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What’s It To You

Before I quit drinking, I worried what people would think if they knew how much wine I was *actually* sipping each night.  You’d think that recovery would have brought instant relief from those concerns, but ironically I was just as embarrassed of not drinking at all.

Emphasis on the “was”.

Well into my second year of sobriety, I have begun to feel more open about this part of my identity. The words “No thanks, I don’t drink. I brought my own” just rolled off my tongue at a party one night.

Suddenly at restaurants I could look the server in eye and smile sweetly while saying, “I’ll have an O’Douls, please – the green label if you have it. And could you please bring me a nice big wine glass for that?”

What a huge relief it is to be able to just spit out the words now. I haven’t tattooed “Alcoholic in Recovery” on my forehead, but when asked why I’m not drinking I feel absolutely comfortable saying, “My nice nightly glass of wine quietly grew into an addiction and I had to quit altogether.”

Most people are fine with that and some will ask, “Does it bother you that we are drinking around you?” “Not at all,” I’ll say truthfully, “but what I do find is that I sometimes need to leave earlier that I used to so don’t be offended if I slip off, okay?”

What can be hard is that sometimes it’s the people closest to us that seem the most awkward. It can be really annoying when the people you most expected to count on ask you if you’re ever going to be able to drink again. You’ll notice I mention this particular line of questioning in a few different blog posts, so obviously it gets to me. I’ve thought about it a lot and here’s what I have come to understand:

It’s possible for people who love you to want you to start drinking again because they want you to be “fixed” and for your “problem to be over”. They have the misguided idea that you’ll be “cured” and return to your “normal” self, the old you they used to know.

It took me a long time to accept that I would never be able to drink again. For a long time I stayed open to the possibility that I might be able to return to moderate drinking. Some can, I get that. I’ve learned though, that it won’t be me. I confess that when my eyes fall upon a chilled bottle of white wine across a crowded room, for the briefest of moments it’s just the two of us and I want to grab it and run. I recently heard Anna David (afterpartychatter.com) say on the Dr. Drew podcast that the disease of addiction “does pushups” while you are in recovery and if you let it back in it will be even stronger that before.

This is not an easy idea to understand, and an even harder reality to accept for oneself. If it takes those of us in recovery forever to sink out teeth into these concepts, surely it will take our friends and family even longer. After all, they’re not living and breathing the changes of heart, body, and brain required in recovery. They’re not reading every bit of sobriety lit they can get their hands on, listening to The Bubble Hour constantly, or watching what every single person at a party pours in their glass like we are.

Sure, there will always be a-holes out there who make us feel like party poopers for staying true to our recovery. But some people, some, are just trying to catch up to us on this new path of ours and we need to be as patient with them as they are with us.

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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 August 16, 2013, in Getting Sober and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. I love the statement about our alcoholism doing push-ups while we’re in recovery. I’ve heard that concept that we wouldn’t start where we left off (the disease actually progresses whether we’re drinking or not) but I hadn’t heard it put quite that way. So great!

    I’m new to your blog but not new to sobriety. (8 years now!). You have some incredible insights.
    Thank you~
    Holly D

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  2. My friends and I have struggled with the label, “alcoholic” for years. We didn’t think we really met the criteria. We had good jobs, no run ins with the law, good marriages…I’ve decided not to over think the word. Honestly, alcohol has caused me to behave badly for years, disrupt my sleep, make me feel like crap every morning, become lazy and depressed. Black outs are embarrassing…the list goes on. One time friends shows up for dinner and I didn’t remember inviting them. Not funny, not good. So, I don’t need to use the A word. I need to get healthy. I’m sick of being sick and tired.

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  3. THANK YOU for saying you still want to run away with the chardonnay. Every time I hear that sober people are still in love with the focus of their addiction I feel a little bit of relief, as well as more positive that sobriety is a good and achievable thing for me.

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  4. Day 5…..four straight nights of good sleep, active positive dreams, awake and alert to start the day. I’m noticing a hundred little things about not drinking: feel better, think better, more time for all the little tasks I’ve been ignoring, more loving toward others, calmer, and improved self-esteem for keeping my commitment to myself. Thanks for being here.

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  5. This really it home on a bunch of different aspects! I am also in recovery. My difference is only that I did 60 days in rehab. March 27th 2010, 2:00am after researching rehabs for the 50th time made a very drunken call to a rehab and they called me back and away I went. Upon returning and seeing a Therapist, and feeling stronger then I had in years, I began to question if I could now drink in moderation like the majority of people. My T would tell me quite often, “I don’t think you would have a problem with drinking again.” I think what he meant was that he didn’t think I would start drinking again. I took it as I wouldn’t have a problem if I started again. I really hoped I could, but I think deep down I knew I wouldn’t be able to control it. And so Christmas 2012 I started sneaking the odd drink, here and there and within a couple of weeks I was drinking as if I had never even quit. Drank uncontrollably until late June of 2013 and actually got black-out drunk one day and quit on the spot. I was never black- out drunk in my life. It scared me sober. And here it is October of 2014 and I’m still sober and loving it. I’m not sorry it happened because the is no question in my mind if I will be able to drink again. No more lingering thoughts, I don’t let myself question it anymore. I’ve also been more careful in knowing where my mindset is everyday. I also struggle with the fact that my not drinking does in fact make a lot of people uncomfortable. They seem to worry on whether I am having a good time, and then I in turn worry on whether I look bored. I’m not quite at the point where I can ignore people watching me. Hopefully it will get easier with a few more years under my belt. I want to thank you for your blogging truth. I have just opened up my own blog but I’m struggling with the start, lol. Your blog has given me the boost I needed and have been looking for. Keep up the good work!

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    • Thanks for your comment. The social thing does get easier, I promise. I not only got my old self back, I think I am more relaxed in a lot of social situations because I’m not worrying about if I look drunk and when I can get home and drink privately. Also I’m not afraid to stay home from event I don’t feel are good for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been reading some of your old posts for encouragement. I’m struggling with the idea of drinking again even though it’s only been about 3 months since I quit. But, something tells me that moderation isn’t really going to work for me. I also struggle with feeling awkward in situations where others are drinking. Great to hear that you went through that at one time and you are done with that now.
    Thank you for sharing your journey.

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  7. I want to quit in the morning, but by 5pm Ive rationalized why i need a drink(s) and i keep drinking until i pass out. I drink boxed wine so its very easy to lose count of how much i do consume. I get up and go to work and the wine is what i look forward to all day. So sad.

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    • You are not alone, my friend. Many many of us have been in exactly the same trap that you find yourself in and even though it’s hard to believe, it is possible to change. When you’re ready, we are all here cheer you through it. Until then, keep reading and searching. Explore the many pathways to recovery (see the links at the side of my blog or do a search) and pick a path you’re comfortable with. You have it in you. Xoxo

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    • I am tearing up right now. I, too, am in the very same trap. I have rationalized it fir a good 5 years now. I tell myself that we’ve never gone hungry so I could drink.” Or, “I have never had any legal problems, so clearly I don’t drink too much.” Well, for whatever reason, I had a realization last night, as I stumbled into bed around 1am. I drink too much. I found this blog this morning when I googled “how to quit drinking on my own”. I’m hooked. I’m a writer by nature (not professional, just by passion), so as I am STILL sipping on a glass of wine (the very last in the box), I an creating a blog, too. Good luck in your journey. Mine is about to start.

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  8. “If it takes those of us in recovery forever to sink out teeth into these concepts, surely it will take our friends and family even longer. After all, they’re not living and breathing the changes of heart, body, and brain required in recovery…”

    I really needed this today (day 32, I believe). Thank you – loving your blog.

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  9. I am stunned at how much this post hits home. The closest person in the world to me told me I am just sad and lonely, I can control my drinking as soon as I want to, and it is really just an external thing I am concentrating on in order to overlook my “real” issues. I didn’t go to AA last night because I took that to heart. I also told everyone that I am not an alcoholic and that I plan to drink. I told someone from the program to leave me alone and I planned to buy beer, tonight. Now I am more of a mess. I read this and I think–well, fuck, what does this mean for me? I don’t want to be an alcoholic, I am only certain I am half the time, how do I get around the people who love me and still manage to love myself? Or maybe loving myself is drinking. Anyway, thank you. I needed to know that this is something that happens to other people.

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    • It happens to all of us, some more than others but all of us at one time or another. Stay sober; give it a few months to really set in to your new lifestyle before you give up. the first few months are really the hardest. It gets so so sososososo much easier as time goes by. Truly, join Belle’s 100 days club over at tired of thinking about drinking and see how that works for you. Stay sober, please. It truly is a better way of life.

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  10. Perfect. So true. I hear that voice a lot lately whispering to me…..”Maybe your not really an alcoholic. You are probably just over reacting.” I love the visual you provided. Now I can picture that voice doing push ups……and waiting for me.
    Thank you!
    Kristin

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  11. I think accepting the fact that I can never, ever drink moderately is key (for me) in facing recovery. It is nice to hear that it gets easier after a few years, even if it is still hard in some respects. I have never listened to the Bubble Hour- I am going to check it out! Thanks for the post!

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  12. Hey unpickled! I am leaning on you everyday, reading everything on your blog and also listening to the Bubblehour in bed with headphones at night. I am on Day 5, and feeling a BIG shift in my mindset, this time, and I pray it continues. My question to you and others, who have been here is, how do you “pump the brakes”, and make sure you are not doing to much too quickly? I know I can’t drink, fine. But, I also need to repair the damage the drinking lifestyle caused. 50 or so extra lbs.(approx.12 beers 3x/wk for 15 years) – for one thing. I found myself baking kale chips with olive oil today, wondering if maybe the stress of diet and exercise is just going to lead me to drink. Or am I just being lazy? Should I allow myself to be swept up in the healthy life that I have always wanted? Or am I going to come crashing down…again. I know there are no sure bets when it comes to sobriety, but I want to stack the deck, in my favor, for once. I have always been an instant gratification kind of gal. I’m worried if I don’t see some physical differences in my “non-drinking” body, I will drink again. I know that AA recommends that you not pursue a relationship for at least a year of sobriety…any info out there regarding adding other stresses, ie. diet and exercise?

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    • Hi Jessica – I have been slow to respond so I hope you are continuing to hang in there. Doing okay? You ask a great question – how much change and at what pace? I have seen people go overboard on changing EVERYTHING all at once – that kind of fits with the addictive personality, doesn’t it? (I want it all and I want it now and I don’t want to be uncomfortabe while I wait for it!) The problem is that when something goes wrong with the perfect new diet/housekeeping/exercise whatever, then it’s an excuse to say, ah eff it – I am going to drink. If you are going to go to extremes, make it extreme ‘self-care”. Go for those smaller changes that make you feel good, that you enjoy. And if you end up eating ice cream for supper now and then, that is still better than drinking. I am sure you listened to the great BubbleHour.com episode on the comorbidity of eating disorders and alcohol addiction. What you don’t want is to end up playing addiction whack-a-mole, where you quit drinking but trigger (say) an unhelathy eating behaviour in it’s place. You’ve got to combine the quitting with working on yourself to address the “why” behind the addiction. Once you start processing that and picking apart those tangled laces, you’ll really see recovery take hold over your life in new ways. Please stay in touch and don’t give up! xo, UnP

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    • Just started reading this site. One month into giving up wine. What keeps me going is my kids and spouses are so happy and proud of me. They want me to be a healthy grandma. Some of my friends are also trying to curb their habit which helps. Some are disappointed since we all miss our drinking buddies when they quit. I know I used to feel sorry for my friends who quit, then I started envying them. Now, I’m feeling such strength for joining them. I like the idea of non alcoholic beverages in nice stemware. I do love that ritual. Every day is a struggle still. I expect wine to beacon me, I plan to fight through with the help of my family and you folks. Thank you all for your courage.

      Like

  13. Thanks to all, love the post and all of the responses. The more days that go by sober actually makes my response easier. But, most defiantly social engagements have been uncomfortable. I have noticed raised eyebrows and inquiry.
    I have been worried about a big event coming up and have already been thinking how I will handle it.
    Than I recall my best friend. For some reason when she turned 21 years old as one would expect, we insisted taking her out for a drink. She turned her nose up at everything. She never took to alcohol at all. She always said “no thanks”… She simply did not like alcohol and never drank it at all. She never cared one bit how she was coming across either. It was a matter of American cheese, provolone cheese, or no cheese. That simple!
    I am wandering if my “no thanks”, causes me more anquish than others because I know what is behind it. I know about all of the big dark secrets, the hangovers, the embarrassing things that came out of my mouth. My “no thanks” has a lot of demons and ghosts behind it. I imagine instantly that people can see right through me and know about my past…simply by my “no thanks”. It really is not their business.
    I am still a giant work in progress.

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  14. I related to every word in this. And thank you so much for the mention…

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    • My pleasure and thanks to you for your work. I especially enjoy your podcast and listen while I am running in the morning. Music schmusic! It is smart, sober chicks like you who get me through my workout and leave me feeling ready to take on the world.

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  15. This post and all the relies are absolutely perfect. Congrats to all above. I am still trying to figure out what I am going to tell people. My wife is helping me work through this. I think it is going to vary case by case. I’m pretty sure my good friends and colleagues will be very supportive so I’m leaning towards “I’m decided not to drink anymore” and “… for a whole lot of reasons” when pushed. “I’m taking a break” would be a whole lot easier but basically a lie. Plus I would have to deal with it eventually when the “break” never ends!

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  16. Hello unpickled – it’s so nice to read a new post from you! I just wanted to say hi because your blog was the very first sober blog I ever read. When I started writing my blog, 134 days ago, you were the first person to write to me on there and I really appreciated that. I really relate to what you’ve written here about other people’s reactions. I think us not drinking makes them question their own drinking. Also drinking is a bonding thing – a chance for people to let their hair down and experience the same feeling. By not drinking you’re rejecting their fun (or so they think). That’s my take on it anyway. Thanks for the link to afterpartychatter – I’d not heard of that. I love the bubblehour but have been looking for another podcast to listen to as well.
    Kate

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  17. Like you, I find myself just saying “no thanks” or “diet coke please” without the bat of an eye. People often ask me “you don’t drink?! Have you ever?” I usually reply, “Nope. Yes I used to.” Sometimes I add, “But it of out of control.” And sometimes I don’t.

    FINALLY, I’m learning that what other people think of me is none of my business.

    Great post.

    Sherry

    Like

  18. Hi Unpickled,
    Thanks again for a wonderful post that just fits the bill for me today. I’ve been waiting for you to post, so I can report 59 days sober! So proud of myself (last time I checked in, I was a wobbly 4 days off the sauce!). I start every day reading one of your old posts, and it really helps. This one is particularly meaningful–I am dodging a party this weekend, where I know one of my “old friends” will be–the last time we met up, I was drinking after ten years sober, and he sighed, “what a relief! Thanks for not being so uptight.” Needless to say, I think he could give his own consumption some review….but I just declined the invitation, ’cause I don’t want to hear it, and I received a tremendous amount of negativity. But I can’t do it. I can’t be in an environment where everyone is drinking to intoxication, and they spend the evening trying to convince me to “loosen up.” Not bad people, just completely unaware of what the effects of their own pressure on me can do to me….thanks for listening. I eagerly await our next meeting, much love to you, kb

    Like

  19. This post is exactly what i needed to read today. Someone very close to me doesn’t think I’m an alcoholic because I don’t fit his image of what an alcoholic looks like. It bothers me a lot when people who love me don’t cherish my sobriety the way I do. I’ve come to the conclusion that the label “alcoholic” makes some people uncomfortable so if they don’t want me to be an alcoholic, then fine. I’ll just be a non-drinker to them. I don’t need the label to choose to be sober. I do it for me.

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    • Regarding other people’s reaction to the new me…nobody who has known me for years is surprised. They have seen me at my worst and are glad I’m doing something about it. Newer friends look a little surprised when I order lemon water but if they say anything, I simply say that I’ve had plenty in my life time and want to focus on health. Some feel sorry for me, some wish they could do it. Mixed reactions but can’t control anything except what I pour into my glass.

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  1. Pingback: Day 17: Brain in Turmoil | Epistemology of a Perpetual Struggle

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