Archive | November, 2014

The Click

21 Nov

There are times when sobriety feels easy. When the thought of having a drink seems ludicrous. When you gaze around at the mayhem of wild party and think “what are they DOING to themselves?!”. When you think back to those dark days of drinking and give a silent thank you to whatever or whoever is keeping you sober.

Currently I’m in one of these phases. Not drinking was so hard for so long that I NEVER believed I’d have won the battle. And of course the battle is ongoing and never lost nor won, but I consider each sober day a minor victory.

Life is just EASIER when you’re not drinking. It works better, you feel more stable, (generally) more able to cope with what life throws at you… But it’s not easy.

I think when I was first trying to get sober I thought that the people who had any length of time under their belt just had it sorted, that they possessed some mythical quality that I did not. That they somehow had more willpower or inner strength than I. Now I know this not to be true.

I’ve spoken before about how the spiritual principles and programme of AA have been surprisingly centre stage in my recovery. AA is what got me sober for any significant period of time and has kept me sober. But there’s a mystery at the heart of it for me, and that same mystery applies to drinkers who have got sober without a 12 step programme. How do we stop drinking if we’re addicted? What changes in that final time that we break the cycle?

The easiest solution to getting sober is, of course, to stop drinking. To not pick up. To eschew alcohol of any kind. And yet at the centre of our disease is a compulsion that is so strong we cannot help ourselves.

The fact that sobriety can, at any time, for any of us, can, however fleeting, feel easy is some sort of wonderful miracle. We are so lucky to be removed from that compulsion. And yet any of us can reach that point, but how we do that is a very individual path. When we find that moment, that “click” where we want to be sober more than we want to drink, it’s incredible. For me it was very gradual, but once I’d found it I felt I could so this thing.

I’d love to hear from non- AA folk about how and when that click came. Because all I wanted to do when I was drinking was to know how other people made it to that magic moment. So if you can, take a little moment to share in the comments the story of your “click.”

Sober Sex

18 Nov

Always a delicate thing to talk about, the old sexy time, and a pretty awkward one to write about despite the anonymity of this blog, but I’m feeling a bit Carrie Bradshaw today…

I hope you’ll allow me this opportunity to talk about something I never talk about. After all, this is a blog where I spill my most secret thoughts and feelings, so why not…

Yesterday, I was telling a friend about someone I’ve been dating who I unexpectedly slept with after we got carried away because it felt right. Her immediate reaction was “wow, and you don’t even DRINK!”

This response really made me reflect on the things we gain the courage to do in sobriety, with sex being up there as a scary sober thing for many of us. I think when we’re drinking, the loss of inhibitions means that intimate things come more easily to us. And what counts as intimate to us can be anything: sitting beside strangers at a wedding, confiding in someone, letting our true colours show when drunk or having sex.

As a single person, sleeping around was never something I did when drinking. I was raised in a very religious family and only had sexual relationships with the 2 long term partners I’d had. And even those made me feel guilty. But then, one night some way into my singledom something happened that crystallised how I felt about drinking:

I was going through a dating phase and met one guy who I actually felt attracted to. On the second date I drank a bottle (or 2?) of wine, took him home and slept with him. This was UNHEARD of. My best friend nearly fell of her chair with shock when I told her. I spent the next day absolutely cowering with remorse, self loathing and guilt. I couldn’t believe what had happened and concluded that casual sex wasn’t for me. The way I felt the morning after definitely falls into “worst drinking episodes.”

But here’s the thing. Since stopping drinking that has changed. I haven’t gone wild, but I have had a couple of casual sexual partners. And it’s been amazing for me.

Like everything I do I in sobriety, I see and feel it entirely differently because I’m sober. It’s like every situation I ever drank in became tainted a dark colour by the booze and shame. Now, I own my actions because I did them willingly, with all my faculties about me and CHOSE to take a certain path.

The Sex Thing I’ve been trying out has been truly liberating. Readers of this blog know that I’ve historically been very uptight and letting loose a bit has been just what I needed. Within the bounds of being safe and sensible and not selling myself cheap, I hasten to add.

The other thing that has really transformed for me, and sex has played a part in this, is how I feel about my body. This blog is peppered with woeful posts about recovering from eating and body image issues, feeling fat, being weight obsessed and wanting to restrict or binge. Subtly this has shifted the longer I’ve been sober and I no longer feel negatively towards my body. I can actually say I love my body, in fact. That’s real progress, a whole post in itself in fact, which I’ll save for another time. But being intimate with someone who I have a strong connection with, who I trust and who helps me to see my body from an outside perspective is amazing. I feel proud of my body, of its shape and the liberating feeling using it in this way is giving me. The way it looks and feels has changed, of course, since stopping drinking, but not in the way I might have imagined. It looks healthy and firm and strong now, not weak and skinny as I was once aspiring to.

I am banging on a bit today, and for that I apologise, but writing all of these things out helps me and I hope shows some of the surprising side effects of sobriety.




17 Nov

I am like a new woman. After last week’s mega-wobble, I finally forced myself to stop. I called in sick to work (let’s file that one under “naughty but necessary”) and made myself rest. ALL day. I dialled down my weekend commitments too, and spent an adequate amount of time pottering. Oh the restorative powers of pottering.

And surprise surprise, it’s worked. I feel on an even keel again. Once again, my mind is forced to turn to the idea of balance. That’s the crux of it all, really, isn’t it? It seems to be for me. Drinking, ironically, helped me gain some balance in the beginning, freeing me from the bonds of restriction, dogged self control and being ridiculously uptight. But of course being prone to taking things to the extremities, drinking got out of balance, and slowly my life turned upside down. Here, balance, which in this context might also be called “moderation”, didn’t work. It was a case of stop-or-continue-dying.

But in sobriety, keeping those delicate scales in harmony is, for me, the biggest factor in maintaining my well being. I come back time after time, month after month to the same few things: sleep, good diet, time for exercise and learning when to stop.

I was feeling all kinds of crazy last week and now I don’t. I feel like a “normal person”, god forbid.

Last night as I tucked myself up in bed feeling super calm and grateful, I read a few old blog posts to remind myself of where I was at last year. I was just embarking on my second decent run of sobriety, and was working the whole thing out. I was like a new born chick, feeling my way out of the egg shell, trembling as I went. I found this post, where I’m starting to feel my emotions again.

It scares me, when I read back how I felt then, but also gives me a huge boost when I compare that to how I feel now. Early sobriety was tough, I was dealing with some intense stuff:

So really, the ups and downs I feel now are nothing in comparison to those early days. Thank goodness for sobriety, for learning to walk its tightrope and finding balance at last.

Happy Monday!


11 Nov

Here I am, 10 months sober, and my little sober car has had a breakdown. The exhaust has been making growling noises for a while, the MOT is way overdue, and the miles on the clock are off the scale.

Enough of the bad metaphor. I’m at breaking point. I won’t drink, but my body and mind are screaming at me ‘SLOW DOWN’, but I can’t. Or don’t know how. I’m not sure which.

This year has been non-stop. I’ve bought my first home, taken on the work project of my dreams- something big and high profile and scary and pulled it off, run a marathon, worked all hours god sends, been on umpteen dates, attended countless weddings and funerals, sometimes in the same 48 hour period, become a DIY-er, started my own business and… reached 10 months sober. Walking into AA meeting after AA meeting to declare myself an alcoholic.

It’s because I’m an alcoholic, partly, that I live my life at the pace I do. Constantly seeking new stimulation and achievement. Forgetting to put on the brakes. All this fast living has taken its toll. I sit here blogging for the first time in what feels like a very long time feeling absolutely frazzled. I washed my bedsheets today and the thought of actually putting them on the bed makes me want to weep. My head pulses with the low-level headache that I’ve had almost every day for 6 weeks. I sit in a house that is a building site, so much work to do, no energy or time to do it.

Something has to give. I can’t do what I’m doing anymore. I need to slow the eff down.

My problems are selfish, I know. I’ve created them. I don’t have to juggle family life with work like so many amazing people do. They’re proper #firstworldproblems- ‘oh my wonderful life is too stressful, oh owning my first home is such a trial.’ I annoy myself just typing this. But this is the life I am living, am being an alcoholic and having all of the feelings, I need to make sense of them.

I’m lucky to have freedom, and thus I take advantage of it, but it’s making me come unstuck. It’s like I’m bingeing on the excitement of life, forgetting that I need to nourish myself not stuff myself with experiences. I feel like I just want someone to come and look after me and take all the weight off my shoulders. Someone to just sit down with my and stroke my hair and tell me soothingly it’s all going to be ok.

What’s really scary about the overwhelm I’m feeling is that if I’m brutally, painfully honest with myself, this is all because this is the first year of my life I’ve ever truly lived as an adult. My eating disorder, destructive relationship and alcohol problems all stopped me from facing the Real World. My work has always been much less intense than it is now. Life has been much easier on me, and I’ve either avoided my responsibilities or had someone else there to pick up the pieces. Now I’m sober and alone, I’m facing the realities of what it means to be a proper grown up, yet making that transition so much more difficult for myself by not allowing myself the time or space to actually grow.

I need to step back and slow down. I keep saying this, keep typing the words onto the page but have no idea how to actually do it.

Writing is always the first step for me. Time after time on this blog it’s forced me to look something difficult on this blog and forge a path ahead. Maybe for now, I’ll leave my sober car to recharge its batteries (this car is now an electric car, I’ve decided, FYI). I’ll pop on my little snow boots and shuffle down the path towards winter, taking the slower route rather than hurtling down the road at breakneck speed.

Happy Tuesday bloggers!

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