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.

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!

The Complexity of Support

10 Jan

I’ve been blogging A LOT this week, but it really helps me get stuff out of my head so I can get on with my day. 

Last night I had a very interesting therapy session. It’s been 3 weeks since I last saw Therapy Sarah due to the Christmas break. As I told her I’d been drinking again, her eyes filled with tears. It was a reaction that shocked and moved me, because it made me feel she cared. But in her eyes was the look of someone who knew that despite all the work we’ve done together and all the support she gives me, I still was being overpowered by the call of alcohol. And that was a very sad thing for her to witness.

After I’d recounted the events of the last 3 weeks, she said that she was thrilled I’d been to AA, that many of her colleagues won’t treat people with a drink problem unless they also go to Alcoholics Anonymous because “once a week therapy isn’t enough to tackle the scale of that problem.” She said she’d continued to see me despite my strong conviction that AA wasn’t for me because I was clearly determined, had been really proactive in reaching out via blogging and Team 100 with Belle, and seemed committed to sobriety. But now she could see that all of these helping hands hadn’t been enough.

[Carrie Bradshaw voice] And this got me wondering about the incredibly complex nature of support, and how it contributes to our recovery. On the one hand, support is everything. From that first moment of admitting to someone that you have a problem to letting them know you want to drink, it’s a huge relief to know that someone is there, listening to you, guiding you, giving you tips on how to ride the craving. When I first found Belle I thought, “this is it! I’ve found a solution! For 100 days I definitely won’t drink now. I won’t want to let her down.” But I did drink, repeatedly.

I realise that even with all the support in the world, we still tumble and fall, and drink when we know we shouldn’t, and that’s because at the end of it all, we have to do this thing ourselves. No-one picks up a drink for us, and no-one can snatch one from our hands or erase that destructive impulse from our brain. This isn’t rocket science, but it’s easy to forget when we’ve created fantastically valuable support networks, that the mere act of being part of a sober support network doesn’t keep you sober.

My past year has been an absolute struggle for control, willpower and strength, none of which I could consistently rely upon myself to exert when I wanted to fall face first into a bucket of wine. Sometimes I triumphed, but sometimes Mr wolf got me and I was back at square 1.

I’d get myself back up, be honest to those who support me and start again. But then I’d fall again, 4, 20, 40 days later. The number of sober days became irrelevant- it was the slipping AGAIN that was the giveaway that I was in deeper than I’d originally thought with this alcohol lark.

Through taking myself to AA and opening my mind to the higher power notion has shifted the view I have of myself in relation to alcohol and the nature of this journey hugely. Previously, I just saw a lack of strength, conviction and a weakness around alcohol that I was beating myself up for. What was WRONG with me? Why couldn’t I do this stuff when so many have succeeded?

But, walking through that door and trusting that I’d been through these struggles for a reason unlocked an overwhelming new belief in my own abilities. If I didn’t have the strength and courage to kick alcohol, I wouldn’t be picking myself off and dusting myself down time after time. I’d have given up and still be drinking.

I know I can trust myself, that I will do this, and that every failure has been a learning journey that one day will be vital in my long term sobriety. This grey and gloomy Friday, I feel secure in myself. I won’t feel like this every day, but I’m sure as hell better equipped to deal with all the obstacles in the road than I was a year ago. And in treasuring this knowledge, I’m supporting myself. And maybe that’s the best kind of support you can have. 

Happy Friday!

My First AA Meeting

9 Jan

 

So, last night I went to my first AA meeting. I never thought I’d set foot in one, to be honest, but I’m so glad I did.

For the 90 minutes I was there, I cried constantly, sometimes bordering upon hysterically. It was the most incredible feeling of release. Although I sometimes do cry with my therapist, it’s so rare that I actually let everything come out, and I felt like the pent up agony of the past year or so of struggling with this horrible problem was being let go.

The meeting set up was basically a massive cliché. We were sitting in rows on crappy plastic chairs with an outdated tea urn bubbling away in the corner and handed Styrofoam cups of cheap coffee to welcome us.  

As I entered the room I wanted to walk out immediately. There were around 25 people in the room, all men apart from myself, the chair and one other woman who arrived later. I knew that my connections online of people who have struggled with alcohol have been 90% women, but I didn’t expect to be intimidated by the male presence.

I sat down, and when they invited newcomers to make themselves known, I said my name and that it was my first meeting and was welcomed. As the guest speaker’s story was told and the 12 steps recited, I started to open up emotionally and the tears came. It’s REALLY bloody hard to stop hysterical tears in a quiet room and I was a bit of a snivelling mess at the back, snotty nosed and not armed with a tissue. WHY DIDN’T I BRING A TISSUE?!

They tell you to listen for the similarities not the differences you see between yourself and other drinkers when you’re new, and my GOD were there so many similarities.

The main thing I took away from the sharing and the discussions was that everyone in the room has struggled with who they are in some form or another, and that led them both to drink, and to find recovery difficult. There were amazing stories of self-discovery. Some of the points that were made might seem small if I recounted them, but they spoke volumes to me.

There was an overwhelming positivity that I took away- several people talked about things in their life that have happened only because they got sober. These are things that they couldn’t have done before not because they were drunk, but because they didn’t know who they truly were, or that they never had the self-esteem to pursue them. Someone described growing into an adult when he got sober, having lived 40 years as a child.

All of these points made great sense to me and gave me real hope, because I’ve always known that alcohol is making my life smaller than I want it to be, that I could achieve things I never thought possible if I could take the steps to permanently remove it from my life. And that I’m still a child in so many ways, and that’s alcohol is keeping me there.

The other thing that really clicked for me, which is the thing I expected to relate to least, was the ‘higher power’ notion. Everyone who referred to the higher power in their discussions specifically said it didn’t take a religious form to them. I had a HUGE switch click in my head with regards to this idea. I realised two things. The first is that I’ve got a gaping hole left by moving away from the Catholic religion that was such a fundamental part of my life until I was around 20, when I suddenly decided it wasn’t for me. I was shocked to discover last night, that I really missed the idea that there was something outside of myself that I could rely on. I don’t want religion back. Maybe now, my spiritual guide isn’t God, but something that dictates that everything will work out just as it should. Some sort of universal plan that I fit into.

The idea that “maybe everything is just as it’s supposed to be right now” was mentioned to me by my therapist a while ago, and it one of the most helpful ideas I have to get me through the tough times. And maybe this idea is the same thing, for me, as the notion of a Higher Power: the thought that everything I’m going through now is for a reason, and that will make me a stronger person in the long term. You can’t argue with the idea that I’m learning a hell of a lot from this struggle, and placing this in the context of a wider life plan that I’m not completely in control of was a huge relief. It took the great burden away from me and my little corner of the earth a little bit. Made me GET OVER MYSELF a little bit.

This also reiterated my feeling that I also don’t want to rely 100% on myself and tear myself up with endless introspection. I’ve talked about this before, but last night I felt a shift inside myself where I just trusted that everything will be ok. That I can pray or ask or just hope that something outside of me has my best interests at heart. That feels a weird line for me to type, but I believe it.

And the thing that really underlined the “maybe everything is exactly as it’s supposed to be” idea for me was the fact that I feel I walked into that AA room at precisely the right moment for me. I walked in, my brain telling me that maybe I didn’t have an alcohol problem, knowing that just 24 hours before I’d expressed the fear to Carrie that one day, my parents would get a call saying I’d died because of alcohol. That dramatic mindshift in just a day showed me that this disease is real, it’s serious and that it’s got me in the grips of deception.

The second thing that meant that last night was precisely the right time for me to go was it coincided with my true acceptance of this problem. When I reread old posts I’ve made, I remember the hopeless optimism I had that once I stopped and stayed stopped for a while, that would be the end of my journey with alcohol. I’ve realised in the past month or so that stopping drinking is only just the beginning. That I have so much work to do to stay sober. But that that’s ok.

If I’d set foot in that room even 3 months ago I still wouldn’t have believed this would work for me. But all the soul searching I’ve done and the honest approach I’ve repeatedly forced myself to take as I look inwards has meant that I’ve done a lot of ground work on my own, but I know that I need more help than that, from lots of different perspectives. After taking what’s been a pretty lonely road, despite all the online support and occasional meet ups with other sober bloggers, the comfort of simply having a large people group around me to listen to was huge.

As we stood up at the end and joined hands in a circle, I was absolutely crying my eyes out. The two women rushed up to me immediately after and comforted me, gave me their numbers and said lovely reassuring things. One of them was in her mid 30s, and sober for 4 years, the other 26 and had got sober at 21. They were kind and gentle and beautiful and I never wanted them to stop hugging me!

I honestly feel that I’m going to be going to these meetings long term. I think it’s going to really help me, more than I could ever have imagined. I had HUGE preconceptions and misgivings about AA, which I think many of us do, but I knew trying it was important, and I’m over the moon this morning that I plucked up the courage to walk down those stairs, shaking like a leaf, and make myself vulnerable in front of a room of tough looking men.

After last night I feel calm and I know it’s all going to be ok. It’s going to be hard, and I’m still going to have the same struggles, but maybe this new approach I’m trying will truly help me this time. I have the belief radiating from somewhere very deep inside me that it will, and that makes me want to weep with joy.

Pretty powerful stuff eh? I’m more shocked than anyone, but I’m going to stick with it and see where this unexpected journey takes me.

Happy Thursday! 

Blue Sky Thinking

8 Jan

 

I had an image pop into my head this afternoon of the Team Sky cyclists in the UK who did amazingly in 2012’s season and improved their performance dramatically in a short space of time. If you don’t like cycling, bear with me, this story isn’t about tyres and helmets and sporting heroes. Well it sort of is, but it’s relevant to alcohol problems. Promise.

I once watched a documentary where the cycling coach revealed his team’s secret to dramatically improved success. At the beginning of the year, they had decided that if they forensically analysed every element of their kit, training and performance and improved every area by the tiniest fraction, just by 1%, that their overall performance would dramatically improve. And it worked. It REALLY worked. They just focused on lots and lots of tiny incremental gains and added them all together.

And if we think about it, it makes total sense as to how all of us should improve our lives, little by little. Do we successfully finish a jigsaw and by throwing all the pieces on our living room floor and frantically moving them around in a frenzy? No. We order them one by one, until they make sense as a whole picture.

This thought is helping me a lot in this tough few days after drinking again. I’ve repeatedly been trying to change everything dramatically and expecting instant results, which is not usually my approach to life, but since alcohol has entered the picture, I’ve taken the chaotic approach of wanting EVERYTHING to change NOW.

So, in a rare moment of clarity after coming down from alcohol, I’ve decided that I want to focus on small choices and habits that will all add up to creating a better big picture.

So I’m looking at my diet by making choices that make me feel good- healthy eating with some chocolate treats when I need them. I was going to jump in and do Whole 30 because I felt I needed a new project to stop me from focusing so much on drinking, but doing something so extreme where I can’t even enjoy a milky comforting coffee after a 20 mile marathon training run (yes of course I’m training for another marathon) would, quite frankly, be hell, wouldn’t it? 

I’m tackling my depression by doing small things that make me happy. I’ve bought a little SAD lamp to go on my desk to help fight the winter blues. I’m making sure I get 20 mins of fresh air at lunchtime. I’m planning solo cinema trips which are my favourite sober treat. I bought a little plant for my desk and my bedroom to look after and water, to remind me that living things need nurturing and not beating over the head with a bottle of wine. I chose the plant because yes, I once ACTUALLY WATERED a plant with a bottle of wine. What a waste eh? 😉

So, all these tiny things will hopefully add up to a happier bigger picture, and help me stay in the moment more rather than think how BIG and SCARY it is to be facing myself, sober, for potentially the rest of my life.

I’m about to go to AA. I cannot believe I’m doing this. WISH ME LUCK!

(P.S If you actually ARE interested in Team Sky- this is a good, simple blog post about their approach: http://cfoknowledge.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/team-sky-performance-management-extraordinaire/_ )

 

It’s ALL FINE

8 Jan

Day 2, I slept for 8 or 9 hours last night, I feel like a new person. The fog of hangover has lifted and I’ve got my positivity back. I have even started to think that the last nightmare few days have been an anomaly, a case of me being overdramatic about alcohol. 

How is it that our bodies and minds forget so quickly? 

When I’m sober, I feel like I’m definitely not an alcoholic, and when I drink, I know that I am. 

Today I’m going to my first AA meeting. I have to. I have to make my world about being sober for the next few months. I can’t go back to the place I’ve been stuck in so many times over the past year of weeks on and off alcohol, a constant rollercoaster. 

Here’s the things I know about what to expect about the next few weeks that might make me slip up:

  • My addiction will trick me into thinking life is ok, and that drinking is ok, and just a bit of fun. I know it is not.
  • I will need alot of sleep.
  • I will get anxious as hell, and running will help that.
  • I need to avoid the 4pm desperation at work by getting fresh air at lunchtime and using my SAD lamp to help lift the blues.
  • I will go to my doctor as planned, but may be tempted to scale down the size of my problem. I need to be brave and honest.
  • It will get worse before it gets better. I’m just happy today not to be hungover, it won’t always feel this good. I have other issues I need to work through that I squish with drinking and I need to accept that this will be hard.
  • I shouldn’t try and be The Best Sober Person ever, as Carrie advised me. Last time I was unwilling to sacrifice my parties and social life for sobriety, because I thought being alone sober would make me more likely to drink. While I wasn’t tempted to drink whilst out, and could still dance all night and have tonnes of fun, the December onslaught of nights out with work, friends and family left me utterly exhausted until I cracked. I need to protect my sobriety more carefully. To change my life so that I can change my destructive habits. This will be hard, but is important. 
  • There is no magic cure. I once believed stopping drinking would be easy, and that it with solve all my other problems in life. It isn’t and hasn’t but I choose this path over drunken hell.

I’m looking forward to AA, I think. I’m terrified I won’t actually be able to walk through the door, but I know which meeting I’m planning on going to, and what do I have to lose?

 

 

Sober Research

7 Jan

Belle has posted in the past about drinking Research, a period we go through testing out moderation and other drinking strategies before we quit. 

I could write a PHD on drinking research. I have tested out ALOT of ways of moderating, and yet I’m still here, writing about how big an impact drinking has on my life. 

I’m a big fan of re-reading old posts when I’m tempted to drink, so I want to remind myself when I’m at my lowest, what I’ve learnt from this relapse. 

I can moderate socially– I have little problems drinking like a normie when I socialise, but that isn’t truly reflective of my relationship with alcohol. I’m happy and relaxed when I’m with friends, but the moderation is just an exercise in self control that fools me into thinking I do not have a problem. 

Drinking makes me lonely- in my last run of sobriety, I rediscovered that I love spending time alone. I liked my little wintery sober cocoon, reading and watching DVDs when I had no plans. When I drink I feel desperately, painfully alone. 

Drinking makes me loose focus– I discovered when sober that there are other sources of happiness in my life that I need to work through. I can’t address these when drinking, so I remain unhappy, so I drink… This cycle has to stop. 

Wine tastes shit after the 3rd glass- I’m not even sure if I like red wine anymore, I think I’ve had my lifetime’s worth. 

I can still derive and discover new “joys” from alcohol, which makes it more dangerous- I used to hate whiskey, and on holiday with my friends, I tried it. I loved the burn as it went down my throat and the glow in my tummy. It reminded me of when I first started drinking and alcohol had that immensely pleasurable effect. Do I want to add whiskey to the list of tastes and smells that makes me want to drink like a fish? I do not. If I drank, would it become something I now do regularly? Absolutely. 

My body hates alcohol– my skin looks shit, I’m bloated and fat looking, I have lost the desire to run, which is my mental health saviour. It’s easy to forget that I’ve been choosing to poison myself.

I lose the desire to do stuff when I drink– I packed in SO much stuff when I was sober. I was the epitome of Getting Shit Done and also bloody enjoyed myself. I read books again, I planned weekends packed full of delights. And here I am, on square 1, having to will myself to go for a coffee after work with someone because all I want to do is hide under the bed sheets. 

I lose my ambition when I drink– I’m a different person. I just get through the day. That’s not me. 

I have an addictive personality- I just do. It’s evident sometimes on this blog when I post 2 or 3 times a day. I need to accept that (it’s often a good thing to be obsessive, it helps you become an achiever) and realise that alcohol is a problem, but I am not the problem. I am me, created the way that I am, unique, special, a little mad, but loved by many and I have to live as me for the rest of my life. I need to like myself more. To accept that I’ve got to a stage in life where I need to change, and that maybe that’s ok. 

A thought is just a thought– I can think about wine all I want, but the image of a glass of wine popping into my head doesn’t mean I have to drink it. I won’t die if I don’t. I’ll just be uncomfortable for a while and then happy the next morning when I wake up without a hangover. 

I don’t want to drink, I want to change the way I feel– someone posted this gem of wisdom in the comments section in response to a super-dooper craving I was having once. It made so much sense to me. I’m in a constant state of wanting to change how I feel. Once a workaholic, then an anorexic, then a bulimic, now an alcoholic and a crazy runner- I spend my life avoiding my feelings. When I was a teenager, before I had enough school work to allow me to loose my evenings in it, I remember actually enjoying feeling my feelings. You know, the intense pain of unrequited love, the drama of listening to a sad song and wallowing in melancholy, the crazy happy joy of dancing in your room. I need to learn to do this again- it’s called Life. I keep forgetting that I have to learn to live Life, not just avoid it. 

I don’t actually know how I feel about my life because of drinking- am I doing the right job for me? Have I got my sights set on the man who would actually make me happy? Do I want to work in an office for the rest of my life? Do I need to consider changing career if I’m ever going to be happy? I have no idea. Not a clue. I have made some big life changes, as I’ve posted about before, in the last year which have improved lots of things, but there’s more work to be done. I’ll just have to see what the sober journey brings. Maybe I’m not designed to live in a big city, maybe I should one day think about a career change. These are the things which I’ll only know after a year or two sober, when I can learn to know that the voice that’s speaking is me the person, not me the alcoholic. 

Drinking makes you selfish– do you know what I hate most about this getting sober lark? The endless introspection, the focus on self care which I know is important but hard, the feeling of it all being “me me me me.” It’s a necessary thing to do though, I know. One day, maybe I’ll be secure enough in my sobriety to relax into it more. To know more intuitively what I need rather than spending 40 million hours a day analyzing it. For self care to be a natural process rather than something I agonize over. 

I need to trust myself– I posted last night about trying out AA because the level of support I get from blogs isn’t enough. In the cold light of day, it’s become apparent that I get exactly the level of support I need online, and whilst AA might help, I need to look within for my own strength and support rather than clinging onto others. If the “support of others” technique worked for me, I wouldn’t be on my millionth Day 1, having emailed Belle in July last year, met her and other lovely sober ladies in November and seeing Carrie frequently. They would have carried me through (no pun intended). But they can’t, because there’s not me. None of you wonderful, supportive and caring readers are. Knowing you’re out there is wonderful, as is reading your words of support, but I also need to know that there’s something within myself that knows how to protect me.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results– I’m an intelligent person, and I’ve been taken over by a drug. This isn’t me, this behaviour of doing something that has such dire results, it’s an addictive substance that I’ve let into my life. I’ve had 2 decentish chunks of sobriety in the past 12 months: 25 days and 40 days, which sounds like nothing, but is enough to have got a taste of how great it makes me feel on a good day. When I’m sober and happy, I sometimes get so elated I want to do a little dance in the street as I work to work with the cold air in my lungs and the winter sunshine in the sky. I feel great! I think. I can totally drink now! This sober lark is easy! And then I pick up the glass of champagne that’s handed to me at a party, take a sip in a whirlwind of happiness and excitement and find myself here, nearly 3 weeks later, having drunk hundreds and hundreds of units, deadly unhappy.

 

If I don’t stop drinking, it will kill me– not today, not tomorrow, but at some point. I wouldn’t have said this 6 months ago, but I know this for certain now. I have been lucky enough for nothing bad to happen so far, but one day it will. I’ve only been drinking heavily for 2 years and my liver is making itself so known to me it’s terrifying. My doctor’s appointment is on Friday, and I almost want her to tell me something is seriously wrong so I have the “give up or die” question. Writing that sentence, in itself is terrifying. If I had cancer, and knew that running, which I’m also addicted to, would make it worse, would I carry on? No. I’d treat the cancer. I’d sacrifice my great passion for running and do something that made me feel good that wasn’t dangerous. Drinking is my cancer. It is eroding my body and mind from the inside out. I know this to be true. I’ve felt it, physically and emotionally. I’ve felt it repeatedly. I want to be free of this disgusting drug that has crept into my life steathily. 

So, that’s my thesis. I’m graduating from the School of Drinking Research and embarking on my next PHD- The Challenges of Staying Sober 😉 

Day 1 Day 1 Day 1

7 Jan

I can’t even bear to read back what I wrote last night. I was drunk and panicking. Now I’m sober and panicking. I look terrible. I feel terrible. Fuck, drinking is horrible.

Drinking is affecting my mind and my body and I need to get back to sobriety sharpish, otherwise I’ll get to an even darker place.

The feeling of overwhelm that drinking causes is just incredible. I feel like everything is crashing down on me. Although I know being sober doesn’t make the shit things go away, it helps my ability to deal with them. I just cannot bear the thought of having to get through that first horrible part of sobriety and deal with my feelings, but it’s that, or stay in this state that will drive me insane or ruin my health irreparably.

Why do we do things that don’t serve us? Why can’t we learn our lesson with alcohol? What madness is this?!

I’m making my life small and miserable and it has to stop. I posted the other day about how sociable drinking had been fine. It was true. But my solo drinking has been horrible and extreme and that fact is unavoidable. It’s been unavoidable for the past year, why haven’t I cracked this thing yet?

I just re-read my Gifts of Sobriety post that I wrote around 30 days into my last sober stint. I want some of that back. I know it’s possible. I’m going to let myself wallow in feeling shit for the next half and hour then get outside, get some fresh air and start over. Start being kind again.

Today is ANOTHER Day 1 and I don’t want to throw it away again. I want to sit tight through this week until I feel human again and then grip onto my sobriety hard. I need it, I deserve it. 

SOS

6 Jan

I am in an absolute f**king state. 

Excuse my language. 

But they say when you’re getting sober, you shouldn’t change your job, your relationship or where you live in there first year of getting sober. Well, I’ve changed all of the above whilst trying to get sober, and now am in the process of trying to buy a house which today, with all the back and forth of offers, was the most stressful it’s ever been. 

Yesterday I got in touch with an old boyfriend who has been BESOTTED with me for years, and has in the past 6 months repeatedly said he wants to rekindle what we had. I pushed him away and away, trying to get sober, and when I was ready to get in touch again, he’s told me he’d found someone else. He was the one person I could count on, apart from my family, to love me wholly and completely for who I am, and now he’s gone. Maybe not forever, but for now, when I need him. 

Today is tough in so many different ways. I drank again today, after days sober. Not much, but I did. What the FUCK has happened to make me live this sort of life. It bears no resemblance to what my friends or family think of me. Nor what I think of myself.I just cannot believe I’m an alcoholic. But would I come back here time and time if I wasn’t?!??!

My liver still hurts. 

I need to go to AA, I think. Supportive online and texting friends plus the blogosphere apparently isn’t enough. I’m genuinely scared that one day I won’t wake up :/ And I get too ashamed when things go wrong. I want everyone to be giving me gold stars all the time, and that aint gonna happen.

Breathing deeply now. I hope tomorrow feels brighter. 

One Step Forward…

4 Jan

I’ve had an amazing holiday. I’ve run in some stunning locations, climbed a mountain and had huge belly laughs with old friends.

But, I drank wine again.

I drank socially, sensibly, normally and didn’t get drunk or hungover. It felt like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But but but…

These times when I have a good experience with alcohol are dangerous, because I know they are rare. They make me feel I’m ok around alcohol which when I’m alone, we know isn’t the case.

When I drink with friends and feel safe and loved, it’s like this whole sober blogging world I cling onto so often doesn’t exist. Like it’s all some weird fantasy I buy into to make myself feel special. But as I read back over the past year, the words I’ve written tell the truth. The horrible truth I conveniently forget when the Wolfe voice pipes up.

So today I’m re-reading every post I’ve written. Remembering why I want to be on the sober path again and buckling up for a tough month or so as I get a chunk of sober time under my belt again. I’m not ready to say “never again” to alcohol, but I do know I can’t tackle my other issues until it’s removed from the picture.

This turmoil and effort just feels so unjust at the moment. I feel like this struggle has been cruelly forced upon me. But there’s no choice but to accept it. To choose the hard but happy road.

I need to get back to my sober routines, to taking this whole thing as seriously as it needs to be taken.

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New Years Euphoria

2 Jan

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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of running round this beauty.

I felt calm and strong and that 2014 would be my year. Time to put all this sober practice into long term action.

What a way to kick off the year 🙂