Archive | February, 2014

Uh oh

28 Feb

I’ve packed, I’m sitting amongst boxes and for the last 2 hours I’ve been battling serious cravings.

Packing, apparently, is a trigger. It brings up memories of champagne and the celebration of moving. We have vodka in the house. I opened the bottle and smelt it. It was disgusting.

I was trying to put myself off the idea of taking a drink, but it’s backfired. I want to drink more now.

I’ve text my sponsor who I know is in a meeting, am listening to an episode of the bubble hour and waiting for 8pm when my removal van will arrive.

It just shows how changeable and dangerous my alcoholism is. This morning I felt calm(ish) and stable. Now I’m pretty much crawling the walls.

If I drank now, I would have time to get as drunk as I want to, would sit in the van frustrated and spend my first night in my friend’s house plotting how to drink. I’d awake in my new home feeling shitty. I know that I’d drink tomorrow too, and probably Sunday.

Writing helps. Playing the tape forward helps.

I’m staying here. Praying for the strength to get through.

Moving On

28 Feb

It’s a pretty big day. I’m moving out of the flat I’ve spent the past year in and am going to live with a friend temporarily while my flat sale goes through.

The flat I’m leaving is the one I moved into when I left my ex-boyfriend, the flat I felt lonely and newly single in, where my drinking alone reached its very worst. I’ve had some tough times there, and some bad hangovers, but I leave it with fond memories. When I wake up in the morning and look out of my big sash window, right by my bed, I see the most beautiful view. Since I’ve been sober, this view reminds me of one of my last drinking episodes where I woke up, looked out of it and cursed the sky: ‘why are you so BLUE?!’ It makes me laugh now.

I’ve done a lot of growing in that flat: from negotiating the single life for the first time and getting sober. I feel like I’m leaving it with my head held high and a bright future ahead, rather than desperately hoping for a fresh start without drink which is how I felt when I moved in.

There’s a lot going on over the next few months- I need to find a new job, push the flat sale through and do so whilst essentially living out of a suitcase in my friend’s spare room. It’s going to be quite stressful, but also exciting. I just need to keep myself grounded and balanced, make sure I don’t let the instability get to me too much.

At least I want to be sober more than I want to drink now. I’m at 45 days and it feels bloody brilliant. Drinking isn’t something I crave, or want to do right now. Those cravings may return in the future, but the further I get away from that horrible last drink, the stronger my resolve is to ride the wave and make it through whatever discomfort I’m in.

Mercifully because it’s still winter, my social life has been quite and I’ve been spending a lot of time on my own, only
going to the odd party or work event. I need to start getting out there again socializing again, but to be honest, I don’t really want to yet. One thing I’ve realised since getting sober is that I like spending time alone WAY more than I thought I did. Which is great, but I also need to maintain a social life and have some fun too.

I’m looking forward to this next chapter. Let’s see how it goes…

Intervention

24 Feb

So, I’ve known over the past few months that  my job isn’t right for me but haven’t done anything about it yet, waiting to get some more sober time under my belt. But today, the universe has intervened and forced my hand to REALLY consider what to do next. 

I’m a freelancer who’s been with the same company for a very long time, so much so I forget I’m not staff there. I found out today the team I work for is changing shape, so my contract will end at the end of next month. This is a big shock to the system. 

I have to decide what to do next. 

I am so so pleased with today, because the following things happened:

  • I got this news out of the blue and didn’t freak out. 
  • I didn’t cry, get anxious or feel wounded.
  • I knew this decision wasn’t about me, but about the company. I recognised they value me rather than thinking it’s all my fault and that they’re forcing me out. 
  • I accepted their offer of help finding another role in a different team. 
  • I didn’t blame my drinking for the ending of this contract- it’s out of my hands. Whilst my drinking definitely had some impact on my work, I accepted my boss’ praise for a job really well done and didn’t get Imposter Syndrome. 
  • I’ve accepted that this is the situation I have to deal with, and am making plans for What to Do Next. Breaking it down into a manageable plan of action. 
  • Most importantly, I DIDN’T DRINK.

Today has been huge in my journey. This is the kind of situation that I would REALLY drink over in the past. But all I thought this afternoon was “Usually on a day like this I’d get smashed, but I don’t want to now” and then moved on.

Thank God for the principles I’ve learnt in AA in the short time I’ve been in there. I feel true serenity today- whatever will happen will happen, but I’ll do the best I can to do what’s within my power to get the outcome that will suit me and my early sobriety.

Yes I’m worried about money, and about what job I choose next (there are a few options on the table already, thankfully) but I’ve been brought to this crossroads and I’m going to work through it without drinking. In some senses, the timing couldn’t be worse- I’m in the process of buying a flat and in the early days of sobriety FFS. I need stability and an income. But in another sense, I think it’s the gift in disguise I’ve been waiting for, speeding up the process of me looking at what I want to do every day. 

I’m going to think hard about how to support myself during these decisions. At least I know one vital thing: I can’t drink. If I drink I won’t get through it in one piece and will truly scupper my chances of giving myself the space and support I need to make the right choice. 

So thanks, Universe, you crafty bugger. 

Let’s see what happens next…

Glowing not Sparkling

23 Feb

I’ve had a lovely weekend. I went to 2 gigs ran 20 miles on a beautiful spring day and napped a lot.

On paper, it was fantastic. I really enjoyed it. I felt so grateful to be sober. 

My energy levels are through the roof and JESUS I looked at my nails this afternoon and they are shiny! I never even knew nails could be shiny! I’m the “vision of health”, as a colleague put it, which made me feel pretty great!

BUT. 

But I miss the confidence boost drinking gave me. I went to the gig last night with a man I’ve being seeing for months, a really strange Friends with Benefits situation that has evolved. I enjoy his company, but I’m not 100% relaxed around him. Like so often when we go out, last night I wished I could drink so that the conversation would flow more freely, so I could dance less self consciously. 

And then I realised that I’m not a quiet person around the RIGHT people. Around the right people I’m chatty and bubbly. Around the wrong people (read: wrong men) I get quiet and a little withdrawn and want the artificial boost of booze to make me be more me. A better, shinier sparklier me. 

I know this man isn’t right for a relationship and we enjoy each other’s occasional company without any emotional side effects. I’m happy with things as they are, in part because it’s fulfilling the need for male company and stopping me seeking out a “proper” relationship which I know would be a threat to my sobriety right now. Whilst it’s fun, we both acknowledge we’re each others stop gap people, and that’s probably not very healthy. 

If I’m going to be sober long term, I need to surround myself with people that make me feel whole without the booze. Of course there will always be work/family/friendship situations where you feel a little “less than”, a need for the kind of boost that alcohol gave us. That’s just life and the natural ebbs and flows of confidence that come with it. But I never want to hide behind booze again when getting to know someone new. I want them to like me for who I am, not the Merlot Mask I’m wearing. 

This is all a work in progress. I’ll keep tabs on this man situation and stay in touch with how it’s making me feel. If he needs to go, he needs to go.

40 days sober today. It feels bloody brilliant. 

The Sunny Side

21 Feb

Today, I’m 38 days sober.

The sun is shining in the city, it feels a little like spring.

My clothes are feeling a little looser, and I’ve lost a few pounds.

I’m following a tailored nutrition plan for my marathon training a nutritionist I know designed for a slight calorie deficit so I can lose the weight I want, and I feel fantastic. Plenty of food, no deprivation, heaps of energy, strong running.

I slept for 8.5 hours last night and woke up and like I do every morning now I’m sober and thanked god, my higher power, or whatever is out there, for sleep and another sober day.

I’ve applied for a new job, to remind myself there are other options out there, if and when I want them. I’m not dwelling on it, or going to make any dramatic changes, just trying to feel my way towards what I really want.

I’m going to a gig tonight with a friend who’s never really drunk, and will dance my little socks off sober.

I’m feeling happy to be me. Happy to be on the Sunny Side. Not going back to the place where alcohol sucks all light out of life… Not today.

Happy Friday! 

 

Day by Day

20 Feb

This week has been a bit of a struggle. Not with cravings explicitly, but the niggling feeling that a drink would make everything better. I 100% know that in reality, that wouldn’t be the case.

Now that the booze fog is well and truly out of the way, at 5 weeks sober, other feelings are starting to surface. The uncomfortable nature of clarity. The curious sensation of being able to look into the mirror and examine what you see unfettered by shame. The experience of raw emotions.

It’s so easy to ignore things when you’re drinking. In some ways, it’s a mirror image of the AA principle “one day at a time.” You’re advised to “keep it in the day” rather than thinking about the possibility of never drinking again. So often when you’re fighting a hangover (particularly at work) all you can do is hope to get through the day in one piece. I took my drinking very much one day at a time, choosing to ignore future consequences, the number of days I’d drunk before hand, the effect it would have in the morning.

When you’re in early sobriety, all you want to do is get through the day without a drink. Now, I’m into a sober routine that’s working. I’m dealing with cravings, I’m going to AA regularly, I’m still reading sober blogs daily. Sobriety is slowly becoming part of the fabric of my life, and now my attention is turning to the other things I want to address.

Things are pretty good- I’ve just bought a flat, marathon training is going well and I feel some form of happiness every day. But my job, which I have chosen to ignore as a source of discontent, is becoming more and more of a worry to me.

All the big questions are coming up this week “who am I? Does this career suit me? Can I do this job for the rest of my life? How do I change things up? Am I just being the eternally unsatisfied alcoholic? Have I created a life than is better than I realise?”

Understandably, it’s all a bit overwhelming, and all I can do now is to stay solid and sober and manage the overwhelm. To start to address these questions slowly. Not to rush things. Not to threaten my precarious sobriety.

I asked a lovely lady who’s been vital in my first few weeks of AA to be my sponsor last night, and she said yes! This is a huge weight off my shoulders- I trust her, admire her and think I need to get started on the steps.

I’ll focus on these for now, not my big life questions or my job. Working through the steps will be a journey of self discovery and I think that if I prioritise that, maybe, just maybe, everything else will fall into place. For now, I’ll trust that It will, and that soothes me.

Happy Thursday!

WOAH CRAVING

16 Feb

I have been doing brilliantly this week, happy, feeling very sober, thrilled to be over a month without a drink but WOW today I have been wrestling Mr Wolfie like mad. 

All I want to do is fall face first into a mega glass of wine (you know the goblets that hold pretty much half a bottle? One of those). Why? I have no idea. 

In a bid to make sure I relax a bit and get enough rest after a mad week at work, I’ve been quite isolated this weekend. I think that has something to do with it. I’m also at the point which I’ve learnt, for me, is the classic “I wasn’t that bad really” point- just over a month sober. 

I’ve been to a lot of AA meeting this week, but I haven’t been engaging with the principles of it outside the meetings. So the One Day at A Time approach, which I know works, has gone out of the window. I’ve become a bit obsessed with not being able to share a bottle of wine with an (imaginary) future date, which is not helpful. I don’t even have any prospect of a date any time soon!

I’ve also been watching a lot of House of Cards where there is ALOT of alcohol. Despite one of the characters being an alcoholic which should put me off drinking, the seemingly endless casual glasses of wine portrayed on screen seem really appealing. This is just nonsense, to get triggered by a TV programme, but it’s reminded me how dangerous it is when the seed of drinking is planted. 

I’m staying strong and am leaving for a meeting in the next half an hour, which will buy me one more sober day. I cannot have a Day 1, not now. There is just no point. I know I don’t want to carry on drinking and have to stop, so why ruin my momentum AGAIN. 

Next week I’m going to focus on coming out of my sober bubble a little so I feel less isolated at the weekend, and planning lots of nice sober activities to look forward to.

I’ve settled on a treat that I’m saving up for if I make it to 3 months sober- a set of personal training lessons to start strength training and shake up my exercise routine a bit, which I’m REALLY looking forward to and today, the thought of denying myself that treat has pushed me through. 

Alcohol eh? Cunning, baffling, powerful. 

But I’ll stay sober today. 

Weight Weight Weight

14 Feb

Since I wrote about my body image struggles the other day, I’ve felt so much better. I’ve been so focused on alcohol of late, I haven’t had the mental space to get to grips with the noise that’s going on in the background about food and weight. I don’t want to focus too much on it and get distracted from the really important work, which is staying sober, but I think it’s important to start to address.

The therapist I go and see actually specialises in food and body image issues, and I started seeing her to deal with those problems, all the while opting to ‘forget’ to mention my alcohol problem to her. Since I came out about how much I was drinking, all our work has been focused around that. For me, the two problems are so interconnected, exploring the reasons why I drink also helps me explore why get caught in the starve binge cycle, or chronically under ate and overexercised.

I don’t want to over-simplify a very complex issue, but for me my preoccupation with weight comes down to 2 key things: a lack of self-care and a preoccupation with what other people think. I’ve realised throughout this whole crazy getting sober journey that I have NO IDEA how to be kind to myself, how to rest and be still and nourish myself properly. I’ve always been addicted to over-achieving and staying busy. I was an academic over achiever and studied round the clock all the way through school until I graduated. When I started running I fell head over heels in love with it and went crazy on that. I learnt the power of being thin, the attention and admiration it got me and took it to extreme lengths. And then: drinking.  My drinking was secret to preserve the external image that I wanted to portray, to look like I had it together whilst secretly falling about.

All of this behaviour wears me down emotionally, but on the outside, makes me feel like I look successful, driven and accomplished.

I love having this blog and AA because for the first time, possibly in my life, I can let the mask slip.

I wrote the other day about how I had a real mental wrestling match going on between feeling strong and healthy and feeling like a whale. I think this is in part because I’ve got two dialogues going on: what I think of my weight and what I imagine other people think of it.

I REALLY care what other people think about my size. Weight has always been a huge area of discussion for my family. My dad was very overweight when I was young, and then lost a lot through running. My mum has always been stick thin, but really prizes being thin highly. Every time we go to a family event they appraise everyone in the room “ooohh Tina has lost a lot of weight, James is looking a bit big isn’t he?!” etc etc.

I have so many specific memories of comments made around my size when I was younger. I was very slim- I did ballet 4 times a week and played lots of sport at school, but my Dad used to jokingly call me “thunder thighs.” Once I commented on my weight to him, looking for reassurance that I was slim, and he said “well cut back on the Mars bars then.” I didn’t even eat bloody Mars Bars.

When I was between 16 & 18 I exercised less and went on the Pill, both of which resulted in me putting on weight. Not tonnes, but enough to look bigger than I was. My mum was quietly horrified, and made comments about my stomach on several occasions. I was being fitted for a ball gown whilst in my first year at university, and she said I had “quite a bit of back fat.” When I look back at the size I was then, I was a UK size 10-12, (US 6-8) and not as athletic as I am now, but by no means fat. Slim but not toned.

When I discovered running and healthy eating, the weight steadily came off, much to the delight of my family who showered me with praise. My sister who has always been naturally big has received lots of teasing about it and comments on her weight and has recently fasted herself slim. She received the same plaudits from my parents. I get insanely jealous when I look at her…

That’s an aside. Back to the chronological story…. So, taking up running coincided with me meeting my (now ex) boyfriend who was very preoccupied with weight. I got slowly thinner and more restrictive with my food over the years, and he loved it, pinching my hip and proudly saying “there’s nothing there!”

When my eating issues got really bad, and my hair started to fall out, he used to call my “baldy”, faux affectionately. He once said to me “I don’t understand how you’re not thinner, bearing in mind how little you eat.” I was having CBT for my eating issues and he didn’t engage with it, didn’t acknowledge there was anything wrong.

My parents by this time were really worried, but he didn’t see there was anything unhealthy about my behaviour and weight.

When my boyfriend moved away for 6 months, I started drinking, as I wrote about in a recent post. I also started eating again, and getting back to a healthier weight.

My boyfriend was horrified- I remember us being on holiday and him walking behind me, giving me the once over and saying- “wow, you’ve got bigger.” “Where?!” I asked. “All over” he told me.

But I didn’t care enough to do anything about it. I was enjoying drinking too much, and it was hugely liberating to be able to eat again.

I left my job and had a month long holiday before I started my new one. I went off on a trip to the other side of the world where I ate normally, drank shitloads and had a ball.

I came home maybe 4 pounds heavier (and looking at photos, slim still) and again, my boyfriend was horrified. He started instigating weekly weigh-ins, saying “you just need to get back to the weight you were before holiday.” When I eventually refused to do them, he called me a quitter.

Meanwhile, my mum told me they’d cheered when they saw me after this holiday, because my weight was up.

I split up with the boyfriend, the weight issue being a major factor, and still see him occasionally, always worrying that he thinks I’m fat. He’s really thin now, and looks drawn and weak.

Enough on the details, but is it any wonder I feel like I’m constantly being weighed up by the eyes of others?! When the most important people in my life valued weight so highly? And in the case of my parents, still do.

One of the questions I’ve been asked by several family members over the past few 6 months is “how did you put on so much WEIGHT?!” as if I was the size of a house. I’m a toned, fit, UK size 12. I could lose some body fat, yes, but seriously, I’m not overweight. Just not skinny.

Society is a bit fucked, isn’t it, if loved ones feel it’s appropriate to make weight seem so important that it’s easy to believe that the love of others is contingent on you maintaining a certain size. I struggle with the idea that any new man will love me unless I’m thinner, which is bollocks, because if he doesn’t, he’s not worth my time.

Phew. It feels good to get that all on paper and out of my head.

For me, my sober journey is all about finding out how to be unashamedly me. No booze, no starving myself, just working out who the natural me is. If I’m designed to be around the weight I am now if I eat well and keep up my exercise, then that’s something I’ll have to come to accept. If I’m honest, I don’t want to accept it, and may not have to, but hey, I didn’t want to accept I’m an alcoholic and that’s worked out ok so far!

Happy & Sober

13 Feb

Isn’t it interesting, reading back your own blog?

Sometimes, when I’m having the “was I REALLY that bad?” moment that we all recognise, I read over old posts to remind myself of why I’ve stopped the drinking madness. Reading them is such a strange exercise, because I sometimes don’t recognise the person who’s written them at all. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve written from a position of complete, uncomfortable honesty and I’m reading raw words rather than recalling incidents from the much cosier perspective of selective memory, but it really helps to read back. And it reminds me that I’m more vulnerable than I often think I am.

In good moments, I feel on top of the world, and don’t recognise some of the agonised posts. Thankfully, because of sobriety, these moments are happening more frequently and I’m starting to feel more grounded and more serene. It would be fair to say that at the moment, every day I’m having a burst of joy at being alive and sober. This usually happens in the morning on the way to work when I’m at my most energetic, and while I’m writing my gratitude list at night. I didn’t think doing a gratitude list would make such a difference to my well-being, but it really has. Every night I light a gorgeous scented candle and write in my little book and feel brilliant. It’s such a nice way to close my day.

It makes me realise that whilst the direct consequences of my drinking weren’t devastating in terms of my behaviour or relationships, drinking truly robbed me of my happiness. I was on a constant rollercoaster of depression. Now, I’m feeling much more level, less crazy, the lows are less low.

I’m just so happy to feel secure in my sobriety this time round. Not in the sense that I believe I won’t drink if I let my guard down, but in the sense that I really love being sober this time, and that drinking doesn’t seem appealing at all. Before Christmas when I was on my last sober run, every day was a monumental battle against cravings and the feeling that while being sober had benefits, I wanted to drink more than I did to battle. Now, I really don’t want to throw away what I’ve got, and mercifully, cravings aren’t an issue.

Happy happy happy Thursday!

Fat.

11 Feb

I originally started this blog to talk about my struggle with food and weight, and then from my writing my realisation that drinking was the real problem emerged. It was a real shock. I was originally focused on quitting drinking as a means to weight loss: in the space of 18 months I’d gone from an emaciated underweight person to a healthier looking shape, but one whose weight came from the increased booze intake, not necessarily a better relationship with food.

My relationship with food now is probably the healthiest its ever been- I don’t restrict myself too much and don’t have huge guilt over eating sweet things or not existing off vegetables alone. But the reality is, I feel fat.

 I’m marathon training at the moment, and completed a race last weekend where some photos went up of me online. I look really heavy. I nearly cried when I saw them. I’m used to looking thin and elegant and in my running clothes I looked squat and a bit dumpy.

But my body is stronger and fitter than its ever been, it’s more nourished than its been in years and mentally, my relationship with food is better. I’m really struggling to reconcile these two opposing things- on the one hand feeling stronger and healthier and on the other hand feeling really fat and unattractive.

I’m not quite sure what to do. I don’t want to launch myself into a diet plan, because quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to get caught up in thoughts of restriction and rules. I’m running huge amounts, but I’ve learnt that for me, my body no longer responds to running because it’s so used to that kind of exercise. I’ve been running for 8 years and at first, weight dropped off but now it never does.

The most obvious solution to make a change to my body is to eat clean, nourishing food and to employ the “listen to my body” strategy, fueling it as needed, but I don’t yet trust myself to do that. If I did that, I think I’d just want to eat all the time. I can’t yet distinguish between hunger, emotional hunger and just wanting a sweet treat.

I don’t actually need to lose very much weight at all to look slim, so it’s not something I should be thinking so much about, but I haven’t lost anything at all since stopping drinking and definitely gained over Christmas when I was drinking again. I feel completely powerless over my weight, which isn’t necessarily true, but I don’t feel I can change it without some dramatic regime I’m not willing to do right now. This probably isn’t true, and some small daily changes could start to make a difference over time, but the idea of doing anything at all feels exhausting.

 I know I have to be patient and put sobriety first and not get too hungry (being hungry really makes me crave alcohol) but I’m finding it really hard to look at myself in the mirror every day. Sometimes I feel like I literally shift shape before my very eyes as I look at my reflection.

I hate the self-absorption of worrying about weight, but the truth is, I see my shape now as a symbol of my alcoholism and shame. If I hadn’t started drinking, I probably would still be very thin, and my body just feels like a product of my binges. But at the same time, it’s strong and toned, just carrying a little more fat than I’d like.

Why do we focus on our bodies so much? I’m the strongest I’ve ever been emotionally, and yet I dwell on this external manifestation of self.

I’m going to try this week to make small steps, just focusing on each food choice as a nourishing one, a bit of a “day at a time” approach to food, not starving myself, just trying to make the best possible choice available. We’ll see how that goes. 

The Drinks Trolley

7 Feb

While my colleagues went to drink warm, weak mojitos at the Friday bar in our work, I laced up my running shoes and took a gorgeous evening run round London.

I went along one of my favourite routes along the Thames, but made sure to take a detour past my old work which is very close to the river.

I left that job 14 months ago as it was incredibly toxic for me. I had a bullying boss, a ridiculously high pressured job and was miserable there by the end. When it got unbearable, I took things into my own hands and handed in my notice, which was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done. In many ways, that bold decision has paved the way for other bold decisions in the past year- leaving my home and relationship and ultimately, quitting drinking.

I’d intended to run past the old office because it would remind me how far I’ve come, but what I had COMPLETELY forgotten about was how my serious drinking career actually started in those very 4 walls.

When I moved to London at the age of 23, I’d had probably 2-3 years of not drinking very much at all, without really thinking about it. I’d had a really tough degree to get through that needed full focus and then had taken my first job in my home town, living with my parents and not really having any opportunities or the desire to drink.

So when I took this big, exciting job in London I threw myself into it, especially the social scene. I work in the media, and it seemed at every moment there was an opportunity to drink. I weighed around 7 stone at the time, was barely eating, marathon training and had no tolerance for alcohol. The first night I went out with the team I drank 3 large glasses of red wine which literally floored me. I was absolutely mortified. I can still so vividly remember the sensation of knowing I should eat something to sober up and trying to force down a burger, but my mouth being so incredibly dry I could barely chew.

I resolved to drink less with colleagues after fearing I’d made a bad impression, but with the endless merry go round of free bars, award ceremonies and after-work pow wows about the latest team drama, that didn’t last long. My tolerance for wine grew and my taste for red became voracious. I started to crave it, swerving the gym to go and drink, which wasn’t like me at all.

Running past that building tonight I can pinpoint the night my drinking took an irreversible downward spiral. I know alcoholism is a progressive disease, and my drinking got slowly worse as it went on, but I can honestly say for me, there was one weekend which changed everything.

The month before That fateful Weekend, I’d been tasked with injecting some team spirit into our organisation, which was going through lots of uncomfortable changes. I went to visit another creative business for inspiration, and came back with a notebook bursting with suggestions.

The one single idea that was picked up was to install a “drinks trolley” on a Friday to encourage people who weren’t up for the pub to have a drink and socialise with colleagues, to build a bit of camaraderie.

I was pretty pleased one of my suggestions had been taken on but was disappointed to find that the trolley’s debut (!) fell on the night before my (now-ex) boyfriend was moving to another city for 6 months.

I was supposed to be going to a farewell meal for him and his brother, but had time for a quick glass of wine at the drinks trolley before I went. I started chatting away and the wine was flowing, so I stayed for another, and another, and another. I ran off to the toilets to text my boyfriend and tell him I was caught up in a horrific deadline and would be late. I remember barely being able to type the words, and coming out with nonsensical predictive text which I put down to not being able to operate a touch screen phone. Bollocks. I was wasted. But I carried on drinking.

I got home at 11pm that night, and I’d like to say that having missed the meal, I was full of remorse, but I don’t think I cared, actually. Which isn’t like me at all, and horrifies me to type it, but it’s true.

The next day I had to endure a hungover 3 hour car ride to drop off boyf’s things at his new place. I remember the sweet relief of having a glass of wine over dinner, the magic glass that eased the hangover.

And the next night, when he was gone, and I faced the prospect of living in my flat alone for the next 6 months, drinking half a bottle of wine to dull the fear. I’ve mentioned that moment on this blog before, but I was sitting in front of the TV watching Homeland and drinking the wine thinking, “this is dangerous: I love it.” Drinking alone had begun. Lying to someone else and myself had begun. Drinking to numb shame and loneliness had well and truly begun.

From thereon, Friday nights getting drunk in the office were a highlight of my week. Often after everyone had gone home and left the drinks trolley still amply stocked, I snuck off with a glass (bottle) to my computer to “finish up some work” and drank alone in the office. I believed I was genuinely working. What lies I told myself.

Soon, I started buying a bottle of wine to have a glass of on my lovely balcony a couple of times a week, ending up finishing the bottle falling asleep on the sofa and awaking feeling like shit thinking “WHAT am I doing this for?!”

But at that time, it didn’t feel like a problem at all. It just felt like a habit I’d got into that I could kick at any time.

Writing this post, I’ve realised it’s almost 2 years TO THE DAY that that first incident in the office happened. Which makes me incredibly grateful to have started to get on top it now. Two years of heavy drinking (one of which was actively trying to stop) is small in the scheme of things, but the fact it declined so quickly to a point I feel I have no other option than AA speaks volumes. I read something, somewhere, that says women alcoholics can fall victim to drinks effects incredibly quickly, and I suppose I’m a walking testimony of that.

So today, on that run, I gazed up at the big building I used to spend my Friday nights in drunk, and thought how far I’ve come, how much stronger I feel now and how I know that the only path for me is the sober path.

Happy Friday!

Approaching 1 month sober

6 Feb

I’ve been here before, but I’ve never been so BLOODY HAPPY to be here.

I’m calm, content, craving free and so incredibly at ease with being sober.

Because it’s winter and post-Christmas, I’ve been enjoying the break from relentless socialising and hibernating in my sober cocoon, glowing with a happiness at being secure in sobriety.

It’s a revelation, this feeling, as is the knowledge that all my prior experiences of failing and relapsing were so necessary.

I’m not getting carried away when I say I think I really can do this long term this time. I know I can very deep down inside.

Actually, “can” is the wrong word; “will” is much better, in both senses of its meaning- a definite future event and a desire to make it so.

Happy happy Thursday!

Wasted Youth

2 Feb

I’m writing this from my childhood bedroom, tucked away from a house full of hangovers.

Last night was my sisters 21st birthday, and she had a big bash for the occasion. I knew I wouldn’t be tempted to drink (thanks, magic of AA that appears to have removed the desire, for now at least!) but that it would be, as the young folk say, “carnage.”

My sister is a huge party animal and an absolute booze hound. She loves getting drunk. She got very drunk very quickly and a lot of the night was spent keeping her upright, in check and placating my family who we’re annoyed with her. Obviously they we’re drunk too. It was proper Irish family stuff with getting drunk being a given. I was watching my dad knock back glasses of prosecco (he had 6 in half an hour) whilst telling my sister to slow down.

So far, so standard dysfunctional family stuff. What joy to be in the midst of big drinkers criticising each other for drinking too much.

What I found the most upsetting was watching my sister and her friends. The sole mission of the night was to get wasted, knocking back bottle after bottle of wine, jaeger bomb after jaeger bomb. The girls were thin, beautiful and dressed immaculately in figure hugging dresses. For the first ohhhhhh 5 or 6 hours of the party all they seemed to do was knock back cheap white and take picture of themselves.

I don’t want to get into a rant about “the youth of today” and the tyranny of the selfie, but it was so sad to watch. They are conditioned to see themselves as pretty little objects, to be preened, posed and posted online to garner as many “likes” as possible.

They didn’t seem to talk or laugh or dance (until they staggered around at 2am on the dance floor), just pose with their iPhones and run to the toilets to touch up their make up.

These girls are SMART. They’re my sisters university friends and one of them is studying aeronautical engineering, for crying out loud. So they’re not airheads. What is it about a night out that reduces them to wine glugging and posing like dolls?

British drinking culture is, if you excuse my French, fucked.

My sister and her friends go to a university which has “Trebles Bars”- where you get three triple shot drinks for five English pounds. They think it’s perfectly normal to order a round each (that’s nine shots of vodka folks) as a prelude to their night out.

Once again I was reminded of the absolutely CRAZY position alcohol occupies in our society. I just get so angry when I observe it, seeing how many people it has affected on the blogs, myself included, and sitting in the rooms of AA.

Mostly, it scares me. Although I was a binge drinker when I went out when I was younger, I was very take it or leave it, and used to stop drinking at 11pm to dance off the booze til 3am. At that point, I genuinely don’t think I had a problem. The issues with booze came for me in my mid-twenties, and of all my friends I was, on the outside at least, the least likely one to turn out an alcoholic.

Because of this, I can’t quite distinguish what is drinking alcoholically and what is Classic British Binging when I watch my sister. Is she going to develop a problem too? Will she, like me, feel the pull of booze incredibly strongly when she comes home from her stressful job and thinks it’s sophisticated to have a glass of wine at home that turns into a bottle? Will she, one day, have to stop entirely?

I don’t know, and I can’t control what happens, so will try to let her be her own person and watch for any warning signs.

So that’s that. I’m going to get myself up, cook everyone a hangover breakfast and get on with my day.

The sky outside is so blue and I’m so bloody grateful to wake up sober.

Happy Sunday!

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