I am on an alcohol free EXPERIMENT. My goal at first was 3 months but I chose “the drank” at 10 months.
I will break down what happened in the head, in the body, in the saloon. Yes I went to a place that called itself a saloon. But heres a little reminder first:
My history with Alcoholics Anonymous, Buddhism, Alcohol Experiment via Annie Grace and other paths is alluded to in some earlier posts for reference. Im not new.
I had successfully lost 40 lbs or more through mindful eating, although we did not call it that in the 90s. Could I do this with drinking?
I wanted to mindfully rate this experience. If that was possible.
My drink of choice was served to me. I was with 2 other people. People who I could tolerate and enjoy without drinking. And had many times.
The first sip. Do I like the taste? It tasted good. I didn’t know I actually liked the taste of IPAs because it had been a while.
30 seconds in …..
Hey Hey I’m back in with the people! The feeling of ease. The feeling of love and tolerance for all. Except for the cold patio.
The relaxation of the physical body. Summer/ no responsibility feeling of days past. A large all over body SIGH.
Is this “ease” going to be fleeting? Right now I cant tell.
3 minutes in ….
Wow. I’m drinking more slowly than the others. My self awareness is still intact.
I asked S about his family and years in Texas, he begins telling an unusual story. I’m interested.
5 min in I’m like ……….
Neurons fire more slowly? The dumbing down of my perception happens as if somebody had placed cotton /gauze around the body’s ability to process social cues. Also I seem to be astral projecting above the situation. I’m no longer really feeling my molecular connection to these people or the Saloon. I have to will myself to be in my body. Get back!
Focus hurts. It’s all effort-y. Ugh. Wait. Which relative is the one S just mentioned who has schizophrenia? This story is not boring and I want to understand with clarity and insight. No, still the gauze.
Would I remember these names and the chronology of the story S is telling if I was undrinking?
? min in -losing track of recording time stamps…
If only we were dancing or at some place where the right brain was in use – I could handle moving, dancing on this buzz. But conversing on it felt like a chore. My processing felt delayed and I hated it. Am I slurring? No you’ve had 1/2 a beer. Can they tell I’m a light weight? I think you’re on a compulsive loop so just let it go by. Do my eyes look weird? Am I over-trying? Is anybody mad at me? Like on Earth? Is anybody against me on Planet Earth? F&ck. I want my laser mind back. Pay attention. But how am I to be mindful when Mindfulness is now cheapened? Pay attention to the cheapness. Yes. Acceptance. Not loving this.
Now I’m drinking faster then the others. But only slightly. Almost to the end of the glass. I’m nostalgic. Not depressed. This is not giving me contentment.
Drinking is letting go of me. I still want drinking to want to be with me even if I choose not to be with it.
And This is only 1 mindful BEER? I don’t want another. That’s great but it also sucks.
THE GUARANTEE of a good time has gone? BUT maybe this will still be ok with dancing. I’m not giving up.
There was never a time for me when to Drink was to Die. Not in the sense of shuffling off this mortal coil.
But when I read this post back, I count several other types of death or loss.
They are not as shattering as they once were. Before There was loss of money, credit score, clothes, social decorum, expensive jackets, cars, wallets, phones, IDs, trust, bile, days, beauty, collagen, confidence, months, years.
This time the deaths were gauzy. Softer. And YES I had a hangover. A sliver of one; sluggish, drained.
I landed safely. I stopped at 1. I did not suffer or torment myself afterwards, I did not make it BAD. Absolute. Tip: when you don’t have the depression, shame and intolerance with your own behavior, it grants a powerful feeling of choice.
Preference has its own kick.
With all this said, If I had been more physically hungover, I wouldn’t have been able to fight the depression and sadness. I can’t fight 3 beers and its aftermath. Not with all the self talk, life coaching, thought models and IV drips in the world. The dopamine withdrawal is REAL and I’ll go down.
QUESTION: I had successfully lost 40 lbs or more through mindful eating, although we did not call it that in the 90s. Could I do this with drinking?
ANSWER: YES . But the thrill of Victory is muted. The Gauze.
I talk a lot about processing feelings but Grief is its own creature. Its is a beautiful beast.
To Those of us that have picked up addictive or compulsive behavior to avoid trauma or grief:
I congratulate you. You are here. You chose life.
BINGE-ING on alcohol and food was an effective dam for avoiding the flood of grief.
Now I don’t really binge on those behaviors much, so guess who’s come a knockin!
The ignored, avoided, neglected Grief of My father’s death.
It’s not waiting any longer. After 22 years, it’s summoning me.
In my experience, Grief is a Russian Doll in Reverse. It gets bigger, not smaller, as you close in on its heart.
And as pictured below, the Heart has eyelashes.
TIP: Before you get to the Main Event of Grief, you may have to butter up the gatekeeper dragons.
The dragons that guard grief are just doing their job.
So I dropped my armor and told these Gatekeeper dragons that they were fierce and stunning. I vowed that I would follow them on social media.
I gave them my attention. I thanked them. They ate that up. They didn’t leave. But they laid down. I walked past them freely.
Then I saw Grief. She had been waiting for me in this bathtub for all that time.
And she still looked fine AF.
As she creeped into my body, She was gentle but HEAVY. Heavier than she looked.
I saw the year 1996 when my father got diagnosed with lung cancer (non smoker) and how that set me off on a path of multi-layered addiction. I saw that I had lost faith in the God of everything at that moment. I remembered how my Binging and OVEReating stopped and my UNDER eating began. I was unable to take anything in. This was my illusion of control.
With the goth super-model of Grief still swirling inside me, I discovered that under the water of sadness, there was ANGER.
She knew that revelation was enough for today and swam out of me.
Grief told me, though not thru words, that she’d see me Tuesday.
So I continue my grieving process in my time. I write, laugh, compliment dragons. Luckily I have a lot of free time. Because I don’t think this is something you can short-cut. Do I wish I would have done this earlier? Absolutely.
I now have a standing appointment with Grief. It’s there and there is no cancelation fee. Make yours today!
Some days are “tra lala lala” effortless. Some are “Are you fu@king kidding Me!?”
When dealing with the latter, I don’t fall victim to immediately gratitude journaling. I need a bridge and a guide to Kumbaya. OR a river, a creek , a balloon, whatever. I need help with the transport feeling to get me to gratitude. I can’t Time Warp or Wrinkle in time there. This bridge step is un-skippable when Im ultra agitated or sad. I cant be all like, “Presto! Silken Scarves of gratitude surround me now!”
If you are glaring at an Instagram picture of your friend holding a yoga pose and you think “I believe in Peace Bitch”. Know that :
1) Tori Amos says that same sentence in The Waitress and 2) I’m with you.
So I grant ye permission not to be grateful for 20 minutes or 20 days. You will most likely slide into home plate of grateful much more easily without the pressure.
Take however long it takes to do what you need to do to move in the direction of true North/Namaste.
This bridge could be: bitching, writing, feeling, scream-singing, punching, crying, cleaning, smooshing, chopping, swaying, hanging, breathing, dangling, kicking ,sleeping, gerund, gerund, gerund.* It could be none of those.
Who says you have to end up at a journal unless that works for you.
Some call this acceptance, but to me it seems a titch more dynamic than that word.
Oh God. Feel your feelings. Sort of Ewww. Gross in a from the neck up psuedo-spiritual way and just cliche gross but it Fu&*ing works. I have proof it leads to relief. Empirical data, repetition.
Ive been using this quarantine to soften or let go of some behaviors. Delivering my mind and body from habits is ALOT easier when I face the feelings that hide under the habit. Focusing on emotional waves is also a lot easier when I’m laid off and have my head all to Myself. I have the luxury of being an NON essential worker.
This type of ferocity ala Shirley MaClaine is a good illustration of how I binge drank .
Intention: Binge feelings with same ferocity in which I binge drank.
When I “process” my emotions, my burning desire to buffer with Food/alcohol/control/drugs/sex/shopping/add your own fades away. FADES AWAY. Not will power, white knuckling or pretending it ‘s not there , but a cleared feeling of “I can take it or leave it”.
If I am consistent in my attempts , I can actually get a HIT off the release.
There are varying methods with which to do this and I have tried a lot of them. I’ll list some of them at the bottom of this post.
What seems to work best for me is :
locating the physical sensation in my body and allowing the story to unfold -the who or what the why, the feeling – is it Sadness , Grief, Shame, Or I don’t know but It sucks.
Letting myself tell the story and feel the feeling . This is no time to be the ethereal witness, be your kid self. for 1-5 minutes. I set a timer.
Drop the story (the aforementioned who, why ,what ,where) and focus on the visceral energy or weight of the feeling. 3-10 minutes depending on how much time you have.
Feel the feeling in the body. Is is a fat slug sitting in your throat? Or maybe a cuter animal in your Solar plexus? Your stomach? is it leaking out of our eyes? Whatever the weight or energy of it is, give it its due. Ignore it at your own peril. This feeling is a Golden Ticket to more freedom.
The sensation will unravel or it wont . Either is ok.
This can be exhausting but not as exhausting as binge drinking, 3 day hangovers, and years “lost” to inertia and fear paralysis.
I’m doing this to experience more joy not be “nice’ or “good’.
Here’s a list of some techniques , articles, ideas that have helped and if you can afford a coach or therapist – all the better!
The last time I drank alcohol was not spectacular or worth a short film. On March 19th when The mayor issued the order that non essential workers in my city go home, I was not unhappy. The part time job was a necessary drudge that I showed up for the best I could. Let me also say I have known of no one in my small circle who has died or been catastrophically affected physically by COVID 19.
Loss. Grief. Fear. Whose is greater? Whose wins? Stop grading and take care of your own first. It counts. If you’re in your 50s and you’re trying to reconcile crepe-ing arms OR you are 40 and going through a loss of a parent OR you are 15 and getting bullied or you’re 55 and getting bullied OR your Public identity is OVER because of COVID 19, the body isn’t making note of the specifics. Do you think your adrenal glands, cortisol levels, limbic system are all talking to each other going , “Actually, lets just fire at a level 2 Fear because she should be over this shit”. No. The monster under the bed is REAL to your body. Whatever age or whatever longitude and latitude coordinates you occupy. #Compareanddespairanddonothing.
When the Pandemic order was issued , I hadn’t had a drink for 20 something days. I could just take it or leave it. My desire for alcohol was further lifted and I continued not giving a shit about it (meaning booze) UNTIL the beginning of May. Then I thought, I’ll have 3 beers. This was not a secret plan it was a declaration. An experiment. I was not “supposed” to be sober. Nobody but me was judging/not judging . I walked and bought a 6 pack of Racer 5 IPA from the liquor store. I still have the receipt.
Ensconced at home, couched with my partner, I took a sip. This doesn’t taste good. My body doesn’t like it. SIP. Its like too bubbly? But I really want this to work. SIP. Sort of tastes toxic. SIP. Its not that bad. SIP. It will be fun to host virtual game night with my friends tonight. REST-no sips. Game Night began, the sipping tripled. I was chasing the dream.
Later at 11:20pm after 4-5 beers and an Ativan , I laid on my carpet and drooled. Alone. My boyfriend was snug as a bug in bed. There had been no judgement or altercation. I imagined myself floating away and wanting to sink into the carpet ala “Trainspotting” This isn’t me. This is a sort of death but I’m not ready. I knew what I had to do. Purge and Primp.
I went to the bathroom and induced regurgitation. ACID extravaganza. The next day was lost to physical pain but I didn’t really experience the second arrow of shame which was UNUSUAL.
I’ve gone 5 years and 9 months and 2 months and 6 months without drinking in in AA but the large percentage of that time just felt like I was holding my breath and waiting for a reward from GOD.
On May 2nd, There was a monster under the bed that I skated over and I drank. I’m psychologically astute enough to know I don’t just drink because …whatever. I have no external problems compared to some and maybe a lot compared to the other “some”. As a human (most likely), I have the ability to face fear/loss and the requisite emotions that tap my on the shoulder and then throw bricks if I don’t pay attention.. If I stop grading and comparing my fear, “problems” then I can see them or it. CLARITY. Ohhhh!!! Fiona Fear how are you? Come to Tea this afternoon ( Buddhist reference I know) and I can say “FIRE, walk with me!” (David Lynch credit) Let’s be partners. If not friends then fellows ? fiends? In my experience , this lessens the burden and I incrementally lose the desire to drink , or to (insert buffering behavior)one friendly fear fire at a time. This is ACCEPTANCE and ACTION.
Now here I am with choice. Day 23 goal 30 virtual meetings in 30 days . MY preference is to be alcohol free NOT sentenced by shame to be alcohol free. Will I stay the course? I don’t know. I don’t have to know. I’m not throwing AA out but I’m adding Kevin Griffin and Belle Robertson and Recovery Elevator and this blog. I’m tracking Fiona Fear on an excel spread sheet.