Tag Archives: support

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!

 

 

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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!

Sober Research

7 Jan

Belle has posted in the past about drinking Research, a period we go through testing out moderation and other drinking strategies before we quit. 

I could write a PHD on drinking research. I have tested out ALOT of ways of moderating, and yet I’m still here, writing about how big an impact drinking has on my life. 

I’m a big fan of re-reading old posts when I’m tempted to drink, so I want to remind myself when I’m at my lowest, what I’ve learnt from this relapse. 

I can moderate socially– I have little problems drinking like a normie when I socialise, but that isn’t truly reflective of my relationship with alcohol. I’m happy and relaxed when I’m with friends, but the moderation is just an exercise in self control that fools me into thinking I do not have a problem. 

Drinking makes me lonely- in my last run of sobriety, I rediscovered that I love spending time alone. I liked my little wintery sober cocoon, reading and watching DVDs when I had no plans. When I drink I feel desperately, painfully alone. 

Drinking makes me loose focus– I discovered when sober that there are other sources of happiness in my life that I need to work through. I can’t address these when drinking, so I remain unhappy, so I drink… This cycle has to stop. 

Wine tastes shit after the 3rd glass- I’m not even sure if I like red wine anymore, I think I’ve had my lifetime’s worth. 

I can still derive and discover new “joys” from alcohol, which makes it more dangerous- I used to hate whiskey, and on holiday with my friends, I tried it. I loved the burn as it went down my throat and the glow in my tummy. It reminded me of when I first started drinking and alcohol had that immensely pleasurable effect. Do I want to add whiskey to the list of tastes and smells that makes me want to drink like a fish? I do not. If I drank, would it become something I now do regularly? Absolutely. 

My body hates alcohol– my skin looks shit, I’m bloated and fat looking, I have lost the desire to run, which is my mental health saviour. It’s easy to forget that I’ve been choosing to poison myself.

I lose the desire to do stuff when I drink– I packed in SO much stuff when I was sober. I was the epitome of Getting Shit Done and also bloody enjoyed myself. I read books again, I planned weekends packed full of delights. And here I am, on square 1, having to will myself to go for a coffee after work with someone because all I want to do is hide under the bed sheets. 

I lose my ambition when I drink– I’m a different person. I just get through the day. That’s not me. 

I have an addictive personality- I just do. It’s evident sometimes on this blog when I post 2 or 3 times a day. I need to accept that (it’s often a good thing to be obsessive, it helps you become an achiever) and realise that alcohol is a problem, but I am not the problem. I am me, created the way that I am, unique, special, a little mad, but loved by many and I have to live as me for the rest of my life. I need to like myself more. To accept that I’ve got to a stage in life where I need to change, and that maybe that’s ok. 

A thought is just a thought– I can think about wine all I want, but the image of a glass of wine popping into my head doesn’t mean I have to drink it. I won’t die if I don’t. I’ll just be uncomfortable for a while and then happy the next morning when I wake up without a hangover. 

I don’t want to drink, I want to change the way I feel– someone posted this gem of wisdom in the comments section in response to a super-dooper craving I was having once. It made so much sense to me. I’m in a constant state of wanting to change how I feel. Once a workaholic, then an anorexic, then a bulimic, now an alcoholic and a crazy runner- I spend my life avoiding my feelings. When I was a teenager, before I had enough school work to allow me to loose my evenings in it, I remember actually enjoying feeling my feelings. You know, the intense pain of unrequited love, the drama of listening to a sad song and wallowing in melancholy, the crazy happy joy of dancing in your room. I need to learn to do this again- it’s called Life. I keep forgetting that I have to learn to live Life, not just avoid it. 

I don’t actually know how I feel about my life because of drinking- am I doing the right job for me? Have I got my sights set on the man who would actually make me happy? Do I want to work in an office for the rest of my life? Do I need to consider changing career if I’m ever going to be happy? I have no idea. Not a clue. I have made some big life changes, as I’ve posted about before, in the last year which have improved lots of things, but there’s more work to be done. I’ll just have to see what the sober journey brings. Maybe I’m not designed to live in a big city, maybe I should one day think about a career change. These are the things which I’ll only know after a year or two sober, when I can learn to know that the voice that’s speaking is me the person, not me the alcoholic. 

Drinking makes you selfish– do you know what I hate most about this getting sober lark? The endless introspection, the focus on self care which I know is important but hard, the feeling of it all being “me me me me.” It’s a necessary thing to do though, I know. One day, maybe I’ll be secure enough in my sobriety to relax into it more. To know more intuitively what I need rather than spending 40 million hours a day analyzing it. For self care to be a natural process rather than something I agonize over. 

I need to trust myself– I posted last night about trying out AA because the level of support I get from blogs isn’t enough. In the cold light of day, it’s become apparent that I get exactly the level of support I need online, and whilst AA might help, I need to look within for my own strength and support rather than clinging onto others. If the “support of others” technique worked for me, I wouldn’t be on my millionth Day 1, having emailed Belle in July last year, met her and other lovely sober ladies in November and seeing Carrie frequently. They would have carried me through (no pun intended). But they can’t, because there’s not me. None of you wonderful, supportive and caring readers are. Knowing you’re out there is wonderful, as is reading your words of support, but I also need to know that there’s something within myself that knows how to protect me.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results– I’m an intelligent person, and I’ve been taken over by a drug. This isn’t me, this behaviour of doing something that has such dire results, it’s an addictive substance that I’ve let into my life. I’ve had 2 decentish chunks of sobriety in the past 12 months: 25 days and 40 days, which sounds like nothing, but is enough to have got a taste of how great it makes me feel on a good day. When I’m sober and happy, I sometimes get so elated I want to do a little dance in the street as I work to work with the cold air in my lungs and the winter sunshine in the sky. I feel great! I think. I can totally drink now! This sober lark is easy! And then I pick up the glass of champagne that’s handed to me at a party, take a sip in a whirlwind of happiness and excitement and find myself here, nearly 3 weeks later, having drunk hundreds and hundreds of units, deadly unhappy.

 

If I don’t stop drinking, it will kill me– not today, not tomorrow, but at some point. I wouldn’t have said this 6 months ago, but I know this for certain now. I have been lucky enough for nothing bad to happen so far, but one day it will. I’ve only been drinking heavily for 2 years and my liver is making itself so known to me it’s terrifying. My doctor’s appointment is on Friday, and I almost want her to tell me something is seriously wrong so I have the “give up or die” question. Writing that sentence, in itself is terrifying. If I had cancer, and knew that running, which I’m also addicted to, would make it worse, would I carry on? No. I’d treat the cancer. I’d sacrifice my great passion for running and do something that made me feel good that wasn’t dangerous. Drinking is my cancer. It is eroding my body and mind from the inside out. I know this to be true. I’ve felt it, physically and emotionally. I’ve felt it repeatedly. I want to be free of this disgusting drug that has crept into my life steathily. 

So, that’s my thesis. I’m graduating from the School of Drinking Research and embarking on my next PHD- The Challenges of Staying Sober 😉 

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