Archive | January, 2014

Short but Sweet

31 Jan

I’m without a computer at the moment, which means posting is hard- I just can’t type out long blogs on my phone, but miss the act of writing.

This week has been fantastic. My time off work has done me the world of good- I’ve slowed down, slept a lot, run enough but not too much, eaten hot home-cooked meals and been to an AA meeting a day.

I’m feeling grounded and confident in my sobriety. It’s the first time I’ve truly felt like this. Previously around the 2-3 week mark I’ve been crawling the walls.

And just as I was writing my little gratitude list before bed tonight I realised something- in the past 6 months I’ve been in the middle of a run of sobriety more than I’ve been drinking. Not a perfect track record by any means, as readers of my “Hey! It’s Day 1, AGAIN!” posts will know, but better than the 6 months prior to that. Solid progress.

It’s been a learning curve, and lots of things have tripped me up along the way but I’m getting more confident, and more certain in my conviction that I would WAY rather have the temporary pain of saying no to a drink at a party or swerving the wine aisle than I would the agony of starting from scratch.

So here’s a happy post to end a happy week. And everything that has been positive in life this week has been a direct result of being sober. That’s a pretty great thing to reflect on.

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Cravings

27 Jan

No sooner had I declared I’d been craving free since I first went to AA, was I besieged by cravings. Joy,

On Sunday morning it was tipping it down in London so I skipped my marathon training run and spent the morning cleaning, tidying, drinking tea and keeping happily productive. And then, out of nowhere, I decided it would be a great idea to drink vodka. VODKA?! I never even drank vodka really, it was the drink I drank as a teenager going out experimenting with alcohol. Absolute madness.

Anyway, I swerved the craving, went for Sunday lunch with friends where bottle after bottle of wine was consumed, sipped my sparkling water and headed to an AA meeting after to make sure I didn’t pop to the shop and buy vodka (?!?!?!?!?!) on the way home.

I’ve learnt a lot about cravings in the past year of trying (& failing) to give up drinking, so thought I’d note them here to share what I’ve learnt.

They often come from out of the blue You can be there, strong, content, doing the sober shimmy through life, and BAM! It rears it’s head. These illogical cravings are some of the hardest to deal with because you can’t attach them to any particular incident or emotion.

A craving is not a license to drink In my early, naive attempts at sobriety, I thought the second a craving came up I was beaten, and gave in. Not so. A thought or feeling isn’t an action. Don’t translate it into one.

Pre-empt them where possible Some situations are just designed to trigger cravings. Whether it’s a situation you associate with drinking, a stressful environment or a boozy function, if you know it’s coming up, try and tackle that craving in advance. For me, that involves eating a chocolate bar- the sweetness kills the craving dead. I try to avoid sugar, but I found this solution through trial and error and hell, it’s much better than the alternative.

Tell someone Blog about it, text a sober friend, even call a helpline if you don’t have any sober connections yet. Articulating the fact you have one can be enough to quiet Wolfe, and you’ll get some support and encouragement back.

It always passes It just does. It’s horrible waiting it out, but it goes.

Play the tape to the end
This is a funny one for me at the moment. It’s always previously helped to think of what could (will) happen if I drink, but lately that’s been a source of anxiety that has fuelled the craving. I cast myself forward to the feeling of Another Day 1 and feel utterly worthless and unable to do this sobriety thing. And then I remember that I’m not there, I’m here, doing it. Hurrah for me!

So here I am with another day sober. I’ve stopped counting, but now I’ve got a couple of weeks under my belt again it’s feeling easier. Not easy, but not so excruciating.

I’ve still got so much to learn and lots of situations to tackle sober, so if you have any tips for beating cravings I’d love to hear them.

Happy Monday!

(P.S sorry the text is weird on this post- my laptop is broken and I’m posting from my phone!)

Not thinking about Drinking

24 Jan

It’s Friday, I’m at home about to cook some dinner and I haven’t had a sniff of a craving for wine.

In every previous attempt at sobriety I have been clinging on to make it through the hours of 4 & 8pm, desperately waiting for the craving to pass. Sometimes I could even taste the wine in my mouth. Eventually I always cracked.

Since going to AA & focusing on the programme, I’ve barely thought about drinking. I’ve thought about alcoholism and what sober life looks like, but the thought of actually picking up a drink hasn’t occurred to me.

It’s not a solution anymore. I know I want to live my life without the darkness alcohol brings and as readers of this blog know, my extensive “moderation testing” definitely didn’t work. So now, it’s all about working out how to be me, sober.

That’s pretty liberating. Before Christmas when I passed 30 days I was waiting for some magical change, some “cure” to take the desire to drink away. And that never came.

Now, the change seems to have happened. Slowly, subtly, I’ve turned away from alcohol in my mind. It may not be forever I’m free of the wine chatter, but for now I am and it feels bloody amazing.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Opening up

23 Jan

After running out of my flat to an AA meeting that I desperately needed to go to (the second that day) to take away the niggling thought that a drink would be a GREAT idea, I managed to lock myself out of my flat. 

I went to the meeting, which was the worst one I’ve been to yet (a bitter chair, not great positivity in the room that night) and arrived home to find I had no keys. BUGGER. My flatmate is out of the country- without a locksmith, which I can’t afford right now, I’d be locked out for days. DOUBLE BUGGER. 

I was dying for the toilet, and the natural place to go was a bar next door to where I live. I went in, went to the loo, sat down at a table and decided what to do next. I had a nice little dialogue in my head between Old Me and New Me:

Old Me: Argh! This is a NIGHTMARE! The only thing that will make it better is a drink!

New Me: Terrible idea. Terrible. You don’t drink anymore.

Old Me: I wasn’t going to drink, but since I’m going to stop again anyway, I might as well tonight- I’m locked out of home and in a bar! What else would I do?!

New Me: Take a deep breath and decide who you can call who has a place to stay where you’ll get a decent night’s sleep and decide what to do in the morning. 

Old Me: But I want to just have one glass of wine, just one…

And this went on for quite some time.

Thankfully, the bar I chose is the one I walk past every day to see some old alcoholics sitting outside. They’re all 70+ and sit there in their finery drinking all day long and it breaks my heart every time I see them. They look so frail and so sad. It reminded me of what could happen if I carry on drinking, always jeopardising my hard work for another day 1. 

So I called a friend I know has a nice, cosy place and asked if I could stay with him. 

He knows I’ve been struggling with depression, and has been kindly telling me for many weeks I can open up to him about anything. I’m not sure why, but in that moment in his warm, cosy flat where I felt safe I decided to tell him the WHOLE story. Every last detail of my drinking. 

I’ve been wanting to tell someone close to me for a while, but have never quite found the right person to tell, because I was scared of them not taking me seriously or thinking it was silly. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I very rarely got smashed publically, and would be considered quite a restrained drinker by most of my friends.

This particular friend turned out to be the perfect choice. He listened to every word and took them with grave seriousness.

I think one of the reasons he felt like the person to tell is that he’s a BIG binge drinker, one of the biggest I know, and I have, in the past, worried about his drinking before alcohol became a problem for me. We talked about his drinking and how it differs from mine. I explained how and why I drank and how once I started I couldn’t stop for days at a time and he said: “I drink alot when I’m out, but it never occurs to me to drink on my own, or for more than one day in a row.” As I looked around his flat he had a couple of red bottles of wine that were half full. I pointed them out to him, saying I could never have those half bottles in the house and he seemed to have genuinely forgotten that they were there. There’s a debate about how binge drinkers fit into alcoholism, but for me, hearing his utter indifference about alcohol at home and him saying he likes it as a mood enhancer on a big night out, no more than that, reminded me why I have come to the path of sobriety.

I told him about this blog, my attempts to stop and my joining AA. He was incredibly supportive and suggested that while I’m being really proactive, maybe I need more support than I’m allowing myself, and suggested taking some time off work.

So following yesterday’s musings about taking some time out to focus on sobriety and getting better, I’ve spoken to my boss and I’m having at least a week to get myself together. I couldn’t share the full details of why, but she understood that I have something personal going on that I need to attend to and that was enough.

I’m so grateful for him, and the fact that he not only listened, but cared enough to have some really great practical advice. I joked with him that now I’ve ‘fessed up to being an alcoholic, I can’t have a drink with friends again without him breathing down my neck reminding me why I shouldn’t, but it’s true. He’ll help keep me safe and sober. 

So that’s that. Being truthful helps. I’ve been telling versions of the truth, but the whole truth feels so much better, the sense of unburdening is greater. 

And by the way, I hadn’t locked myself out after all, my keys were in a hidden pocket after all 😉 

Happy Thursday all!

 

 

Taking time for Me

21 Jan

To try and make this time round a successful sober lifestyle where other attempts have failed, I’m taking some time for me. Slowing down. Not trying to be the best goddamn sober person ever doing it all, having it all, and remaining tee total.

But, I’ve been trying to work out how, exactly, I slow down when I have a hectic full time job, am marathon training, flat-hunting and trying to get to an AA meeting every day.

I realised this morning that I am in a very privileged position- I don’t have children who depend on me, I don’t have a partner who needs my love and attention, it’s just little old me. And (HOPEFULLY!) life won’t be this solitary forever. So maybe now is the time to really take advantage of that and heal myself from the ups and downs of drinking over Christmas and the New Year, from the linger term damage drinking has done. Should I be selfish with the aim of getting to a place (eventually) where I’m sober, balanced and ready to truly love and support others rather than being caught in a drink-relapse cycle?

I’m off work today, and contemplating taking the rest of the week off to focus and relax into sobriety. Every time I’ve tried before I’ve had my Day 1 right in the middle of a manic work week and haven’t ever truly stopped to take stock or recover, despite blogging it out. And foolishly used my Christmas break to drink…

I’m not sure whether taking time off wise, as I don’t want my work to suffer, but equally know I need some more time away to get myself back on track, to attend as many meetings as I can and be still.

I’ll see how the rest of the day goes, but for now, I’m grateful to be able to have a sober day to myself.

To the Streets or a Penthouse

17 Jan

Yesterday, I posted about my anger regarding a conversation I’d had with someone who questioned whether my drinking was a problem. I’d mulled over whether or not to post it, but the one thing I promised myself when I started blogging was that I’d be 100% honest. That I’d be as warts and all as I can about my feelings as a means of a) getting in touch with them and b) keeping track of how my moods and difficult feelings change as I journey through sobriety so I can reflect on what, for me, makes a situation better or worse.

The comments were supportive, and some did challenge my view, which I’m thankful for. What I already knew was reiterated- that I have to take full responsibility for my actions. And I do. But I needed to articulate my frustration at the idea that if you don’t end up in the gutter then you don’t have a problem. It undoes all the positive messages around alcoholism being a problem that anyone can suffer from. As someone put it yesterday in my AA meeting: “it can take you to the streets or it can take you to a posh penthouse, but it’s still destructive, still hell for us who suffer.”

I didn’t intent to place blame or deflect responsibility from myself, but to remind everyone who dispenses support or ‘advice’ that they do so carefully and with sensitivity.

So, today is a new day, my anger has subsided into acceptance- yes I do have a problem, yes it’s not fair, yes I am doing everything in my power to manage it. I’m quite pleased, in a way, that I felt anger, because it’s an emotion I’m not that familiar with, and it felt cathartic to get it onto the page. 

I had plenty of sleep last night, a glorious run in a thunderstorm and am trusting that today, everything will be ok. As long as I sleep, run, eat chocolate and go to AA, all will be well. 

Happy Friday!

 

 

Please be Sober Responsibly

16 Jan

In the UK, the drinks industry gets away with ads making booze seem cool and sexy and amazing by slapping the strap line “Please drink responsibly” on its ads.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how this applies to the sober world.

I haven’t blogged about the exact nature of what happened the last night I drank, or in fact told anyone, but it’s safe to say it was the most rock bottom it could have got for me.

And I’ve done a lot of pondering about how and why the quick descent happened again after my 40 day sober stretch. And the truth is this- I can pinpoint the moment I knew that I would drink.

I was lucky enough to meet someone who is very prominent in the media taking about sobriety and their recovery over Christmas. We met for copious amounts of coffee. I shared my struggles and she told me, that I was young, my drinking didn’t sound that bad and that maybe I needed to “get it out of my system” a bit more. My jaw nearly hit the floor. But as soon as my alcoholic brain gripped onto those words, that was it- I’d decided, unbeknown to myself at that moment that she was RIGHT! That’s exactly what I needed to do! Yay!

And I drank, and tried to stop the net day and carried on for a week or two on and off. And eventually, in a drunken haze, I actively sought out a situation that helped me tick my rock bottom box. And I’m still, weeks later, struggling to find my sober momentum.

Today, as I’ve attended my 2nd AA meeting in 24hours I’m angry- angry I listened to her, angry I didn’t listen to my instincts and angry to be in this situation at all.

So my message, I suppose, is to us all. All of us who blog and support others and share our stories. We have a responsibility that we didn’t sign up to when we started on this journey to be careful what we say to others. You can suggest and share your experiences and sober tips, but never ever make a judgement about someone’s drinking. Never tell them it’s not bad enough to worry about. Only an individual knows whether their drinking is bad enough to have an impact on their life, and any suggestion that it might not be is like a Get out of Jail free card to the alcoholic brain.

So, I just wanted to put this experience out there to remind us that people take on board what we write and comment and advise them over coffee and that we need to be careful with what we say to other problem drinkers.

Happy Thursday!