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My Beautiful Mind at 1,000 days Sober
I can't remember ever aspiring to be sober. The word sober always seemed sad and dull and heavy to me. When I was young, checking out adults to see which type I'd like to become, the sober ones were rather stiff . They either couldn't drink because they had a "problem" with alcohol or they chose not to drink which seemed to make all the "fun" grown ups at the party uncomfortable. Sober adults seemed to me to be missing color in their lives but even more importantly sober adults didn't fit the norm. Not all adults drank heavily but adults who didn't drink at all were pretty rare.
When I stopped drinking at 50 years old the idea of sobriety left me cold. I was used to seeing wine as my rocket fuel. The carrot at the end of the stick that I chased throughout my day. How would I motivate myself to work to exhaustion without my reward ? How would I push myself that little bit further? How would I shut down? What would my friends and family think if I told them I COULDN'T drink? How would I juggle job and parenting and household responsibilities without my nightly wine? How would I live the active, colorful life I knew........... sober ?
I did not WANT to stop drinking. I loved to drink . I loved the taste of wine and the shape of the glass and the beautiful labels on the bottles. I loved the sensuality of wine. At the end of a long day I loved the soft warm buzz that I got from that first glass. I loved letting my body and brain go numb as I finished off the first bottle. On the nights that I kept going and drank to oblivion I loved escaping to the the dark, velvety nothing shortly before my brain shut down in a waking black out.
On March 6, 2015 however, I decided that I no longer had a choice. I didn't hit a dramatic, public rock bottom. It was still MY choice but I was getting to the point where I was drinking to dangerous levels almost every time I poured a glass. My nightly bottle became two bottles once or twice a week and I would wake up at three in the morning hot and anxious, kicking myself for having opened that second bottle again. I'd wash down a few vitamins with a liter of water, try to get a couple of hours of sleep and swear never again! I was hiding how much I drank even from my husband. Drinking alone. In love with my wine.
Physical addiction to alcohol can be dangerous to break and is at times fatal if not done under medical supervision but even though I was drinking seven to ten units of alcohol most nights and sometimes more, I was not physically addicted. I was neurologically addicted. My brain could NOT shut down without alcohol. I could NOT relax or socialize at parties without alcohol. By 5 pm most days I NEEDED a drink. I NEEDED that wine to make dinner, fold laundry , help with homework. I NEEDED that wine to enjoy lunch at the beach on a Sunday afternoon.
If you take an addictive drug and feed it to your brain routinely your brain will begin to need that drug to do your routine. Breaking my neurological addiction while still doing my routine was hard work but it has turned out to be the adventure of my life and my rock solid glorious sobriety is anything but colorless for me.
In the months leading up to my last day one on March 6, 2015 I read a lot of books about how to stop drinking. I read self help books and addiction recovery bios and books with perspective from Alcoholics Anonymous and I started to slowly build a positive view of sobriety as something less than a death sentence. I started to see that it WAS possible to stop and stay stopped but it wouldn't be easy and than I found my key. I stumbled over the sobriety blogs Unpickled , Sober at Sixty and Tired of Thinking about Drinking, and I learned that the passive reading I was doing might help but writing and discussing, making myself accountable daily, telling my story and reading the stories of others , was the solution to retraining my addicted brain.
I have never kept a diary or a journal and I am legendary for my inability to spell. It was not easy for me to begin blogging but the daily routine of putting my thoughts and fears and ideas out there in a private, supportive community with no rules but mutual respect and honesty has given me back every ounce of self respect that I lost to my addiction. I shuffle through the thoughts in my head each morning and chose which direction I will go. It was not an instant process by any means and it continues each day as I move forward from day 1 to 100 to 10,000 but by telling my story it evolves and I evolve more fully. When I write I define my reality and am taking back the self determination that was lost to my addiction. This beautiful mind of mine is powerful and free in my colorful sobriety.
I was at least eight months sober when I read Marc Lewis's Biology of Desire. His ground breaking book on addiction, recovery and neuroplasticity did not Guide me through my recovery it Defined my recovery. As he brilliantly puts it
“The facility for viewing one’s life as a narrative may be what’s missing in addiction... Addicts experience something breathtaking when they can stretch their vision of themselves from the immediate present back to the past that shaped them and forward to a future that’s attainable and satisfying... It feels like being the author and advocate of one’s own life. It feels like being real... The many addicts who end up quitting do so uniquely and inventively, through effort and insight. Thus quitting is best seen as further development, not “recovery” from a disease.”
I drank to numb and silence myself. My addiction isolated me. To find my voice in sobriety I needed a safe place to slowly test my wings. To stretch and grow and find my strength before I learned to fly.
The website where I found that safe space and began my creative recovery is changing and evolving as I do. The format that allowed me to freely express every dynamic aspect of my growth will not be there for much longer so I have used my sober energy to create a new space on the internet that I hope will continue to offer what worked for me.
A private, community blogging website where the narrative can continue in all of it's rich color and with all of it's independent equally important voices. A place with no leader or guru and no product to sell.
If you're drinking too much too often and are feeling trapped come talk to us. Rewrite your story one day at a time. On this 1,000th day of writing my way sober I have found clarity, creativity, and freedom in this beautiful life . What will you find ?
Rethink the Drink BOOM
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