Don’t Drink Your Dreams Away

When I was drinking I would often forget going to bed and falling asleep. I didn’t understand it at the time, but for several years before I stopped drinking I was hitting the pillow most nights in various stages of alcohol-induced blackout. In laymens terms an alcohol-induced blackout happens when you’ve drunk enough alcohol for your brain to feel the need to shut off non-essential functions to protect itself. In scientific terms an alcohol induced blackout is “when a person drinks enough alcohol to temporarily block the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage—known as memory consolidation—in a brain area called the hippocampus.NIH

Have you ever forgotten falling asleep after a night of drinking? It can be disorienting when that becomes the norm. One of my biggest fears when I stopped drinking was that I would not be able to fall asleep naturally. It had been such a long time since I’d routinely gone to bed sober. How did people sleep without the alcohol blanketing their brains? Not only had I lost the ability to simply fall asleep without alcohol but, when I was drinking I had lost my ability to dream. It had been ages since I’d remebered having a dream.

When it was my routine was to “fall asleep” drunk I didn’t dream at night but I did spend every waking hour dreaming and wishing that my life could be different. I wished I could have peace of mind, and be happier and healthier. While drinking I dreamed I could be more successful and more patient with my daughter. I wished everything could be different.

I wished everything could be different.

The problem with my drinking dreams was that the one thing I wished for most was that I could have all those things AND that I could continue to drink alcohol. I hoped against hope for soooooo long that I could change my life and continue to enjoy my Chardonnay. I thought if I was disciplined enough I could manage this. I have self-discipline. Surely this could spill over into my habit of drinking and I could get this under control.

And yet, night after night I would end up on the couch nursing my second bottle of white wine, wishing my life could be different. About to fall into a blackedout stupor where real dreams were lost.

Last week I pulled out an old journal from my bedside table to write in, and lo and behold, it was a book that I had recorded dreams and thoughts in 9 and 10 years ago. Interestingly the primary message to myself was….. (drum roll…..)  That I need to moderate my drinking! I also wrote that I wanted to slow down and spend less time entertaining.  I wrote about how much energy was used up by having people over and going out, and how I needed more quiet, to spend more time with my family and myself. 

I find it so interesting that my dreams and inner self knew long before my conscious mind that it was time to scale back my life and listen inward.  Stop driving myself so hard, and stop all the drinking and socializing.  Do what really made me feel good.

Dream untill it’s your reality!

It seems that sometimes acceptance takes time. It took a long time for me to act on my inner wishes and kick the booze to the curb. The idea of moderation never worked out for me….. (shocker I know!) To be honest I hardly even tried to moderate, I was too good at justifying why booze was a good idea.🙄  Accepting that alcohol was the problem for me and that I would never live my dreams with alcohol in my life changed everything.

Quitting drinking really kickstarted something for me. Living sober has created a mental shift that has stuck and helped me maneuver to a life that I really want and am enjoying.  That one decision, to remain Alcohol-Free has been the catalyst that is driving positive change in my life.

Acceptance takes time.

It took me a decade to accept that the only way to change things really would be to remove the one thing which I oh so dearly wished with all of my heart I could keep. But one day I did accept it. I let it go. I turned my back on my beloved Chardonnay and left. It was painful and I missed it immediately. It got easier as time went on, but around month 3 I realized this sobriety thing was for good and went into what I can only describe as a state of mourning.

And again I wished that things could be different.

But things were different.

I was starting to recognize that without the wine I was feeling better. I could walk a lot further than before, and I didn’t get winded going up a few flights of stairs. I found little things REALLY funny again. Like belly laugh, tears running down your face funny. At about 4 sober months in I finally went and got my driver’s license which I had been wishing for for years. Then I learned to drive a stick shift which I had also been wishing I could do. I found that my daughter was sharing more of her thoughts and fears with me, or maybe I was just finally present enough to hear her. That sentence still makes me sick to my stomach a little bit.:( 

I Stopped Wishing and Dreaming and Started Doing

Over time as I’ve stayed sober I have noticed that when I have an idea or a plan or an inspiration, I actually go through with it. No more JUST wishing. Well, I wish I could win the lottery, so that’s not completely true. But I actually have the energy and the faith to bring my inspirations to life now. This last year I was able to perform 2 pieces of music that I have been dreaming of singing. My students are thriving, there is more money in the bank than there was 5 years ago, and there is more happiness in the emotional bank than there has been in a really long time. Life isn’t perfect and I still have unfulfilled wishes, but my faith in myself that I will actualize those wishes grows with each day that I do not pick up a drink. My faith that if I have a dream, I might just be able to bring it to fruition is restored. Like it was when I was a kid. 

I do believe that wishes can come true, but they aren’t granted by a genie in a lamp. They don’t come by wishing on a star. At least not for me. They come true with each day that I do the one thing that I know I must keep this life that I am so happy and lucky to have. I can’t allow those drinking dreams of loving my chardonnay “moderately” to slip back in. I must live a life free from alcohol and be grateful for each day that I accomplish that.

 But how do I ?

I’m giving myself permission to say no to things and people that I don’t want to spend time and precious energy on. I’m learning to set boundaries and put my own self-care first. These were such radical ideas to me 10 years ago that I felt too selfish and didn’t have the strength to make those changes. I used booze to drown out that inner voice and cover up those feelings.  

I was getting glimmers in my dreams of the changes that needed to be made but they seemed so big and scary that it took a long time for them to work their way forward into action. Now I am listening closer to that inner voice, and it seems to be growing in volume….. So maybe it won’t take another 10 years for me to get the messages that it is trying to share with me now.

More Reading :

Where Dreams are Lived – the Road from Fantasy to Reality

How to get a Good Nights Sleep When You Stop Drinking or Learning to Fall Asleep Sober

Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do

Join us in our Boom Book Club for a Discussion of Sarah Hepola’s Blackout :

Blackout – A Boom Community Book Club Selection

If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break… Talk to Us

We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using

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