Two years sober

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

buster2

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.

 

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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.

 

Resolution(s)

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!

Blame

Over the weekend, I read this article:

Woman charged in car crash

Basically, a woman who was drunk on a mixture of alcohol and Ambien went to move her car from the street to her driveway. She apparently mistook the accelerator for the brake and plowed into her house, killing her husband and son in law and injuring her daughter. She had her grandson in her lap when she was driving. (He was unhurt, as was she.)

This is a terrifying story. Imagining what her daughter must be going through is horrific. But what most jumped out at me in this story was this quote:

“She told a deputy, ‘it wasn’t because of drinking, it’s because it’s a new car,’ the charges say.”

She has just killed two people she loved, injured another and endangered her grandson, and her first thought is to make excuses. I bring this up not to point fingers but because I understand it. She is deflecting blame, certainly. But she is also saying, Officer, this would have happened whether I was drunk or not.

I used to think, if I, say, slurred my words when talking to my husband at dinner, or if I overbalanced and almost fell when I was tucking my daughter into bed, or if I woke up with a bruise when I didn’t remember injuring myself:  anyone can  stumble and lose their balance. Why blame the alcohol?

If drinking is your crutch and your friend, your first thought is to protect it. My friend was not to blame. Don’t make me give up my friend.

It really helps to think of one’s desire to drink as a separate entity, “wolfie,” in Belle’s terminology. I’ve also heard people talk separately about their “addict self,” opposed to their real self. Among other things, it helps to externalize the (potentially crippling) guilt. Instead of beating yourself up (“why do I still want to drink when I know how destructive it is? I must be so selfish and irresponsible …”), you can fight against it. Wolfie wants me to drink, but I don’t want to.

Introversion

I just read an interesting book:  Quiet, the Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.

I was actually given this book over a year ago, but never got around to reading it.  Then I (literally) stumbled over it in my bedroom yesterday and picked it up and started reading.

Part of the reason I didn’t read the book right away is that I never felt particularly alone (ha!) in my introversion.  Both of my parents, both of my brothers, my husband, and (I believe) my two children are all also introverts.  My best friend is an extrovert, and we had some conflicts when we were living together AND working together when we were in our 20’s.   But I couldn’t think of any other time when I seriously had to think about my introversion and what it meant.

But as I read the book (which is very thought-provoking for many reasons, not just what I address in this post), I realized that part of why I struggled (and continue to struggle) with being a busy working parent is how drained I felt by having to be always “on,” always responsive to others’ needs.  This is an extra facet, for me, of the normal stress one feels from being busy.  One of the basic facts about introverts is that they are drained by social activities, even social activities they enjoy.  They need time to recharge their batteries after social events, or after interacting with others all day work, or even high-interaction day with the family.

But alone time, real alone time, is a luxury (and that’s how I thought of it) I didn’t feel was possible. Not even that I didn’t feel I could ask for it, just that it seemed impractical, impossible.

There’s a certain feeling that I get when I know I’ve had too much people interaction and I need to recharge; an overstimulated, “nerve-jangled” feeling is how I would describe it.  And one thing that helps to erase that feeling (other than peaceful alone time) is alcohol.  In the book, Susan Cain, quoting someone, calls a beer a “glass of extroversion.”  I think it was meant in the sense of overcoming shyness, but I think it’s true in more ways than one.

She also introduced a concept I thought was interesting:  “emotional labor,” a term I had not heard before.  It’s the psychic toll of trying to control or change your emotions,  feel something you don’t feel:  like pretending to be happy when you’re not, pretending to be outgoing when you’re not.  This is something most people can do when they have to, but the longer you have to do it, the more it takes its toll. I think for many years I was not managing my introversion well – silly as it might sound, I felt I didn’t have time to be an introvert!

I still don’t get as much alone time as I would like.  But I am better at recognizing my emotions now that I am not attempting to drown them in alcohol.  And when the kids are in bed and I am finally able to be alone for a little while, I am alert and cognizant enough to enjoy it and do something with it.

One year later

Mother’s Day, 2014.

I got some lovely homemade gifts, and some beautiful flowers.  We went out to dinner, the four of us.  The sun was shining, a beautiful spring day.

I thought I would be bouncing off the walls with happiness today, but it didn’t turn out that way.  I woke up remembering this day one year ago.  I try not to think about that day very much, but it all came flooding back here, on mother’s day.  The regret, shame, and humiliation stayed with me all day.

My girls were bickering a lot, and I didn’t really deal with it that well.  We had to drive forty-five minutes across town for my older daughter’s soccer game. It felt like we were all irritable.  My youngest was carsick.  It was one of those days where all the big things went right but all the little things went wrong.

But, I didn’t drink.  I didn’t throw up in my bed and pass out.  I didn’t need my daughter to call someone else for help.  I didn’t end up in the hospital.

And that’s a good day.