Good Girl Addict vs. The Phenomenon of ‘Used To’

I’m beginning to think that I’m recovering. Not just from a recent foray into alcoholism, but from the last 18 or so years of my life. My mindset is the strongest it has ever been. My awareness is flat out flawless (if I do say so myself). My forward progression is pointed in a healthy and positive direction. I feel my capability, my vulnerability, my power and my fucking worth growing and growing and growing.

I mention vulnerability specifically because I’ve always seen it as a negative, as something to hide or be ashamed of. I’ve held it in my head as a weakness. That’s just not true. It’s within our vulnerability that we can see what truly makes us authentic humans. It heightens and strengthens our experiences in love, life, lust and loss. Of course, I can only speak for myself….but I like to think I’m speaking some truth for other people.

My life has suddenly found a groove in which I am thriving. I feel inspired more than I used to. I feel more awake, less checked out, more involved, more giving, less miserly with my emotion and time. I feel like the most real and true version of myself that I have ever been. And the best part right now is that I don’t need to drink to numb. I do not feel that gnawing, grating, grumble that tells me to walk in the door and pour. There’s no cacophonic deluge of emotion that must be quieted. And for a long, long time there was. It ruled my life and my behavior…But lately, it’s more like an ever-flowing river that’s just one single solitary piece of the scenery that paints my life; some days it’s smooth and calm. Other days it’s surging and wild….but not insurmountable.

And yes, there’s stuff that I am continually dealing with – e.g., all the adoption stuff, my mother’s cancer, mourning my brother and father (I don’t know if that will ever stop) and all my annoying and sometimes consuming body image bullshit. I used to feel like the sum total of all the things that happened to me and when they were all added up I was fucking worthless. I used to think that I wouldn’t heal from the years that beat me up and broke me down. I used to feel completely isolated and alone. Used. To.

Now, I see my life as wide open. I feel possibility. I feel a future I didn’t think would ever be mine. All the times I couldn’t handle my reality and decided to get fall down drunk or eat myself silly or get fucked blind by a stranger felt like tiny failures in themselves, baby steps leading me farther and farther away from knowing my worth. Now, I am beginning to feel like I matter. And not just to my family and friends…I matter to myself. I am important to me.

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Good Girl Addict vs. Her Worth

“He thought he was just having a fun, relaxing conversation with his long lost daughter. I didn’t speak up in the moment and I let my emotions fester. In order to move forward I was going to have to knuckle down and let this go. So, that’s what I tried to do. I assured him that I was fine and wanted to move forward with a relationship with him. I told him that, but God, I didn’t mean it. I was just putting on my game face for the sake of someone else’s comfort. I was still pushing my very valid and loud feelings aside for the explicit purpose of making someone else feel better.”

So. The above paragraph is from my journal-like-stream-of-consciousness memoir outlining a tiny bit of my interaction with my birth father. This happened about a month after I made contact with him, but before I met him in person. What I tried to let go was him making ugly, sexist comments about ‘fat chicks’ before he knew that I am in fact, a fat chick. Unfortunately, that shit runs deep for me, so my ability to let go when it comes to things of that nature isn’t strong and it ended up being part of the reason he and I have not spoken in almost 2 years. I’m still working towards opening up more about all that stuff here. Today is not that day.

The reason I wanted to reflect on this is because of the last 2 sentences. I used to do this kind of thing constantly. I would placate. I would please. I would submit. I would reject my reactions as ‘over the top’ or ‘irrational’ all because I didn’t want to upset someone male.

Thinking back on how I used to behave with the men in my life deeply unsettles me now. For years, I quite literally didn’t have a voice in my relationships. I was never heard, never actually acknowledged or recognized. It just didn’t happen. It became my normal course of action to behave exactly as I did with my birth father. I felt triggered and fearful but didn’t speak up because I didn’t want him to ‘react’. I didn’t want to upset the apple cart because of my huge emotions.

Well, I don’t think I’m going to do that shit anymore. Sure, my emotions are loud, they’re consuming, they’re fickle. But you know what? They’re also mine. They’re also valid. They also have worth. It’s taken me a long time to figure out how very ok it is for me to feel the way I feel. It’s taken  me even longer to stop (well, to try to stop) feeling guilt for how I feel. I taught myself to reevaluate constantly so that I could please or take care of others. Well, I don’t think I’m going to do that shit anymore either.

I’m feeling a large sense of coming home lately. A sense of gratitude and a sense of actually feeling whole. The broken parts are still wounded, but they are healing. God, they are reknitting themselves in ways I didn’t think would ever happen. It’s fantastically beautiful.

I used to feel terrified when I would feel similar shifts in the past. I didn’t think I deserved to be healed, so I would run from the light because the dark was safe. Familiar. Comfortable. I also didn’t think I was worthy for the deeply good, healthy and fulfilling relationships that I see a lot of my friends invest in. I just….didn’t think it was possible for me.

I was wrong.

It’s very possible for me.

I have someone new in my life. Right now.

I was talking to my mom the other day about him and she asked, ‘He’s kind to you, isn’t he?’

Immediately, with warmth spreading through me I said, ‘Yes, mom. He is very kind to me.’ Later that day, I was struck – deeply struck with how foreign that sentiment actually is to me. The last man who was truly kind to me was my father and he’s been gone for 5 years now.

I’m so fucking blessed to see my worth now. I hope very much that other women are waking up to their worth too. We are so incredibly powerful, ladies. Own that shit.

Good Girl Addict vs. Vulnerability

I had a session with my therapist this week. I had much to say about my addictive patterns. Not shocking. It seems to be all I think about. I observe my behavior constantly, always watching and waiting for my Addictive Voice to engage with me. She speaks a lot and encourages me to act on my addictive thoughts. She likes to be in control. She likes to win. She’s still loud. She still has a hold on me, but she’s not as potent as she once was. That in and of itself is a huge comfort.

My therapist and I got to talking about my response to vulnerability. This is a common theme within the work I try to do on myself. I have spent a lot of time over the years feeling vulnerable and needing something to take the edge off (especially when I don’t understand why or how I’m feeling about something). This is where the roots of my addictions were born. e.g., eating and eating to compensate for the neglect and fear I felt when my parents couldn’t give their attention as completely to me as they did to my troubled big brother. This is something I know, something I turn over in my head a lot and in doing so I really understand why this tendency of mine started. I get it. I have examined it to death and yet I still feel the need to write about it here…we all know I like to adore my pain. I like to stroke it and remember. In a sideways, fucked up way I feel alive in the remembering.

But I don’t need memories to make me feel alive lately. I haven’t wanted to wistfully look over my shoulder to find another nugget of truth so I can better understand why the wording my boss’s latest e-mail may have triggered me a little. Clearly, I’ve been hyper-sensitive over the last 2 or 3 years and very involved in my pain. Having an affair with my memories and feelings felt like the right thing to do, back then. That’s what being a sensitive Empath will do to you I guess, especially when said Empath had some serious shit thrown her way.

I needed to stay where I was for as long as I did in order to gain the clarity and sense of self that I have today. So now, I am able to recognize the depth of the strength I have. I can appreciate that even though I have my moments of feeling overwhelmed and FAT and shitty and tired and lost, they are fleeting.

I am so much better at recognizing when a hopeless pattern of sifting through the ashes of my failures is rushing to knock on the door of my consciousness. I used to be waiting at the door to welcome that shit onto the couch in my mind so that I could have a good, long conversation with my sadness. Now if I hear the knock, I may look out the peephole just to assess what is actually there, but I don’t let it in. If I walk away from the door, the emotion or pattern goes away and I feel relieved and empowered when I feel it retreating. That kind of thing responds well to internal walls (in my experience).

I want to put my energy into things that are worthwhile and don’t hold me back. I deserve to feel good about where my life is going and I am finally, finally beginning to accept that.

I still have a tough time sitting with my vulnerability. But I don’t feel an overarching, tremendous need to check out and be numb. I truly do not need to escape. I’m still drinking, yes…but it’s not holding me prisoner as persistently as it once was. That shift has been game changing. Grateful doesn’t even cover it.

But, I still don’t want to give it up. I still want to have the freedom to drink, when and how I choose…typing that hurts a little…and I’m not sure why. Maybe because one day I will have to give it up? Maybe I’m scared of that? Maybe I’m just too stubborn for my own good and I’m fighting a battle I can’t win? I don’t have all the answers tonight and I’m not going to wrack my brain trying to figure it out and beat myself up when I can’t. I’m just going to try and sit with this feeling, let it in a little and then let it go as best as I can.

I’m still here: this Good Girl Addict, defining my own recovery one post at a time.

 

Unexpected Hunger

This song – Elliot Moss, ‘Slip’ – is my new discovery and obsession of the week. I found it randomly in my Facebook newsfeed and fell for it. Hard. It’s one of those songs that has a hook that immediately makes the world stop because it unexpectedly made me feel. It spoke directly to my emptiness; pressed the button that activates the loneliness within. And you know what was weird? I enjoyed the feeling. Quiet loneliness is as familiar as my skin, and much like my skin, it sometimes filled me with bitter rage….this is what I expected to happen……..

But, now that I am evolving (well, I’m at least trying to evolve) and using my voice more than I used to, I feel strangely and peacefully nostalgic about feeling lonely (but I only sometimes feel this about my skin…work in progress, that). I don’t feel like it will tear me apart, as it once did. I’m not sitting here wondering when someone will magically appear to fill up the dark corners of my life with their light to make it (and me) better. I’m not bemoaning my present circumstances and feeling fucking sorry for myself because I don’t have what a lot of my peers have – you know, relationships, houses, kids etc. – The Whole Sha-Bang.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s what I even want anymore. I used to tell myself that I wanted the picket fence. That’s what I’m supposed to want, right? That’s what I’m supposed to design my life around, right? I mean, yes, I do want to find that sweet, that nasty, that gushy stuff with a worthy partner. I definitely do. That hasn’t changed. I just think I was looking and searching in the wrong ways. I used to want someone to know immediately how they could fix me and in the same breath I wanted them to let me fix them. I expected way too much and knew far too little before I started running around proclaiming my undying love for men who, I’m sorry to say, were deeply, utterly, unworthy of me.

God, I have spent a long, long time trying and striving to find that ‘thing’ with someone so that I can finally become the person I’m supposed to want to be. I’ve spent way too long seeking a cure for what’s wrong with me. Whatever happened to simply being myself, for me? Where did self-acceptance go? Oh right, I never learned how to do that. I was too fucked up about being adopted, losing my brother, being in abusive relationships, losing my dad….and the list continues….to truly slow down with myself and listen to my heart. I’ve never achieved that in all my years of trying, stumbling and falling. I’ve gotten so low over the last few years. God, so low.

Being low never stopped me though. I’ve gotten stuck, sure, but I’ve always found the strength to stand up, brush myself off and keep going.

And that’s what the surviving, almost thriving, Good Girl Addict in me really recognized when that song started playing….. I’m still here, despite the pain, the loneliness, the rage, the frustration, the loss, the core shattering self-hatred. Still. Here. And still hungry.

 

 

 

Urgent Frustration

Urgent Frustration. That’s the name of the game tonight. I couldn’t get my laptop turned on and logged in fast enough. My fingers are moving at a twitchy, irritating, pulsing pace. My back fucking ACHES. My shoulders feel tight as fuck. My throat is closing because of the lump of unexpressed emotion I am holding back. Frustration.

Ok, fine. If that’s the flavor of the evening; let’s explore it. Frustration traditionally means: the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something. Well, isn’t that the fucking shock of the millennium? Annie has been unable to change. Such a surprise.

I am still drinking. Yes. I am.

I am not drinking the shocking amounts I was before I started writing here. I stopped for a handful of days after I began this Blog O’Mine, while on vacation from work. During that time I was able to slow down. I focused solely on myself. I tended the fragile soil of my soul and it was excellent. Then I went back to work, my attention shifted. I started putting focus into the people I take care of 42 hours a week. And wouldn’t you know, before long my habit slowly, inevitably started to creep back onto the stage of my life. So far, it’s merely skulking in the corner – downstage left – but it’s beginning to inch its’ way forward. I think. Blech.

I feel so desperate right now. So deeply unsatisfied. I feel disappointed in myself and tired. Pull my hair out tired.

I want to write more. I want to go fucking OFF right now. But I’m not going to feed the beast of Urgent Frustration because I know this feeling is temporary. As uncomfortable….wait, Fuck that….as unbearable as it feels right now, I know it will pass.

This ability to know that I won’t feel pain or anger or discomfort on my own forever is infinitely comforting.

Whooooooo boy. Did I just have myself a moment or what?

This woman needs some sleep. That always helps to lift the veil of ‘This feels bigger than me and it will never end. EVER.’

Thanks for reading my bullshit – whoever y’all are!

 

 

Good Girl Addict vs. This Place

I just had a three hour conversation with a friend of mine who I have known since we were 3 years old. She has always been an uplifting, positive and guiding force in my life. We talk about anything and everything. We ‘go deep’ to the places not everyone can stomach or hear and we expand each others’ views on ourselves, choices and lives.

I want authenticity. I want organic evolution. I want my life to have meaning and depth above anything else. And I really think it does. For better or for worse, my life will always have meaning because of where I have been, how I have soldiered through and how fiercely I want to be better. I don’t want to stay lost in those dark woods I talked about a few weeks ago. The woods themselves don’t carry enough badness to make me want to give up, but the ‘lost’ part almost did. Feeling helpless to find my way was crippling. It was taxing. It was thoroughly draining. Somehow, I have managed to find an outlet to guide me. This Blog O’Mine.

Writing has become a necessity. Feeling my way through all of this is actually healing me. It’s making me more powerful. I feel that power in a very, very visceral way. I feel my face form a knowing and even slightly seductive smile because I am getting though this and when I’m done getting through I am going to be a force to be reckoned with. I don’t know if that sounds arrogant or narcissistic, but it feels true. It feels right. It feels like my life has been moving and bending and shifting and falling apart and fucking me up to specifically get me to this place.

This place. Kind of interesting that I phrased it like that. The opening paragraphs of my memoir mention ‘this place’ too. At the time I first wrote those words I was about 4 months into knowing my birth parents. I was floating on the pink cloud of euphoria. I was overwhelmed 24/7 and blindly hopeful for the future. A future I hoped consisted of a sustained relationship with them. Back then I was consumed with the fucking drug of learning my biological beginnings. It took me 34 years to be able to find them. I didn’t really think about what might happen when/if I did actually find them.

When it happened, when I made contact, I thought I had finally, finally reached a ‘place’ of unending joy and brilliant clarity. Then reality inevitably took control and all the hope and happiness I had started to cling to slipped through my fingers and was gone. It was just…..gone. The first few weeks and months were giddy and excited and full of smiles, laughter and hope. Meals and secrets shared and love expressed. Hugs and tears and repressed memories. All of us were reeling. All of us were swooning. Understandably so. Then. It shifted. They rekindled something between each other that I couldn’t be a part of. I said things I shouldn’t have. And they….chose each other over me and walked away from me.

‘This place’ became a wasteland. Three weeks later my mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – a blood and bone marrow cancer that is incurable. She is my only remaining nuclear family member. My birth parents had literally just abandoned me for the second time and now I had to face down cancer for my mother. ‘This place’ was fucking bullshit back then. Seriously.

But now. Blessedly, now…..’this place’ is………………………………………….mine.

It’s not about a man who is broken or trying to save my dead brother. It’s not about a pair of 50 something’s who never evolved past their teens because they had a lust-filled relationship in high school which resulted in a baby neither of them could care for. It also is not about trying to save my sweet, needy, special and sick mother who has never been on her own; who wants nothing but to see her daughter happy and stable with a ‘nice man to take care of her’ (those are her words, not mine).

The place I have surreptitiously arrived at is….fucking exactly where I need to be. I work really hard everyday to be content – at least partially, but more and more it’s completely – with my life and more importantly, myself. I have spent way too much time looking for something outside of myself to be the cure. I’m invested in not doing that anymore and my old friend told me today that she could hear the power of the inner strength I have been cultivating.

I fucking needed to hear that. And I’m so thankful I did. Today was a good day….I’m still drinking (for those who are wondering) but it has entirely less control over me than it used to. I’m the one who calls the shots nowadays. And that, to me, is a revelation.

 

Accountable Shma-ccountable.

I wrote the following italicized paragraphs on Friday night while I was drunk. *sigh* I didn’t have the balls to actually post the post while drunk though. I was venting my frustration at myself by typing furiously on my keyboard. I had every intention of hitting ‘Publish’ but I just….couldn’t. I felt too raw. Too exposed. But now that’s it is Monday – Labor Day, say thankya – I feel like I can handle letting this one go live.

Truth telling time….I’m drunk. In this moment of writing, I am drunk. And I feel incredibly shitty, false and low because I am drunk. Do I feel this way because I have gotten drunk while alone? Do I feel this way because I am drunk after many days of not being drunk? Do I feel this way because I think I have fallen off the wagon? Do I feel this way because there was really, utterly, definitively no real reason for me to drink enough wine to make it hard for me to type coherently? What am I compensating for? What makes it so tough for me to sit in my own company sober?

I’m searching for a catalyst and there just isn’t one to be found. I guess I’m just an addict. And I think I like the drinking and drunk feeling too much to give it up completely. Does that mean I have to give it up? DO I have to go stone cold turkey? Do I? Really?

A program made of 12 steps and a power greater than myself that has a penis attached to it says I do. I’m not saying it is wrong or completely misogynistic – even  though it kind of is – I’m just wondering why it has to be set up within a litany of extremes. Why do I have to give up my control to a power that I know nothing about? Why does this power have to be male? Why can’t I just handle this shit, as I handle the rest of my shit, my-fucking-self? Why do I need to ask for help? Why am I not enough?

I suppose that’s the core of my issues and addictions. I’ve never felt like I’ve been enough for anything – be it a man’s affection or attention, being free of the bonds of not understanding my abandonment into adoption or some other form of ‘not enough’ that I have programmed into my psyche.

That’s as far as I got because I was getting fucking angry before I crumpled to the floor to stare at the ceiling for a while. I do that sometimes. I do it drunk and I do it sober. Sometimes I just need a different perspective and lying down, flat on my back, legs and arms akimbo gives me that. It centers me a little and helps me remember to breathe. I forget to breathe a lot. I forget that I will make mistakes and I freak out when I realize I have started dancing with the Dark Side again.

And, (more truth telling time) for the record, I don’t know if I actually think that getting drunk on Friday night was a mistake. Was it? Really? Maybe it’s more a stutter step. A slight stumbling point on my road to Annie’s version of Recovery – whatever that may look like.

These past weeks I have been drinking. Not daily. Not heavily. Small amounts, usually with dinner when I get home from work and not much more than that. I don’t want to not have wine in the house. I want it to be available still. Which, as shown above is a slippery slope because I can easily get carried away. But I still need a binkie, my own version of a Recovery Security Blanket. I don’t want to be 100% booze-less.

Ugh. Do you ever just get plain old sick and fucking tired of listening to your own thoughts? That’s me right now. Maybe I’ll lie on the floor and breathe and try to convince myself not to have a glass of red with dinner tonight….I know I’ll cave. I’m making steak tips. Nothing better than deep red wine with succulent, buttery red meat. Am I right?

And if I do have wine tonight, so what? So fucking what? Is the Recovery Police going to come banging on my door and rip the wine glass from my hands and take me to Recovery Jail? I often wonder if that’s what I actually think will happen because lately, I feel guilty when I sip wine. Guilty as Fuck! I think it’s because of this blog. If I drink, no matter how much, I feel an inner obligation to report it here since my intentions in the beginning were to remain honest and accountable. I’m taking responsibility right now and the teenager who likes to let her hair down and forget hates when I make her do that. But the wise been-through-the-trenches-of-life-and-wants-to-be-free-of-this-crutch part of me needs to let this out.

So, now it’s out. And I feel better. Thanks Blog O’Mine. I love your face.

 

Happiness is Crap

As I was reflecting on the post I just wrote (pulling apart and analyzing would be more accurate) and taking a moment to downshift my brain (check my Facebook page) this link crossed my feed:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/unhappy

Please, for the love of Pete, click on it and read this. It is silly, whimsical, wise and fucking full of truth.

I was chatting with one of my best friends the other day about life and I had a moment of clarity. It hit me that I have entered into a place of quiet acceptance and balance. I’m not super happy and exploding with rainbows and manic joy. But I’m also not drinking myself blind, angry at the world and crying myself to sleep on a daily basis either. I’m somewhere in the middle where I’m not completely satisfied or completely dissatisfied with my life. But I’m not ‘happy’. I’ve clawed my way to some middle ground. The above link makes so much sense and supports the idea I just two days ago tried to articulate to my friend.

 

Good Girl Addict vs. The Dark Woods

I have spent the last week more or less completely alone (with a brief meeting with my mother and another afternoon with my favorite aunt and favorite cousin). I didn’t have to work and I didn’t want to plan a big trip anywhere, so I mostly hung out with myself. I exercised, I meditated, I cleaned the shit out of my house and I went to multiple libraries to spend afternoons immersed in the words of strangers.

I’ve never purposely spent a vacation this way before. I intentionally set aside the week for myself. Only myself. The timing of it was perfect because, since I’ve started this whole recovery journey, work has been getting in the way of really starting to recover mentally. I needed the time to myself to simply sit with everything I’ve been thinking and feeling. I needed some serious breathing room, just for me. I’m so thankful I got it.

During my marathon afternoons of reading as many books as I could (including some really, really dark novels that even my beloved Stephen King was terrified by – I mean, I can’t read about self-discovery and addiction all the time) I picked up – Broken Open: How Difficult Times can Help us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser. The opening page has this quote from Anais Nin: “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” As soon as I read that I knew I had found a book that was really going to open my mind and help me reframe the dialogue within my head that I use to shape the valleys and hills of my life.

She references the philosopher, William James who wrote that there are two types of people – the Once-Born and the Twice-Born. The Once-Born people are those that choose to stick to the straight path; they don’t want to veer off into the dark part of the forest. Their choices are safe and acceptable. If life circumstances push them toward the darkness that lies off their chosen trajectory they turn away from it. They are comfortable in what they know and choose to remain there even if something in them (the soul perhaps) begins to wonder if the direction they are heading is the most fulfilling.

The Twice-Borns are the ones who step into those dark and lurking shadows. They probably make mistakes, they may suffer loss and fail spectacularly. But they don’t run away. They continue to risk because to turn back is to remain tight in the bud. They continue to move onward, forward and through the darkness in order to blossom in the light that lies ahead. Neither one is right or wrong.

The idea of being or becoming a Twice-Born resonated with me in a big, big way. I found myself nodding and reacting to the words. Feelings of hope and peace and actual self-acceptance began coursing up my spine into my scalp and down into my gut where I know the truth lives. I am definitely someone who stepped off her path. I felt like the book was speaking directly to my misguided and troubled thinking patterns (the ones that tell me I’m too FAT and undeserving of anything or anyone worthwhile. The ones that have been keeping me tragically stuck in the dark for years), urging them to let me go so that I can find my way out. Apparently, the woods around my path are fucking enormous and dense. But that doesn’t mean they are endless. It just means I’ve been working quietly, growing stronger to focus my energy on finding the light that will lead me home.

And now I’m feeling more and more that I am perfectly beautiful, capable and strong as fuck. I can do this. I can fucking own this process. I’m going to recover. I am recovering. Ha! I love that I was able to write that without feeling completely inauthentic or that I was lying to myself. All I have to do is be consistent. I want to practice making healthy decisions and I will slowly make my way out of my forest. Sure, I have moments of weakness (e.g., finally breaking down to buy some wine and drinking it alone. *sigh* My count is definitely back to zero now), but just because that happened doesn’t mean that I am sliding back to where I was in January when my mother was in the hospital with her immune system at absolute zero so that the doctors could restock her cancer-riddled body with fresh stem cells. Back then I was utterly shattered. Back then I was walking through the days as if my mother were about to die. I focused on the only thing that would help me not feel the pain of how monumentally challenging nursing my mother on my own has been – alcohol. My favorite crutch.

I recognize now how I was using something outside myself to get by. I wasn’t growing or trying to find my way out of a dark place. I was allowing my difficult time to suffocate me. I was choosing to stay numb. But that was January. That was many months ago. I feel the growth and change that has been happening. And I’m proud of myself. I’m encouraged with the progress I’ve been able to make these past few months. The more I talk about it and know that others read these words – even though I babble a lot and sometimes don’t make a lick of sense – the more I know I’m not alone in this. And that alone helps more than I can possibly articulate.

So, again. Thank you for reading, whoever you are.

Back to Zero?

Last night I went to a book club dinner at a friends’ house. I’ve known her and her husband since college. They have a dog and a sweet, adorable 18 month old baby girl. It’s a comfortable, loving, familiar atmosphere. My friend since junior high school was there too. Extra love and familiarity. I was really looking forward to book club this month. I adored the book we read (‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline…it’s loosely based on Charles Manson and his crew of lady killers told completely from a female perspective. I devoured it in 5 days) and I was craving some social interaction with people who I’ve known for ages.

Normally, when gearing up for book club I think about what kind of wine I would like to bring. Should I grab a bottle of red or white? What will go the best with the weather and food? I think about unwinding with some of my favorite ladies in the world while drinking a ‘few’ glasses of wine with them. I think about the fizzy, tipsy, floaty feeling that will settle over me like fairy dust as I sip (gulp) my wine. I think about the giggles we will share and how the wine will make me feel less awful about how FAT I am compared to my slender, fit and all-around lovely friends. I think about how the wine will make me feel that I am more interesting, fun, worthy of my friends’ time and attention. I think about remembering to ‘take it easy’ so that I will be able to drive the 40 minutes home safely. I think about how, even though I won’t be able to drink the same amount that I would if I were home alone, I’ll still be able to drink and that’s important and good because I don’t know how to not drink and I don’t want to take a night off because I want to numb and unwind and decompress.

Last night was different. Very different.

I brought a bottle of wine I don’t particularly care for and when I arrived I poured a glass of it for a friend, but not for myself. I sat at the table and chatted with the her as she sipped. I watched her enjoy her drink. I stared at the rose colored liquid in the wine glass, enjoying the way the light reflected off of and through the alcohol. I imagined the smell and taste of the wine if I were sipping a glass of my own and realized that I didn’t want any. I just……..didn’t…..want wine. I waited for the want, desire, need to consume me and it just plain didn’t materialize. I felt like myself. I felt like Annie.

I kind of love and hate how amazing a discovery that was for me. I loved that I didn’t want wine because that meant that this sobriety thing I’m trying out might actually have a chance of working. I loved that I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I would be able to drive safely. I loved that I wouldn’t have a headache later or have an unsettled stomach or a hazy, unfocused mind. I loved that I didn’t want to feel fizzy, tipsy and floaty. I loved that, for the first time in probably years, I felt like enough. And my friends felt like they were enough too. I was present and really participating. It was fantastic.

What I hated was that I ever had any of the above thoughts to begin with. I hated that I got to a place where I had become consumed with thoughts and plans about alcohol. Do I have enough wine left at home to get through tonight? Or should I pick up an extra bottle, just in case? As if I were buying supplies to stock a survival kit. I hated that I was living in a mindset/lifestyle that factored drinking into every. single. solitary. day.

I sat at the table last night feeling vulnerable and exposed, but it wasn’t intolerable. I was a little nervous too, but that also felt manageable.

I wish I could say that I didn’t have a drop of alcohol last night. But that is not true. I had one margarita. ONE. If I had still been allowing the misguided and sick Good Girl Addict part of me to call the shots I would have had maybe TWO margaritas (and I would have probably topped each off with a tad more tequila) and possibly TWO glasses of wine. And I would have driven home. I would have chugged water after the final glass, telling myself I was diluting the alcohol in my blood.

But I only had the one drink and honestly, I didn’t even really enjoy it. I drank it slowly and let the ice melt. I drank water for the rest of the evening and was perfectly happy in doing so. I do believe they call that ‘drinking normally’ and I was kind of impressed I was able to do that. Does this mean that I want to never abstain completely from alcohol and try to be a ‘normal’ drinker? Not sure about that one. Does this mean that I have to start my ‘days without drinking counter’ back at zero? I hope not.

I’m still trying to figure all of this out. I want to see what fits and what doesn’t. I want to define this recovery thing in my own terms. I don’t know if that will include AA meetings and a sponsor (as my therapist has suggested and suggested) or if it will encompass some of what Rational Recovery preaches – I researched RR yesterday and I kind of dig it…but not totally sold.

In any case, I want to continue to live without drinking daily. I wasn’t worried on my drive home and I slept soundly. I woke up this morning feeling grateful. Feeling calm. Feeling peaceful. Feeling rested. I cannot tell you how rare that has been for me over the past…….12 years of drinking. Yes, I have traced all these patterns around drinking to 2004….God, that hurts to type, but it is very true.

I think that’s all I’ve got for today. I have an apartment to clean, new book to start and groceries to buy. Fun times — without booze.