Too much thinking

Thank you for all your comments in recent days, and I’m sorry not to have responded to them individually. I still feel quite fragile – at least, my sobriety feels fragile, but perhaps that is inevitable at only day 13. Things keep threatening to derail me. A day or so ago, I read a short article by Hannah Betts in The Times. She is great, and is 19 months’ sober, so a bit of a role model, but I was dismayed by her comment that she missed her ‘booze brain’. She was referring to a book recently published in which a photographer shows pictures of people after one, two, then three alcoholic drinks, and how they begin to laugh and relax. She wasn’t promoting drinking, she was – I guess – missing it, or certain aspects of it. I read and reread the article, looking for ‘permission to drink’ therein, and then in desperation I searched for other articles she has written about the benefits of sobriety. There are quite a few, and they are well worth reading (sorry I’m so hopeless at links etc).

Thoughts of moderation still slink about like thieves. I abandoned buying wine this morning when I read an email from SoberMummy – we are arranging to meet! – and I thought, ‘I can’t meet SoberMummy if I’m drinking again; that just wouldn’t be right!’

So I guess I’m hanging in there, but it feels really hard, and I feel quite fed up.

19 thoughts on “Too much thinking”

  1. I’m so happy for you and I am on the same sober road. I guess that what she meant was something like when I say “I love drinking” but I know I have no control over it, so I have to keep away from it, if you get my point. Good luck my friend and thank you for keeping us posted.

    Oh by the way, I had my last drink last Sunday night and I’m not planning on drinking this weekend. Fingers crossed.

  2. I’m only on day 10 Annie and it s hard. I’ve set my initial milestone for 30 so that I can give my body a chance to recover. It deserves that at least. I’ve no idea where it will go after that. In a dream world, I imagine having a couple of drinks here and there, and knowing when to moderate. But I’ve been there before, and not managed it. We will see, every day we don’t drink is a day we give our bodies a break! Day by day my friend!

  3. It is hard, but we can do hard things.
    If you had decided to quit while in labour you wouldn’t have your children.

    Sometimes things that are worth doing are hard.

    I can only imagine that a persons brain on heroin also looks pretty pleasant. Like they are euphoric. Does that mean we should all start doing heroin?

    No. Moderation has proved to be an impossible desire. And some day I hope you will laugh and thing, why would I want to dull my one perfect life?

    Do whatever it takes to not drink. Go back to AA. Meet sober mommy. Keep working this.

    Stillness and peace

    1. I feel like you and I usually post about the same time — and you always end up saying what I tried to say but muddled in my endless stream of words. So thank you.

      I had to laugh. When I had my daughter 23 years ago, I really did try to quit, right at the end of labor. I informed the entire staff (we were about one push away) that I was done, I was going home, screw this whole baby thing, it was a bad idea in the first place. I managed to delay that final contraction for about ten minutes, a feat of will my doctor said she had never seen before. Needless to say,I did the final push and got 23 years of pure joy after. Probably explains why it took so long for me to get sober…

  4. Maybe just a teeny shift in thinking?

    First, you know, and have provided ample evidence on these pages, that moderation is not possible for you.(Not just you, by the way, but pretty much anyone who has ever commented on your blog and every alcoholic). Second, you know, and have provided ample evidence on these pages, that the joyful charming drinking Annie (operating via “booze brain”) is a fiction (not saying that maybe it wasn’t once a reality — for many of us, we were drinking moderately and happily before the addiction took hold. But there is no question it is gone now — please reread your own words on what it feels like to be drinking — not that first sip, but the ugliness that follows. You have been quite eloquent on how drinking has not brought you any happiness, even in the moment of drinking).

    So this Moderate Annie character you long to believe in is not possible (it is not a matter of “permission” — it is a matter of fact). So instead of thinking “How can I become Moderate Annie?” the more realistic, and productive course of thought is: (1) a period of mourning that you will never be Moderate Annie — because that’s okay. It is hard to give up a beautiful dream. And (2) how can I get that feeling I get when I imagine being Moderate Annie while staying Sober Annie.

    My brother gave me the best metaphor for this. He told me that, at about 28, he realized he was older than the vast majority of pro baseball players and that he would never become one of them. Now, he loves baseball, but he’s never been any good at it. Played a few dismal seasons of Little League as a kid, and that’s it for on field experience. So Baseball Brother was never in his cards, and he knew long before 28. Even so, he still had a little pang of regret on that birthday. And then he went on figuring out how he could get the feeling of being Baseball Brother without playing pro ball. He got seasons tickets to the local team. He signed up for the office softball squad. He played fantasy baseball. He subscribed to Baseball Weekly (yeah, that’s a thing). And my guess is he is, at 50, enjoying the game more than all the retired pros (with their bad knees and low-glamor coaching jobs) ever did.

    Translated to drinking, for me this meant — being sad (for a little while) as I gave up the dream of being the easy, happy lady sipping a glass of wine and chatting wittily at the garden party. Then figuring out what I could do sober to recapture those same feelings. The list was long: learning to really listen to people I was socializing with (instead of looking for the damn waiter pouring the wine) went a long way to making me feel more at ease in social situations. Meditation helps me stay in the moment and appreciate what I used to think needed a glass of wine to make beautiful (a sunset, my husband, cooking dinner). You get the picture. You can have what you think “booze brain” is giving you, and more I would argue — or at least the same sans side effects — without the boost. You just have to accept that using alcohol is off the table.

    In other words, the alcohol doesn’t define the dream, you do.

  5. Thanks for the link to the Hannah Betts article Annie. One of the few I’ve not come across.
    You are doing brilliantly Annie. xx

  6. You’re doing so great! Sure, it’s too much thinking but thinking too much about it all seems like part of stepping away from the drink for most of us. I know what you (and Hannah Betts) mean about the booze brain. I think these days I get what I used to long for in drinking by laughing and being silly, and by doing fun outdoor stuff. I don’t suggest you’ll it in the same things, or that you need to worry about it yet, but that feeling of the tense world dropping away and relaxing into fun is available to be now in a way it truly wasn’t with the drink. Just don’t drink and the rest will come. Cheering you on here! xo

  7. Annie, I think you are doing greAt but it’s a treacherous path and we need to avoid temptation and triggers. My weekday routine includes walking down to town and drinking an Americano in Costa( other coffee chains are available). An Americano as its fewer calories but it has become a sort of methadone as it seems to reduce my desire to drink. It also keeps me away from drinking colleagues and gives me something to do and something to look forward to in a bizarre way. Admittedly, I work away from home during the week but it is a displacement activity that breaks the cycle. I get the FOMO stuff that SM talks about and I am frequently fed up but you and I can’t go back to our old ways – too much at stake and the outcome will just be a harder path next time. I relish the mornings without a hangover. That alone easily compensates for FOMO. Be strong this weekend. Enjoy your time with SM and volunteer to drive to your Ball in a few weeks.


  8. Hang on Annie! We’re very much with you. 13 is my favorite number and you are one of my favorite new friends. I saw that same article a while back and it influenced me the same way. Isn’t that a shame how easy it is to be influenced? I’ve been purposely avoiding my Facebook newsfeed because my friends enjoy posting pictures of their happy times with their favorite drinks. Note how strong you were to abandon buying wine. That shows that you have courage and tenacity.

  9. Go from breath to breath, quarter hour to quarter hour. Fill the time. Fill your mind. Continue. Now is better than yesterday.

  10. I really had to mourn drinking-Jenn….especially the idealized drinking-Jenn that was classy and sociable…With time away from drinking the reality has set in that drinking-Jenn was a shitty mom(this hurts), couldn’t handle her alcohol most days, and was an undignified, depressed, anxious mess who lived for the next drink which never provided the relief it promised….it was always “one more”…one more drink, one more day of drinking, one more hangover, one more blackout…ad infinitum.
    Annie, stay away from the drink long enough to heal and be honest with yourself…keep going.

  11. Hang in there Annie. It IS hard but it will get easier with time. I am so excited for you to be meeting up with SM! Oh I wish I could meet you both as well! A x

  12. Great that you are hanging on in there. I was thinking about how long it took for all the benefits to develop today. Looking for happiness in heavy drinking is a bit like gardening by buying loads of cut flowers and just putting them in your garden. It looks immediately better and brighter but they straight away die leaving you with a thorny old mess and meanwhile tons of weeds grow up and strangle out everything else. What you are doing now is the actual gardening. Because of all the weeds and the mess the first bit is a massive slog pulling out the weeds in the cold and wet. It is hard, back-breaking, lonely work. Even though you can see you have made progress it seems like the actual flowers you wanted all along will never come up. It is tempting to just go and buy some again. You think that maybe you just don’t have the green fingers that other people have. Then one day when you are not even looking they suddenly appear. And you can start enjoying your real garden that you worked for in the sun. Anyway that was what it felt like for me. It took time but even now it really feels like there are still new benefits coming forward. I hope your Friday night is OK and you have a beautiful restful sober sleep to start your weekend x

  13. Hi Annie, I too saw the article about the photographs. I wonder if they did a series of follow up photos the next morning as I bet they wouldn’t be so bright, or at least they wouldn’t be if they had me in them the next day 🙂 For me, at 46, I have found that even a small amount of drink really affects me for days after and I love the way I feel when I don’t drink. I think too much as well and it’s a curse! But thoughts are just thoughts, they aren’t reality and they do pass, as you know. Hang on in there Annie, you are doing so well and we are all rooting for you! Plus you get to meet the legendary SM! (I lurk on her blog too, avidly).

  14. I feel sorry that you are feeling so fragile. It is to be expected but it’s a horrible feeling that you can’t trust yourself and your intentions could be swept away really easily. Just hang on to the reasons why you’ve stopped and to how well you’ve done so far. What it would REALLY be like if you gave in. What is really motivating me is fear for my future. I want to be able to grasp opportunities, make the most of things, be the best I can be. Being a lush is not compatible with any of that. It’s a prison. And I look at all these gorgeous, accomplished, busy women like Helen Mirren as one example in the news again this week. You can bet she doesn’t drink – or very rarely and very little. I want a life.

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