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

 

 

 

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

 

Life is good (in general)

It’s day 41 here – I had to find my phone to check on that. I was going to post for 5 weeks but I’ve been so busy getting into my creative work I didn’t get round to it.

Not everything is great, such is life. The company I work for has announced another large round of job cuts. My shift has survived this time but my job is definitely looking less secure each day. I’ve resolved not to worry about it. I have savings so losing my job would suck but it wouldn’t be an immediate emergency. If/when it happens I’ll worry about it then. I’ve spent far too much of my life worrying about stuff I can’t control – it never prevents anything and just wastes my time and energy.

I’m currently reading a book that is worth a mention here. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it; maybe it was mentioned in a podcast or web article. It’s called Blessed Are The Weird by Jacob Nordby. I thought it sounded like my kind of book so I bought the kindle version and got stuck in. I’m only halfway through but I can already tell it’s one of those rare and precious gems that has the power to utterly transform a life.

Fairly close to the beginning this passage was the first of many to reach deep into my soul:

Where it all begins, I cannot say, this sense of being a stranger in a world full of people who seem to belong in it. All I know is that some of us are not like the others – something in us doesn’t fit.

Well hellloooo! The gems just keep coming:

The problem is the numbing.

The problem is that we have forgotten how to make our own lives works of art and we cannot seem to find enough ways to gorge ourselves to fill the aching sense of emptiness this leaves behind. Because we don’t know how to fill up the space of our lives with ourselves, we turn that job over to others and then wonder why we are never satisfied.

Does that sound familiar at all?

There is also a beautiful quote from the poet Mia Hollow:

Every now and again, you will feel a dull ache in your soul. A gentle humming around your heart. A longing for something without a name. If I ever told you to obey anything, this would be it. Listen to the call of your authentic self; that part of you that lives just outside your own skin. Let it have its way with you. I have died a hundred times trying to ignore it.

And I have drunk a hundred times (and the rest) trying to ignore the dull ache, and shoehorn myself into the socially agreed version of an acceptable life, career, drinking habits etc…

The book addresses many of the recurring issues that I struggle with myself and regularly read among other sober bloggers. A feeling of never quite finding our place in the world, social awkwardness, the tendency to isolate or that feeling of having missed the point somehow. I’ve always had a feeling of there being ‘something more’. On the very rare occasions I have voiced this I’ve often been made to feel ungrateful because although my life has had its fair share of ups and downs it has (in general) not been so bad. It’s not been bad enough to ‘justify’ developing a drinking problem, according to some.

I was tucked up in bed last night, reading in utter amazement as the book basically spelled out the story of my life. I realised that the lack of connection to my deeper creative soul is a big part of what I’ve been trying to drink away. Over time I became so disconnected that I couldn’t even remember what it was I was missing but I kept drinking anyway.

I was thinking about that illusory first drink and its misleading buzz that we chase over and over. It’s just a poor photocopy of the magic that we have forgotten can be found within – a photocopy degraded a thousand times. The magic is never going to be found in the drink, it’s all within ourselves and we all have it in our own ways. It’s the magic that we saw everywhere in the world as children but lost as we grew up. The hard part is remembering and reconnecting 😦

So, as you can probably tell, I’m quite excited about it all. I’d go as far as to say I think this book is going to do more to cement in some core foundations of sobriety than the many books I have read about quitting drinking.

I’m still running with the poetry that keeps popping into my mind. I’m going to combine it with the visuals that are forming too. It looks like illustrated poetry is going to be my ‘thing’. I’d never have predicted it but the more I focus on it the more I can feel the magic creeping back into life and the joy and excitement growing. I’ve been so busy and uplifted by turning towards these wonderful new things that I’ve gone long stretches of time forgetting that I’ve turned away from drinking. This definitely feels like a breakthrough in the right direction.

The sun is shining here even though it’s still cold. I love those first few times of feeling sunshine on my face after a long, dark winter. Gratitude for the small things feels good 🙂

I hope you’re having a good week so far. Hugs to anybody struggling, keep going and keep writing – it doesn’t matter whether you’re on one year or one day, your sharing will be helping somebody out there x