Lessons in Sobriety

10 Nov

As I pull myself back to staying sober after some pretty epic crashes and burns over the past few weeks, here’s some things I’ve learnt about what tips me (and so many of us on this journey, I suspect) over the edge. 

Forgetting that one never means one– each time I’ve fallen off the sober wagon recently, `I can see the moment as clear as crystal when I took that choice to say ‘yes’ to a drink, be it with others or alone. That little ‘yes’ usually leads to 4 or 5 days of drinking every night, at least a bottle of wine every one. 

Just because I have a thought, it doesn’t mean it’s a craving– I don’t really fall victim to a craving, I fall victim to a thought. When I’m not kicking wolfie’s arse, that thought has been a signal to me of the inevitable. But taking a drink isn’t inevitable. It’s a choice. A tug of war with wolfie. I have the power to win that struggle and I forget that all too often.

Rome wasn’t built in a day– I keep beating myself up about drinking again, but I have learnt SO MANY lessons these past few failed attempts, I know that I can’t wave a magic wand and be sober. I have to work at it, one day at a time- that classic old AA maxim is true.

Alcoholism is subjective– I’ve done alot of thinking about whether or not I consider myself to be an alcoholic and the conclusion I’ve come to is that it doesn’t matter one bit if I am or aren’t, if others are worse than me or drink less and still consider themselves to be alcoholic. The truth is this: it is having an effect on my life that is unsustainable, that I know is becoming a health problem and a battle that I keep losing. That’s all the sign I need. 

Don’t try to be superwoman– I can’t change everything at once. I want to loose the weight that drinking has made me pile on, but that needs to wait for tomorrow. If eating a chocolate bar will help curb that craving or a sugary cappucino will soothe my soul, so be it. It would take a big blowout to take in the number of calories as a bottle of wine, so I should stop making excuses. 

Stay busy– In early sobriety, I get exhausted. It’s much more beneficial to me to push through that and make myself have company and do something because my biggest trigger to drink seems to be a heady mix of loneliness and tiredness, which is why I drink for nights and nights in a row. 

I feel fine– AHA! I’m a few days into sobriety and quite frankly, I feel fantastic. I have my energy back, my lust for life back, wasn’t it funny that I was so last week? I am FINE? All that blogging I did about getting sober, what a drama queen! I don’t have a problem with alcohol. I just gave it up for 5 days, but I really fancy a drink, so I’ll just have one or two tonight and will be fine… NO. This dialogue has happened so many times. The better I feel, the more susceptible I am to drink.

People just don’t understand– modern Britain is set up to facilitate problem drinking, it’s become such an ingrained behaviour that we don’t even question it, until someone challenges the norm and opts out. I’m still building up my resources on how to deal with this, but the brilliant Carrie suggested something this week that will hopefully shut people up. I’ve always played the health kick card as part of my marathon training, which not only makes people feel guilty about not drinking, but it also makes them feel bad about being non-exercisers. Instead, I’m going to “make them feel sorry for me” as Carrie put it. I’m going to say that I’ve been getting really depressed after drinking, or that it makes me really anxious, so I’m just laying off for a while to see if that helps. No-one can argue with that, surely? Even my pushy boss who loves buying alcohol for the team. Because I’m so chirpy and happy at work, people can’t argue with alcohol being the problem if they don’t see me being depressed day to day, or at least I hope they can’t. 

So here we go again, another Monday, another day 1. I read over my “Strong Women” post earlier and I can’t wait to be that person again, that person who is so happy being sober with a few days under her belt. 

This list is going to be my first port of call when I’m forgetting all the reasons why drinking isn’t an option for me.

Wish me luck! 

 

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7 Responses to “Lessons in Sobriety”

  1. happierlikethis November 10, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    I do wish you luck but you don’t need it! You have written such an honest and soul-searching list here and I think it will sustain you because you’re brave and determined, you really are. You ARE a strong woman. Stride on proudly; you’ve got this. I’m cheering for you. X

    • FitFatFood November 10, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

      Thank you.

      I’m just writing to Belle about this post, and I think I’ve been too blase about how much work this takes- I remember the easy bits of sobriety, when you go out and dance til 4am sober and have a fantastic time, or feel happy refusing a drink. Now, I need to cling onto every tool in my sober toolkit to get me to where I want to be 🙂

  2. carrieonsober November 11, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    That’s a brilliant piece of information you have and it’s tailored totally to you. Read it often. Getting sober in the early days is hard and unpredictable. There will be easy, happy, fun days. But you are right to expect a bumpy ride to get the first few weeks under your belt…lay out all your sober tools, keep them close, and use all of them BEFORE reaching for a drink. They will work and you won’t need all of them forever. The cravings do pass if you fight them. Each time you face one and win, you can think, that one’s not going to get me again…until one day they really are, few and far between. Each battle you win takes you further away from this early, difficult bit.
    Love this post! Go you x

  3. soberjournalist November 11, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    The other good excuse for not drinking is that you have insomnia and have had to cut alcohol out. I suggest this because I know someone who really cannot drink for that reason! A night out drinking affects his sleep for days.
    On the alcoholism issue I think if you’re frequently drinking more than you intend to, and you feel bad about it, then you do have a problem. Stashing empties in your room and drinking beer out of a mug is a sign. I used to do the exact same thing, housemates are so annoying in that respect… Love the list! Great idea.

    • FitFatFood November 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

      Thanks love, when I read that back, about the beer and the mug and the empties I just can’t connect it to my life, but that’s been the past 6 months or so, hiding it all.

      So yes, for now, I have to say it to myself. Alcohol is a huge problem for me, and that’s all that matters.

  4. momma bee November 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    this post I could of written myself….. One glass is never just one. I have a problem and its affecting my health. Like you I am only focusing on staying sober, the workouts and healthy eating will come in time. Unlike you, I have gained weight from my drinking the past 2 years, (35 pounds) b/c I was too hung over to work out early am. Bagged races I paid for b/c I never trained or ran them praying I make it.

    Sounds so like me, hiding bottles, hiding your drink in a mug…. its not normal drinking.

    Cheers (seltzer & dash grapefruit juice) to our new healthy life~

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  1. Gratitude | FitFatFood Blog - November 12, 2013

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