Sobriety is a Yawner

Blue Jay
Blue Jay

For today’s back-yard birding photo, I bring you the Blue Jay. Larger than most bird-feeder birds, Blue Jays are noisy and aggressive. They’re also fairly comedic and fun to watch. You’ll notice this Blue Jay had lowered his crest, which means he was feeling rather peaceful. From the Cornell ornithology website:

The pigment in Blue Jay feathers is melanin, which is brown. The blue color is caused by scattering light through modified cells on the surface of the feather barbs.

The oldest known wild, banded Blue Jay lived to be at least 17 years 6 months old.

As for my 100-Day-No-Booze Challenge, today is Day 8. I don’t mean to brag, but this is not a very challenging challenge. It’s a bit of a yawner, in fact. As for yawning, one difference I have noticed this past week is improved sleep. I’m not waking up at 3 a.m. and lying there for hours, freaking out that it’s nearly time to get up for work and I’ve hardly slept. Instead I’m waking up at 5:30 or 6:30, which would be perfectly good times to get up. But so far, I’m staying in bed. It’s cold in Central Texas right now. And there are warm purring cats in my bed. Also, there are dreams to be recounted and unpacked. It’s been quite some time since I dreamt regularly (unless you count the Viibryd Sleestak nightmares), but suddenly my sleep is filled with them. I expect it’s because I’m finally having some REM sleep.

I have experienced a few moments when the alcohol has called my name. Most of them have occurred when I arrive home from work. Work drives me to drink. Literally. Another trigger is cooking. I like to cook. I like to cook with wine. I like to drink wine while I’m cooking with wine. When I open a bottle of wine to deglaze the pan, what am I to do with the rest of it? I’m also noticing that when I drank before or with dinner, I ate more. In the words of Ted Nugent: “It’s a free for all!” (I just quoted Ted Nugent. Frightening. Who’s next, Ted Cruz?) As I go along here for the next 100 days, I think the wine/cooking intersection is where I’m going to miss the booze the most. But no matter. The point of this exercise is to experience not drinking and to catalogue the benefits of abstention. It’s also to break the habit of using alcohol to cope with stress. To break the habit of having a drink (or more) after work every day.

So far, so good. Seven days down. Ninety-three to go. And then I reassess.

In other news, I met with my HAES (pronounced Hayes) coach via phone on Wednesday. I really enjoyed the session and am looking forward to our month of coaching. As I recounted my history and recent life events, I got choked up when mentioning the death trifecta. No matter how okay I’m feeling, whenever I talk about it out loud, my throat seizes, my eyes fill with tears, and I lose it. The HAES coach suggested that people sometimes get stuck in grief because they feel if they let it go, they are letting go of their loved one who died. I’ve read a lot about grief, and read a lot of grief blogs. And I’ve seen this play out. But I don’t think that’s what I’m doing.

During the call, the thing that occurred to me, is that I’m frozen. I’m keeping such a tight lid on everything, my stress, my emotions, my grief, that when I open my mouth and make mention of it, it all starts spewing forth. You’d think I would have processed it with the writing I’ve done. It seems I have not. The lack of movement, the alcohol, and the food, have all been methods of squelching it. Of scrunching it down into a tight little ball, smaller and smaller, until it is the size of a pinhole. But it keeps popping up. Perhaps now that I’ve discarded my squelching mechanisms, I’ll make some progress.

It seems this 100-day challenge may turn out to not be such a yawner after all.



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