As you close in on your first week without alcohol, you might appreciate fast-forwarding a few weeks in the eyes of someone who has been there. Here is Rckaye’s manifesto:
It’s 1:52am and I just got home from the karaoke bar. Unless a maraschino cherry saturated with watered-down tom collins counts as drinking, I successfully completed my 31 days. This entire time, I’ve been thinking about how I will document this moment, how I will feel as I type this. Someone in our phone meetings even addresses it as “that magical moment” when there has been no alcohol in your system for 31 days and a switch in your brain flips.
There’s no actual switch, but there’s definitely a gradual progression. For starters, everything I thought I knew about myself was wrong. There’s something to be said for looking at oneself objectively, which is near impossible until one’s situation changes enough to where they can look back on their past self with new eyes. I was a mess. I’ve been a mess for a long time. Drinking was only covering up the mess with a think security blanket, hoping nobody will see the lumps that remain.
Full disclaimer: My doctor upped my meds last week, so that could have contributed to these new eyes. Also, as recommended, I’ve spent the past 31 days developing new healthy habits that promote mindfulness and mental stability. I already exercised and did yoga (7 minute yoga app, you’re welcome), and for the most part I ate fairly well. I am incredibly privileged in that I do not have a significant other, children, or family to stress me out. My job isn’t that bad either. My problem drinking was (is) purely social, to alleviate the anxiety of talking to people and holding a conversation.
I am not a good verbal communicator. I missed that day when they were handing out social skills. It’s not awkward introversion, which can be endearing; it’s downright uncomfortable. I never know when it’s okay to speak, so I interrupt or wait so long that I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say or the topic has changed. I’ve participated in small talk for so long at work that it’s an automatic script, but it usually goes beyond that with friends. I have strong opinions about today’s social climate that most people don’t want to hear. I make cynical, sarcastic jokes that people don’t think are funny. And, unless someone else happens to be into discussing gender, sexuality, or the handful of media I don’t find problematic, I don’t have anything in common with anyone.
When I would drink, I became more superficial. I could care about whatever someone wanted to talk about. I was open with my feelings, even though I didn’t understand them. (I still don’t. I wasn’t there the day they handed out the emotion manual either.) I built amazing relationships and even dated for a while. I grew to dislike the person I was when I was sober. I pretty much disassociated the two, where “sober me” would look forward to “drunk me” coming out after work or on the weekends. When I started my medication, I had some bad experiences adjusting to my lower tolerance, but a few months ago I’d gotten it worked out.
Then I crashed my car. Then I slept with my ex-datefriend, for whom I still have feelings (that I don’t understand). Both of those things happened the same night, actually. I was following them home from the karaoke bar, going a different way than I usually took, and I misjudged a turn and wiped out most of the front right side of my car on some tree roots that had grown on the side of the road. The total damage was $5240; the deductible was $500. I still have the invoice on my refrigerator to remind me of this lapse in judgment. I was incredibly lucky that I didn’t get hurt, or that I didn’t hurt anyone else or damage someone’s property.
I started my 31 days on august 11th. My last alcoholic drink was a pomegranate wine slushie at the local winery the evening before. Since then, there were only a few times I actively wanted to drink, and they were all within the first week when it was still a go-to compulsion to cope with my feelings. Getting drunk didn’t make me feel better anymore, and when I look back on the past couple years of my life, it never really did. Sure, a drink can be relaxing, a nice vacation from the real world, but it’s not going to make the feelings go away. It won’t make someone love me. It won’t help me learn how to express myself effectively and not give a f**k what anyone thinks. It may have made me a fun-loving, more tolerating person, but the next morning I woke up the same old me, now with a new and improved headache.
For the past four weeks, I have been working on building back up my confidence (which I used to have in spades, let me tell you) and reprogramming my brain to look at things differently. I read cognitive behavioral therapy for dummies, am making my way through responsible drinking, and i’m almost done with the magical life-changing art of not giving a f**k. The higher SSRI dosage suppresses my indignant rage, which I would peg as the main cause of my frustration with friends and coworkers. When I don’t care about being disrespected or having my self-worth threatened by others, life is pretty damn pleasant.
I’m far from done. Tomorrow, I start moderating, and I have mixed feelings about it. It seems pointless to only drink 2 beers, which is the limit I have given myself based on my tolerance. Not to mention, I live in a state where the government regulates alcohol sales and anything less than a 12 pack isn’t economical. Logically, it makes more sense (and saves money) to not drink at all. I may end up going permanent abs, but I want to at least try moderation. There are alcoholic drinks I genuinely enjoy for the taste, and I still want that relaxation and real-world vacation a couple times a week. With everything going on lately, it’s almost unhealthy not to have that occasional freedom from stress, to forget about the horrors and injustices for a while. I just need to learn to not go overboard. I need to be okay with only having 2 drinks, and I don’t know that i’ll ever get there.
It is now 2:49am and I need to get to bed if I want to be up early to walk before class. If you read all of this, thank you! I read other people’s posts too, though I don’t always know what to say. We all may be fighting different demons, but the battle is the same. Having more people on your side makes the demons seem much smaller.
This post was contributed by MM Forum’s Rckaye