Win times two

I had an incredible experience last night, and since it also relates to (not) drinking, I thought I might share it with y’all.

As I mentioned here before, I wrote a screenplay. This was a project I set for myself last year, because while I’ve always loved to write I had never finished a long work.

I honestly didn’t really know what I was going to do with it, beyond that. Of course I would love to see my work produced, but what are the chances of that? That is still true, but through a friend of a friend, last night I was able to hear a read-through of my entire screenplay, with real actors. The friend of a friend, D, is an actress is involved with a theater workshop company, and, she told me, loves to help writers. So she read the script, invited some actor friends, cast the parts, and hosted the read-through at her house. Wow!

I’m still on cloud nine. Of course none of this would have happened when I was drinking. I would never have written the screenplay, never would have had the energy or mental space. I would still be locked in my prison of surviving from day to day – and thinking I couldn’t do even that without my liquid friend.

The other, smaller win, was that everyone at the read-through last night was drinking, and I didn’t feel one pang. I even brought beer, because I asked D what I could bring and that’s what she said. Later, D made a joke about me drinking soda, saying if she were hearing her own work she’d have been hitting the wine bottle, and I didn’t feel self-conscious. I joked back that I didn’t want to forget a single moment of this. Also, there is a scene in my screenplay where some characters are drinking wine, and one of the actors got up and said (to much laughter) that was his cue to bring out another bottle. I am just amazed that I was able to laugh along with these jokes and not be bothered.

Now THIS is a high!

What next?

Someone asked me the other day if I still feel like drinking sometimes.

The answer is YES. Sometimes, perhaps most often, it is at social occasions when it would be nice to join in with everyone else.

But my problem was more with “stress” drinking rather than social drinking. I had a day like this last weekend when we had to cram in two soccer games (across town from each other), yard work, grocery shopping, and laundry. Then it was dinner time, and cleanup after dinner, and making lunches for the next day … I stood there in the kitchen really wanting a glass of wine.

We didn’t have any in the house, so you could say this is all moot, but I have two basic strategies for dealing with this situation. If it’s really bad, I just stop what I’m doing. I go sit down somewhere quiet, telling my hubby and kids that I need some quiet time. I turn on my meditation app, or just sit quietly. I check in with myself — am I thirsty? Hungry? Do I have tension somewhere? (Neck, shoulders, back.)

But sometimes this isn’t possible. If I’m out somewhere, for example, or maybe I don’t feel I need a major intervention. That’s when I ask myself, so I have a drink. What next? Do I have another? Do I still have to make the lunches? Most importantly, has any problem been solved? I also visualize that feeling of being tipsy — not the good “ahhhh” feeling, which is really only at first — but the woozy, flushed, over-warm feeling.

It helps take me out of the immediate desire into thinking about what drinking would really do for me. So this has become a little catchphrase for me whenever I feel like drinking. So I have a drink. What next?

Two years sober

I know I haven’t posted in forever. As a peace offering, I submit this photo of my dog:


How could anyone be mad at that face??

I wanted to mark this day because Mother’s Day, 2013, was my last day of drinking. It’s the day I went to the hospital, the day I realized I needed to change my life. And I did change it.

I’ve been having a good day today. I mentioned awhile back that I was writing a screenplay. Well, I finished it, and I’ve been trying to reach out to anyone and everyone who might be connected to the theater or film industry.  Today I got an email from a friend of a friend, who is involved in local theater. She offered to set up a reading of my script with real actors, so I could see and hear my words being performed! How exciting is that?

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday, and a special sober happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.


What’s your poison?

In the US thirty years ago, wine drinking was passe. It was seen as vaguely pretentious, the province of connoisseurs and poseurs.

(One of the alcohol books I read recently went into the history of this quite a bit. The growth in the alcohol – especially wine – industry is almost entirely due to an increase in women’s drinking. Men’s rate of alcohol intake has remained fairly steady. Scary.)

I can attest to feeling the shift toward wine somewhere in the mid-90’s. Suddenly wine was everywhere. So when I started drinking daily ten or so years later, wine was a natural choice. Europeans drink two glasses of wine every day, don’t they? Tannins are good for your heart. It also seemed to fit with a persona I wanted to create – that of a mom who wore motherhood lightly, who didn’t let it become my defining characteristic.

Wine was great. So how did I get to brandy?

There were a few reasons. What started it is that I bought a bottle for a recipe. The recipe called for two tablespoons, and after that I had a bottle sitting in the cupboard which would be a pity to waste.

The second is that I got a kick out of the way brandy is talked about as having medicinal value, especially in British fiction of the 19th century. “She’s had a shock – fetch the brandy!” This is part of my Xer heritage – the notion of being hip by taking something hopelessly stodgy and lame and enjoying it ironically. (Hipsters going bowling is the ultimate example of this.)

But here’s the real reason, the main reason: wine wasn’t doing it for me anymore, it wasn’t giving the punch I needed. I also had to drink so damn much of it. It was getting conspicuous. Brandy, with its higher alcohol content, enabled me to drink less for the same effect. Brilliant.

I read somewhere, have no idea if it’s true, that hardcore alcoholics all end up drinking straight vodka as their preferred drink of choice. No messing around. And I’ve certainly read personal stories from drinkers who drank cooking wine, mouthwash, cologne … you get to a certain point, it doesn’t matter what form the poison comes in, as long as you get it.


Dreaming about Drinking

I’ve gotten to the point when I don’t think about drinking during the day very often. I have reaped enough benefits from quitting that the siren call of drinking is muted – or drowned out, har har.

And yet, in the night I often dream about drinking.

I’m not sure what this means. Wish fulfillment? My unconscious still working through issues? I am starting to see a pattern to these dreams. They usually involve being presented with an opportunity to drink. Then I usually decide I am going to drink, but then things happen that prevent me from being able to do so. Sometimes I do drink, but then circumstances conspire to keep from drinking any more.

I thought I would share with you the dream I had last night, since it was pretty typical. I dreamt we were hosting a party at our house. The guests were people I didn’t know very well. (Oddly, the Seattle Seahawks were there. Marshawn Lynch ate all the tacos.) I was tasked with mixing all the drinks. A woman asked for a Manhattan, and I found I had no idea how to make one. I remembered that the end result was brown, so I mixed together cream, hot cocoa mix, and vodka (ew!). I decided, if she doesn’t like it I’ll just have to drink it myself.

She took it, and wandered off. I kept waiting for her to come back. When she didn’t, I thought: I can make one for myself anyway. But my hostess duties kept preventing me from doing so (including making more tacos!). I kept thinking about that drink, and I woke up still wanting it – until I came fully awake and was relieved it was only a dream.

That’s the positive side to having these dreams: I always wake up relieved that I did not, in fact, drink. So that’s maybe what my brain is doing for me: rehearsing making a different choice. It always reinforces for me my confidence with the choice I have made.



Is it too late to make a New Year’s resolution? I say, no! Anytime is good time to resolve to make your life better!

I said last time that I want to make my resolutions this year positive and specific. First, I want to write another screenplay. I finished the one I started last year, but now I am doing a major revision of one section of it. So that is my resolution: finish this revision by the end of February, and then finish a second screenplay by the end of the year. It does me a lot of good to have a writing project to work on. Of course I would love to sell a screenplay, but right now it’s more about giving my brain something to chew on.

I swear a lot of the reason I drank was to try to shut up my brain. This is better: distracting it.

My next resolution isn’t too exciting, but it is to pay off our car early. We owe a little less than $6000 on it now, and paying it off early will do very nice things for our monthly budget. When we do that, we can start building up an emergency fund. This is something that every finance book recommends, and we always seem to find something else to do with our money. This might be a goal that will happen more in 2016, but I’m earmarking the car payment amount, as soon as the car is paid off, to go right into funding an emergency savings account – at a separate bank.

I try to check in with my financial picture once in year in January. Last year my resolution was to start keeping a monthly budget, down to the last dollar. I did this, and will continue doing it this year.

My other news is that I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune disease where your body attacks your thyroid. I put on nine pounds last year, so my doctor ordered some thyroid tests. (And here I thought it was just because I started eating ice cream again!) I am taking medication for it, and am pondering making some dietary changes as well. Based on my online research (which I know can be flawed!), an anti-inflammatory diet (mostly, no sugar or gluten) can be a good diet for people with Hashimoto’s. I have to say, I’m still in the planning stages here.🙂 The only change I’ve made so far is to give up my granola for breakfast in favor of more protein/fat based breakfasts, with some veggies or fruit:  veggie omelets, or cottage cheese with banana, or unsweetened yogurt with blueberries mixed in.

And to anyone reading this who is pondering quitting drinking for your New Year’s resolution: GO FOR IT! I promise you won’t regret it!

Stressful holidays

When I was a kid, I remember watching Family Feud once, and the question was, “What are the most stressful times of the year?” My child mind was completely gobsmacked to see that “Christmas” was number 1! It was not just that it didn’t stress me out, I was completely unable to imagine how it could possibly stress anyone out. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It says it right there in the song!!

Needless to say, I am no longer puzzled by this.

Last year I was not happy during the holidays. It was my first sober Christmas and I spent the whole holiday being mad about it. When a co-worker gave me a bottle of brandy for Christmas, I almost drank it.

This Christmas was actually really nice. My brother and his wife came over, my parents were visiting, and it was a lot of fun. It made me realize something: not only was this Christmas much better than last year, it was better than any Christmas I can remember for oh, maybe a decade or so. I was never good, ever, at managing stress. Being busy meant being irritable and unhappy, full stop. No doubt this is part of what made me start drinking too much in the first place.

Quitting drinking, then, has forced me to learn to manage my stress. Here is what I have learned to do:

1) Living in the moment, only thinking about what I have to do right now rather than worrying about what I have to do later.

2) Slowing down. Instead of rushing through tasks, I do them efficiently, but deliberately. When I do chores that don’t use my brain too much, I use that time for thinking about something interesting. Something I read about, something I’m writing.

3) Asking my husband if I can go take some quiet “me” time before I start feeling resentful that I haven’t had any.

4) Meditating. I did this almost every day during the holidays. And yes, there is an app for that.

5) Not leaving my own interests behind. I still do my jigsaw puzzles, my crossword puzzles, and my history reading. Instead of thinking “I’m too busy for that,” I still do it, just for a shorter time period.

I also made a pre-resolution resolution that all my resolutions this year will be positive and specific (like “I will write another screenplay”), not negative and general (like “I will eat less”). More to come.