Thank you

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for everybody’s support on Wednesday when I reached out for help. I was overwhelmed by how much kindness and encouragement I received and I can’t tell you how much it helped me on a day when I really needed it.

I’ve sunk into a bit of a pit of anxiety and depression this week. I’m not a total stranger to either of these but I’m fortunate that they don’t blight my life too often these days. I’ve had some distressing repetitive thoughts rattling round in the last few days. I ended up being awake for over 28 hours on the day of the crash. I got into an unpleasant limbo state where I was too exhausted to function in any way but too unsettled to fall asleep. The crash kept replaying in my mind, over and over.

Although I know I couldn’t have prevented it as I didn’t do anything wrong I have been berating myself for not handling it better at the time. A pointing out of road markings and a couple of simple yes or no questions aimed at the other driver could have completely deconstructed her argument about why she thought I was in the wrong. I’m not great at handling nasty aggression at the best of times but straight after a shocking experience I was hopeless. I’m now getting to the point where I realise this thinking is futile – I was in shock. I need to let it go and move on. There’s no point in me visualising the possible arguments or drinking the poison of anger and frustration and hoping it will hurt the other.

I hit 90 days yesterday. A fitting day to go to my first SMART meeting. I thought about using my low mood as an excuse not to go but I pressed ahead and got myself ready. I arrived at the advertised location, at the advertised time. I first found a back door which was locked so I scouted round for another entrance. Upon finding the main front doors I took a deep breath, tried to get in and found those also shut and locked tight. There was a phone number advertised with the listing on the SMART website so I guess I should have phoned ahead. I’d used up what little ‘dealing with stuff’ energy I had so I just walked away and went home, feeling defeated 😦 Fail!

When we injure ourselves or get an infection our body makes it clear that it’s time to stop and rest. When we go through a traumatic experience I’m starting to think our mind does something similar. I’m like a zombie, in a daze, unable to think or focus. I’m watching lots of netflix and playing mindless games on my phone when I’m not vacantly staring into space. I’m giving myself some psychological down time. I do feel as if I’m slowly coming around. Each day does feel slightly better than the previous one. I’ll be ok. It’ll just take time.

On a more positive note, I just remembered I bought some coconut milk based ice cream alternative that I completely forgot about in this week’s chaos. I’m going to try some now and nerd out on some old scifi 😀

Have a good weekend everybody and thanks again for having my back when I really needed it – I appreciate it so much. Hugs x

 

 

Severely bad day in progress :(

Hi folks, I’m in need of a bit of support here this morning. I had a car crash about 4 hours ago. I’m not injured but I’m really badly shocked. It wasn’t my fault but try telling that to the crazy bitch that hit me. She crossed into my lane exiting a two lane roundabout and hit the rear side of my car hard enough to spin me round to end up backwards some way further down the road. And the noise! It was shockingly loud. Then I get out of the car and she’s verbally abusive, denying liability, accusing me of being drunk (yeah right!) etc. Then afterwards I’m stuck in a dangerous position unable to move without risking another crash. Fortunately I was still close to work so a phone call brought a colleague out to be ready to wave down traffic so I could move and face the right way again.

The car is driveable so I drove home, shaking and fighting the urge to cry. I arrive home and almost straight away end up in an argument with my partner because he thinks that calling MY insurance company equals admitting liability, which it doesn’t. Like I needed that on top of the just having had a scary crash.

I’ve spent most of the morning on the phone to insurance-related people and frustratingly, without video evidence or a witness statement I’m going to be forced into accepting 50/50 liability and therefore be out of pocket £200 for my excess. I’m seriously pissed off because I know it wasn’t my fault. But, keeping priorities straight, nobody got hurt, cars are just things and are repairable and the sum involved is not going to put me out on the street. I’ve been considering buying a dashcam for a while. It’s now gone to the top of my shopping list. Aarrggghh! Bollocks 😦

What is most shocking about this incident though, is during my traumatised drive home I was thinking ‘Well, if there ever was an excuse for a relapse drink, it’s this!’ Amazingly, the hooks flailing from that thought failed to grab onto anything. Yes, I’m still shaking and I’m very, very upset. Yes, I feel like I’ve been psychologically beaten senseless with a baseball bat after a crash and an argument in quick succession. BUT, I don’t want to drink. Getting drunk right now sounds like a sure way to make a very bad day even worse. Relapsing and getting a hangover would just be awful.

Sitting here with these feelings is pretty brutal though. I know I’ll calm down eventually but right now it’s rough. I have no artificial way of dousing this down, I just have to wait it out. Shit! 😦

Take care folks, I appreciate knowing you’re out there reading this. I already feel slightly better having written it all down x

 

 

 

12 weeks

It’s hard to believe that 12 weeks have passed by since that dark day when I cried ‘enough!’ I’m still feeling generally good about being sober. I can’t say for certain I’m headed for long-term success (can we ever?) but my mind feels more resolute than it ever has on previous attempts.

I think a new SMART recovery meeting has started in my town and I’m considering going. I’ve search for meeting options many times before but have never found anything that would fit around my strange working hours or that wasn’t too close to where I work. I don’t know why I searched again last week but I did and up popped a new, suitable option. I still have a strong aversion to walking into that sort of situation but I know that I need to stray from my comfort zone to bring growth into my sober life.

Let me tell you a story about a time I tried to do this sort of thing before. It’s kind of funny (in hindsight) but will also give you an idea of why I am a bit paranoid about going to meetings around any touchy or taboo subjects.

A few years ago, after splitting up with my ex I did one of my rare ‘bite the bullet’ experiments and went to a social gathering for people who are inclined towards the ’50 shades’ end of the sexual spectrum. It was in the next town, where I didn’t know anybody. It was in an out of the way pub that I’d never been to and never would go to again if necessary. I was terrified but I figured it would be an experiment that never had to be repeated if anything went badly. I didn’t have to give anybody my real name, or tell them anything about my life. I would basically be anonymous.

I drove to the pub, sat outside in my car feeling so nervous I almost threw up. I almost drove away again but gritted my teeth and forced myself to go in. They met under the guise of being a photography club. It was all ‘undercover’, normal clothing, no rubber, whips or chains to be seen. I shakingly grabbed a drink (non-alcoholic) at the bar, took a deep breath and walked into the area at the back of the pub reserved for their meeting.

Walking into this kind of situation is my idea of living hell. I nervously scanned the 15 or so people already sitting and chatting. I felt like a rabbit in headlights while I tried to find a friendly face and work out where to sit. And then, to my utter disbelieving horror, I made eye contact with…

… my next door neighbour. WTF!? Awkward!

It actually turned out fine. I ended up chatting with him and his new partner. He’d recently separated from his wife and moved out from the family home next door. It had been a long time coming, they’d stayed together for the kids until they couldn’t do it any longer. He showed me some beautiful, professionally shot photos of his partner squatting on his chest wearing stiletto heels. She was tiny but it still looked scarily like a recipe for a punctured lung.

They gave me their number, inviting me to go with them to any club events realising that it would be extremely intimidating for me to go alone. I really appreciated them reaching out to support me like that but a combination of me being socially reclusive and meeting my partner a couple of weeks later meant I never took them up on it or explored any further.

It’s not really surprising that I’m touchy about sensitive meetings after that 😀 I have visions of walking in and finding a neighbour or somebody from work sitting there. I suppose if I did then they would be in the same situation and would most likely be discreet and supportive but I’m still paranoid about it. I’m not ashamed of my substance abuse problems it’s more that I am extremely introverted and do not want to be forced into difficult conversations about it. I am open about it with people that I choose but definitely not with anybody else.

I’m really going to try to go to SMART next Friday though. I know I need to add some extra support, try everything possible to strengthen my recovery efforts. It’s a week away and I already feel nervous though…

It’s almost 5am and I’m sitting up in bed writing this. I love being awake when most other people are asleep. I love the peace and stillness. My cat is fast asleep, dream twitching against my leg. I have a good book waiting for me when I finish writing, or maybe I’ll meditate for a while. I’m grateful for this simple, sober moment.

Have a good weekend everybody, whatever you’re up to. Sending supportive vibes to anybody who’s struggling at the moment x

 

Meh! :-/

After sounding something like Mary Poppins on a pink cloud for my last few posts I’m back down to earth with a bump and a proper cranky, craving day today. The UK is just going into the easter long bank holiday weekend which is traditionally an excuse for unbridled drinking. I made a quick shopping run early today, before it got too busy and spotted hefty amounts of wine and beer being piled into trolleys. I felt left out and socially isolated. It triggered me a bit.

I’m experiencing a crappy combination of low-level boredom, loneliness, uncertainty and flatness in my personal life and some pain/health anxiety. There’s a part of me rebelling against sobriety today and romancing and reliving wilder days gone by. The sort of lost days that involved pubs, pool tables, pints and drunken antics with inappropriate men. That part of me is in the sort of dark and frustrated mood where it would just be safer for everybody if she were handcuffed to the sofa.

I’m not disowning her, she’s a part of me. I’m visualising her with a compassionate attitude. I spontaneously used an NLP technique that I heard on a podcast this week. I visualised the cranky part of me getting smaller and moving away from me, while toning down all the colour. If there’s something you want to welcome into your life you do the opposite and picture it large, close and brightly coloured.

I’m not going to drink today. The worst of it has already passed. If I drank today, the reality would in no way match the fantasy. There would be no exciting, dynamic party happening, there would just be me getting sloppy and fucked up on the sofa alone. There would then be me feeling physically dreadful, hung over, ashamed and defeated. Nah, balls to that idea 😀

I’ve cooked some nice meals for the weekend, done some laundry, checked in here – the simple self-caring stuff that sobriety rests upon. I know I’m not going to get anything particularly constructive done in this mood so I’m giving myself a free pass for a sofa and Xbox session. I’ve treated myself to some yummy gluten-free cookies and some posh raspberry cordial too.

Happy easter to those who celebrate and here’s hoping you all have a peaceful, sober weekend 🙂

 

 

10 weeks

Fortunately it’s been one of those blessed weeks where I’ve had no cravings. My mind has been peaceful and free from those dreaded one-person debates, bargaining, fear or denial. For this I am truly grateful.

Something else I’ve noticed this week is a shifting sense of how I perceive my days passing. It’s a bit hard to put into words. When I think back to when I was drinking I never felt like I was really living each day. Most people think of cliched excesses at the mention of ‘living life to the full’ but that’s not what I mean. I remember a feeling each week when it was time to go back to work; a feeling of not really knowing where the last few days had gone. I would have lost so much time to being drunk or hungover that I always had a sense of having done nothing. There would be small jobs left undone, ideas left unexplored, books left unread etc. I remember it as if I were looking over my own shoulder, watching my life pass by, almost as if it were happening to somebody else.

In my currently sober life I’m getting a different feeling at the end of the week. I know where my time has gone. I’ve been present in each moment. I’ve (mostly) kept on top of the little jobs, explored the ideas, read the books and so much more. I feel like I’m inhabiting my days rather than just watching them pass by. I’ve shifted my point of view from looking over my own shoulder to being properly in the centre of my body, in the centre of my days. I don’t know if that makes any sense?!

I also finally tried some non-alcoholic wine this week. It’s not something I’ve ever thought of buying before but I wanted to take some reference photographs of a wine bottle and glass of wine for an image I want to create. There’s no way I was going to do it with real red wine so I bought the NA version.

It was interesting. The flavour wouldn’t fool anybody, it tasted quite different from the real thing – far more of a difference than you get with NA beer. It wasn’t unpleasant but it wasn’t great either. It was like grape juice with some sort of extra flavour added in. I could imagine it being useful camouflage at a gathering if you wanted to ward off having to have ‘that conversation’ about not drinking. I thought there would be more of a familiarly ritualistic feeling to drinking something dark red out of a wine glass. I was cautious about this but it didn’t hit the spot in any way, it didn’t really feel satisfying. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t trigger another person who tried it, I’m just reporting how it went for me. I’ve taken my photos so I don’t think I’ll be buying it again in a hurry.

I’ve been out playing in the woods again this week. I did a long walk and then made my first attempts at foraging. I learned the hard way that nettles can sting through standard household rubber gloves. I got stung so many times that in the end my picking hand stopped registering it. It’s been many years since I got nettle stung and I forgot that it’s the sting that keeps on stinging. It’s taken 2 days for me to stop getting zingy shocks in my fingers each time I touch something.

The results were quite satisfying though. I made nettle soup, nettle and veggie thai green curry and I put a load in my dehydrator to dry for nettle tea. I’m loving my new outdoors hobbies. Next week I’m going to a different woodland in search of wild garlic. I’ve also found a fairly local research/preservation orchard (and nuttery) that encourages public picking. I’m looking ahead to find different places to explore and to pick different things as the seasons change. It feels so, so good to get excited about new things and possibilities.

I think the extra exercise is also really helping me. My mood has been fairly buoyant this week and I’m feeling fitter. Today I’ve been slouching around in leggings and I caught a look at my butt in the mirror – I think that’s slouching a bit less than it has been too 😀 Yeah!

Wishing you all a lovely, safe, sober weekend folks. Hugs and strength to anybody struggling, bye for now x

9 weeks

Just checking in really, I don’t have a lot to say at the moment.

I went for another woodland walk this week, as planned. I’ve been doing lots of creative stuff, really getting into the zone with all that. I’m also doing plenty of reading and relaxing and generally keeping life simple at the moment.

I’ve had a couple of mild ‘romancing the drink’ thoughts over the last week but they haven’t felt like a real or serious threat to my sobriety. Sitting out in the lovely spring sun was probably what stirred this up.

Unfortunately, I think I might be getting a cold. The back of my nose/throat feels a bit sore 😦 Hopefully it’s just a bit of hayfever.

Have a good weekend folks x

Trying differently

I could feel my mood of the last few days going downhill to some possibly bad places so I decided to get off my butt and do something different. Inspired by reading some great outdoor activity posts at soberisland’s blog I pushed myself to get out and do something outdoorsy.

There’s a lovely country park that’s less than 3 miles from my house and disappointingly, I’ve probably not been more than 3 times in the decade that I’ve lived in the area. I’d wanted to do it earlier in the week but couldn’t summon the motivation to go out in the rain. When the sun appeared yesterday I decided to go for it.

It was absolutely wonderful. I ended up walking almost 4 miles through sunny woodland trails like this:

woodland

It affected me on a really deep, subtle level that I can’t quite define. It was one of those quiet, long, YES! feelings; a remembering of something essential that I hadn’t even realised I’d forgotten. At one point, I found a nice spot to take a rest and breathe in the sunshine and nature:

woodland2

I could feel my mind getting quieter and calmer whilst the damp, earthy smells and sights trickled into some inner void, filling and recharging me. I’m still stunned at the effect it’s had on me, I feel like I’ve had a total reset. I’ve been restful, focused, productive and mellow since yesterday. I’ve resolved to get out and do this at least once a week from now on. My own weekly ‘meeting’ with the healing higher power of nature. I can buy an annual car park pass that will give me access to a number of local woodlands and lakes for about the price of 10 bottles of cheap wine. What a bargain!

The Japanese have been prescribing Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing to their stressed out city dwellers for decades. There seems to be some scientific basis to support it too. Trees release chemicals called phytoncides which are like tree essential oils. Inhaling them apparently has a number of healing benefits for your mood, energy and immune system.

I’m so happy I made myself venture out yesterday, it’s made a whole world of difference. I’m glad I tried something different.

Have a good sober day folks, and if you get the chance, go sniff a tree 😀