After a long day at work I thought it would be a good idea to hop on my stationary bike and go for a 30 minute spin. “Just 30 minutes” I told myself. I had a good list of things I needed to get done in the yard and around the house but I definitely wanted to fit this in. So I got on my bike and set the time for 30 min.
I pushed myself harder than normal. It was a super busy day and I wanted to get rid of all that tension energy. 20 minutes in I was drenched in sweat and my legs felt like Jello. I’m usually a leisure rider with bursts of strong energy. It’s fair to say this ride was killing me. My dog enters the room with his favorite squeaky toy and squeaks it. Cute right? My pint sized cheerleader has arrived. I keep spinning. He reaches up the side of the couch and stretches his body out long while staring at me. I make a comment about how we’re working out together, how fun. I give him a little wink. Then all hell broke loose. My dog LOST his mind. He barked at me quite insistently. At first I thought someone was at the door but then I realized he was barking at me! I asked my little buddy what was wrong? He answered with a sharp, demanding bark. I started asking him questions like he was Lassie and was somehow going to answer me. “Are you out of water? Do you need to go out?”. Each one answered with that sharp, demanding bark. This was getting ridiculous. For a moment I contemplated getting off the bike to see what this was all about. I mean, I only had 5 minutes left. Then it hit me. He was challenging me. He picked up his squeaky toy and got uncomfortably close to the peddles on the bike. It’s as if he was saying “You better get off or you’ll hit me.” Inching closer and closer, squeaking his toy louder and louder, barking more and more. It all hit a fever pitch and I realized I can’t back down. I also can’t get down. I have to stay on this damn bike until this is over. If I get off now he’ll think he owns me and I don’t even want to know what that looks like.
How long could this last right? This is a new behavior for my 10 year old dog. He’s sure to tire out quickly and take a nap, right? THIRTY MINUTES LATER. I cycled for an entire hour! An additional 30 minutes of this Mexican stand off with my dog. But I won, dammit, I won! There was a time in my life when I would have stopped pedaling to find out what he needed. I’d go as far as to say I might have even stayed away from cycling because I didn’t want to deal with the barking. Eventually, I would have felt resentful towards my dog for ‘being a jerk’ and making me feel like I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I would have made myself the victim. It’s moments like that where I realize how far I’ve come. As absurd as the situation was, there was a feeling of pride in not getting off that bike. I wasn’t about to let his neediness at that moment override this time I was taking for myself. I’m not even sure he wanted me to really get off the bike. He just wanted to know where my limit was and I told him. In the end, he curled up in a ball and fell asleep. I hope to see more moments like this in myself. Where I know what I want, I do it, and I don’t let someone knock me off my proverbial bike.
I took a break from writing because I was getting depressed. Writing, in and of itself, wasn’t depressing. I just felt stuck. My thoughts were consumed with alcohol and being sober. I got so sick of it. Even though it was a positive change I found myself constantly making alcohol the center of my life. I think that’s natural, but being that this was my umpteenth time trying to get sober I was just done with it. I fell into a bad place where I was glad I was sober but I was mulling over each moment and proclaiming it wouldn’t be as vibrant and alive had I still been drinking. While that was true, it just felt like in a way I was keeping alcohol in my life. I liken it to bad break-up. Say I was married to Jim and we divorced. Ugly divorce. Would it help me to spend every day thinking of all the ways my life was better without Jim? Would that help prove I made the right decision? Or would it help me instead to start making a new life and allow the parallel of before/after Jim naturally occur?
I’ve been keeping myself busy with yoga, indoor cycling, walking and photography. The last time I was sober I used the money I saved to invest in a Nikon D3300 camera. It’s been fun to pick it back up and learn how to use the manual settings. I officially have 9 million black and white pictures of my dog. I’ve also taken a real liking to guided meditations by Tara Brach. https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/ It’s free. On her site you’ll find a variety of meditations ranging from 6-40 minutes. I don’t always stay awake for them. Especially if it’s right before bed. It is helping me sleep better though, and overall manage stress better.
Anyway, I’m learning to not take myself so seriously. I’m learning to laugh at myself. It’s just life after all.
I had a Christmas Eve meltdown. Which threw me for a loop because this year there wasn’t any pressure to do much but go to my brothers. He drinks but he’s not the kind of drinker that cares if I do or don’t drink. His wife doesn’t drink much. She might be the first real “normie” I’ve ever met. She enjoys one glass of whiskey once a month. Is that crazy or what? She must have superpowers. Anyway, I’ve been doing surprisingly well with my sobriety this time around. I’m not sure why. The anxiety of “but what will others think” has been gone. The scenario game isn’t playing in my mind. The one where I ask myself “what about holidays? special occasions? vacations?”. It’s almost eerily comfortable this time around. I’m not overly enthusiastic and trying to be everyone’s cheerleader. I’m not obsessively pissed off at the alcohol industry. I don’t want to throat punch every person that drinks. Just calm. I take time every single day to enjoy this feeling because it can be an allusive one, I know that. I know that because Christmas Eve those feelings of panic and anxiety crept back. The fear that I wouldn’t get my calm footing back made me feel more panicked. I was mean. I was beating myself up for how I looked. My inner voice was tearing up my husband for how he looked. My dog even looked like he needed a bath. Suddenly everything in my world looked like it wasn’t right. I criticized myself for leaving dishes in the sink, spills on the oven top, crumbs on the counter. I remembered that this is what I had done in prior sober attempts. I made sure sober me was perfect. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things just right. That pressure caused a lot of anxiety. It also created a scapegoat for falling back into drinking. “See, sobriety isn’t working and it sucks anyway. May as well drink”.
I didn’t drink. I got home and wrote out all my feelings, determined not to let this anxiety feeling settle in. Alcohol is extremely addictive and crafty, isn’t it? It knows what hot buttons to push. The conclusion I came to that night was that it was my first weekend not binge drinking so my brain was craving booze and acting like a jerk. I also realized that I don’t have to buy into it. If I have a panic attack about not drinking, the thought process that actually helped me that night before bed was “I didn’t just quit drinking. I made a decision to take care of myself in the most loving way possible.” I took a moment to think about all the changes I’ve been making and it really is a lifestyle change. I’m paying attention to the things I tell myself, allowing myself to indulge in some chocolate and hot cocoa (with REAL milk and chocolate syrup), going for fresh air walks and not putting pressure to go to a 90 min. yoga class 4 times a week. All of these things dissolve those feelings of not being good enough, which is what I really struggle with. The goal is no longer to be perfect. The goal isn’t to be superwoman. The goal isn’t to be motivator or a cheerleader, although I do like pom poms. 🙂 The goal isn’t to keep my home so clean that it feels like a museum. The goal is to take all the pressure off and just love myself unconditionally, love the people in my life unconditionally, and enjoy where I am in life right now. I dunno, I kinda like that goal.
I had a hard time falling asleep last night. My mind raced with ideas of what sober me would to today. I was going to get up early and clean the downstairs, organize a closet, start work a little early, be showered and ready for the day (I work from home so that’s a real feat in and of itself) and blog. I’d like to write every day for a while even if it’s meaningless jibber. Before I knew it was past midnight and I was realizing that my morning energy would be nil if I didn’t get to sleep soon. I somehow managed to fall asleep. I tossed and turned a bit throughout the night. My alarm went off excessively early and I hit my snooze. Actually, I turned it off completely and woke up later than I wanted. Not late, but not early enough to tackle my grandiose list. As I sit here with my coffee I wonder why it was important to try and do so much outside of what I normally do. Am I trying to prove sobriety is better? Am I trying to prove that sober me is much more productive, energetic, and organized? Is the side of me that sleeps in, hits the snooze, rolls out of bed haphazardly and shuffles around a snails pace unacceptable? Or only acceptable when I’ve been drinking?
I did this last time I quit. I put an immense amount of pressure on myself to be better. Recreate a different persona. One that was far removed from the me that drank alcohol. I think this time around I’m going to take it easier on myself which isn’t easy for me. I do want to relax into this and see what person emerges. Not who I think should emerge, but who truly emerges. Maybe it’ll be the same ol me that sleeps in and is totally disorganized. Maybe that’s okay.
There, I said it. As tears well up in my eyes I am overwhelmed with feelings of disappointment, grief, resentment, and I’m sure I could explain my feelings better if this brain of mine wasn’t fogged over from a wretched hangover. I don’t know what to say. I feel like I’ve been lying with my writing. Lying to myself. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I want to start this all fresh. No more lies. No more trying to be something I not. I know where I want to be. I know who I want to be. Today, though, I’m starting with being nobody and working myself out from there. That’s what I need to do. I did do 6 months of sobriety. The space between then and now grows with each passing day. It hurts. I went from being a daily drinker, to a non drinker, to a binge drinker on the weekends. I told myself I could have it both ways. I could be good all week, take care of myself, and then let it all hang out on the weekends. Letting it all hang out means spending time drinking while longing for sobriety, writing notes to myself about how this isn’t working and I don’t enjoy it. Nursing hangovers on Sunday and wishing I was taking full advantage of my weekends and not tossing them away in a bottle. It feels so bipolar. Friday night I was totally sober and had my 7 year old niece over for her very first sleepover. It was so much fun. Saturday I started drinking and didn’t stop. I spent yesterday curled up in ball and still feel like I want to lay around not move. When did I become such a lush? I read in someone’s blog recently that when you go back to drinking you don’t start over. You pick up where you left off. That’s exactly what I’ve done. I went from being someone who drank a “controlled” amount every night for years to someone who is sober all week and gets bombed on the weekends. I used to hate being drunk. Now I spend my weekends in hazy stupor and I’m not enjoying it one bit. I’ve come to realize that drinking daily is simply not an option. Binge drinking like this is totally out of the question. I can’t keep on. It’s fair to say I’m officially tried every way to possible to fit drinking into my life and it’s not working. I can’t go on like this. I just can’t. The mental game alone is exhausting.
So I give. Here I am. Day two. It feels like day zero because I swear I’m still hungover from Saturday. Gross. I need this blog. I need to write. I need to be honest and raw. And I need you. Whoever you are. My other friends that are on this journey. Sobriety can be such a wonderfully lonely place. I’m hoping I can do it again, only with more truth, more vulnerability, and more balance. I want it more than anything.
~ With Humbleness and Humility