Archive | June, 2014

Happiness

30 Jun

The temptation with blogging, as with other recovery tools, is to use it only when I’m struggling.

Today I wanted to write about how good life feels in sobriety.

I was reflecting on how much weight matters to me following my last post and this thought popped into my head: “I’m the happiest I have ever been.”

CHECK THAT OUT.

What a thought! And it’s true. I’m loving my job, friends, social life and the much sunnier climate inside that wee troublesome head of mine.

I’m achieving things that make me proud and feel like if the anorexic, alcohol guzzling, anxious me of a few years ago could have seen this I’d have been amazed.

Thinking about my last post it feels like my happiness is no longer contingent on my weight and I no longer feel so strongly about it I want to throw myself into a strict regime. I’m often comfortable with my size, actually. I get frustrated that I don’t care as much as I once did. Even though the desire to make a change is there, it’s not a driving force anymore and that is UNEQUIVOCALLY A Good Thing.

I’m happy. I can give to others. I receive from others what I need. This is what sobriety is all about, sailing my little boat over the waters, having steered myself into calmer seas by putting down the drink.

Bubbles of joy rise up in me frequently. I love my life, I like who I am (most of the time) and I love being sober.

I found the below post that I never published last year, after having slept through a hotel fire alarm when drunk. I was so out of it I had no idea it was going on. I had 26 days of sobriety, then drank again with disastrous consequences.

If you’re not sure whether stopping drinking is worth it, take a moment to read this…

I can’t do this anymore>

Every bad experience I have drinking makes me realise I need to stop entirely. But I don’t have the courage. I get lulled into a false sense of security. I get wolfie creeping up on me saying “you’ll be fine.”

If there had been a genuine fire in that hotel the other night I would have died. I heard NOTHING. I frequently worry about dying from some drinking-realted incident, and my family having the shame of going through my computer and finding all the blogs I’ve been reading or writing and knowing what I’ve been going through. Their high-achieving, go-getting daughter. I’ve hinted at people close to me I find drinking problematic, but no-one ever has an idea of just how bad it makes me feel.

It’s serious. This is really serious. And I don’t know what to do. I can’t carry the burden of trying not to drink round with me- I simply don’t feel I have the energy. I know I feel like this right now because I’m in the aftermath of a drinking disaster, but I feel a real sense of injustice this is something that has crept up on me and I’m having to deal with. I need a break. And that’s why I drink. To get that break.

Hoping I can learn from this huge relapse and grow. I don’t want to start on Day 1 again, I really don’t.

And I don’t know who to reach out to. I’m living two lives and it breaks my little, confused heart.

I genuinely cannot believe I wrote this. It amazes me, that I felt like that, but I did. There it is in black and white.

Today at a point I thought I could never reach, 170 days sober, I know this is the best choice I could ever have made. It’s so hard to begin with, but it’s just got easier and better.

Hurrah to that.

Happy Monday!

Quitting drinking & Dieting

24 Jun

Regular readers of this blog will know that weight is a big issue for me. I talk about it here and here and here and countless other places.

In summary, my story is this: I grew up slim and active, with a normal relationship with food. Like any teenager might when they start to have freedom of choice over their own food choices, I put on a stone or so’s weight when I was 16-19. I was still not overweight, but I started to feel conscious of my body. I wanted to do something about it, and fortuitously, when I was at the start of university, I discovered running and loved it. My body changed quickly and dramatically (oh to be 20 again eh?), I looked slim, healthy and lost weight whilst eating the foods I loved (namely, a bit of daily chocolate). 

As I left university and I felt unsure of my place in the world and got trapped in a toxic relationship, I slowly got more and more obsessive with my food, and thinner and thinner. It was never my intention to be skeletal, but that’s where I got to. I was terrified of food, obsessively restricted whilst maintaining high running mileage and generally didn’t look after myself. My skin was terrible, my hair thin and those around me were very worried. 

For some time, I could fit in 2 bottles of wine a week into this regime whilst still maintaining a very very low weight. This was when my drinking started to be destructive, but because of the relatively low volume of alcohol I (thought) I was consuming, I didn’t see it as a problem. I was thin and drinking, what’s not to like?!

My weight gain and journey back to a normal, healthy weight came when I started really hitting the bottle. I went from very thin to a very sensible weight in the space of 12 months. Everyone around me was thrilled. I looked better, my hair thickened up and I started to have a ‘presence’ about me again, as one person described it. When I was too thin I looked and acted like a shadow. Drinking brought me a vitality that I hadn’t had for years, until, of course, it turned on me. When I look in the mirror on a ‘fat’ day I see all that new weight as a direct result of my drinking. This isn’t a healthy way to look at my strong, marathon-running body, but it’s what I perceive. I want to kick the booze weight and get back to the old me who ran for sanity, ate for pleasure and savoured food, never abusing it.

I’ve focused a lot on my recovery and the importance of letting nothing get in the way of staying sober. Dieting in the first few months of recovery was an absolute no no, and as I hit 100 days, I started to look at my diet again, trying to cut down on sugar and take a more holistic approach to fuelling my body. 

This has worked to an extent, but the reality remains I am unhappy with my shape. I’ve been tracking my food intake on My Fitness Pal for months and I can see the good new habits I’ve made, but also that there’s lots of room for improvement. I’m not getting where I want to be through moments of ‘fuck it’ and self sabotage. One bad day or chocolate binge can mess up my entire week, because I’m aiming for a small calorie deficit each day, so I don’t go too dramatic on the restriction and lose weight healthily. 

I can see SO many parallels between the stages of quitting drinking and this desire to lose weight. I am OBSESSING over losing fat and being unhappy in my body shape and yet not getting results because I’m not committing fully. Like with drinking, the longer I mess around in this space where I’m thinking a lot but not taking action, the longer I’ll end up wasting precious time and energy getting nowhere.

Like with drinking, I feel like somehow my relationship with food has irreparably changed and that I need to go through a concerted period of effort taking my diet one day at a time to get to where I really want to be. As I type these words I’m conflicted, because I know how unhealthy my restrictive relationship with food once was, but I also know that intuitive eating isn’t working for me because I use food to change the way I feel in the way I did with booze. 

I just got hit with a wave of embarrassment writing that, worried how you readers will perceive me. Worried how those sober bloggers I’ve met in real life will read this. What a strange thing, to have a blog which I set up with the very purpose of being 100% honest about all my struggles to aid my recovery, and to have the urge to self-censor. 

These are my feelings and I need to explore them, not push them away or pretend I don’t feel the way I do. 

In the same way I had to commit fully to quitting alcohol, I feel I need a concerted effort on the dieting front. If I put in the work, I will get results, but I just can’t seem to stay on that path. 

The irony is, I don’t actually have very much weight to lose at all, somewhere between 10 and 16lbs would see me looking really fit and healthy, but I feel like I have some sort of mountain to climb. But the more I stand at the bottom looking up at the mountain, the more time I waste in getting to the top.

I got to a point with stopping drinking where I knew that if I didn’t just dig deep and do the bloody thing, I’d be unhappy forever (what drama! but it felt true). I’ve put almost 12 months of solid work into getting sober with lots of slip ups but guess what? It was all worth it. I’m the happiest I’ve been in years. The most emotionally stable. I’m achieving things I never thought possible. 

So can I find it in me to do the same with focusing on my diet? I don’t know. It panics me, somehow, to think of dieting. When I think of any sort of regime I remember those years of crazy restriction and how terrible I felt then. But that perception is false. I know from the amount of exercise I do that to get a steady, healthy weight loss, I’d need to be taking in between 1,700-1,800 calories a day. That is ALOT of food if you choose wisely. So why can’t I do it? Or why does my brain tell me I can’t when actually, that’s a really achievable goal if I break it down into small parts. 

I think that in truth, if I don’t make a change I’ll continue to be unhappy with my weight and keep running in circles around square 1. But I’m also conscious that I could be focusing on this area of discontent to mask other problems. With alcohol, I know that I just didn’t want to feel so many things. Now, approaching 6 months sober I’m not scared of my feelings anymore and truthfully, I’m happy. As I write, I think that this might be totally about weight for once, and wanting to be the best (slim) version of me, rather than feeling generally shitty and pinpointing weight as the issue.

I know that if I reach my goal weight, life won’t magically get better, but that was also true of getting sober. And am I glad I put the work into getting sober? HELL YES.

So today I’m reflecting, forming a plan and will keep you updated on my journey. I’d really appreciate any thoughts on this topic: does this all sound sensible? Or am I being mad? 

Answers on a postcard please 🙂 

Sober Library

19 Jun

As a life-long dusty-book fan who has spent hours of her life holed up in century old libraries, I never expected to fall in love with my Kindle. Blasphemy! I cried when this electronic device boldly announced itself. We need real books! With paper! And smells! And mucky-fingered stains! But low and behold, just a few months after they launched, the thought of lugging another entire rucksack of books on holiday was enough to make me cave, so I bought one and have never looked back.

When I first got sober, I couldn’t read. I just couldn’t sit myself down with anything other than a short blog post or a Twitter update. My concentration was all over the shop. My kindle lay gathering dust in a corner of my room. When I turned it on the other day, it gave me a shock. The number of sober books/books about alcoholism I had worked my way through in the 18 months prior to stopping drinking was INSANE. Here’s a little catalogue of what I read, starting in October 2012, when I first thought about getting sober. If you’re thinking about getting sober or are not sure if you have a drink problem, choose some of these to read, I implore you. It helped me through the tricky ‘Am I really?!’ phase and over a ling period of time brought me to a position where I could finally stop. 

Alan Carr’s Easy Way to Control your Drinking– I read this, glass of wine (bottle) in hand at a beautiful bar on a chilly Autumn afternoon in 2012. I resolved to stop drinking. I didn’t. Alan Carr’s approach of drinking being a poison resonated, but it didn’t make enough of an impact for me to stop.

Jason Vale- Kick the Drink, Easily- again, I understood the point he was making intellectually (drinking has NO BENEFIT WHATSOEVER), I even endured the SHOUTY CAPS he peppers the text with. But put down a drink? No way. His approach really works for some people, and mirrors the mindset I’m in now (drinking is a waste of time/energy/I can’t think of anything WORSE to do with my time) and is definitely worth a read. 

I Need to Stop Drinking! Liz Hemingway- no idea when I read this, what it said or whether it had an impact on me. I was probably drunk when I read it. Hmm…

Cleaning Up: How I Gave up Drinking and Lived– Tania Glyde, again, I don’t remember much about this one, but I do remember vaguely recalling that this person wasn’t me. She drank LOADS more than I do, she hid bottles forgawdssake! 

Ice and a Slice– Della Galton- A novel based on one woman’s true experiences. It planted the seed that there was a life better than being caught in the cycle of drinking but at that stage, I still wasn’t ready to hear it.

Woman Walks into a Bar- Rowan Coleman, hilariously, I thought this would be about drinking. It’s a chick lit romp about dating. OBSESSED MUCH?!

Drinking: A Love Story- Caroline Knapp- one of the sober classics. I read this in a hungover daze, weeping, knowing I needed to stop, then drinking later that night. I’ve heard criticism that this book romanticises drinking but for me, reading about someone who hides vodka bottles in the cistern of their mum’s house lacked romance and was a wake up call.

Last Orders- A Drinkers Guide to Sobriety- A humorous account of a Proper Lad who makes a bet with his mates that he can give up booze for a year. He struggles, then falls in love with the Pink Cloud feeling of no more hangovers and finding exercise and WOOO!!!!! loves life sober. 

High Sobriety: My Year Without Booze- Jill Stark- Binge drinking health writer Jill has suffered one too many drunken nights out that have ended up with her collapsing on the dance floor in front of her colleagues or rendering her unable to move for the entire next day. As someone who writes frequently about Australia’s dangerous drink habits, she decides to commit to a year off the sauce, exploring Oz’s drink culture along the way. I loved this book, particularly when I was unable to label myself ‘alcoholic’- I liked the idea of taking a year off and seeing how I got on. She ultimately went back to drinking, but more moderately. Highly recommend this one. 

The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers drink– Olivia Laing,  LOVE this book. I luxuriated in it whilst on a beach somewhere, drinking cider in the morning to take the edge off last night’s hangover, sneaking a gin and tonic by the pool while my holiday companions weren’t looking. I’ve always been obsessed by tortured writers and this book was a beautiful yet tragic read. The whole reason I started writing this blog today was that I came across this article on the Guardian about women authors who drank: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/13/alcoholic-female-women-writers-marguerite-duras-jean-rhys If you like your literature, I suggest you take your time over this glorious yet painful read, and then read Echo Spring. It is just wonderful, and sad and worth every moment you give to it. 

The Sober Revolution: Calling Time on Wine o Clock– Lucy Rocca & Sarah Turner- THIS BOOK WAS TRANSFORMATIVE. It spoke to me in a way no other sober book had. It draws a parallel between drinking and an abusive relationship, and the subtle, manipulative way ‘He’ keeps you coming back. Having just extricated myself from an emotionally abusive relationship, not only could I see the stark truth that alcohol was my new abuser, I could also see I had the strength to walk away again. 

Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women & Alcohol: Ann Dowsett Jones- This was the big one for me. I read it on the way back from an all inclusive holiday where I’d sneakily drunk all day long, taking drinks from the mini-bar into the shower so my room-mate didn’t see them, desperately sucking down iced cocktails that didn’t have enough booze for my liking and going back for more… I lay there, jet lagged, reading this and having the most overwhelming feeling yet that not only was I a problem drinker, I was an ALCOHOLIC. I needed more help than the sober blogging world was offering me. I started my final solo sobriety run of 40 days, drank again, re-read this book and took myself off to AA.

So there we are, my drinking library. On a day when I’m not feeling alcoholic at all, it’s been great to look back at how much work I needed to do to convince myself I was one, how much time went into reading this stuff.

I was all worth it. ALL of it.

Happy Thursday to you! And Happy reading 🙂

 

 

 

 

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/13/alcoholic-female-women-writers-marguerite-duras-jean-rhys

Am an I Alcoholic?

16 Jun

I was looking through old computer bookmarks this morning, and I came across this wonderful article by Veronica Valli. She could not have made answering the question ‘An am I an alcoholic?’ easier for me. My experience of alcoholism, which she summarises so wonderfully here, is that it’s about how I THINK and FEEL as much as how I drank. That’s why it’s been really hard to explain to my binge drinking friends I’ve confided in how I differ to them, without turning myself inside out before their eyes. 

Have a read of the article, and take a look at Veronica’s site, which I have found packed full of great insights:

Am I an alcoholic?

That’s a very good question.

Are you?

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In all honesty, there is no straightforward answer to that and whichever ‘expert’ or professional you speak to will give you a totally different, if not conflicting answer. This is because there is no scientific way of measuring this, it really is an opinion. Alcoholics Anonymous for instance, will let you make up your own mind. No one diagnoses you. Doctors and other addiction professionals have other ways of concluding an individual may be an alcoholic or not. Alcohol dependency will usually indicate you are.

 

It is, in my opinion, fairly easy to diagnose. What follows is a description of the traits of an alcoholic. If they fit you, then you may have to come to the conclusion that you are an alcoholic.

Firstly, and I can’t emphasis this enough, ordinary people do not think about their drinking.
It rents no space in their heads.

Period.

This means if you have spent some time looking for solutions for why you drink the way you do and have ended up reading this page.
Then the answer may be yes.
Because it’s renting space in your head.

You have a problem.

Alcoholics know they have a problem.

They know something is most definitely wrong.

It’s a nagging feeling that won’t go away.

They are vaguely aware that they drink too much but have loads of excuses and reasons for why that is.

So, by the sheer fact you are reading this, you know there’s a problem right?

We’ll go further.

Alcoholism has nothing to do with alcohol.

No, really.

Are you surprised?

Alcoholism is about the way you think.

Let me explain.

Alcoholism is a state of mind, a way of thinking and being, that is so uncomfortable and unpleasant it is expressed in how they drink.

Which isn’t normal. Because alongside this state of mind is a physical allergy that means when alcohol enters the body of an alcoholic they respond differently to other people. You lose the power of control over alcohol; something else takes over and they find it extremely hard to regulate or stop drinking when they start.

The mind and body work against any intentions or ‘will power’ you may have had of not wanting to drink.
Any alcoholic can stop drinking or using for a while, or for a good enough reason, its staying stopped that’s the problem.
When an alcohol isn’t drinking alcohol to manage their internal state they will invariably be using other kinds of unhealthy behaviours to manage their emotional life.
Look closely and you’ll see how.

An alcoholic is so uncomfortable in their own skin that they will always return to alcohol to ease the discomfort in their own minds (and souls). Once they start drinking the physical allergy kicks in and they find that they nearly always drink or use far more that they intended.

The common misconception is that it’s how much you drink or use and how often that makes someone an alcoholic.

Not so!

Certainly, in most cases alcoholics drink far more than is acceptable and on a more frequent basis than ordinary people, that’s for sure. However, you can be an alcoholic and drink infrequently; it doesn’t necessarily have to be everyday.
What differentiates a binge drinker or heavy drinker from an alcoholic is how that person thinks. It’s exactly the same with addiction.

Image courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We have created a culture that has normalised abnormal drinking – we call it binge drinking, and everyone seems to do it. We have also moved the goal posts with drug use, ‘but everyone does it, I know all the dangers’ is the bulls**t lie that addicts will tell themselves in order to justify what they are doing. If you normalise something it becomes acceptable. We surround ourselves with people who are just like us, who then reflect back to us who we are. We look for justification for our behavior.

 

Of course not everyone who binge drinks will go on to become an alcoholic.
Many will naturally regulate their drinking as they mature, or the circumstances of their lives change and they find they have no desire to drink at abnormal levels anymore. Others, despite becoming older or their lives changing, will still, whenever they have the opportunity, drink far beyond what is reasonable and to the point that it impacts all areas of their life.

What is reasonable?
The recommended weekly allowances for an adult male are 21 units a week (UK measurement), spread over the week and not all in one night. For a woman it is 14 units. A 250ml glass of wine is the equivalent of 3 units. If you drink consistently over this amount you can expect to have some kind of mental health, physical health, emotional, financial, and social consequences.
Most people are surprised at how low this is. Because so many people are drinking way beyond acceptable levels, we have normalised the abnormal.

And the biggest excuse that most people give for drinking way more than is good for them?

Everyone else is doing it, so it must be ok.

Wrong!

An alcoholic will find it easy to hide amongst binge drinkers because they drink the same way. What makes them different is what’s going on inside of them.

Pay attention, we are really coming to the crux of the problem now; this is the most accurate description of an alcoholic or I can give you:

An alcoholic just feels different than everyone else. It’s like they were born different; some people have described it as looking at the world through a glass screen, watching everyone else get on with life in a way that they just can’t seem to. It feels like being born without the instruction manual for life, and whatever you seem to do it never works out in a way that seems to satisfy or fulfil you.

Alcoholics always have a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction and emptiness, and they are always looking for something to fix that feeling. Alcoholics tend to believe that if they get the right partner, job, house, or car it will bring them the feeling of satisfaction and happiness they crave.

They are always looking for something outside of themselves to make them complete.

And what happens?

Temporarily, these outside changes fix that hole inside of them. Everything seems like its going to be okay, but it’s always just temporary. It escapes them again, it’s like sand running through their fingers, they can never seem to hold on to it. Just when they are almost there, when they feel like they finally have the thing that will make them happy, they lose it and they revert back to their old feelings of dissatisfaction and emptiness.
In addition to living life in this unsatisfactory way, alcoholics also experience a lot of fear.
A disproportional amount of fear.

Fear is probably the defining characteristic of alcoholics.

It’s fear of everything and nothing; it’s always with them. It’s hard to put into words but fear is a daily companion to an alcoholic.

An alcoholic will very rarely be able to tell anyone close to them about the ‘fear’.

They are scared of what people might think of them.
They are frightened of not being good enough, of being found out, of people not liking them, of failing. An alcoholic will do whatever they can to hide this fear to the outside world, and they even find it hard admitting it to themselves. They are so used to living with this fear that they can’t remember what it’s like to be without it.

So you can see that when you feel this way on a consistent basis, it becomes so uncomfortable that you will do anything to change it. Alcohol can achieve that. In the short term it removes that sense of discomfort and uncomfortableness and for a short while you feel like everything is okay. You feel happy and unafraid, like you fit in with the people around them; the glass screen separating you from the rest of the world has been removed.

For a while at least.

It was only artificially and temporarily induced, courtesy of alcohol, and you are back to being the way they always were, still searching for whatever it is that will make you feel better (feel complete).

You can see then, that alcoholism is an internal problem rather than an external one. That the problem arises from how you think and how you feel, and that drinking is only a symptom.

You may argue that other people who don’t drink also feel that way and you’d be right. They will be expressing their internal dissatisfaction in other ways, other behaviors, alcoholics and addicts pick substances because they are accessible, widely used and very, very effective.

Pay attention, though – look around. Notice how other people express their internal dissatisfaction through unhealthy relationships, overspending, gambling, sex, moving, food, shopping, rampant consumerism etc. All that behavior is just a way to deal with uncomfortable feelings.
Feelings motivate all behavior.

By reading this far, then chances are that you have read something you have identified with, that intrigues you.
If you can recognise the traits or alcoholism, if you can identify your problem, then you can get help much earlier. The truth is, that this condition this way of being and thinking won’t go away just because you want it to. My experience of working with alcoholics and addicts is that you can’t think your way out of it and you certainly can’t do it alone.

It comes down to this: how much longer are you prepared to accept living this way?

You may have read this and thought,
‘Yeah, I identify with some of that, but it’s really not that bad.’

Hel-lo?

Are you really prepared to accept that in your life?

Are you really prepared to accept less than you deserve?

Do you want to look back on your life and see that you settled for 70% or 50% of what you were capable of?

Are you prepared to live through one more day feeling the way you do, when now you know there’s a way out?

Now may be the time to get really honest with yourself.

So, are you an alcoholic?
Yes, or No?

5 months sober

14 Jun

Today is my 5 month soberversary. 

I’m so glad to be here, life is so much easier than it was 5 months ago, when I was caught in the cycle of stop-start-stop drinking. 

I often list what I’ve learnt at key milestones in my sobriety, or the benefits of being off the sauce, but to keep me focused on not taking my sobriety for granted, today I want to write about the challenges:

  • Remembering I have a problem– when I’m going about my daily business and enjoying life, it’s so easy to forget what a hold alcohol had on me. Even as I type that sentence, I catch myself. ‘Did I *really* have a problem or was I being dramatic?’ Recognising these thoughts is so important. If I have any doubt I had a problem, I just read over the early posts of this blog, or go and sit in a room of other alcoholics, all of whom I relate to. I always giggle when I remember my first chair at AA, and how everyone nodded along. If there is any greater confirmation of your alcoholism than a room full of alcoholics relating in many and varied ways, I’d like to see it…
  • Not drinking is easy, life is the hard bit– Now I’m in the habit of not drinking, the daily struggle to avoid booze is no longer there. YES I have thoughts of drinking, YES I wish I could drink, but I don’t have to physically stop myself picking up a bottle of wine any more. The problem is the emotions. The thinking patterns I have. Those are the challenge that I will always have to deal with. Alcohol helped nothing. I am so much better equipped to deal with life now.
  • This is part of who I am– almost daily I wish I wasn’t an alcoholic. I sometimes hate it so much it makes me want to sit down in the middle of the street and weep. But it’s just in my make up. If I had diabetes or a heart condition or asthma I’d have to accept it. This is another medical condition that is unfortunate, but part of my reality now. And really, when I reflect on the past couple of years, alcohol took a hold of me at the best possible time for me to deal with it. I had the space to deal with the problem, and if I continue to deal with it daily, I can continue my new improved life without a self imposed road-block slowing me down. 
  • Not drinking marks me out as different- our culture is so alcohol-centric, not drinking feels really strange sometimes. I wish I could, but I can’t. Most people accept this and if they don’t, then I have to consider my relationship to them. I wish I could join in the drunken fun sometimes, but the truth is, I enjoy myself more sober. Being sober and on a night out is FAB when you’re in the right frame of mind and if you’re not, well, maybe you should just go home and tuck yourself up in bed. I need to do the latter more rather than stoically riding out shitty nights just to please others. I’m trying to OWN my sobriety, wear it with pride and inspire others. Sometimes I feel it, some days I don’t, but if I make it a positive part of my identity rathe than a shameful secret, that will help me long term.
  • Drinking was fun– as lots of very wise bloggers have said, it was fun until it wasn’t fun any more. I remember the brilliant moments more than I remember the shit ones. The destructive drinking I did was almost always alone, but towards the end I’d opt out of the group nights out because I didn’t want to have to control my drinking. That doesn’t sound much fun to me. Consuming 2 bottles of wine alone doesn’t sound much fun. Nor does constantly calling in sick because of hangovers. I need to stop romanticising drinking and recalling the reality rather than memories from a different drinking time.
  • Complacency only causes me problems- some days I forget the importance of begin proactive to stay sober, not reading the blogs as much, not going to meetings. If I prioritise other things, I’ll drink again. Sobriety is an ongoing process, with no end to it. 
  • Not everything is perfect in sobriety– I’m still me with my flaws and problems, if fact I’m MORE me, which is even scarier. But I’d choose scary sobriety over miserable drinking every day.

Happy Saturday!

 

 

Ebbs and flows

11 Jun

After the past week of feeling rubbish today I feel better x a million billion.

It passed, the shitty stuff. Just as it always does. I rode it out and didn’t drink and GUESS WHAT?! It worked, again.

Life isn’t perfect, I’m still tired, still feel fat (note to self: never try on summer clothes from when you were so thin-ill a thigh might have snapped any moment. Bad idea) but I’m sunnier in the head, it’s sunnier in ze climate and all just feels ok.

It’s good for me to get this down on paper to remind myself how feelings change and move on. This page would have been full of horrors if I’d drunk.

Sober sober sober. Day 151 today.

Taking up Space

9 Jun

Image

I’m still struggling a lot at the moment. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but it’s there and real and uncomfortable. I’m walking down a very well trodden and familiar path.

When I’m unhappy, my discontent at my body starts up, and my relationship with food turns funny again. I want to eat for comfort, but start despising my figure, which fuels the desire to eat. Fucked up and irrational, yes. But it almost exactly mirrors the weird relationship with drinking I had. Drinking makes me miserable, and I want to quit drinking and I’m putting all my energy into not drinking, so I’ll have drink to take away the pain. Madness. 

I’ve had some sugar slip ups, but I’m trying to keep on fuelling my body in positive ways, which is hard when I either want to starve myself or eat everything IN THE WORLD. 

I’ve blogged many times about my relationship with my body and food, and at the moment, how I perceive myself can do a full 180 degree swing in the matter of moments. Yesterday I went from working out in front of a mirror at the gym and being amazed at how explosive and powerful my box jumps onto a really high platform were, to hating the chunk of my thighs. I can vacillate from one overwhelming feeling to another in seconds. 

I often stay at a friend’s house where cruelly, one entire wall of the bathroom is a mirror. What I see on any given day as I prepare to shower entirely depends on my state of mind. Increasingly, I see a figure that’s simultaneously toned and soft, that is slender but has a womanly curve to it. I think ‘yes, this is how a woman should be’, thankful I’m no longer the bag of bones I once was. On a bad day, I look in horror at my shape, the boldness of my round bum, thinking: ‘it wasn’t like this until I started doing so many hill sprints, I’ll have to cut those out.’

I look at myself and see failure, flaws and feel entirely helpless. All my self esteem is sucked away in a momentary glance. I wait for the steam of the shower to erase what I see. 

I’m so sick of the way my mind constantly undermines me. When it wants to be, it can be a happy, sparkly place full of rainbows and unicorns. I get REALLY happy frequently, like jump-in-the-air-and-do-a-little-heel- click happy and would consider myself a pretty positive person, but when the gloom comes, it’s a bloody battle. 

I was catching up on the clever and wonderful After Alcohol’s blog this morning and this post really spoke to me. The fear of suddenly losing control and blowing up to ‘DIE OF FAT.’ The post is wonderful and mirrors so many of my feelings, but what hit the nail on the head  for me was a comment Primrose made:

those extra ten pounds have been a false focus for me for much of my adult life. if I had spent as much time thinking about my relationships with others or my career or even learning a language I would be Professor of the Liberal Arts at the University of Florence right now. so much wasted effort.

Lord, that’s it. That’s what’s been bothering me. I am pissed off at how my brain works, how much TIME and EFFORT I’ve put into thinking about food and alcohol. About losing weight and giving up drinking. The endless and dissatisfying circle. You know the myth of Sisyphus? The bloke who was eternally condemned to push a rock up a hill and then have it crash down upon him? That’s what my battle with my mind feels like. What a waste of time and energy. Although the struggles with alcohol have got easier, they’re still constantly there. I’ve thought quite a few times about jacking it all in and just having a bloody drink, which is the kind of self defeating thought which got me here in the first place.

The space these thoughts and feelings take up is huge. Thankfully, I’m mostly too busy to let them in at the moment, but it feels like they’re lying dormant, ready to get me whenever I have some spare headspace. I spend hours on sobriety & fitness/dieting, reading about it, listening to podcasts about it and thinking about it. I want some space in my brain to think about other things. When I can help others, this spiral is more under control, so I’m trying to focus my energies on that. 

I’m having a day off today and need to try and make positive use of it. I’m exhausted, but resting makes me anxious and dissatisfied, so I’ll try to spring into action and feel like I’ve achieved something today. 

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