Archive | August, 2013

CRASH

24 Aug

Well I made it to day 24, then fell so spectacularly, it has terrified me.

I was doing brilliantly. I was full of pink clouds, knowing I was doing the right thing, socialising without booze, happy, fulfilled and calm. 

I knew a big work conference was on the horizon, talked about it with my therapist and lovely Belle, and thought I had my strategies in place.

Night 1 I went running, was happy, thrilled with not drinking, had a great time. 

Night 2, wolfie wrapped his hands round my throat slowly, decisively and throttled me. I got so drunk a colleague had to put me to bed, I fell over at a huge industry part, I was the talk of the town the next day, everyone was worried because I didn’t surface until 3pm. The list goes on.

I WAS SO WIPED OUT I SLEPT THROUGH AN EVACUATION OF THE ENTIRE HOTEL. 

I am so fucking ashamed. My anxiety has been off the scale since. I spent my 27th birthday mostly in bed, ashamed, or apologising. 

Sometimes I think I’m ok with drinking, but that incident shows why I used to drink so much on my own- to get the hit without the shame. 

I really do need to stop. 

But here’s the thing- since that, I needed a drink to feel “normal” yesterday and today I’m 2/3 through a bottle of wine and it’s not even 4pm. 

 

THIS is why. Wolfie has crept up in my life as a hugely indestructible force and I fucking hate him. I hate myself for giving in.

All I want is some help and I don’t know what to do, because I know it needs to come from within. 

onwards…

 

Day 15

13 Aug

The weekend felt like a real breakthrough. I had the following events to contend with:

An evening in the pub with university friends, who love their beer (as do I, obvs)

A housewarming party

A date (bar, pub restaurant)

Dinner with my two booziest friends (both of them definitely have a drinking problem, and we all have enabled each other to drink too much over recent years)

Friday in the pub passed so easily. I went to yoga beforehand, which I’m finding really helpful in negating the desire to drink. Sometimes, the compulsion to go and get smashed comes from a pent up energy or anxiety, that I feel the need to calm, and drinking really helps that. I arrived at the pub, ordered my pint of coke, everyone got on with drinking and no-one commented the whole night that I was on pints of water and lime and soda from then on. I had a fantastic time, laughed my head off and was in a great state for my long run the next morning.

Saturday came with some challenges, mainly that the party I went to was deathly boring and would have been helped along by a drink, and that I really wanted to share wine in the restaurant when I was on my date. But again, I resisted the impulse and it went away. I had a perfectly good time, and the fact I’m not smashed and still having fantastic sex is really helping me with the catholic guilt I would be feeling about my decision to have a “rebound” relationship which mainly involves sleeping with a guy I have no intention of having a long term relationship with. This is the first time in in my life I’ve had casual sex and the first time I did it, I was drunk (1 beer and a large glass of wine before I met him, shared bottle with dinner, shared bottle after dinner). The shame the next day was not necessarily about the act itself, but the fact that I was drunk when I made a snap decision that was huge for me. Now I’m sober and making the decision to continue those liaisons and enjoying it, I’m finding it hugely empowering.

The final test of the weekend, the boozy mates dinner was fantastic. I arrived, gave them their ‘thanks for cooking me dinner’ bottle of wine (to add to the 2 they already had in the fridge, and the 2 pints they’d had that afternoon because they were so hungover from the 5am finish the night before) and cracked open my diet cokes. Here, there was some talk about me not drinking, but again, they’re used to me periodically abstaining when I’m training hard, and have regularly made the comment: “You’re the only person we know who can have fun without drinking”, which says as much about them as it does about me, but also reminds me of the time when I was a “normie” drinker. Two or three drinks to get into the spirit and then stopping. Or at university, barely drinking outside special occasions because it just wasn’t worth it for the impact on my work.

I’m on Day 15 now, feeling strong, but still having the niggling thought that now I know I can abstain, it’s ok to indulge, sometimes, right?

I need to continue with my one day at a time approach, taking each evening as it comes, each opportunity to drink in isolation, as the thought of indefinite sobriety is too much for me to handle at this early stage. I still associate drinking with letting loose, having fun, but I feel infinitely better without it, and still have real fun when in great company, so need to remember that.

May week 3 be one of cementing what I’ve learnt in my first two weeks. 

Recovery methods

8 Aug

 

 

 

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I’m on Day 10 now, and having struggled through the “witching hour” last night (I say hour, I mean between 4 and 8pm…) I’m feeling fantastic again this morning.

One of the things I’m working through in my therapy sessions is my complete inability to listen to my body. This has manifested itself in various ways over the years: not listening to the gut-wrenching, diarrhoea (sorry, TMI) that was the symptom of anxiety caused by a toxic job and toxic relationship, not listening to my body when I was undereating to the point my hair fell out…

And more recently I’ve been drowning out the signals my body is giving me with alcohol. It’s not just the emotional stuff I’ve drowned out, by the visceral, physical sensations of my body going “ummm, this is NOT ok” when poisoned with alcohol for 3-4 days at a time.

One of the reasons I knew my drinking had reached a tipping point was my real reliance on alcohol the day after a big binge, just to make it through the day.. Gone were the days where the thought of alcohol turned my stomach the night after I’d had one too many, and along came times where sometimes, I’d have to sneak a mini-bottle of wine (or two) during the day at work. Which of course led to more that night, and so the cycle went on…

When I’ve thought about the effects of alcohol I’ve primarily thought about them on my mind, and my weight. I hadn’t really considered the rest of it- the exhaustion, the stomach pain, the heavy limbs and disconcerting sensation from where the liver is. 

My eyes were opened when a new guy I’m dating stayed over and commented on the milk thistle tablets I had by my bed. “Oh, they’re for the liver.” I said. “They help hangovers.” He later noted the multipack box of coconut water I have in the house. I shared my secret excitedly: “It’s AMAZING! If you have it before you go to bed, they stop you being hungover, and are great the next morning.” 

“Sounds like you get drunk ALOT” he laughed- I laughed with him, and said I didn’t but when I did, I was very well equipped to deal with the effects.

During these first few weeks of sobriety, I’m finding it really useful to reflect on all the small things I’d built into my life to enable me to drink unhealthily. Be it this “hangover first aid kit” or the secret drinks alone that would make my drinking levels seem acceptable in company, it’s so useful to see it in black and white. 

Recovery now means a long path, not just a way of tackling a hangover…

 

 

The Bigger Picture

7 Aug

Having got through the real, tangible struggle of Day 7, where I wanted to jack it all in, crack open a bottle of wine and relax, day 8 was an absolute breeze.

Once, again, I woke up feeling fantastic. My bedroom has a beautiful morning light that floods through the windows, and this really helps me appreciate the moment when I wake up knowing I didn’t drink the night before.

It’s astonishing, really, when I think that in the past year, I’ve had probably only very slightly less nights drunk that I have sober. I remember starting my bottle of wine alone habit sometime in May or June 2012, trying to reach out for help a little in July, enjoying the party that was the summer of the Olympics in August, fuelled by drink. I remember running late to meet people to watch the Olympic volleyball because I was buying a “pre” Gin & Tonic in Tesco on my way there. Of course it wasn’t enough, and when we arrived at the venue, everyone else wasn’t drinking their overpriced pints quick enough, which hugely annoyed me.

The day I went to the Olympic stadium, which was one of my highlights of the whole summer, I spent disproportionate amounts of time on my special day waiting at the ridiculous queues for the bar.

October and November were filled with after work drinks, either because I instigated them, or found a way to drink on my own. December was a month where I probably had one or two nights off drinking, if that, because I was on a month long holiday. I remember a night where I knew there were no social drinks ahead of me, and drinking 2 tins of gin and tonic on the floor of a shitty hostel. They just took the edge off.

I think this month long holiday in Australia, where there was an excuse to drink every day, go out every night, and it all to be part of the experience, was the point when I started to really crave alcohol. I’ve never been good at relaxing, holidays, or filling voids of time where I’m not doing something proactive. Because I was on holiday I could drink as much as I wanted, sleep during the day, and never really felt the effects. The 24 hours of travelling home was softened by red wine at regular intervals, and when I arrived home on New Years Eve, I bought myself a bottle for that evening’s celebrations (alone on the sofa), intending to turn over a new leaf for the new year.

Well as you can imagine, that didn’t happen. My relationship was slowly crumbling, and I was hugely bored at home for the week before I started my new job. I started filling that void with some afternoon drinks, maybe a bottle of wine spread throughout the afternoon. My boyfriend at the time was doing Dry January, and was horrified I wasn’t keeping to it with him. He was controlling and had emotionally abused me for a number of years, which was during this period, a reason to rebel and drink, despite his orders not to. This combination of rebellion and pain from the relationship breaking down and ultimately breaking up would be a toxic one, as for months it validated my drinking.

The night before we split up, he came home to find me innocentky sitting at the computer. All was well until an empty bottle of wine fell out of my handbag. “Do you have a problem with drinking??!?” he exclaimed, horrified. I denied it, both to him and myself, but I can’t help but think that this very specific incident and the shame/indignance that it proved was a big factor in me snapping and making the decision that we should break up the following day. The decision was, of course, put to a committee of various friends over drinks. Two days worth of drinks, in fact. And then a couple of months of drinks after the break up.

Although I don’t think anyone I know would say I have a problem with drinking (apart from my ex, who stumbled across the secret drinking), they’d say that because I started making the choice to drink alone, without having to worry about moderation or judgement. The more it was me alone with the bottle, the more I could get away with, enjoy it, justify it as a secret treat.

In isolation, all of the drinking incidents that have led me to the point where I want to stop felt small, but the big picture, is well, big. I think of isolated incidents where the booze has been shameful- Friday nights alone, having got drunk in the office with colleagues, rampaging round looking for food in the communal fridges, loading up my bag with leftover bottles of wine, before having to get a taxi because I’d be too drunk to get home on the tube. Getting so drunk at my good friend’s wedding that I blacked out, was sick all over the hotel bath and had the shame of facing the wedding party the next day. A one off they thought. The next wedding I went to, I got so drunk I shamed myself in front of my family when I got home. I went to a family business weekend away, drank a bottle and ¾ of wine at least, plus beer, and drew enough attention to myself that family friends were asking how the head was the day after, and my sister proclaimed me drunk. At another family event a few weekends ago, I had a large glass of wine in front of me and my brother urged me to “be careful”, based on my previous behaviour. On holiday, the super size gin and tonics drunk slowly with my family weren’t enough, so I snuck out, bought a bottle of red to drink alone on the balcony, and then headed out, entirely alone, to hit Ibiza town. I bought cigarettes to try and make friends in the smoking area whilst there, bought $15 gin and tonics, and felt utterly lonely. I went to parties in Ibiza where all I could think of was our booze budget, and it was never enough.

I dread to think how many units I’ve drunk over the past year, and how many calories consumed. You can see the booze weight on me, and I see my weight as a symptom of the failure of controlling my drinking. Previously, as you’ll see in some of my early posts filled with best intentions of stopping for a period of time, weight loss was a huge motivator for me.

Weight-loss is still an important goal for me in terms of the 100 Day Challenge and quitting drinking, but it’s no longer my motivation for doing it. For the first time, I’ve been really honest with myself about having a real problem with drink, and wanting to change for reasons other than weight loss. I want to feel clearer headed, get my work life back on track, stop jeopardising my fitness goals, stop binge-eating whist drunk, stop being drunk in my flat on a Sunday night and having to hide it from my flatmate, stop calling into work sick because I’m too hungover to move. That has happened about 10 times in the past year I reckon, which is just not on.

Writing all this is hugely helpful to build up the bigger picture of how alcohol has dominated life for the last year or so, as I’m still highly functioning and exercise a lot, which blocks out the reality of what’s really been going on.

So, Day 8, feeling good, terrified of what’s ahead, but truly taking it one day at a time. 

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Fork in the Road

5 Aug

Fork in the Road

I was having a HUGE struggle with myself this evening walking home from work.

From about 5:30pm I knew I had no exercise plans (the way I usually distract myself from drinking) and *really* wanted to neck a glass (read: bottle) of wine.

I know that every sober day on this journey will be about choices. I *could* have a drink at any time, but I’m choosing not to.

I stumbled across this sign outside a bar on my way to the tube which made me crack a wry smile, despite my foul mood.

For the past year or so, this has been my drinking philosophy, and exactly the one I’ve been trying to get away from.

So I choose to eat some Mexican food as a treat, go home in a foul mood and ride the craving wave. And it worked!

Here I am, one week sober, about to go to bed. It’s telling in itself that I have had to struggle to get this far…

The 4 Emotional Stages of Sobriety

4 Aug

Focus for week 2…

My journey, from wine lover to sober and happy...

I stopped drinking in April 2011, embarking on a journey that began in the early hours of one spring morning and which has taken me on a convoluted and emotionally turbulent ride, finally allowing me to climb off into a place that resembles contentment and emotional stability. For anyone who has recently ditched alcohol, I have written the following; it outlines my experiences of the different emotional stages I travelled through in the 23 months between my last drink and today, and I hope that it might help those of you who are new to sobriety by giving you a bit of a heads up of what to expect in this new and exciting chapter of your life.

alcoholic

Stage 1 – the joys of the natural high

As an alcohol-dependent person who had felt terribly out of control of her own life for many, many years, the first few weeks and months of living…

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Just Be

4 Aug

Just Be

I returned from my run feeling completely free of the urge to drink, which has been a huge calmer. I’m still reflecting on what it is that pushed me to get to this point, and there are many reasons, but reading this post from Carrie on Sober blog this evening really spoke to me about one of the reasons. The need for chaos.

It’s just life trudging along and I am not very used to the flat road that I am on right now. I am craving my chaos… I had been living with only highs and lows in my life up till now. Feeling good, have load of drinks, then feel shit. Feeling shit, more booze, feel shitter. I don’t really know how to be bored or just be.

This is so strange, bearing in mind I have been a person who loves real order for years, but something snapped over the past few years and made me want the madness. Now, Im learning to live without it.

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