My 11 week disappearance

I was surprised to realise that my last post was 11 weeks ago. I was on day 88 then and I went on to do 109 days. On day 110 I had a drink and have since been wandering in the grey area I attempted to label as moderation.

That first day I drank one large glass of red wine and got a dreadful hangover. It was a stark reminder that alcohol is a poison and not something we should be putting in our bodies. After so long without alcohol my body basically went ‘WTF? Seriously, you wanna do this??!!’ each time I drank and as a result it was a few weeks before I drank any more than half a bottle at a time. At that point I could fairly easily have a couple of drinks on one day and have a few days off without cravings.

At this point I’m aware that there has definitely been some creep towards the troubling side of drinking. It’s still not at terrible levels but I have had some ‘red flag’ moments and can clearly see down the shadowy path that could take me back to that place. I’ve observed once again how alcohol tends to contract life into something smaller and less fulfilling. It’s also a very bad influence on my attempts to eat better and avoid foods that I don’t tolerate. I’ve put back on the 7lbs I lost, my skin issues have flared up painfully and I have a lot of GI issues again. *Sigh*

I realised something important from a psychological point of view but I haven’t fully digested its implications. I expected to feel really weird and guilty when I drank but the overwhelming feeling I got was one of relief. The most obvious interpretation of that could be that it was simply an addict finally getting her ‘fix’ but as my body was initially quite grossed out by wine I’m not sure it was that. It was more a sigh of relief at the release from a set of strictly imposed rules. I’d become as obsessive and fixated on abstinence as I had on drinking. I hate being told what to do in an absolute sense, even by myself.

I’ve had some interesting conversations with work colleagues recently, without actually ‘outing’ myself. In my smallish team I have 4 colleagues that don’t drink. One is the child of a severely alcoholic mother who went through the British care system as a result so doesn’t want anything to do with alcohol. Another has quit because of pancreatitis. 2 others are long-term abstainers but in a way that it’s not really a ‘thing’ for them. One woman laughed that although she was previously a heavy drinker on nights out she’d gone off it over the years and hadn’t had any for about 18 months. One of the guys commented he’d toasted at his wedding but that was it for probably 9 months at that point. I find it fascinating that they’re just not particularly interested in drinking and don’t have to give abstinence any thought or effort.

It made me think of a new concept (new to me) and possibly a new goal. I’ve done plenty of obsessive drinking and some chunks of obsessive abstinence. How about getting to a place of non-obsessive abstinence? Or is that just another way of describing a ‘normal’ drinker or a fully freed alcoholic? I don’t know. I’d love to hear other perspectives on this.

I’m still convinced that addiction, whatever the substance or behaviour is still just a symptom of a bigger spiritual problem. Alcohol is an unbalancer. It tips the balance towards the negative side of the bigger, deeper dichotomies in life. From growth to contraction; from full to empty; from light to dark and heavy; euphoria to depression; engagement to indifference and so on…

There’s a song I like called Closer to Fine, by the Indigo Girls. It has an interesting couple of lines:

Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.

It’s so easy and tempting to be the one diving head first, screeching ‘Hell yeah!’ into those deep pools of dark pleasure and to hell with the consequences. I’ve learned that during abstinence the call of the lightness was definitely a bit louder and easier to hear. I’ve also realised that alcohol is noisy and when it is allowed back in on a regular basis it’s all too easy for it to completely drown out the quiet call to the light. I want to choose the light. I’ve had some remarkable experiences on the lighter side. It’s important to me.

So, it looks like I’m heading back towards not drinking. This time I’m not setting any absolute rules or day counting. It has to be a daily choice, to show up and engage with life or to check out, shy away and shut down. It’s a new experiment…

Have a good weekend x

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31 thoughts on “My 11 week disappearance

  1. sobersuitsme November 26, 2016 / 6:07 pm

    This is beautiful. I went through the same process earlier in the year. I had gone from January to July without drinking. Then in July on a family vacation and celebration in England, decided to drink at the party. It was flowing freely. It was a wonderfully fun evening. Really fun. What followed was horrible. Downward into the haze of booze. I drank everyday until the middle of September. I LOVE your line, “alcohol is noisy and when it is allowed back in on a regular basis it’s all too easy for it to completely drown out the quiet call to the light.” Alcohol IS noisy. The constant mind game is like listening to a heavy-metalacidrockpunkdripdripnoizzzzzy noise. When I wake up in the morning without that noise, it may not be a good day, but it is a day that I am present. Awareness is light. Thank you so much for sharing. I am 73 days into this again and really do not want that noise again. I can’t have just one night of drinking and not drink again for another few months. Once it is in, it doesn’t want to go away. Keep writing. Go easy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tiredoftreadingwater November 27, 2016 / 8:57 am

      Thank you for your lovely feedback. It seems many of us have similar experiences with this. 73 days is great. Keep going, take care πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. ainsobriety November 27, 2016 / 12:50 am

    Because you asked…here’s my thought

    Drinking is a norm. We do it for a long time.

    Sobriety is a change. It takes focus and care (perhaps even obsession) to make it stick. And over time it becomes normal. But it takes quite a bit of time for this to happen. I will be 3 years sober this week. I would say this past year drinking has never really crossed my mind in any sort of “craving” sort of way. I think if I had attempted moderation this would never have happened. It took acceptance that I would not drink.

    My Heath issues (IBS, heartburn, joint pain) have all become much clearer without alcohol. I know drinking was a huge factor there. One I never even considered until it was removed.

    I do think it is addiction that process that relief when a person drinks. My own drinking had a real compulsion at the end and so anxiety would build and drinking related it…but then it started the spiral again. It’s a scary process.

    Take care of yourself.

    Anne

    Liked by 5 people

    • tiredoftreadingwater November 27, 2016 / 9:02 am

      Hi Anne, that’s great feedback, thank you. I do need to reflect on the possibility that I’m just in denial and not accepting the forever thing. That’s awesome you’re hitting 3 years, I’m so happy for you. Thanks again for the feedback. Take care πŸ™‚ x

      Like

      • ainsobriety November 27, 2016 / 4:41 pm

        No one needs to decide forever.
        Just decide today. Today decide what’s the right choice for you and do that.
        Somehow it actually does work.
        Hugs

        Liked by 3 people

  3. nomore4116 November 27, 2016 / 5:09 am

    Hey there. As you know I also disappeared. It’s hard to stay obsessively sober. But I found out over the past two months, not being obsessive put me back into a bad drinking habit.
    It didn’t start that way. Like you, one drink made me feel like shit. And I would go a week, maybe week and a half and try it again.
    Then I went on vacation and drank daily. A lot less than I would have in previous years,but ultimately enough to ruin yet another vacation with my husband.
    So I came home and tried not drinking again. This time around I make it sober most days of the week, but when I do drink, it’s the entire bottle of wine plus some. Then I spend the next day hating myself and trying to piece together the stupid things I said or did while I was drunk.

    So I’m on day two. Again. And when I woke up and saw that you posted something, it was a reminder to me that this shit is hard. We do have to be obsessed and reach out for support. And honestly, not counting days is fine. But I kind of feel like once you get like 15 days in, you feel like you don’t want to mess that up. Because it’s an accomplishment. I don’t feel that way about 5 or 6 days. So I think there may be something to the counting. But I also know what you mean about not wanting to obsess. Their must be a way to do it with out. But like A said. Maybe we just haven’t done it long enough to know…..

    Good luck! I’m routing for your call to the light. I know I feel better when I’m not drinking too. So obviously it’s the better choice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tiredoftreadingwater November 27, 2016 / 9:08 am

      Hi! I’m sorry you’ve had the negative experiences while the drinking creeps back in 😦 I know what you mean about the counting but I’m still undecided. I may go back to it in the end, not sure. Good luck to you too, it’s lovely to hear from you. Keep going! Hugs x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I Quit Wineing November 27, 2016 / 10:37 am

    Having spent most of 2016 trying to quit drinking I can relate very well to your post. My periods of abstinence were very intense. I felt like I was running a marathon. It was bloody hard work, mentally. Then I would go back to drinking and after one or two days of moderate drinking I would quickly fall back in to the one and a bit bottles of wine a night habit. Then abstinence again. Then back to drinking. This is my fourth period of abstinence this year and without wanting to jinx anything it feels different. I am not counting days in some kind of obsessive way. It is more natural this time, less forced. I don’t know why, maybe I have run out of excuses. Maybe this is just the right time for me. I am now thankful for my roller coaster ride because I can reflect and see that I actually did learn a lot through all the twist and turns. I know for a fact that I can never be a moderate drinker even though I tried to convince myself I could. My liver function test confirms that the drinking was becoming a health issue. I really don’t think I can get away with it any longer, it has caught up with me and the only way out is to continue abstinence. I hate that word. It sounds like a prison sentence. I am just living…………..living without alcohol …………..and it is o.k

    Liked by 2 people

    • tiredoftreadingwater November 28, 2016 / 9:54 am

      Hi! It sounds like you’re been round and round the all too familiar cycles there. If you’ve learned from it I’d still call it progress though. I’m not sure exactly where I need to be but I’m pretty sure I’m much closer to it that when I started my blog waaaay back. It sounds like your denial stage is over and like the liver function test acts an extra ‘reality slap’ 😦 I hope it continues to feel more natural for you, that’s a good sign. We’ll definitely have to come up with a friendlier word for it too. Take care πŸ™‚ x

      Like

  5. habitdone November 27, 2016 / 3:26 pm

    Now I don’t have a post to write! Laughing….you just said almost everything floating in my head. Great post! Its exactly how I feel. I have been making it a daily choice but I don’t think I’m happy with that either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiredoftreadingwater November 28, 2016 / 9:42 am

      Lol! Sorry to steal your thoughts πŸ˜€ It’s amazing how much similarity there is in so many of our stories. Your experiments do sound very similar to mine. Keep experimenting and writing, I’d love to hear about it all. Take care πŸ™‚ x

      Like

  6. nursinggrudgesandliquor November 27, 2016 / 8:02 pm

    I woke up with a headache like my head against a board, twice as cloudy as i’d been the night before and I went in seeking clarity.

    I love that song

    Liked by 3 people

  7. soberisland November 28, 2016 / 12:56 am

    I’m glad you are back. I missed you. Been through pretty much the same thing. I know I would rather be sober than hungover and it doesn’t matter how much or little I drink, I still feel like shit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiredoftreadingwater November 28, 2016 / 9:36 am

      Hey thanks, it’s good to be back. I didn’t realise how much I missed it here until I got off my butt and joined in again. I’m sorry you went through another big loop too but as long as we keep learning that’s the most important thing I guess. Hugs x

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hurrahforcoffee November 30, 2016 / 9:58 am

    Hi there, I’ve just discovered your blog and catching up.

    I can relate in so many ways because I spent the best part of 10 years trying to moderate. It was soul destroying. I’d manage to do it for a while then think I’ve got this thing beat. Inevitably something happened, some stressful event and I would completely overdo it and go down the shame spiral.

    It’s interesting where you talk about the relief you felt when you drank. I used to feel that relief too; I think it’s the relief of the mental craving of allowing yourself to do something you have denied yourself.

    I recently had a lapse and instead of the usual ‘relief’ I used to feel when I lapsed I just felt nothing. Absolutely nothing, no relief, no enjoyment just a dead feeling, really hard to describe., perhaps it was the reason behind the drinking who knows.

    In any case, keep blogging about it because it helps.

    xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • tiredoftreadingwater December 1, 2016 / 8:33 am

      Hi! Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. 10 years is a long time to struggle in that cycle 😦 It’s very curious the dead feeling you describe having had when you lapsed recently. Maybe you’ve thoroughly seen through the illusion of relief, enjoyment or value in drinking? It’s great to ‘meet’ you, thanks for your feedback. Take care, be well x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hurrahforcoffee December 1, 2016 / 1:13 pm

        Yes 10 years is a long time its actually more like 12 now that I think about it. That’s the thing with alchol it sneaks up you and full blown addiction develops over time. Being able to moderate and then failing made sure that my tollerance was creeping up and up. Then you need quite a bit more than a glass of wine! The amount you drink (in units) is actually irrelevant. Addiction takes hold when you start using alcohol to de-stress. (Annie Grace talks about this in her book).

        Wish you the best of luck. xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • tiredoftreadingwater December 1, 2016 / 5:12 pm

        Thank you, you too! I have her book on my kindle, I’ll have to get on with reading it πŸ™‚ x

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Rania December 9, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    Just found your blog, and can very much relate to this post as I’ve been in the same spot. The obsessiveness gets to me, too, and I’m pretty sure the relief and release I feel are related to going back to what has been (unfortunately) normal for me. Reading about your experience reminds me of when I quit smoking several years ago. In the early days and weeks and months, all I wanted was to break out of the obsession and to feel “normal” again. I had a quit smoking coach and she would remind me, over and over and over, that the only way to get there was to keep going, one day (or one moment, if need be) at a time.

    Thank you so much for this post and for that reminder. I’m on day 4 right now. It’s not my first day 4, but I am hoping it will be the last.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiredoftreadingwater December 17, 2016 / 5:56 am

      Hi Rania, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, I find this sort of feedback really helpful. Sorry I took a while to respond, I haven’t been checking in as regularly as I want to. I had a look at your blog and it looks like you’re on day 12 now which is great – you’re doing much better than me at the moment. I like the name of your blog – as an ex-surfer I well know that turbulent water zone. Have a lovely sober weekend πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. gagalgoingdry January 2, 2017 / 3:03 am

    Hope you are doing well. I keep wondering if I want to do this forever and now realize I’m just at the point of one day at a time. I’m just tired of Day One’s!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiredoftreadingwater January 3, 2017 / 11:45 am

      Hi! Yes the repeated day ones get exhausting dont they?! I hope it’s going well for you too πŸ™‚ Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

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