Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Clearer State of Mind

This morning is gorgeous! And by that, I mean it’s about 65 degrees here, cloudy, dismal----the perfect weather for me. I almost feel a tinge of tornadic possibilities. Anytime cold air meets the warm, it’s bound to kick up a few twisters now and then. I woke up to the sounds of rain falling on my windowpane. I woke up sober. It was beautiful. No headaches, no queasy stomach or the need to make one of my hangover concoctions. I made some delicious coffee and on my second cup. I never used to drink a second cup, but again, my addictive behavior tells me: one more cup! Hey, it’s better than ‘one more beer’.

The wonderful and unfamiliar thing that has happened is, I had a hard time sleeping last night and got probably 5 hours in, however I feel like I have slept for 8 hours. When I was drinking, I was lucky I even got 4 hours in per night. Anytime I drank vodka, I’d fall asleep and then wake up two hours later with my heart racing, leaving me awake the entire night. My sleep was always interrupted.

My life was interrupted.

The first couple of days of my sobriety, I made a list of things I noticed about alcohol in and out of my life.  Some are about the positive aspects of my days of drinking and others are the negatives.  I also made notes about the positive results of my sobriety. 

Alcohol in my life:
(Things I miss about alcochol.)

-Socializing with people while out or having a party was easier. I was more open and outgoing.

-Took away my anxiety attacks, (temporarily of course) .

-I loved to match different wines with certain dishes. For instance: pinot noire with a marinara sauce, cabernet with a rare steak, pinot grigio with a white flaky fish and a sweet plum wine or sake with sushi.

-The one thing I will miss is having Sambuca in my espresso and cocktail hour (12 noon) which included martinis with mom.

-I will miss my little “reward system”. I used to open a nice bottle of wine from my collection after completing a paid writing project or finishing a chapter or two from my book. After all, I deserved it, right?

-Opening a chilled bottle of white wine or champagne and sitting with my wife out on our deck overlooking the views of the mountains. I loved that! We usually went through 2 bottles though.

Without alcohol in my life: 
(Also, some things I don't miss about alcochol and the wonderful things that come with sobriety.) 

-Even though alcohol placed a band aid on my anxiety disorder, it actually increased it when it finally left my system, leaving me drained and completely depressed. Wow, who knew alcohol was a depressant?

-I used to obsess over certain things that were just uncontrollable. I used to have unmanageable obsessive thought patterns that overtook my entire life.

-I said very hurtful things to special people. Without the alcohol, I find I think before I speak. 

-I have clarity. I think, speak and do things without doubting myself like I used to. I’m able to make a decision and hold it. I’m not so indecisive like I used to be. I like that very much.

-I won’t be endangering people’s lives out on the road or in the same vehicle as me. I will never have to worry about the thought of losing someone I love from having a few drinks and driving them home.
-My days are much more busier and productive. I’ve started attending meetings twice per day and doing some help (volunteering) on the side. I’ve signed up for a few more writing projects and now looking into going back to school.

-Weight loss. YAY! I used to cringe anytime someone would say, “Oh alcohol has empty calories.” What the? Now, I’m realizing that even if I do crave more chocolate and a bit more sugar in my coffee, those calories are able to be burned off, whereas the alcohol just sits in your system doing absolutely nothing. I have lost weight without dieting. Even when I was with my trainer at the gym, I’d work out **2 hours** per day from Mon-Fri and yeah, I lost some weight, but not what I thought I would lose. Alcohol was my enemy. After I stopped working out like that, I gained it back and then some in a very short time.
-Nightlife doesn’t have to include a bar! I have met some really great people and most of all, my wife has given me such great support, which I appreciate with all my heart. She doesn’t have a drinking problem though. She is able to have only one drink and then have the ability to stop. However, she encourages me to push forward with my mission of sobriety for now. By the cons, you can see that I’m feeling great.

-NO MORE GERD! I have no more indigestion or reflux! No heartburn or stomach aches. This is a totally new life for me. I cannot believe the health benefits that I doubted so much if someone were to quit alcohol completely.

-I save the best for last. I’m closer to God than I have ever been. I meditate and pray for 2 hours per day. It’s not even enough for me! I have peace. I feel calm. I feel like I can do absolutely anything in the world. (Almost like being on crack!) I find joy in the smallest of things.

I’m excited about my journey. I also wonder about the AA program and its focus on God. I’m thrilled about it, however one girl who was a Buddhist got a bit upset at one of the meetings due to the focal point being God. The director said that it can be a “higher power” than yourself----even if you want that to be your parents or the Universe or “your God”, whoever that may be. Yet, they do grab a couple of scriptures from the Holy Bible that raises some questions to those who do not practice Christianity or any related religion.
So, even if I replaced one drug for another, at least coffee won't get me into trouble. I'm happy to say I'm going to make all my decisions with a clearer state of mind.