Adjusting

It has been five weeks now – thirty-five afternoons and evenings of saying “no” to myself repeatedly.  I am starting to find my groove and feel comfortable with my decision.  Fear is waning and confidence is soaring.  The daily chest pains from anxiety have quieted to butterflies.  I can send them away with a few deep breaths.

I am letting my guard down a little – I don’t feel the need to focus on this constantly.  I know I must be growing familiar with it because every once in a while I remember, “Hey! I’m a non-drinker!” and then I carry on folding laundry or writing ad copy or whatever task is at hand.

I’m not gritting my teeth.  My nails are growing again. My bowels are regular.

To be fair, I haven’t had any major challenges or upsets, either.  I know those will come eventually and I will face them as they do.

The Internet has been such a help on this journey – there are tremendous bloggers to follow, incredible support through the folks I’ve found on Twitter, and encouraging, informative comments on this blog.  Clearly, connecting with other people is key in recovery.

Just as I was surprised to find so many people like me who were steps ahead in the journey and could offer guidance and advice, I am equally surprised to find others in need, a step behind me.  Wait, oh –what? Now I am someone’s role model? Holy Dinah.  Never saw THAT coming.

Some of the comments on this blog have been so moving that I’ve contacted the contributor directly to offer support.  Oddly, the song I posted the other day is a song I don’t know well at all.  It just popped into my head – complete lyrics to a song I hadn’t heard in many years – along with the notion I should record and post it.  To say I felt moved to do so would be an understatement.  How interesting then, to read the comment that this song meant an enormous amount to a reader. Hmmmm. Coincidence? Nah, I don’t believe in coincidences.  We have been in contact via email and hopefully she will find the strength to begin making changes.

Thank you to all who suggested drink alternatives!  I have made some pleasant discoveries and am incorporating many of your ideas.  Seriously, did all the wine kill my imagination? I can write music and design buildings and decorate a Christmas tree to rival Martha Stewart’s but I can’t come up with a refreshing drink? These are the mind contortions we create in order to keep drinking.  “Wine is the only thing I want right now” was a fib I told myself.  I am actually enjoying trying new things and look forward to trying the Grapefruit Perrier that I’m saving for Easter dinner tonight. (Hah – take that, Brain.  Now who’s in charge of delayed gratification?)

Most importantly, I am starting to feel comfortable with myself again.  Right now I am alone out at our cabin and I do mean ALONE.  The cabin is at a small ski hill and since the hill is now closed the entire community is deserted.  I drove out last night so I could stay over and spend this morning painting and doing a bit of light maintenance before driving back for the family dinner at my folks.

It’s dark here at night and quiet and frankly a little scary.  5 weeks ago I would have used that as a reason to drink more – easily a whole bottle of wine would have been gone.  Last night I watched 3 episodes of Mad Men (talk about drinking!), read a magazine, ate a little more than normal, and then I pushed myself…..just before bed I went out to soak in the hot tub.

Little me all alone at the foot of a mountain in the dark – I felt small and vulnerable.  Also insecure because of the swimsuit I was wearing – imagine that! Scared because I am all alone and still worried how I look in the dang swimsuit.  (“What will the squirrels think?”)  I briefly wondered how long it would be before I was discovered if a bear ate part of me and left a limb or two on the deck.

All of that vanished from my mind the moment I looked up.  Oh, the stars are something in the mountains on a clear night.  So many of them I could actually see them without my glasses.  Dang it! I’d forgotten to wear my glasses. I braved a run back inside and out again for the sake of improved vision – I wanted to see everything.  Further fleeting insecurities about wearing my glasses but forget that as well – the sky was spectacular!  I could hardly discern the constellations because of all the extra starts visible in between.

I knew that on such a night it would only be a matter of time before a shooting star appeared.  I leaned back and started to count – counting helps control my thoughts from racing and also it kept my mind off the bears and cougars and body-conscious squirrels lurking in the dark.  Sure enough, a shooting star appeared between “88….89….”.

What did I do next?  What would you do? Without even thinking, I started counting back at “1” again.  By “10” I realized what I’d done.

I’d failed to acknowledge that I’d just gotten exactly what I wanted.  I’d failed to enjoy the splendour of that shooting star because I moved right onto wanting to see another one.  I forced myself to stop watching the sky. I closed my eyes and remembered the shoot star I’d just witnessed and I gave thanks for the gift.

“What if there’s another one and I don’t see it because I have my eyes closed?” asked the bratty voice in my head.

“Then you have the memory of the star you did see,” came a gentle answer from the motherly part of my brain. “Think about it and be glad.”

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18 comments

  1. I’m on day four and I want to thank you because this has really helped me get through the past few nights. I didn’t want to believe I had a problem until my girlfriend found me passed out next to an empty bottle of wine (that I barely remember opening). We had been out at a bar earlier that night.

    She has been staying at a friend’s house for the past four days and I have forced myself not to drink a drop. It’s hard to picture this being a “forever” thing for me, but maybe it needs to be.

    Thank you for all that you do.

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    • All the best to you, Wes. Stay strong and be willing to do whatever it takes to keep going. If that means asking for help, ask. If it means finding a program or support group, jump in. If you can manage on your own and you are happy doing so, great. I am so happy to have been here as a resource!

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  2. I didn’t realize when I woke up today that this day, just another Thursday, might be my Day 1. I found your blog earlier this week and have meant to read it all week. Been too busy with work, 2 young kids, life, excuses. But I’m home sick today. So I spent the afternoon reading your entire blog. And then I read through some of the blogs that you follow. Turns out, today is as good as any to be my Day 1. Amazing how empowered you can feel on Day 1. Keep thinking a glass of wine would really help me fall asleep & not feel the pain of this sinus infection. But I know one would become 3, maybe 4. Then I imagine the dread I would feel tomorrow. I guess that’s how I know it’s time, the right time. I’m able to envision what tomorrow brings before it comes. That’s actually a huge step for me. I’m SOOOO glad I found your blog. I needed it, in the same way I need air.
    Day 1…..I pray you are my last Day 1 in this chapter of my life.

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  3. Love Love Love your blog. We have a country home and I would be afraid to be up there on my own because that would be where I too would have a bottle of wine. I am on Day 6 AF and so far so good but I had been 42 days earlier this summer but still thought I could at some point have that one glass a day. I realize I am better off not having one and I deserve to feel good and have a good life. December is a hard month to start but no more excuses and here we go. Thank you I am only up to April 2011 but continue to read a few blogs every single day. Thank you Thank you Thank you

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  4. thanks! I have been reading your blog everyday for the last four days. I sent it to my therapist. we are working on a plan. I have been “practicing” behaviors this week. Several nights with no alcohol included. I have set a date after a trip I am taking next week. (flying being the hardest thing for me to forego alcohol)… then I am going to work on how to fly, go out for dinner, travel, have fun without. I have done it and I know how much better I can be without it – My true authentic self. I no longer trust myself with alcohol and I can’t live like that. I can’t wait to become more part of this community of like-minded people. Thank you UnPickled for your generosity of heart!

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  5. My exhusband died of alcoholism 2 weeks ago…no one has claimed his body and I am sad. .I was sober the 10 years we were married.My life is great now except that I have been drinking too much for years….mostly by myself.I have promised myself that i will stop completely.I don’t know how. i would like to be a woman with integrity. I set my intention to quit 2 weeks ago.i have only gone 2 days/nights without,I need to stop.You give me hope.

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    • My heart goes out to you. What worked for you in the past? Were you ever involved in a program? And would you consider one now?

      I encourage you to take a step towards recovery. Where can you start? Enlist a friend, join a group, fill your evenings with a healthy diversion, and get the damn booze out of your house!

      I will be sending you my thoughts and prayers. Please please stay in touch.

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  6. Hi Sunshine!
    It’s me Judi! Your post made me smile today. The image of you sitting in the hot tub and soaking it all in. By the way, you loooook maaahr-vellous in that suit !!
    Thanks for your willingness and courage to share your journey.
    P.s. I had to threaten that squirrel, but he finally listened to me and ripped up that photo he took of you in your suit. 😉

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  7. Turn it around….don’t think of it as saying no to yourself….think of it as saying yes!! Yes to the freedom not drinking gives you, yes to better sleep , better skin, yes to clarity and really being present in the moment without the constant nag of the bottle. YES YES YES!!!

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  8. I’m gonna have to try the grapefruit perrier…sounds delish!

    Congrats on 5 weeks. I am so glad you are gaining confidence and even helping others already! I knew I sensed a strength in you from the beginning. 🙂

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