Sunday, October 2, 2016

icarus

it's the evening of day 20 of my 40 day challenge.  40 days of no substances and no calorie counting.  20 days in: i've learned a few things.

a la movies   
no substances: i'm fun, and can party just as ridiculously sans alcohol.  i've been out with friends drinking late on weekend evenings, dancing til the wee hours, totally sober.  well, okay, maybe the diet cokes hyped me up a bit. so maybe 99% sober. 

some people haven't been inviting me to things as much, fearful that i wouldn't go or that i wouldn't have fun without being able to drink. but i don't blame them; i would probably suspect the same of most of my friends. luckily i also have a bestie who is doing the challenge with me.  and we look very cute sober at a movie on a saturday night.

first dates, cocktail parties where i don't know anyone, and business dinners are all a little terrifying without any alcohol. however, i've met a few brave dates open to the challenge, and made friends at parties and dinners despite the sobriety.

personally, i've been feeling more confident and happy: realizing i'm fun on my own and that i can make it through these events sober has translated into less fear overall.   the confidence has even bled into other areas of my life.  i've stood up for myself with colleagues that weren't listening to my expertise, and i've expressed my needs to friends and partners more readily. 

it's also made me much more sympathetic to people who have quit drinking.  i've always thought that recovering from bulimia was very hard because food is something that is necessary: you cannot exist in a world where people do not eat.  although i had sympathy for anyone in any type of recovery, i still felt like "but you don't HAVE to be around (insert drug or alcohol here) if you don't want to!"

but i don't know how true that is for alcohol, really.  it's quite pervasive in our social lives.  although i'm quite happy not drinking right now, i also know that it's not forever.  so to my sober peeps: i'm sorry if i minimized your struggle, even if only in my own mind.  also: i'm totes up for sober parties, even after my 40 days are up.

no counting: eating without counting every bite and calculating each calorie is way less stressful.  i never liked counting every chip at the mexican restaurant, or estimating how many tablespoons of ketchup i just squeezed on to my plate. i was doing it to ease the craziness in my brain, but it was actually only contributing to it.  (i know, i know, if you have never dealt with this issue, it sounds like a "DUH" statement.)

i'm more present when i'm eating with friends.  i listen to them talking instead of re-counting the number of calories i have consumed thus far at the meal.  i can reply to them and engage in conversation instead of calculating whether i have enough calories left in my day to have a bite of the dessert they ordered.

it has been hard, a million moments of each day.  i've created a few thought exercises to distract myself when i start to try to count something on my plate when eating alone or start to try to remember all the things i've eaten in a day. (they involve trying to remember very minute details in other areas of my life.) but, in general, it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  not basing my self-value on a number, and whether or not i feel like it is the right number, is freeing. 

i no longer wake up after a day where i decided i had 200 too many calories with a sense of dread: a feeling that i had to make up for being "bad" the day before by eating less or exercising extra, trying to find extra time for working out or brainstorming places to save calories.  or even panicking because i might have a social event in the evening that i knew would involve alcohol--and extra calories. which leads me to the following. 

and the combo of the two: alcohol has calories. i've definitely played the sorority girl game of eating less to drink more.  i've run extra to drink more.  i've chosen which drinks to enjoy based on their calorie count (no different than foods).

not drinking for the past few weeks has taught me how afraid of alcohol calories i really am: on mornings of social functions i used to feel anxiety.  lately i have not.  and, scarily enough, i've realized it's because i don't feel internal pressure to run an extra few miles to prep for the looming alcohol calories. i can workout the normal amount without the fear of "going over" the calorie count i've allotted for my day.

and i've also started to become terrified for the time when the 40 days is up.  not counting calories has been a really big step in my recovery.  what if i'm not able to refrain from calorie counting when i introduce alcohol back into the equation? what if i try to go overboard on running (again)? what if...

yeah.

if it was one of my friends saying things like this to me, i'd give the advice i always do: wasting time worrying about this in advance of the actual situation is not helpful.  and so, i keep up the meditation and the yoga.  i practice.  and i trust that i can keep flying that line between the sea and the sun.



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