hope

I did not plan this “30” in advance. Oh, I’d been thinking about changing my drinking habits for a very long time, both in the 4am “I’m a broken person who needs to stop” sort of way and a more subtle, kinder, fragile determination that was growing somewhere deep inside me. But I am slightly embarrassed to say that what actually happened was that I ran out of wine one day and decided not to buy more.

Running out of wine actually happened a lot (I was drinking about a liter and a half of wine every evening, so I ran through it rather quickly!), and was something I devoted an astonishing amount of energy trying to manage, prevent, and fix via hasty runs out to the liquor store. What was different about this particular day in January? Well, I wasn’t feeling great, so I recall feeling that it might be easier just to take a day off (I sort of snuck up on the idea of taking more than just one day off). And deep down, that fragile, careful feeling of determination had been steadily growing, and I’d been doing my best to nurture it, until it finally coalesced into a tiny, flickering spark of hope.

I did not change my drinking habits out of fear, self-loathing, or “hitting rock bottom,” I did it because I started to believe that things could be better. Not consistently, not strongly, and not loudly, but just a tiny bit at a time, a little tickle of optimism that I did my best to protect.

It was a pretty weak flicker at first, which is partly because it is chemically difficult to feel good (as in happy, optimistic, or capable) while also drinking two full bottles of wine every single night. Your brain just can’t do it. But as things have started to level out, and as the mental & emotional chaos caused by drastically cutting down starts to fade, I find that the little spark of hope sometimes flares up into a huge, thundering beacon of optimism. “Sobriety” (in the sense of healthy drinking habits, whether zero or moderate) is exciting! Not perfect, not easy, but holding an astonishing amount of possibility.

It is also sometimes boring. Not because drinking is actually more interesting than not drinking (it feels more interesting. It isn’t, really). But because life itself has a lot of boring parts. Also depressing, sad, infuriating, stupid, aggravating, and disappointing parts. That’s life. Even on the boring rainy days, it’s still good to feel that little flicker of hope, sticking with me.

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