I contemplated what I wanted my first few posts to be, because there are vastly different approaches I could take with this blog. I don’t want to get into the habit of only writing when I’m in a good place or only writing when I’m devastated. I want to be honest with you, and most importantly with myself. And that means I have to write all the time, even when I don’t want to. I have so many ideas that I end up being overwhelmed and not writing anything at all. I want to delve into this first by answering some of the questions I’ve received about my sobriety/life just to give some idea to who I am in my first 30 days.
Is this my first attempt at being sober? The long and the short of it is no, the first time I stopped drinking was in my teenage years. The second/third times I stopped I was in my early-mid twenties. This time around, I’m 28 and planning on sticking to it.
Why did I stop initially, why this time around? I had gotten black out drunk at 16 or 17 at a close friend’s party. I cheated on my first boyfriend/love with his best friend (the host of said party) and woke up in a bed with little to no memory of the evening. I didn’t drink/drank sparingly for the next 4 years. The reasoning behind the last couple times I stopped were less clear-cut but mainly centred around the crippling anxiety I felt the morning after a night of imbibing. The fear that I may have done something completely insane/hurtful/degrading that I couldn’t justify (or those awesome mornings when I realized I had in fact done one of those things).
This time around is the product of a few things. My drinking had progressively become out of control. I could handle myself for 3-6 months at a time. I’d keep my shit together every day until I would break after a particularly stressful work/life situation would arise. But I’d only let the heavy drinking happen once a month. Then once every couple weeks. Which quickly turned into once a week… which inevitably turned into more than once a week. And so on. I thought I could handle stress pretty well. I very rarely missed obligations, no matter how hungover or tired I was (usually a combination of both) and I always worked my ass off. I didn’t always do something dumb enough to think about quitting, until I did something shitty to the person I love several times in one week. I woke up the morning after the final drink clutching my phone, tears dried on my face, with no memory of why I felt so bloody terrified. Also with zero hangover. Blackout drunk with no hangover? Yikes, I know. Anyway, turns out I said some not-so-sweet things to my best friend/love of my life/Not-Boyfriend that were completely unwarranted, and borderline abusive, and I still couldn’t remember a damn thing. The last message I sent to him after he left my house (which I also don’t remember) was along the lines of ‘I’m so sorry. I love you so much. Goodbye I guess’.
How did I stop initially, how this time around? The first time I didn’t have to think about it. I was in high school, the problem was less severe because I wasn’t using alcohol as a way to treat depression, anxiety, abuse, whatever else. I drank because that’s what you did at teenage parties. It wasn’t frequent, it rarely happened more than once a month, and I didn’t think about it outside of those situations. My boyfriend at the time was aggressively straight forward with me about it; if I ever drank again outside of his presence, he’d destroy my life. He showed me he wasn’t bluffing by having me watch him beat the ever-loving shit out of his best friend because of our little indiscretion. It was easy after that. ‘Scared sober’ seems to be a fitting term.
The next couple times I stopped years and years after that douchebag and I broke up, I never truly thought I had a problem. I hated being hungover all the time. I hated being almost broke. And I hated being around every person I worked with 24/7. But who doesn’t despise those things? The friends I had worked, ate, and drank together. Hell, most of us ended up sleeping together at some point, too. Somehow I ended up in a serious long term relationship, getting a puppy who required a lot of attention and both of those things managed to keep me away from the bar. If I ever thought about drinking or drinking problems, it was never directed at myself, it was all about not turning into my mother (another topic I will reflect heavily on). And then a few years down that road I lost ‘everything’. The man I loved turned out to be a complete turd, and boom went the dynamite. Fuckface and I had an explosive break up (yet another point to add on my list of possible therapy/blog topics), so while I lost him *boohoo*, I lost my shitty apartment and all it’s shitty furniture, I lost my brand new car, and I lost my beautiful pup, Lady. The latter being the only thing I tried to fight for. I didn’t realize I had lost something much more important that would take forever to regain, my self worth. Cue a frantic 8 months of heavy drinking followed by me moving as far across Canada as I could get.
This time stopping was a bit different. I had been struggling for a couple years with abusing booze. I have a history with depression and anxiety, the former taking the front seat for better part of my twenties. But it was a part of everyday life. It’s not easy to work in a bar and be sober. I always joked that this industry breeds alcoholics, and part of me still believes that. It’s physically and mentally demanding, high-stress, and filled with overactive personalities who have to serve the scum of the earth and pretend to respect them. It’s Go! Go! Go! every shift, and at the end of a long 8-10 hour day, a cold beer (or several) and a shot of Jameson (or several) seems like the best and only way to shut down. My entire social circle consists of people who either work in the industry or are regulars at our bar. Try the ‘I need to slow down on the sauce’ conversation with a group of people who individually spend 30-100 bucks on booze easily, every day. Anyway, I’ve hit many bottoms in the last few years, and my final one wouldn’t even be considered the worst of them, but it was enough for me. I had to stop. Stop or lose everyone you care about. Stop or destroy yourself from the inside out. To put it plainly, stop or lose your life. And that’s how I didn’t pick up another drink. That’s all I can tell myself in my current state; consciously and every single day, ‘Just Don’t Drink’.
How do I feel physically? I am rested after sleeping sober (a HUGE positive), but I’m still exhausted by the end of my day. Falling asleep sitting up by 1030 pm, that kind of tired. That’s normal, right?
I’ve had a fucked up back since I started serving many years ago, and achy feet are always a given after a busy shift, but those pains are amplified in my sobriety- sometimes I even wake up with them. Nothing to numb them out, no pain killers. Luckily, I didn’t have a physical dependence on alcohol, so I experienced little to no medical symptoms, save for sweating in my sleep for a night or two. But that could have also been due to the unseasonably warm evenings we had that week. Who knows.
Oh and I’m hungry, all the time. Sugar, carbs, fruit, veggies, anything. Put it all in my face. I am eating more than I have in years. And I’m not a big gal, I kind of pick at food like a bird. Not anymore! I’ve warned Roomie to watch out for this hungry, hungry hippo cause no food is safe.
How do I feel mentally? Excited. Terrified. Confident. Angry. Terrified. Envious. Humbled. Grateful. Terrified.
Notice the theme? I’m scared shitless. Everyday I take as it’s own, and that’s honestly all I can fucking do at this point. Other emotional rollercoasters I experienced/am experiencing include:
- Uncontrollable crying. My depression makes me weepy sometimes (as does being a PMS-y ragey cuntzilla), but everything made me cry in the first week. Brief moment of happiness? Cry. Brief moment of discomfort? Cry. Interesting conversation with Roomie and/or Not-Boyfriend? Cry. Overwhelmed with work stress in the middle of the brunch rush? Cry (then get the fuck back on the floor). I think you get the picture.
- Random streams of thought/consciousness. You don’t realize how much time there is in a day once you quit alcohol. How many hours you would lose even after only a couple drinks. The extra time in the day has yet to be filled with productive tasks (I’ll get there), but mostly it consists of thinking. Really elaborate, sometimes nonsensical, tangled layers of thoughts happening simultaneously. Sitting with whatever emotions I have at that time. Sometimes it feels like I’ve just done a couple lines of blow (something I’ve only touched thrice, and never really fell for) or for non-users/non-idiots, it feels like you’ve drank a quadruple espresso in one gulp. Kind of interesting, really. Can’t wait til I’m focused enough to harness it into something positive.
- Sucky Baby Syndrome AKA Fragile Flower Syndrome. SBS or FFS is characterized by the absolute necessity of coddling, stroking and doting on me like a fucking child. If someone does/says the tiniest thing wrong I will break and blow apart like a fragile fucking flower. Can precede or follow a binge of junk food/netflix. I call this ‘I told you I had a heart, don’t you dare judge me’ time.
- The rare comfortable quiet and solitude. Because of all the time I now have, I try to find moments where my head isn’t competing in the over-caffeinated Olympics and spend some time by myself. Usually this happens first thing in the morning while Roomie is still snoring like a chainsaw. Or it happens just after I hit the ‘Do Not Disturb’ button on my iPhone before bed. And if I find myself in the headspace to allow it to happen, I actually find I am relieved that I’ve let go of my addiction. I feel grateful that nothing bad happened while it had me, and I feel excited of the prospects that sober Lana will have in the future.