Friends

I have a chosen few. I keep them very close. I check in and I remember and I follow up. And they do the same.

But sometimes, even though I love them and they love me and we have a deep and shared history, this Not Drinking thing feels like it creates a chasm.

We went out tonight. Everyone wearing perfume, expensive denim jeans, chunky necklaces. We sat in a lovely restaurant and shared hummus and crusty bread and warm chocolate cake.

I drank cranberry sodas. They drank martinis and wine. We ordered a second round.

I guess the change happened slowly, but my recognition of it was sudden.

We were discussing husbands or boyfriends or children. As we always do. The conversation could have been, and has been, had over coffee or water or nothing. It was not an unusual moment. Until it was. And then they were laughing (too?) loudly and talking over each other (or just me?) and not finishing one thought before moving on to another.

They were buzzed.

And that was totally normal. Because we were, as I stated, OUT. And they were, as I stated, DRINKING.

But I’m not.

And so a shared evening suddenly did not feel shared. I felt separated and different.

And irritated.

At them? At me?

Both.

 

Timing, Timing, Timing

I like to think each week has a Theme – sort of like a headline that you can only see after you read the article.

Last week’s Theme was “Get a Second Opinion.” The Theme was identified after my sister sold her car and my uncle was medically misdiagnosed. In neither case was there malice or an intention to deceive. Things just progressed the way they do when humans are involved and, before you knew it, someone had a lemon and someone almost died. And no one, unfortunately, had thought to “Get A Second Opinion.”

This week’s Theme is “Timing.” It kicked off Sunday afternoon at a family lunch celebrating my nephew’s 18th birthday. My husband jokingly thanked Noah for being born and said, “I would not have met your aunt 18 years ago if she had not come home early from Europe for your baptism.”

I quickly corrected him with, “Actually, I came home early from Europe because I got drunk in a bar in Greece and lost my credit card and my passport.” (Timing.)

At just shy of 100 days, I am hesitant to give too much credit to my infant sobriety. How can things be profoundly better after just three months? And yet …. things are so much better than they were 98 days ago. Better marriage, better work, better parenting. Not perfect. Not even close. But, because I am not hungover or obsessing about when/how I am drinking, it is much easier to recognize the places in my life where things seem to be going well and areas where there is trouble. (When I was drinking, it was easy to feel overwhelmed and think everything was going poorly. This feeling made it difficult to ever fix anything and very easy to open another bottle of wine.)

One of the areas where there is undoubtedly room for improvement is my job. No need to go into all the details, but suffice it to say that I have a flexible schedule and make fairly good money. In return, I have (what feels to me like) a lot of responsibility and sometimes-challenging colleagues. The work itself is interesting, but not fulfilling. I don’t know if you’re familiar with “golden handcuffs”, but that sums up my situation. (If you click on the link you can see the Timing theme in action, as it turns out March is Professional Emancipation Month. Who knew? But I’m getting ahead of myself….)

About two months ago, I was having a shitty day at work and, in defiance and desperation, pulled up the local job ads (Timing). A nonprofit had posed my dream job (Timing). I submitted my resume, was contacted for an interview, had a fantastic experience, and then a not-so-fantastic follow up call. The job doesn’t pay well, which I was prepared for, but it is also a full-time job working out of a cubicle.

I have never had a full-time, cubicle job. I am a “get it done right and get out early” kind of worker. Being supervised by a clock … well, that definitely diminished the “dream job” part of the story.

After the phone call I sent the hiring manager an email detailing my excitement for the position but outlining my concerns about the schedule. And then I heard nothing.

That was four weeks ago. I had moved on with life. Until Wednesday.

I was catching up with a girlfriend over coffee. She asked about my job and I gave the usual answer, which was a longer explanation of the golden handcuffs. The conversation naturally moved on to other things, but in the back of my mind I continued ruminating on my answer and my situation. Finally, I stopped myself and thought “I am so tired of the drama and the over thinking. I just want to do what the Universe wants me to do. I want to be like St. Francis of Assisi: an instrument of peace.”

I am not overly religious or overly spiritual or overly anything. I am just a woman, living in 2014, semi-aware of things. And that was what I thought at that moment. And that thought gave me such calm. Such peace.

Within an hour or two, the nonprofit called and asked me to come in for a second interview. (Timing.) Later in the day, my client decided against extending our current scope, so things on this job will begin to slow. (Timing.) I am almost 100 days sober, so I am able to ask the Universe for help with clarity and appreciation, rather than avoidance and fear. (Timing.)

I go for the second interview on Monday. I have no idea if they will offer me the position, or if they are willing to negotiate hours, or if the job really is a “dream,” or if my family can peacefully coexist with a full-time job.

But I know that I am SOBER. And I know that I am READY FOR and OPEN TO good things.

And I know a Theme when I see one.

Peace,

eew

Peace and Pillows

Yesterday’s milestone is quickly replaced with another. Exactly one year ago today, March 15, 2013, I wrote a journal entry begging myself to stop drinking.

To those lucky ducks who are not members of my exclusive Chattering Voices Committee, it might be puzzling to read the entry and understand why I would write it and then spend NINE MORE MONTHS pouring alcohol down my throat. But, my guess is, if you’re reading this, then you have your own CVC to smother and will generously withhold judgment while you go get a bigger pillow (aka another tool for your tool kit).

This exercise has been done before and reading about how others eventually found their way to a quieter existence was/is incredibly helpful. Always, for me, it comes back to the online Community and the support I receive, which allows me to keep my own pillow big enough and pressed tightly against the reality of March 15, 2013:

I’m sitting in my light-filled, warm office, wanting to trust that I can do this. I can recover. I can be a better mother.

“Recover” is an interesting word choice, as I am not certain I ever really had self control … but that’s not true. Or at least, alcohol was not always the structure upon which my days were defined.

But that is how life is now. Wine no longer structures my evenings, but my sleeping (or lack of), my mornings (as I try to gauge how bad of a hangover I’m dealing with), and my days (as I nurse myself back from another self-inflicted alcohol beating).

It’s exhausting.

But mostly, it’s just sad and pathetic.

And a waste of me.

The anxiety drinking creates … it used to be just when I had embarrassed myself socially. So, I stopped drinking more than 2 or 3 glasses while out in public (rule #1) and said or done something stupid (rule #2).

But now, that anxiety happens even when I have kept all my drinking “rules”. And along with nursing my nausea and headaches, I’m talking myself down from the anxious edge – deep breathing and desperately trying to convince my scared self with jittery promises of “there is nothing to be anxious about, nobody saw you drink your wine and stumble into bed. and nobody knows how slovenly you live your life. and nobody knows the shame and self-disgust your fake cheerfulness is hiding.”

Things are so, so, so much better now.

Peace and Pillows,

eew

A (Kind of Mind Blowing) 90 Day Chip

Day 90.

My therapist tells me that if I was going to AA meetings, I would receive a metal chip. The earlier chips, he explained, are plastic. But on Day 90 you get a proper chip. And a cake.

But I don’t go to AA meetings. I go to sober blogs.

So it was sort of amazing and kind of incredible that when I logged on today, I was met with what has to be the blogging equivalent of a proper chip and a cake:

A SUNSHINE BLOGGING AWARD! From the incredibly-photogenic-but-ordinary-in-person Unpickled! (I totally don’t believe that “ordinary” part, by the way.)

I look forward to posting the award and nominating ten more bloggers. But right now, real quick, I just wanted to say Thank You Sober Bloggers. You guys rock my world in ways Sally/alcohol never did.

Happy Day 90 and let’s all eat CAKE!

Moderation Smoderation

Last week was very busy at home and at work. I hardly had time to ensure homework got done and plan meals for the kids. I focused and I prioritized and got shit done. The week’s outcomes were not perfect, but for the most part I feel good about things.

Friday afternoon, at exactly 4:30 p.m., I wrapped things up at work, picked up the boys, bought a pizza, walked in the house, shut the shades and slipped into what I thought would be a welcomed weekend of nothing. No appointments, no activities, no noise.  Just family and relaxation and quiet.

But the sudden shift from super busy to total quiet unsettled me. I’m agitated again. I can’t silence my mind. And I’m longing for the wine signal, the OFF switch.

I know that sobriety works so much better than drinking. I know I cannot moderate. I know what lies at the bottom of an empty wine bottle. I know that I can’t think too far into the future.

I know all this but I still cannot quiet my mind. The voices are chattering. They want Sally back.

Today I spent an unusual amount of time reading and surfing sober blogs and websites. Nothing has helped. I read story after story of people getting to a certain point in their sobriety and realizing they needed more. AA or SMART Recovery or what have you.

I don’t want to need more in my sobriety. I want to (wait for it) MODERATE MY SOBRIETY.

Ha. Imagine that. I want to be in control of my sobriety just like I wanted to be in control of my drinking. I want to successfully moderate sobriety, just like I successfully moderated my drinking.

(Spoiler alert!)

I suck at moderation.

Pearly Gates

I read and read the sober blogs. They are my sober guide and sober cheerleader. I learn what to do and what not to do; and when to do it or not to do it.

Unpickled. Belle. Mrs. D. If you’re reading this blog, you know of whom I speak and the help their honesty offers.

Even if the bloggers aren’t actively posting, their writings are still a huge help to me. Jessica, over at Soberjessie, is such a blogger. Her older posts have been incredibly helpful and I have Soberjessie bookmarked on my computer. I was excited when yesterday, as I was making my usual sober blogging rounds, I saw she had a new post up. If you haven’t read it, you should. It – and she – is amazing.

Too many times to count, I have read sober blogging posts that could have been written by me. It is my great desire, however, to not ever write a post like Soberjessie’s latest.

To my friends and family, I have not made a secret about my Not Drinking. I have also not made it a big deal. To almost everyone in my life, I make my Not Drinking a Non Topic. Nothing to see here. Let’s move the party along.

What Soberjessie’s blog has helped me understand, is that while I am humming right along, I cannot take my sobriety for granted. It is something precious and fragile. And at this point (74 days), it is like a newborn baby (this is not an original idea). So, while I have no desire to burden my friends and family with the details of my Not Drinking Baby, I cannot dismiss my Not Drinking Baby as if it was a new pair of shoes I purchased a few months ago and now take for granted as the latest feature on my closet’s floor.

Another thought I’ve had since reading Soberjessie’s post was the “how I would start” thought. “How I would start drinking again.” I’ve given this thought a not insignificant amount of time in the past day. Soberjessie tried moderation. That’s not the route I would take. I’m not interested in one glass of wine. Nope. I want the entire bottle. At least. And about three episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy.” And complete isolation.

Doesn’t that sound perfect? Doesn’t that sound pathetic?

It is, to me, both perfect and pathetic. Something to long for and fight against, at the same time.

I’ve always loved this quote by Sean Penn. His response to a “Inside the Actor’s Studio” question: “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?”

Penn: “You’ve tortured yourself enough, there’s two hookers and an eight ball inside, come on in.”