Last Friday, I attended my 20 year high school reunion. Just typing that makes me cringe a little bit. And shake my head in disbelief! I honestly do not know where the time has gone. It scares me to think another 20 years will fly by so quickly. I’d better make it count.
I’ve been caught in a bad cycle of managing to scrape together a few sober days (usually Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday), falling off the wagon on the weekend, and then continuing to drink to excess on Sunday and Monday nights until I am so sick and tired that I feel I’ve aged a hundred years. I missed work on Monday because I was hungover and exhausted. I’ve had my new job for 2 months. Not very impressed with myself. I am the biggest obstacle in my life. I am a menace to my physical and mental well-being.
I am also the saviour of my own life.
So, back to the reunion. I was a bit nervous to go and actually considered not going because of the drinking thing. I didn’t think I could do it sober and I didn’t want to jeopardize my sobriety (I think I had 5 days or something). But then I thought, fuck you, alcohol, you are not taking this experience away from me! So, I planned to go sober. I planned to drive so that I wouldn’t drink. But getting closer to the event, I got scared I would drink. Then I got scared I would drink and drive, or that I would drink and leave my car downtown and it would get towed or that something horrible would happen to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so, in the end, I planned to have a few drinks. I left my car at my brothers’ house and planned to sleep there (this was out of town). I got drunk and was very hungover the next day. Of course, I was part of the crew that closed down the bar and went on the the next one. The next day I spent with my family and then went out for dinner with a close friend. I went back to my mom’s to stay. She was out for the evening. I started drinking her booze, sneaking it from the cabinet and different wine bottles, so she wouldn’t notice how much I had drank. Just like when I was a teenager; just like 20 years ago.
Have I not changed in 20 years? Have I not grown? It was painful to watch myself do this. Yet, I couldn’t stop. Did my mother notice? I am embarrassed.
The reunion was good- I had a really fun time catching up with people and reminiscing. . My ex-boyfriend was there; my first real love. It was hard to talk to him. He is unhappy in his life. He told me life is meaningless and that it’s all “smoke and mirrors”. He said if he could do it all over again, he would do it differently. It was hard to hear him sound so negative and I tried to convince him how wrong he is about life. We argued a little bit. Because I had been drinking, I was feisty and bossy instead of being compassionate and supportive. Ugh. I hate that about myself when I drink. I get pretty fiery sometimes. I feel like I wasted that time with him. I really wanted to connect and catch up and booze ruined it.
I ordered Jason Vale’s Kick the Drink book. It came while I was away and I read the whole thing on Monday (yesterday), figured that while I was too hungover to go to work, I could do something productive. I liked it. Completely reminded me of Allen Carr’s stuff. What I like about that approach is how positive it is. Getting into the mind frame that by quitting drinking, you are freeing yourself from a destructive, disgusting trap- and that is something to be celebrated! It is true. Sometimes I let myself get down thinking that alcohol is like a friend and that I need to grieve its loss in my life… that is bullshit. Alcohol is no friend of mine. It makes me sneak and steal booze from my mother like I am a 15 year old delinquent.
I like how Vale breaks down all of the illusions we think are the advantages of alcohol. It doesn’t build our confidence- it destroys our ability to develop real, natural confidence. It doesn’t relax us, it numbs us. It doesn’t relieve boredom, it makes us forget we are still bored. It only relieves the craving that was produced by the alcohol in the first place.
The key is accepting that alcohol doesn’t actually give us anything positive, and that we still need to learn how to do these things (be confident, sociable, relaxed, fun) on our own. Developing those qualities is the real work, and Vale doesn’t really go into how to do that. I guess that’s up to everyone to figure out on their own. I can actually see his ideas working with a program like AA, even though he seems to bash it throughout. I’m going to think some more about this. But for now I am going to try something new. I am going to stop counting days, like Vale suggests, and I am going to remind myself everyday how happy I am to be free of the alcohol trap- to see it as a very positive thing I have done, and remind myself of this when I start to miss it or crave it. But that doesn’t mean that I am going to stop working on myself and stop trying to deal with my insecurities. That’s just personal growth, which I think is super important. But I don’t have to think that I am defective or broken, either. I think I had been getting to negative about myself lately, which wasn’t helping. I’ll keep track of how this approach is working and post about it over the next few days.