Here I am: Day 22 of the 100-Day-No-Booze Challenge. That’s three weeks without an after-work cocktail.
The good news is, I’m no longer numb.
The bad news is, I’m no longer numb.
Funny thing about drinking (or whatever your numbing agent of choice is), it causes you to tolerate things you otherwise would not tolerate. Work’s got you stressed out? Have a drink! Boyfriend is a complete dick? Have a drink! Money woes have you down? Drink! You have no life because your job has stolen it from you? Drink a lot! After all, drinking is the best way to manage stress when you have no time to manage stress. You can multitask with booze. You can drink and write a brief at the same time. You can’t write a brief and walk, do yoga, meditate, watch a funny movie, or go for a hike. You can’t work and photograph birds at the same time.
To photograph these birds, I had to stop working.
Not having the numbing effect of alcohol has greatly increased my stress level. I can actually feel my blood pressure rising at the office. On Monday, a firm holiday that happened to be a gorgeous day in Central Texas, I worked. I worked and stared out the window at the piercing blue sky and the birds at the feeder. The more I looked out the window, the angrier I got. And then my mother called. I didn’t pick up. I was working. She left a message:
Ella, it’s an emergency. Call me back right away.
So I did.
I’m out of diapers. You sent me pants. I needed diapers. You sent the wrong thing.
That’s all it took to push me over the edge. I extricated myself from the call, none to gently. I could feel the waves of anxiety crashing over me. I didn’t know what to do with myself—how to find a release. I opted for a sobbing fit. There was nothing else I could do. I didn’t have time to deal with it any other way. I needed to write my brief. After all, a pile of BigLaw senior partners were expecting a draft the next day. “Fuck ’em,” I said to myself. “Fuck them!” And I put on my shoes and went for a walk. I walked and cried and tried to calm myself down. Twenty minutes in, my breathing settled. My thoughts settled. I began to notice the wind in the trees. The birds. The children on bicycles, laughing and playing.
The thought of spending even two more years this way is overwhelming. Two more years without being numb. But here’s the thing: I’m not going to spend two more years this way. I’m going to figure out how to remake my life. Now that I’m no longer numb, I have no choice.