My wife is at a work conference till Friday and I'm holding the fort at home with my two girls (only one of which is a maker of mischief). My wife flew out in pretty stormy conditions yesterday afternoon ahead of the hurricane-force winds that buffeted Christchurch last night. Being a stay at home dad means I'm in my element, but being alone without backup adds a bit of a (albeit thin) layer of stress.
The girls are great. They've done nothing different to their usual antics. It's just me that's a bit stressed out; a little more frustrated by stupid little things, a little more grumpy when the girls play up at bedtime. While I don't have a strong urge to drink right now, I recognise that this is the perfect situation, the ideal set of triggers, that in the past would have led me to take the edge off with a drink at the end of the day. Like so many other at-home parents (and I take my hat off to all you guys doing this stuff on your own day in day out) I used to deal with the stress, the at times drudgery of it all, the days when your buttons get pushed over and over again, with alcohol.
Since I quit booze I've thankfully not had a strong physical urge to drink. The moment I swept alcohol off the table, made the decision, bit the bullet, set my sober course the inner turmoil melted away. But I've become mindful of when the perfect storms are aligning in my world that in the past would have led me to drink. Seeing it coming, I think, is helping me deal with it and move on rather then squash it down with booze.
These days, I think about how I would feel in the morning (slow and dead-headed), the fact that I'd probably enjoy sinking into the familiarity and the sensations of alcohol but still wake up just as frustrated and just as stressed as the day before. I'm focussing on the satisfaction I'm getting from being sober, and I'm feeling really good about myself at the moment.
I watched Dr Phil the other day and he was counselling an alcoholic. He revealed that he hadn't drunk alcohol for 45 years. Then last night I watched the Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe where he said he'd been sober for the last 26 years. The reframing of my identity revolves very much around being sober now. Being a sober person is becoming very important to me.
I'm looking forward to my wife coming back tomorrow andt despite my complaining I'm enjoying the time with my girls. When they pile into bed at 6am and I get the customary knee to my southern hemisphere before being hugged to within an inch of my life, I tell myself that these are the things I will look back on and miss when the girls are all grown up.