Monday, September 27, 2010

Drinking Thinking

Another super fun weekend behind me! And my birthday coming up soon! Yay!!

But what I've been finding is - possibly because of this blog - I'm thinking about drinking a whole lot more than I want to lately. Well, I know I think about drinking more than most people do. Even in A.A. I think there's an unnatural amount of thinking about drinking that goes on.

But it's been worse the last couple of months because I want to keep the information flowing. The truth is - the research about addiction is endless. I'm not here to become a doctor. I'm here to make my life livable and as happy as possible. I've found something that works for me - that has solved an incredible problem I have. And I want to enjoy that.

But I also don't want to risk losing that or taking steps backwards because I'm constantly trying to woo people to my blog by writing every day or four times a week or whatever. This blog is always going to be here to help people who need it. I feel kind of zen about it. I'm sure I'm going to drop in now and again to share stories - there are even more journal entries from my first long cleanse that I wanted people to read. And I'll do that - but for now, I just want to get back into my normal life.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them or email me. I'd love to know if other people find cleansing a help to their drinking problems. Or ... just try it on your own and see. I hope it works! Talk soon, but ciao for now!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hack, hack!

Terrible bug going around. Caught it myself.

I used to have this trick when I'd feel a cold coming on. I'd drink two big glasses of wine (at least!), pop 2 Tylenol cold tablets, wrap up (scarf and everything) and hit the hay for a few hours to sweat and sleep it off. It worked every time. And made getting over a cold fun & quick.

Then I found out how hard mixing cold medicine and liquor was on your liver - and I stopped that. Well, I stopped it in general about four years ago.

But the other day, with the blessings of the hubby (who had given me the damn cold to begin with), I decided to have those two glasses of wine during the day (first time in years!), wrap up and sleep it off.

Well, I slept. Passed out for four hours. But the cold didn't go away.

And you know what? It wasn't even that fun. Thank God I don't indulge by myself all day anymore. It was such torture before, during and after.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sleeping with the Enemy

There is really something to be said for that one glass of wine (and a splash) at night. My weekly routine ended up getting quashed this week but I adapted. Then, on the nights I did drink - the last two - I only had one glass of wine with and during dinner (maybe 5 ounces) and then a splash (maybe 1 or 2 ounces) after dinner with an episode of "Breaking Bad."

(Speaking of addiction, I have one for this show. I had no idea who Bryan Cranston was until the Emmy Awards this year. I was all, like, What?! Michael C. Hall's not gonna win! That's fuckin' nuts! He's a genius! "Dexter" is my fave show evurrrrr!! You guys SUCK!!! But then the hubby rented season one, and I am literally hooked, now only one episode away from the end of season TWO and all this in about a week. I am absolutely a "Breaking Bad" junkie now! I think about it when it's not on. I want it when I can't have it. I sink into happy oblivion when the opening sequence begins ... Funny, both my favorite shows are about bad guys with a dark secret trying to fit into a normal world. Huh. btw - yes, Bryan Cranston deserved the Emmy. Hell, he deserves everyone's Emmy as far as I'm concerned.)

Anyway, back to what I was saying about a glass and a splash. Sometimes, even mid-week, I party a bit, and I'll have three glasses of wine with pasta dinner or whatever - and then maybe even a splash. Part-ayyyy!! But then I feel it the next morning - and I can even feel it the next afternoon in a haze of down-ness.

It makes me wonder if the dopamine depression thing can set in that fast ... and be fixed that fast. Whatever the case, cleansing doesn't turn you into Mary Sunshine on Zoloft. You'll still deal with moods, and PMS, and life crap, and melancholy. But it's not as bad as before cleansing - and hell, that's life, right? Besides, at least you can still DRINK!!

But because I've just come off a cleanse, I think I did a few too many of those 3 or 4 drink nights (along with a few glasses of wine at lunch with L. the other day). I was feeling it. I wasn't pleased with myself. So the last couple nights, as I said, I've forgone the actual PARTAYYYY stuff, and just stuck with a glass and a splash.

Not only is it fun and relaxing and totally buzz-inducing ... but you don't feel the aftereffects the next morning. It makes me wonder why I EVER drink more than that. But then again, I'm a fan of a middle-class chemistry teacher drug-dealer and a single, blood-spatter analyst serial killer, so I'm one for skating the line of propriety. It's not surprising I indulge myself sometimes.

Having said that, here's a sweet little piece of advice from Sir William Temple who was an English Statesman in the 17th Century:

"The first glass for myself; the second for my friends; the third for good humor: and the fourth for mine enemies."

I wonder why heavy drinkers treat themselves like the enemy so often?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Go With The Flow

So I'm right back in the swing of "normal" life. Tuesdays and Thursdays off. But that's not always how it works out.

If something or someone throws a wrench into the predictable pattern you have for your week, you might find yourself getting upset about it. I know I had to go through this in the early days of this plan when something came up that tipped my predictable weekly schedule (i.e. plans fell through and an "on" night was suddenly an "off" night ... please note I was hardly ever upset when it happened the other way). So I had to learn to just go with the flow.

It's an important lesson, because it will happen time and again. Like this weekend, for instance. The hubby came down with a nasty cold on Sunday - normally a day of chores, but then a night of yummy food and some wine. But he wasn't in the mood for any of that so the day ended up being ... bringing him chicken soup. And the night wasn't much different. He didn't feel like drinking. He said I could go ahead of course, but I just decided "No, tonight will be my off night and I'll work something else out in the week."

Of course, you can still take that other third night off during the week - it's GOOD for you sometimes. But the point is, whatever happens - GO WITH THE FLOW. If an "on" night suddenly becomes an "off" night, know in your heart and soul that it's good for you and don't get all uppity about it. Don't let yourself feel resentful. It's not worth it. Learn how to be flexible and easy about your drinking. It shouldn't be a rigid ritual that never changes. You've got to learn how to adapt to whatever happens in your life.

Remember what Charles Darwin said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."

So learn to adapt. It'll make survival a whole lot easier.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Model Behavior

So I had my two regular nights off this week, welcome, quiet - and totally necessary.

But it's Friday today and I'm meeting a friend for lunch. Luckily, this girl (woman, yes, of course) will just be coming from a job interview and will have to pick up her beyond-adorable son from daycare before the end of the afternoon. Meaning it will just be one nice, long, chatty, responsible lunch. But otherwise - who knows what will happen with this girl. She is one crazy party head.

A 34-year-old beauty - who still models professionally, but has also spawned said perfect child, and works in finance, has a beautiful house, a wonderful husband, an ancestral home in the south of France where she's summered every year of her life, and can speak about six languages - earned her drinking stripes modeling abroad.

The first time I met her, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen in the flesh. She looked about 18, with long honey-blonde hair, those ice-blue, narrow-wide model eyes and high, arched brows. Fresh back from a summer modeling in Japan, she was so cool. So bawdy. So confident. Don't ask me why I would befriend a model a dozen years younger than me, but if you haven't figured out that I have a masochistic streak and don't mind a challenge, then maybe you should start paying attention.

I'm not lying when I tell you that I love this girl so much, she was the inspiration behind a character in my last novel. And one of the things I adored about her was the fact she could party just as hard as I could - even harder, considering she was so much younger than me.

The night started with dinner and wine. There was sparkling stuff. And something pink. (I knew I was drinking too much but was gladly a victim of peer pressure. But that's the great thing about cleansing: once you've started doing it for a while and are out of the addictive dopamine/depression cycle, you can really let go every now and again without any really negative repercussions, besides hangovers!).

At one point, she said, "Baby, baby, we've got to do vodka bread shots!" For any of you who don't know what they are, skip this whole blog so you never have to be tempted. But this is how it went. She called our waiter over to the table and in her gravelly voice she told him to bring over vodka shots for all of us - including one for himself - and a fresh baguette.

When everything got to the table, she put a shot of vodka in front of each of us. Then she made us each tear a chunk of bread off the baguette. "Okay, down the vodka shot," she said, "and after you're finished, just take a big, long sniff of the bread."

We're all like, "What?!" And she's like "Baby, just do it."

So down the vodka went. Up the bread went to the nose. Sniiifffffff!! It smelled delicious, but more than that, it totally covered up the aftertaste and after-burn of the vodka. It was as if you hadn't had a shot at all.

I don't know how many of those shots I had that night - suffice it to say, I've never had another since. But I do know this: we went back to our place and I turned green within a few minutes. I had to excuse myself without any warning or good-byes, had a tete-a-tete with the toilet for a while, and the next morning I found myself fully dressed, crossways on the bed with sheet indentations deep as faultlines all over my face.

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

And the end of my relationship with vodka shots.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Busy Drinkin'

Okay, so that happened. A wild, wonderful, superfun Labor Day Weekend!

I should be hung over, but I'm not. Either my tolerance went way up in a hurry - and long weekends do tend to do that, post-cleanse or not - or grappa is a cure for hangovers because after two glasses of wine with my dinner last night, the waiter brought our bill with two nice shots of Limoncello. I stared at my glass and thought. "Hell, you don't need this, Ms. Functional. You're feelin' fine."

But then my hubby and I smiled at each other, picked up the shots and down they went. Yum-maaayyy! It was Socrates who said "Everything in moderation. Nothing in excess." But Mark Twain dusted that one off and made it a little more agreeable. "All things in moderation, including moderation."

But here's the rub: if I drink that much at dinner, I don't have more when I come home. Unless I really want to party - and pay for it in the morning. I really can STOP DRINKING when I want to. Something that I had so, soooo much trouble with before I started cleansing. Something I could only dream of doing. Back then, I couldn't go to sleep unless a glass was empty. Maybe even the bottle.

But this weekend, even in party mode, at least once I went to bed leaving some Cab Sauvignon in my glass. "I don't need that," I told myself. And I knew I didn't, so I left it for the hubs.

Last night I said to the grappa, "I don't need that," too. But last night, I went for it. Because I can ... and I'm so grateful for that. Especially with this happy new theory that grappa cures hangovers. Huh.

NTS: get in massive amounts of limoncello.

Kidding. But it does make the bill go down a lot easier.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Buddha says ...

It was nice to have a night 'off.' I feel rested, happy - and very excited about the long Labor Day Weekend. This ... is what cleansing is all about.

It's funny, but you always seem to find the wisdom you're looking for ... I read this and loved it and only just realized how much it corresponds to my own situation - and maybe yours:

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. - Buddha

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Booze Blues

I don't know what it is. I feel kind of down today. I'm going to do what I usually do when I feel down: write about it.

Normally, I write to myself. I actually considered not even sharing this information with you. Because I want my plan to help people and I think it can. So part of me wants to downplay anything negative that happens.

But, more than anything, I want to be honest. With you and with myself. It was US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson who was credited with saying, in 1918, that the first casualty of war is the truth. But the truth is also a casualty of alcoholism. I know that because I know how much I used to lie. And I don't want to do that anymore.

There are probably a few reasons I'm feeling a bit blue today. One, I shouldn't have had that third glass of wine last night. I'm probably feeling guilty about that - especially only two nights after coming off a cleanse. Bad girl. I don't consider that over-over doing it. But I knew I'd feel it and I made the decision anyway - so here I am. Let that be a lesson to all of you coming off a cleanse.

Maybe I'm just down because I'm feeling the effects of alcohol in my system for the first time in four weeks. It is a depressant, after all.

Maybe I'm down because coming off a cleanse is, as I've mentioned, kind of anti-climactic.

Or maybe I'm just concerned. Is this really working? Can it really work for others? I know in my heart it's what I want. But I also know that my theories contradict almost all of the professional research into alcohol addiction out there.

Who wouldn't feel a little bit down about that? It's going to be an uphill battle. But even if it is, it will be one war where the truth is still standing when everyone else is down.

Pasta Night!

We had our first red-wine-and-pasta-Wednesday in a month last night. It was f-u-n! And delicious. I told my husband that I think the main reason I don't want to give up wine is because it really is so wonderful with meals.

Of course, it's wonderful on sunny patios, too.

And just about everywhere else. ;)

Remember it's extremely important that you still take your two days off a week that first week you come off a cleanse. You also don't want to put more than two drinking days together - and, always, always - watch how many drinks you have.

I had about 3 glasses of wine last night - which was one more than I should have, to be honest. But my husband and I were just having so much fun cooking and eating and talking and listening to music and ... well, there it is.

But I felt my bad judgment this morning. I had a bit of a swollen brain and took an aspirin. If I have 4 glasses of wine, I get an all-out hangover, so I only go that far when it's a party night. And, yes, sometimes there's a 5th glass, but not often. And that's a REAL hangover.

It's funny. In my forties, I'm finally discovering the real cause and effect of alcohol on my system. I feel blessed that it's happening - even though I know you won't get many doctors to agree that it's okay to EVER have more than 3 drinks on any occasion for a woman. And no more than 7 a week altogether. Men can have 14 apparently. (As if getting more attractive as they age wasn't enough of a punch in the gut.)

Although every cleanse finds me actually drinking less and less, I know I still have more wine than the experts think is good for me. A 2004 study published in "Circulation" magazine found that healthy seniors who drank in moderation (1-7 drinks a week) had lower levels of inflammation markers (which are directly tied to cardiovascular disease) than either non-drinkers or those people who drank more than 7 drinks a week. (By the way, a warning to all of us: the worst inflammation markers were found in the heavy drinkers, not the abstainers.)

I'm aware of these risks and I work every cleanse cycle to reduce what I drink. But this plan isn't about listening to every rule set down by the medical establishment. If it was, I would've been forced to quit drinking years ago. This plan is about improving my own situation in a livable, workable way.

I'm a product of my parents - both alcoholics - and my own experience. Let's be honest: I've been able to drink more than most women my age and size all my life. I imagine anyone else with the sort of drinking problem I had is in the same boat. Balking at the idea of 7 drinks a week. But I used to drink a LOT more than that. I used to hide bottles everywhere - in my closet, bed stand, under the kitchen sink. And I would drink, drink, drink, drink all day and night. I know the situation I was in. I know the addiction I was dealing with. I remember - very clearly - the guilt and the fear and the shame and the anger.

I still feel a certain amount of "fear" toward alcohol. Though I think "respect" is a more positive word. I'll probably always feel this way. But I don't begrudge that. I embrace it as a new part of my life. And I know that every cleansing cycle I do get better. And I imagine I'll continue getting "better" my whole life - until, yes, doctor, maybe I'll only be having 7 drinks a week.

If you can break the cycle of dopamine and depression, you can start taking the number of drinks you have down in a way that makes sense for you. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. Have confidence in yourself. Be vigilant. Be aware of your body and your health. The process of healing is not an immediate one. It is a journey that you'll be on the rest of your life. But it is a journey you'll want to take.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Off the Wagon!

"Wine is a noble, generous liquor, and we should be humbly thankful for it; but, as I remember, water was made before it." John Eliot, English missionary to Native Americans. (1604-90)

I had two glasses of wine last night. It's funny, but it's really not such a big deal at all anymore. One way or the other. Not even after my long cleanse, when I had my first drink in over six months, was it all fireworks and fanfare.

Don't expect to feel elation when you have that first drink. It can be kind of anti-climactic. But that's good. You're trying to put alcohol in perspective. It's not a panacea, it's not a solution for every problem you have, it's not going to change your life. Don't expect it to. This is about normalizing your relationship with alcohol - not making it more acute.

I didn't have a hangover this morning - and I'm grateful for that. But that's another wonderful thing about cleansing: it puts you in touch with how much harm you might be doing to your body by drinking too much. Without regular cleanses - without a healthy, physical gauge of total sobriety - you might not even realize that you're dealing with hangovers or dopamine depression all the time. I know that's the way it was with me. I didn't know that I was constantly living in a toxic condition - because I didn't know how "normal" felt.

But now I do. And it feels great. It also feels great to be off my cleanse. There are still some nice patio days out there. :)