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!
My Benzo Taper is happening again. 2nd public try. Come with me! This isn’t the first or last time I’ll write about it And each little benzo death deserves some grief and celebration.
Heres an excerpt of my withdrawal symptoms from a previous blog entry in June (4 months ago)
Weeping uncontrollably when I forgot my phone – I know my normal weep quotient and this is WAY more bio chemically feeling than that.
Overwhelmed and shaky at the thought of driving 5 minutes to retrieve said phone.
An almost constant feeling of overwhelm and helplessness.
headache and facial pain including teeth.
A feeling of thickness like I’m stuffed with cotton candy. Great for Body Dsymorphia.
Pretend Sciatic pain hamstring area that goes away ( I don’t have Sciatica)
Twitching , most notably bouncing my feet to the beat of benzos
Restless Leg Syndrome
Insomnia PALOOZA like needing 5 hours in bed before I fall asleep
Compulsive loops of mind sharking around for mistakes or wrongness
I am now at the same level of taper I was in June 2020. So far this taper’s softer and gentler. I still have the compulsive loop think but I can recognize it. As in “I see you Mara” Here are the things Im doing differently this time:
Watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race because its now available to stream on Prime. I know. Im only on Season 2.
upped my Prozac 10 mg by Drs orders. And by Dr , I mean a Psychiatrist not a Primary care Dr.
Exercising or moving once a day even if only for 15 minutes
Now I’m no stranger to withdrawal or Drag . One of my dearest Friends is in drag any chance he gets. And a member of my now defunct theater company wrote the wonderful play “Anything” and the movie is on Showtime.
But “Drag Race” is a new frontier for me. I also had no idea how deftly Ru can go from Fierce to Compassionate giving Alanon-ic and CODA realness.
You mean The Queen and her Queens could have saved me back in 2009? When it aired. 11 years I’m sad that I couldn’t afford a larger swath of cable channels then.
I was laying out in the sun with my new, shiny friend Jen at 16. She looked at my legs.
“You don’t have any saddlebags”, Jen pronounced ,amazed.
What were they? She showed me hers. Oh. Didn’t look like much to me but I guess they’re not desirable?
Jen was blonde, tan, native Californian, more experienced. Christy Brinkley tone. Her parents let us drink and then helped me throw up over the side of the boat. They were so cool.
“Do you diet?” DIET. What was that?
Wow, now she was introducing me to a whole adult world full of saddlebag fear and diet culture. Calories and counting. I loved counting. It’s comforting.
I had friends. I was getting tan and I had no saddlebags! It was 1984 and the pants were full-on pastel at Contempo Casuals. Jelly shoes were light as a feather. I knew the words to both Synchronicity I and II. 16 and blissful.
I had just moved from Michigan where I was bullied and unpopular, at least by the end. Now I was laying next to my empress friend (who had a college-aged boyfriend )on her boat in Catalina. So, So stoked!. To make her laugh I would get buzzed and imitate the aerobics instructors on the “20 minute work out”. Her boyfriend laughed too. What a man. Los Angeles, where have you been all my life?
4 years Later.
I live at home and am 20 years old. I’ve gone from a 114 lb naturally slim girl to a compulsive overeater who is nearing 150 lbs. I’m agoraphobic. The gaze of anyone as I walk across a crosswalk hurts. My 50 -something year old mother is sleeker than me. Nothing fits. My body is not mine.
I have a bathrobe thats nubbly and Navy blue. It has red braided waist tie. Sometimes I tie it slightly below my waist,80s style. This Bathrobe is all that fits. Sometimes I would belt it with my fathers tan leather belt to feel more secure. It’s the only piece that doesn’t rub up against the folds of fat and remind me physically of my size.
I eat whole loaves of bread with cold, Imperial margarine in a fever. I don’t even like bread. And it was Roman Meal for god’s sake. I cannot stop. I rabidly eat pasta which tastes like nothing and I chase the hope of it tasting like something. I grab hold of flesh around my body often, pull at it, and visually measure what is me and not me. I have friends but don’t want to go out. None of them have my problem.
I was hurting myself with food. With distention and paralysis. I did it over and over again.
There’s a lot of reasons why I did it. None of those reasons are: “Everyone gains weight as they get older”. I do not have any molestation in my history. I built a house of extra in that bathrobe. I needed protection. It was not safe out there. I did not belong anymore.
If you are here. If you are suffering and repeating this pattern compulsively, it can change. I am proof. The whys may be different for you. They may be worse. My compulsive overeating was traumatic but not special and it’s mainly OVER. It taps me on the shoulder sometimes but it’s mostly out of the picture.
I remember listening to a cassette tape by Marianne Williamson circa 1990 about the power of food and its ability to physically transform the body. That’s different in comparison alcohol or heroin. Those drugs may string you out, hag you up and kill you too. But they don’t have the power to multiply you by a quarter or more of your mass. FOOD. Potent and Powerful. This nourisher and nullifier.
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.
I’m clear. I’d prefer to not to drink . Im 52. Female. I’ve tried AA and it worked for me ( just like drinking WORKED for me ) until it didn’t. AA was a beginning and Im still participating intermittently. I still encourage trying AA if you’ve never been sober. Its not AA or blank … for me ITs AA and blank, blank , and maybe blank for me … Im doing 30 meeting in 30 days right now because in this pandemic-ly virtual world, Its easy for me.
This first entry is ranty. Maybe future post will be solution-y
This is an anonymous slightly screaming blog to track the terrain that awaits me in the alcohol free unknown without trying to be a popular/parrot/good AA. Since 2008, Ive collected 7.5 years of sober time (but EEEEK not consecutive sober time) THIS AMOUNT OF TIME COUNTS.
I am really at odds with the idea of “losing time” or “starting over ” as a NEWCOMER after a RELAPSE/slip.
Any time I’m NOT using booze to buffer a difficult feeling or life situation , its a WIN. I don’t agree with the word relapse. I don’t agree that you have to destruct and recreate from the bottom up and tearfully admit in a pseudo humble way That you are a newcomer again if you have already lived life sober for a time. You’re NOT a fucking Newcomer. All of the gut level “knowing” and experience you gleaned up until now now now is part of the recovery trajectory, it’s not blotto’d out because you drank again. It’s cumulative. Every part of my story is needed. My relapses up until now have only enriched and enlivened my WHY for CHOOSING to move towards an alcohol free or MOSTLY (Im shooting for 87%) alcohol free rest of life. Can I navigate the world and especially a POST pandemic world without the sheen of alcohol. I want to try it. Its a game. A Badass courageous game. I’ll be happy if i get 15% more sober time under my belt by the end of the year.