Dream

I had a strange dream last night, a drinking dream. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

In my dream I was with a very good friend. It was an indeterminate special occasion and we were sitting in a nice place in deep leather chairs. We were both having a martini, and as I was drinking it I was aware that I was breaking my streak, doing something I wasn’t sure I wanted to do. But in my dream the pull was strong. Not the pull of the drink itself, but the pull of the moment. Wanting to have a drink with my friend to celebrate that special moment.

I began to feel terrible about my decision. In my dream, I began to wonder if this would lead to more drinking, if I’d have a hard time getting back on a sober path. I went back and forth between thinking it was no big deal to terrified thoughts that I would be off the wagon for a long time, struggling to get back on.

I woke up greatly relieved. It was, after all, just a dream.

I felt lucky to wake up sober. I lay in bed on my side, then felt a warmth against my back. I slowly rolled over to find that my sweet seven-year-old son had snuck into our room and into our bed in the night, and was sound asleep between me and my wife. He knows he’s not supposed to do this, but it’s so darned cute that I can never be mad for long.

This morning I just gave him a hug and kissed his forehead while he slept. Then I got up and started my day, heading to work while my wife and son slept soundly, peacefully.

I’m so fortunate. I’m so lucky to have these people in my life, to have a home, a job, friends. And so happy that I finally discovered what I long believed to be a hoax, a sham: it’s so much better without the drink. Peaceful. Calm. Grounded.

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Dream

Blissful Summer

It’s been a great summer. A sweet summer baseball league for my little 7-year-old, two nice trips with family and friends, riding my bike to work along the beach, dinners with friends. And all without a drink, of course. Which means restful sleep, clear-eyed mornings, and a huge weight off my shoulders.

Is everything perfect? Of course not! This is life, after all. But it’s pretty darned good. And I remember that every time I wake up sober.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer, too. We’re off for our annual trip to the mountains. Like last year, there will be a clear head to enjoy that clear mountain air.

All the best,

TNNG

Blissful Summer

Summer

I’m still here, and still not drinking, and still really happy about it.

It’s summer at last, time for picnics and the beach, golf and cookouts, summer vacations with the family. All situations that used to mean lots of drinking for me. But not now, and I get more and more comfortable with that each day.

And since I passed the one year mark, that means it’s the second time around to do this stuff without drinking. Sunday begins our annual holiday trip with my extended family, a twenty-year tradition. There are cocktails every night, lots of wine with dinner, after-dinner drinks. Last year I wondered if I could really do it without drinking.

Now I know the answer: of course I can! Because I already did, a year ago. And it was wonderful and fun and sweet and silly and sober. And that’s what it will be again this year.

Wishing all of you a sober summer filled with refreshing swims, beautiful sunsets, gorgeous early mornings, and clear heads all around.

Summer

One Year.

Actually, it’s a year and a day. Yesterday was the official one-year mark.

I didn’t celebrate, or I should say I didn’t celebrate any differently than I celebrate any other day. I spent time with family. I coached a Little League baseball practice for my son and his teammates. I made dinner for my ageing and ailing parents. I gave my son a bath and put him to bed.

Pretty good ways to celebrate, huh?

Two thoughts come to mind with the one-year mark under my belt:

First: I Can Do Anything. Because in powering through an entire year, I encountered every potential drinking situation. My birthday. Christmas. Easter. Summer barbecues. Camping trips. Dinner parties. Golf outings. Business trips. Family vacation. Ski trips. Good days, bad days, work days, awful days.

In a year, you see a lot. And if you can make it through everything the calendar throws at you, well then you can pretty much make it through anything, right? No excuses. Just keep going. Because you’ve just proven that you can do it, so there are no excuses.

Second: The Town Drunk. Last week we took a trip to the mountains for one last ski trip of the season. It’s a long drive through mostly desert, including some tiny desert towns that are straight out of the movies. It was a magical trip, with huge blooms of desert wildflowers for miles and miles, and me and my wife chatting in the front seat as our son read through a few mystery books in the back as the miles flew by.

We stopped for lunch at a cafe in one of those tiny desert towns. I could hear a friendly but slightly-too-loud conversation from near the front door, and knew in an inkling what it meant. My discomfort grew. When it came time to pay the bill I walked up to the register and within sight of him, a white-haired and wrinkled man drinking beer at 11 am. He was trying to be friendly, and the small-town waitresses clearly judged him to be harmless. He tried to engage me in a rambling conversation and I replied as politely as I could without encouraging him. Of course, he didn’t get the hints. He kept loudly talking, asking me questions, telling me about his life. We were able to escape his attention when he was distracted for a moment. My son was confused and a little scared. We left quickly.

It saddened me. It painted a picture in stark relief, showing that alcohol never makes anything better. Whatever regrets he had, setbacks he’d faced, or sadness he felt, the beer wasn’t going to make them any better. If he remembered us at all, he’d surely look back with regret at the family of travelers that he’d amiably harassed.

I don’t know what the future holds, what setbacks I’ll face or sadness I’ll feel. I just know that I have no interest in using alcohol to ‘help’ me through them.

And I hope that friendly, drunken, grizzled old man gets some help.

Now, back to something happier: One Year! It really is something, isn’t it? I never did figure out what to get myself as a reward. I’ll figure it out. Believe me, it will be something good!

One Year.

Getting Closer

I’m a few weeks away from the one year mark.

Soooo, I’m open to suggestions on how to celebrate and what to get myself as a ‘one year treat.’ I’d like it to be something that will be a lasting memento. Hmmmm.

A quick update on my word of the year, “listen”. I’ve had a couple opportunities to consciously put it into effect. These were times when I really wanted to chime in make a point, but told myself to shut up, sit back, and listen. It was a good choice. I’m going to keep trying.

All else continues apace. The regular stresses of life are with me every day, sometimes more so than others. Lately, my worry level has been through the roof. I’m starting to think I need to specifically address it through meditation, yoga, or some other stress-management technique.

Importantly, I’m still very happy to be sober. There’s just no substitute for waking up with a clear head and energy for the day. If I were drinking I don’t think I’d be able to do half what I’m doing these days, including my absolute favorite current activity: coaching my son’s Little League baseball team. Those boys run me ragged some days, but it really is a joy to be on a ballfield with a group of enthusiastic seven-year-olds.

Peace to you all.

Getting Closer

Life Comes to You

It’s my 326th day and I continue to move through life, happy in my sober moments. As I climbed into bed last night I had a momentary flashback to bedtime a year or so ago: drinking as much water as I could, taking a few deep breaths and feeling the buzzy, alcohol-induced coolness in my throat. But fearful of what was to come, knowing that no amount of water, oxygen, or aspirin could result in a good night’s sleep, a clear-headed morning, an energy-filled day.

I still get the urge sometimes, especially in social situations. Last Saturday we got together with my wife’s family, including some visiting from out of town. They are all pretty heavy drinkers, and as I arrived to find them all on the their third or fourth drink already I felt a strong tug: it had been a long day, a drink would anesthetize me a bit, ease me into the awkward social situation.

I shook it off. And over the course of the evening I came to a realization, one I’ve had a few times: you don’t always have to meet people on their terms. You don’t have to drink to join the drinkers. Sometimes, if you act as you know you should, life comes to you. You don’t need to jump out to meet it. So as the evening wore on, and I enjoyed some pleasant conversation with my wife’s relatives, I noticed they’d stopped refilling their wine glasses. Was it because of me? I don’t know. But the conversation stayed clear and upbeat, the evening was enjoyable and any urge I initially had was in the past.

It was a good realization. Maybe we don’t all need to try so hard. Maybe if we just make good choices for ourselves, life will come to us, on our terms.

 

Life Comes to You

300

Tomorrow will be my 300th sober day. I won’t be posting tomorrow because I’ll be on the road, driving my family up to the mountains for a few days skiing with friends. It’s the same trip, with the same friends, that we took last year and the year before that.

What amazing differences can be wrought through the passage of time!

Two years ago, the first time we took this trip, I drank every night. Martinis, then wine. Got tipsy, laughed a lot, played silly games and watched funny movies with our friends after the kids went to bed. I remember the final morning of our trip, waking up with a crushing hangover. Playing in the snow with my son, trying to smile and have fun but feeling miserable and unsteady on my feet.

A year later, last year’s trip. Again, I drank every night. But some realization was starting to set in, and I took it a little easier. No crushing hangovers, but I didn’t exactly feel like a picture of health.

This year? Well, that goes without saying. It’s become ‘normal’ to me. I’ve gone through family holidays and vacations, trips with the boys, ballgames and birthdays, and any number of other events that, in the past, would have been drinking occasions.  But this time, without a drop of alcohol. So I’ll still get silly and laugh a lot (I’ve found, to my great joy, that’s in my nature — I really don’t need the drink to act stupid and laugh!), but I’ll sleep a lot better.

I’ve got to be a little careful not to get complacent. But it no longer feels like a daily battle. It’s just the way I live, and it feels pretty good. It’s certainly a million times better than the self-inflicted mental torment of the past.

So tomorrow, it’s up to the mountains with family and friends. I can’t wait!

300