Monday, January 9, 2012

The Hard Parts

So, 3 months sober a few days ago. And I'm not kidding when I say that most days this is ridiculously easy. I mean, I'm just not doing something. That kind of involves no training, right?

When I'm done work, I just -don't- stop by the liquor store for a 6-pack or two.

When I'm bored at home I just -don't- sample my partner's leftover wine.

When I'm at a friend's party, I just don't bring a quart of vodka, and instead sip my fresca or soda water and enjoy the hijinks with a clear head.

But then, some days, it's really hard. Part of why it's really hard is because of how easy it is most of the time. I worry (because it's happened before) that I will take my success at not drinking as a sign that I could start drinking again. I have to remind myself that that's just not how these things work. The thing is, I would drink for the sole purpose of getting drunk. When I think about alcohol, I think about getting wasted. There is no other equation. In my head, booze always equals getting trashed. This is a sign for me that drinking is a problem.

Sometimes things are hard because of what's going on in my head, but other times it's what's going on around me. I've become hyper aware of how much alcohol is in my culture, how surrounded by it I am. When I'm joking with co-workers about how hard our day was, someone ALWAYS mentions beer or wine as a coping strategy. When I say something funny, someone in the crowd will say "I'll drink to that!" Even though I've told my partner's family that I'm not drinking these days, they still pour a glass of wine for me at dinner (which then sits untouched and increasingly elephant-like in its obviousness as dinner goes on). A friend told me that I don't need to quit drinking, because I seem to be fine. I wanted to slap him, even though I think he thought he was being nice. He has no idea whether I should or should not be drinking, and it was rude of him to presume.

At New Years, I was asked half a dozen times why I was giving up booze. And I've barely even come out to myself about my drinking difficulties, so I don't have a ready answer for someone else. I worry about the image of the steretypical boozehound sneaking into their minds when they think of me. Better that they think it's a health-kick, rather than an attempt to put stability into my life.

My partner has been great about this, I'm gonna say. He's supportive in all the right ways, and when I complain about wanting a drink, he's sympathetic but supportive. He sees, more than anyone else, how sobriety is changing my life for the better, and knowing that I am improving his life, makes it worthwhile for me every time.

I wish it was easy every single day, but that's not how it works. In the end, I'm storing up my easy days, husbanding my will power for when it is really hard. The holiday season is behind us now, so the hardest part of the year (other than summer-patio-beach-cottage season) is done. Onward and upward, right?

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