First Sober Vacation

Well, kids! My last big sober milestone has been reached. Last weekend, the Hubs and I went to a family event out of town. I was more than a little nervous and curious about this. Mostly because, in the past, our pattern had been to have some drinks and snacks in the hotel room in the afternoon, followed by a nap (for me).  Then it would be out for dinner and drinks, and then finally, back to the room in the evening for – you guessed it – more drinks, possibly more snacks, and then bed. To be completely honest, I usually drank more than my husband.  He would typically fall asleep first, while I would either read or watch TV with a glass of wine until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more.  It was then and only then that I’d be able to fall asleep.

So I was really nervous about the possibility that I wouldn’t sleep well, what with the room/bed/pillows being different, the room not smelling like home, the light under the room door from the hallway, unusual noises, etc.

But – I’d done my research and armed myself with some great tools: my favorite scented hand cream, most comfortable jammies, and the very best thing of all – the meditation app I’d purchased for $1.99, called “Simply Being.” The first night we were away, I had a hard time staying asleep, even though I’d been up really early that morning, probably due to the EXTREMELY strong cup of coffee I’d ordered at the Italian restaurant we went to.  I swear, the spoon stood up by itself in the thing. I woke up at 4:30 the following morning. We’re talking WIDE AWAKE. So, I plugged my earbuds in, fired up a 30 minute meditation session, and – presto! It was 6:30, time to get up, and I was refreshed, well-rested, and ready to start my day.

Then, that evening, I had a hard time settling down.  It was 11:30 and I was still wide awake.  Used the meditation app again, and – like magic, didn’t wake up until 6:45.  I felt great.

Just a side note here – there was a family party the second night, and wine and bottled beer were offered.  There were also urns of ice water, lemonade, and iced tea.  I drank iced tea for the most part, and returned several times to refill my glass.  I had the thought that, if I were still drinking, I would have probably started with wine, but since the glasses were on the small side and the bartender’s pour was pretty skimpy, I’d have switched to bottled beer.  I would have been anxious about getting enough to drink to satisfy me without looking like I was visiting the bar too often.   Nobody else at the party seemed to be drinking very enthusiastically.

So glad to have that piano off my back.

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A Conversation with a Friend

The other day at lunch, a friend of mine who knows about my decision to stop drinking, asked me how the holidays went without booze. I thought for a minute and said, “Great. Really great.” Which they did. The thing that I learned that surprised me the most was that I always thought wine helped me unwind during the stressful times. Having gone through it sober, I learned that – yes, there’s still stress associated with the holidays, but that it was much more manageable WITHOUT alcohol.

The more sober time I accrue (today is day 148, I believe) the more clearly I see and am able to admit the problems booze was creating in my life.  I shared that with her in conversation the other day and she listened thoughtfully and intently.  I told her that for me, the bottom line was this: I knew it was time to quit when the thought of continuing the way I was going was MORE terrifying than the thought of quitting (which scared the absolute shit out of me, truth be told).

She thought for a second and said, “That makes a TON of sense.”

I think I’m getting to the point where I can selectively be more honest about my reasons for quitting.  And being a person who is not overfond of secrets, it’s pretty cool to be getting comfortable with my truth.

After the Party’s Over……

I. Did. It. I really friggin’ did it! Got through not one, not two, but – THREE major holidays without booze! I’m so relieved and happy and serene and proud. Very, very proud of myself.

Christmas was pretty easy, since we have an A/F brunch here for our kids and grandchildren. It’s always been dry, so no biggie.  Christmas night at my sister’s has been dry for several years now, since there are a couple of other family members who have/had issues with alcohol.

New Year’s Eve we went to my husband’s favorite restaurant.  I was DD and had my lovely club soda with lime and a splash of cranberry. Hubs had a drink before dinner and glass of wine with.  It didn’t bother me at all.  Looking around the restaurant, it did seem like most people were imbibing.  I do have that kind of ‘drink counter’ in my brain. (That’s his third beer!  Her second wine!)

Then we came home and watched “Gone Girl” and then Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin until midnight. There was no need to toast 2015 with a beverage, just sweet kisses and a few tears shared over how incredibly lucky and blessed we are.  All of our kids are happy, healthy, and whole, and live within a half an hour of us. The three precious granddaughters they’ve given us have brought so much light and laughter. We are incredibly fortunate.

New Year’s Day brings demons to exorcise. We traditionally host my husband’s family for a get-together and, especially the past two years, I had waaaaay too much to drink.  It doesn’t matter if another soul noticed; I know what was going on in my brain.  I privately swore two years ago that I would NEVER drink that much again. Riiiiiight. Another promise broken to myself. Before everyone came over I had some moments of real stress trying to figure out how best to accommodate 15 people in our small house.  My husband jokingly suggested that a glass of wine might help.  We had a good laugh and a big hug and then he talked me off the ledge. We figured everything out and I calmed right down. My panicky feelings passed and I was fine.

There was one moment – maybe a total of a full second – when my son was reaching into the fridge for a beer and I heard the bottles rattle together.  I had the fleeting thought, “A beer sounds GREAT right about now.” And it passed, just as quickly.  Quite honestly, in retrospect it seems more of a reflex than an authentic thought.

My favorite moments of the afternoon were when I was teaching my 11 year old niece and 4 year old granddaughter a hand-clapping game from my childhood.  I sat on the floor with them, cross-legged and laughing.  My adult son peeked his head in the doorway and I could see him taking a mental snapshot of his little girl, giggling helplessly at her Grandma. I could see the love and pride in his eyes and felt the same emotions myself, knowing that as I look back on all of the mental snapshots I took yesterday, I’ll see a sober, present woman who truly enjoyed herself and her family.  Free of heart, clear of mind and conscience.

I wish anyone who reads this the same kind of peace of mind and serenity. It is so, SO worth the effort to stay sober.

Bring it on, 2015! I’ve never been readier or more excited for a new year.