Contemplating milestones

Hi all. I’m still here and still sober. I’ve really been neglecting this blog but it’s mainly for the best of reasons with a light sprinkling of laziness and procrastination thrown in. I’ve recently been feeling pretty inspired and have been busy working on creative projects. I have the kind of clarity of mind and the ability to focus that has been missing for a long, long time due to my drinking. I don’t plan to waste it. I’m also busy at work, it’s silly season in retail, meh!

Now I am starting to see my one year date on the horizon. I’m not taking anything for granted but I’m also not fearful that I won’t make it. I remember when lasting three days was a struggle and when thirty seemed impossible. Now I’m feeling very fortunate that I’ve done more than ten (and a half) of those in a row.

Looking through some old notebooks I found notes making plans to do a ‘YOLS’. I’d forgotten about that. It was my discreet acronym for a year of living sober. I’m not sure when it was from but I think it may even predate this blog. I’ve evidently been thinking about this for such a long time and now, finally, I find myself contemplating this significant milestone.

I’ve previously tried to imagine this point many times. As with so many of our fears or expectations, most of what I imagined doesn’t match the reality.

I imagined that the decision whether or not to drink again at this stage would be one still based on struggle and fear. Maybe I’d want to try drinking again but I’d be too scared of it all escalating again? I thought I’d be torn – do I? Don’t I? Instead I find myself ready to renew my sober vow to myself out of excitement, curiosity and determination. Not what I was expecting but, I’ll take it!

I visualise this as being like hiking up a big mountain, it’s probably the best way to express how I’m feeling. The beginning of the hike was dreadful. Every step took a huge amount of effort. I had no idea how I was going to keep going. Everything hurt, I was unfit and ill-prepared. The summit looked a million miles away. As the days, weeks and months passed I got fitter, stronger and more experienced and the steps forward became progressively easier. It’s not all been plain sailing (or hiking). At times I felt exhausted and demotivated and wanted to just give up and slide back down the mountain. Many times I wondered if it was all really necessary or worth it. At other times I felt all pink cloudy and fired up, confidently striding onwards and upwards. It’s definitely been a mixed year.

Now, the one year summit is in sight. I’m feeling fit and strong and the final few weeks of the hike don’t intimidate me. I know there are always opportunities to slip or fall but I keep my eyes carefully on the path ahead. The idea of drinking again when I finally reach the summit now seems as crazy as doing a real hike up a mountain and then not bothering to stop and admire the view. Why on earth would I waste all that effort?

I have thought that making it to one year would somehow be the end of the process but now I suspect it’s actually going to be a new beginning. Now I’ve got to the stage where I’m spending very little mental energy on not drinking it’s all been freed up to do other stuff that I couldn’t focus on before. I’m not big on new years’ resolutions, never have been, but I’ve vowed that 2018 is the year I’m finally going to make my creative stuff pay. The quality and consistency of my work has definitely increased in the last few months.

I can feel a return of the positivity and determination that I had when I was younger. That feeling that even though stuff might be hard, I can DO shit. Also that feeling that I CAN, and WILL, find a way to make things happen, even if the HOW is not immediately obvious. There are also more frequent moments of peace and contentment, sometimes in the strangest contexts – just bog-standard ordinary moments rather than overtly ‘good’ times. I find gratitude comes easier these days and I’ve definitely noticed a general swing towards a more positive mental attitude.

I still find dealing with life and the world difficult at times. I have sensitive introvert tendencies and events often feel way too ‘in my face’ but I find that in my new clarity I can usually summon that little ounce of extra courage to get out there and attempt things in spite of my anxiety. And if something does go wrong or my mood drops then it’s easier to move through it and learn my lessons if I actually feel the difficult feelings rather than hide away from them behind the drinking.

So, next month I will be waving goodbye to my first year of sobriety and welcoming the beginning of year two with a little bit of trepidation but mostly with anticipation. I’m not sure where it will take me yet but I am sure it has to be better than where a return to drinking would lead. I still don’t say I have quit forever, it’s more a foreseeable future kind of thing. This feels too strong, too real and too hopeful to imagine wanting to let that false friend back into my life any time soon though…

I hope folks are coping well with the Christmas / holidays party onslaught. One of the good things about being an introverted hermit and working a lot over this season is that I don’t really have to deal with all that. A quiet meal with friends is hopefully as hectic as it gets for me. New years eve will be spent at work this year which I’m fine with. I’ve always found it an over-priced, over-rated and over-hyped excuse for a drunken shit-show – not that I’ve needed much excuse in the past as you all know.

Sending you all some extra sober strength to deal with the seasonal chaos and I hope you have a lovely weekend 🙂 x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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160 days

I’m over five months sober now. Crikey! I had a week or so of feeling really blah, just uninspired and restless. I was mourning the pink cloud days and getting into a bit of an ‘Is this it?’ sort of slump. One day I was feeling particularly scattered, frustrated and cranky so I did my self-care duty and went to the woods for a walk.

I’d been sitting on my butt for a couple of days and my right hip felt tight and painful. I started slowly and concentrated on the beautiful surroundings. Gradually my mood improved and I remembered how much I need physical activity to feel good. Once I got warmed up, I really got going. I was yomping along in a really strange mood that I can’t quite describe. I think ‘fierce’ is the best word for how I felt. It just crept up on me. I made sure I put on a friendly smile whenever I passed somebody in an attempt to not look weird or scary. I probably shouldn’t have worried though. I’ve been repeatedly told that I look sweet, innocent and even angelic (huh?) No matter what darkness is stirring on the inside, on the outside I apparently look about as badass as Bambi.

That fierce, determined feeling seems to have stuck around to a degree. I’ve been looking forwards and getting fired up by lots of creative ideas and life possibilities. I have a sense of being ready to open up and explore, to grab hold of life in a way I never could while drinking. The balance seems to have tipped even more away from the ‘look what I’m giving up’ thoughts towards the ‘holy shit, look what I’m getting!’ thoughts. I appreciate the shift very much and I hope it continues. I also accept that it may not. I’ll make the most of it for now.

I’ve set up a separate blog for my illustrated poems and other creative sobriety-related stuff. I want to keep it completely separate from here. This blog is more my personal warts and all, let it all hang out kind of space. The other one is going to be more of an inspirational quotes, ideas and resources spot. I’m still not ready to go loud and proud so I’m writing it under a pseudonym and the artwork is different enough from my more commercially aimed work that I won’t ‘out’ myself (I hope). If you’ve enjoyed the bits of poetry I’ve posted here then come and visit at relightinglife.com. That’s the only time I’ll link to it and I definitely won’t be linking from there to here. Yup, separate it is.

I now have that wonderfully, thoroughly tired feeling that only physical exertion can bring. I walked almost 9 miles this morning. My legs are aching and I’m hearing my bed calling my name. I wonder if I can managed an episode of Game of Thrones before I fall asleep? I’m going to try 🙂

I hope you’ve all had a good week and wishing you a lovely weekend whatever you’re up to. Love and sober hugs x

 

Why not today?

This morning I got home after work with an aching shoulder and the feeling that I may be heading ino a stomach bug. It was a long, hard night. People were cranky and arguing and the manager moped around with a face like a slapped arse. Maybe the heat is getting to everybody? I don’t know. Despite this, the poetry muse decided to make an appearance. Seriously?! Now?! I know better than to ignore it so I got a pen and pad and off I went.

Last night I was thinking loads about a few of the recent blogs posts I’ve read. Some were from new people contemplating the possibility of quitting.  Some were from the newly sober and doubt-ridden and some from people returning for another sobriety attempt. I think this poem was inspired by you and is for you all. It’s quite long and gets a little dark but as I still have no idea where it comes from, you can complain to whoever is pushing these words into my head ;D


Why not today?

You are going to quit, just not today

What’s the rush? you think

Maybe tomorrow? I hear you say

Wolfie gives me a big sly wink

Or maybe next week? There’s an idea

One last weekend to riot

It’s a busy month, my friends are all here

Maybe next month? Then I’ll be quiet

You don’t think it wise to hurry and push

Life is for living you know

There’s always next year, what’s the big rush?

You’re still only young, time will go slow

Without your permission the years jump ahead

Plans fall apart, dreams fade and die

Yeah, I’ll quit soon, you repeatedly said

Why not today? You glower and sigh

Maybe next decade? That will be time

to slow down and settle myself

Yes, later you say. And then I’ll be fine

I still have my money, my mind and my health

Later creeps in, as quick as a flash

Breaking your body and dimming your sight

The life in your veins a dwindling stash

You’re starting to fear that long dark night

You can’t quit now! You need your best friend

The one that’s two-faced and sold you all lies

Who’s going to comfort me, right till the end?

The one that hid truth and stifled the cries

of your heart in the dark, it’s magic unfound

Your true life unlived, your time has run out

Too many laters, much skirting around

the issue at hand. Too much fear and doubt

I’m leaving you now, the false friend decides

so many will follow you here

My next victim waits for their fantasy ride

Hoping to take away all pain and fear

So long, no hard feelings, it was just a con

but maybe it’s still not too late?

For your heart to flourish and sing its song

For your eyes to open and soul to wake

So scream and shout, grieve and cry

then cast it out, don’t allow it to take

and more of your life, it’s time to fly

So, why not today? It’s worth a try


 

I’ve taken some oregano oil and some grapefruit seed extract which are truly two of the most challenging flavours on the face of the earth. They are both reputed to be potently anti-bacterial, anti-viral and hopefully anti-spending my day puking with my face in the toilet. Fingers crossed! I’m off to bed.

Have a good day folks x

 

140 days – mixed times

It’s been a fairly mixed couple of weeks since I last posted. My health scare turned out ok – not entirely good, but nothing too serious. There’s nothing like it for getting your healthy motivation on though. I ate really well and did anything else I could think of to be good to my body. Since getting my test results that has slacked off somewhat. Isn’t that so often the way it goes?

I did have a week off coffee and sugar and felt a lot better for it. I’m plagued by the daily dragging fatigue that Hashimoto’s brings. Without these two things in my diet the fatigue definitely eases a bit and becomes less hard-edged. You know the classic scene in a zombie movie where the new zombie sits up in its grave, jaw dropping and looking oddly surprised that it’s upright and alive? That should give you a good impression of what I usually feel like waking up. During that week I actually felt something close to a normal (?) sort of waking up sleepiness. The coffee and sweeties have both crept back in but the experiment has given me something to think about.

I also hit another happy milestone since my last post – I lost a stone (14lbs/6.35kg). Not in two weeks obviously but it’s been creeping off slowly over the last few months – and creeping back on, and off again and round in a few circles, as it does. My super healthy living around my health scare seems to have kick started it again. A couple of pounds have crept back on but I’m still in a much better place than I have been for years. I feel sluggish and rubbish after eating lots of junk for the last 3 days, it’s time to eat clean again and feel better. I don’t want to backslide all the way back up the scale again, or feel like an overfed sugar-crashing slug.

Being sober is becoming normalised now and something I’m not thinking about so much. My thinking about not drinking has lessened and doesn’t take up such a large percentage of my days now. Some days I don’t even think about it at all. Many days I’m not sure what my day count is. I have had a few moments where I can clearly identify what I would previously have called a craving and set off down the path of drinking thoughts. Now I realise that I’m feeling a bit ‘off’ somehow – bored, restless, anxious, unfocussed, cranky, fearful etc but my brain is becoming less likely to skip straight to the ‘DRINK!’ to make it ok phase and instead stays longer with the uncomfortable feelings. This means I’m feeling a fair bit of discomfort at the moment but I wouldn’t swap it for where I started from.

I miss my pink cloud days but I do appreciate that what I’m feeling is real. Life feels dull, ploddy, scattered and uninspired at times but I can accept that because that’s just the way life works, and I know that at other times it can also feel wonderful.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend x

 

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

 

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

 

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