Tag: sobriety

20 Days of Sobriety Left

field flowers

I have 20 days of sobriety left.  I have lost 26lbs in 70 days.  I have 87lbs left to lose.  If I lose 10lbs a month for the rest of the year I will have lost over 100lbs in one year.  I intend to try to do it.  I am aware of all the wisdom of setting realistic goals and taking things gradually.  I am also aware that losing 10lbs a month will get harder and harder every month.  The last 20lbs will probably be as hard as the first 20lbs to lose.  Just because something is hard doesn’t make it impossible.  If I end up only losing half of my complete weight loss goal in a year I’ll feel like a success.

I feel like a success right now.  Today.

But the thought of ending this year over 100lbs lighter than I started it is powerful.  To feel that much more in control of my body, my health, and my self esteem is well worth the effort to push myself hard.

What do I have to do to get there?

  • For starters, in 20 days when I allow myself to drink alcohol again I need to account for every drink and keep it within healthy bounds.  I have the inspiration now and I’ve been building will power and this will be a test.  I want my body back and I want to stay home to write and garden and cook – which I can’t do if I spend a lot of money on alcohol.
  • More whole foods.  I eat a diet with a good amount of produce but I can absolutely increase it.  I’ve been eating a lot more fruit lately.  Having more meals that consist of steamed vegetables and rice or couscous is an easy thing to do.  Less cheese, obviously.
  • Pretty soon I’m going to have to pay attention to and count how many cups of black tea with cream and sugar I consume.  I will have to consume less.  I better start developing a taste for mineral water with a splash of unsweetened cranberry juice again.
  • Exercise.  I quit the YMCA.  I have zero desire to be in a gym.  I like being mobile and I like my exercise to be accomplishing something or giving pleasure.  This is why I love walking (I’m a really fast walker) because I can look at people’s gardens and homes and a million rich details that feed my imagination and my creativity.  I don’t love riding my bicycle for endurance or racing or any athletic prowess.  I also don’t particularly love tooling around on it.  I like running errands on it.  I used to love riding it down to the Saturday Market in McMinnville to get my weekly produce.  I liked riding it to Kung Fu and to Winco and other grocery stores.  I like my bicycle riding to help me accomplish other errands.  I want to do more of that.  And gardening.  There is much yard work to do around here and often a couple of hours of gardening is enough to wear you out like a good jog.

Here’s something for me to be excited about: even if I don’t lose a hundred pounds this year – if I can just lose 60lbs I will be able to wear more regular clothes and dress more in my own style.  This would do absolute wonders for my self esteem and my motivation to keep going.  It’s been so long since I have been able to wear any clothes I didn’t make myself* and it’s been ages since I could wear anything but knits for comfort.  I CAN’T WAIT TO WEAR SOME REGULAR CLOTHES.

*I make better clothes than I can generally buy (at any weight) and I do have some nice things I’ve made that I’ll be able to wear again once I get myself down to a normal weight but I’m tired of having to make my own clothes because nothing fits well off the rack that isn’t garishly splashed with bright swirly colors and plastered with rhinestones and beads and glitter.  Not all fat girls want to look like a tacky drag queen.

It’s Only My Feet Keepin’ Me Here on the Ground

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I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in 42 days and I’ve lost 14lbs in that time which is 1lb every 3 days.  I have 48 more days of sobriety left and if I can keep up this momentum I could lose another 16lbs by then.  As of today I have *only* 99lbs to lose!  I was afraid to set any goals beyond this one but today I need to decide on the next one to reach for.  I can’t concentrate on the end game because it’s too overwhelming.

I want to thank all of you who have been supporting me and cheering for me – every time I tell you about my tiny accomplishments and you’re all there smiling and high-fiving me – it makes me feel stronger and it keeps me moving forward.  More than at any other time in my life I’m feeling the collective strength and presence of all of my friends.  If ever you’re feeling down and worrying that you’re not making any difference in other people’s lives – I can promise you that you are.  I’ve needed you all and you’ve 100% been there for me.  It almost makes me want to start dotting all my “i”s with little hearts!

The other day an acquaintance mentioned signing up for a week long bicycle ride.  He’s done it before and really loves it.  He mentioned needing to train for it.  I joked that he and his wife (who is a serious runner) are really fit, but I like them anyway.  He totally got the bantering nature of my comment and joked back that I need not worry because he’s only fit in fits.  But then his wife made this comment to me:

“Joyful movement is the secret of health.  Find Yours.”

This comment feels like a judgement.  It feels like a judgement that I’m not an active person, that I dislike exercise, that I’m lazy and that is probably why I’m obese.  “Find Yours” is a directive, an order, a comment that suggests I haven’t ever found joyous movement.  But maybe I just took it the wrong way?  Maybe she was trying to banter too.  Maybe she was just lightly joking around.  I started to take her up on it but the thought of even trying to explain how awfully judgy that comment felt to me was exhausting.  Probably because obese people like me get tired so easily?

She is one of the people who has suggested in posts and links she’s shared that diet and exercise are all anyone needs to be healthy and to discover that you never had mental illness, you just had a lack of proper exercise.

Why should I care?  Why should I let that get to me?  That comment makes assumptions about me that are either based on the fact that I’m fat or the fact that I implied I’m inactive in a joke and she took it seriously.  I care because it’s sanctimonious and judgmental and bossy.  Fuck that.  FUCK THAT SHIT.

What she doesn’t seem to know about me is pretty much EVERYTHING.  I’m not fat because I’m inactive.  I have been incredibly active most of the time I was getting fat.  I’ve been incredibly active my entire life.  But I do not LOVE exercise for its own sake and I never will.  Ever.  Sports are the most stupid thing I’ve ever wasted time on.  Dancing doesn’t speak to me in the least – except to say how it hates me as much as I hate it.  Bicycling in races or for endurance testing or for the sake of exercise is awful to me.  What a waste of my time.  Cross training?  YAWN.  Also – why do that to your body?  Why push it to its limits?  Also – I don’t want muscles that pop out of my limbs.  It’s okay with me if other people seek that hard muscle definition – I believe there’s beauty in all shapes and sizes of bodies.  But I don’t personally ever want that for myself.

You don’t need exercise to be a religious experience for it to keep your heart healthy and your muscles toned and your metabolism working.  I like to ride my bicycle to get places.  To run errands.  But more than that I like walking.  Before I broke my hip I liked jogging.  Running a marathon would ruin jogging for me forever.  I like doing my own thing.  I liked Kung Fu but it became too much for me after two years.  But what I was doing while I was getting obese was a ton of Kung Fu, riding my bicycle all over town, and walking my dog.  Anyone who thinks I arrived at this level of fat because I sat around on a couch eating junk food can shove their sanctimonious ignorance up their own asses.

Strong words?  Yeah.  What I’ve learned from being obese is that people make a lot of assumptions about you.  Maybe sometimes they’re true but I’ve learned not to make assumptions about how people end up with the bodies they have.  60lbs of my obesity I got while not drinking too much or eating too much cheese or being inactive – I got it from upping my Paxil doses to deal with an ever increasing level of anxiety.

Anxiety that a ton of exercise DIDN’T FIX OR RELIEVE IN ANY WAY.  That’s right.  To deal with my anxiety that was making it impossible to meet my son’s needs and my husband’s needs and my own needs I had to up my Paxil dose every year by 10 milligrams.  With each dose increase I gained 20lbs.

But the rest of my excessive weight was certainly from beer and there was a period of many months of forced inactivity after breaking my hip that accounted for 30lbs.  Let’s see, the original 30lbs from inactivity and increase in beer and cheese, 60lbs of Paxil weight, and then another 23 lbs from inactivity caused by constantly getting injured and re-injured when walking and bicycling, plus last summer’s increase in beer and cheese while my mom was in the hospital and my mom’s sister was forcing us to sell the house – that accounts for every pound I gained.  Almost none of those pounds were gained because I’m an inactive couch potato who hates movement.  If ever I suggest I am a lazy-ass it’s me joking at my own expense but it isn’t the truth and if you’re unwise enough to make assumptions about me I will jump down your throat.  And maybe sometimes I’m jumping the gun and  being unfair to others.  But at least I am willing to admit that my mental illness makes me very protective of myself and no matter how much good food I eat and how much exercise I get or how many psychiatric medications I take – at the end of the day I’m still mentally ill and dealing with how that makes me react to other people, how I interact with the world, and how I perceive things.

So maybe I am wrong and maybe that acquaintance wasn’t at all suggesting I haven’t already found my own “joyful movement” and maybe I’m just reacting to how much I loathe that floaty way movement-obsessed people make love to their ideals with words like “JOYOUS”.  Ugh.

I am reminded of one of the many times I was in Kung Fu class and fighting demons that no one else could see.  This one time we were supposed to improvise some imaginary fight with an opponent and make up moves and the teacher (a completely KUHRAYZAY person himself) told the class to let go of our self consciousness, to get out of the box that adulthood has imposed on us and just play like we used to do when we were kids.

I told him that adulthood didn’t impose a box on me, being born and exposed to human beings did that.

He didn’t understand.  No one in the class understood.  I wanted to cry.  What he was asking me to do is to be completely unsafe.  Kung Fu was really hard on me emotionally because it forced me to be IN my body all the time in a way I carefully avoid because being in my body completely is unsafe and leaves me open to being violated by others and having to actually FEEL the violation completely.  He was asking me to be IN my body around a bunch of sweaty strangers and trust that none of them were going to do anything unsafe or unsanctioned.  I don’t trust human beings.

I love some of them, I try to love all of them, but I don’t trust any of them completely.

The people I know who are in love with dance and sports are people in love with their own bodies and I don’t know if they just never had their bodies abused or if they did but they managed somehow to get over it?

I don’t know if I was in my body before I was seven years old but I do know that I’ve never let my spirit completely inhabit it afterwards.  When I was seven I was once held up off the ground by my hair and repeatedly punched in the stomach and body for complaining about being made to do laundry like Cinderella.  I keep thinking I’m done reliving that in my nightmares.  Nothing else bad that happened to my body afterwards ever mattered half as much.  From that moment on I was terrified to be in my own skin.  I remember one time crawling up our stairs on my hands and knees so afraid of the adult screaming at me and threatening me from behind while my mom watched.  The memory is a detached one, I watched myself crawling up those stairs in avid terror but my spirit was not in my body because it was waiting for the blows that never came.  It was waiting for whatever violence was coming to pass over my skin and be done.  It’s how I think I ended up seeing myself from a distance in general and later when I was having a psychotic break I didn’t recognize myself at all.

I remember I just felt so bad for that little girl crawling up the stairs like an animal in her own house.

From my point of view – being so completely IN my body like these dancers and distance runners are is grossly unpleasant.  To be that obsessed with your muscles and bones and skin is something I can never relate to on a spiritual level.  Kung Fu helped me  understand just how deeply ingrained is this PTSD of self.

When I walk somewhere – like when I walk through San Francisco for miles and miles I am as much in my body as I can ever be without feeling too vulnerable.  I can feel the blood rushing through my heart and I can feel my muscles stretching and it feels so good!  But I’m not completely in my bones – I’m still seeing the world go by, I’m distracted enough from my own skin that if the devil rushes in I don’t have to feel the degradation.  I love the feel of the air separating to let me through.  I move and I’m moving with the world and I’m nobody so I can’t be hurt.  I smile at the beautiful people all around me and sometimes they smile back and it feels like the sky opening up to show us how we are all related to each other on a molecular level.  That tenuous connection with strangers is what filled me with joy.  That feeling of being connected to the ground with my feet and the world with my heart is what filled me with joy.  Not the movement.

When Max was a baby I rode all over town with him on my bicycle.  We did our shopping on my bicycle and we visited friends and neighbors on that bicycle.  My child filled me with joy, not the movement.  It was insanely stressful to me to be a parent and it continues to be something I can barely handle.  But riding that bicycle with him – seeing him watch the world whizzing past him and filling him with total excitement and laughter and to see those intense eyes of his take the world in in giant gulps just as I do when I’m walking or riding my bicycle by myself – it was the counterbalance to the stress of knowing that the only way this kid is leaving the earth is through death and I’m the one who put him in this predicament.  Those days with him on the bicycle kept me fit even before I actually lost the pregnancy weight I’d gained.  My heart was fit and my muscles were strong even when I was still wearing all that extra fat.

People are so much more judgmental of my body now than they were then.

This whole question of body is complex.  My relationship with MY body is complex.

“Joyous movement is the secret to health.”

Like fuck it is.  It is one small component to health.  There’s genetics you can’t control.  There’s what you feed your body.  And there’s also the mental place you inhabit that informs your health and movement, joyous or not, can only do so much for those of us who have been wired differently and then had that wiring further fucked with through abuse and negative reinforcement.

“Find Yours.”

What makes you so sure I haven’t?  Just because mine didn’t keep me thin.  Just because mine doesn’t look the same as yours?  Just because I don’t swoon or evangelize?

I found mine a long time ago, thank you, but I don’t use precious words for what works for me.  I don’t light candles to it or preach it to others.

If I haven’t asked for your advice on how to get fit, lose weight, or manage my mental illness then don’t give me any.  I know how to ask for help when I need it and I’ll do it humbly and I’ll listen and consider what you suggest if I have asked for it.

Speaking of “movement”*, I went on a long walk in Howarth Park with my friend Bobby yesterday.  I enjoyed the chance to hang out with a friend while people watching on the paths and getting a good long walk in all at the same time.  I think Bobby might be my long lost twin.  I realized that I can take myself over there any time I like and walk by myself if I want.  I’m quitting the YMCA because no power on earth can motivate me to get into a gym right now.  I found plantain all over the park so the next time I go I’ll be bringing a little pot to put some in to transplant into my own garden.

While writing this I have decided that getting to the 23lb mark is my next goal.  That’s only 9lbs away.  When I get there I will have lost all the weight I put on the year before we moved back to California and last summer’s pounds.  I’ll be stripped down to the next level of weight I gained over the years, I’ll start working on the Paxil weight until I get down to the 30 lbs I gained when I broke my hip.  That’s how I’m going to do this – working all the way back through the increments I gained at different points for different reasons.  I will slay them each individually.

All I can say right now, today, is that for the first time in years I’m not standing in my own damn way so if anyone else tries to stand in it – I will declare war on them.  Don’t let it be you.  I know what I’m doing.  I know how to do it.  I know my own body, I know my own mind, and I know what I need to achieve my goals.  There are some things I can’t fix about myself, there are some limitations that nothing has the power to lift or change.  Not you, not magic, not religion, not faith, not food, not exercise, not love.  Some things that have  been broken can’t be fixed.

For all of my broken parts and limitations – my greatest power lies in my self awareness and self acceptance.  My greatest power has always been knowing who I AM.  Ask my mom and she’ll tell you – I was born knowing who I am.  There’s a lot of power in knowing who you are and even more when you accept who you are.  I know which voices in my head come from the megaphone of my mental illness and which come from my heart and spirit.

Don’t get in my way or I’m going to get twice as tall as you thought I was.

Don’t get in my way or I’m going to have to educate you about how we can’t both occupy the same space at the same time and if it comes to a contest between us – I am going to be the one left standing here because this is MY path, not yours.

*I’ve been trying to suppress jokes about “Joyous Bowel Movements” this entire post.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #25 and #26

whiskers

#24 Reason not to Drink: good example for kids

(#24 is brought to you by Stephanie Douglass)

“I think it is good to for my kids to see me not drink. Now it is probably not good for them to hear me complain about it, so I keep it to myself. But having the kids (now adults) not think it is totally weird that someone is not having a drink with dinner, probably not a bad thing.”

I agree that it’s good for Max to see me not drinking.  I don’t care if he hears me complain about it though.  It will show him that I’m choosing not to do something I really enjoy for the sake of my health and well-being even though I would really like to be doing it.  I haven’t complained much (mostly on Friday nights) because it hasn’t been that hard over-all.  I’m also not raving about how awesome I feel because I don’t feel very much more awesome than I did when I was drinking.

#25 Reason not to Drink: more creative ways to hang out with friends

(#25 also brought to you by Stephanie Douglass)

“I love seeing my friends and I network and attend a lot of social and work events. And yes I am able to enjoy myself with a glass of seltzer water. But really, it is not quite a great to be at a loud bar or making your way through a crowd of strangers without that glass of something nice. So I found that not drinking forced to me to find other ways to spend a little time with my friends. A quick drink after work is easy and I still love it as a fast way to spend time with people. But there are other great options. I get pedicures every month – I like nice toes, I hate sitting still while they get nice. The time spent on this grooming is more fun with someone there to talk to. It is nice to go for a run or to a yoga class with someone. Or even a walk after work instead of getting a drink. Not drinking makes me more creative in setting up mini-dates.”

I don’t really have any more reasons left not to drink.  I have been getting behind because I pretty much just keep thinking of rehashes of the reasons I’ve already stated.  My sister thinks I should keep this series up because it’s good practice.  I think I’m going to drop it because how many times and ways do I need to state losing weight as a reason not to drink?  Stephanie has a couple more but one of them is saving money which I’ve already listed as a reason not to drink.  The point of doing this exercise was to reinforce for myself the reasons I’m doing it.  What I hope to accomplish and to keep myself feeling strong about sticking to it.  Turns out I don’t really need the reminder or the reenforcement.

I’ve lost 11 pounds in 26 days.  That is what is currently motivating me.  I wanted to lose 10lbs a month for three months.  I figured that if I lost 24lbs in 3 months I’d be doing great.  At this rate I may lose 30lbs in that time.  Maybe not.  The point is – the single most important reason I’m not drinking is to lose weight.  To get my metabolism moving and to get down to where I don’t feel like throwing up when I see my image in a shop window.  I need to get down to where my body isn’t getting in my way and depressing me independently of everything else in my life.  Because when I get down to a regular size, I will not have so much trouble making healthier decisions for myself.  Self discipline becomes a matter of maintaining a feeling of well-being and I’m pretty good at that – or was – in general.  I said from the beginning that what I needed to keep me going to reach my goals was to see the scale counting backwards fast enough to feel that the efforts I’m making are making a difference.

I will keep not drinking because it’s working.  I’m not sleeping better and I don’t look better (yet) and I honestly don’t think the whites of my eyes are any clearer.  My skin isn’t clearer – as a matter of fact, those little tiny red veins all over my cheek bones that I’m pretty sure are from drinking too much have not only not gone away, since stopping drinking they have become MORE noticeable and some rough patches have developed that look like some of those little veins have burst.  Whatever.  I don’t feel more energetic or clear minded.  I don’t feel more moral or “clean”.

But my clothes aren’t quite as snug.  My face isn’t looking as bloated.

My evenings are more boring and I pee way more often than I used to.

My friend Lucille, who finds my urination habits mucho perplexing, will find herself even more confused than ever.  I can drink a few beers and not have to pee very much.  It absolutely depends on the time of evening it is.  I drink a lot of decaf coffee in the mornings and don’t have to pee too much.  I have to pee the most often when I think I won’t  be able to pee for a while, like when I’m getting on a bus with no bathroom.  Or if I know that the only bathroom that will be available to me for a couple of hours will be some nasty one in downtown San Francisco or San Rafael.  The minute I plan to get into bed I have to pee at least three times.  I can be reading in bed and already have peed three times but the minute I turn out the light I have to pee.  The thought of sitting in a movie theater for two hours makes me have to pee.  I dread having to get up and pee in the middle of it.

It’s what I call “pee fear”.  The fear of being in a situation where it will be challenging or impossible to find a place to pee.  I’m on an airplane far from the bathroom and the second everyone is seated and the flight attendants tell us not to get up – I have to pee.  It’s a psychological thing.  It’s uncomfortable and deeply irritating and causes me tremendous anxiety.

If I know I have access to a bathroom and it’s earlier in the evening, I can go long periods without having to pee.  Except now that I’m drinking 2 or 3 cups of decaf black tea in the evenings I seem to have to pee constantly.  Black tea is a diuretic.  So obviously that’s the reasonable explanation.  But I thought coffee was a diuretic too and it doesn’t have the same effect on me.

Philip tells me I can have as much decaf black tea as I want.  I find that comforting.  The only thing keeping me from having, say, four or five cups a night is that I would probably spend all night peeing if I did that.  Who has time for that?!

I haven’t been nearly as hungry since quitting drinking.  I’m still eating a really large breakfast.  But last night I had a banana, tea, and buttered toast with jam for dinner.  I thought I was hungry later so I cut some cheddar to eat with some crackers but after a few crackers with cheese I put the rest back.  Do you know how many times I have put cheese back that I intended to eat?  That’s right, never.  I did NOT put it back because I was worried about calories.  I had eaten such a small dinner that I had plenty of calories to spare to eat all the cheese and crackers and still remain in a reasonable calorie range for the day.  I just wasn’t hungry.  I didn’t feel like eating.  I wasn’t exactly full either.  I just didn’t need any food.

This is a huge and important change from the last few years.  It’s how I used to be all the time.  I have always been a hearty eater but not a person who over-eats or snacks when not hungry or eats out of boredom or stress.  Not until I broke my hip and was bed ridden and had very little to do all day for three months of immobility.  That was the first time I ever snacked out of boredom.  If only I had recognized what I was doing and where it would lead me – ach! – that is not a useful train of thought.  Anyway, I believe in eating well but not in eating when you’re not hungry.  This is the first sign of my old and previously good habit of listening to my body and following its actual needs.

It is clear that I am a beverage obsessed human being.  I must have a beverage at my side at all times or I feel unsettled and weird and unhappy.  Doesn’t have to be booze.  Long before I became a real DRINKER I drank coffee and black tea and water all day long and then herbal tea at night.  Right now I have an almost empty pint of water at my elbow.  I will drink at least two more of these, maybe three, before moving on to decaf black tea.  I think that when I’m ready to bring alcohol back into my life I will only be able to do it if I establish a routine of having maybe 2 drinks and then moving on to decaf black tea for afterwards.  A little like some people drink wine with dinner and then drink coffee afterwards.

Not drinking feels pretty normal at this point.  That happened a lot faster than I expected.  On Saturday I went out to dinner for the first time in almost a month to a place I have never gone without drinking before.  It was fine.  I can’t deny that I wasn’t very excited to go out and it wasn’t nearly as nice as when I can order a couple of pints of beer but I still had a fine time hanging out with my guys.  I drank root beer.  One of the few sodas that don’t make me want to choke.

For the first time in a long time I got back to sewing (as mentioned in a previous post) and am making swift progress on it.  It’s great to get a project going like that.  This evening I will start basting the layers together.

A freelance writing job has come up that I truly want and I’m struggling to come up with a clear way of presenting my pitch.  This would be a dream freelance gig so it’s important I do it right.  That makes it much harder to just DO IT and apply.  I have an idea and I think it’s a good one but how to package it and start it.  I have to do a sample post with pictures and I know what I want to do – so why does it feel like such a loaded thing?  I can do this!  It’s exactly what I would love to do and I believe it will work well for the site that’s hiring.  So, wish me luck.  The deadline to apply is February 14th but I want to apply in the next day or two at the latest.  I think I’ll write out some of my ideas longhand while drinking my tea tonight and watching something on Netflix.  Then tomorrow I’ll execute.  Then submit by Wednesday.  That seems like a solid plan.

So there it is.  I probably won’t keep up with the 90 reasons series unless you readers have some that you want to submit that aren’t the same as any of the ones I have already listed.  (So if you are going to submit any to me – be sure to read all 25 reasons that have already been posted).  I will continue to discuss this topic but I’m ready to talk about other things again too like writing, pop culture, politics, and things that piss me off.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #23 and #24

Lili quilt fabric

(The fabrics I am using for Lili’s quilt.  She says she likes pink, red, and purple.  I could not find any worthy purple fabric so I chose black as the third color.  I believe that all little girls benefit from having some black in their lives.)

#23 Reason not to drink: because it’s working

It’s been 3 weeks now and I’ve lost 9lbs.  That doesn’t feel like a lot compared to how much total I have to lose, but it’s down to 104lbs from 113lbs – and that’s not nothing.  I’m almost done losing all the weight I gained this summer and early fall and that feels great.  This rate of weight loss will not continue forever.  It will slow down at points (as it always does) and then pick up again.  But right now, it’s perfect.  It’s enough to keep me motivated to see this whole thing through.

#24 Reason not to drink: so I have time to make Lili’s quilt

I have a lot of quilt making to do, starting with a quilt for a little girl named Lili who is irresistible and smart and getting older every day.  Drinking beer on a vocational level takes up a lot of time.  I can’t do other things when I have a beer in my hand, at my elbow, or promising to be more delicious than, say, cleaning the house.  I want to get Lili’s quilt made before she graduates from high school so instead of drinking beer last night I cut out strips of fabric for her quilt.  Today I will start piecing them.  It feels great to have time to do other things now.*  An hour’s worth of picking up bottles of beer every night really adds up.  Think of it like this: 365 freed-up hours = 15 extra days a year to get stuff accomplished in!

*Author is in no way admitting to a belief that hours spent drinking beer are wasted.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #22

pippa portrait 2

#22 Reason not to drink: to dry Pippa out

Something many people don’t know is that my cat Pippa is a lush and I’m afraid that it’s my fault.  If only beer hadn’t been so readily available on my desk and on my side table and in my hands, she never would have gone down this rocky road of chemical dependency.  It’s so bad that I can’t open a beer without her showing up to try to lick the bottle.  She lurks around until she thinks I won’t see her on my desk obscuring half my computer screen to get at the booze.  (Pippa thinks she has powers of invisibility)  Tonight I’m not drinking because I need to show Pippa how to be a healthy cat, a cat who isn’t obsessed with beer.  It’s already been really hard on her.  She cries twice as much now and let’s me know that I’m a brutal bitch by slinking around under my desk nipping at my ankles.  Lucky for her, she’s discovered a neighborhood cat support group that meets outside our house at 10pm every evening.*  All I can do is reassure her that when she is able to drink responsibly again, the beer will come back.

*True fact.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #20 and #21

little veins

If you ever said or thought for a second that I’m a vain individual you better TAKE IT BACK RIGHT NOW.  My God!  The errant brow hairs, the eye bag, the eye veins!

#20 Reason not to drink: whiter whites of your eyes

#20 reason not to drink is brought to us today by Stephanie Douglass who says that not drinking alcohol will make the whites of your eyes whiter.  So I took a really up-close picture of my eye to see if it’s true.  It’s hard to tell because the lighting isn’t so great right now and I had to brighten it in photoshop.  The white parts might be whiter?  But damn, not drinking sure doesn’t get rid of those veins in the whites that look like tiny red rivers on a map.  Stephanie has some other reasons not to drink that I will share later this week.  Have you ever noticed that when you don’t drink the whites of your eyes get whiter?  Please share your observations here.

#21 Reason not to Drink: beverage variety

I love that there are about a billion different alcoholic beverages one can drink.  I love how much variety there is in the beverage world.  Just don’t visit that variety shit on me when I’m not expecting it, like Monday through Sunday.  I drink beer.  When I can’t afford good beer I drink cheap wine.  Then every once in a blue moon I’ll knock back a couple of gins and tonics.  That’s it.  I like that there’s variety available for OTHER PEOPLE, just not me.  So based on the concept that things you’re forced to endure that you don’t like build character (or really potent phobias and aversions) – this is an opportunity to suffer for the good of my character.  And boy is my character getting MUSCULAR.  Last night I had a glass of mineral water with Angostura bitters.  It was okay.  Then, just before I went back to drinking decaf PG Tips which is my new evening beverage that I don’t ever want to deviate from, I tried a drink Philip made that our friend Chelsea told us about: ginger ale with bitters and lime.  It was better than the mineral water with bitters.  Now I can’t find decaf PG Tips around here.  I went through a whole box of the stuff in three weeks after having had the box for two years.   So tonight I’m trying out another Chelsea recommendation: decaf Typhoo.  CAN YOU SEE MY CHARACTER BUSTING OUT OF ITS TOO-SMALL CLOTHES?!

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #18 and #19

my green stripes

#18 Reason not to Drink: method writing

Method acting is a way actors access the thoughts and emotions of the characters they’re playing.  Method writing is the same thing.  What if I wanted to write a sober character in one of my novels?  How could I access the thoughts and emotions of a sober person while experiencing the joy and comfort of drinking delicious beers?  While I have no actual intention of writing completely sober characters any more than I have the intention of writing alcoholic characters, this is a valuable exercise to expand the colors in my crayon basket.  Now when I need to access what it feels like to BE a teetotaler I will be able to draw on all the raw irritation satisfaction and discomfort well being and Friday boredom zen-like indifference to festive beverages that I previously wouldn’t have been able to FEEL in my bones and make REAL on the page.  Now it will be in my power to make YOU feel it too.

#19 Reason not to Drink: my green and white striped XL shirt 

In the world of weight loss and weight gain there is this popular idea that you shouldn’t hang onto your “skinny” clothes because it’s just going to depress you and help you FAIL at reaching your goals and will serve as a sad reminder of how you used to be in horrifying contrast to what you’ve become.  I disagree with this.  I haven’t held onto things I wore when I was really thin.  I’ll never be really thin again and that’s not what I care about or want anyway.  However, I have kept all my favorite clothes from when I was a regular sized person.  I wore XL and looked great.  I had a waist and wore stripes and felt good.  That’s what I want.  That XL looks tiny to me now.  That’s what becoming obese does to you.  I know people who are proud of being size 4 and that’s great that that number means something to you.  I know people who will not feel good about themselves until they are out of the Large sizes and down to the mediums and smalls and invisible sizes.  Not me.  Look at that shirt.  It’s so small.  The fact that I’ve kept it all these years is to prove that I have not lost hope, that I have never stopped believing that at some point I will turn things around and get back to the clothes I love wearing.  I miss wearing my striped T’s so much.  Yah, I know.  I could wear them now.  I shouldn’t care about wearing stripes at any size.  I just don’t feel right or good in them.  Even if I could find this kind of stripe in my size.  Generally in my size they’re all bejeweled or beaded or covered in weird-ass decoupage-style printing and made of creepy fabrics.

I will wear that shirt again.

It is the closest I can come to religious-style faith.

*****

As I’ve reached #19 reason not to drink I am realizing that it’s going to be very hard to come up with 90 reasons.  I think it’s going to end up being a lot of jewelry and shirts I want to wear and stupid little nothings.  I’ve already used up about 80% of the big reasons I have for not drinking for 90 days.  Ah well, it’s okay.

Something I’ve been thinking about the last couple of days is this head-space I’ve sunk into and how I find myself wanting to jump into the television to become a fictional character on Fringe (maybe one of the people who doesn’t die at the beginning of every episode) or into a book, but only my favorite ones.  I find I don’t want to waste my time on fiction that disappoints me or stresses me out because I’m already spending enough evening time struggling to get into that calm happy place that I no longer have.  It has occurred to me that as a fiction writer I should be able to immerse myself in a different place any time I want.  I shouldn’t have to depend on other people’s fictional worlds to give me the happiness and comfort I need.  I’ve thought that maybe I should go get on my laptop and write some fiction.  Write what I wish I was experiencing.  Write the space I want to be in.  But then the weight of having to make Cricket and Grey follow the path it needs to take makes me stop.  So I rewatch another episode of Fringe and worry about what I will watch when I’ve rewatched the whole series.

Artists sketch in their sketchbooks.  I know because I’m married to one.  They sketch ideas and what they see and sometimes they just doodle and the doodle becomes something more.  Writers do this too, usually, writing in a journal or a blog.  I do this all the time to empty my head.  But I don’t sketch fictional characters or scenes that aren’t part of the big project I’m working on.  But why not?  Why not do small vignettes?  Why can’t I just sketch out small scenes without it having to go anywhere in particular?  I don’t have to share it with anyone.  I don’t have to take it seriously.  Why don’t I do it?  The last time I did it it turned into a whole novel (Jane Doe) that remains unfinished.  It doesn’t have to turn into anything.  I make up my own rules.  I always have.  So I don’t know why I haven’t  been doing this.  I can rewrite the same scene over and over and over again if I want.  Not to polish it for a book but simply to continue to be in the middle of it.  Long-form poetry.

In other news, I’ve lost 6 lbs in 18 days.  I put it on facebook but I need to record it here too.  I had 113lbs to lose and now I *only* have 107lbs to lose.

Yesterday I got take out from my favorite Mexican take out place.  I got my usual plat of cheese enchiladas, beans, and rice.  I always eat the beans and rice on tortilla chips first and eat the enchiladas last.  This time I took a few bites of the enchiladas and it was too cheesy for me.  I am not evolved enough to not eat them anyway, so I did.  Then I felt too full and not good.  Like I’d had way too much cheese.  These are words I don’t understand.  This is an experience that is new and almost frightening.

Too much cheese?!

I wasn’t kidding when I said I naturally eat a lot less when I’m not drinking.  But I have never understood the concept of “too much cheese”.  Until now.  My friend Sarah thinks it may be my body being wise.  I don’t know.  I do know I haven’t had enough vegetables this week.  I’m craving them but not making them.  (Out of laziness, really, it’s been a real funk of a week.)  This coming week needs to be full of steamed vegetables.  I’ve been wanting to cut down on cheese but hadn’t had the will to do it.  Maybe it’s because I’m consuming other dairy in the form of half and half in my tea?  It’s all useless speculation.  It doesn’t really matter.  Over-thinking food in this way is irritating.  More vegetables is all I need to focus on now because I’m craving them.  And smaller portions.  Not because that’s how to lose weight (though it is) but because I don’t need as much food now.  I’m getting fuller faster because I don’t have any alcohol to soak up with it.

One last thing.  I have been unwilling to find alternative relief to my discomfort and I continue to feel unwilling.  It isn’t that there’s nothing satisfying to replace alcohol with or that there’s nothing else I could come to look forward to.  I’m not entirely sure why I am so unwilling to find new things to enjoy and look forward to.  I think part of it is that I don’t want to let myself feel comfortable.  A little self punishment perhaps?  Or maybe it’s just that I need to be in this place of discomfort because I need to really live it for a while in order to prevent myself from getting to this place ever again.  I think I have to work through some of my anger about having mental illness.  I think what’s going on is that I don’t want to mask the raw unpleasantness I’m experiencing – this return to how my head was before I drank enough beer to settle it down and keep it calm.  I think this is an important part of this whole experience.  Like going through the seven steps of grieving.  Or going through the 12 steps of AA.  This is my version.  With my rules.  I need to live in this place for a while.  Until it either resolves itself or until I’m ready to work towards resolution.  Being completely raw and unmedicated makes me a danger to myself so this here, this state is as raw as it’s safe to be.  Whatever the actual reason is, I am not ready to “fix” it or change it.

My friend Nicole has mentioned seeking sedative-like effects from herbs.  Hops came to mind.  Bitter bitter hops.  Hops are one of the key ingredients in beer and what contributes to its satisfying bite.  Long long ago, when I lived alone on Hyde street and was getting really witchy, I used to make a hops, peppermint, and honey tea to help me with insomnia.  It wasn’t very effective but it was calming.  When I’m ready to find other things to drink and look forward to – I may try using hops in a few different ways and see what comes of it.  Not a lot of other herbs have had a sedative action for me but I will consult my herbal books and see what other things I may want to experiment with.  I am interested in making bitters – but this takes some alcohol.  They are meant to be taken in very small quantities – enough to soak a sugar cube, for example.  So I may allow myself home made bitters if it seems like a good idea.  I do plan on buying Angostura bitters this weekend.  That’s made with alcohol too.  But you use only a few drops per glass so I will not be counting that as having an alcoholic drink any more than I would consider taking an herbal tincture the same thing as having an alcoholic drink.  We’ll see.  I will look into it and I will consider it.

I make up my own rules because this is my own adventure.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #17

stefon

#17 Reason not to drink: so I don’t end up like my Grandma Maryalice

I remember when I visited her in Florida by myself when I was 10 years old.  We ended up traveling with my Grandfather up to Wisconsin and I have already shared with you all the infamous meat-eating misadventure and the follow-up to that a few years later with the Pork incident.  She was a mean son of a bitch!  But I’m remembering having arrived in her condo all wide-eyed hippie child excited to be away from my parents and siblings and ready for adventure.  There was a hurricane going on, as happens in Florida, and though I’m sure it was unimpressive by Floridian standards, the palm trees outside her condo were bent almost in half and brushing at the windows.  I was impressed and increasingly more scared as the evening wore on and I had nothing to do but notice the hurricane trying to get at my bones.  You don’t show fear to people like Maryalice.  I remember her pouring drink after drink of the hard stuff and cajoling me for being afraid.  I just realized that I can’t remember her smoking but the condo must have been thick with her cigarette smoke because she smoked a ton and didn’t believe in fresh air.  I felt spectacularly unsafe with this slurring adult inside and nature acting just as drunk outside.

Her teeth, when she got up in your face with a scowl, were pretty scary.

My grandma Maryalice was a very unhappy person and she enjoyed taking it out on other people.  As you can imagine, I have no fond memories of her, much as I wish I did.  Her smoking got to her before her drinking did and she died relatively young of emphysema but I gotta tell you, I’m pretty sure her liver was done-for too.  I haven’t gotten close to her level of drinking so far, which is why she’s tonight’s reason for not drinking.  I never want alcohol to get in the way of my ability to comfort scared children or be the cause of delivering bitter misery to the people who love me.  Alcohol is to enhance experiences in life, not drive them.

*****

I’m feeling a little better today (hello mood swings).  Thank you all for listening to me and being there for me.  Today I started tackling something I’ve put off for a while because I couldn’t deal with it even though I knew I needed to.  There haven’t been too many times in my life where I have been in a situation that forces me to choose between being silent or doing the right thing.  I always say that I’m the kind of person who does the right thing, even if there are personal consequences to me.  Life has decided to call my bluff.  I’m sorry that I can’t give any details – you know I normally disclose everything freely – but I just want to report that I’m following through.  I’m doing it because I can and others can’t.  I’m doing it because saying “no” to wrongs when we encounter them is the only way we keep the good in balance with the bad.

Mostly I just have to fill out some annoying forms, so nothing heroic or anything.

I feel like I’ve honored my character and my beliefs today.

Now it’s time to watch Criminal Minds and drink some decaf black tea.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #14

my old view

An old view.  An old life.

#14 Reason not to Drink: Because this is the point where I usually give up

Two weeks of making major efforts, cutting serious calories out, being pretty damn healthy, and I don’t look even a tiny different and, honestly, don’t feel at all different either.  In the past this is the point where I give up because I get depressed that making big changes to my comfort doesn’t translate into clear changes in my body.  But this time I’m not giving up.  Today I choose not to drink again, in spite of the fact that I don’t feel any healthier or look any healthier, because I’m not going by the old script.

Just a few minutes ago I was thinking about getting some cleaning done and how good beer will taste when I’m done – and then experienced that horrid deflation on realizing that there wasn’t anything festive to drink as reward.  Our ginger beer is almost done but honestly will never compare to alcoholic beverages.

In spite of feeling a little low again about having one of my favorite things out of my life, I will not give up.

*****

It’s the official two week mark.  Has it really only been two weeks?  Today it feels like forever.  Maybe tomorrow it will feel like time is just flying by.  I don’t know.  I’m feeling pretty lethargic.  I have done nothing this weekend, gotten nothing accomplished.  Today all I want to do is watch Poirot and bide my time until it’s tomorrow or the next day or the next.  So, clearly not feeling very sparky or purposeful.  I think I can call today a success if all I do is get the Christmas tree down.  And, in an effort to not feel completely useless I will do that right now.  Hope you all are having a more happy and useful weekend.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #12 and #13

jt on snl

#12 Reason for not Drinking: it isn’t the middle ages anymore

Back in the middle ages you could justify drinking a gallon of beer a day for the combined reasons that it was an excellent source of vitamins* and a lack of potable water sources.  Beer was safer and so people (especially monks) drank way more alcohol than water and were sometimes paid in beer.  Well, it isn’t the middle ages anymore and it’s hard to justify a gallon of beer a day habit.  The good news (if you’re sad that it’s not socially acceptable to drink gallons of beer) is that the earth’s water sources are, again, becoming polluted beyond safety and produce is becoming less nutrient rich all the time through the use of pesticides and unsustainable farming habits.  The day when beer is once again a reputable source of fun, excellent flavors, and good nutrition isn’t all that distant.

#13 Reason for not Drinking: because Sid didn’t drink today

My friend Sid is forgoing beer right now to help support me in my challenging time and today she didn’t drink during her parents’ visit.  She missed an opportunity to drink with her dad who is one of her favorite drinking companions.  If I was to drink beer tonight after she has abstained I would not be able to call myself a good friend any more.  Since she’s one of my favorite people – I am not drinking tonight more emphatically than any other night since I started this.  I AM EMPHATICALLY BEER FREE.  For Sid.

I am also emphatically NOT drinking tonight for Bobby and Kymber who are doing this challenge with me and also Cathy who is doing her own version of it – you all are in my thoughts tonight as I am being emphatic!  Oh – and Nadine too, who went sober before me to reach some similar goals.  Nadine – EMPHATICALLY not drinking for you too!

But, especially because Sid lost a great opportunity to imbibe, for my sake.

Tomorrow I may be a lot less enthusiastic so, you know, enjoy.

*They didn’t have nutrient-empty beers back then like Coors or Bud.