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.
This pandemic flavored sobriety has its perks. I can hunker down and withdrawal/taper, go on crying and laughing jags without a major audience.
But oh Boy, the Junior High fears that fire up are debilitating. Tapering of Benzos combined with being in quarantine has been heightening recall of Junior High survival skills. But then again maybe Junior High survival skills are especially being echoed right now with the wolves of divisiveness constantly nipping at our screen doors.
It was 1982 and I was the new kid in school. In Michigan . I was tan (just having moved from San Diego where I was a winner of several Disco dance contests) Before major boobs, Before fear of the Male Gaze.
When incest just meant romance in a V.C. Andrews book.
Fear is Fear is Fear , like I’ve mentioned in the post “Stop Grading your Problems”– your adrenal glands, cortisol levels, limbic system are all talking to each other the same way whether you are in danger of falling off a cliff or you’re 11 years old being terrorized by the girls in your new 6th grade class. It shock/hurts. It feels like poison.
Of course I had lied before. But conforma/lying really escalated for me during this time. The type of lies that ensured my safety and ascent on the Junior High Popularity scale. This scale is now called Facebook /social media platforms.
Back to Ms. Kinzers class in 1982 in pasty Michigan. First day. New Girl – Tan – Only the nerd girls are nice to me.
After class 2 boys approach me. One is a total fox , one his sidekick (unfox).
The Fox: “What kind of music do you like ?”
Tan me: “The Village People”
The UNFOX: “Wrong ! ( makes sound of buzzer) You are so moded right now.”
What is moded? I guess Im not in Disco San Diego any more.
The UNFOX: “Disco is Dead “
FU&K ME! I have ruined my chances for favor with anyone ever again. Hello 12, Hello 13, Hello shame.
Tan trembling me: “What kind of music do you listen too?”
The Fox: “The Knack, Billy Squire”
Tan Trembling: ” Oh yeah, I know them.”
The Fox: “Yeah?”
I don’t think the Fox is totally done with me yet.
But they left me. Maybe the word “spaz” was uttered. Their exit is blurry due to my Caucasian flush.
Lesson learned. Do not lead with what you believe. It could get you shunned.
I’ve gotten very versed at the different types of crying. From the slight leak to keening.
Today is Day 30 for alcohol-free ness. Day 4 for benzo withdrawal.
I wont go into all of the cries in my collection. At least I can suggest some Melodic backdrop to enhance the experience for your own slight leaking or full on keening.
1) Johanna -from Sweeney Todd
2) Old Man River -from Showboat
3) Some Enchanted Evening – from South Pacific
4) Camera -REM
5) Unlovable – The Smiths
6) Perfect Circle -REM
7) We Kiss in a Shadow – from The King and I
8) Climb Every Mountain-from The Sound of Music
9) Insider – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
10) Track of Time – Anna von Hauswolff
Im not new to sobriety but I am newish to not really caring how many times a day I weep. To be transparent, this acceptance started way before the pandemic and has only served me.
I know about the stacked cry/or Pyramid cry . This one starts with catching myself in the mirror and appears to be about jowls or some compartment of my body but then I ask , “”wait what’s really going on there?” Breath. Tears are released and so are Tiers of the cry.
Here is a cry pyramid I experienced lately. Its starts out relatively banal and dysmorphic then levels down to more acceptable crying material.
Body image- usually some version of “you are UGLY”
grief over being so risk averse and creating a smaller life. Shame.
friends, time and experience lost over alcohol abuse/anxiety/fear/
A general feeling that Enchantment is gone and nothing joyful ever happen again
Biochemical release or the Ativan Cry
I thought I was going to be on Broadway now Im 52. I better get on “Real Housewives of Anything” and become in influencer so I can go to Broadway by the time Im 55.
There is no Broadway right now
Im not a a housewife
Oh sh*t, Covid 19
My Father is dead.
I drank thru 9-11
I ate thru Rodney King
Where is my tribe?
Im not safe
Nothing is safe
Plant Based Spiral -Animal keening
I miss my father
My mother is starting to forget things
Im not hungover
smidge of compassion
So I have to parent myself now
RESULT- window of heart opened, smaller pores, and always awe and awwww of music.
I am titrating off Ativan under a Doctors plan. I took 2mg at night for sleep.
And when I say for sleep , since I don’t mix it with alcohol now, it is ostensibly for sleep . I do long for the days of the effortless, elegant Ba-Bye at 2 mg. I started out years ago (maybe 10) with a .5 mg “when needed” and have become dependent on a larger dose. Its hard to say goodbye to the wafting hush. Yes, I know there are way worse cases. I remember Janice Dickinson on “Celebrity Rehab” But this is my case. Sharing this to help with accountability.
I have titrated down from 2mg to 1.5 mg. And now, the headaches and trouble falling asleep. The spin in the head that is great for writing for not for trying to reach alpha and eventually delta brainwaves.
On this sobriety experiment (day 24) , I have not been a daily or weekly drinker so I know it’s not the alcohol withdrawal. I have no clue whether this a high or low dose of opiate. I sense myself looking for permission to have withdrawals since i have it “pretty good”
I took a Tylenol last night to eradicate the headache. Is this even worse ? The lesser of several evils?
I had been going to sleep at 9:30PM and now am not falling to sleep until 1 AM or 2 AM. I am astonished at what a difference the absence of .5 mg makes .
I will now scour the other Benzo related blogs and compare my experience, dosage, and results.
On the flip: I am meditating twice a day, exercising (dance) 2-3 times a week and am losing my sweet tooth a little.
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.