I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in 9 days. Aside from some extreme irritation in the first few days it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I anticipated based on how many times I couldn’t go a single day without drinking. Every time I planned to not drink from Monday through Thursday I would tell myself on Monday that I only had to take it one day at a time.
So I would go get some beer because I can always make a healthy choice tomorrow. What’s one beery Monday? What’s one more day when you’re taking everything one day at a time? It was harder facing a day without alcohol than it’s been facing three months without it. Suddenly the day to day isn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but now thinking about how long three months is I think I’ll be dead before I get to the end of it.
It all comes down to how you frame it.
I don’t care what anyone full of addiction rhetoric believes, I can tell you that this alcohol thing is not at all the same thing as nicotine was for me. My body craved nicotine as much as my mind needed it. People married to the usual (and somewhat limited) language of chemical dependency can make anything into a negative addiction. So I’ll tell you what I’m really addicted to:
I’m addicted to emotional stability (relative to the instability of my natural brain state) aka SANITY. I’m not addicted to Celexa or Welbutrin, I’m addicted to the way it makes it possible for me to function without killing myself or going off the mental deep-end every other day. I’m addicted to how it makes it possible for me to feel good more often than I feel like a piece of trash. That’s an addicting feeling.
I’m addicted to routines that make me feel safe and give framework to my daily life so that I know what to expect, what to look forward to, and to eliminate surprises as much as possible. This includes routines of comfort and the evening routine is the most important one of my day and it has to allow my brain to turn off as much as possible.
I’m addicted to writing every single day and in many different outlets such as my blog which serves as my personal journal, my private personal journal that no one sees, facebook, fiction, and emails. I love emails. I could write all day long and still have shit in my brain looking for a way out. Lists are another favorite outlet.
I’m not worried about tonight. I’m not worried about tomorrow. I’m not worried about next week. I can’t say how it will be if the universe throws another brick through the window of my hopes and I’m not going to sit around worrying about it. I don’t believe I can socialize around people drinking alcohol any time soon. I’m not craving alcohol, my body doesn’t want it. I’m not kidding. My body hasn’t wanted it for quite a while. My mind wanted it but it has let go because now I have a new routine.
I drink two cups of decaf PG Tips every night with cream and sugar. Only in my blue cup. Herbal tea makes me angry because it doesn’t hit that spot. It’s just watery and insipid. I need something that HITS me. Like tanins. Like hops. I like strong drink. It doesn’t have to be alcohol but it has to have a fucking punch to it.
I’m having trouble getting to sleep which I rarely do when I drink. I’m having pretty terrible sleep. First it was because I was sick. Now it’s just how it’s always been my whole life long before I ever drank at all. No, it’s not the little bit of caffeine that is still in the decaf tea. This is my lifelong state. I don’t want to take sleeping pills (you can’t drink them) and so I will just deal. I told my mom I would try melatonin and give it at least a week to work. I haven’t done it yet but I will probably try it.
I don’t get to take this one day at a time. That’s like a frame without nails or glue.
Shit. I sat down here to say something really specific and I haven’t hit it yet but it’s time for me to get in bed and read a book and pretend to not want to sleep to psyche my body into getting sleepy to spite me. It’s never worked yet but it’s better than giving up.
I reject the usual language and the old thoughts people have about drinking, about addiction, and about habits because I’m not ready to close my mind to new language and new understanding. I reject whatever limitations people apply to me just because they think they know everything about what I’m going through. What I’ve learned is that I’m a highly underestimate-able person. So I’ve learned not to underestimate myself.
I think it all comes down to how you frame it.