Low day


Today I hate everything and I’m desperate for escape.  The work situation of a few days back has blown back up again, and is dragging to the surface a whole bunch of issues from a few years ago – not that they were buried, but they’re right at the forefront of my brain at the moment, and they basically boil down to Being A Big Fat Failure At Life.

I’m headachey. I got nauseated on the bus this morning for absolutely no discernable reason except to remind myself that being nauseated in the mornings is thoroughly unpleasant.  I’m liable to burst into tears at any second and hormones aren’t to blame.  I’m stuck in a job I hate and I don’t have enough money and I don’t know how to find something better and also I’m pretty convinced that if I tried to get something better I’d be turned down and if I wasn’t turned down I’d be awful at it and get fired.  So that’s obviously a fun set of beliefs to be dragging around.

I’m eating the way I drank, and obsessing about it the same way.  Every afternoon on my way home I think do I have any snacks in?  Should I stop?  And then feel relief when I remember the bag of nuts hidden at the back of the cupboard.  YES, REALLY.  Because obviously drinking was giving me something that I’m trying to replicate as closely as possible, which is – I think – creating a bubble of escapist isolation.  I don’t want to go out and run, or craft, or write, I want to forget myself.

My favourite way to drink was this: cask of wine, so I didn’t have to think about the level or count glasses, and a good book, and solitude.  And I’d just read and drink and read and refill and read and drink.  And the world would be reduced to that, and that was exactly what I craved.  Not excitement, not glamour, not socialising.  Just me and my story and my drink, the latter turning off the ‘me’ part so that I could become fully immersed in the story and nothing else.

Obviously that didn’t always work.  When it did, it was far more about the power of the story than the alcohol.  I didn’t need wine when I spent entire days lying on my stomach on my bed as a child, travelling with Bilbo Baggins or Mary Lennox.  But when I was a child, solitude was an abundant resource.  Now it is scarcer than sleep, and I’m driven to creating an illusion of being alone.  So I lock myself in the same bubble; book, snacks, couch.  And it doesn’t work, and I’m getting fatter and unhappier.

Today I’m just so disappointed in myself.  Why can’t I advocate for myself better.  Why don’t I have the discipline to go for a run, to apply for a more satisfying job, to take out my patchwork again.  Or run a scented bath, or book a massage, or paint my nails or just STOP EATING CRAP AND BEING CRAP.

I didn’t expect my life to become magic when I stopped drinking.  I did expect to rediscover hidden depths of motivation and discipline.  Turns out, they were never there anyway.

And yes, of course, therefore I’m thinking what difference does it make if I drink again?  A Facebook thread between the members of my book group hit me hard yesterday.  One friend posted that she was enjoying the book but very tired all the time at the moment.  First reply; a photo of a glass of white wine by an open fire; ‘I decided to stop work at lunchtime today and pop a bottle!’.  Third friend, who wasn’t drinking at all last time I saw her, and in fact could tell us how many days she’d been sober, so I did wonder whether she was sober-sober or just taking a break after a particularly embarrassing incident back in January; a photo of a glass of red wine.  Fourth friend, who I gather from the background has been taking a break from drinking for reasons I don’t know, posted that ‘not drinking is pants, I think I’ll give in tomorrow’ and then posted her own glass of wine an hour later, to choruses of ‘good for you, lasting ten days, enjoy the wine!’.  Ouch ouch and ouch.  If there’s something worse than watching people drink guilt-free, it’s watching people go back to drinking guilt-free.  And obviously it’s just Facebook and who am I to know those women’s stories.  But still.

I’m rehearsing the lines I’ll use to the people I told I wasn’t drinking, to sell them on the fact that I am again, but no big deal, you know, it never was forever and there’s no harm in an occasional Friday night glass of red, right?  And underneath that is the seething mass of something else: well, you suck anyway.  Might as well drink.


11 thoughts on “Low day

  1. Oh dear. Well, look, firstly, I understand on all counts, I really do. From the using alcohol to escape your own thoughts (self) to the pangs over other people drinking guilt-free (or so it seems but how are we to know, really?) to planning an escape route from sobriety. I have ‘come out’ more and more about not drinking and friends are more and more used to it, such that after one recent group conversation about it I had this momentary but extreme sense of panic about how I would manage ever going back to it ‘socially’ if I wanted to without a whole lot of questions and concerns (actually I fear I’d just do it secretly as a result which could be all the worse, really). But I digress…

    I was also thinking just this morning about how a lot of my drinking and weed smoking was possibly to do with coping with my inherent anxiety (and consequent low self esteem/worry/fears). How I used substances as a way to escaping, sort of inside myself, and tuning out all the anxious, low, bad thoughts/feelings. And it sounds like perhaps it is much the same for you. Drinking or smoking pot do create an escape hatch. The problem is, with that short-term payoff we lose so much else and we gain bigger longterm negative consequences. Might as well drink anyway? Ok, but what about the negative, crappy things that led you here? Might as well embrace them too? Will that really make you feel better about yourself, job, finances, weight etc?

    Here’s what I predict will happen if you drink again: You may feel some fleeting sense of relief, euphoria and escape (or you may not, because really there’s nothing like trying to get sober that can kill a good buzz – take it from one who’s gone back to drinking and sometimes found it incredibly anti-climactic) and then you will feel disappointed in yourself, even more like you’re just crap, and then hungover and all the bullshit and crappy eating that goes with that and wondering what now. It won’t actually change anything.

    I also know what it’s like to feel like “I’ve quit drinking, where are all these miraculous changes I was promised???!!!” Where’s my reward?! Well, all I can tell you, from someone who’s been at this a bit longer, is that sometimes not drinking – and feeling like crap and hating yourself for it – is its own reward. And also that those changes do come but they aren’t necessarily the big, shiny, losing 10 kilos, getting a new dream job, running a half marathon things that we dream they might be. They’re things like feeling a quiet pride in yourself, being more present with your kids, going to a yoga class at 9am on a Saturday morning, being more thoughtful to friends and family, having the energy to start making teeny tiny changes that add up cumulatively over time to bigger things.

    Here’s what I propose: Aren’t you at about 60 days now? Why don’t you tell yourself that you are going to commit, completely, to 90 days or 100 days or six months – whatever seems doable right now. You can reassess after that. Alcohol will always, always be there. But for now you need to give it more time and not be so godamn hard on yourself.

    Also, do you have a smart phone and would you like a sober texting buddy lifeline? Is so, email me (onetoomany1 at gmail), if you can install What’s App we can text for free. Or just text. We are in the same time zone after all.


    Lilly x

  2. well…

    I am just gonna put a big DITTO on Lilly’s post, because that was well said.
    A little more time, a little more time…it does get better and better. And, like she said, all the rewards are not big shiny things, that are small and cumulative…one day you realize that you aren’t that piece of crap that you thought you were and it’s so lovely, truly.

    It’s time to “not be so goddamn hard on yourself” (well said Lilly).
    You are doing great. We are all rooting for you. Take a break from FB..it helps early on, especially with drinking friends. Nothing they do is that entertaining, or true, probably..give yourself a break.
    This is the time we treat our sobriety a the tiny little egg that it is, so easily cracked. Protect it at all costs, that is your only duty now.

    Sending support and love your way. You can do this!

  3. Sending my personal love for you! I know the place you describe and it sucks. Ride it out and you will feel centered again. ((hugs))

  4. No words of wisdom, just a note to say I understand drinking to blot out the self loathing but it really only makes it worse. I’m sorry you’re feeling so down about yourself. It’s painful to read; it must be awful to live. I see so much beauty and strength in your posts. I hope you will find a way to be kind to yourself.

  5. Life can suck and I do sympathise when we seem to be swimming through custard – “thinking I might as well drink” is something I practiced for many years. Today, I’m 62 and 18 months sober and life is great. I sincerely regret I did not tackle my alcohol problem years ago. I come from a long line of problem drinkers yet, today I live in the moment, enjoying my family with no hangovers and no guilt. I want my grandchildren to be proud of me and my actions. Drunken silliness and slurring is an embarrassing memory.

    Yes, at times I would love a glass of wine and it sucks when I explain to friends and family I no longer drink. I too, am tackling my food issues practicing low carb seems to work and also cutting out sugar – contact a friend, a neighbour and suggest a walk. The company of others combined with sunshine always brings a smile and is good for the waistline.

    When that little thought flutters into my mind, I remind myself just how terrible I felt when I drank. I cannot go back because I know I possibly may not be able to crawl out of the darkness again. You have made such a great commitment – 60 days. Stand tall, be strong, smile and say, “yes, I will do 61 plus!”

    We all have those “want to kick the cat moments”. Today, I think suck it up and get on with life. Tomorrow will be better. In the meantime, reach out to your family, friends and fellow bloggers. Be proud of yourself and look at what you have achieved in the last 60 days.

    • Oh, goodness, Andrea, you gave me a heart attack. That’s my mother’s name, and if it weren’t for the fact that she turned 63 last month… Thank you for sharing, it helps enormously to know you’re all out there, doing great things. And congratulations on 18 months!

  6. What an amazing post. I get that feeling. I write obsessively, all the time, so I don’t have to stop and experience that feeling more intensively. Thank you for your brilliant writing, which I am reposting today xxx

  7. Excellent post and comments. I love the part about rehearsing your lines to tell folks about drinking again. I so have that in my head. Yeah, I hear myself say, “It was never intended to be long-term, just a little personal experiment.” And I love that there are people here who call us out on being so damn hard on ourselves. Surely a common core to this whole thing. Thanks to all for this lovely read. I needed it this morning.

  8. “I did expect to rediscover hidden depths of motivation and discipline. Turns out, they were never there anyway.”

    Holy shit! I was beginning to think this was only me! I thought I’d get the back yard in order, keep a cleaner house, do all kinds of things…instead I read or sit here at the computer while my guy watches tv. So it seems I am not one of the ‘naturally motivated/disciplined’ ones, either.

    I *do* know, though, that drinking won’t help. This last fall off the wagon led to pain in my side, a jacked-up right leg (seems the booze aggravates it), feeling like I gained about 20lbs (I could barely fit into my fat pants!)…

    I’m just trying to accept me as me. Plain and simple. And stop judging myself in comparison to others. I think more than anything, that is the lesson I’m meant to learn from drinking and not-drinking.

    Also, I’ve been eating too much as well. I think we’ll get over that eventually.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s