In the Dark—Solstice 2012

photo-20

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

Happiness and Cheer

Christmas time is here. Attended a tree decorating party with our close friends and this was the first opportunity to be social without alcohol. I made no major announcement about my intention to stay sober for one year. I just brought along my new favorite drink—pomegranate and Pellegrino water. Our friends had been to a couple of parities that weekend and yet they brought out the wine and bourbon on a Sunday night. No judgment here…this is what we do when we get together and it is fun.

The interesting thing for me is that I grew up a bit poor and my parents never had alcohol in the house unless it was Christmas. Ok, maybe some beer here and there but nothing harder. Drinking wine and liquor has become in my mind a sign of a certain level of privilege. It signifies that I can afford nice things now…fancy glassware, expensive drinks and really good snacks to serve my friends. I work hard and reward myself with these things. I associate my lifestyle with these comforts. Abstaining from these indulgences made me feel somewhat removed from the party. I couldn’t get my head in the game. It is difficult for me to describe this other than to say I felt a little awkward and self-conscious.

So why didn’t I tell my friends about my dry year? The hostess noticed and assumed I had a hangover, stating, “I always cure my hangover with an other glass of wine.” I let her believe this. I just smiled.

It is difficult to talk about the guilt I was feeling drinking every day and that I felt I didn’t have full control of my actions. People in our social circle pour a cocktail at the end of the day. I don’t want to spoil that for them or for them to not like me or want me around. By not speaking of this, I don’t run the risk of others alienating me because I am no fun …or I remind them that they feel bad about the amount they consume. Conjecture–all of this. It will come to a point where I talk about this and with any luck I will get a truthful reaction from my friends (unlike the one I gave them).

Photo courtesy of Taylor Morrison.

My Libido

Image

This entry will be a quickie…Five days with no alcohol. Finished the three-day raw foods cleanse.

Being dry has had the opposite effect in the bedroom. Wow! I like not drinking. (I’m clearly in the honeymoon phase with my new life style.) So far, spending my days without the usual consumption habits as freed up my creative energies to write in my blog and it has freed up the romantic energies within.

I have been living with the assumption that alcohol adds to sex drive—a drink or two loosens me up and helps me put the stresses of the day behind me (more stress, the less libido). While that may have been true in my 20’s and 30’s, apparently it does not hold true in my 40’s. If anything, I am finding that the wine or martini that was part of a nightly ritual may have constrained and dampened my sexual energy. For years I have pined for the libido that I once had a decade or more ago. I have tried bio identical hormone treatments, acupuncture, yoga, vitamins and supplements. Discouraged, I chalked it up to age and changes in my body. I never considered dropping the drinks would have this kind of result. I have hope.

The other factor to consider in this shift in energy is the three-day cleanse. I am experiencing a feeling of newness—as if I have a fresh start. I have considered myself a foodie for many years and yet I think now that I have been in a rut. Nourishing my body with new foods is part of awakening creativity. I am preparing meals in ways I have not thought of before: homemade bean burgers, kale salads and fresh fruit spritzers. Last night I cut open a pomegranate for the first time. What a glorious mess! The full experience of all of my senses was extraordinary. I went to bed asking myself “What else have I been missing?”

You say addiction and I say…

Image

As stated in the first blog entry, I have been struggling with trying to come to terms with my use of alcohol. Lately, I have at least one drink a day. It goes like this..I come home from work and open a bottle of wine and pour one or two glasses before the night is through. At least one night a week it is a martini instead.

If I am going to be honest (and I am), it is because I feel (most of the time) numb/frustrated/bored from the work that I do. I am coming to realize that “cube life” is not for me. So I pour a drink and relax and feel my mood altered by this action. I like the feeling of having this buzz and have come to know it well.

Looking to the dictionary, I seek definition of my condition. For months I have told myself this is just a bad habit and everyone has at least one bad habit. Yet, there are nights (and mornings–feeling a little pasty) when I tell myself I am going to stop or cut back and yet the next day…I change nothing. That is where the guilt sets in. Why don’t I have more will power? Do I have a problem?

I consult the online dictionary to try to answer this question.

#1 Addiction- A compulsive* need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

#2 Habit- A behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance

* an irresistible persistent impulse to perform an act

So do I fall under definition #1 or #2? I don’t think I know yet. I need more time to observe the call to alcohol when the “fun” of this self-indulgent blog wears off and the idea of no longer drinking is no longer novel. I look forward to experiencing the pangs (ha ha) and all of the stuff that comes with this exercise in restraint.

Party Pooper

Image

Just got an email from a friend with whom I want to connect over the Holidays. She is alot  of fun and she likes to meet up for drinks (as do I). We really enjoy having a cocktail or two and brainstorming on our common interests. I have very few girlfriends that I connect with through Board and volunteer work and I enjoy having an outlet for these kinds of discussions.

When I reached out to her, my first reaction was that we should meet for coffee, not drinks. The assumption? It won’t be fun if I am not drinking. There is a couple of fears:

  1.  Alcohol enhances the experience of connecting with an other person.
  2. The person I am meeting will feel less comfortable having a drink if I am not drinking—and it will be less fun for her if I am not joining in.

A situation like this is going to be my first test in dispelling or confirming my assumptions about social interactions pertaining to the consumption of booze.

Wine Lovers

6000_1174234366583_2764775_n

Last day in Florence, Italy 2009

Philip and I started a 3 day raw food cleanse. After buying all of the produce for this process, I thought…I should give up alcohol for a year and see where that takes me. I have been feeling pangs of guilt over the amount of wine (and martinis) that I consume and have been struggling with the idea of addiction vs bad habits. So with that I have set out to take one year off from my ol’ friend Chardonnay and my good buddy Hendrick. I don’t know what challenges lie ahead so we’re all gonna have to stay tuned.

Cheers!