Two or three times a year I am invited as a guest speaker for teenage girls involved in a local “personal development” program. I love to listen as the young women talk about their goals and perspectives, and I often leave feeling that I’ve learned more from them than what I came to teach.
One such lesson was “Fake It ‘Til You Make It”.
I was a bit taken aback to hear a 13 year old extolling the virtues of “faking it” – wasn’t this program supposed to teach these girls to be themselves and celebrate who they really are inside? Ah, but this wise young woman went on to explain that the process is a means of overcoming fear that holds you back from doing things you want or need to do. It means that when you need to be brave, but don’t feel brave, you must “act” as a brave person would in that situation. When you must stand up and speak, but you don’t feel confident, you must fake it and ACT confident.
Usually, we feel first and then act according to our feelings. Sometimes this works well, sometimes it gets us into trouble.
If our emotions are holding us back from what we need to do, however, we must set those feelings aside and get to the task at hand. Usually once we get going, comfort and confidence settle in.
If I were to go with my feelings right now, I would go straight home to enjoy the InStyle magazine that arrived yesterday and have myself three or four glasses of cold sauvignon blanc along with it. Am I having a diet coke and a salad at my desk instead? Damn skippy! Not because I feel like it, but because that it is what I need to be doing instead.
When it comes to this whole alcohol-free journey I’ve embarked on, I rely on “acting” like a non-drinker (and therefore not drinking) until I truly start to “feel” like a non-drinker (soon, I hope!). I find I have to think about it constantly and I am exhausted by the end of the day. My head aches from the awareness, constantly assessing each situation and protecting myself, reminding myself.
Last night we celebrated my husband’s birthday with a big family gathering in our home. It has only been 11 days since I quit drinking, but for the 4th time (already!) I found myself playing hostess and pouring drinks for others. Not only would I have loved to pour myself a glass of wine along with them, better yet I’d have loved to take the bottle up to my bedroom and drink it all alone watching Survivor and Modern Family.
Instead I had to act like a non-drinker and pour for others while having nothing myself (which, by the way, no one noticed or mentioned). Once I acted like a non-drinker, I started to feel more like one, and I enjoyed the evening.
I hope this comes more easily, in time. I hope I start to really feel like having herbal tea and diet ginger ale.
I do know this much….
When I realized I needed to quit drinking, it hit me like a two-by-four between the eyes. It caused my heart to ache and pound; the desire to become this new me, this non-drinking me. Just recalling it as I write now has caused me to tear up and catch my breath.
And here I am, a go-getter with success in life and in work because I do what needs to be done. If I think something should take place I make it happen. I always say “You can get any ball rolling with six phone calls or less.” Problems fixed, opportunities seized, challenges met, threats faced.
It shook me to know I wanted something so badly it hurt, and I wasn’t doing anything about it. Every morning I woke up and promised myself I wouldn’t drink that day, and then every evening I’d drink.
I could pinpoint the moment in each day when I pivoted and made the decision to drink. I figured all I’d have to do was overcome that one hurdle each day – somehow I thought it would mean changing that one decision a day.
As it turns out, my habit is like a persistent, bratty 3 year old that says, “Can I have candy?” (No.) “Now can I have candy?” (No.) “Noowwww can I have some candy, pleeeeease?” (No.) “I WANT CANDY!” (No, darling.) “Wahhhhh, candy! Candy! Candy! (No, no, no.)
I guess it’s no wonder my head hurts at the end of the day. Wahhhh, I want wine! I want wine now. How about now? Now can I have wine? Please? (No, no, and no.)
That’s okay – I’m making it, even if it means faking it.
I love this post! The tricky time of day for me is from about 4pm to 7pm. If I get past dinner without drinking then I won’t drink at all. Preparing dinner is the most difficult time as that’s when hubby and I crack open the wine. I don’t drink daily but usually twice a week and it’s always way too much. I hoped to reach my 65th birthday sober but didn’t achieve it. I had been AF all week and then my hubby surprised me with a party at a lovely place. I walked into a room full of people and had a glass of champagne thrust into my hand. I was so stunned that I drank it as I mingled and then came more champagne. Needless to say, I was a bit hungover the next day. I’d like to say it was the only day I drank but after a week sober I drank again and overdid it as usual. So today is day 1 yet again. I can make it a week without drinking with no problem but I usually cave after that. I need the support in this blog and I hope I can do this. Thanks Jean!
My story too….so happy to begin this journey…..
I will also Faje it to I make it!
Every morning a promise made – every evening a promise Broken…..
UnPickled – I know you published this over five years ago, but it was EXACTLY what I needed to read today. I am on Day 12, feeling good about that, but like you were — exhausted from being on full alert most of the afternoon and evening. I look forward to reading your entire journey (from old to new) to pick up tips and encouragements.
Hang in there. It’s not always easy but it’s definitely worth the effort! 12 days is hard and beautiful and worth congratulating yourself for. You’re doing a mighty good thing.
Just found this website….. wow, so many of us have the same story.
Just found your blog and I have to say, I really like the way you write 😉 great title too. Recovery is leadership. Awesome.
Ok…I’m ready to give this recovery thing a try. I feel like you are writing my life! Tomorrow will be day 1 for me.
Ditto. Amazing how I can feel confident(mostly) and sure in the morning and then the switch happens. I feel like I have a double personality. And the person who commented about her husband drinking when he gets home, ditto. Mine goes straight to the fridge and pulls out a beer.
Yikes. Today, is the 1st day again. What do I do with that 1/2 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge? Maybe I should get rid of it with some kind of ritual. Any suggestions?
Throw it out! I just did it…tomorrow will me day 1 for me. I am ready for a change!!!!
Ah yes. 4 pm. 4 pm is a scary time for me. I am trying. I think I am going to to start walking the dog at 4 pm every day. It is a new habit instead of the one I want.
What if some days you can handle the cravings and don’t drink, but, when your husband comes home and doesn’t support your trials. How do you stay sober while he drinks? I find it a losing battle and it makes me very sad.
This is when you reach out to a sober network that does support you. Are you in a program or do you have someone you could text or call? Stay true to yourself – keep honoring yourself and your recovery. Readers, chime in please. Have any of you been in a similar situation? What helped?
thank you for your blog about your journey away from drinking wine. It has helped me tremendously with a plan to do the same.
Thanks to all of you – I am secretly trying to stop drinking wine…3rd day and it is killing me. Its all I can think about….reading this helps. God help us and thank God for all of you
Day 3!!! Congratulations and good for you – it’s hard and you are DOING it. Yes!
Hang in there and keep going. It gets easier and easier, and eventually it gets great.
You won’t regret your courageous decision.
One thing that keeps me motivated is remembering how hard those first days of sobriety were – I don’t want to go back. My life is so much better now!
A big “Unpickled” hug to you 🙂
I stumbled across your blog from Crying Out Now. YOU are an incredible writer. WOW….can I ever relate to your struggle!! I am day two of being sober. I was 14 days sober, then drank a bottle of red wine. Now back to day 2. You are right about the pivitol moment in the day. And , ya,,,, 4:00 is crutial for me! I am trying to keep my blood sugar up…as wine instantly would relieve that for me. I actually even have been drinking a small amount of grape juice in my wine glass…..then perierre water and lemon the rest of the night….and/or tea.
I turned 50 this year……and I’ve struggled with drinking more than I should for quite awhile. But most people wouldn’t know that….I drink alone, starting while making dinner. But, I’ve been trying to hide it from my 17 year old son…as I know its not a good example. Ok…..so did you talk alot about this with your husband? or girlfriends? Or only the blog?? Reading other peoples stories is very helpful to me. I’ve thought about going to a “recovery” class at my church….but a little nervous about then having EVERYONE know my problem. 🙂 Even though my close girlfriends know my issues. If we go out occasionally, they will ask, “ok, so are you off or on now…..I can’t keep up”! Because I’ve quit so many times….then think I can handle it…..but only to go back to downward spiral
Please keep writing….I love it!!!
I agree. Unpickled says all I have felt and experienced. That screaming “I want wine!” in my head when trying to quit before.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. You’re blog is so honest and your life is an inspiration!
Thank YOU for reading and sharing. It has made the difference between success and failure for me. Addictions can be very solitary, but recovery is a different story!
I sooo know about the pinpoint moment each day. That was the same moment that caused me so much guilt and grief the next day. Why couldn’t I overcome it!
I am impressed at how many gatherings you have hosted. Well done!
Ug. When I am slugging through the difficult part of each new booze-free day (4:30 pm to bedtime is a battle in my head) I remind myself that the struggle not to drink is a tradeoff for the equal amounts of bad emotions that came with daily drinking. However, the good news is that by NOT drinking, the negative part of the day (i.e. missing the booze) will eventually fade away and I’ll be stronger and healthier for it. My health and happiness were doomed if I continued in the direction I was headed.