The Honeymoon is Over

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I do declare! The honeymoon phase of this experiment is over. Work is more challenging than ever and every day as I drive home from work I ask myself why I decided to do this. I feel sorry for myself and think this was really bad timing. I ask, “Why am I doing this to myself right now?” Alcohol would sure help me to relax during this period of very tight deadlines and endless frustration at my job. Yes, I see it now. Alcohol was a crutch to smooth out the tension, help me end the day and forget what I needed to face in the morning.

It is not good to be this negative. It is taking a toll on my body and spirit. It is time to turn this ship around, start focusing on the good things and what I gain from this decision—otherwise I think I will give up. Listing the positives seems like a good thing to do right now:

  1. I have lost a few pounds.
  2. I feel better physically.
  3. I have extra time in the morning and on weekends by getting up early, and I am way more productive because I don’t have post alcohol grog.
  4. I have a clean slate, a great diet and a good foundation to start training for a long race. I am feeling very motivated and excited to start training again.
  5. I save money by not buying wine or hard liquor for the house or when dining out.
  6. I feel less guilty when I eat a dessert.
  7. Fewer bottles to recycle. I am being good to the environment.
  8. I have better clarity about my unhappiness at work. No covering it up now!
  9. I have a huge goal to achieve in my life with this experiment–and I really like goals. I know when I get through this is I will feel really good about what I have accomplished.

The Wild Braid

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Every year Philip and I take a trip to Cape Cod to see our dear friends Wally and Sarah Morrison. Since our discovery of the poet, Stanley Kunitz, we also include a pilgrimage to his home in Provincetown. (The picture in this posting is from the front of his house.) Kunitz passed away in 2006 at the age of 101. His writing is timeless and it continues to inspire lovers of art and poetry today. Spending a century in the garden, his work and life’s philosophy reflect a deep understanding of all living things and the cycle and life and death.

Re-reading The Wild Braid, Kunitz’s last book, has brought me peace and happiness on this path of sobriety. The poems, musings and interviews in this book connect me to what feels essential and important in my life (my spouse, my family, trees, flowers, animals and the ocean). Most of all, Kunitz’s book helps me to understand why I am sharing my experiences in this blog. In following passage, Kunitz affirms in me a need to write and gives me hope that I may help someone, someday.

Art must have a social sense, a sense of the society in which we live and thrash.

As an artist you are a representative human being—you have to believe that in order to give your life over to that effort to create something of value. You’re not doing it only to satisfy your own impulses or need; there is a social imperative. If you solve your problems and speak of them truly, you are of help to others, that’s all. And it becomes a moral obligation.

Moving On

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After a long vacation last month in California, I had forgotten how much my job drives my desire to drink. In my last blog posting, I concluded that a lot of my drinking stems from social situation, relaxation and fun. Well, yesterday was a wake up call. Back to the grind, I see the impulse to cover up the negativity and go to a numbed place of forgetting the day by pouring a drink or two.

Next week, I start career counseling. I want to move forward in a positive way. I have given my present situation all I’ve got and at this moment, I see no way forward in my current position. Rather than throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick, I want to be clear about what would be a good fit for me and send resumes to jobs I really want.

I will stay busy and focused in the coming months to manage the feelings of discouragement and frustration and hope that will diminish the desire to drink. With any luck, I will come out on the other side of this experiment with greater prospects ahead.

A Light Went On

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Philip and I attended a Christmas Eve party at a neighbor’s house. It was illuminating. The gathering was well attended and I spoke with many friends while sharing in food and drink. I enjoyed the usual, Pellegrino water in a wine glass. No one noticed that I wasn’t drinking and I liked that. It was an absolutely enjoyable evening sans vino.

On our way home, we stopped to talk to a new neighbor and introduced ourselves. He was attempting to get this crazy palm tree to light up in his yard. “Hey, why not?” we said, “People celebrate all over the planet.” It was a very pleasant exchange and we made a little more small talk.

When we reached the front door of our house, I realized how sober I was. At first, there was a strange sense of feeling  a certain mellowness as if I had consumed few glasses of wine and then PING– I realized it was “all in my head.” Instantly, I became acutely aware of my surroundings and in that awareness, the pleasure of the moment was amplified. The sky looked darker. The air was fresher and the porch light shown brighter.

In the Dark—Solstice 2012

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The absence of alcohol seems to be creating a sense of vulnerability within me. Perhaps drinking helped cover this sensation, boosting my self-esteem and helping me to quiet the self-loathing voice inside.  Several days in the last month I have felt really sad and tired, leaving work at the end of the day in tears.

I am currently moderating the inner debate—to climb the “ladder of success” or be more focused on finding creative fulfillment on the job. Looking for an alternative work situation opens me up to a greater sense of vulnerability. Trying to put my best face forward, I ask myself if I am “good enough.” The confident side of me wants to lead me to a higher paying job with more responsibility and room for growth. The side of me that is feeling vulnerable (and dominant) is asking for me to stop pushing. The “doing” and the “being” are at battle. All the while, my inner voice is defeating me.

Now, having come down with a cold just before Christmas, there is a layer of physical weakness as well. Going, going, going all week diminished my energy and robbed me of a sense of connection with my guests when they arrived on the solstice. We opened many bottles of expensive wines and polished off a bottle of Hendrick’s gin. Of course, I did not partake, which added to the feeling of being outside of the fun. On the upside, being sick did dampen my desire for drinking. (Although admittedly, I felt quite a pull the first night the martinis got mixed.) Knowing myself, I am sure that any other time, I would have thrown back a few drinks and felt worse for it. And THAT is my problem—knowing what is good for me and taking the opposite action. Having the commitment to observing what happens when I don’t drink has helped me to feel better about myself in that regard.

As for the struggles and vulnerability, I will have to get through the dark and see what lies on the other side of this experiment. In the New Year, I plan to take a more sensible approach to finding a new job and with that, I will give attention to the opposing forces. I know that there is a way through this and that feeling and acknowledging all voices will help me find the truth and a better direction