It feels like the longest 2 weeks of my life, a lifetime since I had my last drink. It was about this time on a Sunday evening with a monumental hangover, drinking beer out of a mug to hide it from my housemate. I took a look at myself, my painful liver made itself felt again and I got up and poured the rest of the beer down the sink.
My body feels dramatically different- I have more energy, my eye bags have gone, my puffy face looks slimmer again and my stomach is flatter. My running feels really strong. I’m sleeping so much more than I have in years and not waking in the night.
My mind feels transformed too. I’m more certain than I have ever been that staying sober is the right thing to do for me, but I also know that it’s precarious.
The longest I’ve gone without alcohol in 13 years is just over 3 weeks, and I’ve always slipped up because I got complacent at how easy I was finding it and thought alcohol wasn’t really a problem for me. This time round I’m staying really vigilant. I’ve learnt to separate the desire to drink from feelings and needs, which has been the big eye opener to me. If I can accurately pinpoint what’s making me uncomfortable and do my best to address that, the desire to drink goes. I’m reprogramming my brain day by day.
I noticed today when I had some of my family round that our house is absolutely FULL of alcohol. I counted the bottles in the house and did a little inventory. None of these bottles are mine:
13 different bottles of spirits
4 bottles of wine
3 bottles of champagne
3 bottles of ale
That’s alot of alcohol. But interestingly, I would never dream of drinking any of it, I’m not tempted now in the slightest and wasn’t tempted in my drinking days. My desire to drink would start late in the afternoon and on the way home from work/a social event I’d buy a bottle of wine on the way home and that started it. As I’ve noted before this week, that buying and drinking of wine was usually to mask stress or tiredness. Once I start I’m in the danger-zone and that’s when, if one bottle didn’t do the trick I might have a few sneaky vodkas or gins from the spirit stash. But now, I barely notice them lined up in the house- they’re part of the furniture.
This is a relief to me, because it helps clarify the nature of my relationship with alcohol, and how wolfie sneaks up on me. I’m not an addict in one sense, because I hadn’t slipped deeply enough into alcoholism to want to get my hands on any drink I can- it’s more subtle than that. My alcoholism, and I’m going to start calling it that, begins the second I take a sip of a drink and want to keep going for days. I drink alcoholically. Reason goes out of the window.
Just because I feel fantastic now doesn’t mean I can stop thinking alcohol is a problem for me, it is. And it probably always will be. This makes me hugely sad in alot of ways, but at least I’ve made it to this point where I’m stopping before anything disasterous happens (frankly, it’s a miracle it hasn’t already).
So Week 3, bring it on!