I have a borrowed phrase “witching hour”, as it relates to alcohol, from some of my comrades on these sobriety online communities who have used it and then gone on to explain what they do to combat it. When you get hit with that irresistible urge to go drink during one of the most typical times you would normally go drink (aka: happy hour for most people about 4 to 5 o’clock – although hey, I’ve been known to have a witching hour start a lot earlier most days) it’s tough business beating that beast back down into it’s cage once it’s come out and convinced you to go do your normal routine, to start drinking and who cares where it takes you as long as you’ve got a drink in hand!
I of course have failed numerous attempts at sobriety due to that particular time of the day, that dreaded and beloved witching hour. Thoughts turn to either going down to the local pub or cracking one open at home to take the edge off whatever stress and busy-ness there was from the day and reward yourself for a job well done. You’re going crazy wanting to give in to temptation and just to have that one harmless drink (or two, or three). But if you and I are anything alike, one will turn into two, into three, into 10 or more before the night is through and if you can’t separate drinking from smoking like me, you’ll have smoked a whole pack or two of cigs while you’re at it.
Drinking has it’s perks too, right? Because you can usually bank on some additional fun of having said or done some stupid shit you’ll definitely regret and want to die of anxiety about all the next day as if the hangover isn’t enough, or gotten infuriated or emotional and weepy over something that seemed so deserving of your energy at the time and appropriate for you to act/react about, to realize how trivial it truly was when in a sober state of mind.
When my witching hour hit today, I had been attempting to stay on top of my anxiety from little sleep (also another great trigger to drink) what have I heard some people mention in the online communities; watch out for HALT: hunger, anger, lonely, tiredness, as some of the most intense triggers. Yeah, I was definitely some of those things and it may not have helped matters that I ran into someone at the grocery store too at about 10:30 in the morning who invited me to come meet them at the pub when they got off work. I told them straight up I was trying to take a break and I would be spending the evening working.
I haven’t found the words yet to say the phrase, “I quit drinking” (like I don’t know Summer, maybe you could start with, I quit drinking??) Maybe I need to stand in front of a mirror and look at myself and practice it (egads, how unnerving). I don’t know, there’s just something about the way those words seem to hang in the air, as if it’s a final act. Well that’s the whole point of saying it, right? So people get the picture that it’s not a break. I think I like knowing I have an out though with the word break, that if I say a break, it sounds harmless and the person will accept that I’m still the old me and I’ll be back down to business with them in the near future, no need to worry.
Maybe because the finality of it does terrify me, because what drinker truly in their heart of hearts ever wants to utter those words and really mean forever? That and it’s hard to find the right words to tell someone in a passing couple of moments about how what I want is more than just taking a small break. I really want to make a major life change and I know I can’t do it if I let alcohol stay in my life. I have to really pull out all the bells and whistles on this life project and get down to business. If I haven’t learned how to drink responsibly by 35, there’s a damn good chance it’s never going to happen.
Plus, I’ve got more to lose now than when I was a bit younger; unmarried and childless. Somehow the booze fueled nights maybe were a bit harmless back then. I had my share of misery and hating my lifestyle then too, but I never did anything about it. Somehow I have a sneaky suspicion alcohol probably had a hell of a lot to do with my eight year relationship with someone else before my husband falling out in a very bad way, although there were of course other issues as there always are.
I don’t want to erode the lives of those around me because I’m too busy eroding my own life and unable to give them the best version of me. I want the best version of myself for me of course too; but I certainly want to also be the best version of wife that I can be and the best version of mother I can be, not to mention daughter, sister and friend, as well. I can never be who I’m meant to truly be, who God meant for me to be, if I allow alcohol to constantly bar my path to being that person, keeping me in a perpetual cycle of victimhood, anxiety, frustration, guilt and shame. Circumstances in life not concerning alcohol can often be the culprit for why I drank to begin with, but I do know from PLENTY of experience, alcohol tends to have the opposite effect of what I was looking for and amplifies any negative emotions I have had prior to drinking 10-fold. Or as I’m wallowing in whatever new injustice I feel I’ve been dealt in life, it’ll dredge up ones I was trying to bury and from deep in my past. I’ve never been comfortable owning up to my feelings and tackling them in a healthier way; somehow I’ve spent years beating a dead horse with trying to find it in the bottom of a bottle.
It’s particularly hard to think about explaining to anyone who still has alcohol in their life why you feel like you should stop, especially considering that I hardly know myself half the time and wonder if I’m being silly about the whole thing. 99.9% of the people in my life who drink (which is almost everyone I know just about) don’t see their level of drinking or mine to be a problem and will undoubtedly not “get it”. If it were such an innocent and harmless thing for me though, I wouldn’t feel the way I do. That I’m completely imprisoned by my dependence to want/need alcohol in almost every life situation and with any emotion I have as an excuse to dive in. There wouldn’t be all the countless bullshit situations, COUNTLESS, that I could write a book on, the unhealthy funk I’ve found myself in so often, the feeling of clinging to a cliff and you’re fingers are losing their grip. You look down into the abyss below and it’s too far down to even see where the hell you’re going to be falling to your death. That you’re in an angry chasm of water that you’re desperately churning to keep you’re head just barely above the water, sputtering and choking for another breath. I suppose if alcohol was a “take it or leave it” kind of thing, I wouldn’t feel such desperation.
I know a lot of people that could “take it or leave it” (although I suspect some of those folks who make that claim would be surprised to find they actually couldn’t “take it or leave it” quite so easily as they thought). But I’m sure there are plenty of people who can have that kind of moderated relationship with alcohol and it doesn’t consume their nearly every waking thought. They are a person that I’ll never be, as much as I thought I could train myself to be that person. Their brains are just wired differently. So as much as someone can push their perspective and not see the big deal, I have to be selfish, I have to not give a shit what anyone else thinks, I have to own this with all my heart an soul that this is a problem in MY LIFE, regardless if it isn’t in someone else’s. I can’t lose sight of what I know is best for myself and for my family and for my life.
I’ve relied very heavily for years on being a people pleaser, not wanting to let others down; being concerned what others think of what I say and do. Co-dependency does often go hand-in-hand with substance abuse and I once bought a book on the topic that I could check the list of attributes off almost entirely. Maybe I’m scared they’ll judge me and talk about me behind my back. Maybe I’m scared they won’t like me without alcohol. Hey, maybe I’m scared I won’t like me without alcohol! Who the hell am I without alcohol anyway? I’m going to try and find out, even if it has taken me 20 years to get here.
As usual, you’ve had to endure a crapload of rambling paragraphs (well if you’re even still here on this page at this point, LOL) before I finally get to my main point I wanted to share and that was that I handled my deep desire to give in to drinking today by going for a jog out in nature for the first time in over two years.
Now I’ll tell you, it wasn’t pretty, me trying to get back out there and jog, as out of shape as I’ve become. I was huffing and puffing and going slower than molasses. Although I felt sluggish and that I was carting dead weight with me. I know that’s more from just not being in the habit of moving like that in awhile, but I am the heaviest I’ve ever been too. I carry my weight pretty well I think and I’m at peace with where I am at the moment. I mean somehow having a kid, getting older and hey drinking a shit ton of carbs and eating food at like 9 or 10 every night will do that to you, but I would like to be healthier with my exercise and eating habits and maybe slim down a little in the process and feel like I’m moving more flexibly and have more energy in general.
Well no matter how rough it might’ve looked, it felt good to be moving my body! It felt good to be in nature. It felt GREAT to take a deep breath and feel like I was letting out something pent up for ages. I of course took a few breaks and definitely stopped and walked the last little section back to car. I’m lucky if it was even a mile total, but it was something. It was a start. I even did break a little bit of a sweat too, imagine that. Though that self-critic in me wanted to belittle me and begrudge me that it was hardly exercise, I’m proud of myself for getting my butt out finally to do something and the more important thing is, I stayed the course on my sober mama journey. If nothing else that’s at least an accomplishment.