Day 17

I’ve been so focused on what I am no longer doing (drinking) that I am completely forgetting what I am now able to do.

I am now waking up without being hungover. My hangovers are really the main reason I had to quit drinking. There was no DUI, or work reprimand or family intervention. Instead, the reason I had to shelve my corkscrew is that my hangovers were ruining my life.

After a night of drinking, I wake up enveloped in self loathing and illness. Many mornings I can’t face a cup of coffee, I am so sick. I suffer with debilitating anxiety – am almost unable to drive my kids to school or myself to work. I am shaky and cold sweating until I can choke down something greasy, usually a plate of nachos I make in the microwave. And I am carrying the heavy knowledge that I now have to get through the day feeling so so shitty and pretending to everyone (my friends, my husband, my kids, my coworkers) that I am fine and can I please go on a five mile run with you, make your lunch, make sure you have socks on, send you that document  … when all I want to do is lay down and fade to black for the next six hours.

But that’s not even the most fucked up part. The most fucked up part, of course, is that once I started to feel a teeny bit better, usually around 4 p.m. but sometimes not until 5 or even 6, I would DO IT ALL AGAIN. On purpose. To myself.

This was my day, almost every single day, for months and months and years and years.

Until 17 days ago.


Day 16

“My mother was a drunk” is one of the harshest, saddest sentences in any language. -Anna Quindlen, “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake”

I spent the larger part of yesterday reading Ann Dowsett Johnston’s new book “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol.” Johnston is a recovering alcoholic and intertwines her own story with research on today’s women and their scary drinking habits.

She had a pretty spectacular alcoholic for a mother and then, despite her best intentions, followed suit.

My mother is not an alcoholic. My mother is wonderful and supportive and loving and warm. And when I told her last week that I had quit drinking because I was hungover five out of seven days (and that was being generous) and could not take it any longer, my mother said nothing. I have done such a good job of hiding my drinking secret that my mother, always quick with words of encouragement, just stared at me as if I had just told her that the Earth has three moons.

Her silence freaked me out. And so I quoted Anna Quindlen and, getting teary now, quickly explained that I was determined to not be a drunk mother.

And yet …

I’ve spent the majority of my evening planning out ways to drink. Not drink today, but tomorrow, which is New Years Eve. It is also my 16th wedding anniversary.

My husband, who knows I am trying not to drink and whose comment on my drinking habit was a major reason I chose to quit 16 days ago, WANTS me to drink. He thinks I can have “one or two drinks” to celebrate.

I wish that I could have “one or two drinks” to celebrate. But I am pretty sure I spent the last 10 years proving to myself that I am not a “one or two drinks” kind of girl.

While plotting to drink, I am reading the sober blogs. And Mrs D keeps talking about how she is so so so happy being sober and so so so doesn’t want to drink. (To be fair, these are her later posts. She is much further along in her sobriety. Like, years further along.)

But I DO want to drink. And I am NOT happy being sober. In fact, I am very crabby about it. And all this sober clarity is making me HATE all my people.

I guess the question becomes who will I hate more: Me if I drink or all my people if I don’t?

Day 15

My best friend in college, Carol, once told me that when faced with a demon – a disease in this case – it was always best to give it a name, really get to know it, and either learn to live with it in a friendly fashion or kill it dead. Naming it, Carol explained, especially naming it something innocuous and vanilla like ‘Sally,’ would make easier to befriend it or kill it.

And so it’s day 15 without Sally, who is known to others as Cocktail, Wine, Beer, Alcohol. But known to me as my best friend for the past 10 years. Sally, the girl who was always there for me, through multiple deployments and nine moves and two babies, until she turned nasty and ugly and mean.

Still. I miss Sally a lot. I hate her a lot. But mostly, right now, 15 days without her and I miss her terribly and am very blue and very angry about not having her.

I’ve been lurking on the sober blogs and reading about addiction for months now. Belle calls her Sally “Wolfie.” Mrs D calls her Sally “fox.” I read a book called “Rational Recovery” and he calls Sally “beast.”

We all know her by a different name.

But I know her as Sally and I know she’s all wrong for me. But what to do without her?