, and my next biggest fear is that I will be judged (though I guess you can’t have the first without the second).

One day at a time

I had a really cruddy sleep last night.  I put my book down too late, daughter woke up once, wife woke up to pee 2816 times, there was a thunderstorm, and I had a bad dream.  I’d guess I got 4 hours, maybe.  But you know what? It was still better than the 8 hours of drunk, dead to the world sleep that I would have gotten any other night. I absolutely love the feeling of waking up without a hangover.  I look decent, I’m not rushed, and I am insanely productive at work. So why not reward myself with a drink?  Yeah, that is exactly what is going through my head. 

In an earlier post I mentioned that once an idea pops into my head I find it difficult to shake.  Once I say “well why not?” I usually wind up drinking.   I need to break that pattern, which is at least the plan for tonight.  I can think of a ton of excuses to drink in the coming weeks, but no special occasions tonight, so I’m just going to take er’ easy.  I think I am finally understanding this “one day at a time” mentality.

Cognitive dissonance

How many more posts are going to begin with, “Here we go again…”?  

 

I am feeling very unbalanced.  I like to think that I am a good person.  A person with values and morals, a person who makes good decisions, a person who puts her children and partner before anyone else in the world.  But it’s as if alcohol turns me into an entirely different person, a person that I don’t recognize, a person that I don’t want to admit is me.  Alcohol turns me into a liar, a manipulator, a thief.  It turns me into an angry, raging beast.  And this isn’t after 5 drinks, it’s after 1.  Sober me will say, “yeah, sure, just one beer.”  But alcoholic me will be scheming my way into the next drink before I can even feel the effects of the first.  

 

Cognitive dissonance.  I have values and beliefs, but I am not behaving in a way that is congruent with these values and beliefs.  I have goals that I want to achieve (lose weight, run a race, save money), yet I am being counterproductive in my behaviour.  My behaviour will not only disallow me from achieving these goals, but it will actually lead me into the exact opposite direction.  A counsellor once told me that I was “sabotaging” my relationship, but perhaps it goes deeper than that.  Maybe I am unconsciously sabotaging every single facet of my life.  But now that I’m aware that this is a possibility, it isn’t exactly unconscious anymore.  Which means that I have to act, I have to do something about this.  I know that cognitive dissonance is a very important step when it comes to affecting change in one’s life, so although I am still actively engaging in a behaviour that is damaging, I am on the path to change.  

 

If I were to look at the material on motivational interviewing (MI) that I use with my clients, I am hovering on a daily basis between the contemplative stage of change, preparation, and action.  I am only contemplative when I am drinking, or when I am trying to convince myself to drink.  It’s funny how the brain can trick itself, even days after a very scary withdrawal related experience, into thinking that the drinking isn’t as bad as I thought it was.  (Seriously?  I hide vodka in my child’s room.  How is it “not that bad”?)

 

Back to the MI.  In the preparation phase, it is important to set a date, go public, and have a solid plan.  Once I begin to act on that plan, I am in the action phase, when the benefits of change outweigh the costs.  The tricky part, for me at least, is that I know that the benefits of stopping drinking outweigh the benefits of drinking, BUT I STILL DRINK.  So clearly my error is in the planning, because my plans suck.  I somehow think that I can continue to live my life the way that I always have, putting myself into risky, triggering situations, and “just don’t drink”.  To an alcoholic, those words are a friggen joke.  If you tell a non-alcoholic just not to drink, they will say “ok” and move on with their day without a second thought.  But when you tell an alcoholic not to drink, they will say “ok” and spend the rest of the day thinking about it.  They will be triggered by songs on the radio, something a colleague says, or driving by a certain store or restaurant.  And they will go on like that for a while, until they say screw it all and convince themselves that it is far more exhausting being sober than it is being wasted.  Then they wake up the next morning…. “here we go again.”

 

I need to work on my plan.  I know that today I will not drink.  I am worried about several upcoming events and how I will handle them (colleague’s engagement dinner, Pride weekend, stag and doe, baseball game, camping…), but for now I just need to focus on today.  On going home and spending time with my beautiful family and actually remembering putting myself to bed.  

You got me.

Don’t mistake my silence for wonderful,  blissful sobriety.  My silence is because I’ve been drinking for the past 3 nights. I’m ashamed and embarrassed and feel like I’m not worthy to be a “sober blogger”, which is why I’ve been avoiding this site. there have been “excuses” to drink for the past 3 nights and I’ve fallen for them. I know I’ll get back on track, but I hate the 2 days off, 3 days on, 3 days off, 7 days on mentality.  Ugh.