Monday, September 26, 2011

Brownout Alert

Okay ... so that happened.

All was going extremely well/fun/perfectly for a few days after my cleanse ended. And then came Saturday. My husband's parents were in town for their anniversary and we were taking them for dinner. There were drinks before the restaurant. A kir royale when we got there. A bottle of wine between me and the Mrs during dinner ... a nice walk back to the hotel ... all good, no blurs, just yum and fun.

But then in the (lovely) hotel suite, we had a nightcap ... and my father poured it. A big, honkin' glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I knew I was already tipsy. When I saw the thing, I literally went "Whoa!"

I've had this reaction to glasses of wine before and you know what? It NEVER ends well - and it didn't the other night, either.

I knew I didn't need this glass of wine, but ... I drank it anyway. Once it was down ... so was I. My mood began to plummet. Thank God we had already left the hotel, but still. Before we even got home I told my husband I felt "excluded" from the night. And that's true. But I didn't feel excluded from the whole night. I just felt excluded when I was having that last glass of wine because it took me by the lapels and dragged me down into a depression.

Alcohol is a depressant.

That's a fact. In excess, it lowers dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels. All of this can make you depressed. And that's what happened to me on Saturday night. I was feeling excluded at the hotel room because I was surely and steadily sinking into a depression. I had had TOO MUCH TO DRINK TOO CLOSE TO THE END OF A CLEANSE.

I say it to you so many times. Watch what you drink when you come off a cleanse. Watch what you drink when you come off a cleanse. It's going to be so much easier to overdrink and make a "mistake." I say it all the time.

But I didn't listen to my own advice. So do as I say and not as I do (sometimes) and do not say yes to a glass of wine that makes you go "Whoa!" because it's so big. Especially if you've already been drinking.

Anyway, I woke up Sunday morning with a hangover from Hades. Having not been really hungover in ages, it was terrible. I couldn't bring myself to even eat my breakfast grapefruit. My head was pounding, my stomach was nauseous - and I was even more depressed than I had been the night before because ... I couldn't remember everything that happened after that last glass of wine. All I know for sure is that I told my husband I thought people started ignoring me.

The rest of it I had t piece together with the clues left around the apartment. Yes, I managed to take my makeup off. Yes, I put my clothes away (didn't leave them in a pile on the ground). Nothing seemed broken - either on me or in the apartment. But still ... I was devastated because "it had happened again." For the first time in THREE years, I had had an angry blackout.

I kept thinking about you. I kept thinking about not just letting myself down, or my husband down - but you down too. Because every September that goes by (interestingly, my last big blackout was after my cleanse ended in September of 2008) I can mark another year away from my last angry blackout. One year. Two years. Three years!

I took great pride in this fact. I was proud of myself and proud of this plan which was obviously working so well. Three years since my last blackout was an incredible milestone because I used to have one of those angry, drag-out, no-holds-barred vicious blackout fights with my husband at least once a week.

And now ... it had happened again. I was torn up inside. I was lost. I looked after the physical effects of the hangover with some aspirin. I brewed some ginger tea for my upset stomach. I put the grapefruit back in the fridge and took a long walk, to get some fresh air. I breathed deeply. I noticed the flowers and leaves started to fall on some of the trees. I noticed children playing in the park. A darling German Shepherd puppy tugging on his master's leash. I noticed the beautiful fall morning. It was wonderful and I felt better. At least a little.

But the worst part was still ahead of me. Atoning to my wonderful husband for fucking up on him again.

And ... atoning to you guys, too.

When I got home from my walk, I tucked into bed with some Kleenex because I suspected there would be morning-after tears. I was absolutely morose and guilty and ashamed and angry at myself. Of course there would be tears.

You know what? When my husband woke up ... he was fine.

I'm serious. He was absolutely and totally 100% fine. He kissed me and said "Good morning, sunshine," like he always did. He even had a smile on his face. "You're not mad?" I asked.

"Mad? What for?"

"For last night. I'm so hungover. I'm so sorry."

Again, he seemed to shrug it off. I had nothing to apologize for, he said. Nothing bad happened. That's literally how he said it, "Nothing bad happened."

"But I don't remember very much," I told him.

"You were fine. You just got a little ... unhappy at the end, that's all."

There was no massive fight, I didn't say anything hurtful to him that I couldn't take back, I didn't slam the door so hard that I sent another layer of paint chips off onto the floor. I was not happy, I was negative ... but I was not vicious or raging angry. No matter how drunk I got.

"It's different now," he said. I remember one time he told me that even when I drink, my energy is no longer the same. It's not as angry or negative. "The zombie is dead," he said back then.

And, apparently, despite the fact I'd had too much too close to coming off a cleanse (and paid the price dearly ... so please, please, please be careful!), the zombie is still dead. That angry, drunk monster isn't inside me anymore. Even though I had drank enough to have a blackout.

But ... it wasn't a blackout, was it? Not in the way I used to have them. I came home, I got ready for bed, I tucked into bed. That was it. I didn't want to fight. I didn't want to finish off every bottle of wine in the house. I didn't want to stay up and drink and rage all night. I went to bed feeling a little bit sad. Probably not just because of neurotransmitter levels, but because I knew I had ignored my own very important post-cleanse rule and had too much to drink.

The hubs and I talked about it quite a bit yesterday. And yes, there were tears - which were completely unnecessary, he said. He said that maybe I'm getting to be too hard on myself when it comes to my drinking because it's been so long since my last angry rage. The better I get, the more perfect I want to become, and the higher standards I hold myself to. He said that can't be good. This is an evolution, a process. Things are not perfect, but they're better and I should learn to be more forgiving of myself.


That was a license plate I saw several years ago after another night where I thought I'd had a bad blackout and fought with my hubs. Forgivn. I've even talked here about how important it is to forgive yourself. For your past mistakes, for the mistakes you're making now, and for the ones you're going to make in the future. Self-forgiveness is a huge part of this plan. It always has been. But I'd been making such good progress that I wanted "perfection" - which isn't possible at any time when you're human. Maybe I needed a gentle reminder of that (and, luckily, it turned out to be pretty gentle). And I definitely needed a reminder of the importance of forgiveness of myself.

So this morning I wanted to come clean with you and be honest about what happened. I sincerely considered not mentioning anything and letting you believe that things were going to be perfect if you get on Plan C - the cleansing plan.

But, as always, I also wanted to be honest. Honesty is something that is now very precious to me because I lived so many lies in my life when I was drinking too much. The shame and pressure of those lies were debilitating and hateful. It was a terrible weight to live under and I don't want to do it anymore.

So I've been honest with you about a "mistake." A mistake that, thank God - and it's because of the cleansing, too - was not as bad as I thought it was. In fact, it wasn't even a serious blackout. I decided to call it something else ... a rolling brownout.

Be on alert for rolling brownouts when you come off a cleanse. When a drink makes you say "Whoa!" - have a glass of water instead. Avoid the potential for a "mistake." It's easy. It's simple. And it's waaaaaaay more fun than drinking too much. Because if I didn't have that last drink, not only would I have been less hungover in the morning, I wouldn't have had a rolling brownout - and I wouldn't have felt excluded from the fun when it was happening.

Rembember ... you can never have too little to drink. But you can always have too much. Hopefully, your rolling brownouts will be few and far between. And if something happens, remember the importance of self-forgiveness. Understand that you're on a journey to new and undiscovered territory. It may not be perfect - but it will be much better. And if you can find the self-love and forgiveness that you need to continue to evolve ... then that, in itself, is as near to perfection as we can hope to live.

Sources:, "What You Need To Know About Alcohol and Depression" by June Russell. (Funnily, this article was just updated on September 19, 2011 - two days before my cleanse ended.)

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