Made it! Staggering. I don’t have the least interest in a drink (this is a victory) but I feel like I could sleep for a week. Onward…
I was going to blog about anxiety tonight. Day 9 and I am very tired and anxious. Worrrying over the damage I have done to my body with booze and lack of self care, and that awful “Are my pants on backwards? WHY IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT ME??” sensation. But:
We spent yesterday and today sorting through the boys’ 88 thousand puzzle pieces to see which puzzles are intact and which we have to let go. At first it looked like complete carnage – a jumble of disparate pieces and little hope that a single whole puzzle would be salvaged. Eventually, we had them more or less sorted into separate piles and then began the task of assembling each one, most without the box or picture to guide us. I repeatedly found myself sizing up a pile and thinking or even saying out loud, “Oh, no guys. This doesn’t look like nearly enough pieces.” Amazingly, though, a great many of them were all there, including some that I had long since written off and was just postponing chucking out for one last sort-out.
As well as affirming that quantity surveyance and its ilk are not realistic second-career options for me, I was also really struck by the lesson that the ONLY way to make sense of the chaos was to actually do the work of figuring out where all the pieces belonged and fitting them together. I have read a wealth of sobriety blogs and recovery memoirs and various other articles and things about alcohol dependence and addiction, most of which has been incredibly helpful and illuminating and encouraging, but I realised (and this is not at all uncharacteristic for me!) that I have kind of had a sense of having “read to the end” and being able to somehow think my way past all the grind of getting sober – I know how it goes, and I see what you all went through, so I can just skip those middle bits, right? Right? Of course that’s not how it works at all. I abused my body and lied to myself for YEARS, and it has been nine short days since I decided to remove alcohol from my life entirely. Of COURSE I am tired and anxious, and still chubby and not seeing even a whiff of a pink cloud, although I remain profoundly relieved if not elated at having finally made the decision. Now, I have to do the work. Again (and again and again) I am so deeply grateful to all of you who have gone before and written with such courage and honesty about your journeys. I may not have the boxes to my own puzzles but it helps more than I can begin to express to be able to take guidance and inspiration from your works in progress.
The post I wrote yesterday was about denial, actually – and then I accidentally deleted it. Definitely some sort of a metaphor there!
Anyway, inevitably, the realizations of this past week have forced me to (begin to) confront the level of denial I have been living with and I am finding it kind of… staggering, honestly. I have been drinking, a lot, for more than 20 years. With rare exception, I drank every day. I drank at least a bottle of wine most nights. I would frequently wake up in the morning with fragmented memories of the (totally rock and roll) evening before – forgotten episodes of binge-watched series, late night fridge forages and one- or two-word exchanges with my often-sober husband before I staggered off to bed and, yes, usually passed out. And that’s leaving my demented uni years and 20s right out of it. It is by grace of some sort that I made it to this point at all.
You (I) can’t read or say any one of these things out loud without knowing, certainly, that the person being described has a BIG PROBLEM, but in that full knowledge I have languished for years. I did say them out loud today, finally, to the therapist my husband and I started seeing this month to address some parenting challenges we have been facing – whether our kids’ school is a good fit for my middle son having seemed to me of more pressing concern than the impact on him and his brothers of having a depressed, alcoholic mother.
Amazing, right? I am trying, for now, not to dwell too heavily on the bitterness and shame that I feel, having finally “seen the light,” or whatever and instead to nurture the relief and hope I feel at seeing a way out of the dark place I have been in.
This sure is a journey, huh? Day 8, and I am grateful to be here. Thank you for being here too!
I wrote a long post and instead of publishing it appears to have vanished into the ether. I got some clarity from the process anyway so I guess I’ll focus on that silver lining rather than the frustrating &$@ cloud. 😂 Day 7 and I am glad to be here.
Seriously! Possibilities considered and abandoned (THIS MORNING) include but are not limited to:
All the Thoughts Not Marshalled (Is this just FOMO?)
Girl With No Brakes
Grace and Tragedy
This Is Why I Drink (It’s not, obviously.)
I Have Lost My Voice
Crawling Out of My Skin
Flat Bottom (or a Bouncer)
It’s not that I don’t have A LOT to say about all of these, and so so much more besides. I just can’t keep any of it in my head, or at least front and centered in my head before the next thought (this is generous) muscles in. I keep having to go back to add more titles as they interrupt the sentence I am trying to form. I have been reading recovery blogs (a little obsessively) for the past few days and have been struck time and again by how inspiring and relatable and honest they are, but also how fully formed the ideas seem to be. How do people know what they want to talk about? I do wonder whether this is what it’s like for everybody. I understand (I think) that writing is a craft and has to be worked at, and that is work I have not done.
For as long as I can remember I have had a sense – never terrifically well articulated – that if I could master or even just grasp the practice it may help me to slow down a bit and gain some of the depth of insight/understanding that often passes me by. I am struggling not to use the word “discipline” because there is a lot of weight, and a lot of shame, attached to it for me (if only I had some) but for want of a better one…
It seems to me that my best bet just now is to just keep showing up. I am going to try writing every day (hopefully) and I think I am going to post that here. Even if no one reads it. Because maybe (probably?) no one will read it. Because someone might read it. Ego is a funny and terrible beast! I suspect this is a bit of a rambly and self-serving proposition, but I don’t know that I trust myself to keep showing up or be honest if I am guaranteed to be my only audience, and right now I don’t know how else to gather my thoughts or find my lost voice (which of course is so much more than that. My lost self, really.)
I stopped drinking alcohol six days ago. I am probably an alcoholic, although that is another word I am finding very challenging and heavy. Language is so complex. I had no “rock bottom,” or awful moment of reckoning, which is a grace I believe I have not yet even begun to understand, but in an absurd moment of clarity that I will write about another day I understood that I am MISSING MY LIFE, and it could be such a good one.
I don’t know yet. I have been lifted up and carried away by the courage of the women on here telling stories that are like mine and not yet mine. They have given me a glimmer of hope and a place to begin. I do not have a history of maintaining any kind of writing practice (or very much else for that matter) so I do not, today, have any reason to believe that I will be able to grasp this particular lifeline* but, perhaps… Writing was always supposed to be my “thing,” my gift, what I would do – but I never did. So perhaps now is the time. In the meantime I plan to use this as a pinboard (?) for links to the amazing blogs I have found in the past few days, rather than keep 8 million tabs open in my browser. I am sure there is another way – dare I say a normal way? – but I don’t know what it is. Eight million open tabs has always been my MO and I recognize on this clear-eyed day that that is more likely part of my chaos than my salvation. Not sure of the etiquette of linking from a blog that may never be more than this. I hope it’s ok!
*Which is not to say that I am not done, done, so fucking done. Thanks to the magnificent Mrs D for this technique, if that’s what it is. I see now, and I am done. No more alcohol for me. (Typing that was stupid hard, considering how stupid hopeful and sure I feel.)