Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sober at the Gym

Still sober, at 14 months.

Judging from the blogs I've read, it's about at this point that a lot of ex-drunks decide to take on some giant challenge, usually physical in nature, like running a marathon or entering a triathalon, and I guess I'm falling in line. I want to be a bodybuilder.

So, okay, maybe that's a little bit out of left field, but I've always been "into" muscle. My parents got me a weight set to use in high school, and I've had a gym membership my whole adult life, though whether or not I used the membership depended on whether or not I was hungover. Last year, one of the reasons why I wanted to quit drinking was that I've always wanted to be in better shape, but I knew that drinking was keeping me from doing that. At the time I quit drinking I also made a commitment to go to the gym as consistently as possible, and, with a few ups and downs, I've managed to do that.

Right now, I'm 30lbs lighter than I was this time last year, and I've lost about 8 inches off my hips and 7 inches off my waist...I'm not shaped like a barrel anymore, and I feel like I've barely been trying. I've also started learning about the bodybuilding lifestyle, and the more I learn the more I realise: I want in.

For me, a huge part of getting and staying sober is setting up positive routines. A lot of these are physical, so excercising regularly, eating well, getting enough sleep (and these are the key factors in bodybuilding). I've seen that when my routine is disrupted, my mood goes downhill, and thoughts about self-destructive behaviours like drinking creep back in. What has always pulled me back, each time that I've felt myself slide, has been getting back to the gym. In all honesty, the gym might as well be my AA, my "higher power", because when I go it's an hour or so completely free of worry or angst, and just getting the blood pumping improves my mood pretty much for the whole day.

The trick to sobriety and to bodybuilding is the same: consistency. To be sober, I have to be sober every day. To build muscle, I have to eat well, sleep right, and excercise regularly. With both, you can't rely on history or hopes for the future to succeed, the only thing you can do is make the right choices in the moment, and let the past and the future take care of themselves.

So, I've hired a personal trainer (hired him in September, actually...and he's great), I'm reading what I can, and I'm setting goals, and maybe, in 3-4 years, I might actually find myself on a stage in some amateur competition.

This year, the second year of my sobriety, is going to be a big one: I'll be in school full time, I'll be working towards this new goal, I feel like year two is the year to dream and act big, and to take on giant challenges that I could never have dreamed of when I was drinking. Any of us who've been sober know that your world opens up when you look past the bottle, and now is the time to find out just how huge my world is now. Where are my limits? I don't know, but I'm excited to find out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Super Brain

Still sober. Most of the time, this isn't even a big deal. Having made it through a year has shown me that I have everything I need to stay sober. I've survived the seasons, the holidays, the annual ups and downs, and managed everything without a drink. Now I just have to keep doing the stuff I've been doing, using what works and discarding what doesn't, and keep it up. It does take energy to live a sober life, but it takes MORE energy to live a drunk one, so I'm ahead of the game.

In general, though, there isn't much to say. I plan to keep this journal forever, because my life will always have moments where the difference between drinking and staying sober seems interesting to me, or moments where I'll need to let out a primal scream to the internets about frustration. One day I'll tell my mom something about my drinking, maybe, and I'll blog about that. Or when I visit my step mom who likes her wine very much, I'm sure that will inspire an entry or two. But in the meantime I don't have much to say.

Oh, except that I think being sober has given me a super-power: incredible intelligence. Not really, but I've been feeling somewhat smart lately. Part of it is that I had my final exam for a psychology course I took over the summer, and got a 95% on it (and I finished it in 25 minutes - 80 multiple choice questions, with time to review), but just in general I've been feeling more bright, a little more swift in my thinking. I like it.

I heard somewhere that it can take about 4 years for the brain to completely recover from prolonged alcohol abuse: it takes that long for the synapses and support cells and connections to get to a place where the brain works just about as well as it would have without killing all those brain cells. If so, I've had a full year of my brain rewiring itself, growing back where my drinking had pruned it. I've also been more physically active and eating more healthfully, which also have a positive impact on cognition. It's been a subtle change, but I like this new me. I'm better able to understand complex things like relationships, I can see other peoples' points of view better, I'm better equipped to handle anger and frustration and - especially - boredom.

Who knows how much this is just psychosomatic, a placebo effect where I feel smarter because I want to feel smarter, but I like feeling this way, and I intend to enjoy it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


As an added bonus, yesterday I crossed the "2000 page views" marker. I know that's nothing on the internet, but it made me feel good to see the numbers creep up.

And the rest of yesterday went fine, I don't know why I was making such a fuss. The boyfriend and I shared a toast, and then later on I went over to a friend's house where a few of us hung out and watched TV and talked. It was nice.

And that's all I have to say for myself this morning. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, October 5, 2012

One Year Sober

Well, the internet makes everything better, I guess. Writing my post last night, and getting comments here and at a forum (unrelated to drinking) that I frequent, plus a healthy hour of yoga this morning (I am one of "those guys" now, with the yoga mat. This could be a horror story for hard core drinkers: if you ever stop drinking, this is what you become! Muhahaha!) have improved my mood. I'm not so much sad anymore as "contemplative" and "introspective" and "meditative" or something. I can ease back into feeling kind of melancholy again, but I'm also well-placed to ease into "content" or "pleasantly centred," so I'll take that.


Just over a year ago, I flew back home to Halifax for my brother's wedding. I was still drinking, and if you had told me that in less than a week I would begin my longest period of sobriety in my adult life, I would have been extremely skeptical. I'd been thinking about my drinking a lot, but not in any specific way. I was coming off of a very difficult summer where all of the high points had turned out to be low points, and I was not very happy.

Despite the fact that no one involved in the wedding had any idea what was going on until the very last minute, it was a beautiful day in the end. The bride was 25 minutes late, as is her right, and she was beautiful. My brother looked like my brother, a bit of a cad, but one in a tux at least, and a gentle and caring and funny guy, like he's been his whole life. My mom, who is a minister, officiated the ceremony, I read a poem, they said their vows, we took pictures all over the church and then us wedding party people went off to take more pictures before the reception, and everybody had a good time.

Afterwards, us guys went back to my brother's place to chill for an hour (turned out to be three hours) while the bride, my new sister-in-law, got ready with the maids of honour. Us guys shared some pot, had a beer or two, and toasted my brother and shook our heads, amazed at what he'd gotten himself into. When the bride was ready, we regrouped, took more pictures, and then it was reception time.

And then, for me, the whole day went downhill. First, I had to moderate my drinking, because I had to give a speech for my side of the family, and I wanted it to be a good one (and I hadn't written it yet!). I watched as everyone got tipsier and tipsier, and I just nursed my drinks, getting drunk, but not as drunk as I wanted to be. Not even close to that drunk I wanted to be.

I gave my speech, and it was good, and then, suddenly, I felt stuck. I was anxious. I was hyper-aware of myself. I had to represent the family. I couldn't get loaded, what if I did or something awful? But I wanted to drink. I wanted to drink so badly. The whole evening, the only thing, the ONLY thing I could think about was how much I wanted to get drunk, to just leave that party, go someplace private, and drink until I got where I wanted to be. I hated everyone who was drinking. I hated everyone who wasn't drinking. Every thought I had was twisted by wanting a drink. I was miserable.

Eventually, my boyfriend and I went back to our hotel room, and the next day we flew back home to Toronto. I felt awful and guilty and horrible. What had just happened? My little brother had just gotten married to a truly wonderful woman (I love my brother, but there is a very convincing argument for the idea that she is a little bit better than he might deserve), I'd had a chance to connect with family I hadn't seen in years, everything about the day had been perfect....and I had felt miserable. What was wrong with me?

I knew it was the drinking. Weddings are crazy, stressful, emotionally charged events, but I knew deep down that none of that mattered. What mattered was that I was miserable only because I had felt like I couldn't pour enough booze down my throat. What mattered was that if given a choice between that wedding or staying at home getting drunk, I knew which I would truly prefer. I vowed that day, my first day back, a Sunday, to moderate my drinking and get it under control.

But then, three days later, Wednesday night, the night I liked to watch Survivor on TV, I bought a 12-pack of beer and was getting drunk by myself again, as if I'd learned nothing at all. I don't even remember how I made the decision, but at some point that evening, I stood up, walked to the calendar in the kitchen and wrote "last drink" on it. It was October 5th.


Since then, I've had to face the truth. There is no "moderation" for me. There is no "getting this under control." If I drink, I lose control. that's a fact. It's a hard fact, but I can't change it.

On the surface, I don't know how much has changed. I'm not suddenly living in a mansion or getting promotions left and right. I'm actually unemployed, so, maybe there's a cautionary tale somewhere in this, ha ha. But I do feel better. Overall, averaged over the year, I'm better. My first entry I said I wanted to be a better person, to be smarter and more caring, to be successful in my career and my relationships. I left my job, but that was to pursue my education, and I think that was a good choice. I think I'm meeting those goals. I think I am smarter, more caring, and I think my relationships are stronger, too.

I am better.


This morning, my boyfriend left a note on my computer's keyboard. It says, in part:

CHEERS to a full year of sobriety! I am so impressed with your control, discipline, and self-care. I am glad you've found the love for yourself required to stay strong for a full year.
 I am caring for myself. I am learning to love myself. I am discovering strength and discipline within myself.

This is what a year of sobriety feels like. It wasn't as bad as I was afraid it would be. There were pleasures and surprises I never expected to find. I am learning what living really means, and how precious my life really is, and I'm learning to savour and respect the moments I have, because each one is unique and special and will never come again. I am learning to see and feel beyond the superficial, to not be as afraid of the depths. I am learning wisdom.

Looking back, one year seems like such a short time, and the year ahead feels like it could last forever. I'm eager to learn what a second year of sobriety is like, what surprises and lessons the universe has in store. What will I learn, about myself, about the world? What next?

My name is Marc, and I am still Dry.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pre-Sober Eve

Tomorrow is my 1 year anniversary of my last drink. Tonight I don't have anything inspirational to say. In fact, I just went for a walk just to get out of the apartment because I'm feeling....I don't know, hollow? Kind of?

On my walk, I passed by the wine store. It's doors were open and a couple of people were laughing together as they left. Inside, it was bright and inviting. I passed by the millions of bars in my neighbourhood, filled with people enjoying one of the last days on the patio before winter strikes, clinking glasses and catching up with friends. I went to the grocery store, where the new liquor store happens to be, one of the few that I've actually been in since I decided to be a sober person full-time.

At the grocery store, I bought some turkey burgers and, because I have this sad, hollow kind of feeling, two bottles of flavoured sparkling water. I think that sparkling water companies should market to us sober people. I think sparkling water just might have saved some lives...or at least livers.

Tonight I will drink of the pomegranate sparkling water, and tomorrow, the day I've chosen as my true anniversary (I'm celebrating my "last drink" instead of my "first full day sober"), I'll have the Italian Lemonade, and this will be fine.

So, I'm sad for a few reasons, but I'm still going to raise a glass to me. Because my being sober is nothing to be sad about. I've done a year, and I hope to do many, many more years, and I hope this one was the hardest.

Tomorrow I'll write a real post, instead of this place-holder. But if you're reading this, and you have a glass of sparkling water nearby, feel free to raise your glass with mine, in recognition of this lonely, strange, and brave journey we're on.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Clear sailing

I'm going to try to be brief today, mostly because I don't have much to complain about, but I do have an observation.

The hardest parts of sobriety are when the problems just keep piling on and there's no end in sight. Even if I know intellectually that the hard times are temporary, even if I know the exact date when I won't have to worry about the problems, it can still seem like my problems will last forever. Every step I have to take feels like slogging through knee-deep mud.

The best parts of sobriety, though, are the moments like right now, when the problems get resolved and I'm sober enough to enjoy them. I found out today that my student loan has been approved and so I should be all set to start school in January. This was THE biggest worry for me since I made the decision to go back in June, so right now having it resolved is....really, really nice.

It's nice because I succeeded, but it's even more nice because I know that I weathered a fair amount of stress without having a drink. When I told myself, during those dark moments, that nothing lasts forever, I was telling myself the truth. I can use this to reinforce myself against doubts the next time I'm in a tough place.

If something like this had happened a year ago, tonight would involve me going out and getting drunk. Strangely, I don't want to do that at all. It's more than enough to enjoy this relief and satisfaction with my faculties intact. The next few days (before I have to buckle down and study for an intro psych exam for a course I took over the last couple of months) I can really relax and focus on other things.

At any rate (I hope I'm not jinxing myself here), I have 2 weeks to go until my first year anniversary sober, and I'm pretty sure it's gonna be smooth sailing until then.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"I only saw you drink beer."

Today was a frustrating day in being sober. I was out with a very close friend for dinner, just to reconnect. She's been having a rough time of it. We met as co-workers, and we actually left our jobs within a month of each other, so the ups and downs we've had to face have sometimes mirrored each other. She's been crucial for me to talk about some of my work-related, job-hunting-related, and life-is-stressful related things, and I try to be there for her in the same way.

She'd had a terrible day at work, and so she ordered a drink to take the edge off. I happen to know that she isn't quite comfortable with my sobriety so I saw that there were "non-alcoholic slushies" and I ordered a peach one "in solidarity." A few sips in, though, and I felt like something wasn't right. What if the waitress had misheard me or the person who made the drink had misunderstood? Was there rum in my drink? I honestly couldn't tell. I started to feel a little light-headed and worried that it was the beginning of a buzz. I asked my friend to taste it, but she said she couldn't taste anything alcoholic. I ended up calling the waitress over and asked her, but she promised me that it was a non-alcoholic drink, as I'd ordered, and that she'd been there when it was made: just slush and syrup blended together, but she'd be happy to get me a new one if I wanted. I said that was fine. I could trust her, right?

I tentatively took another sip, and this time I couldn't taste any alcohol, just super-sweet peach syrup. My light-headedness was passing and it occured to me that it might have been a symptom of my panic*. Even so, I had to set the drink aside for a while because I just didn't trust it. Having it in my eye-line was kind of upsetting to me in a weird way.

After the waitress left, I apologized for my little ex-alcoholic freak out, and she said something like, "You aren't really an alcoholic, though, are you? I've only ever seen you drink beer."

Like I said, this friend is very close to me, and I love her always, but the only times I ever get frustrated with her is that she's made comments like this before, and I feel like I have to do "alcoholism 101" with her every 3 months or so.

So, I explained that it doesn't matter if it's beer or not, I'm addicted to the alcohol, not the delivery method. I explained how I would monitor what and where I drank, so that most people only ever saw me drink beer, but that I usually had a big ol' bottle of vodka or whisky somewhere at home. I explained that when I said a 12-pack of beer would last me to the weekend, the truth was that 10 of those beer would be gone the first night and I'd suppliment the 12-pack with a six pack the next day (or else the vodka). I told her about how I was stealing booze from my parents and getting a regular buzz on every weekend from about age 14 or 15, and how 3 to 5 nights out of the week I'd just stay home and get drunk, even if I'd told myself I wasn't going to do that. I explained that even if I had one drink by accident, as soon as that drink was done, I would be craving the next one until I was drinking all the time again.

All this explaining happened in a conversation, and it was nice to vocalize my reasons for being sober again. But's frustrating. Frustrating because it's not fun to have a booze-related panic attack in public, frustrating because I didn't necessarily want to "out" myself to the waitress (she was totally cool), and frustrating because sometimes I wish this didn't set me apart so that I could be so casually reminded of how different I am, just from one careless phrase.

And most frustrating, is that even though I know I'm not drunk, even though I'm confident the drink was booze free, I had no lasting buzz other than that (possibly panic-induced) moment of light-headedness...even though there's no evidence at all that there was any alcohol in the beverage at all, there's still a part of my brain going "....but what if it was....what if you just drank alcohol...what if your sobreity is back to day one...."

That, my friends, is frustrating.

*I'm using the word "panic" but it occurs to me that this was more of an anxiety attack. People who've had both know that there's a BIG difference between the two, so just replace the word "panic" with anxiety if you're sensitive to that difference.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Working it out

I still have my 2011 calendar, kicking around somewhere under all my piles of stuff. A few weeks ago my boyfriend asked if he could throw it out and I said "No!" as if I was afraid 2011 would come back again at the same time as a total collapse of the naked man calendar industry (I buy naked man calendars. It's my concession to my gayness). The reason I gave was that I've been tracking the days I go to the gym since October of last year, and I want to have a physical reminder of that accomplishment, which is true, but only partly. That calendar also has the day on October 5th where I wrote "last drink."

It's not a coincidence that I made a commitment to go to the gym regularly around the same time as giving up booze. Part of giving up drinking was a realization that my life was going in the wrong direction, that I was on track towards meeting absolutely none of my life's goals, and while I'm sure no one ever gets to follow ALL of their dreams, it seems pretty sad to have made no progress on ANY of them. To have barely even tried? That was shameful. Drinking had to go.

So, I gave up drinking to get in better shape. But what I didn't really grasp was how getting in better shape would help me to keep from drinking.

To anyone in their early days of recovery: get active. It doesn't matter what you do: swim, jog, join a softball league, go for walks with a neighbour, work out with a Wii fit in the privacy of your home, learn to skate or ski or horseback riding or frisbee ("flying disc"), play catch with your kids or rugby with your mates. The activity and making it a routine will save your sanity.

I started this week with a personal trainer, and while my life is still a train wreck right now, my mood is much, much improved over last week. I still have all my problems (and in two weeks, my automatic withdrawal for the trainer might not go through, har de har), but being in this much pain (I mean, these guys are sadists!) has really cheered me up.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

11 months

I'm 11 months sober, which puts me in new and unfamiliar territory. My last significant time not drinking only lasted about 11 months (I don't remember the exact length, so "11 months" is what I decided on), and that was almost a decade ago. From here on (plus or minus a few days), I will be sober for the longest time in my life.

Unlike that last time, I'm not ambivalent at all about being sober. Sobriety is a good thing for me, and drinking is a very bad thing for me. If the question ever comes up "how do you know you can't just moderate your drinking, now that you broke your habit?" I thankfully have that relapse as an example. Back then, the idea was to drink in moderation and never end up an alcoholic. It took me basically zero time to ramp up my drinking to pre-abstinance levels, and then I wasted at least 7 years of my life as a drinker. I don't want to waste another 7 years for another relapse: that relapse was my last.

It's a good thing, too. I'm depressed. Today, things are looking up 'and maybe tomorrow will be better, but for the last 2 weeks, maybe even the last few months, there's been a cloud hanging over me. This last month there's been a fair bit of disappointment and concern for me and my partner, and the stress is wearing on me. I have moments where things seem hopeless, and the bulk of my time I feel like I'm trudging through a swamp, just putting a foot in front of the other, with no idea if this swamp really has an end. It sucks.

But being sober is not a question. On this front, whether I'm happy or sad, healthy or depressed, I can be a little bit confident. I feel like I've done my homework (not to say I get to stop: there's always homework). I've put a lot of effort and thought into why I'm doing this, and I've trained myself to understand that drinking is not an option. I know that no matter how difficult my life is at any given time, there is nothing so bad that a drink can't make it worse. Maybe I'll continue to be depressed, maybe I'll end up worse off next year, maybe I'm on a slow-motion trainwreck and there's nothing I can do to stop it. That may all be true, but I know that if I relapse, whatever horrors that are in store for me will seem like a picnic compared to what I'll face as a drinker.

I had a conversation today with a good friend, and she kept apologizing for her yawning. She said that she's been drinking a lot more because of the stress in her life, and so she was up late last night having some wine and that's why she was tired today. I get it, I understand. I didn't really get into it with her, because I don't feel like I can comment when someone else talks about their drinking (because if they're "normal" their experiences and my experiences with booze are VERY different, and if they're like me, there's nothing I can say that they'll listen to until they're ready), but what I thought to myself was "Can you imagine dealing with all this stuff AND being hungover and sleep-deprived??" It was a reminder of the life I've given up.

When I look for reminders of why I'm sober, I find them, because they're all around me. I do need to continue working on this, because like physical muscles, my sobriety muscles can atrophy with time, but as far as this sober thing goes, I'm in a very good place. I didn't expect the "unfamiliar territory" of sobriety past 11 months to feel like this: it feels pretty comforting.


Oh! And shout out to Mrs D on her 1 year sober anniversary!! Congrats!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Cottage Debrief

Well, I'm back from my week at a friend's cottage, and I'm still sober. Victory!

I'm not going to lie, there were some really tough, really challenging moments during the week. Camping and cottaging are big-time triggers for me, I guess. I think it's because when I was drinking, these type of vacations were when I would give myself absolute permission to let loose: start with alcohol-infused coffee in the morning, maybe mimosas or a pre-lunch beer, and work my way up to the hard stuff for the campfire bits...and do this the whole week.

It started even before I left. While I was shopping for snacks for the trip up, I found myself tempted by the no/low-alcohol beer section in the store. That was a warning sign. I'm not sure if drinking fake beer would trigger my addiction responses or not, but I'm not eager to test my mettle. Testing myself is a really good way to earn a relapse. What if I try a cold fake beer and find out that I really, really miss the real thing?

At the cottage, it was really hard the first morning to watch everyone share my partner's Bailey's. My boyfriend even got himself drunk before 11am. I found myself missing that devil-may-care attitude. Later, when we went for a supply run to the nearby town, I found myself in the liquor store, surrounded by so much booze. Still, I stayed strong.

The parts where I was tempted were really difficult, and I did find myself wondering if it was always going to be that hard. And, maybe it will be, but I stayed sober anyway. And there were moments that week where it was really, really good that I did.

One night, we were playing boardgames and my partner, who was a bit tipsy, lost his temper and snapped at me. It happens. But in the moment, when I was about to lose my temper back at him, I was able to pull back. I had a moment where I was able to see past how angry and hurt I was and instead of hurting him back by saying something vicious and quitting the game, causing a scene in front of all of our friends, I just gave myself some time to just collect myself and less than 5 minutes later, everyone was back to having fun (and I won that game, too). That could not have happened if I'd been drinking. Being sober gave me a chance to reflect on my feelings, and I was able to bring it up with my boyfriend later when we were both calm, and we talked through it. Maybe that's what life is like for everyone most of the time, but I really felt like a superhero in that moment.

On the last day, getting a drive back into town to catch our bus, I suddenly remembered the year before, and how grumpy I'd been on the whole ride home, mostly because I was hungover and had gone on a ridiculous bender the night before. This time, there was no guilt, no shame, no physical or psychological sickness.

When I started my sober thing 11 months ago, I knew this trip to the cottage would be a challenge. I was afraid of it. I'm really, really glad to have it behind me, and to know that I succeeded. It`s one more milestone on this new path. I've got other challenges ahead of me (and leave it to byebyebeer to post about relapse warning signs, just in the nick of time), but right now I've earned myself a pat on the back.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I am officially on vacation. I am also unemployed, so it suggests the question: "How do I know I am on vacation and not just being lazy?"

I don't really have an answer to that, except that I have given myself permission to not worry about anything until September 1st, and then at that time I will worry about everything.

We're actually going to a friend's cottage for a week, leaving Wednesday, which will really help with the "not worrying" part. I'm looking forward to it, even though there's a little bit of worry about the not-drinking thing. I shouldn't worry about that, as the people I will be hanging out with are not big drinkers. What I will miss is the tradition of waking up and having "special coffees" in the morning (with Bailey's). I'm going to get myself some sort of flavoured creamer (non-alcoholic) so that I can pretend that's what I'm doing. I usually drink my coffee black, so having something else in it will give me the illusion of something special.

What I will NOT miss is the constant monitoring of everyone else around me to decide if I can drink more without setting off anyone's "is he drinking too much?" meters.

Other than the cottage, I am also reading/working through a book by Sarah Domet called 90 Days to your Novel, which, as it says, is a step-by-step guide to writing a novel in ninety days. Today was day one. It requires that I spend 2-3 hours -minimum- each day writing, which, even doing nothing, will be rough. Today I wrote for about 1 and a half hours, so, not a success...but not a complete failure, either.

After my vacation, my goals are: 1)writing 2)part-time-job-hunting 3)student-loan securing 4)gym-stuff (have I mentioned I've heard a personal trainer? I have. it starts september 4th. I'm frightened) 5)one more class from school.

That should be enough to keep me busy.

Anyway, since I am on vacation, I am not worried about anything for the next two weeks!!

Friday, August 17, 2012


I have a draft version of this post that was a bit of a downer. I started writing it yesterday, but got bogged down in history, and was feeling pretty lame about myself. In short, I waited too long to apply for a student loan, and so my school is saying that I can only register for the January semester, which is not what I wanted. I want to be a full-time student now! Now, now, now!!

All summer, I've had my hopes set on returning to school full time in September. I'm in a bit of a tricky situation right now, because I'm unemployed and on employment insurance. I was hoping to get the loan quickly so that I could get off EI, then get a part time job, but mostly focus on my studies. On my loan application, I filled out my projected earnings based on that, but if I'm not getting a loan this fall, that means I have to get a full time job, which will change my projected earnings, which means that what I put on my application is incorrect, and now I have this terrible fear that everything is ruined and my hope of going back to school was ruined before I even started.

It can't be as dire as all that. But I'm still freaking out. Last night I couldn't get to sleep (though thank goodness for the boyfriend: he did and said all the right things. He couldn't make the problems go away, but his being there reminded me that I'm not the loser asshole that I was thinking I was). I'm still not sure what I'm going to do.

Actually, that's not true. There's a course of action I can take, and all it means is that my education is delayed by 4 months, which I can easily make up if I take a full course load next summer. 4 months isn't an insane amount of time.

What I have to deal with right now is understanding that even if I do all the right things, I still may not get what I want or need. I may be disappointed. My funding may not come through. This is really hard for me, because part of my strategy for being sober rests heavily on the idea that being sober is going to make my life better....which, no, sobriety is not a magic wand. Drinking would certainly make my life worse, but that does not mean that sobriety will make my life better...if that makes sense.

If I go into things believing that I will succeed, just because I'm sober, I will be disappointed. Sooner or later I will have to accept that the world doesn't work that way. The world is not a vending machine where, if I put the right actions in, I will get my favourite tasty treat out. The world is complicated and messy. The world is cruel and cold. Outside of my precious sphere of loved ones, the world doesn't care about me.

It's wrong for me to expect good things just because I'm working hard at being sober. I can't let myself think that the world will reward my sobriety. If I need to draw on more strength to say no to drinking, I have to find that strength elsewhere.

Hm. I'm concerned that this post is reading just as bad as the draft one was. But it shouldn't. Part of what makes booze so bad for me is that it created a world of illusions, where I could keep making horrible decisions and still convince myself that everything was okay. Being sober doesn't mean that I get what I want when I want it, it means that I can see past the illusions. Seeing things as they are means that sometimes what I see will be ugly or disappointing, but seeing things honestly is important to me. And that is a better reason to stay sober.

And another benefit of seeing things more clearly is that I can see that, even with this minor set-back, I have a lot in my life to be thankful for. I can see how amazing my partner is, for example. And I can reflect on the actions I took and realise that, yeah, they didn't turn out the way I'd like, but I still took all the right actions. I can't blame myself for this situation being what it is...and for someone who still carries a fair amount of guilt for his past actions, that's a pretty impressive thing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Disappointed Animals

I really should be going to bed, but clicked a link to a list of disappointed (but adorable) animals that I wanted to share. A lot of the captions (a LOT) have the animals being disappointed about something alcohol-related, so I thought that maybe some of my readers could use them as a light-hearted way to remind ourselves why we're doing the sober thing. You wouldn't want to tick off a bunch of cute animals, would you?

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I passed ten months sober last weekend, and I guess it was what I would call a hard weekend. Not necessarily that I would drink, but that I was thinking a lot about drinking, and caught myself throughout the weekend (and a little bit this past week) being nostalgic for the booze. If I look back, I think there were warning signs, little, tiny minor things that were creeping into my thought patterns and actions that could be echoes of my brain when I was drinking. Just little lies I would tell myself, that didn't hurt anyone, but didn't really help anything, either. Why was I lying, to myself, about stuff that I didn't need to lie about?

The details aren't really important, but basically I'm at one of those points where I'm worried about an outcome (getting a student loan), have done all of the things I need to do (fill out forms and send them in), and now the only thing left to do is wait. So, there's no control at this point. If anyone watched the Mars rover, Curiosity, land....those "14 minutes of terror" where none of the NASA controllers can do anything and just have to wait to see if their robots are smart enough to do everything right, well, this is just like that. Except weeks instead of minutes. And a lot more boring.

Anyway, all this stress was creeping up on me and I didn't really notice it until the Friday. My bf had some friends over before going out, and I decided to just hide in the bedroom and read (something I do, sometimes...I'm not always very social). When they left, I crept out of my room and suddenly I simply had to know if they had been drinking, and if there was any alcohol still in the apartment. I didn't intend to drink it, I assured myself (and I do believe it), but I still wanted to know.

There wasn't any booze, but (and this is where I kind of creep myself out) there was a shot glass, which I raised to my nose to sniff. Yep, there had been a really bad-smelling alcoholic drink in there. It was when I smelled it that I realised how crazy I was being, and that scared me.

The last time I was this long sober, about 7 years ago, I lasted 11 months. And I am at 10 months. I'm nervous. I feel like there's a trap around here waiting to be sprung.

The difference from last time is that back then, I never made the decision to quit forever. Even though I was sober for 11 months, I hadn't taken that last step, the one that I'm now sure that I, personally, have to take for my well being, which is admitting that I can not ever drink again. Back then, my sobriety was an experiment. I was just seeing if I could do it. And then the plan would be to gently ease myself into responsible drinking and live happily ever after, the fairy tale of being able to live a good life AND get wasted whenever I wanted.

So, that's a pretty big difference. I'm certain that it's the big difference. And the fact is that ever since I came clean about my inability to control alcohol and admitted that I could never drink again, every day ever since has been easier. That admission closes the door on a lot of the options I might have thought I had. This isn't an experiment. I had the experiment, I got my results.

I think last weekend my confidence was shaken. A couple of days later, the Sunday, I made myself go out with some friends to a dance club that has a retro night every now and then, and had a small panic attack when I realised that I was drinking soda water and my boyfriend had ordered a vodka and soda....what if we mixed up the glasses?! It was like a drunk dream happening in real life. I worked through it, and eventually had a good time (and came home just in time to watch the Mars landing, which was awesome....wouldn't have done that if I was still drinking).

I'm not sure where I stand right now. I guess it's a good sign that my biggest fear is that I might accidently start drinking again (do I live on a sitcom where misunderstandings and hillarious mix-ups happen every week?, like, I will trip and my lips will fall onto a beer bottle and then suddenly I'm guzzling cheap booze like there's no tomorrow....if my biggest fears are things that happen in cartoons, then maybe I'm okay.

But I also think that I had a close call. Like, what if, while I was already feeling like that, some life crisis had happened, and then a well-meaning friend offered me a shot to feel a little better? Would I have had the reserves to stay sober?

In the end, it keeps coming back to the basics. I can't know the future, there are a limitted number of variables I can control. I know that I want to be sober. I know that even if I do stumble, I will keep on trying to quit until I get it right. I know that I am strong enough to be sober today, and I will probably be strong enough tomorrow, and that every day that I don't drink is a victory and makes the next day a little easier.

I'm already making plans to have a quiet, little party for myself (and maybe the boyfriend) when October 5th, 2012 comes around. I want to write a post here. I want to give myself a hug. I want to go to a bookstore and spend a crazy amount of money on books instead of booze. I want to tell people how proud I am of myself, and I want a kiss from my bf when he tells me he's proud of me, too.

I'll get through this case of nerves, and I will do that while sober.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Okay, so, first: blogger has deleted my reading list, for some reason(Edit: No it hasn't. Must have been a temporary glitch). Most of the people I read I found their blogs because they commented here. If you could just make a quick comment with a link to your blog so that I can re-add you, I'd appreciate it.(Edit: don't worry about it, I have all of you. But feel free to comment anyway!) onto my real post, I guess.

I'm not sure if this happens to anyone else, but sometimes I'll be at a party or hanging out with friends, and I will accidently stumble over some words or do something clumsy like spilling my drink or whatever, and I instantly fill with fear and guilt. I'm suddenly afraid that whoever I'm talking with will think that I've fallen off the wagon and that instead of just soda water in my glass, I'm actually imbibing straight vodka and am three sheets to the wind. I get as far as thinking up excuses and preparing to let them try my drink to prove that I'm still sober before I stop and realise that the melodrama is all happening in my head and that in all likelihood the person I'm talking to doesn't even care if I've been drinking a lot.

As uncomfortable as these random moments are, I never really gave them much thought, but when I was trying to fall asleep a few nights ago, I realized that these moments are probably left-over bits from my drinking days when I really was trying to pretend to the world that I wasn't as drunk as maybe I might seem. The brain is lazy, and when it finds a pattern of activity, it likes to start taking shortcuts: this is why we sometimes put meatloaf in the fridge instead of the oven or pick up the phone when the doorbell rings: instead of wasting all that time thinking about every step of meatloaf baking or door answering, our brains select a pre-recorded pattern of actions and sets itself on autopilot so it can focus on more important things, like making to-do lists or remembering our favourite American idol contestant. And sometimes our brain just chooses the wrong pre-recorded pattern and we don't realise it until we check to see if the meatloaf is ready yet (it isn't, because we put it in the fridge!) or can't hear anyone on the phone when we say "Hello?"

When I was a drinker, it was very important for me to never, ever appear as drunk as I actually was. Appearing drunk could get you kicked out of the bar, or cause the beer store clerk to decide not to ring through your order, or else cause everyone else at the party to wonder if you've had a bit too much and maybe it's time for everything to wind down for the night. Even the day after, it's important that no one thinks things got out of hand, if only to avoid the "Marc, let's talk about your drinking...." conversations that never end well because if I can't see a problem, shouldn't everyone else mind their own business?

Addiction hijacks the brain so that we become drug-seeking machines, and so a lot of my thought went toward making sure I would always have as much access to booze as possible. It's a tricky balance: how can one get completely, brain-numbingly, eye-wateringly drunk while still appearing relatively sober to the outside world? The drunker you get, the more difficult it is to do, but the more important it is that you do it, because what if you get cut off before you can pass out? Game over, man. Game over.

Now, the rules have changed. I'm not drunk, ever, so it's actually become staggeringly easy to appear sober. I just act like myself. I now have a whole bunch of neurons and synapses and neural circuits in my brain that have nothing to do. Or, almost nothing: because I'm human, I sometimes stumble over my words, or sometimes spill a drink, or stub my toe, or make a bad joke or non-sequitur.....and when I do, all those neurons and synapses fire up, thinking: "This is our moment, guys! Time to make sure our cover isn't blown!"

In time, my brain will figure out that I don't need those behaviour patterns anymore. As it does, it will gradually co-opt those connections into other patterns and circuits that I do use, and I will get slightly better at, say, remembering episodes of Community or studying for exams or making meatloaf. Because the brain is conservative and doesn't always like changing existing patterns (breaking habits is hard), there may always be a ghost of this obsolete fear of appearing too drunk, haunting the darker corners of my brain....but that's only human. I mean, I still remember most of the words to the theme song of Perfect Strangers and that show hasn't been on TV in over two decades (I also remember part of the Bibby Bobka Ditty....). I can live with that.

Today's post, in case you're wondering, has been brought to you by my psychology textbook, which I have clearly been reading too much of.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Stick

Well, so far this summer is going fine. No real temptations to drink (I get little "micro-temptations" every now and then - a brief, wistful thought, "Boy a beer would be great today!" that is instant banished), in part because, I think, last summer was so horrible. Last summer, booze was king, and booze ruined pretty much every typical summery event there was, either by me skipping the event so I could stay in and drink myself, me skipping the event because I was hungover, or me attending the event and being so drunk that I said and did things I'm not happy with and will carry the shame with me forever.

So this summer, I have the handy crutch of - when I go to a BBQ, say, or next month when I go to a friend's cottage - knowing that if I choose to drink, I have a recent, horrific example to compare consequences with.

I'm a little bit nervous about the cottage, actually. Not because of the possibility I might drink, but because of knowing what I did last year. On the second-to-last night there, after everyone else had tired of the camp fire and gone inside to bed, I stayed up and drank. Hard-core. And it was a BAD drunk, where I worked myself up into a rage about something. I sobbed and fumed. Thank goodness I didn't yell or shout (that I remember....), it was a quiet rage. But when I ran out of logs for the fire, I crept over to other peoples' cottages and stole firewood from their property and probably (I can't remember) engaged in some "minor vandalism" - like tipping over garbage cans and the like (but I can't remember if I did this....I just have that deep feeling in my gut that I did things I don't remember that I would be ashamed of).

So far as I know, no one really noticed, and I was invited back this year. But what happened last year CAN NOT HAPPEN.

There are positive reasons to stay sober, like my health and getting shit done, and there are reasons that come from a negative place, a place of embarrassment and shame. The carrot and the stick model of motivation, I suppose. In the end, I'll take whatever works.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


There's a lot of stuff I'm never doing to be able to do. I'll never be a brain surgeon. I won't be an astronaut. I'll never run track in the Olympics.

There are also plenty of reasonable things that I'll never be able to do. Have a clean house, for example. I'm naturally messy*, and any place that I've been for longer than a day or two slowly fills up with loose papers, scattered books, etc. Since quitting the booze, I've gotten better...the dishes are done almost daily, same for laundry. I usually clean (with the bf) the bathroom and kitchen at least twice a month. No one will ever put a picture of our apartment on a magazine cover (unless it's a "before" shot for some magic organizational system), but we have the comfort in knowing that we are not a hospitable place for bugs and germs.

When I was drinking, those simple chores didn't get done. I'm embarrassed to think about the conditions I lived in, especially during the lowest points. Years ago, just before I became a homeless vagabond, I left a large stain of some red vermouth or something on the floor for a month. I never cleaned it up: I was evicted before I could. If I'd just taken a cloth and wiped at it as soon as I spilled it, there would have been no problem, but for some reason that seemed like too much for me.

One of the challenges a lot of ex-alcoholics seem to have is fighting boredom, and I'm one of them. If anything, booze and pot are great time-fillers. They're so good at filling time that they crowd out everything else. And when you take them away it's like suddenly living in an apartment with no furniture, just a big empty room with nothing to do.

But that's an illusion.

One of the things I'm learning is that there is always something to do. Those somethings have always been there, but I was blissfully ignoring them. Dishes, laundry, studying, tidying....but not just the tedious stuff. I love to read, and now I have all this time for books. I can watch movies (and remember them!). I go to the gym, sometimes just to fill up time, and I always feel better afterward. I play with the bf (he says he hates being tickled, but he's a giggler and sometimes he's just asking for it!), I write emails to my parents, I walk through my neighbourhood, or to the local inner city farm, or one of the dozens of parks nearby.

And all of these things that I do to "fill up time" are constructive. At the end of them, I've got a cleaner house, or I've learned something interesting from a book, or I'm in better shape, or my relationships are stronger.

I heard somewhere once that if you're bored, you're not paying attention, and I'm trying to live like that. It's really difficult sometimes, but I'm learning to read my boredom as a signal. If I'm bored, then maybe I should do something? I've got dozens of choices, inside or outside, and all of them make my life a little bit better.

So maybe I've been wrong to think of boredom as the enemy. Boredom is my brain reminding me that I've got one life, and I better spend it by living.

*There is a distinction between "messy" and "dirty" that probably only slobs like me can distinguish.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fit for life

I'm sober 9 months as of today. Since I quit booze (after a few months where I replaced it with chocolate and poutine), I've lost 6-7 inches on my hips and 5 inches on my gut. My chest, the one my mom tells me I inherrited from my "barrel-chested" great grandfather, remains unchanged, but that's fine by me. I weighed in at my dietitician's office last week at 244lbs, which means I've also lost about 15-20 pounds.

It's not just the booze. I've been excercising more often (which I can only do because I'm not hungover half the days of the week), and I'm starting to kick it up a notch. As I mentioned, I saw a dietician last week (her big message: "Eat more vegetables!!"), and I'm making a commitment to get 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week in addition to lifting weights.

All of this is really important to me. I just turned 35, and all my life I've felt like the "fat kid". More than that, I've always wanted to be muscular. I'm embarassed to talk about that, but I see bodybuilders and strength athletes and I'm always in awe, I always want to look like that. At least a little bit. I've been going to gyms and lifting weights since I was 15, but never consistently: I'll work out for 2 weeks and then stop for months, go back for a day but then be back to eating burgers and gravy-laden fries for a season or a year.

Weightlifting and bodybuilding are more like marathons than sprints, you need to make small good choices one after another for the long term, and I was nowhere near mentally able to handle a marathon. I would read articles and websites about fitness, I knew what I needed to do and what I needed to eat....I just never did it. Last year, when I was deep in the thick of realizing how shitty I felt and that I needed to change, my physical condition was one of my biggest regrets.

The other big regret (and bear with me for what seems like a subject change) is my education. In junior high, I scored the highest in the school on the provincial achievement test. In high school, I was tied for 13th highest GPA. I got accepted into the neursocience program at Dalhousie (a great university in Atlantic Canada) and planned to become a brain surgeon. In my first year, I got an A in the core psych course for my major.

Two years after that, I dropped out of university, probably weeks before I got kicked out for not maintaining my GPA. I was skipping classes, failing exams, not attending labs. But while I wasn't showing up for classes, you could count on me showing up at the liquor store every payday. The apartment I shared with my brother before I moved in with my then-boyfriend, had an entire wall dedicated to my empties: cases of beer piled atop each other, King Sized bottles of vodka and whiskey filling a recycling bin. And piles of pizza boxes so high they could crush a small child if they toppled over.

There are probably a few reasons why I failed at university, but the absolute biggest one was the booze. And ever since, I've been this really smart, really intelligent guy (I'm owning this, because it's true, dammit!) working at customer service jobs and feeling like a failure. Without the booze, would I be a brain surgeon right now? Would I be working in a lab somewhere doing research, or operating on people with cancer? I try not to think about this alternate me, because it's a fool's game. No one's gonna take me back in time and fix all that.

Every now and then I would try the school thing again. My CV is littered with half-completed community college programs. I've done creative writing, I've done editing, and I've done Human Resources....but I haven't finished any of those certificates. I just completed one or two classes and dropped out. Because, like fitness, higher education is a marathon, not a sprint. (Aha! I told you I was going somewhere!)

This week I submitted an application for a student loan. If I can somehow work it out, I am going to return to school full time. I'm already registered at a distance education university and am partway through a class where I scored a 90% on the first quiz. I want to get my degree, this time in psychology. I feel like I can do this, and more than that I feel like I HAVE to do this. I need to take control of my life, something I haven't had in the twenty years since I started drinking.

My fitness goals and my education goals will take a lot of hard work, and dedication, and focus. But I'm ready for that. When I first gave up alcohol, I wasn't sure if it was going to be for a month or a year or forever. I know that it has to be forever, I don't have any choice. I worried and hesitated about that...give up booze FOREVER? But where I am now, I see just how much space alcohol was taking in my life, space that should have gone towards other things, like school, like my health, like my relationships and my interests. Where I was once worried about how to deal with the void that alcohol was going to leave, I see all of these other things, these great and wonderful and fulfilling things, rushing in to fill the hole.

The longer I'm sober, the more I see all that I have to gain. Maybe I don't always feel this way, but I'm working on it. Because life, just like school and fitness and a hell of a lot of other stuff worth doing, is a marathon. And this time I'm ready.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Choosing Life

No joke, but someone jumped (or fell? Or was pushed?) to their death from my building this afternoon. I was home but was watching a dvd and didn't have a clue until my boyfriend called me in a panic to make sure I was alive. He's been worried about my anxiety and knows that sometimes I battle depression....we also had a bit of a grumpy morning and maybe he was worried that he'd pushed me over the edge.

I'm the kind of person to make jokes about this sort of thing. It's nerves. I also have a keen sense of the absurd, and life (and death) are absurd....but mostly it's nerves. I've known 3 people who have tried to kill themselves, one of whom succeeded and the other two are still (thankfully) alive and doing well. The one who did die was a friend of my brother's, and he stabbed himself when he was only 16 years old (I was around 18 or 19 at the time). And, because of my bouts with depression, I've certainly considered suicide at certain low points of my life.

I've always chosen life, but I can very easily imagine being the person today, how lonely and pain-filled they must have felt. I guess it's a flaw in our psychology, how we can get so trapped in despair and lose sight of possibility.

What I think has gotten me through has been knowing how much my family loves me, and how anguished they would be if I took my life. Even though we're separated by distance, my family has always been upfront and open about our love for each other, and there's an understanding that it's unconditional. No matter what I've done or how "broken" I feel like I am sometimes, it would break my mom's heart if I died, and I can't do that to her.

Hearing the relief and concern in my boyfriend's voice was another reminder to me. I am loved by too many wonderful people to do anything but choose life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Well, happy birthday to me. I'm not exactly where I want to be right now, and life is far from picture perfect, but I have my health (seriously: other than my anxiety, which is a major concern right now, I'm doing great: good cholesterol, good thyroid stuff, all my limbs and senses are operating as they should, I've lost about 10 lbs in the last couple of months as well), I have a good group of friends, and I have an amazing boyfriend.

Who I'm gonna talk about, right here! Right now!

Our 4 year anniversary was just three days ago (aren't I clever? I'll never forget our anniversary because it's so close to my birthday), which makes this my longest romantic relationship, and it's by far the happiest. Neither of us is perfect, but we seem to be imperfect in ways that match each other very well. In general, we're both low-maintenance people, we love each other and we really try to communicate. We've had a few rough patches, but we've never had what I would consider a giant fight, which, considering I'm pretty mercurial and, er, "passionate," is a big win. It isn't that we don't ever disagree, but we both really make a sincere effort to communicate, and we've been successful so far. Whenever I've had a problem, I could always trust that he will listen to me and try to understand, and I've tried to do the same for him.

Last night we talked a bit about my alcoholism. He asked me how I was doing and I told him (I'm doing well. The not drinking thing is mostly easy these days, so long as I remember that I can never drink again), and he told me how he's really proud of me, and let me know that because of my decision not to drink, he's noticed that his own life is better for it. He's not drinking as much, either, and for the first time in his life, his bank account is always going up, instead of hovering around "0".

I'm feeling really low about my anxiety, so I really needed to hear some positive feedback. My relationship with him was one of the major factors in my giving up booze - I could see that my drinking was putting strains on our relationship, and I could see a future where he' might leave me or where I might be holding him back - and knowing that I am making choices that help improve his life is a major motivating boost.

I don't do the AA steps, but the bloggers who do seem to have a big focus on gratitude, and I can get behind that. I'm very thankful to have him in my life, to know that there is a source of laughter and comfort and love so close by. I don't believe in a higher power, but if I did I know that I would consider him to be a sign of benevolent action in my life.

If you have someone in your life who helps you feel loved, maybe give that person a hug (real or virtually) and let them know you appreciate it. I'll be doing the same.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Camping Sober

I'm pretty sure I'm coming out of my anxiety. I can't tell for sure, as my first day back at work is Monday. There's a part of me that kind of hopes that maybe I'll go back in and they'll say "Well, sorry it didn't work out, we're taking advantage of the probation period and letting you go." I'm worried that it was a mistake to take this job. I did it, in part because I was relieved that someone wanted me. But I'm overqualified for this post, and the pay is 75% what I was making at my last job....and I quit that job because I felt that I deserved more. So, in a lot of ways if they let me go I might be better off.

But in a lot of other ways, if I can stick it out, I might also be better off, just differently. It's frustrating being stuck between two possibilities.

But, regardless, there isn't much I can do about it before Monday.

I mentioned that I went camping a little while ago. I'm not sure if it's the first time I ever went camping sober, but I can't remember another time so it probably is. It was a little strange not packing booze for my trip. And frustrating as well, as my boyfriend only brought a 6-pack with him and my drinker's brain knew that was not enough. I confessed how frustrated I was with his lack-of-alcoholism "You're doing it wrong!" I said. Camping involves a two-four, not a six-pack. Jeez.

Anyway, sure enough, he didn't have enough beer and he was lucky that one of the other campers wanted to make a liquor run the next morning, or else he would have had to be sober with me.

The camping site we went to is a big gay camp site. It was a "bear weekend." A "bear" for the not-gay, is a big, hairy, bearded gay man. There's quite a little sub-culture going on there, and the weekend was organized to be a big ol' hedonism thing: drinking, drugs, nudity, and sex. In general, I support all of those things, though for me lately, hedonism means reading a lot of books in the sunshine, which is what I did, and it was fine.

I don't think I was terribly tempted by the booze. I did partake of some pot, and that was nice, but for the most part I was really content to stay by our tent while the rest of our group frollicked around the campgrounds, debating whether 9am was too early to start drinking (for most it wasn't, which is fine, because it's a party weekend, eh?).

I did get upset the Saturday, because my boyfriend didn't come get me for lunch. I just slipped his mind completely and he ate with some other friends before going back to the partying. He was suitably ashamed when I told him I was a little bit hurt (and hungry!), but what could I do? He doesn't let loose like this very often, and it was clear that it was a mistake and he felt bad.

Other than that, though, it was all pretty good. It was a success. It was a meaningful success.

My last camping trip was not so good. It was pretty much in the wilderness, with a smaller group of friends, and I was full-on drinking at the time. I was grumpy and frustrated the whole time. I felt like no one was drinking enough, I was self-conscious about how much I was drinking. I got so drunk that I fell out of my chair by the campfire and was embarassed and resentful of everyone. I behaved like an ass, and for weeks afterward my friends gave me a wide berth. That camping trip is one of the reasons why I'm sober today, because it was crystal clear that my drinking was getting in the way of my relationships. It still took me another 4-5 months before I actually stopped, though.

Last night I was talking with a friend and I told him that I really believed this summer was going to be a good one. He asked why, and I demured, just saying it was a gut feeling. Last summer was miserable for me. I spent most of it inside, drinking by myself, blowing off responsibilities and fun activities alike. Of all the grand plans I had last summer, I don't think I enjoyed (or even did) most of them. What's worse is that I felt like I was the only one: the sun was shining and I was inside in the dark with a glass of booze or a bottle of beer.

The real reason why I think (or maybe hope is a better word) that this summer will be different is because I am sober. It's not the only factor: I can be sober and miserable, people do that every day. But the fact that I had fun on this camping trip makes me optimistic about the other things I want to do this year. I'll miss the patio-drinks and the cold beer (now that is a powerful sense memory: the dewey bottle of beer on a hot summer day, the first cold, biting sip.....never again? That's right, never.), but in exchange I will have sunshine and the company of friends. That's a more than fair trade.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Just an update before bed. Today I did go out and do things, so I now have my prescription filled and hopefully in a few weeks (that's how long these things take) I'll have a better handle on my anxiety. It's entirely psychological, but I already feel better just knowing that I've done something.

One thing that gave me a small smile today was when I took the pill bottles out of my bag when I got home and saw the little sticker on them that says "do not consume alcohol while taking this medication."

I remember reading that label the last time I was taking this, and thinking it was a bit ridiculous. I mean, these drugs (SSRIs, used for depression and anxiety) sometimes take weeks to work, and at the time I remember being amused that the sticker-makers thought it was reasonable for me to stop drinking for weeks or months. Obviously those stickers didn't apply to me, they didn't mean that I should refrain from drinking. With this and the sleep apnea concerns I mentioned a few posts back, it really brings home that I was taking my life into my hands every time I drank. I made some really poor decisions.

I feel really good about dealing with my anxiety in this way, now that I've been 8 and a half months sober. I'm hopeful that maybe this is another piece in the puzzle for me to have a happy and fulfilling life. The drugs aren't magic: they will handle the chemical causes of my anxiety, but - just like with sobriety - I still need to continue learning how to respond to things in a better way. It will take me time to stop acting anxious, if that makes any sense, long after I've stopped feeling quite so anxious.

There's a lot of research that shows drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness are connected, and now that I'm in a place to work on my mental health, it can only help reinforce my goal of staying sober.

This blog isn't supposed to be about my anxiety, but I guess that's how alcoholism works: it affects everything, nothing is safe. But the flip side of that, though, is that now that I'm sober, there isn't anything in my life that can't improve. So, while it's too bad that I made bad choices, I now have a future where I can make good choices.

This is the recovering alcoholic's life: balanced on the edge between a frightening and dangerous past and a future filled with possibility. Not really a bad place to be, after all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


So, I mentioned in my last post that I was struggling with anxiety, and well I am still struggling with anxiety. I'm currently on sick leave from work (my new job!! Ugh) at least until Monday.

I've got a prescription that I have to go out and fill, and each night I tell myself "tomorrow you will leave the house and fill that prescription and do lots of constructive things," and each morning I wake up and don't leave the house.

I am still not drinking, though, even though there are two giant mostly-full bottles of vodka in the freezer from a camping trip me and the boyfriend took a few days ago. I may have to convince him to trade that bottle with one of his friends, because he's not a drinker and that bottle could seriously be there forever. Like, years.

I'm not seriously tempted, except sometimes I almost kind of am. It's like you know that demonstration to show how gravity works, where you hold a sheet flat and put a bowling ball in the middle? And sometimes the teacher (or whatever) would then roll a smaller ball along the sheet and you'd see how the ball's path curved to accomodate the bowling ball? If the ball was rolled hard, it would just curve a little and then keep on going. If the ball was thrown to soft it would curve right into the bbowling ball and stick there, and if you got the force just right (and if friction didn't exist) you'd get that little ball into an orbit around the bowling ball, forever.

Well, I feel a little bit like that little ball, and the vodka in the freezer is the bowling ball, and I can feel it tug on my trajectory, and I just sort of hope that I've got enough momentum that I'll just breeze on past with just a slight tug....but you never really know, right? There could be a day where maybe I've got just a little less momentum to get me through and then.....

Anyway, that's where things are at.

But tomorrow I am going to leave the house and fill that prescription and do lots of constructive things.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

8 Months

Oops. Yesterday was my 8-months sober point. I'm glad it was yesterday and not Monday, because yesterday I felt great and Monday I felt like shit. I've been struggling with some anxiety issues lately, and Monday was a low point. It's easy to see why I would drink when feeling like that: if someone told me that chewing my arm off would help with the anxiety, I would seriously consider it.

Once my new job's benefits kick in, I'll be talking with my doctor about getting some treatment for the anxiety. I've gone the route of SSRIs (selective seretonin reuptake inhibitors, I think?) before, but at the time I was also drinking heavily. I'm curious how they will work on a sober brain.

In the meantime, I just have to trudge through. When I'm anxious (and I am, a little, this morning) the only thing for it is to just keep on going through life until I start to feel better.

Anyway, I've made it two thirds of a year. Getting close to an actual anniversary. I just have a long stretch of cold-beer- and sangria-free summer ahead of me and I'm home free!

Congratulations to me!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Boring, I guess

Before I dive in to this post, let me divulge that my boyfriend and I have given up cable. This is hard! I'm not a music listener, so I'm having to get used to the apartment being so very very quiet when I'm home alone. Just me and the keyboard and sometimes (er...often) the sound of me talking to myself.

It'll be okay though. Once the withdrawal wears off, I'm sure I'll become a hyper-productive dynamo. My hope is that I can one day be as insufferable as all of those jerks who proudly proclaim "Oh, we don't watch television at our house." This will never happen, though, because with the internet all the TV I want to watch is just a download away....

Anywho, Friday night I went to see a local production of RENT with a friend and two of his work colleagues. I love RENT, mostly because it completely gets me in two sweet spots: the idea that weird is to be celebrated (see La Vie Boheme) and that the most important thing in the world is to love each other (or put another way, in the words of my favourite author E.M. Forster in his epigraph of Howard's End, "Only connect."). Even though a few of the characters are addicts or ex-addicts, the play doesn't really speak to me on that subject much.

But while we were waiting for the play to start, my friend's work colleague was talking about the Angelina Jolie vs Jennifer Aniston subject. I'm completely "Team Aniston" because (as I joked that night) she seems more like "my kind of people", you know, down to earth, like I could totally call up my girl Jen and we'd go for coffee and have loads to talk about, not like that snooty Angelina lady.

The friend's colleague agreed with me, and added "Also, Angelina doesn't drink, so she's clearly no fun." Because I'd just met this person and am not likely to meet her again, I let this go, but I knew right then that the exchange would appear on my blog, because Hey! I don't drink, and just a second ago you thought I was pretty entertaining what with my talking about being best friends with Ms. Aniston and all. In fact, maybe I'm MORE fun, now that I'm not drinking! Ever consider that? And even though this one fact about Jolie isn't gonna bring me around anytime soon, at least I won't have to worry about her getting loaded and puking all over my shoes and driving her car into an innocent pedestrian on our special night out. Not to say that this is a concern with Jennifer or anything, but, well.....

But since I'm not drinking, I guess I'm just a boring old fuddy duddy who isn't fun to hang with any more. Oh well.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quick Update

So, I just got off the phone with a potential employer to discuss salary (this is where I suck at negotiation, because somehow I accepted exactly what was offered) and she informed me that provided my criminal background check comes back clean (it totally will), I'll be getting a job offer. So, yay!

Everything I've seen about the team I'll be working with hits all the right notes. It's also closer to the field I want to be working in, Human Resources, so it could lead to a better opportunity down the road.

It's a pay cut from my previous job, but what I've learned is that when I am not spending hundreds of dollars a month on beer and vodka, I don't actually require very much in the way of funds. It's a liveable salary.

And most importantly, I will be employed again! The risk I took by leaving my old job the way I did didn't lead to disaster. Provided this works out, I did everything right this time: I'm not a homeless, anxious, depressed drunk who can't get himself off his friend's couch.

I'm going to hold off on any real celebrating until I get the actual offer, but I will feel a little lighter in the loafers today.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Years and years ago I had a different blog. I kept it up for quite some time, and even now it's interesting to go back and take a look at it and see how much I've changed - and how I've stayed the same - over the years. Back then, I was pretty indiscriminate about what I wrote there: I recorded everything. I'm grateful for my honesty back then, but there were some consequences. For one, sometimes I wrote about other people, and - in the case of my boyfriend at the time - sometimes those people read what I wrote, and got angry.

At the time, it was important to me that I write openly and honestly. I struggled with that a bit, because at the end of the day it sucks to hurt people you love, but more often than not I decided to write what I wanted and deal with the consequences if and when they arose.

I'm more circumspect now, I think. As I get older, some things - like not hurting loved ones - became more important and other things - like airing other peoples' dirty laundry online to complete strangers - became less important. These days, when I write online, I try to be respectful, especially of the people in my life, but that doesn't mean there aren't conflicts.

One of the things I prize about myself is my openness and honesty. I can lie, and do so when I'm scared, but it isn't a comfortable thing for me to do. I'm not able to put up a front for any serious length of time. I find it exhausting to pretend to feel something that I don't, or to bite my tongue when I feel strongly about something. I say what I'm thinking and don't have very much of a filter. Lucky for me I'm mostly a nice guy, so the stuff that comes out of my mouth isn't usually hurtful or terrible, though I'm certain that my tendancy to reveal things about myself has had a personal cost. Some people have told me that I appear inconsistent in my views and attitudes. I don't know that this is true, exactly, but it is true that I think about things from a lot of different angles, and so depending on where you catch me in my thinking process, I could end up saying very different things, including things that, at the end of the day, I don't really believe. But I more than likely believed it as I was saying it.

Sometimes in life, there are things that really affect me, and, for the purposes of this blog, affect how I feel about my sobriety, but they involve other people and won't necessarily paint them in a very flattering light. In cases like that, I struggle to figure out how to be honest and open about my feelings about living sober and not hurting people I care about.

This is just a round about way to get to the point, which is that two weeks ago someone close to me - who, in general, has been an amazing and stalwart supporter of me in pretty much everything - did something that hurt me pretty badly. What he did maybe wasn't that bad, but the timing of it, the nature of it, and how that interracted with my own history and issues, made it  feel bad.

So, that's been affecting my mood over the last few weeks, and it has sucked.

I'm writing about it now because since it happened we've had some chances to talk about it and we're coming out the other side.

I'm writing about it here because it's another bench mark in my sobriety, a sign of my maturity in how we handled this situation. Maybe if I'd been drinking I would have handled it in the same way, but I also might have used it as a trigger to go on a bender, or might have started a fight and lashed out, turned my hurt into anger and then hurt someone I loved.

Yeah, it sucks to feel hurt, and I was feeling pretty miserable about the whole thing for a while, but I know that I handled things as best I can. I was able to bring an element of thoughtfulness to the discussions, to keep perspective.

As a drinker, I handled a lot of situations as if I were a teenager, including temper tantrums and a self-centred attitude of entitlement, the idea that any crisis is earth-shattering and cataclysmic. Part of the sobriety process is finally growing up. And that doesn't mean not feeling things deeply (is it possible that adults feel things more deeply than we do as children? That the reason kids react so strongly to minor slights isn't because those slights feel worse but because kids lack perspective and can't tell minor issues from major? I'm too biased about my own feelings right now to say for sure), but it means that we have more tools and more strength to deal with those feelings.

It's a matter of being more aware of the subtleties of life. And it means that I can learn to write posts that are honest an d open, but that don't burn the people close to me.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Better or Worse

Years ago, back in my first attempt at sobriety, there was a blog I read (can't remember where, though) by someone who was just a few months ahead of me in the sober timeline. She wrote with humour and insight, and a few of her entries stuck with me. Her blog warned me about "drunk dreams" before I encountered them myself, and in a lot of ways helped me to form my own ideas about sobriety and my addiction.

One entry she wrote was called "Better or Worse?" and I've been thinking about that one a lot lately. It was about how when you go to the eye doctor, they put you in the "lens machine" (whatever it's called) and ask you to compare and contrast several sets of lenses, asking you which lens is better, which one is worse. The optometrist would switch back and forth, and sometimes the two lenses were so close that it was difficult to tell which one really was better. I wear glasses myself, so the analogy stuck.

The point of her entry was that there comes a point in sobriety where you start to wonder if life really is better without the booze. The objective answer is pretty much "hell yes, what the heck are you thinking???" but sometimes, especially if you're having a bad string of days, or are feeling that boredom that sometimes comes with being sober, it gets difficult to see the difference.

Today is my 7 months sober day, I've been unemployed for just over a month, and I think I'm feeling a little bit depressed. For some reason, I'd thought that I would pick up a new job much more quickly than it's looking like it will take now. Even if my expectations were reasonable, having no job to go to stops being awesome by about day 9, at least for me. I would never have described myself as someone who needs to stay busy, but, well, I guess I am.

On paper, if I were drinking, this would have been a disaster. Right now, I'm sending out resumes, I'm answering the phone, I'm helping to keep the apartment clean, I'm basically pulling my weight and doing what I need to do to keep myself and the boyfriend sane, and to make sure that when opportunity knocks, I'm not passed out on the couch with a wicked hangover. If I were drinking, I'd have blown through my savings in about two weeks, I might have put off important tasks (like applying for Employment Insurance), I'd be pissing off the boyfriend, I'd be miserable and would be far more than "a little bit" depressed. The last time I was without work this long, I WAS a drinker, and that escapade ended with me being evicted and having nowhere to go.

So, better or worse? Definitely better.

Except, today is one of the first really nice days outside. It's patio weather. It's "cold beer on the balcony" weather. Mojitos with friends, sangria at the bar, grab a cold one and come on over because summer's almost here!

And this is where the analogy about the eye doctor falls down for me. Because when the optometrist is flipping between those two lenses, and it's difficult to tell them apart, that's because the lenses are so close to each other that they're practically identical. It's not easy to tell them apart, because they're almost the same.

When I look at my life with booze and without, we're talking about two completely different worlds. There is nothing the same about them at all. The idea that it would make no difference, that's an illusion. It seems like they're comparable only because there's something wrong with me. Its like doing the lens test with someone who's blind: that they can't tell the difference between the two lenses isn't a problem with the test, it's a problem with the blind guy. If that guy is smart, he'll stop asking himself which lens is better, and will get out of that chair and find himself a seeing eye dog and a white that will actually HELP him live his life.

Today, I'm not asking myself if it is better to be sober or if it is worse. That question has already been answered. Today, to celebrate my 7 months, I'm reminding myself that things are pretty good.

And in fact, between my coming up with the idea for this post and now, I've had two calls about possible jobs that will, with luck, turn into interviews. I've also checked online and my first Employment Insurance payment will come in tomorrow, and it's not too bad.

So, right now, better or worse? Definitely better.

Oh, and PS: Thanks a bunch to all you guys making comments. Makes me a little nervous knowing that I'm writing for an audience now (but then, why the heck do an online journal, eh?), but it also makes me feel better and more accountable. So, thanks.

PPS: Today is NOT 7 months. I quit on October 5th, and when I looked at the little date thingy on my computer and saw "3/5/2012" I was all "Oh, the 5th already?! Time flies!" But it is not March 5th, it is May 3rd. Everything else in this post is (more or less) accurate, however.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

At my doctor's yesterday, when I mentioned that I had problems with alcohol but had been sober for over 6 months (I don't think I used the word "alcoholic" incidently, my avoidance of that word never fails to amaze me), he asked me a little bit about my history with booze, specifically when I started drinking.

As incredible as it seems to almost-35-years-old me, I actually started drinking when I was 13. I was 13! Jeez! Fun fact: the first time I ever masturbated, I was drunk from stealing hard liquor from my dad's liquor cabinet one afternoon when he was out running errands (I was also reading a terrible novel by Piers Anthony about alien insects that killed people by entrancing them with sexual pheromones and then sucking them dry of all fluids. I have never told anyone this in my life, so there you go, loyal readers).

I remember carefully pouring myself  glass afer glass, moving from one bottle to the next like a bumblebee, trying my best to make it appear that absolutely no alcohol was disappearing while still trying to get as buzzed as possible. My parents were divorced and my dad re-married by then, so I only had a chance to get drunk every other weekend or so. I loved that warm, buzzy feeling, and would just lie in bed and let the room spin or watch TV and while away the hours.

By the time I hit high school, I was already a pro at secret drinking so that when I had my first chance at "public" drinking - at a New Year's Eve party with a few friends when I was 16 or 17, I held my liquor the best. While a friend was puking his guts up after "only" three tall-boys (and it was some brand of "Ice" beer, so 6.5%?), I drank all 5 of mine without feeling the least bit sick. That night, my mom insisted on smelling my breath when I got home: I didn't get in trouble then, but she must have known I'd been drinking. I don't think she knew for sure though that I'd long been nipping from her bottle of rum that she kept beneath the kitchen sink. She herself drank so rarely that a single bottle would last her months.

As a young adult in my early twenties, I discovered a great little hole-in-the-wall gay bar where I learned to play "bank card roullette". The way that game is played is: if you get paid by direct deposit early Thursday morning, you hit your regular bar Wednesday night as soon as you get off work. You run a tab, drinking as much as you like. Sometime after midnight, you begin to test your bank card, trying the machine every 15 minutes until it actually goes through. When it does, take out some extra cash after settling the tab, buy everyone (and yourself) an extra round of drinks to celebrate and then stay put until closing time (or later, if you know the bar's owner and he lets a few of you stick around until dawn drinking free booze from his private stash), then stumble home, picking up poutine and chicken fingers at the local all-night diner on the way. Doing this for two or more years ensured that for every paycheque, my first "bill payment" went to my alcoholism. There were a lot of bounced rent cheques back then.

And so it goes.

I'm reminding myself about these moments, and a few others that I choose not to divulge, because when things are going well, it's easy to forget that I have a problem. It's also easy to forget that for over twenty years, I've been trying to live my life with one hand tied behind my back. If I hadn't already been an alcoholic before I graduated from high school, would I be a doctor now? If I hadn't spent so much of my money on booze instead of bills, would I be a home owner now? Would I have a family? Where would I be?

Two thirds of my memories are influenced by my drinking, whether I know it or not. I have a long way to go, a lot of new memories to pile up, before I can say I've lived a full life. Right now, I can (honestly or dishonestly) lay a lot of my mistakes at the feet of my drinking. I've only just begun to make mistakes as a sober, rational adult.

Time to reaffirm: I will be sober for the rest of my life. I will never drink again. I have too much living left to do, and time is shorter than I'd like it to be. So there.

Good news

I don't have much to say, at least nothing interesting or thought-provoking, but after a REALLY stressful couple of days (for a few reasons), I have some good news to report. First, my Employment Insurance claim is being approved, which means that I will have some income (though less than if I were working). Also, I got the forms I needed to release the pension contributions I was making at my old job. I'd only been contributing for a few months, so it isn't very much, but it adds another layer of financial security, for now (at the cost of my retirement....). Last, I met my new family doctor yesterday and I really like him. He's young and seems very calm, so I'm relieved that he wasn't some weirdo.

So, one month into my unemployment and it looks like I'll be okay for a little while. I won't really relax until I start to actually see the money in my account, but iot's nice to have that stability.

In the meantime, I just keep going. I'll admit that on the drinking front, this sobriety thing has been pretty easy the last little bit. Every now and then I'll feel a pang or craving, but for the most part I haven't wanted to drink. I think this is where it's important to remember that I am still an alcoholic...even though I'm not drinking right now, if I were to start I would be right back where I started.

The good thing, though, is that the longer I stay sober, the longer it feels like I CAN stay sober. Saturday is 7 months. Yay me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dodging the Question

One of my hobbies is playing rugby. Every year I worry that maybe I'm getting a little too old (contact sports take their toll, eh?) but once I get out there and start playing, those worries disappear, because it's just so damn fun.

I played my first game of the season today, and a good time was had by all. I'm bruised and battered, but in high spirits, and am looking forward to a quiet evening at home, watching TV and maybe a DVD or two. But something's missing.

In rugby, there's a tradition called "the Third Half", it's the time after the game when all the players meet up in a bar or club house, buy drinks for the other side, and generally make asses of themselves by singing songs and playing drinking games. God I love the third half. On my old team that I played for just a couple years back, I was the guy to lead the club in song, and had quite a reputation as a stalwart drinker who wouldn't let the club down in a boat race or chugging obstacle course. I play for a different team now, and am a bit more quiet around them so haven't had a chance to gain that sort of reputation, but I've been known to throw a few beers back now and again.

A few months ago, back when I wasn't sure if this sobriety thing was a long-term plan or just a phase, I thought that maybe after a long, sober winter, I might enjoy a drink or two after a game. In fact, that could be my drinking night! I would only ever drink after a game. And maybe after a practice. Or if rugby was on TV and some guys wanted to go to a bar, or even if I was injured a bit and had nothing else to do at home.....

You can see why this plan wouldn't have worked out.

Since I decided/realized that I am an alcoholic (okay, why do I always want to qualify that word? I almost wrote "probably an alcoholic" or "pretty much an alcoholic". Do I think that leaving a bit of verbal wiggle-room will get me off the hook here?), I had to scrap that back-up plan. I understand that even one drink is the first step back to where I was, and I really have no confidence that I could keep myself away from booze for the long term if I give myself the opportunity to cheat. I'd kind of forgotten about the plan.

I've been out with my friends when they're drinking, I've been to bars. I mostly feel comfortable being with other people in social situation s where they are drinking and I am not, but today I took a ride home right after the game and avoided the after-game drink up entirely.

It's one of those cases where I know that I wouldn't cave in or anything, but that I would just feel too sad to have to tell people that I'm just drinking pop, to sit out of any boat races and chugging contests. There are some days where you have to answer the question: "Am I going to drink today?" But today I needed to avoid the question entirely.

We have another game next week, and when I'm there, I WILL go out with the boys afterward, and I'll have a good time. But today, for my first game of the year as a sober man, I wanted to give myself some space.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Small People, Big Lives

I've been feeling pretty down lately. I left my job without a backup plan other than some savings that will see me through for another month, maybe two, and now instead of being snapped up right away because of my marketable skills, I'm getting a lot of "no"s and "sorry"s and it turns out that my skills aren't as marketable as I'd hoped. It's hard to hear rejection so many times, and it's bringing up a lot of fears and insecurities about myself, about my past, who I am as a person.

In short, it makes me feel like I was stupid to dream big and to believe that I deserved to be treated better at my workplace.

But I've been reading some of these blogs about our struggles with alcoholism and maybe other addictions, and knowing that I share something in common with people who have been through so much, and are fighting for something so special as sobriety, as (for now, anyway) reminded me of how far I've come in so short a time.

For those of us who are doing our best, living on the edge between being "mostly normal" and drowning in drink, we climb mountains every day. We are superheroes. We are doing something that is very, very difficult, and every single day we spend sober, we are showing that we are that much stronger than we thought.

I can't put "almost 7 months sober" on my resume, but I know that my sobriety is a testament to my strength and determination, to my willingness to take care of myself and the people I love, and to be the best version of myself I can be. Alcoholism sucks, but being able to fight it is pretty awesome.

Waiting is the hardest part

One thing that people have told me is that I am very patient, and it's true that from certain perspectives I am. I work in customer service, and patience is a required skill. I also have patience with little kids (in a visiting friend of the parents kind of way: I have no idea how my patience would hold up if I were a parent), and it would take a lot for me to lose my temper with a child.

But the people who have told me that I'm patient are very often people who don't know me very well, because in truth, I don't think I'm very patient at all, and I think a part of that is because of my alcohol abuse.

When I was drinking, I had no patience where booze was concerned. If it was a day that I'd decided to drink, the work day could not go fast enough. If it was the weekend, it would sometimes take an act of will to avoid drinking from the moment I woke up. If I was going out with friends, I'd make sure to attend the pre-drinking party, and I'd also make sure I had a glass poured even before I was leaving for that (A pre-drinking, pre-drinking party?). If it looked like we might run out of booze before I passed out, it would become very important to me that we make a liquor run. I would get tremendously frustrated with non-drinkers and their inability to remember what time the liquor store closed (I still know the closing and opening times of my local places: the wine store's the best because it's open late every day except Sunday). I've thrown temper tantrums because I've missed my chance to buy booze and would now have to wait an entire DAY to get more.

Part of patience is being able to delay gratification, but part of addiction is wanting your gratification RIGHT NOW.

I'm a week shy of 7 months sober now, and I'll say that one of the good things about being at this point is that my brain has stopped pestering me about the next time I'm going to get drunk. I still have moments, and it's surprising and horrifying how powerful those moments are, where I crave booze (I was going to write "a drink" but the problem, as I've said, isn't that I want a drink, it's that I want many, many drinks), but those moments seem to be less frequent, and for the most part I'm not as obsessed about the drinking as I was in, say, my first three months.

It's nice, not having that ticking clock in my head counting down to happy hour. And I think that in some ways it's helped me to be actually patient, instead of just appearing that way sometimes.

Which is nice, because if anything requires patience, it's job hunting. I don't have many stand-out prospects right now, and even though it's only been 3 weeks, it feels longer. I just want to have a new job RIGHT NOW. I wouldn't have ever described myself as someone who needed to work all the time, and when I'm drinking I certainly don't, but this new, sober me is going stir crazy.

And, the only thing I can do is just keep sending out resumes and waiting for those calls. I'm getting phone interviews, so it's only a matter of time before something clicks, but at the same time I'm getting a lot of practice with being patient.