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Keeping It Quiet

I don’t want to mess this up. I don’t waste the efforts of the past week by having to go through it all again, ever.

I’m protecting it like a fragile thing, nurturing it and holding it close.  I want to see it grow a little larger and stronger before I show it to the world.

I want to know it will live.

One of my most vivid and happy memories is of the day my first pregnancy was confirmed.  It was spring of 1991. My husband and I were in our early twenties, had been married for nearly two years.

Everything in our young lives was in order and all we needed to complete the picture was for the stick to produce that much coveted blue line.  After almost a year of trying, the blue line appeared and I ran from the bathroom to wake my husband with the news, “It’s blue! I’m pregnant! We’re pregnant!!”

We lived in a small town at the time, and my boss’s gossip-y wife was the receptionist in the only local clinic.  To keep things on the “down low”, I drove to the next town to confirm the news with a doctor there.  Walking back to my car, I wanted to hug everyone I passed and squeal, “I’m pregnant!”  I refrained, but many smiled back at me as if my joy was visibly contagious.

Young mothers in those days were often advised to keep the news quiet until they were three months along and knew for sure the pregnancy was viable.  It was a most delicious secret, and I loved that the most wonderful thing imaginable was happening to us and no one else knew.

So much of that experience comes back to me now, as I nurture this new life I’ve begin, this new me.  I can’t wait to share it with my loved ones, but I want it to be so clear, strong and viable that nothing can take it away from me.

I believe part of the reason I continued drinking for so long was because I was afraid to imagine my life without it.  My husband and I have had many wonderful adventures together and the mental postcards I’ve collected all include a beverage:  Wiki Wackers on Catalina Island, Margaritas by the Riverwalk in San Antonio, PinaColadas on the beach in Dominican Republic, wine at an outdoor café on the promenade in Santa Monica.  As we plan and save for our retirement, we dream of vineyard tours in Italy and having a pint in an Irish pub.

Would I have any fun without alcohol? Would I BE any fun? Would my husband dread the rest of our lives together, saddled with a tea-tottling ninny for a wife?

I have replayed those holiday memories, though harder and remembered all the other moments that were wonderful too, regardless of alcohol.  Kayaking around Catalina, dueling pianos in San Antonio, reading all day on the beach in Dominican, and watching a tv show being filmed on that trip to LA.

I just needed a new set of postcards.

So now the jig is up – my inlaws noticed at dinner last night that I turned down wine and innocently asked, “What, are you on the wagon now?”  I  screwed up my courage and admitted I was.

“Since when?”

“Almost a week now.”

“What?!” asked my husband, comically. “You mean I’ve been drinking alone all week and I didn’t even know it?”  I’m not sure if he hadn’t realized or just wanted to acknowledge to his parents that this was the first I’d mentioned it.

And that was that, for last night. This morning he asked me, “So you’re not drinking at all?” as we were gearing up to go out skiing. “No, not at all,” I replied.  “Until when?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I lied. I do know. I already know that I must never ever drink again.  It kills me, it breaks my heart but that’s how it’s going to have to be.

So before I tell him, I want to live with it myself a bit more.  I need to see for myself that things will be okay.  Today we had a great time skiing and then sat on the deck in the sunshine for happy hour – a beer for my husband and a vitamin water for me.

I’m sad, so sad.  I miss my dear companion wine. I’d like to get past grieving before I can sell this new vision of the future.

As we continue to rack up happy experiences together (with me in my new unpickled state), I will be ready to tell my dear husband everything.

I know it will be all right.  It just needs some time.

 

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About UnPickled

I am learning to walk without the crutch of alcohol. As I begin I am 1 day sober. Gulp. I drank in private and hope to quit just as privately. The purpose of this blog is to help make me accountable - just by following you will give me enormous support and encouragement.

Posted on March 27, 2011, in Getting Sober. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. I am so happy I found you….found this blog. I am also listening to the podcast Your Kick-Ass Life which you are currently a guest on. I relate to what you share…I relate so much. I am on day three (after many previous day threes) of being sober and today I am mourning my past life. I am mourning my old companion wine and wondering if my husband is going to find my fun. I haven’t shared much with him yet. I told him three days ago I want to stop drinking and he said, “OK.” and we haven’t said much more. As you mentioned, I just want to live with it myself a little longer. I don’t think he realizes the narrow slippery path I was on. In any case, thank you.

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  2. I really love reading this blog and I commented and you responded then I lost it and can’t find your response. Anyway, how can I see if anyone comments on what I say. Right now I got 6 days sober again for the upteen time since April of this year. I am having trouble. I don’t know if I need accountability, meetings or treats. I really have a hard time with all of those. I work 6 days sometime and long hours. Having trouble finding time for myself. Got a therapist. Just into the 2nd visit with her tomorrow. She quit years ago and is in her 60’s. I hope I can relate to her. Sometimes my days here lately are 10 and sometimes 12 hour days because I manage and short on help. So when I come home I want immediately relief. I used to do baths but my house is recently flooded and the bathrooms are in a mess…no tub. I feel overworked. overtired, and can’t find a soothing space. Want to walk but sooo tired after 10 hours on my feet. I know Whiney whiney but I need soothing I think I keep trying harder and not differently. Why can’t I get some momentum going? Anyway, starting again today. I’ve read too much on this blog and I don’t want the hangover mornings or to injure myself or to be like this the rest of my life. I want to make it to the day where I don’t think about it.

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    • Betsy, hang in there. Push yourself to get past that hump because quitting gets a little harder every time you have to start over and picking up gets a little easier every time you allow it back in your life. Whatever you’re doing is not quite enough, add another layer of support and accountability until you reach the right combination to keep you on track. Good things await you – you’ll gain so much more than what you give up, I promise. Know you deserve the best life, and booze isn’t taking you there. Sending love and strength.

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

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  3. I first posted 9 mos ago that I was considering putting the wine glass down. I am now been unwineding for 7 days . The initial few days were fine as I have been here before. Today will be my first real challenge as it is Wine/Whine nite with work friends. I have a bottle of wine for the gal hosting and some sparkling water for me. I do not know how I am going to present this as I don’t feel ready to share. I hope just saying that I just am not in the mood will work. I have been setting it up all week as I felt terrible last Friday at work after a work going away party Thursday nite.

    I am feeling so much better physically and psychologically. It is amazing how the wine and then the self loathing the morning after dulls so much of the everyday feedback our body and environment gives us. Your blog and all the comments have been my support this past week and I am grateful to you all. I think I can do this. I know I have to!!!

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    • You CAN do it. It IS entirely possible. You are doing great – keep going and don’t stop!

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      • You are so right!! I did do it and am now at Day 8!! No one said a word that I started the nite with water, they were all busy pouring their own glasses of wine. I used a wine glass and I think it looked like a Moscato or something! I was a bit apprehensive waiting for the ? but it never arrived!!Toward the end of the evening when my friends switched to water I too changed to a water glass. 🙂 The evening was really no different, but this morning is soooooooo different! I feel great- proud to have handled it and stayed true to what I know I really want.

        Last May, following a Friday nite Cinco de Mayo party I hosted (and drank way too many Margaritas) I arrived on Sat at my daughter’s house for lunch. I did not feel good, did not look good and was very subdued. I just wanted to go home and put a pillow over my head. My daughter and her husband announced they were expecting our first grandchild. They did so in a very clever way and of course our son-in-law recorded the announcement. My head was splitting and I felt extremely nauseated and that is how my sweet granddaughter will see me reacting to the news of her existence forevermore:(
        I did my best to act appropriate but I know how I was truly feeling and why I felt that way.

        After my Whine/Wine evening, my husband and I went to our dtr’s house as our youngest dtr was in town. She announced that they were expecting their first child!! What a difference I feel. No shame or regret for having overdone it and clouded the momentous occasion !!! My knee jerk reaction is -Oh Let’s celebrate with some champagne! I realize we did celebrate- with hugs and smiles and goofy conversation about crazy name possibilities. My family does not know that I am “unwineding” I am finding some amusement wondering when my hubby or kids will notice!

        So on to another alcohol free day! It belongs to me fully!

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  4. I am lost in this blog and all the real stories. I too drink everyday, for years, and can’t go more than one day without it. I have tried many times, I think my record is three days. I want a sober life, to lose the weight that it has added while taking away self-confidence. I identify myself as a daily “heavy social drinker” and everyone knows it. Who will I be if I stop? I know my husband will support me, but will I? My family includes a group of heavy drinkers and it will be so obvious if I am not embibing at the next pool party. I feel a pressure to drink with them and honestly, I want too. When I don’t drink I feel boring and bored … Stumbling upon this blog and the stories is so inspiring. The million mile journey takes one step at a time.

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    • Hi Rose. Almost everyone I talk to has the exact same fear when they consider living alcohol-free: who will I be without it? Truthfully, you will be you and will be be fully present for life and all of its ups and downs.

      The feeling that the drink in your hand is an extension of yourself is just a feeling; it is not the truth.We are more comfortable with the glass in our hand because it signals to ourselves and the world, “Hey, we are having fun now. We are off duty. We are relaxing.”

      We think there is no other way to be in the “off-duty” mode; that without the glass in hand we will be forever without fun. But you know what? A visit with friends is still a visit with friends. A laugh is still a laugh. Dancing is still dancing. Sunshine is still sunshine. None of it is changed by the presence or absence of alcohol – that is all in our heads and it is a trick we play on ourselves as an excuse to keep drinking.

      I am here to tell you that 3+ years after I wrote the above post, I am still sober, fun, interesting, and vivacious – all without a drop of alcohol! I wish the same for you, if this is the life you seek.

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      • Day 6 they suck and feeling depressed and lonely. Plus dealing w all the shut I have to face now. Breath deep one day one hour one minute at a time.

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        • Exactly – that is just what you need to do. Get through each moment. You don’t need to go through it alone if you don’t want to. There are so many ways to get help. And meanwhile I say go and do something lovely for yourself – fresh flowers, a massage, or a nap in a hammock. You deserve to be pampered for this heroic achievement! 6 days is AMAZING and so are you! Here is to Day 7!

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      • Thanks for responding and I love what you have to say ~ It IS all in my head! I bought a couple books today to dig into and have been too busy to have a drink tonight. My goal is to make it to Friday, that’s four days sober. Then on Friday my hub and I are taking bikes to SB to go to breweries with friends. That is a PIT! I will take one day at a time and shoot for Friday, even that seems like a stretch. This blog is AWESOME and just what I needed! Peace and hugs, XOXOX

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      • Sunshine is still sunshine. I really needed to hear that. Thank you.

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        • This response could not have come at a better time! God is good!

          Camping right now!! No mimosas for me this morn and feeling great!!

          Sent from my iPhone

          >

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  5. I love this post. Mostly because it’s me and my husband. Or it was me and my husband. I just made it successfully through day 3 and I have these intense fears that hubby and I will have nothing in common since I will be sipping tea or water while he has a beer in all of our post cards as well. Or that he won’t like spending hours on end with me if I am not drinking. How did this turn out in your life? Did you find he adapted to you (by drinking less) or did he just accept the new you?

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    • My husband has been very accepting and with a few slight shifts, we have figured out how to maintain our social lives. My husband is a normal drinker and enjoys drinking beer with the guys after golf or while watching a football game with friends. I stay away from events like that anyways. There was some awkwardness on our first few dinner dates together – mostly because I was squirmy and grumpy about missing wine with dinner. Now that it doesn’t bother me, he doesn’t even notice or think about it. I think my husband accepted that the alternative to my abstinence is watching me disappear into a dark place – neither of us want that. Also, he loves that I am always the sober driver!

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  6. As the adult (youngest) daughter of a loving but high-functioning (formerly) heavy drinker, I applaud your new life with a sense of appreciation I hope your kids will feel one day at the brave, brave choice you’ve made.

    But I have to ask – how will this work long-term without the regular daily accountability? I ask this out of respect, not to undermine your amazing 181 days (great job!) of sobriety, and out of experience. My mom whom I’m so close to, whom I watched pass out in her chair after consuming a bottle of red every fall and winter evening for four years, fell and injured herself quite badly one evening after a drunk tumble onto the bathroom floor. December 19th 2009 was my mom’s unofficial, unspoken sober birthday – she quietly dropped alcohol the day after her accident, and took up a rather sudden fondness for hot lemon water throughout the afternoon and evening. We all suffered through the uncomfortable detox period pretending like nothing was wrong, and were rewarded to see that after a few months there was cause for hope and optimism for her – that she was losing weight, looking so much brighter and healthier, and was newly released from an isolation we hadn’t realized was that serious.
    Until this August, when she quietly, slowly, started drinking again.

    I do not believe my mom is one of those people who can ever have “just a drink” anymore, so to hear that she is back to having a “bowl” of red every night with dinner chills me. It makes me wonder if it’s all been backwards from the beginning… if sobriety is even possible without complete honesty, without recognizing the problem, exposing it, and accountability from your closest loved ones and friends. When you never really admit the problem you are helpless over to your ‘people,’ you never truly give them the place to help you when you falter, or to help hold you accountable. It’s as if because we never acknowledged her problem, or her sobriety, we can’t now help or protect her in her stumble in sobriety… because we never talked about the problem in the first place.

    I wish for you that it never, ever comes to that. But I hope that while you are on this journey you can let more people in and allow them be a part of it… at the very least so you know you aren’t alone. Best of luck!

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    • Your story made me shiver – I am sorry about your mom. I’ve seen two other women die that way, and I knew I was on a path that would surely take me there, eventually. I have told more and more people since writing the entry “Keeping It Quiet” and each time I feel a little stronger and sure of myself. There are a few people in my life with whom it has altered my relationship, but I can live with that. My husband, kids, true friends and supporters understand and care and want me to be healthy and strong. I think if I had kept it to myself for very long it would have been to easy to quietly quit quitting. Thank you for sharing your story. It strengthens my resolve. I hope your mom finds her way back to herself. My guess is she is hurting, and this is her comfort.

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  7. Your line about mourning your habit is, I think, right on point.

    Personally, my experience with alcohol was perhaps more of a stereotypical story of alcohol abuse. My drinking was very obviously ugly and destructive, and toward the end I realized that I wasn’t hiding the down side half as well as I thought.

    Despite that, I mourned also. It didn’t hit me until several months into sobriety that I was mourning it. I had come to despise my drinking… and I missed it. I still have a moment now and then in which I miss it. It’s only natural. There was nothing wrong with the alcohol I drank. There was something wrong with the way I drank alcohol, and with why I drank alcohol.

    I too believe that it will not ever be ‘safe’ for me to drink again. Any habit held as long as mine stays there. Call it ingrained in the body, the mind or the… whatever, spirit, soul, call it what you will. It’s in there somewhere, and drinking again will simply bring it right back out. Like a person who played piano for 20 years would remember the notes just fine if they took a decade-long break. It stays in there. At one point in my life, I took a five-year break from drinking. When I drank again, it took only a couple of months to fall back into abusive drinking.

    Well. It would be bad manners to make a comment longer than your post, so I’d better save anything more for later.

    Peace.

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  8. My husband and I got married on Catalina and have spent every summer there for a vacation. I totally get it…Catalina is *made* for drinking, what with the bars on the boardwalk and no driving. But I did my last summer vacation there and made it through. I was anxious in the months prior, but once I got there, it was ok. My biggest fear when I first quit was not drinking during the summer….vacations, pool parties, BBQs, etc. How could they be fun without drinking? But once each party arrived, it was fine. One day at a time.

    I love your comparison to being pregnant. I’ve never heard anything like that before, and it totally makes sense. Your writing is so beautiful, and it takes me right to where you are feeling about sobriety. Your courage and strength shine right through, and I am rooting for you like you have no idea. 🙂 Congrats on your first week. A huge accomplishment to be so proud of.

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    • I so appreciate hearing that you dreaded summer parties and then managed them just fine. It helps to ease my fears, although I am trying not to get too far ahead of my self. As you said, one day at a time. One afternoon at a time. One evening at a time. one hour at a time….!

      And lucky you – married on Catalina! (Casino? Beach? Inn on Mt Ada? It must have been beautiful!)

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    • I just got goosebumps reading this comment. Time and time again i’ve used the summer excuse to not quit then and there… and that ‘time to start being sober’ has been conveniently postponed for another 3 months… I just need to get on it, regardless of what I might miss out on, and focus on myself.

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