As I was out walking my dog today, soaking in some much-needed fresh air and sunshine, I started thinking about what the day would have been like if I was still drinking.  In the past, time off from work meant, more or less, no restrictions on my drinking.  I used it as an excuse to be as irresponsible and unencumbered as possible, as a “reward” for how hard I work.  What that translated to was days upon end spent drinking, watching movies or TV online, and accomplishing less-than-little.

Even though I haven’t exactly climbed a mountain today, I’ve managed to have a relaxing morning that still had some bursts of productivity.  If I had been drinking, I would have woken up around 5 feeling awful, then spent the next 5-6 hours tossing and turning – feeling like I’d been run over by a truck, but unable to fall into any type of cohesive sleep.  I’d drag myself out of bed for something to eat, either whatever was on hand in the house or some takeout / fast food  because there was no way I’d have the energy or motivation to cook, and my stomach would still have a vague hollow feeling after I’d stuffed my face.  Sometime after noon, once the liquor store was (finally) open, I’d go buy some wine and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening drinking and doing absolutely.nothing.  Lather, rinse, repeat for the rest of my week off.  Go back to work feeling anxious, guilty, ashamed, and like I completely wasted my vacation (I did).

Today’s sober counterpart?  Slept in until 8 (still battling the pretty-much-constant lack of energy, but like I emphasized before… it’s a “good tired”.  I feel like sleep is deep, restorative, and necessary).  Drank some coffee, poked around on the internet, called around for some quotes to repair the small leak in my roof (ugh), took the dog for a nice, long walk, ordered his tick prevention refills, and now I’m about to eat lunch before deciding how I want to spend my afternoon.  I’ll probably stop at the grocery store when I pop out to pick up the puppy meds, maybe grabbing some mixings for a nice NA treat and some sushi because I deserve it :)

So it’s times like this, when I reflect on the alternative to sobriety, that my sulkiness starts to lift and I can see glimpses of how this is definitely worth the “sacrifice” (but, really, what am I sacrificing?  Hangovers?  Lethargy?  Poor health?  Regret?).  I suppose it’s probably a little sad that being a functional human being feels like an accomplishment, but right now I’m happy with each small step forward.

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Still here, just been busy lately and, quite frankly, don’t have a whole lot to say or motivation to write.  Sobriety is still a struggle – I feel like I’m constantly turning my thoughts away from imaginary drinking situations.  I’ve never felt so conscious of how prevalent alcohol is, in media particularly.  I just scrolled through my feed reader and at least one in every 10 posts (from a variety of sites) had a reference to drinking, or a cocktail recipe.  I still find it a little bit triggering, but it’s impossible to avoid alcohol without hiding, and isn’t the whole point of this to crawl out from under a rock?

I’m off from work for the entire week without any plans, so I’m piling on the self-care in between a few adventures.  Hopefully uninhibited sleep will help with the lack of energy.  I’m looking forward to this general malaise lifting, hopefully soon.

I was a little overwhelmed by stress at work today, even though there was a lot less going on than there has been in recent weeks.  I think it was small, normal, daily annoyances that were exacerbated by my mind reflexively veering off towards unwinding with a big glass of wine (or four) at the end of the day, and then having to shake those thoughts away.  It’s going to take a bit of time to retrain my brain to not go there so immediately and instinctively, but right now it’s taking some real effort to step back and remind myself that, no, that’s not an option for me anymore.  I’ve been in a fed-up mood with work over the past month or two – I like a lot about my job, but there are elements of the environment in my department that are becoming monumentally frustrating – so I think I might be a little crabby that I can’t pull the plug on the work day so completely like I used to be able to with cocktail hour.  Even when getting some work done in the evenings, it was oh so much more tolerable with a bit of wine in me (though, as you can imagine, the quality of that work wasn’t always top-notch).

The other problem was I felt a little distracted and unmotivated all day, which could have something to do with how run down I am, still.  I slept 8 hours last night, which didn’t feel like nearly enough when the alarm sounded this morning.  Anyway, today I felt… out of sorts.  No other way to describe it, really.  Just not quite right overall.  But!  Not hungover, not woozy, not flat, not anxious, not ashamed.  This is good.  I may not accomplish much this evening beyond emptying the dishwasher, but there’s nothing else that really needs to be done immediately.  PJs, duvet, and internet/book/TV are going to have to be my new vino for a while.

Today’s sober tools: big, deep breaths; homemade Orange Julius; making some plans for my week off; snuggling with my puppy; early to bed… like, sun is still up, 8:30pm early.  Gimme sleep!

In the first few days of recovery, it’s clear how great a toll drinking takes on your body.  I’m not experiencing “withdrawal”, per se, (no shakes or any seriously debilitating symptoms), but I’m exhausted.  My last drink was on Thursday night, and I slept 12 hours Friday night, had to take a nap Saturday afternoon (which I never do), and then slept another 12 hours last night.  I was mostly useless on Saturday – feeling generally worn-down and lethargic – though I did manage to accomplish a fair bit today.  I’ve no doubt I’ll be to bed early tonight, as I have to be up for work tomorrow and can’t indulge my body’s desire to sleep in until 9 or 10.

That said, it’s overall a good kind of tired.  I can tell it’s my body’s attempt to get on with the business of repairing the damage I’ve done… sleep feels restorative, not desperate.  It’s certainly a world away from the hungover brand of tired, where I’m woozy, shaky, and anxious.  Sober sleep might be the most underrated and immediate benefit of recovery.

I have happy hours to attend Thursday and Friday this week, which I’m sure most people would consider an obvious red flag, but I’m not presently worried (if I do, at any point, become concerned that it could compromise my sobriety I’ll certainly make my excuses and bow out).  Most of the reason why I don’t think it’ll be a problem is that I’ve had plenty of sober outings with my colleagues and friends, even when I had no designs to give up drinking.  It was never a big deal to volunteer as designated driver, or make a brief appearance and leave early.  Social drinking isn’t really my downfall, anyway… I was more of a solitary alcoholic.  I never looked especially forward to getting drunk with friends, but I would count the minutes until I could plunk down on my couch after work (or on the weekend) with a bottle-plus of wine at the ready.  It was a boredom-killer, a hobby, an “off-switch”.

So, in that respect, I’m much more concerned about the week off from work I have coming up than the 2 happy hours that precede it.  I’ll have to come up with an arsenal of things to keep me occupied, and indulge in loads of sleep.  I think that if I can make it through that week, it should be the biggest hurdle I have to face in the immediate future.  I do feel a little tightness and anxiety when I think about giving up cool glasses of sauvignon blanc in the sunshine, but then I play it forward and see an entire week’s vacation wasted in a cycle of drunken idleness and crippling hangovers.  And even the “cool glasses of sauvignon blanc in the sunshine” is just an idealized fantasy that my brain’s conjuring up to make drinking seem appealing… the reality would be tumblers of boxed wine in front of the television or laptop.

Anyway, I’ve loaded up my sober toolbox for the week with peach-pear La Croix, salted-caramel dark chocolates, bedtimes before dark, and a free pass to divert any alcohol cravings with junk food (I’m sensing a lot of cheeseburgers in the coming days).  Priority number one is to keep this momentum, and be constantly mindful of all the reasons I have to stay sober.

In the past year I’ve slowly come to recognize and admit that I’m, by most definitions, a functioning alcoholic.  The trouble is, I want to do more than “function” (and how long, really, until the functional modifier is worn away?  I’d rather not find out).  I’ve made countless attempts to quit drinking, but haven’t managed more than 2 or 3 weeks under my belt before I found myself once again in a pattern of drinking without restraint… then feeling terrible… then realizing that I can’t drink normally… then vowing to quit again…. then drinking again… ad infinitum.

So, clearly, what I’ve been doing has not been working.  It’s time for something different.

This blog is my attempt to not only hold myself accountable, but also externalize all these thoughts swimming around in my head.  When I start to falter, I have a feeling it will be useful to use this space (and the log of my journey so far) to reorient me and place me back on the right path.  It seems to be an effective tool to others in the sobersphere, so I’m going to give it a shot.

After spending so many years “in my cups“, I’m going to attempt to crawl out and stop letting alcohol hold my life hostage.