Yesterday made for 10 days of sobriety. 10 days with both ups and downs. There are times I have felt incredibly anxious and irritable, moments of absolute zen, and a time or two where I wanted to throw in the towel. While 10 days wouldn’t ordinarily feel like a long time, to me, it seems like a month. I have a long road ahead of me, but my 10 days sober deserves a bit of a recap.
I am tired of obsessing about alcohol. It has been F’ing fierce! It’s on my mind when I wake up, it’s with me through my work day and especially nagging when I get back home. I have to continually distract myself with other things to try to push the thoughts and cravings away. However, I will say this, the past two days were oddly easier. As I approached bed on Wednesday, I realized I hadn’t felt the need for a drink once that day and it was incredible. It was like I could breathe for the first time. The following day (yesterday) was still not terrible, but the thoughts were popping up to show their ugly faces a few times. I know that this doesn’t mean it’s going to stay easier, but I was glad for even a little reprieve in the midst of the chaos going on inside this head of mine.
Triggers are everywhere. I notice how often people around me talk about alcohol now, and it seems like it is brought up in nearly every conversation. I cannot get away from it. Then there is my mother. I learned first-hand this past weekend what a huge trigger she is for my drinking. I’m not blaming her, by any means, I’m a big girl. But, when she reaches out in one of her moods, I instantly want to drink. It didn’t take much this past Saturday, just a sad text and I was up and pacing the floors, trying my best to keep from grabbing a bottle. The good news is that I didn’t do it, but I’m going to have to work on a way past this if I’m going to make it through in the future.
My concentration and focus have been hit or miss. I’ve had some days where I’ve really struggled at work to keep my head into one task without being easily distracted. In fact, I feel like I’ve barely accomplished a thing at the office over these past two weeks, I’ve merely been picking away at my to-do list little by little, without any major progress. When I start on something I find myself suddenly in the middle of reading an article or blog post about sobriety, without even remembering how I got there. I am attempting to reign it in, I am just thankful that it has been quiet over the past couple of weeks to allow me the chance to regroup.
Despite the difficulty with staying on task, in some ways my head feels much clearer. There is a fog that has been lifting and I notice more things around me, more than just the amount of times alcohol is brought up in a conversation. I find myself noticing people and details with much greater awareness. I see when people smile, how they move, and what they are wearing. I can smell their perfume or cologne, even when it’s subtle. I immediately picked up on the scent of stale alcohol on a man riding the elevator up with me one morning, and it made me feel ill and then a little sad for him. I wondered if I would have noticed it before, and then I wondered if I ever carried that scent with me. God, I hope not.
The first week was draining and my body felt wiped out. My sleep was awful, maybe even worse than when I was drinking because at least then I was usually passed out until 1 or 2 a.m. before struggles set in. Without drinking, as exhausted as I felt, it was as though I was too tired to fall asleep. My body couldn’t get comfortable, my arms and legs actually felt tingly and no matter what I tried, a bath before bed, Sleepytime tea and reading, I just couldn’t settle in. I had very little sleep through the first 6 or 7 days, but fortunately, that has improved. For the most part, I’m starting to fall asleep much easier, and the best thing is that I haven’t awakened in the middle of the night with a racing heart and night sweats. That is a first for me in I don’t know how long. The interesting thing is that even for those first days with very little sleep, I still felt like I had more energy than I normally would if I had been drinking. That was certainly odd.
Let’s talk about my body. My skin is already looking better and my eyes are no longer red and puffy. I can actually apply mascara in the morning without any difficulty. I didn’t realize before just how much alcohol was affecting that part of me, and wow, do I really like this change! Speaking of changes that I adore, I’ve shed 7 pounds. Even though I’m getting a bit more regular exercise as a means to keep my focus away from the drink, I’ve had this extra layer of fat on my body for years. No amount of eating well and working out (and I went through some serious workouts for a time with Crossfit thrown into the mix a couple of years ago) was touching it. Suddenly, all my so-called problem areas have slimmed down in a noticeable way. I’ve never been body-obsessed, but like many women, I’ve also never been terribly pleased with my figure. Today I feel better about it than ever before.
Then there’s food. I’m slowly trying to work my way into better eating again, but for the most part, I’ve just been letting myself eat whatever I feel like having. Initially, my appetite was pretty lacking, but the past 5 days or so, I’ve been filled with food cravings that I don’t normally have, primarily for sweets. Oh yes, I indulged in some giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs this week and even shoved down a somewhat controversial Cadbury Creme Egg. Either you love or hate the sugary snot-like filled things, I happen to stand with the lovers. I’ve been indulging all over the place and I’ve been massively hungry. I would guess that my body just wants to replace the sugars that it was getting from the alcohol previously, but it’s been downright unusual for me. Yesterday, I mostly cleared my cabinets of the junk and stocked back up on healthy foods but left a couple of packs of cookies in case of an emergency. I’d much rather grab one of those instead of going for the bottle, if that’s what it takes.
Beyond that, I’m filled with time that I never had before. I’m reading more and writing often. I’ve signed up for writing classes and a handful of events that don’t involve drinking. I even dug out my old camera as I want to try my hand again at photography. As truly trying as some moments are without alcohol, I’m at least starting to feel more alive. I love the time that has opened up and I’m excited to put it to good use instead of sitting in front of trash TV with my bottle of wine.