First Father’s Day Sober

Today is Father’s Day. I am sober.

Although I stopped counting a while ago, the app on my phone tells me it’s been 270 days since I first went 24 hours without a drink. I celebrate my sobriety date based on that rather than the day of my last drink — somehow it seems more correct.

I woke up today thinking that I was in a strange bed and wondering which room my father and mother were in. The sense of being in a strange room was probably a remnant of being on vacation and also of sleeping so soundly that I was disoriented upon waking.

It was a strange thought to have at 43, in my own house, in my own bed, with my wife by my side and my son across the hall in his room.

I miss my father.

He was taken from us way to early. I was 29. I hadn’t met Mrs. TKD yet. Mr. Grey was just a hope and a dream. There are many things that I wish he was here to enjoy. One more corned beef sandwich at Attman’s Deli in Baltimore. A few more oysters shucked by Lester Jones (RIP) at the City Dock in Annapolis. Breaking clays with me at Pintail Point. Perhaps, getting the line of a fly rod wet and hooking up with a few trout. He’d have loved to see his grandchildren. He’d have loved to take Mr. Grey fishing. He’d have loved to see me get sober.

Fortunately, he never saw me at my worst, but he knew that I drank more than I should in my 20s. He never said much about it, but I know he worried about me. That’s what fathers do. We worry about our sons and daughters.

Today, I’m going to honor my father’s memory by being the best dad I can be for Mr. Grey. I don’t know exactly what that means today — exactly what I’ll do to achieve that goal — but I suspect that if I do the right things, hold my temper in check, and just be with him in whatever way he needs today, I’ll achieve that goal.

And I can do that today, because I won’t pick up a drink.

Fishing, Acceptance, Happiness

Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy.

A.A. World Services Inc (2013-12-02). Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition (Kindle Location 4976). A.A. World Services, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Volumes can and have been written on one of my most favorite activities in the world, fishing.  Tales full of hyperbole.  Stories about the one that got away.  Articles and books on gear and technique.  And of course stories that seem to tell tales of life lessons, patience, acceptance, allegories about death and dying.  What could I possibly add to this tome of information on the subject of fishing?

Probably not much.

The idea for this post came during a meeting the other day.  A few of the gentlemen in the room were talking about acceptance. Continue reading

An Important Call and an Update

crossUpdate:  This is a post from another blog.  I migrated it to this blog because it’s an important part of my story.  This was posted just over three years before I fully surrendered and accepted that I am an alcoholic.

Sunday night, I had a relatively long conversation with a friend about my drinking. My friend has been sober for quite some time after coming to the realization that he was an alcoholic. He told me that I was doing a good thing by taking some time off and offered that there might be some good in exploring A. A.

I admit that I’m highly resistant to the idea of A. A. for a number of reasons. First, I’m not sure that I’m an alcoholic. I do understand that many alcoholics are also unsure or unwilling to admit to the disease. I’m also keenly aware that there are people who have a habit of heavy drinking who are not physiologically addicted to alcohol. These people are generally classified as problem drinkers rather than alcoholics.

Secondly, as I have reviewed materials publicly available on the A. A. site and as I understand them, A. A. has a strong basis in religion and I’m not entirely comfortable with this. Six of the twelve steps make reference either to a higher power or God (Source: This is A.A. An Introduction to the A.A. Recovery Program):

  • Step 2 “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
  • Step 3 “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
  • Step 5 “Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
  • Step 6 “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
  • Step 7 “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
  • Step 11 “Sought through prayer and mediation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to cary that out.

I’m sure that there are other benefits to the program, but frankly, I am not a man of strong faith. I am a firm believer in Free Will and personal responsibility. I cannot accept that a higher power is responsible for the direction of my life. As such, it seems very unlikely that I can rationalize working on this problem within the confines of the AA program.

Still, after talking with my friend, the I have not ruled A. A. out. He shared his story with me before asking to hear mine and he told me how A. A. is helping him. I know that the program has benefitted millions of people since it was started in 1935.

I truly appreciate him calling, in fact he was one of the first people to call me about this and that says something, because while we are definitely friends, we don’t particularly know each other well having only known each other for about five years.

My friend also recommended a book, Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism, which I ordered immediately from Amazon in paperback (my iPhone didn’t show it as a kindle book, but I found that it was available on kindle the next day – so I bought it twice).

The book was written in the 1980s, and so at first glance it might appear to be dated (it refers to BAL rather than the more modern BAC), but it is a fascinating read that discusses the science of how the body reacts to and processed Alcohol. I’m about a quarter through it at this point and looking forward to getting through the whole book.

In particular, there is a chapter dedicated to the discussion of problem drinking versus alcoholism. I’ll be very curious to read this and see if it informs me more about my own situation.

I can say that I’ve not had any significant withdraw symptoms. In the first three days, I had two migraines, but have been migraine free since then. At least one of those migraines can be attributed to a nightmare scenario at work. I have had the urge to have a beer at the end of the day, but this hasn’t been a compulsion or an overwhelming craving – and I have beer and bourbon (as well as other less desirable choices) in the house. So, if I really wanted to have a drink, it wouldn’t be that difficult.

Thus far, I have maintained true to my conviction to fast from alcohol. I set an arbitrary number of 30 days in the beginning because a month seemed like a goal that was not too short, but not to long and had meaning. Having said that, I am no longer counting down the days to my next drink – rather, I’m counting down to the day when I will decide what my next step will be.

It may be to have a drink, or it may be to keep going. I’ll decide that when the time comes.

4/30 Migraines

Migraines
Migraines

Update:  This is a post from another blog.  I migrated it to this blog because it’s an important part of my story.  This was posted just over three years before I fully surrendered and accepted that I am an alcoholic.

I’ve had two migraines since I stopped drinking. I had one the first day that I didn’t have a drink and again yesterday. Last night I was in bed by 8:30 and the only relief came after sleeping. I woke this morning at 6:00 with no immediate headache, but as I’ve been up I’ve felt a bit of a tightness in my left temple. This is normal on the morning after a migraine for me, and I’m hopeful that this will subside. It usually does.

I’ve been generally migraine free for a few months. There was a time when I got a migraine three to four times a month, sometimes more often. With that in mind, I’m positive that not drinking has tripped a trigger to induce these migraines. My hope is that this is a temporary problem.

Day 3 – Time On My Hands

2 Days and Counting
2 Days and Counting

Update:  This is a post from another blog.  I migrated it to this blog because it’s an important part of my story.  This was posted just over three years before I fully surrendered and accepted that I am an alcoholic.

Surprisingly, so far, giving up booze has not been as difficult as I expected and I take that as a very good sign. One of my chief worries was that I was becoming physiologically dependent upon alcohol. It’s probably too early to tell, but so far, that does not seem to be the case.

Last night was night two of not having any alcohol and it went well. I had a meeting with some of the other folks involved with my community association. We typically have a beer or two while talking over things. I showed up with water, and I was alright with that. The other folks had their beers and I had my water and I was not jealous or irritated by it.

With that said, I am finding that I’m having very vivid dreams that involve my efforts to avoid alcohol for 30 days. Last night, I dreamed that I was at a party on a beach. I was drinking something non-alcoholic in the beginning of the dream. Then I sat down in the sand and a can of beer was next to me. Instinctively, I cracked the beer and took a drink. Immediately I was aware that I was breaking my streak and I was upset with myself.

When I woke, the dream had been so strong that I questioned whether I’d kept my commitment to myself.

A good friend texted me last night with the suggestion that I change-up my routines – perhaps take the family out to a movie, or go out to dinner, anything to change-up the evening routine. I think that’s a good idea. And I’m putting together a list of things to do. So far it includes:

  1. Get out on the bike – while it’s summer and I’ve got light, there’s no reason why I can’t get out for a quick spin in the evening.
  2. Go to the Pool with Mr. Grey – again, there’s no reason why going to the pool with my son shouldn’t be a regular part of the routine.
  3. Go to the movies with the family – this is probably not going to happen weekly because there are only so many movies that are appropriate for a five year old, but when it does, it will be a fun time.
  4. Run errands – Yup, the mundane, but necessary things in life have to get done.
  5. Read books that have spent far too long on the bookshelf (physical or virtual) – there are tons of books and magazines that I have lying about that need to be read and I’ve got the time.

Speaking of time, I remember going to see Collin Hay last year and he spoke frequently of “Giving up the Drink.” One thing he said, was “when you give up the drink you have a lot of time on your hands” and it’s true.

Best to make good use of it.

Circling the Drain — Taking 30

Countdown to 30 Days
Countdown to 30 Days

Update:  This is a post from another blog.  I migrated it to this blog because it’s an important part of my story.  This was posted just over three years before I fully surrendered and accepted that I am an alcoholic.

For some time now, alcohol has been more powerful in my life than I would like. There are occasions when I can drink a beer or two and that’s it, done, no more. But more often than not, it doesn’t stop at a few. And, worse that more often than not has become nearly a daily occurrence.

I’m drinking to excess daily. I don’t know exactly how I got here, but pretty much every day ends with drinks as I’m cooking dinner and that extends into the night until I put Mr. Grey to bed. When he goes to bed, I’m usually just drunk enough to fall asleep in the bed with him, and that’s what ends the drinking.

This cannot continue. While this hasn’t impacted my ability to function in my job or in my life, I recognize that it’s a problem.  I recognize that it will impact my life — sooner or later. I haven’t hit rock bottom, but I’m circling the drain.

It’s time to break the cycle.

I’m worried that I’m biting off more than I can chew.  But I’m committed to taking 30 days off from booze.

I expect it to suck. I expect it to be challenging.

The 4th of July is next week, normally I’d have a few beers. I have business meetings in two weeks where I’d normally have a drink or two at happy hour. My MS Ride comes up in 3 weeks, and I’d normally have a beer or two after the ride. There are likely to be family events and get together’s with friends where I’d normally have a drink or two. And I’m publicly stating on the Internets that I’m not drinking for 30 days.

Today is day one. I’m planning to make it a habit to write about the experience each day, not only to keep track of how this goes, but also to keep myself honest.