I said in my last post that I wasn’t planning on any ‘New Year, New Me’ bullshit, and, fuck me, have I lived up to that lofty goal.
It’s been a little while since my last blog post. Back in November, the UK entered lockdown #3 and I had to start working from home full time. You’d think that this would give me plenty of time to think about my feelings and come up with blog topics, but actually, it’s been the opposite.
Working from home means endless emails that could have been a five-minute conversation, yet somehow also hour-long zoom meetings that could have been emails. It’s been stressful, and I often reach the end of my workday feeling frazzled. The acceptable time to start the first glass of wine has steadily crept forward, from 7 pm all the way to 4 pm.
At the time of writing this blog, I’ve been receiving support from a local Alcohol service for 20 weeks. Once a week, I have a call with a counsellor to discuss my drinking and my goals for my drinking. Where I am, and where I’d like to be. It’s been sort of helpful. A lot of the stuff my counsellor says about exercise for endorphins and meditation for mindfulness is the stuff that I already know that I should be doing.
We set a goal for 3 sober days a week, to give my liver (and my purse) a rest. Sounds easy, right? Actually, it’s been pretty damn hard. In December, I hit my goal 3 weeks out of 5. In January, I only managed 2 successful weeks. In February, I only managed 1. In February, I actually managed my longest sober streak in as long as I can remember: 5 days straight! Unfortunately, I celebrated that achievement by immediately drinking for 7 days in a row.
This sounds really bad, I know. I feel I should point out that I’m not getting drunk on a regular basis. I’m just having 2-3 glasses of wine a night, every night. Not drinking at all is hard, but having only one glass is somehow harder. Once I start, I just can’t seem to limit myself.
The problem is, a part of my brain is stuck on “There’s a global pandemic! If you want wine, drink wine!” But the reality is that’s an excuse. I’ve been drinking habitually in the evenings for years. It started in my old relationship, as a way to cope with my unhappiness and stress. And years later, I haven’t really managed to handle that. There’s always something going on that seems like a perfectly good reason to have a drink.
I don’t make it easy for myself either. After living alone for almost 3 years, I decided that mid-pandemic would be the perfect time to buy a house. I put mine on the market in January and accepted an offer on it in February. WTF is wrong with me?
At the time of writing, in view of the fact that I’m not hitting my goals on my own, my counsellor has recommended that I try an online service. Ideally, I think she’d have liked to recommend group sessions. And honestly, I think that might have been the best option. But, pandemic. So I’m trying online sessions that I can do on my own which cover the same content.
I strongly suspect that I’m subconsciously using drinking to repress my trauma from the last few years. Certainly, when I’m not drinking, I’m busily suppressing my brain as much as I can. It’s not unusual for me to have the TV on in the background, my Switch on my lap and my phone in my hand. I recently discovered TikTok and it’s rapidly become my new favourite anaesthetic. Anything, anything at all, to keep my brain too busy to think.
I sleep badly. I have trouble falling asleep because, without distractions, my brain torments me with intrusive and upsetting thoughts. I have a lot of bad dreams and wake up tired and disoriented. I know that the key to fixing this is a sleep schedule, time away from screens and time away from booze. Mindfulness breaks during the day so I can get used to my own brain. But I’m scared of slowing down because I’m scared to confront where my brain goes when I do. It’s so much easier just to stay on TikTok until 2 am when I’m finally tired and drunk enough to go straight to sleep.
My homework today is to do my first online module. Today is a Monday, and the first day of the month, so it’s absolutely the perfect time to start. Mondays are supposed to be a sober day anyway. But it’s only 6 pm and already I’m thinking about the half-bottle of wine I have left in the kitchen.
On a scale of 1 – FFS, how bad would it be to complete my Welcome module with a glass of wine in hand?