Archive | March, 2014

73 Days

29 Mar

When I looked at my sobriety counter this morning and it said 73 days I felt really conflicted. On one hand, that feels like SO much time I’ve got under my belt now, and on the other nothing at all. I remember the sheer pain of trying to get to 7 days after a relapse, and thinking I never ever wanted to go back to square 1 again. The further away I get from square 1, the more horrific the possibility of going back seems. 

I did my ‘Step 1’ with my sponsor recently, where we talked about all the examples of why I’m powerless over alcohol. There’s an incident I’ve never blogged about that happened on my last night of drinking, that makes me want to lie on the floor in shame when I think of it (aside: does anyone else get that feeling of wanting to lie on the floor when a shameful thought comes?! I just want to drop right to the ground. Just me? Let’s move on…) This week, I’ve had some very stark reminders of what happened that night, and it makes me think once again about rock bottoms. I’m pretty sure I went out and sought that rock bottom so I would have something ‘bad enough’ as a reason not to drink. How messed up our drinking minds are. My sober mind thinks the very notion of doing something so cruel to myself is preposterous, but I went and did it. It makes me want to weep when I think I treated myself that way. 

My sense of self esteem is well and truly back in sobriety. I value myself. I know my worth because I’m not constantly battering myself down to the ground with a bottle of merlot. 

But while all these positive things are happening, in the background a Fear of Being Sober is slowly growing. I’ve done 73 days, it feels like forever. Can I really do this for *actual* forever? I know you’re supposed to ‘keep it in the day’ etc etc, but at the moment I’m finding it almost impossible to do that. My mind is running off ahead of me. What about when something really tough happens? Will I cope then? What about accidentally taking a sip of someone else’s drink, as almost happened last night? What about when I’m dating again, and want to smooth over that first night of nerves? What about music festivals- will I ever be able to go to a stinky, dirty camping weekend without the softening effect of booze?!

All of this thinking is pointless. It only serves to terrify me, and so early in my journey I need to think about how I feel now and what’s working for me now. And of course, the benefits. This morning, I’ve been up since the crack of dawn, pottered in my kitchen, had a hot cross bun for breakfast (what a seasonal treat!) and am going to go on a run in the woodlands with some friends. These are the times when sobriety is easy, and I treasure the privilege of knowing how to stay sober today, when before I did not. 

Happy Saturday! 

Why sober?

23 Mar

Staying sober is SO worth all the heartache. It simply is. It’s glorious, sometimes. More pleasurable than the first sip of a drink ever could be for me now. 

After Friday’s monumental struggles, I decided to get stuck into the weekend and make it a full one. In the absence of being able to run (still injured, dammit), I planned lots of other things to keep me busy. I saw FIVE different groups of friends over the course of the weekend which was just brilliant. I had some heart to hearts, lots of belly laughs and good old fashioned fun. I realised how lucky I am to have so many groups of friends to even meet in the first place. What a lovely thing in itself! 

Of the five social things I went to, 3 of them involved sitting in pubs. If I’d drunk on Friday as I thought I wanted to, and spent the weekend in those pubs, I’d have consumed about 40 units over the course of the weekend, leaving me depressed and feeling worthless. 

Instead, I polished off my sober tiara that I’ve let get a bit dusty of late and went the whole hog on the socialising. I turned up, enjoyed the company and left when I wanted to, rather than endlessly sticking around so I could drink more. 

So all this is great stuff. But even MORE excitingly, an important shift seems to have happened too in terms of my self confidence at some point over the past few weeks. I was too buried in myself earlier this week to realise it, but I think the change happened slowly and gradually without me noticing immediately.

I’ve blogged before about my issues with weight, and eternally feeling fat even though I’m very athletic and reasonably slim. I was frustrated at not dropping weight quicker when I stopped drinking and suffering a real lack of confidence about my body image. At just over 9 weeks sober, that has ALL changed.  My physical appearance has improved no end, as my face isn’t bloated, my skin is clear and I look ‘well’ as people keep telling me. My body has changed somehow, too. I’m not sure whether I’ve lost weight as I’m avoiding the scales, but my body FEELS different, firmer and more compact. It’s not being confused by the influence of booze calories, followed by dramatic calorie restriction in a misguided attempt to atone for the binges… It’s finding its balance between energy in and out, energy that’s all coming from food, not bloody booze. 

But although the shift in my appearance is to some extent aesthetic, it’s about much more than that. I’ve gained a self esteem and a confidence that makes me feel more full inside, like a person of more substance and confidence, a person who has a little happy sober flame inside that is radiating a glow. And on a good day, this makes me feel sort of invincible. I love how I value myself more than I perhaps ever have done, and from the compliments I’ve been getting, I know this shows on the outside. 

I read this back and thank GOD I didn’t drink on Friday. I hate it when I admit to myself that I’m too far down the sober path to ever truly go back to drinking. If I did drink, I’d only have to crawl slowly and painfully back to sobriety. Now I’ve had a taste of ‘de good life’ andf know how much better it is than the Road to Nowhere that is drinking, why start on that road at all. 

What a weekend to be so happy and grateful to be sober, with such a close escape peeking at me from my rearview mirror. 

Happy Sunday one and all 🙂

Made It

22 Mar

I made it through yesterday, but BOY was it hard. 

I threw every single tool at the craving. Every single one. And it worked. 

Here’s what I did:

  • I text lots of AA people
  • I arranged to go to a meeting with my sponsor
  • I made a bargain with myself that if I made it through the 4 last agonising hours at work, I’d buy a brownie. 
  • I cracked and bought a brownie 45 mins after making that promise. The sugar REALLY helped fight the craving. 
  • I read old blog posts
  • I read all your amazing comments
  • I looked repeatedly at my sobriety counter app, and remembered just how much of a struggle it was to get those first 7 days, never mind the first 66. 
  • I went to a meeting and shared and cried. There’s a lot of tears going on at the moment. The flood gates have well and truly been opened on that front…
  • I went to the cinema and saw my man friend, which gave me some physical comfort, even though this casual/no string relationship isn’t probably the best thing long term, it’s really helping me at the moment, so I’m not worrying about it too much.

The most important thing is that I made it to bed sober. I was in so much danger yesterday, I really really was close to drinking. This whole experience of sobriety is such a rollercoaster- I really feel the highs, bask in them and let them wrap me up in their shiny, comforting glow, but the struggles are really tough. 

I suppose the fact it find this so difficult shows the extent of the problem I have, which is all the more reason not to drink. 

It’s a sunny morning, I woke up with a headache that WASN’T from drinking and I’ve got the whole weekend ahead of me. No shame, no guilt, the pride of remaining strong and whacking wolfie over the head…

It feels great to have made it. 

Appetite for Destruction

21 Mar

As you get further and further from Day 1, the stakes get higher. You have more to lose if you drink.

Right now, that doesn’t bother me. I want to drink. I’m battling a craving of epic proportions, that’s been bubbling up all week.

I have this overwhelming desire for a bit of chaos. I’m not quite sure where it’s coming from, or why, but it’s been incrementally building over a week or so.

Last weekend, I met some lovely fellow sober bloggers, and we sat outside in the sunshine and despite being in lovely sober company, my desire to drink was there. I think the sunshine was a trigger. Ridiculous right? But true. After they departed, I took myself straight off to an AA meeting, and the desire went away. But all week, it’s grown and grown.

I don’t think it’s specifically a craving for alcohol I have, but to do something naughty, to let loose a bit. I think the fact I have a running injury and can’t pound the streets is making things worse, as I’ve got no way to let off steam.

I’ve sent out an SOS call to other AA people and am trying to meet my sponsor later today. I’ve got a cinema trip booked tonight to stop me drinking. I hope it works.

This is my emergency call to you fellow bloggers. I feel as accountable to you all now who read and comment and help me as I do to myself. This is me out-ing myself as a not very sober sober blogger, which is what I am today. I know it will pass. I just have to cling on.

60 Days!

14 Mar

I’m 60 days sober today. It feels amazing.

I’ve had a pretty disasterous week in some senses- lots of unexpected costs that I can’t really afford have been incurred through having my handbag stolen, I’ve developed a stinky cold and a cotton wool head and have been a bit of a hormonal pre-menstrual monster.

And yet, I’m sober.

I’ve started my ‘Step 1’ in AA, where you look at the ways in which you’re powerless over alcohol. I’m so grateful to have this blog to look back on, because there it is in black and white, time and time again. I don’t want to go back to that place, where I describe the desolation of drinking the Wolfie Cocktail or am constantly screaming inside ‘what the FUCK is wrong with me?’

When I’m sober, I feel like a normal person. Someone who’s a perfectionist, an overthinker and a sensitive soul, but very normal. When I was drinking I felt like the most crazy person in the world.

If you’ve read the older posts on this blog, you’ll know that for a year I was trying to string together a decent chunk of sobriety and failing, starting over and over again. I got stuck in this cul-de-sac of only experiencing the rubbish bits of sobriety- the cravings, raw emotions and feeling low. I just wanted to feel better, and sometimes that meant drinking and going back to square 1.

I’d email Belle in despair, asking when sobriety gets easier and better, and she said to me many times ‘somewhere between 30 and 60 days, something will shift.’ And it has. I don’t obsess about drinking now. It crosses my mind, but as a passing thought. It’s just a thought now, not the compulsion to act it once was.

It’s true what everyone who has any length of sober time under their belt says: in early sobriety, you just need to cling on. Don’t worry about weight loss or sugar intake or sleeping insane amounts. Just do what you need to do to make it work for you, to get out of the danger zone.

The sun is shining, it’s Friday and I’m sober. Hurrah to that!

 

Spreading the Word

11 Mar

Today I told another close friend I’m in AA.

That makes 3 in total, all from very different friendship groups. My main motivation for doing it is so that slowly, within all corners of my social circle I have someone who will look out for me and fight me away from a glass of wine if I try and have one.

The friend I told struggled with a drug problem for a long time, so I knew he’d understand the complex nature of addiction we’re battling. He quit on his own, and it was a difficult journey. I met him after he quit so have never seen him when under the influence, but know how important a life change it was for him.

When I tell people, it’s so interesting seeing their reactions. They’re nothing like I assumed. In their eyes I don’t see judgement, but admiration. Everyone has used the word ‘brave.’

It’s funny, how it takes other people to validate an idea for me. I suppose it is brave, going to AA, talking to people about my problem, remaining determined to tackle it, but I don’t always see it that way. At first, I saw it as a moral failure I had to be ashamed of, somehow, or a symptom of weakness that I had this problem that required such drastic action. Now, I’m allowing myself to believe it is brave to do what I’m doing and that this bravery will keep me sober.

I’ll be 8 weeks without a drink tomorrow which I can’t believe. It’s starting to feel like the New Normal. Cravings have almost entirely disappeared, I rarely think about drinking and I feel good most days.

What a relief, to be in this place, finally. I’d fight off dragons to stay here 🙂

Gifts of Sobriety Part II

8 Mar

I blogged last year, when I was 30 days into my sober run leading up to Christmas, about all the positive things I was experiencing in sobriety. Lots of small things, adding up to a sense of contentment, which made the craving battles worthwhile.

Then, I was a fledgling sober chick learning to make my way in the sober world, with every day a scary experience full of lessons. Now, I’m a fledgling sober chick with just a tiny bit more experience behind me, but my goodness what a difference that experience has made. I’ve seen the benefits of sobriety morph into big, huge, life changing things. 

I like to leave myself little messages in a bottle to remind myself why sobriety is worth all the struggle and heartache. Here’s my latest list of the benefits of sobriety:

I have landed the job of my dreams: I blogged last week about finding myself without a contract that would leave me out of work. I knew that this was both a blessing and a curse: it would get me out of the job that I knew was a major part of the dissatisfaction that drove me to drink, but that I needed the stability. Because I’m sober, I accepted the bad news, moved on and set about getting a job search going. Yesterday, I was offered the role of my dreams. I cannot quite believe it. There is NO WAY I could have got myself together to get that job when I was drinking, no way. This job is life changing, and yes it’s down to my hard work and the fact I’m good at my job when not under the influence of alcohol, but it is also 100% a result of getting sober. 

I have bought a house– I laid the foundations for this in my last sober run, beginning my search and this time round I’m in the process of sealing the deal. Such a stressful, grown up decision would have been completely out of my grasp when drinking. 

I’ve been given the all clear on liver health– speaks for itself, this one. Thank God I’m not dealing with long term physical consequences. 

My self-esteem has been transformed– I like myself now, I accept who I am and I trust myself a little more. This is worth its weight in gold. Drinking made me feel like a piece of dog poo squished on someone’s shoe and I don’t have that battle to contend with any more. 

I have rediscovered a faith– A former Catholic who renounced the religion, I never thought I’d find myself turning to God again. But through AA I have, and it gives me such enormous comfort I can’t describe it. The job situation I’ve described feels like it’s got “Higher Power’ written all over it. I can’t believe I’m typing this, little sceptical me would never attribute anything to God, but now I do, and it makes me feel good. I feel safer, and trust that ‘everything is just as it’s supposed to be’ right now, which helps my mental well-being hugely.

My physical image is vastly improved– I look better because my skin has improved dramatically and I’m slowly slowly losing a little weight, but that’s not what feels important here. I feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel confident that one day, I might find a man who finds me attractive and could love me for who I am. I no longer have the desperate desire to lose a stone in weight to feel better about myself. Amazing stuff. 

The world is my oyster– I once said to Carrie that if I want to achieve anything in life, I have to stop drinking. If I want a decent career, job, or relationship, it had to go. Having had such amazing benefits of sobriety thus far, I feel I can live an exciting and full life that I could never have dreamed of when I was drinking. 

Last year was laying the groundwork– when I drank again at Christmas, I felt like I’d thrown away all my good work, because the second I drank I was back at square 1, having to do those painful first few weeks of sobriety all over again. But what I didn’t appreciate that all the experiences I had, the lessons I learnt and the sober tricks I banked were setting me up for a more successful sober run. I say this with great caution, but for me (and I can only speak about my own experience), every relapse was an important and possibly vital lesson learnt. Someone once said something similar to me about relapse being an important lesson, and I took it as a license to drink so I could bank more “experience” of the consequences of drinking, which was my alcoholic brain at work. I’m not for one second suggesting that drinking again is a good idea for anyone, but what I am saying is that the more you try things out and find things that work for you or things that trip you up, the more confidence you get and the easier sobriety becomes. 

 

I’m conscious as I write this that some pretty amazing things have happened because of sobriety and that it won’t always be like this. Nor will it feel as immediately rewarding and as easy as it does today. I still get killer cravings. I only have 7 weeks of sobriety that is so precarious everything I’ve worked for could come crashing down at any point. 

So I’m putting everything I can into staying sober, it’s just too precious to lose. 

Happy Saturday gang! 

Liver test results

6 Mar

I posted months ago about being very worried about my liver pain. That was one of the things that made me really seriously look at how damaging my drinking was. I had many experiences last year where I was experiencing pain in the liver area, sometimes crippling when I breathed in after a drinking bout.

I had always focused on the mental effects of alcohol, but now the physical effects were too great to ignore. I was terrified at the damage I was doing to myself. When you find yourself googling liver related issues it’s a BIG wake up call. You realise how integral that little organ is to your health, and realise that drink really could be silently killing you.

My doctor referred me for a liver test and I have to be honest, it took 6 weeks to pluck up the courage to go. Usually, I’m really proactive but with this, I just didn’t want to know. I was scared that in early sobriety, finding out I had liver damage would cause me to drink. F**ked up right?

I went for the test last week, and called the doctors today to get my results. They have been deemed normal. I’m so grateful, I feel like I’ve been given a ‘get out of jail free’ card.

My health has improved so dramatically since I’ve stopped drinking- people keep complimenting me on my glowing skin and I feel like a normal person again. I feel hunger and tiredness, sleep just as much as my body needs and my running is coming on leaps and bounds.

I’m 7 weeks sober and it’s starting to feel worth all the heartache and struggle. It’s the most valuable thing in my life and I absolutely cherish it. I’m so grateful to find my liver is ok, and will do everything in my power to keep my health in good form- I deserve more than to ruin it with drink.

One door closes…

4 Mar

The past week has been mad. What with the house move, the sudden falling through of a job and struggling with cravings, it’s been a true rollercoaster.

But I’m here, sober, and tomorrow will mark 50 days, 7 weeks without a drink. That sounds so little, but is so huge for me. The fact that this is such a big deal is telling, and it’s taken living and breathing recovery to get me here. Every spare moment of the day I’m thinking about it. Working on it and making it my priority.

The recent changes have made me value my sobriety even more.

I’m so happy in my new home. I don’t want to jeopardise that with a drink. It’s like a little haven of relaxation. My bed swallows me up every night and the huge sofa where I snuggle up with my friend gives me the contact and company I’ve been craving.

The job possibilities ahead of me have exploded. I’m now facing a situation where I could get offered 5 jobs, or nothing. Who knows what will happen. I’m in a strong position and it’s very likely I will find myself in a place where I’m choosing the job I want most, that will serve me best, rather than being forced into something just for money. Who knows.

What I do know is that all of this is happening because I’m sober. I’m making it happen.

Sobriety is really bloody hard at the moment, but it’s also bloody worth the struggle.

Resetting the Sobriety Counter

2 Mar

I am actually shaking.

I’ve just woken up from a dream where I drank, blacked out and woke up the next morning filled with shame. It was so vivid, I was necking red wine just like I used to, but as would sometimes happen when I drank out in public, I’d get carried away with how much I could handle and embarrass myself.

The dream has brought back memories of one of my most shameful drinking incidents where at a very close friends wedding I completely lost control in the last hour of the event, deciding the steady all day drinking hadn’t been enough and that 3 large glasses of wine would see me off.

It did.

That was one of the few blackouts I experienced. I woke up in my best friends bed, half dressed. He’d carried me up there, watched me be sick all over the hotel bathtub and tried to get me undressed but my limbs were too heavy.

The next morning facing that wedding party was horrible. I felt then as I did when I woke up this morning, the horror of having lost control.

It was interesting what worried me most when I woke up from my drinking dream. It wasn’t what I’d done, but the thought of resetting my sobriety counter that sits at 47 days. I’ve worked so bloody hard for that, and learnt from previous experiences that when you drink again you don’t just pick up from where you left your sobriety, you have the raw pain of starting from square one again.

So this morning as I type this in my new pretty abode, the spring sun streaming its gentle glow through the window, I remember why all the discomfort of early sobriety is worth it.
It’s the most precious thing in my life because when I’m sober I have a strength and an integrity I never had drinking. I’ve worked too hard to throw it all away and press reset.

Happy Sunday to you all!

Made It

1 Mar

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I made it through that super-dooper-whopping craving. Thank God.

I reread old blog posts to remind me how miserable drinking makes me and how much I wanted a fresh start in my new home.

I’m so glad I just kept the thought of “tomorrow” in mind through the craving.

I deployed every tool in my sober toolbox and it worked. I’m going to plan a super big treat for getting through this week, with the job instability and the house move, sober.

Happy Saturday!

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