Friday, June 27, 2014

44

44 Days and Going Strong!


Interesting Read

As if we need more motivation. Here is an interesting study.

"From 2006 through 2010, an average of 87,798 deaths were attributed to alcohol each year, the study found."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fatigue = Gone, At Least for Now

The last few days, I have finally been feeling like myself again. No need for that 2nd coffee just to keep my eyelids from drooping. I'm not saying that the fatigue won't be back. I have read that it can return. But I am enjoying this normal feeling right now.

It has been 42 days since I turned in my drinking card. 42 days since I voluntarily gave up my booze privileges. The privileges I obviously abused. I am still amused/frustrated that my husband thinks I should be able to moderate at some point. I heard a good snippet somewhere, recently. Maybe it was one of the guests on The Bubble Hour or something from one of the audio books I have been listening to. "No is easier than maybe." This is so true for me. I don't even know what maybe looks like. Maybe is scary. Maybe gives me anxiety,  just thinking about it. Normal drinkers don't have this obsessive relationship with alcohol, thinking about what "maybe" might be. They are either in the mood or not in the mood for a cocktail. It's just that simple. I was out to dinner with a couple of friends on Saturday night and one of them had a ginger ale, I think and the other ordered a margarita.  The first thing she said when she took a sip was, "Wow, that's strong." She only drank half of it. I don't get that. I won't ever get that. Not in a million years. But that's what normal is.

I used to live in Philadelphia. Loved it. Still miss that city. They had Yuengling beer there. I never was a beer person (but I wouldn't kick beer out of bed for eating crackers). However, I really enjoyed Yuengling. It has more alcohol by volume and it's delicious. It wasn't available in New England until recently. Rhode Island just got it. Like a week before I stopped drinking. A normal person wouldn't be as upset as I am about it, even though I stopped drinking on my own accord.

My hope is that alcohol just won't be important to me anymore someday. That it will slide down the scale and turn into just something that people do. I also hope that I am never complacent and think that I can once again go back to drinking. Because, truth be told, even if I were, by some miracle able to hit the rewind button on my brain function, I have already consumed so much booze into this body. Why on Earth would I want to throw more down the gullet? I have done enough damage. It's not like I was eating too much broccoli and had to stop. I was consuming a toxic substance in huge volumes on a daily basis. What purpose would it serve to moderate, anyway? What benefit could I possibly be getting from alcohol? Yes, red wine helps keep your heart healthy, but so does grape juice. It isn't the alcohol part that does the good stuff (but boy did I use the "red wine is healthy" logic when I was actively drinking).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Firsts

I received some sad news on Friday. A high school friend died suddenly. Aneurism. I had just seen him a couple of months ago. My oldest friend and I were out and we ran into him at a bar (right before I stopped drinking). He was a larger-than-life personality and I am so grateful we had a nice conversation with him before he passed away. We hung out for about an hour or so, reminiscing about high school. It was a joyful moment.

When I heard the news, it really touched a nerve. Alcohol would have helped me numb the sting in the past, but I am forced to deal with raw emotions sober. The wake is tomorrow night. It is still all so surreal.

I'm finding that the "play it forward" tool has been extra helpful. I keep weaving in and out of moments of wanting "just one," so I have to go through the mental exercise of going to the liquor store and imagining what might happen. Of course, I know that there wouldn't be "just one" and that I would guzzle the entire bottle and feel like shit the next day. So glad I have this in my arsenal. I have a feeling it's going to save me many times in the future.

The Bubble Hour topic was right on point for me this week. It was about "firsts" and toward the end there was a discussion about facing difficulties sober. There was a lot to cram into the hour, so they are breaking it up into 2. I look forward to the 2nd half next week.

Friday, June 20, 2014

When Will This Fatigue Go Away?

I have been reading about fatigue as a symptom of PAWS. It seems to be the only one I have, except for momentary lapses of patience. My God, I am tired. Still. I should go see my doctor, but I really want a few months of sobriety before I do. I want to give my body a chance to simmer down before all the blood tests and whatnot.

I drink a good amount of caffeine. One large Dunkin Donuts coffee every day and sometimes a little more. I usually have a mug of tea before bedtime, which tends to relax me despite the caffeine. Do I even need to be relaxed? I feel like a sloth on the couch by 9:30, fighting to keep awake. My husband and I work pretty late and don't get to spend time together until 8PM, most nights.I feel bad and wish I could be more alert for "our time."

I am eating REALLY WELL. I know it isn't my diet. Maybe I can use more protein. I am a vegetarian, though, so meat is out. I am consuming lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I'm watching my calories. I exercise every morning. I am doing yoga every week. I feel like I am doing all the right things, but I can't shake this stupid fatigue. It's worse in the morning and seems to get better as the day goes on. Fuck a duck, I want to feel better.

My SMART meeting finally included some women this week. Two, actually. AA drop outs. Our meeting isn't super structured. We talk about our week, each person gets a chance to talk. The moderator picks out one tool from the manual and we discuss ways to apply the tool. One of the things we talked about this week was always having a plan. For example, when you go to an event or place where you know alcohol will be served, you should always know what you are going to drink, even if that means bringing your own. That way, your brain doesn't have to agonize over it when you get there. Seems simple enough, but it really is important. Also, we discussed having a plan in the event of an unexpected trauma. One of our group members was sober for 8 years and then something really, really bad happened. Out the door went his sobriety. Life is full of surprises, good and bad, and we have to be ready without the option of returning to alcohol. Even if it's a horrific event. I drank through the deaths of my parents. Less than an hour after my mother passed away (I was with her, caring for her at the time), I popped open a bottle of wine and drank it. Before the funeral home even carried her away. I always need to have a plan, even if it means drinking all the Lapsang Souchong tea in the state of Rhode Island.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Food for Thought

I've been listening to Anne Dowsett Johnston's, Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. In one chapter, she talks about the makers and marketers of alcohol and how they target specific groups. If you do the math, it's pretty easy to figure out that these companies actually depend on people who drink alcoholically to stay in business. This is a great article about the subject.

Key paragraph:

Indeed, advertising that encouraged only moderate drinking would be an economic failure. This becomes clear when you know that only 10 percent of the drinking-age population consumes over half of all alcoholic beverages sold. According to Robert Hammond, director of the Alcohol Research Information Service, if all 105 million drinkers of legal age consumed the official maximum "moderate" amount of alcohol - .99 ounces per day, the equivalent of about two drinks - the industry would suffer "a whopping 40 percent decrease in the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits." 

But aren't they always asking us to drink responsibly?  What they really mean is, go ahead and get smashed, just don't drive or become violent and injure someone.

Find Your Truth

I had a few white knuckle rides this weekend. I went to NYC and had dinner with an old friend. This is a person who I love dearly and who came into my life when I started drinking heavily. He started drinking heavily around this time, too. We both had our excuses: Job stress, external factors romanticizing alcohol, etc. I told him of my recent decision to be sober and he fully supports it. He also admitted that he and his partner have increased their alcohol consumption to dangerous levels over the years. It is highly likely that they are both dependent and need to start asking themselves some difficult questions.

The next day, my husband and I went to an outdoor movie and people were boozing it up all around us. I could see it and smell it everywhere. It was horribly distracting.

But I made it through without drinking.

I have resolved not to have a full-blown conversation with my in-laws about my sobriety. It doesn't need to become a drama. The most important thing isn't whether or not people understand or support me (although those things are very helpful), it's about my choice to be sober.

You can call it a disease. You can call it poor decision-making. You can say a person is genetically predisposed. You can call it whatever you like. Whatever the label or non-label, I was drinking at an alarming rate and was unwilling to control the volume and speed in which I was drinking. Some say you are powerless. Others say, you have the power to make better choices but choose the substance instead. One thing is clear to me, however, and illustrates, without a shadow of a doubt that I must abstain from drinking: When in the rare situation where I was allowed only one drink, I would be angry. Normal drinkers would be so happy. Yay! I get a drink! Not me. Though I would never vocalize it, I would be seething and frustrated. One drink wouldn't do it. One drink was impossible to savor and enjoy. One drink fucking sucked. That's me being 100% honest.

Whatever you decide to put in your toolbox, you must find your truth. You must be clear about the facts of your drinking and your motivations. You you must carve out an individual path that works for you. Call it your own special brand of recovery. Recovery should feel right, whatever that becomes for you. Cherry pick what you need from various sources. If you don't agree with something, don't be afraid to say, "fuck that." This is your life. Philosophies and theories are not hard truths. You know your story, you know what informs your decisions, you know your triggers, you know your truth.

Friday, June 13, 2014

He's Still Not Getting It

This weekend, my husband and I have plans to see my father-in-law (Father's Day). I made mention that I will need, at some point, to tell my in-laws (who I love dearly, by the way) about this. To my knowledge, they do not know that I have a drinking problem, let alone that I am an alcoholic. They drink, too, probably border-line socially (and perhaps tip-toeing into something more), and I've never gotten obliterated in their presence, though I did overdo it this past Thanksgiving. However, I was far from the only one super drunk that day.

My husband started asking how I knew I was an alcoholic. "Shouldn't you be diagnosed by a doctor?" he asked. I explained that alcoholics diagnose themselves. He was confused, this didn't seem like a good enough response. Almost like I made it up or something. I told him that I forever altered my brain chemistry. He still isn't buying it. He thinks that I should be able to drink, at some point, like a social drinker. I am thoroughly exhausted from explaining this to him. I also felt that there was something more going on here. I asked him why it bothered him so much that I had resolved to never drink again. I started wondering that maybe this wasn't about me. That my coming out as an alcoholic somehow worried him because of how it might appear. Then, a little truth started seeping out.

His sister's ex-husband was/is a cocaine addict. We still don't know for sure if he is actively using. When they were married, he was so ensconced in his addiction, that he stole money from her to buy drugs and was high around the children. When my mother-in-law found out, she was livid. She demanded that my sister-in-law divorce him, for the sake of her grandchildren. He isn't really the nicest person, addiction or not, and I think it really was for the best. My nieces and nephews and my sister-in-law are about the most loving, most adorable people I know and I am sure that they are so much better off without him. He did go into recovery (not sure if he kept sober) and explained that he had a disease. My mother-in-law, still so angry for his actively using around her grandchildren, said, "He doesn't have a disease! He's just an asshole!" I think these words stuck in my husband's mind. He mentioned them last night. So I asked him if he thought I was an asshole because I have an addiction. Of course, he said no. I asked if he thought his mother would think I was an asshole. Again, he said no. A highly functioning alcoholic does their best to protect the people they love. I did not jeopardize our marriage, didn't steal money from anyone, didn't endanger him or myself, etc. In fact, I've carried the financial burden in our marriage. But I still believe that I have a disease.

I know my mother-in-law. I love her with all my heart. We have a mother-daughter bond. When I tell her, she isn't going to suddenly accuse me of being an asshole. So, on top of protecting my sobriety, I now have to help my husband process my disease. I actually have to defend my own diagnosis to him. Do you know how weird that feels? Do you know how much I wish I could agree with my husband? "Yes, honey, you're right. I can probably have a drink every now and then." And he doesn't even drink! So it isn't like he's missing his drinking buddy or anything. I am so confused.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Me vs. Perfectionism (Spolier Alert: I Lose)

Growing up, my mother was a neat freak. She would start vacuuming before I even got up in the morning, sometimes, and I was an early riser. We used to joke about this. When she was going through chemotherapy, I took Fridays off from my then job to help her around the house. She asked me to clean the upstairs on more than one occasion and I would always go up there, look around and think: Okay, what the heck does she want me to do here? The floors were spotless, the beds were made, there wasn't a speck of dust to be found. I would go through the motions, but it honestly didn't look any different when I was done because it was perfect to begin with.

I don't know exactly where my perfectionism comes from. I think it started in the 2nd grade. My parents were not wealthy. We sort of managed and squeaked by for years until my mother went back to school and became a registered nurse. When I was a child, we struggled a lot. My parents couldn't afford to send me to dance school (this is something I eventually did on my own, for which I paid out of pocket from the part time job I kept in high school) or gymnastics. They were good parents who did their best. I never went hungry, never wore torn clothes, never froze in the winter. But I went to school alongside the girls who had and had lots. The girls who went to dance lessons at their parents' insistence and resented it. In the 2nd grade, my teacher really favored those girls. In obvious ways that left me frustrated, lonely and hurt. I carried that with me right into adulthood. I knew that my parents had to block off the upstairs of our house in the winter to save money on heat and that I had to sleep in the front room of the house in a sleeping bag during this time. My bedroom and toys were upstairs and these things were not accessible to me during the winter. I knew this wasn't normal. I was embarrassed and ashamed. My mother still kept the house clean and perfect-looking, as perfect as it can be without money for all the trendiest furniture. I got new clothes for school every year, but just so many garments. I received new toys at Christmas, but just so many. Looking back, it was probably a better experience, as it taught me a lot about what truly matters (a loving family), but I was too young to understand that at the time. Instead, I seethed and eventually resolved to the fact that some people have and some people don't have. One year, we couldn't even afford to buy cake mix for my father's birthday cake, so my mother made pancakes and stacked them up, put candles in them and presto! I thought that was really creative and cool then, but I also knew why she was doing it and this made me feel sad and inferior. It drove my need to be like the others. To have the latest clothes and gadgets. I wanted that Family Ties house and the petty Family Ties problems. Add to this my father's insistence that I get straight As, start a job the second I turned sixteen and you have a recipe for perfectionism. Always trying to keep up, always wanting to please my parents. When I became an adult, it functioned on autopilot. It still does. Drinking hushed it, put it on hold.

The problem is it feels like a fucking runaway train. And no one ever told me where the brake switch is. I have no idea how to stop my inner critic like drinking did. I am sitting here, crying, just like I did in the 2nd grade when my teacher told me that I couldn't participate in the talent show because there simply wasn't room (translation: the popular girls will be doing all the routines). How does one stop thinking alcoholically? How do you stop beating yourself up? I feel like a tiny twig spinning around a strong, unstoppable eddy. I know I have to figure out how to correct it, but Jesus, I don't have a single clue as to how. Where's the handbook for that?

A New Way of Looking at Things

I am sort of scratching the surface of a new way of looking at the world. My world. I finished Caroline Knapp's, "Drinking, A Love Story" this morning. Toward the end, as she speaks about her recovery, she mentions that in life, there are two ways to look at your problems.

1. Alcoholically
2. Soberly

This is laughably simple, I realize. I will elaborate with an example. If you are struggling with something, whether it be a new situation or one that has plagued you for a long time, you are forced to figure out how you are going to cope with it. Let's just say it's something as basic as "My car is dying." The alcoholic brain might decide to accept the fact that the car is falling apart, shrug their shoulders and drink. Drink to avoid dealing with the faulty brakes, the bald tires, the poor exhaust system, the useless windshield wipers, the slipping gears. The alcoholic solution is: put it off by dissociating, by replacing the feeling of dread (the anticipation of spending money you don't have to either fix the problems or doing the math to see if it makes more sense to trade in the car and start payments on a better, newer, safer vehicle) with euphoria (drink, drink, drink). The sober solution is to lay all possible options on the table and work toward a positive goal, a way to solve the problem.

She stated that sometimes the answers to our problems can come by simply shifting our thinking a little. Example: My life is a mess because I drink instead of I drink because my life is a mess. Just moving that idea around a bit can create a whole new, clear perspective. Sometimes, it can be life changing.

Because of my chosen profession, my hands are in water a lot of the time. I don't have beautiful nails and going to get a manicure would be like throwing money right out the window. My nails aren't awful, just okay. Except my left thumb nail. That nail is awful. I take a lot of my anxiety out on that nail and on the cuticle. I pick at it without knowing it. It's now to the point where I have to cover the nail with a false nail just to hide the embarrassment I feel allowing it to be naked in public. I looked down at my thumb last night and thought about how much effort has gone into masking the less-than-attractive nail from the rest of the world. How much I wished I could stop picking at the nail and just leave it alone. But then, I looked at my thumb. It's a decent thumb, in good working order. My hands are strong and all of my fingers work together to get mundane things done and very creative things, too. I am proud of the work of these hands. The nail is insignificant. It doesn't factor into my life, my work or the general output of the hands. The thumb does the heavy lifting, all the things that actually matter. So, why couldn't I get beyond the nail? From now on, instead of feeling like a bad nail freak, I will celebrate the thumb as my nail heals. I will learn to love and respect the nail, too, but really give the credit to the digit. Because that's where it belongs. I realize that this is just one long, rambling metaphor, however, it is also a way of shifting. Of realizing that there are always several ways to look at a perceived problem.

My SMART meeting was good last night. Usually, we have a couple of NA type people in the meeting with us alcoholics, but last night, it was a drinkers only group. I am still the only woman present. It's funny, really, when we all get talking. One of the guys refers to social drinkers as, "earth people." I feel like we all speak a foreign language together and only when we can actually sit down and talk about the challenges of our collective weeks do we realize how much we all have in common. It's a relief.

Monday, June 9, 2014

It's Like Having Constant PMS

As I continue to live a sober life, I'm noticing that my moods aren't as easily contained as they once were. Patience, which used to come quite naturally to me, is in shorter and shorter supply. I feel like there is some inner lioness, always ready to lunge, that I am struggling to keep tame. Sometimes she lets out a loud roar before I can stop her, before I have time to even think about it, before it registers that she is snarling and angry. I think alcohol kept this part of me in check. The promise of a drink, many drinks, allowed the sleeping lioness to remain happily content in her liar.  Maybe I thought I had mastered patience, when in fact, I had simply hushed it with a bottle of wine every day.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to Newport. We took a long walk along a beach trail and then sat in the sand. Afterwards, we went strolling through downtown Newport, which, at this time of year is a-buzz with tourists and summer residents. All of the seasonal shops are open and bustling. Ice cream, frozen lemonade, souvenirs, surfing gear, yachts, trendy clothes, sunglasses and lots and lots of dewy wine glasses filled with chardonnay and freshly uncapped bottles of Corona with slivers of lime. There are liquor stores everywhere. I had never really noticed them all, I guess. Mostly because these are places are would rarely shop at, as the wine tends to be so-so and overpriced. But I noticed them yesterday. We had an early dinner at one of my favorite outdoor restaurants. Ordinarily, I would enjoy a nice alcoholic beverage and it would signal the end of a relaxing day. Seafood is so damn good with cold wine. Instead, I had two soda waters with lime. They were fine, but I was annoyed for a good part of the meal because everyone around was drinking and laughing and enjoying a summer buzz. Also, they sat us at the sunniest table, the only one without an umbrella it seems, and I was wearing a black sundress that was sucking in the heat from the sun at an alarming rate. We did eventually move when our food finally came, but I was somewhat unsatisfied. It was another "first." My first Newport sunshiney day without booze. Check the box.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

This is My Sponsor

In AA, people get sponsors. I'm sure this is super helpful. The organizer of my SMART meeting gave his number out to us all and basically said that he is always available to talk people off the ledge. I've decided that Henry Rollins is my sponsor. He is the person my brain will channel should I find myself in a vulnerable position. I am thinking of carrying his picture around with me. Maybe I will make it the wallpaper of my smartphone. Whenever I need to get a big job done, I always picture him yelling at me like a drill sergeant. It works. I think I need that kind of force. I need someone to give it to me straight and not provide an "out." If I slip up in the future, I picture my sponsor saying, Get up, dust off and get the fuck back to it. Not, Oh, that's okay, you're only human, yadda yadda yadda. He's pretty handsome, too. I'm more of a Bradley Cooper kind of gal, but Henry will do in a pinch.

I'm Having Trouble with This

I was reading up on this book. Mainly because I was doing some googling about Caroline Knapp, the author of "Drinking, a Love Story." This came up in my feed. I can honestly say that I can't remember the precise time I went from being "almost alcoholic" to "alcoholic." The signs that they point to seem to suggest one is a highly functioning alcoholic. Some of the signs don't even apply to me, as my drinking never interfered with my professional life. I was a master compartmentalizer.  I rarely drove drunk or even buzzed. I felt really strongly about that. On the occasions that I did do it, I felt horribly guilty and paranoid the whole time. I still don't know how my father was so casual and carefree about it. He drank WHILE driving and didn't seem to think that there would be any consequences. He was just plain lucky.

Anyway, I am curious about this book. I find it hard to believe that once someone presents the criteria offered by the authors, that they would be able to cut down, moderate, go back to normal drinking. Maybe it's just my own experience talking. Perhaps, if I were honest with myself 12 years ago, I could have curbed it. But it's not like you sit around with a checklist every time you open a bottle of wine. Many of us just kind of float and sway into dependency. It starts with one drink a day, turns into 2. Perhaps it stays there for sometime, then gradually moves into 3. The operative word is gradual. I am confused by this book, I guess. Although, I do hope it was helpful in getting some people away from the edge and back into normalcy.

By the way, Caroline's book is quite a good read. She, herself, was a fascinating person. She was a writer at the Boston Phoenix for years. I am sure I read her columns often, as I was living in the Boston area almost the entire time she was on staff there and picked up a copy of the paper every month. I see a lot of myself in her. I was very saddened to learn that that she succumbed to lung cancer at the young age of 42. That's how old I am and it frightens me.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Learning to Nurse

So, here's a little struggle I have when I am in situations where I would really like to drink, though, I know I cannot (Hmmm ... isn't this every night?). I drink fast. Like, with Olympic speed. Seriously, I ought to receive a medal for this. I can down a liter of seltzer in a half hour. I used to drink alcohol with speed, too. I notice that I drink faster when I am in social situations, celebrations, etc. The first party I attended sober, I whipped through a gallon of a seltzer/pomegranate/lime libation. Why? I think this is a manifestation of anxiety. A knee-jerk reaction. Always having a beverage on hand and keeping a vice grip on said beverage, no matter what it is. It's like I can't just take a sip here or there and be comfortable and happy. No. I have to gulp it down and run for a refill.

Health experts say that you are supposed to drink 8 huge glasses of water a day. I imagine that the people who adhere to this are speed drinking, too. I mean, how can you do it, otherwise?

I wish I could just be. Without this need to consume. Maybe I'll practice this.

The Bubble Hour

This morning, I listened to Sunday's podcast of The Bubble Hour. The topic was about relating to other alcoholics, as some of us do in meetings. There were a lot of moments in the podcast that I identified with. One of them was getting toward the end. Someone talked about Moderation Management, which, as you may know, I tried 2 years ago. She said that she was reading the MM discussion boards and they were filled with people reporting their drinks for the week and talking about how proud they were that they had just "2 units" of something when they were out at a party. Every message seemed to be a variation on this, and she was just like, "Wow, that's exhausting." Another person chimed in that when they read up on it (before they got sober), they laughed at the 30 days of abstinence and then scoffed at the moderation levels that people are supposed to attain. Only another alcoholic can so keenly relate to those responses. Moderation is exhausting. Drinking is supposed to be about having fun and these people are treating it like they are on a diet or something, imputing their drinks into a journal like food. Why bother at all? Also, I have since read that there just isn't any turning back once you've trained your brain to be alcoholic. It's irreversible. Instead, you just have to abstain for good or go back to drinking 10,000 drinks. Any attempts to moderate, once you've progressed to a certain point in the disease, will likely be met with failure which will untimely result in feelings of frustration and inadequacy. At least, this is the case for me. I haven't met anyone who can go back to social drinking after they've abused alcohol for a long time. Maybe people like this exist and if they do, god bless 'em.

It's Day 25 for me and the sun is out. It's Friday. I'm feeling better today, more optimistic. Last night, I ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill to get rid of my blah feelings and it seems to work. Thank you, endorphins. Of course, I got all crabby again when I went to take a shower and found that the shower handle suddenly broke off. (On Monday, we had our garbage disposal replaced and 2 traps snaked out in our upstairs bathroom. On Tuesday, I brought my car in because I had a flat tire, needed an oil change and an inspection sticker. The mechanic called to say that I needed new brakes, too, in order to pass inspection. On Wednesday morning, our home computer decided it didn't want to boot up. I wasn't in the mood for another repair!) My husband was actually able to fix the shower thing when he got home from work. Whew!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Feeling Blue

It's raining here in the north east and I'm feeling a bit low. The weather is depressing and the outdoor movie (The Breakfast Club) my husband and I were planning to attend has been postponed. It was a particularly difficult winter in New England. The snow, I like. The arctic temps, not so much. Our "spring" has been unusually cold, but summer is a scary thought because I haven't got the beach body I want yet. Some of my work prospects are on hold. I have one very large business opportunity that is really taking its time shaking out and I am lacking the motivation to do the projects I actually have the green light on. On days like this, I would slide my shitty depressed feelings off the cutting board by opening a bottle of wine to numb myself. Tomorrow is a new day, I would tell myself. Now, I have the promise of seltzer water and lime when I get home and let me tell you, I ain't too excited about it.

I realize that I have to find some motivation. I am starting yoga classes next Wednesday and my Tuesday SMART meetings definitely give me something to look forward to. But I'm just feeling lousy and stuck in place today.

At least I have 24 days of sobriety to celebrate.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

HFA (Highly Functioning Alcoholics)

I fit into this category, as do many people. I personally feel that this is one of the riskiest types of addicts because the disease progresses and goes on for a long time without any intervention. Along with that are copious doses of denial by the alcoholic. Prior to surrendering, I would have been tempted to run you over with my car if you accused me of being an alcoholic. But instead, I would fire off all the reasons why I wasn't an alcoholic and point out my successes and responsibilities, as well as the fact that I had never had a DUI, missed a day of work and underperformed in any way because of drinking. I would point out that real alcoholics have fucked up their lives beyond repair and find themselves living under bridges and sleeping on park benches. This is why it's so tricky. I also think that there are a lot of online quizzes and surveys that let the HFA off the hook because the criteria for definition is mostly in very advanced stages of the disease. I could probably have done another ten years of heavy drinking standing on my head if I hadn't decided to stop. I think it's vital that these types of alcoholics get help. You don't need to run your car into a telephone pole to prove to society and to yourself that you are an alcoholic. All of the bullet points below apply to me and maybe you, too.

From addiction-intervention. com:
  • In the company of others who drink – The HFA surrounds himself with others who like to drink. This assimilation makes it difficult to pick out the HFA as being different from the rest. Besides, the HFA truly enjoys drinking and being around others with similar likes. 
  • Obsessing over alcohol – The thought of alcohol is never far from the mind of the HFA. Counting hours until the next drink, mentally savoring the mellowness and pleasure of the impending drink, calculating how much alcohol can be consumed without any outward signs of drunkenness – the HFA obsesses over alcohol. 
  • Consuming craving – One drink is never enough for the HFA. The lure is too strong, and the craving consumes the HFA until he or she can have the next drink – and the next, and the next. Before long, the HFA has lost control over total alcohol intake – even though he or she still may appear outwardly normal and in control. After all, they are masters of discipline and concealment. 
  • Alcohol is part of their lives – The HFA would no more give up alcohol than they’d give up their identity. Alcohol is so much a part of their lives that they cannot imagine a life without alcohol. 
  • Finishing drinks of others – If someone the HFA is with leaves a drink on the bar or the table, the HFA may pick it up and finish it. “Don’t want to let this go to waste,” he may say in a joking manner. Related to this is the example of the HFA downing his own drink when it’s time to leave – to go to the table at the restaurant after waiting at the bar, for example – and then quickly ordering another. If a family member or friend doesn’t touch his or her drink, the HFA often drinks it along with his own.
  • Experiencing shame over drunken behavior – Being such masters of concealment, the HFA does often experience remorse and/or shame over instances where their behavior has become sloppy after drinking. Such behavior isn’t part of their carefully crafted images and they consequently work even harder to avoid such mistakes in the future. But they won’t quit drinking. They’ll just watch their behavior more. 
  • Self-deluding – Some HFAs drink only expensive wine or liquor in the mistaken belief that this means they’re not an alcoholic. It’s a self-delusion that allows them to continue to drink with impunity. 
  • Fit life into compartments – Another familiar sign of HFAs is that they are able to conveniently separate their drinking lives from the rest of their existence. Who they are at home, on the job, or to casual acquaintances is totally different from their drinking routine and environment. 
  • Tried to quit but failed – At some point the HFA may have tried to quit drinking but failed in the attempt. This pattern may often be repeated, but still the HFA refuses to seek treatment. It is part of their personality makeup, their self-constructed identity that they feel they can handle their drinking on their own. Such refusal to get help is difficult to overcome. 
  • Excuses and rewards – HFAs feel they work hard and deserve a drink as a reward. Drinking, to the HFA, is both an excuse and a reward. The HFA may even use those words in defense of his actions – to himself and to others. 
  • Hiding and sneaking – When others are going to be around – and watching – the HFA may sneak a drink early, drink before going out, or drink alone. Such secrecy is part of the concealment of the HFA’s true problem. He or she has to get in the drinking, but can’t take the risk of others finding out or suspecting the real problem. 
  • Emotional and physical consequences don’t matter – Whether minor or severe, emotional and physical consequences of drinking don’t make a difference to the HFA – who will continue to drink, regardless. It’s only when things really spiral out of control that the HFA, or those closest to him, may seek help for the problem. 
  • Blackouts, memory losses, or worse – At the end of the HFA’s downward spiral – just as with any other alcoholic – blackouts, memory losses, increasing physical, emotional, psychological, social and/or legal problems intensify. It’s at this point that the HFA either gets treatment or continues to deteriorate.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 22

I did do some research and found out that the sleepy thing is completely normal. It really is your body's way of repairing years of alcoholic damage. I was up until midnight last night, but it was likely because I had 2 cups of tea sitting around the fire pit. I'm running on 6 hours today and so far, I feel pretty good, as I mentally prepare for my SMART meeting tonight.

Last Friday was a little bumpy. I worked a 13 hour day and topped it off with a birthday dinner for one of my friends at a beloved restaurant. Luckily, the only seat available when I arrived was next to a friend of mine who rarely drinks and was enjoying coffee all night. I had a "Rye Jito" mocktail (I was expecting a minty beverage, but it was more citrus-y) and an Irish Breakfast tea. Even though I was surrounded with good company, I was bummed about not being able to drink. Most everyone had a nice beer or what-have-you and I was jealous. But at least I didn't have to worry about driving home buzzed. I also look forward to hangover-free mornings. What a joy it is to wake up from a natural sleep, ready to start the day.

I will be starting Wednesday night yoga sessions soon. I am very much looking forward to that, however, I realize that I have serious work to do with the perfectionism and fear pieces. Not sure how to tackle those. I have acknowledged that each of these evils has informed by behavior- my drinking - for as long as I can remember. I know they dance around together, waltzing, sometimes doing the Polka, in my brain, but shoo them away, I cannot yet do.