123 days

I was tempted to use the title, as easy as 123 but as you know, it hasn’t always been easy to get to this point. It’s 4 months! It sounds odd to say it, slightly surreal but also very, very real.

I’m feeling fortunate that at the moment it’s taking zero willpower to not drink. I just don’t want to. When I think about a large glass (bottle) of red I get a strange cognitive disconnect. When I imagine smoking a cigarette after 16 years it just seems absurd and unrealistic. I can feel a similar attitude developing in connection with alcohol but it’s still vague and a far weaker internal reaction. Hopefully this will get stronger over time.

Some niggly health issues have escalated, prompting me to get my butt off to my doctor. I’ve had some blood tests and am waiting for the results and a hospital appointment for a scan. My gut feeling is that it’s not a worst case scenario, but there’s always that horrible ‘What if?’ fear lurking deep down. The waiting is the worst part. It’s good meditation fodder along the lines of ‘This is happening, it’s my reality, it’s pointless trying to hide, run away, numb out etc’.

I’m currently about 22 hours into a water fast and feeling fairly good. It’s purely for healing and spiritual reasons and nothing to do with weight loss. It’s something I turn to when I am having health issues or feel like I need to hit the reset button. Previously my longest fast was 5 days when I was having pretty bad skin and gut problems. It helped those but didn’t do my thyroid any favours so I stick to 3 days or less now. I’m aiming for 48 hours but will adjust either way depending on how I feel. Strangely, it has coincided with ramadan and I remember doing some fasting this time last year too. Ironically my muslim-raised partner is not.

I also need to say, if you have any struggles with an eating disorder or think of it as a weight-loss plan, please don’t go there – it’s not a one size fits all kind of thing.

Fasting has long been considered a natural healing practice. Animals do it instinctively, humans tend not to. Huge amounts of our energy is used up digesting our food and processing anything undesirable which realistically includes a lot of the ingredients (and chemicals) in our modern processed foods. It takes a fair few hours without food to ramp up our natural process of autophagy allowing the body to focus more exclusively on its healing and eliminating/detoxing processes.

When I think about the logic of fasting I have a mental image of a factory. Imagine the production lines constantly running, the workers are all focussed there and completely ignore the building that houses them. Over time, the building gets dirty and falls into disrepair because nobody has done any cleaning or maintenance. Fasting seems like stopping the production lines to allow all the workers to spend a couple of days doing this essential work.

It’s going to be a quiet couple of days which I’m really happy about. I’ll do lots of reading, meditation, thinking, drawing, some very gentle yoga – all the peaceful and relaxing stuff. Despite the ups and downs, uncertainties and pain, I’m feeling pretty grateful and focussed at the moment. Last week was scattered and grumpy, next week… who knows, but I’m confident it’ll be a sober one ;D

Wishing you all a good sober week x

 

Day 111 – a new record

As of yesterday I entered the new unexplored territory of my longest sober stretch. I drank on day 110 of my previous attempt.

I feel very different this time. Although I’m feeling unmotivated, unfocussed and unproductive in general at the moment my commitment to staying sober is one of the few things that feels fairly simple and stable. I’m amazed to find myself thinking of sobriety as an anchor whilst everything else is floating and chaotic. I was NOT expecting that but I’m not complaining.

I’m quite fascinated by the concept of decision fatigue. The idea that we only have the capacity for a certain amount of decisions each day makes sense to me. My capacity for decisions seems to have hit the floor. One moment I’m thinking ‘Maybe I’ll write something?’ but I can’t pin down a topic or wrestle my rambling thoughts into any sort of order. Next moment I’m thinking ‘Maybe I’ll do some art?’ but I can’t decide which project to work on. Same with reading, cooking, housework, to-do list and well, pretty much everything at the moment. Then I’m getting frustrated that I’m not really achieving anything with my days which starts off a whole cycle of thoughts about what I’m hoping to achieve in life. I don’t want to stack shelves forever but I don’t seem to be making any progress toward any of my other plans. Meh! At least I’m not wasting my days being hung over or poisoning myself.

Today I’m thinking of doing a mood board. I did plenty of those as a graphic designer but I’ve never done one for personal reasons. Apparently our subconscious can be more readily influenced by images that any amount of talking to ourselves (which I do quite often). I could tell myself that I wish to stay fit and healthy enough to enjoy the outdoors or I could find a picture of a mature lady looking perky mid-hike in a glorious landscape. I could tell myself all about the many benefits of decluttering or I could find a pleasing image of a clean and simple interior. I could ponder how much I want to improve my photography or I could find some stunningly inspirational images to whet my appetite. You get the general idea. I’m frustratingly scattered at the moment but I think I can handle pootling around online looking for nice pictures.

Have a good weekend you lovely sober folks 🙂 x

Day 103

I’m on 103 days now which is one week away from my longest ever adult sober period. Although the last couple of weeks post-crash haven’t been easy they been a valuable learning experience. Time has applied its miraculous balm, giving me the peace and perspective to reflect clearly on recent events.

I’m beginning to see deeper nuances within my definition of sobriety. I’m visualising them as a series of threads, each one representing one of the myths I have used as an excuse to drink. Some of these threads are becoming increasingly frayed or have already been broken in my mind. Some of them still need attacking with a sharp mental knife.

For example, the fact that I had no desire to drink after my crash is a promising sign that I’m seeing through the myth of alcohol as a way of coping with a traumatic experience. Unfortunately the thread that pulls me toward a drink when I sit out in the sun is definitely still stronger. I’m sure if you’re reading this you can think of a list of your own threads. Maybe the one that craves wine to round out a good meal? How about the one that says you need a drink to relax at the end of a long day at work? I’m hoping that as the various threads break, the bigger tapestry of alcohol craving will begin to unravel. We’ll see…

I recently had a strange alcohol-related experience during a meal with some friends. Out of the four of us at our table only one person ordered alcohol. Two were driving, one was me so that just left my friend who had a beer with his curry. There was a special offer in the restaurant that night and plenty of people were there to eat and get drunk on the cheap. Booze was definitely flowing at many of the other tables. At the end of our meal a waiter suddenly appeared with unsolicited alcohol. His tray held two shots of Baileys (for the ladies) and two shots of brandy (for the guys). I just shook my head and held my hands up to signal a firm but polite ‘NO!’ but he did put the other three drinks on the table. Only one and a bit of the drinks ended up getting drunk.

How inappropriate was that?! WTF! I’m just glad it wasn’t a glass of red coming at me. We went for a stroll after dinner and I brought it up for discussion. Everybody agreed that it was a major error in judgement from what is otherwise a lovely place to eat.

I managed to get back out into the woods today. I didn’t make it last week and I really missed it. It’s definitely become a much-needed part of my sober toolbox. The trees are out in blossom at the moment and the sweet, woody smell is divine. I did a fairly long walk and came home feeling good.

My car admin is still in progress. I have received a surprisingly fair insurance valuation so I’m just waiting for the payment to process so I can get my new(er) car next week. I can’t wait. I’m currently in a hire car which I’m not keen on. I don’t like having responsibility for an expensive car that isn’t mine. I have that niggling feeling that if somebody even farts near it there’ll be some sort of surcharge involved. It’s also bugging my sciatica which isn’t good.

I hope you lovely folks are having a good sober week. Hugs and sober vibes to anybody who’s struggling at the moment x

Creeping up on 100

I’m in the final hour of day 95 so I’m coming close to 100 alcohol-free days for only the second time in my adult life. I feel different this time around. Last time I was holding on by my fingertips, doubting, bargaining, second guessing and slipping slowly toward my eventual relapse. This time I feel more sure and accepting of my choice and have a sense of determination to keep going. There are no guarantees of course but it does feel like I’m in a better place than before.

I was starting to feel psychologically stronger a week on from the crash but today ended up being another hassle filled shit storm. What I thought would be a routine visit from an insurance inspector turned into an unexpected and dreaded financial punch in the face – he wrote off my car as a total loss. This has multiplied my original loss expectations by 10 so it’s gone from an annoying amount to a fairly hefty financial hit. Fuck 😦 I’m now simultaneously arranging for my crashed car to be taken away, sorting a hire car and trying to buy a replacement car. Way too much car hassle for my liking.

This past week, for fairly obvious reasons, I’ve been reflecting a lot about how little control we have over some things in life. No matter how carefully we drive, somebody else might carelessly crash into us. No matter how hard we work for our money, how thriftily we make purchases or respectfully care for our belongings, somebody else might trash or steal them. It’s not just the material ‘stuff’ either. No matter how courageously we build our self esteem it could be trampled by a thoughtless word or deed. No matter how much effort we put into our creations they could be dismissed as rubbish. No matter how much we love somebody they could be taken away. No matter how much we hope to live, our body might fail…

You get the picture… I need to zen the fuck out, this way anxiety (and other bad head-stuff) lies… It’s all adding up to that horrible angsty, cranky, want to crawl out of my skin and switch off my brain feeling that is exactly the sort of feeling I used to try to douse with drink. I’m not going there though, I know it won’t help. Deep breaths and serenity prayer sort of thoughts are the way forward tonight.

Sorry to keep sharing doom and gloom, hopefully the sun will shine again soon but this is where I’m at for now. I could be better but I know I could also be far worse. It’ll pass.

Some other interesting sobriety-related stuff also happened this week but I’m too tired to keep writing now. More later…

Take care, sending sober vibes and hugs x

 

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