100 days

I am 100 days sober today, and I am an emotional wreck.

I spent over an hour meditating yesterday and holy shit, it brought up some STUFF. I’ve been thinking a lot about my early drinking, the pain I was in when I first started back in high school, 16 years ago. I thought about my drinking all through college and grad school, and then when it got really bad in the last few years. It was painful to revisit all those memories.

This morning I just broke down and wept. Tears of sadness and pain mixed with tears of joy: I do not live there anymore. Tears of compassion for myself, for the poor little girl who had no effing clue how to navigate her life and was doing the best she could with the tools she had. Tears of relief that I found a path outward.

I knew my drinking was out of control by around one year ago, but I was not ready to surrender, was not ready to commit to quit. I couldn’t fathom forever. I started to try and put together short stretches of sobriety but looming events like my wedding, bachelorette party, etc., kept me stuck. I couldn’t imagine doing those things sober. I never had a hard time going a couple of weeks without drinking, but the “forever” mentality was tripping me up. Finally in December I said to myself, 100 days. Just go 100 days without alcohol and then decide whether you want to keep going.

By around day 50 I started a daily meditation practice and began meeting with other sober women that I met through Hip Sobriety School. Around day 65, I felt a real shift in my spiritual practice – I am starting to see miracles around me and crying at the beauty of the world and walking around in a haze of freshness and newness – the pink cloud, so to speak.

By around day 75 I knew I wanted to keep going after my 100 days were up, but still wasn’t sure about my wedding. Two days ago, on day 98, I decided I will not drink at my wedding, and started working on a game plan to help me succeed at that task, which just a few months ago seemed not only impossible but horrifically painful. I’m BLOWN AWAY at the changes I’ve seen in myself in this 100 days. I never expected to be sitting in the place I sit today.

I found this poem last summer but I was in too much pain to read it all the way through. I was raw and breaking and every day it felt like I was silently screaming on the inside. I couldn’t read it all the way through. It was too true and I was in too much pain and I never thought I would be ready to quit. But today I can read it and experience its power. Today I am ready for this awakening.

Awakening Now – by Danna Faulds

Why wait for your awakening?

Do you value your reasons for staying small more than the light shining through the open door?

Forgive yourself, Forgive yourself.

Now is the only time you have to be whole. Now. Now is the sole moment that exists to live in the light of your true nature.

Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.

Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.

Please, oh please, don’t continue to believe in your stories of deficiency and failure.

This is the day of your awakening.

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#bodylove #bodyacceptance #bullshit

Love my body? Are you fucking kidding me?

I started this intuitive eating thing about a year ago. It took around six or seven months to get the hang of eating what I wanted, when I wanted. It was a process of finding patience and kindness toward myself, and just letting things happen. As it progressed, I stopped overeating to the point of discomfort, which was a really positive sign that I was doing better. However I have gained weight. A lot of it. I have yo-yo’ed between a size 10 and 12 for many years, and there was a point last summer that I decided I would be okay at a size 12. I may not love my body but I could survive in it at size 12.

Until it ballooned to a size 14 and I felt like part of my soul fucking died. I started avoiding mirrors and dressing in big oversize sweaters and collapsing into piles of tears at the bottom of my stairs and living in terror of my wedding day, every day drawing closer, every day wondering if I will regret not dieting for my wedding.

I’m desperate to not be in this body. But I’m sitting with it and slogging through and trying to convince myself, it’s okay I’m okay we’re okay it WILL BE OKAY.

I read the stuff people say to help you overcome body hatred. Usually  posted by women who are fucking thin and maybe have a stretch mark here or there. They say to express appreciation for the things your body has done, the things it can do, all the ways it supports you and helps you. To THANK your body for everything it does for you.

You know what? FUCK. THAT. SHIT.

In honor of being real, here’s a list of the stuff I fucking hate about my stupid body, that have nothing to do with being fat:

  1. My rosacea. The bright red inflamed skin on my cheeks, the broken blood vessels that show up, that do not hide well under makeup. The fact that even after 91 motherfucking days of sobriety its gotten worse. The fact that even with oral and topical meds, it doesn’t go away.
  2. My acne. On my back, my chest, my face. Despite sobriety and quitting smoking, the acne is getting worse. Does not respond to any medication. Nor does it respond to elimination diets (WHICH I’M NOT ALLOWED TO DO ANYMORE ANYWAY THANKS A LOT INTUITIVE EATING).
  3. My hair. OK, this is sheer vanity, but if I have shitty skin maybe I could have nice hair, right? Nope. Thin and fine and doesn’t do much of anything except fall limply on my head.
  4. My boobs, for not getting bigger in any real way when I gained weight, just depositing fat on the sides on my body so that no clothes or bras ever fit me again.
  5. My stomach for being sensitive and yet impossible to predict. Never knowing what food is going to cause it to react.
  6. The random bouts of nausea that strike me constantly for no reason whatsoever.
  7. My anterior pelvic tilt which causes constant low back pain!
  8. My extremely tight hamstrings. Why am I so inflexible?
  9. My left knee, for its mystery knee pain that arrived BEFORE I EVEN TURNED 30.
  10. My feet, for their increasingly severe bunions that mean I cannot wear cute footwear, or show my feet. They are so painful all of the time and really impact my life negatively.
  11. Speaking of my feet, the plantar fasciaitis that did not improve even with orthopedic inserts.
  12. And the stubborn toenail fungus that has not responded to any kind of treatment whatsoever.
  13. My uterus, hormones, and reproductive system for rejecting two types of IUDs and responding to birth control pills with crippling depression.
  14. My highly anxious and depressed mind, because honestly I’m just tired of this shit.

I am doing The Work on myself right now, the best I can, but honestly, I just have a lot of anger and rage at my body and I’m fucking done pretending.

Our Lives Had Become Unmanageable

I went to my first AA meeting last week. And while it was not the right meeting for me (not going to go into that right now), I did come out of it realizing that there is a lot of value to AA, in as far as having a community or fellowship of people around me. And though there are some aspects of the 12 steps that I cannot get behind, I think I can make them work for me and fit me.

I went back today (to a different meeting, one that better fit me), and both last week and today, it was really hard. I mean REALLY hard. Building up the courage to walk into that room, and then later return after I had been so scared and intimidated and embarrassed and ashamed…I gotta say, I am proud of myself for doing it. It’s not nothing. Walking in the door is a big step.

And speaking of big steps, today I want to write about the first one: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. I mean, just to walk in the door of an AA meeting is, in some sense, recognition of the first step. You don’t walk into AA to find out if you have a drinking problem. You go to AA because you have long suspected you have a drinking problem. It doesn’t matter whether you’re still fighting over whether its “bad enough” to need to stop, still rationalizing it away – you walk in that door voluntarily, then you pretty much know. At the very least, I do.

Am I powerless over alcohol? I don’t like the phrasing here. I really really don’t. I don’t want to feel like a slave to alcohol. I want to be better than alcohol, and cigarettes, and any other drugs. When I finally stop, I want to say FUCK ALCOHOL and I am powerFUL over it. I don’t NEED it anymore, bitch. But recognizing that when I drink I lose all power, that is the piece that I think this step is trying to get at. The second I drink alcohol, I lose my ability to say FUCK ALCOHOL. I think a small piece of me has always known this. I’ve never been great at controlling my drinking, and I have ALWAYS drank more than intended. I used to wish I could just drinking normally, to hope I would stop at one or two. I don’t think that way anymore, because what the fuck is the point of one or two drinks? I’m not doing this shit for the taste. So yes, I guess I am powerless over alcohol, and I believe I knew this a way long time ago.

But was my life unmanageable? By no means. I was a pretty put together lady. I am a type A woman. I am organized. I am detailed. I never paid a bill late in my life. I have outstanding credit. I always have enough toilet paper and dog food. I have routines and I stick to them. People used to comment at how I generally have my shit together. I always have. It comes very naturally to me.

Until it didn’t. Over the last year or so, my ability to keep the household running, get the laundry done, pay the bills, and take care of my life has slipped. I got a notice to renew my vehicle registration two months ago and I just took care of it today, even though low-grade anxiety over it has been building for ages. I have a sick feeling in my stomach thinking about the electric bill and wondering if I took care of it already, but never really getting online to check. Things are generally still together, or at least they look it, but I no longer feel like I have it under control. I feel like I have no time or energy to take care of it the way I used to. The truth is, my anxiety and my depression have become unmanageable, and with that, my life has as well. I’ve lost interest in most things, I have isolated myself, I have withdrawn, and I have started to lose my shit. Alcohol has been on the cause and effect side of this. As articulated previously, alcohol has been a coping mechanism for me with depression and anxiety, and yet it also makes both of these things worse.

The point is, perhaps my life would have become unmanageable without booze, but the booze isn’t helping. I just don’t feel like myself anymore. I don’t feel in control of anything in my life anymore. Instead, I feel a heaping pile of fear all the time.

Another day, another hangover

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.

Rumi

Coming onto this blog to share that (once again) I have gone drinking, (once again) I am hungover, (once again) I am filled with regret and shame and anxiety, (once again) I am consumed with thoughts of worthlessness and failure…..this is not a post I want to be writing.

Friday night my guy and I went out to dinner at a nice restaurant and we were having a wonderful time. I ordered a mocktail and it was delicious. I wasn’t feeling deprived or left out of anything – until the restaurant sent us a bottle of wine. See, the owner is a friend of ours and we had our first date in this restaurant. They know us well, and they know we love to drink. I’m not open about sobriety yet because, well, I don’t think of myself as sober, and they had no reason to think we wouldn’t accept the bottle. Of course, my partner didn’t think to turn it away (he really does not get this whole sobriety thing), and it was opened and poured for him, and I declined. Their “gift” to us broke my heart. It ruined (or I let it ruin) my night. We still had a good time but from the moment it was presented I was distracted and sad and I felt left out.

We’d had plans to meet a couple for dinner on Saturday evening, and these are also big drinkers and I was already very uncomfortable with the idea of going and being sober. I did not think I could do it, and I did not want to go, and I was upset about it. So I was already feeling sad and left out and resentful before we even made it to dinner on Friday night, and the whole thing combined left me in tears as I went to bed.

Naturally, when I woke up Saturday morning, I was wracked with anxiety and sadness. I felt bitter, I felt like life isn’t fair, I felt angry. I felt like screaming. The majority of the day I spent chain smoking. My anxiety makes my hands shake and kills my appetite. Fuck, I fucking hate anxiety.

In that state, it wasn’t difficult for me to say fuck it, I’m going to drink tonight. What scares me and makes me sad is that it wasn’t like I was fighting off some temptation all night and then “caved”. I made a choice during the day to drink knowing the consequences fully, hating myself every step of the way. I knew even before I had started drinking that I would regret it today, and I did it anyway.

They say you have a set amount of willpower and once you use it up, you cannot hold steady any longer. This is why you break your diet in the evening and start fresh every day. I used mine up on Friday night and by Saturday morning the willpower tank was empty. Willpower doesn’t work. You have to want to quit drinking, and you have to want it more than you want to drink. And I’m not there, and I do not know how to get there.

I feel like I have been living in a gray area, unwilling or unable to commit to sobriety and therefore stuck in a hell of wanting to drink and not being able to. I cannot – I CANNOT – imagine my wedding or bachelorette party sans alcohol. The wedding doesn’t bother me too much, I feel like I could maybe do that one. But the bachelorette party has already been planned. Changing it from a winery tour to something else would require coming out sober to my friends, which I am not able to do right now. I do not want to do that. I want to keep drinking more than I want to quit drinking. I do not know how to change that.

At this stage, both drinking and not drinking make me miserable. It is fucking brutal, and I’m tired, and I’m sad, and I’m scared, and I feel like a failure.

I am doing HipSobriety’s The Mantra Project right now, and today is Day 8. Today’s mantra was “Today I give myself a break.” Holy cow, what a concept. Today I give myself a break. I do not feel like I deserve one. I feel like this is the time to double down, get back up and work harder, get my shit together, and quit fucking up. But today I will give myself a break, forgive myself for my shit, and tomorrow I will try again.

It is hard to sit here and write this and be honest about this. I’ve only been blogging for a few days here, and no one in my offline life knows I am doing this. I am not actively promoting this blog or trying to reach out to folks with it, but still, it’s a public record. Its out there, that I tried and I failed and I am struggling. That is hard! I am giving myself vulnerability points for this post today. It hurts to write this one.

Is that all there is?

When I first started dating the man I am now going to marry, he took me on the most incredible first date. It seemed like he had pulled out all the stops for me, and he really put in an effort to make it feel special. This caused a real spark for me. His desire, on that first date and on the many that followed, to make the night feel special, to make it feel unique, to make it stand out – that really hit me. I’d never had a guy who did that before, and I’d always wanted it. I am the kind of person who always feels a little deflated and let down on Christmas and New Years – my expectations are for the holidays to be outstanding, and usually they are just pretty average.

But being with him was different. He wanted to exceed expectations, just like me, and he wasn’t going to let silly things like money or having to work the next day get in the way. He wanted to go out without consequences, and I adored it. I fell in love with him so fast, and a big part of it was this ability to make every day with him feel better and more important than the last. It won’t come as a surprise that alcohol was part of this feeling. We drank a lot, and it made it easier to be spontaneous. I remember our second date, we met up around 2PM at a bar. We didn’t go home until 2AM, hopping from bar to bar! Alcohol tore down our walls, and we had the most fun days and nights of my life.

Of course, we had to slow it down eventually. One night, we were both tired and he invited me over to order in and watch a movie. It was quiet – it was sober. And I distinctly recall feeling, “is that all there is?” Where was the spark? Where was the passion? I wondered briefly if alcohol had manufactured love that wasn’t there. I knew I cared for him deeply, but I worried that perhaps the spontaneity, the special-ness, the extravagance of our early courtship had lit a fire that would have to be put out.

We all know where this story goes. Love – real love, love that lasts – has to dim from that initial fire. There is no way to sustain passion on that scale forever. Eventually it tames, and if you’re lucky it transforms into something new – something deeper, something better. You respect each other. You are there for each other. You trust each other. You know each other. This kind of love is transformative, and lasts through years, and gets you through the times when you don’t really like each other very much. It’s wonderful and beautiful and amazing and truly, if you experience it, you are lucky. But you will always miss that fire, just a little. It will make you nostalgic, and if you have a tendency to live in the past, at times it will make you unbearably sad. This is (one of the reasons) why so many people have affairs.

For me, a lot of life without alcohol feels this way. Is that all there is? The brightness, the exuberance, the fire of a night without inhibition – without it, a lot of things feel dull and gray by comparison. We went on a date last night, to the restaurant where we had our first date. And the place felt like it had lost some of its magic without booze. It sparkled a little less. It felt less special. Because my senses were fully in tact, time didn’t magically fly by, the food wasn’t quite as impressive, and overall the experience wasn’t the same. When we go on dates and I’m sober, it just doesn’t feel the same. Likewise, parties and other events I used to find fun, feel forced and petty and boring. I lose interest in most of the topics of conversation, I grow bored with the small talk, I get irritable and leave early because the night is just inherently less shiny.

I know that on the other side of sobriety, the equivalent of that transformative love is waiting. I know that there is a life that is much better, much stronger, much more well-rounded than my life filled with alcohol. But I also recognize that I am going to miss the way alcohol made my nights look brighter and shinier, and feel more special.

The Reasons Why

As part of my process of quitting drinking, I wanted to explore the reasons why I continue to drink despite not wanting to drink anymore. I think this is a really complex question and the easy answer is something like “that’s addiction.” Well of course that is addiction, but what I mean is I want to understand why alcohol seems to have such a hold on me, and what I am looking to get out of it when I drink it. Answering these questions for myself might help me figure out how I can get those needs met in a different way.  

I want to quit drinking because I see a lot of things on the side of sobriety that I do not have here and I want those things (future post coming on this topic). But I also do not want to quit drinking. And here is why:

  1. Alcohol numbs my social anxiety. This was really difficult for me to identify for a long period of my life, because I come across as such an outgoing, socialable, engaging person. It confused me that I could experience all the qualities of an extrovert and feel energized by the idea of going out to a party and talking to everyone there, but at the same time feel desperate anxiety at the thought of asking someone to hang out with me without alcohol present.

    I remember always feeling a lot of inadequacy, a lot of questioning myself, and self-consciousness. This was a hallmark of my growing up – I never once really felt comfortable in my skin. But (like most folks) once I felt like I got to know people a little bit better, I was able to loosen up and interact with them socially. For me, however, the easiest way for me to get to know them was alcohol. Alcohol allowed me to move from knowing someone to being their friend. It removed the nagging voices that said I was a loser and so uncool, opening the door for me to interact with people.

    Of course for the most part, those friendships then revolved around alcohol, and most were incredibly shallow. These people knew next to nothing about me (the real me) and the main thing we had in common was booze. I remember one of my favorite things in college and grad school was going to a house party and just bouncing from one conversation to the next. I was funny, I was quick, I made people laugh – and I never stuck around for more than a few minutes, because it was on to the next person. I got the fuck out of that conversation before the attention was onto someone else, before these people wised up the fact that I was a fucking fraud and a loser, before anyone “found me out.”

    Alcohol was the catalyst for me to be fun and outgoing and funny and friendly, and made it okay for me to show up, but I still could not be myself. Without alcohol I can almost NEVER be sharp and quick and extroverted – at least, not in social situations. I never had a really difficult time expressing myself in work situations. They felt totally different – I was to some extent confident in my abilities, and I felt assured that my competency at work was what would determine my success, rather than my “cool factor.”

    So yeah – alcohol numbs the social anxiety and makes for easy but incredibly shallow connection. I can quickly establish a friendship with someone, without putting in any of the work or the vulnerability that comes with TRUE intimacy. What that led to is a ton of acquaintances, but almost no friends. It is interesting that I did not see this loop – instead I thought, “But I can’t give up drinking – how will I make any friends?!”
  2. Stress relief is a new one. I never used to drink for stress relief – at least I didn’t think so. I drank to connect with people and to feel like I was “okay”, but stress was never an explicit reason for me until very recently. I smoked as “stress relief” but never drank that way.

    I do believe this was born out of the “women and wine” culture that exploded in the last few years. The message being, have a drink after a hard day. Have a glass of wine, you deserve it. Have more than a glass, have a glass that holds a whole bottle! You deserve it – you’re stressed. By saying “I need a drink” so many times, I started to believe it, and then I started to do it. It eventually morphed into something where alcohol was needed to turn off my brain after a highly stressful experience. In particular, when I was waiting tables for a living, alcohol was the only thing that would turn down the noise and get me to sleep after a crazy night. Similarly to #1, I feel like I can find new modalities for stress relief, and I do not believe this will be such a trigger to me.
  3. Depression. This one is pretty rare, but the few times I have drank alone, it has been primarily because I feel depressed and rejected and alone. Alcohol only makes me feel more depressed and alone, so I text every single person in my phone in an attempt to reconnect. It’s mortifying. As I said, this is pretty rare, but when I do this I feel more ashamed the next morning than just about any other time.
  4. Alcohol tends to elevate my good moods and make everything brighter and more fun for me. In particular there is something so triggering about good weather for me – it makes me want to drink outside on patios with friends, everyone laughing and getting a nice tan. When it’s nice out, I feel good, I feel elevated, and I feel that alcohol will enhance that high for me. Even now, writing this, I am outside on my patio and I am overcome with the desire to drink. This is where compulsion to drink is heaviest for me, and it is my greatest trigger. I feel like I can deal with the social anxiety stuff, with stress, with depression – I feel like I can take steps that will ease those things, ways that do not require alcohol – but I don’t see how to enhance life and make it fun without alcohol. Let’s not dick around this – it can be hell and it can suck, but alcohol can be FUN. And frankly I do not remember how to have fun without it anymore.

So there we have it – the main drivers of my drinking. I do think that clear steps can be taken fro #1-3 – therapy, meditation, yoga, breathwork, coming to a place of acceptance with myself, etc. But finding ways to find FUN (not peace, not joy, just good old fun) without alcohol is difficullt, because I always remember how alcohol made just about everything MORE fun for me. Plenty of activities are fun. I love going to barre class, I love playing games, I love reading, I love cooking, I love swimming, I love a million fun activities. But nothing ever seems as fun as when I am doing it drunk.

After some reflection, I am beginning to see that a lot of my concern about fun stems from that fact that alcohol was the door for me to let loose, be comfortable, be myself. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions, and makes us less afraid to be who we really are. This paves the way for fun – we can goof off and joke around without the little voice screaming inside “DON’T SAY THAT, you’ll sound like an idiot! Don’t do that, you’ll look stupid!”

Of course, inhibitions are there for a reason. The more you drink, the more inhibition falls away and some of those primal urges take over. This is why you say or do things that are so hurtful to others or to yourself. This is why you have sex with someone you don’t want to have sex with, or engage in reckless activities like drunk driving. You might say cruel things to someone. Because all inhibition is gone, you lose your filter.

For me, the more I drank, I would forget about anyone else in my life. I remember when my fiance said to me, “when you get drunk, it’s like you forget all about me and Oliver.” He wasn’t quite right – I didn’t forget, but alcohol draws you down to your lowest, most selfish self. I did not care about him and Oliver. I cared about me.

Overall, the “fun” part of alcohol comes from losing that inhibition and being free to be your fun, happy self – a child-like freedom. But it only lasts for a drink or two before you lose the inhibition or filter that make you a decent person. There has to be an easier way to get to that point of freedom than alcohol.

The Job Description

The restaurant industry was a seductive world. When I first met my fiance, a ten year veteran of the restaurant industry, there was something about those words that implied belonging, a secret club, a group of people that had something special in common. Something that made them better than everyone else. When we went out, we were showered with free food, extra drinks, desserts, the best tables. For someone addicted to the feeling of belonging, it was so glamorous to me.

But in truth, it was pretty much like any other industry. Before I worked in the restaurant industry, I worked for five years in the international development sector, which is its own secret world fueled by wanderlust, endless seeking and searching, a sense of superiority, and of course, alcohol. I felt extremely drawn to the concept of leaving behind all of my shit, all of my pain and struggles, and roughing it in a war zone or extremely poor country. They call it being “in the field”, and when you are in the field, you are allowed to smoke and drink to your hearts content. Even people who do not smoke and drink in the “real world” do it in the field. It’s kind of part of the job description.

When I left, I decided to give the restaurant business a shot. For the easy money, to be sure, but also because to me it held a glittery allure of belonging, the promise of a secret club. I am not sure if this is just my assessment of the industry or what others saw, but I believe that the way people in the industry spoke about the restaurant world made me feel like there was something special about it.

I definitely had a drinking problem for years before I started working in a restaurant, and definitely felt like I was out of control. It’s not like I was unaware or in denial about my drinking, but I also wasn’t that far gone. But working in a restaurant made alcohol so fucking accessible that it was easy to take the plunge. We tasted wine before service, we took leftover wine from private events, chugging it from pint glasses during service. We got free drinks after service. We tell ourselves that it’s impossible to stay sober in our particular environment. In the restaurant, how can one be sober and still be able to sell wine? When they give you a free shift drink, how can you turn it down? Waiting tables and bartending is fucking stressful, and you end the night with your nerves frayed and on edge. How can you just go home and sleep? You need one to “take the edge off.” And there are always people way worse than you. Head next door to the industry bar and find people who are there EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, hammered out of their minds. Hey, I don’t do this every night. I’m not that bad. I just got a little out of control last night.

It was so easy for me to blame the industry for my drinking. But it’s also bullshit. There are plenty of people in the development sector, and plenty of people who are in the restaurant industry, who do not drink. There are plenty who are sober. They are not common, to be sure, but they exist. But people who are trapped by alcohol can easily make this a reason to keep drinking – “it’s part of the job description!” Didn’t I read this same sentiment in Lisa Smith’s Girl Walked Out of a Bar? Or in Sarah Hepola’s Blackout? Or from Laura McKowen, or Holly Whitaker? We all found alcohol was a central component of the industries in which we worked.

Doesn’t that say something about the way we work nowadays? No one can seem to get through life without alcohol anymore. It’s part of the job description.

One Day At A Time

I will not drink today.

There is something so fucking beautiful and so freeing about the concept of “one day at a time.” It lets me put aside all of the other shit in the future, the moments I am scared of living through sober, and lets me live in this present moment, today.

My recent attempts at sobriety have opened my eyes to one enormous, elephant-sized truth: my social anxiety is a lot more real than I ever realized. I had a therapist once tell me that I have social anxiety, but I was able to ignore it and mostly convince myself otherwise because I LOVE being around people, being social, and being talkative, when I am drinking.

I transform into someone else when drinking. Confident is not the right word – it is more that I am quieting the voice in my head that tells me everyone hates me. I become funnier and  more engaging. People tend to like me more. This of course only lasts for a drink or two, until I become drunk and loud and kind of showboaty. I become an Amy Schumer parody, bragging about all the meaningless sex I’ve had or the way I can drink you under the table. It’s not fucking funny or cute, except to people who do the same thing. And I hated the women who did not do this, because I could feel them silently judging me, thinking less of me. I hated that they did not need to have sex with strange men or drink more than anyone else to feel like they were OK.

All of my friendships were founded on alcohol. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to hang out with me sober. And what is even more scary: I cannot imagine wanting to hang out with anyone else while I am sober.

I’ve done it, once or twice. I find it emotionally exhausting and stressful. I feel on guard the whole time. I have very little to say. I absolutely abhor the small talk (when drunk, I find small talk to be invigorating), and I become bored with other people easily. Nothing seems exciting or funny, the conversation feels primarily dull. I know that I have stimulating conversations when I am drinking, sometimes, because I bring up stimulating topics. I love to delve into real issues and debate things and I get energized by it. But when I am sober, I am exhausted by the interaction, and I am terrified to engage in any meaningful conversation.

Imagining my own wedding and the numerous events that go with it (bachelorette party, showers, rehearsal dinners, etc) make me want to crawl into a hole and cry. Not because I “have” to be sober, but because I cannot imagine how these events could possibly be bearable without alcohol. Because I cannot imagine wanting to spend time with people without alcohol to numb me from them. It makes me so sad. Not because alcohol was making my life so much better, but because leaving it behind shows me how isolated I have become. I would love to throw alcohol out the window, say good riddance, and move on with freedom. It was ruining my life, my health, my body, my mind. But it’s departure highlights how fucked up I have become, and it scares me. The concept of One Day At A Time is what I am living for at this moment.

Attempt #17

I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to stop drinking. I’ve never said to myself, I am quitting drinking. I never made that commitment to myself, the way I have with quitting smoking. There is a finality about that promise that I knew I could not keep. Saying that I am “getting sober” or “quitting drinking” sets me up for failure in some ways, because it adds an element of shame when I inevitably fail.

But not making that commitment has already failed me, time and time again. I was on day 21 or 22 last month, when I made the decision that I would, in fact, drink when I went on my bachelorette party, and maybe at my wedding too (both happening within the next 13 months). I would just “not drink” except at these very special occasions. I thought it would be an empowering decision, but that very night I went out drinking.

In early May, me and my fiance went on a brief vacation. A few days beforehand, I gave myself permission to drink if I felt like it, on vacation. That night, I went out drinking. I drank the whole vacation, and then multiple times in the week we returned home.

The lesson I am learning here is that when I tell myself I can drink for these occasions, I end up drinking outside of these occasions. This may seem obvious to anyone in recovery or AA, but it was shockingly not something I could see.

So for now, I am taking it one day at a time. I will not drink today. I will not worry about my wedding or my bachelorette party today – I will just not drink today. Just not today.

First blog post

What else does one title their first blog post than “First blog post”? It seems boring and like I should come up with something more witty, but I tried for a few minutes and fell flat. So here I am.

I’m starting this blog to write about my journey in tackling my depression and self-loathing, and how those have manifested in me (namely, through disordered eating patterns and a severe drinking problem). I am taking a few months off from working in the ultimate act of self-care, to begin this journey to healing.

Right now, I am very afraid, and I am filled with self-doubt.  I’m afraid that I won’t be able to quit drinking, that I will always hate my body, that yoga won’t really help, that I won’t ever be able to shake this unbearable sadness, that I will never really believe in my own worth. I am afraid that I will quit writing this blog after a couple of entries, that I won’t ever start my Etsy shop, that I will never find a job I love, that after my few months are up I will have to go back to waitressing and bartending. I am afraid that I will always be this way, always feel this way. I am afraid that I will never really follow through, never really change, and that one day I will die never really having experienced happiness or peace.

So I invite you to join me as I work through these fears, and perhaps fall down and fail again and again and again. Amidst the fear there is a faint glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I can get out of this thing. Maybe not entirely whole, but not entirely in pieces either.