Thirty days.

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Today begins day one of my thirty-day booze-free detox. I haven’t done one of these in over two years – not since before all the very sad things started happening. To be honest, I’ve been afraid to. Throughout it all – the sickness, the never-ending stream of bad news, the deaths, the impossibly hard jobs, the rain-soaked and depressing Olympia visits – the wine or the whiskey or the martini was my reward at the end of another long day, to take the edge off, to help numb the pain. I gave myself permission to drink more than I knew I should, because my emotions were so very intense and I just needed something, anything, to feel better.

But now it’s time to take a break. I’ve come to a safer place in my life, a healthier place, and so it’s time to take away my most reliable crutch and stand on my own two feet. I need to do this for many reasons: to get healthier, to sleep better, to be more productive, to save money. And most importantly, to prove that I can.

I’m very nervous about how this is going to go. For the first time since my Mother’s death and all the deaths that followed, I’m actually sitting in my grief and processing it, rather than running from it. I’ve accepted – or more accurately, I am working toward acceptance of – my new reality, and I am actively taking steps to take charge of and improve my life. But I’m still fragile, and I’m scared that with nothing to help dull the pain, my emotions will overwhelm me. I’m feeling so much these days that the thought of sitting in these feelings alone, raw, unaided, is really frightening. What if I can’t cope? What if I fall apart? What if I cry for thirty days straight?

These fears are exactly the reason why I need to do this. This will be my opportunity to turn away from what’s easy and develop other, healthier coping mechanisms like exercise and meditation and writing. And as much as I’m fearful, I’m excited about it too.  My past alcohol-free detoxes have given way to periods of intense creativity and intense clarity, and the timing couldn’t be better because I have at least three projects in the works that demand my focus, including a very autobiographical partially-written screenplay.

To help keep me honest, I’ll be chronicling my progress over on Extra Dry Martini’s Facebook page. Just a short check in each day to let you know how the month is going.

So here’s to thirty days. Here’s to a healthier me. Here’s to taking away the crutch. And here’s to the fact that the next time I raise a glass, it will be to toast my dear friends at their wedding reception in late June, wearing a new dress paid for with money that didn’t go toward whiskey or Pinot Noir or the occasional pack of Marlboro Lights (yes, I’m giving those up too).

Here we go.

Until next time, friends.

Cocktail, interrupted.

I have a confession to make.  Me, the girl whose blog is named Extra Dry Martini, the girl who loves dry (I’m talking, rinse the glass with vermouth and that’s it, dry) martinis more than any other cocktail, the girl who knows that the sound of a cocktail shaker means it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, this girl, is currently taking an extended break from drinking.

It started on February 6th (the day after the Super Bowl, which was not a coincidence), and will continue through March 31st, for a grand total of 55 days.  (Yes, I counted.)

For me, drinking is a huge part of my social life.  Whether it’s looking forward to happy hour after a stressful day, meeting over drinks to catch up with a friend that I don’t see enough, or kicking back and enjoying a bottle of wine (or 2) while watching something on Tivo with my husband, consuming alcohol has become, more often than not, a part of my every day.

Which is why it was time to take a break.  I’m not going to lie:  the first week off was not easy.  The universe decided to challenge me and threw a couple of particularly stressful days my way.  The type of days where you want to bury your head in the sand, or in my case, soak in a bathtub full of Grey Goose.  Restraint was made even more difficult by the fact that our wine rack is stocked with wine left unconsumed from our Super Bowl gathering, as well as the recent arrival of our (delicious) wine club wine from Moonstone Cellars in Cambria.

But I’m tough.  I’m stubborn.  And when I say that I am going to do something, by God, I’m going to do it.  And so, I refrained.

And now, nearly 3 weeks into my detox, I feel effing fabulous.  I am sleeping better, getting up early, have more energy, am enjoying better workouts, and am more productive.  All the time I was wasting unwinding over wine is instead being poured into creative projects like finally starting this blog, and focusing on producing a festival of film noir themed one-act plays that my husband and I are launching this summer. (More about that soon!)

And while my weekends are a bit duller than normal since I find it difficult to stay up past 11 p.m. without a buzz, the payoff is that instead of waking up with a hangover, I’m waking up early and getting more done by noon on a Saturday than I typically accomplish all day.  And the even bigger payoff is that when cocktail hour does resume, that first martini in 55 days is going to taste soooo very good.

Until then, vive le hiatus!

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