Tag Archives: relapse

Accidental Drinking

4 Jul

Last Friday, I consumed alcohol. I was in a bar of people most of whom knew I don’t drink, so when I asked for a slimline tonic, I assumed I’d be safe.

I had a sip, thought it was sweeter than I was used to, and assumed the drink wasn’t slimline. But there was something about the taste that wasn’t right. I smelled it to see whether it had alcohol in and it seemed fine, so after another few minutes, I took another sip.

It would be an over exaggeration to say I could feel it in my veins, but with that second sip I knew that this was alcohol and that I needed to Get the Hell Out of Dodge. I asked the kind drink buyer whether it was gin and tonic because I don’t drink and she was MORTIFIED. It was.

Hilariously, the reason I didn’t recognise it to contain gin was because I don’t think I’ve EVER had a single gin and tonic in my life! It wasn’t the kind of gin *I* recognised. I remember once being caught at a party pouring a drink that was significantly more gin than it was tonic and the person who saw me thinking this was wonderfully out of character for me. ‘In for a big one?’ She’d asked, and I just thought ‘how little gin do YOU put in your drink- this is totally normal!’ I was genuinely amazed that anyone would consider somewhere near a single or even double measure satisfying.

Anyway, back to the bar.

I gave the drink to someone else and ordered a diet coke, trying to brush it off. But I felt really uncomfortable. I’d had a stressful day and was ill at ease anyway, but this close scrape really shook me. What if I hadn’t stopped? What if I hand’t been able to put that drink down? Losing nearly 6 months of sobriety for a silly mistake would have been devastating.

What was encouraging was that I didn’t WANT to carry on drinking that drink. The thought of ingesting alcohol truly terrified me. And I suppose that’s a positive sign. That when faced with a glass of alcohol I’ve already partly consumed, I choose sobriety.

I told my sponsor about it immediately and she reassured me that this wasn’t relapse because I hadn’t intended to take the drink.

I’m so happy to be sober today. I have a headache, I’ve got a bit of drama going on with not being able to live where I’m living for much longer, my job is very high pressured and as usual, I’m not getting enough sleep. But in sobriety, all this stuff is manageable. So today I choose to avoid that first deadly drink.

It aint over ’til it’s over

18 May

Yesterday I was SO close to drinking.

If you read my post yesterday, you’ll know I was tired, stressed and had full intentions to have a relaxing day to get myself back on balance. That went flying out of the window. 

A new problem has emerged with my house buying plans and once again I find myself looking for somewhere to live. I went looking yesterday and the whole process was incredibly stressful because the market is crazy and the financial pressures of the whole thing were too much to take. This combined with the idea of having to start the whole lengthy search again was too much. My body was screaming with anxiety.

I was meeting my friends for dinner and had 2 hours in town to kill. I was almost certain I was going to drink. The ‘fuck its’ were strong and I thought ‘how bad could a night of drinking be? I can start again tomorrow.’ I was slowly walking towards a pub, calculating how much I could drink before I met my friends to appear sober and feel drunk enough to satisfy me. Annoyingly, one of the friends I was meeting knows I’m in AA so I had to remember that once I met them, I wouldn’t be able to drink any more. Bugger. I was contemplating ringing my sponsor, but didn’t. I was accepting my fate of drinking. 

There’s an individual who reminds me of my last night of drinking, an experience so horrific to me I never ever want to feel like that again or see him again. Let’s call him James. I half heartedly asked my Higher Power to give me a sign by getting James to contact me, to remind me of how bad it was. No such sign came. I got closer to the pub.

I walked in, went up to the bar, looked at the larger taps glistening and found myself asking for a pint of lime and soda. I gulped it down and decided what to do next. 

The pub was rammed- it was the FA cup final (big football championship here in the UK) and the local team Arsenal were in the lead. The atmosphere of nervous excitement was palpable. I ordered another drink, a water, and felt my seconds ticking down to meeting my friends. My insides were churning, all I wanted to do was have alcohol running through my veins, but I drank the water, watched the football and let myself get swept up in the atmosphere. 

The footie fans were chugging pints jovially, getting excited and tense and loud. The match went into extra time, and everyone was on tenterhooks. I was very very slowly going off the idea of drinking, being so wrapped up in the game. 

Arsenal scored what looked like it would be the winning goal and the pub went absolutely effing wild. My whole body was covered in goosebumps and it was electrifying. At that moment, I was glad I didn’t drink. 

I loved the final few minutes of the match because once again, I’d been reminded of the wonder of life without alcohol. My body had shifted from being a ball of nervous tension to experiencing the profound joy of being part of something exciting in the matter of what, 45 minutes? An hour? 

I went to meet my friends and we had an absolutely brilliant evening, swapping a meal out for takeaway, some philosophical conversations, some plain silly conversations and some ridiculous singing. 

As I checked my phone at the end of the night, my silly prayer to my higher power had been answered. One missed call: James. Seeing his name made me put my head in my hands at the sight, realising what I’d escaped by not drinking. THANKS UNIVERSE.

Sobriety is hard, but drinking is harder. In the space of a week I’ve gone from feeling utterly comfortable in my sobriety to finding it agonising and guess what? That tide will turn again. I was walking to that pub thinking drinking was a foregone conclusion I’d resigned myself to, but my fortunes shifted by finding myself in a life affirming situation, and my desire to numb ebbed away. 

Another day another lesson. Day 124 and still sober. 

To the Streets or a Penthouse

17 Jan

Yesterday, I posted about my anger regarding a conversation I’d had with someone who questioned whether my drinking was a problem. I’d mulled over whether or not to post it, but the one thing I promised myself when I started blogging was that I’d be 100% honest. That I’d be as warts and all as I can about my feelings as a means of a) getting in touch with them and b) keeping track of how my moods and difficult feelings change as I journey through sobriety so I can reflect on what, for me, makes a situation better or worse.

The comments were supportive, and some did challenge my view, which I’m thankful for. What I already knew was reiterated- that I have to take full responsibility for my actions. And I do. But I needed to articulate my frustration at the idea that if you don’t end up in the gutter then you don’t have a problem. It undoes all the positive messages around alcoholism being a problem that anyone can suffer from. As someone put it yesterday in my AA meeting: “it can take you to the streets or it can take you to a posh penthouse, but it’s still destructive, still hell for us who suffer.”

I didn’t intent to place blame or deflect responsibility from myself, but to remind everyone who dispenses support or ‘advice’ that they do so carefully and with sensitivity.

So, today is a new day, my anger has subsided into acceptance- yes I do have a problem, yes it’s not fair, yes I am doing everything in my power to manage it. I’m quite pleased, in a way, that I felt anger, because it’s an emotion I’m not that familiar with, and it felt cathartic to get it onto the page. 

I had plenty of sleep last night, a glorious run in a thunderstorm and am trusting that today, everything will be ok. As long as I sleep, run, eat chocolate and go to AA, all will be well. 

Happy Friday!



The Complexity of Support

10 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Friday!

Unhappy Christmas

25 Dec

Christmas would have been so different if I hadn’t drank. I feel down, anxious and helpless. Today would have been day 45, I would have gone on my annual Christmas run with joy in my heart. Once I drink, the negative effects last for days. I ran this morning and derived no pleasure from it, I felt ashamed, self loathing and deep rooted sadness. I wanted to sit down in the middle of the street and cry.

My family are big drinkers and watching them do it today is making me even sadder. My brother suffers from depression and has just got out of a spell in prison, and just looking at him drinking bottle after bottle of beer makes me want to weep.

But, every day is a new start, and tomorrow I’m hoping the post-drinking blues abate and that I start to get some of my sober clarity and peace back. 

This time next year when I post on Christmas day, I want to do so with a year of sobriety under my belt. I want to re-read this and remember the pain and discomfort that drinking has brought back so quickly. I want to have worked through how to cope with my low moods and be a stronger person for it. I want to be 100% sober and comfortable with a new lifestyle. Drinking ruins so much, it’s just not worth it. I’ve written it time after time on here this year and keep slipping. One day, I’ll no longer slip, I’ll wobble along sober but will no longer fall.

This post is like a little message in a bottle for what I hope the next year will bring. It will be my 2014 Christmas Day treat to read how far I’ll have come. I can do this, I know it’s within me to. I just need to keep the faith in myself, which I currently don’t have back, but  with a few sober days under my belt, it will come. 

Here’s to ending 2013 sober and starting 2014 on the right foot. 

Lessons Learnt

24 Dec

While the slip up is fresh in my mind, i want to get down on paper all the things I’ve learnt.

Drinking sucks- it wasn’t fun, or enjoyable, but depressing and lonely. I went out clubbing at the weekend, sober, and know I had a ball because I wasn’t drinking. I was dancing away, and had a wave of joy hit me, which reminded me of the joy I got when I was 15 and first started going out and dancing fuelled by vodka and cokes. How things come full circle. Now, sober highs are so much better than drunk ones. I can’t actually remember the last time I had a drunk high. 

Changing environments requires extra sober tools- Both times I’ve slipped up on a sober streak I’ve been in a new environment. The first time I was away with work, the second back at home. I get used to my sober routine and how to handle certain situations and when I’m out of that, I need to be super vigilant. 

Hangovers are the worst- with so many glorious sober days under my belt, I’ve become used to feeling fresh, energetic and happy. Today has been miserable- napping and feeling ill. I don’t want any more of these. What a waste of Christmas eve.

Alcohol makes me depressed– I get down anyway, but my God does drinking make it worse. I feel simultaneously terrible and numb at the same time. I feel lonely today, a deep-seated lonliness that being around my family hasn’t been able to shake.

Moderation isn’t an option– when I accidentally drank the champagne on Sunday, I thought that was that. I was annoyed, but had consciously stopped there and thought I could just carry on being sober. WRONG. That one drink wasn’t enough, and the desire for more festered quietly for 24 hours until I snapped and ordered a glass of wine while out Christmas shopping. Then carried on all day and night. 

I look like shit- all the clear-skinned, glowing effects of sobriety have been undone already. I look terrible. 

I don’t want to drink. I am not a dry drunk when I’m not drinking- I love being sober. I hate dealing with my feelings, but that will take time, and I’m slowly learning through therapy and self care. When I’m drinking I hate drinking so much. So what’s the issue with staying stopped?

If anyone thinks this is a bad idea, I’d love to hear it, but I’m considering not counting days this time round. I felt like every day was passing so slowly, and that I was just waiting to get to some future point, with a niggling feeling I wasn’t living fully. I wonder whether just deciding that I’m AF might work better. No counting, no negotiating that if I can make it to 100 days then maybe I could try moderation, just making an absolute and unwavering lifestyle choice. 

I met Lucy from Soberistas yesterday (I am aware of the irony of relapsing on this day, when we’d spent so long talking about the joys of sober life) and she said something very interesting. She’s not a fan of counting days, because she thinks that it tricks our minds into thinking there’s an end point. For her, she liked just deciding that she didn’t drink alcohol anymore, and sticking to it through determination and bloody mindedness. 

It might not work, because the pull of alcohol is evidently scarily strong, but I’m interested to see how I can best get myself back on track and make a commitment forever. Maybe I should try this approach. 

I’m Drinking

24 Dec

If I’m going to do this blog and get the support I am lucky enough to get from people who read this, I have to be honest.

I’m drinking right now.

Yesterday I slipped up- I accepted a glass of champagne at a baby shower and drank it. I wasn’t vigilant about sobriety and sort of forgot I don’t drink any more. 

I messaged Carrie telling her, but I was so sure it was just a momentary thing. I was so proud of myself because I stopped at that one glass. 

Alcohol is a fucker, yesterday I stopped drinking when I could have carried on, but got the taste for it again. Today I’ve had 4 glasses of wine, a nap, a bottle of cava, a bottle of beer and a gin and tonic. I am typing, a bit drunk, to make myself accountable. 

I have done so much work this past  6 weeks, SO much, and don’t want to go back to drinking regularly, but F**K, I can’t believe I’m here again. I changed my environment and let my guard down and wolfie has bitten me.

I just re-read what I’ve drunk. That’s a lot.  I hope documenting it helps me when I re-read this post and reminds me why I shouldn’t drink.

Ugh tomorrow is a starting over day. Now I remember that truly one is never one. If I stop drinking after one drink on one day, the desire to drink is ignited nevertheless and I drink shitloads the next. 

I’m listening to this song on repeat, all about Starting Over: http://vimeo.com/61666335

I don’t want to go through the pain again :/ But I have no choice. 


18 Dec

After yesterday’s very near miss, I’ve continued to think a lot about sobriety and relapse.

More than any other type of work I’ve done on improving my life and how I respond to my emotions, sobriety is a matter of black and white. Food is of course tricky when you have issues with it as you need to eat it every day, as are other negative coping behaviours such as unhelpful self-talk which stem from deep-rooted judgements and beliefs we hold about ourselves. But drinking is all or nothing for me- I’m either doing it or not doing it. For a couple of years there hasn’t really been any sense of moderation. 

I’ve learnt so much this year about drinking, but I cannot escape the feeling that a relapse is just round the corner. I can feel it sneaking up on me. My mind is telling me that I shouldn’t be so black and white about drinking, that even if I did slip up, I’d be learning something.

If anyone has any links to any helpful blogs, podcasts or tools I could use I would be so grateful. I worked through the desire to drink last night, and I don’t have it today, but I feel like I’m on the edge of a valley of quicksand, staring at it, mesmerised and about to step in.

I’m on 38 days. I like where I am, mostly. But I am on the brink of stepping out. How can I avoid the quicksand? I honesty don’t know. 

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