20 year reunion and Kicking the Drink.

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.

 

 

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13 thoughts on “20 year reunion and Kicking the Drink.

  1. Lee, we’re the same age; it’s 20 years since I graduated this year as well, I was even toying with organising a reunion myself the other day. I’m sorry you’ve been stuck in this cycle, it sounds like you’re getting the absolute worst parts of sobriety AND the absolute worst parts of drinking all the time. No wonder you feel sick and tired!

    On positive books, I highly recommend Lucy Rocca and Sarah Turner’s ‘The Sober Revolution’. I’m on record as not a Jason Vale fan, but the Rocca book is also simple, easy to read and very positive. It doesn’t do that ‘smashing down the drinking myths’ thing, it focuses on the gifts of sobriety and stories of women who’ve turned their lives around.

    Good luck, either way!

    • Hi afteralcohol, 20 years is kinda scary, right?! How did that happen. I have to say that the reunion was a lot of fun, I would recommend going or organizing one. Some of the folks I have known since I was 8 years old but have lost touch so it was really nice to catch up.

      I’ll check out Rocca and Turner’s book… I do follow Soberistas so I know they have one. There’s so many out there! Vale was a little too simplistic for me but overall i liked the positivity of his message. It is a TRAP and I like getting in the mind frame of being free from it, and being happy about that. It helps me. But like I said, that doesn’t mean I don’t have work to do.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I would second After in saying you are suffering the worst of both worlds! that is truly rubbish. and you have got some solid days under your belt before, haven’t you? so you KNOW you can do it. it is just doing it that is the tricky bit…. best of luck to you!

    on the book front – there are good bits in all these sobriety books and whatever helps you is a positive thing. I read JV at about three months sober and did find it helped, in particular the idea that the need for the drug is created by the drug itself (which is very Allen Carr, yes) and that is true in that my 10 year old daughter doesn’t come home from school and say, “Man, that was a tough spelling test, break out the gin, Mummy”.

    but I diverge from it in that alcohol does meet (or appear to meet) the basic human needs to relax, reward and escape. and if you take a bone away from a dog, you’d better give him a steak.

    I feel really strongly that we need to either/both meet these needs in different ways or/and delve into the reasons we have these ‘difficult’ feelings in the first place.

    I’ve just ordered the book Belle refers to here: http://tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/mystery-book-reveal-and-giveaway/. I was particularly interested in what he calls ‘the seven self-care tools worth knowing’: cognitive-behavioral therapy, 12-step and other groups, mindfulness, meditation, nutrition and exercise, body work, and journaling.

    and Wolfie likes us negative, and on our own. he likes us when we are vulnerable. stick around. it’s so great to have you here. xxx

    • Hi Prim, yes I have been stuck in the worst of it, that’s for sure! I can no longer drink freely and I am always recovering from hangovers. Not a fun place to be… I do not recommend it! I do know I can do it- I am doing it right now and I want to keep it up. Today I feel so grateful for being free from alcohol and the desire to drink. I am praying in the morning to stay this way 🙂

      SOOO true what you said about needing to meet our needs in other ways- needs do not go away just because one quits drinking. Definitely. Alcohol is a coping mechanism and you can’t take away a coping mechanism and not have something else in place. I have still felt anxious, stressed, tired this week and I have been doing various other things to support myself. Like reading blogs, listening to podcasts, watching shows, eating, laughing, etc… Now I just need to incorporate some exercise and I’ll be good to go.

      I’m glad to be here. Grateful. Present. Thank you for being there xo

  3. I liked Vale’s positive attitude and positive outlook, but did feel that he simplified things, and skipped over the reasons why we drink, the emotional side of our drinking, and how complicated our feelings can be when we quit. Keep reading everything though – it all helps to keep your mind focussed and motivation up. I hadn’t seen the book Primrose refers to… that looks interesting. I have just started “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach. I’ll let you know how I get on! Hang in there. You know what it is that you want. You will work out how to get there. xxx

    • I totally agree with you! His view is a bit too simplistic. But like anything, you take what works for you and leave the rest, right? His positive view that one should be happy to be free from the trap is something that resonates with me. That kind of attitude really helped me to quit smoking. I’d much rather feel happy about quitting and improving my life than miserable about having to make a change. The difference is about wanting to quit as opposed to feeling that I have to quit… because of course I (wolfie) love to rebel against myself the minute I tell myself I CAN’T so something…

      I keep meaning to check out Tara Brach.. I hear a lot about her. If you like that, another buddhist/meditation teacher that I really like is Noah Levine. He has written several books and has one coming out specifically about recovery in June. I’ve pre-ordered it so I can let you know about it when I read it. We can share book reviews 🙂

      Thanks xo

      • You could really enjoy Mary Karr or Augusten Burroughs books. I would also say that alcohol is not our friend or lover, although we do romanticize the shit out of it. Alcohol is the bad husband who beats up his wife, the boyfriend aka domestic abuser. Run away fast from those types. I know I had no control over my drinking so I stopped. Abstinance is the only choice for me. Lots of alkies in AA say “we dont have a problem drinking, we have a problem living.” think about it. What does your drinking give you? Are you willing to want sobriety more than you want a drink? Simple but not easy. good luck.

      • Hi there, thanks for your comment! I have read Burrows and love him. Haven’t read Karr so I will check her out. I appreciate the way you relate alcohol to the domestic abuser, it is very similar, isn’t it. Keep coming back for lure and promise of a good life, although it always turns out crap and destruction. I am getting there- wanting sobriety more than wanting a drink. I’m still not free from the desire to drink but I am sober and learning how to live this way. Thanks for your support!

  4. I am sorry it went down the way it did.

    I don’t know about any of the other books or programs, but for me what was important was learning and dealing with the why’s of drinking – why I picked up, why I felt the need to lose myself, why I felt so crappy about myself. And it was in re-learning (or just plain learning) to deal with life that the thoughts of numbing out started to dissipate. There is a lot that goes on after we stop the drink, so it’s not the stopping that is difficult – we’ve stopped countless times – but staying stopped is the tough part.

    Keep at it, Lee 🙂

    Paul

  5. I can totally relate to what’s you are in your journey. I spent the entire summer and fall last year with strings of sobriety. I knew alcohol was poisoning my mind and body but kept trying to convince myself that I didn’t have a problem. It’s definitely an issue when you miss work because of a hangover and let me tell you, I missed plenty.

    Once you are able to string enough sober days together, you’ll finally understand the beauty of not drinking. I know that once you’ve made up your mind, you’ll be on your way to freedom.

    • I can totally relate to where you are in your journey. I spent the entire summer and fall last year with strings of sobriety. I knew alcohol was poisoning my mind and body but kept trying to convince myself that I didn’t have a problem. It’s definitely an issue when you miss work because of a hangover and let me tell you, I missed plenty.

      Once you are able to string enough sober days together, you’ll finally understand the beauty of not drinking. I know that once you’ve made up your mind, you’ll be on your way to freedom.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Vodka Goggles 🙂 Reading about others who had a difficult time stopping in the beginning has been really helpful for me and has made me feel less alone. What you said about how you kept trying to convince yourself you didn’t have a problem- yep, that’s me too. Although I’ve been paying lip service to admitting that I have a problem, for years, I haven’t really fully accepted it. I am working on that now. It’s making a difference. Right now I am sober and I pray to stay this way. Hope you’re doing well!

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