20:59 What a great day. First I wrote for myself and myself only, which brought me so much peace after my terribly anxious evening yesterday. Yesterday started out fine but I felt a growing sense of unrest and finally in evening noticed myself craving a glass of wine or three. Which has hardly ever happened this time around. Luckily, I’ve had enough past experience with this to know that indulging that fleeting craving would not, in the end, bring me more peace, but less instead.
As Annie Grace says,
Scratching an itch is pleasurable, but you would never purposely sit in poison ivy just to scratch your ass.
So yeah. I went to bed.
The next morning, I opened my Kindle app to read my next 10 pages, and here’s what was on the first page I read:
“And while everyone has bad days, mine have become fewer and easier to deal with. I no longer make one bad day into two by getting drunk and spending the day after with a hangover.”
— Annie Grace, This Naked Mind (p. 188)
Which I thought summed it up beautifully.
Here is a section from my private journal, last night, written in the middle of experiencing the craving (note: the craving was gone by the time I finished writing this):
Yes, I’d like a nice bottle of red right now. Yes. It gives that electrified yet dull feeling, that feeling of warmth and love and excitation, as in a super-reality. The red cloud.
But it is false. In reality, it makes me ugly not beautiful. It makes me sloppy not tidy. It makes me unable to make decisions that are wise. It makes me delusional not aware.
Tree: Have a cup of tea instead.
Yes, thank you tree.
I got a lot done today. And all with ease. Some were still more of those things that I had let pile up for months already. I also had lunch with my kids (school lunch breaks are 1.5 hours here. Most kids stay at the cantine).
In the afternoon I felt so good about all I had accomplished that I settled in for a little treat: watching downloads of one of my old favourite shows: REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK. I know. SO AWESOME. (No, I feel no shame over it anymore. ;))
Anyhewls, it had been years since I’d seen an ep of these girls behaving badly. In some ways, I think watching them and their antics back in the day had made me more and more aware of some of the bad things that alcohol does to a normally fairly nice group of women. And guess what? Two are now off the booze. (At least, they are, in the first episode of Season 11.)
What sucks is to see the lack of support that Sonja has. Right away her old friend said something to the effect of”There goes the neighbourhood!” when Sonja refused a drink. And you know how Ramona is. Luann on the other hand apparently had had an intervention in the last season (which I missed) by Bethenny and ? Oh god I can’t remember her name. Anyway Luann had apparently been having a manic episode and trying desperately to scrape up 6 million for a 8000 sqft mansion that should only have cost 5 million. That sounded so much like a friend of mine, actually. Minus the millions. Perhaps we all have a friend like that… one for whom, even if we were still drinking, we’d genuinely think, “good for you,” if they decided to give up their substances and go sober and sane.
But Sonja’s kind of sweet and fun (in spite of her penchant for lying around in bed while “interns” (i.e. unpaid PA trainees) make breakfast and hang monogrammed towels over her un-curtained windows). Yet you can see the internal suffering in her face… she looks so fragile. She is very affected by those around her. So supporting herself with new friends would be key. And maybe lifting a finger or two to do a bit of housework.
Okay anyway. Previews show that Sonja is going to pass out at the table in a future episode so I guess the lack of support is going to lead to her downfall.
But I believe in her. Even if she fails this time she can do it the next, or the next, or the next.
So here’s the other thing that happened that was awesome today: I was driving my boys and one of their friends home from school. When I drop him off, who is at my car window but his neighbour — the mom with whom I had herb tea all afternoon, last week. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and it’s nearing hot out, for the first time in days, and what is she holding? Two huge, beautiful, sparkling clear stem glasses, each with a perfect swirl of white wine in them.
Come on over! She told me. And so I did. But I told her I wasn’t having any wine. I said I’d take a water or herb tea instead. She seemed surprised and a little thrown off. But she let it go, probably assuming it was because I had four kids to drive home still. I had a tour of her house and then sat with her friends on the patio. One friend was quite tipsy. It’s so interesting to see it when you yourself are sober — I remember what it was like for me. I would think myself so tapped in, so aware, so interesting, so interested — and yet, as movie clips and photos later showed me, I had been slightly off key. My voice a bit too loud, my manner a bit too overbearing, my attention not nearly as “there” as I thought I’d been. Interrupting people and not even really hearing what they were saying. That’s how it was for me, anyway.
Still, I had a great time and then left at the perfect time for the kids. Which I definitely would not have done if I’d been drinking. I would have gladly buckled under the pressure to have a second glass, and I would not have gotten home at a good hour, early enough to help with all the homework, make dinner and so on.
As I was leaving, my new friend came along with me and said next time we’ll have wine. And I said, “No, I don’t drink wine.” I said it cheerfully but firmly. “Just once in a while is nice,” she said, and I, who had been rehearsing this moment for quite some time in my mind, said, “No, I’m not drinking wine anymore and I genuinely don’t want wine anymore. I’m just happier without it.” And she said, “Really?” And I knew what she was thinking. After all, I’d been in her shoes. How could it possibly be true? She said, “It just gives such a feeling of freedom.” Meaning wine, of course. And I, deliberately turning the meaning around, said, “That’s it, exactly! It gives me such a feeling of freedom. I love being free to enjoy myself without wine. It’s truly an amazing feeling!” And I meant it.
I recalled another quote (or the gist of it) that I’d read this morning:
“If you have no desire to drink, why would you try a single drink and give your enemy power again? As Carr says, once you see the truth about drinking, the fear of never being able to drink again is replaced by the excitement of never having to drink again. The experience is euphoric. You see your entire life, long and healthy, stretch out before you. You are proud. You have done something amazing. You are excited to enjoy this remarkable life and all of the many, wonderful human experiences it holds.”
— Annie Grace, This Naked Mind (p. 188)
And then she seemed quite interested, just as I had once been about all this, and started asking me how I’d given up smoking. And we stood on the road a bit while I told her a few tricks. (e.g. writing down why you do it, writing down why you want to stop, downloading some quit apps like Smoke Free and I Am Sober to track your progress, and “air-smoking”).
And my four boys, who would soon enough be facing this same type of pressure themselves (case in point, the friend of my son had “jokingly” offered to take the glass of wine I’d refused, out on the road), were watching this all with eagle eyes.
So I feel super proud and happy and joyful. Because in my I Am Sober app (which by the way, says I have been “sober from tabacco” for 401 days), the reasons I wrote down for quitting smoking were:
— So I can set a good example for my kids (THIS IS THE MAIN ONE.)
— So I might avoid dying of throat cancer.
— So I can smell fresh at any time of day.
And my reasons for not drinking are similar. But also with this one added on: So I can be more conscious, aware, and self-respecting.
And then we went home, and we made carrot-apple-ginger juice, and recited poetry for homework, and baked an angel-food cake together, which my second son had been wanting to make for ages, and we had a nice pasta with veggies for dinner, and cleaned up all the cooking and baking messes together. And we watched the latest episode of our joint favourite show, Young Sheldon. And yes there were some hyena wrestling matches, but it all got done on time, and I was sober, not even tipsy, as it is so normal for parents to be these days, but rather, completely sober.
And I smelled good, not like smoke or wine, when it came to story time and snuggles for the younger ones, and I was full of awareness for my kids (even if that awareness was tinged with perfectly natural frustration and vexation at times).
And the cake had turned out perfectly. And I was also full of something that seems to be getting stronger and stronger in me, though there be ups and downs… self-respect.