I acknowledge that alcohol had insinuated itself into every aspect of my days and my nights. I had wine while I cooked, vodka and lemonade while I read and taught, beer if I was out with my husband (which, more often than not, led me also to have a hugely expensive Long Island Iced Tea, as well). I had something in my hand when I gardened, something next to the screen when I was on the computer, and something next to my bed when I lay down, (and when I woke up, more often than not).
One of the topics for our Sunday AAA meeting was changing routines: How to do the things we used to do while drinking, without drinking. Things like: If you had an art habit, and painted with a whiskey always on the seat next to your palette, what do you do now that you don’t have that option? Do you replace the drink with something else? Will that be enough? What about things like when you go to bed and there’s always been a nice glass of vodka and cranberry to get you through the night? Do you replace it with water or go without? Does replacing alone work? Is it enough? Is it too triggering to have something to drink when you garden, or knit, or paint, now that that something can’t be alcoholic? (Sorry, that was as easily readable as I could make that sentence.)
One of the guys in the group said that when he got sober, he changed around all the furniture in his house by about 45 degrees. So if his bed used to face one way, now it faces a different wall, and the bedside tables are switched around. Since he always had a drink at the computer, he moved the computer elsewhere. He said it helped a great deal becaue now he can’t think, “That’s where I used to keep my scotch,” since there has never been any scotch next to his computer in its new place. I think this is a brilliant idea.
Moving things around teaches our brains to think differently. It goes along with the whole, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Teach your brain that, when you’re at the computer, it faces due east and there is no drink there. Drinks are in the kitchen now. (Or whatever works for you.)
I was an at-home drinker 95% of the time. Therefore, most of the things I used to do with a glass in hand still have to get done. I chose to replace the liquid portion of the day throughout with water or diet soda. (I was going to give up the soda…but fuuuuuck! One battle at a time, okay???)
Since it’s been pretty hot up here, it’s worked well to have a jar of cold water when I’m outside, and it’s certainly true that I’ve become accustomed to always having something to sip. It works for me without making me crave a drink, and that’s all I ask. A cold drink fills a need, and I’m fairly comfortable that nobody will replace it, Folgers-Crystals style, with vodka.
On another note, I had a really horrible drinking dream last night. In it, I had to save a child from drowning and then help evacuate a small town. I was frantic because I was coming down from my buzz and was terrified that I couldn’t find anything else to drink. Would I have a heart attack? Stroke? Alcoholic seizure? Was I going to die? How could I sneak off for a drink when I had to help?! I woke up covered in sweat, my heart pounding, absolutely in the middle of a panic attack.
Good gravy. I am so glad I don’t drink any more. No more wondering where the next drink is coming from or if I’ll start sweating and panicking without one. I don’t think the residual panic from that dream wore off until after lunch time.
The same friend I mentioned above gave me a ride home from AAA. He made a hard right turn without really stopping, and there was a Trooper coming down the road onto which he turned right at us. The Trooper turned around and followed behind us for a block, then turned off and went elsewhere. It was amazing to realize that I had nothing to worry about. Even if I had been driving (can’t do that ’til tomorrow because of the monitor), I was stone sober and my license is back in force and I could handle a ticket. Coming from AA, I think we were *both* thinking the same thing (minus the ankle monitor situation). Still, I had a full-blown (quiet) panic attack over it. Baby steps.
Have a great Monday, everyone, and keep kicking addiction’s ass!