Day 21

So I made it to 3 weeks this time, yayy! I’m still feeling my newly discovered inner resolve and haven’t thought much about drinking over the last week.

I had a really disturbing drinking dream yesterday though. I had gone to visit an old friend and her partner and we’d arranged to go out. Then things become a bit unclear because the dream cuts to me knocking on the door to hurry them up so we can go out but it’s actually 8am Sunday morning and I’m drunk with an almost finished bottle of wine in my hand. She’s all sleepy and in her PJs and I felt really embarrassed and ashamed. I think I had a blackout in a dream!! Then I wanted to get away from there urgently and was debating how dangerous it would be to drive but she was telling me to come inside the house. That’s all I can remember.

For the first few moments after I woke up I was still feeling the shame, anxiety and extreme disappointment – I felt like I was going to cry. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I realised I was still sober and it had all been a bad dream 😀

Happy sober Friday folks x

 

Day 73

I was so touched by the responses to my previous post. I’m really happy that there are so many people out there who can relate to what I was talking about with energy and spirituality. That side of me has been kept hidden away for so long I was so relieved to be able to write about it and have people respond so positively. Thank you all so much. I don’t feel so weird or so alone now 😀

It’s been a fairly uneventful week in a nice way. I’ve done some more fermenting and there are currently jars of ginger carrots and kimchi doing their thing on my kitchen worktop.

I found an awesome website called blinkist. It summarises a wide range of non-fiction books into ‘blinks’ that can be read in about 15 minutes. As I have a backlog of books to read on my shelves and my kindle I made a deal with myself and paid the £31 membership fee on the condition that I don’t buy any more books for a year. I can work my way through the ones I already have and the blinkist site will be a good way to introduce new subject areas in a manageble way, without having to chow through whole books. I tend to be so curious about so many subjects that the reading time I have doesn’t allow me to keep up with it all. Hopefully it’s a good plan.

I was hit with a sudden craving yesterday, the worst I’ve had for a few weeks. It was very hot and I felt tired and lazy and spent some time sitting in the garden and suddenly ‘Bam!’ from nowhere came the wine witch harping on about how nice a bottle of wine would be right now. I’m not even going to bother saying a glass because I know that’s bullshit. I actually thought about it slightly differently this time. I pictured myself going to the shops for wine and tried to think the hypothetical thoughts I would be having in that situation. The bottom line at the end of it was that I would still be uncertain that a whole bottle of wine would be enough which is of course a huge red flag, don’t go there, WTF?! kind of thought. I didn’t go there and I’m happy I didn’t.

Other than that it’s still going pretty well. I’m definitely finding it easier now I’m past 10 weeks. It actually seemed to pick up at 9 weeks. I’m also aware I haven’t had to deal with anything too challenging though. I’m happy being a stay-at-home introvert most of the time so haven’t really had to deal with drunk people socialising. My partner rarely drinks, I don’t think he’s had any for about a month now. There have been no major shocks, challenges or changes and I’ve cancelled all going away on holiday plans. I maybe should challenge myself a bit more but I figure by the time something comes along to really challenge me then at least I’ll be somewhere further along the path.

I’ve had 3 drinking related dreams in fairly quick succession. In the first one I drank wine and then woke up in horror thinking I’d blown it for a few moments before I realised it was a dream. In the second one I was asked what I was drinking in a restaurant. I ordered a red wine but then remembered I wasn’t drinking and quickly corrected it to a sparkling water. In the final one, I was bought a pint of lager but I gave it away and went to the bar myself and replaced it with an orange juice mixed with sparkling water. It’s a 2-1 win for the sober version of the drinking dream which I’ll take as a good sign.

I finally bought myself a sober treat that isn’t either food or no-alcohol drinks. I’m not much of a ‘things’ person (apart from books or art materials) so I haven’t really bothered before. After talking about so much spirituality in my previous post it has been on my mind ever since. It’s definitely one of my big motivations not to drink so I ordered an engraved leather bracelet with an inspirational quote on it. Spiritus Contra Spiritum. Alcohol works against spirituality. It feels appropriate. I’m waiting for it to be delivered from the Czech republic so I’m not sure how long it will take but I’ll post a picture when I do have it.

Right, I’ve got to get some sleep, I’m working the next few nights. Have a lovely sober weekend everybody. Hugs x

Weird sort of drinking dream

I had a strange non-drinking, drinking dream last night. I’d gone to London to celebrate a friend’s birthday and for some reason we were in a small grocery shop that had fitted wooden benches in the corner where you could drink what you had bought in the shop. Everybody else was drinking cans of beer for £1 and I asked the woman running the shop for some fizzy orange. She poured me a glass of normal orange juice, which isn’t fizzy, and then tried to charge me £4 for it. I challenged her on it, asking if she was really selling a carton of orange juice for £16. I then got into an argument with her about being punished for not fitting in and drinking like everybody else.

I think my subconscious fears and resentments may have been playing themselves out a bit there, LOL! Still, I’m seriously impressed that I chose not to drink even in a dream situation and I’m hoping that’s a good sign about where my head is at regarding sobriety 😀

Have a lovely sober Tuesday folks x

Day 22 – weird dreams, more self-analysis and one reason why I think I started drinking

I don’t know what is going on with my dreams but it’s all getting seriously weird. I vaguely remember reading somewhere recently that alcohol depletes vitamin B12 and a shortage of B12 leads to poor dream recall. That fits, I’ve rarely remembered my dreams for years. In the last 22 days I’ve remember quite a few – vividly!

Yesterday I was throwing some sort of family party on a houseboat which involved my rampantly anti-drugs 80-something father smoking hash in a bong – the absolute and total horror!!! Today it got even stranger. I was with one of my historically hard-drinking-buddies in some sort of foreign package holiday scenario – lots of sunshine, outdoor bars and people partying. I had a craving for a nice cold pint of lager but resisted. Then I swallowed a pill that a total stranger just popped into my mouth. WTF?! I haven’t taken anything recreational in pill form since my twenties and even then I was always very, very cautious and would absolutely never in a million years just pop an unknown pill from a random stranger. Just what is going on in my head at night? (well, day actually – I’m a day-sleeper because of my job). Unbelieveable! I really don’t know what to make of that.

On a less weird note, I’ve woken up to find I’ve had some traffic to my blog and even some followers. My heart is warmed and I’m far more touched than is probably cool in this situation, but that’s me, about as ‘uncool’ and socially clueless as it gets by ‘normal’ standards 😀 I’ve become aware I’m writing the blog in a sort of diary form, not really reaching out in any way or getting involved in any of the other blogs I read. This is not because I don’t want to I just find it excruciatingly difficult to connect to people. I’m like this in real life and it seems I’m the same online. I’ve even clicked on ‘leave a comment’ a few times and sat starting at the empty comment box like a rabbit in headlights and eventually just given up and left. I’m also highly self-conscious about the fact that for some reason I’m finding it reasonably easy to abstain when others are really struggling. I’m paranoid about coming across as smug because that’s the last thing I want. I can relate to so many of the struggles that I read about – they just happened to me before I started this blog.

I’m pretty sure this is learned behaviour that stems from my childhood experiences. This is a subject I’m utterly and painfully uncomfortable writing about – even on an anonymous blog – which I why I think that I have to. I also think it goes some way to explaining how I fell in love with alcohol. I don’t really know how to start this and it’s probably not going to read that coherently because my thoughts squirm around when I try to pin them down, but here goes…

I’m not a fan of labels. I don’t want to be labelled as I don’t like the assumptions that so frequently go with them. Having said that, I’ve been given a few over the years – sometimes viciously and slyly stuck somewhere up my mid-back where I can’t see them – the ‘kick me’ joke style – and sometimes with the best of intentions. I’ve tried to peel them all off, roll them into a small ball and flick them as far away as possible. The collection I’ve had include:

Freak, weirdo, misfit, loner, loser, geek, boring, clueless, ugly, other, stoner, pisshead, quirky, chicken, brave, beautiful, different, maverick, radical, sensitive, gifted, creative, funny etc.

I’ve included positive labels too even though they’re not the ones that started me drinking. No matter how many people have given me negative labels I’ve never lost my belief in the existence of people that would – and have – given me good ones, they’re out there but there’s just not as many of them. I fear and dislike closed-mindedness, closed-heartedness, meanness of spirit and people (including myself) being judgemental. Even though in my more compassionate moments I try to remember that most mean behaviour is motivated by fear more than anything else I also have slowly, over many years and incidents been conditioned to expect the worst from people.

To cut a very long story short I’d summarise it as follows. I have always been a misfit and an outsider. I was bullied the whole way through school and spent most of my childhood in such a state of anxiety that the adrenaline and nausea would be pumping from a few seconds after waking, the whole day would be torture and I’d be miserable and exhausted by the end of each day. I wasn’t totally alone, there were always 1 or 2 people that would recognise my ‘otherness’ and be drawn to it. There was fortunately always a small lifeline of friendship to keep me sane but in the main I can honestly say I feel like my life started the day I left school.

On top of that there were also other ‘unpredictable shit happens’ life events in my early childhood that took away any sense of financial security and even the security that a parent would stay alive (redundancy and serious parental illness). I remember feeling that no matter where I looked, there was nothing solid to hold on to. When I hear people talk about the joy of carefree and golden childhood days I just can’t connect to that concept. I visualise it as being like a fairground house of horrors with the floor moving around and scary shit jumping out at me from all angles. Even in my 40s my pulse raises and my muscles tense up when I concentrate on memories of being a kid. I remember being so tired of coping that I actually broke my own arm over a concrete step just to get a few days away from school. I still don’t know how I did that – I’m such a pain wuss.

You get the general picture. I was a wreck of a super-high-anxiety, rabbit in headlights teenager on the edge of a nervous breakdown sort of kid. Eww, blimey even just describing this is taking me as close to wanting a drink as I’ve been for 3 weeks. I’m not going to though.

Then, at 14, hidden away in some woodland near my dreaded secondary school I got drunk for the first time. Oh my fucking god, the bliss I felt that day. I was drinking cans of guinness and trying to ignore how foul it tasted. When that first sense of creeping numbness started I could feel my tightly strung-out tension receding. The more I drank, the further away all the shit seemed to go. For the first time ever I was feeling something close to relaxation and it felt like some sort of divine revelation. No wonder I fell in love with drinking from then on.

My drinking partner that day was my best friend at the time – a lass even more way-out-there-on-the-fringes than myself. I think we both had a similar sense of relief that day and both continued to drink heavily from that day onwards. I always remained fairly high-functioning but sadly she went into a slow slide into mental illness (depression and paranoid schizophrenia) and some horrendous self-induced tragedies. That’s a whole other long story 😦

So, I don’t think that was too long or rambling – I have a tendency to stray off the point when I write. I’d say I spent the first 30 years of my life desperately wanting to fit in) or at least be unobtrusive in not doing so) and trying to pretend to be more normal. I’ve spent the last 10 years observing that what is classed as ‘normal’ in our society is actually not all it’s cracked up to be and preferring my take on life – finally growing to like my ‘otherness’. I can even say that now, entering my 40s I’m actually very happy to have my ‘otherness’ and to be me. I’m not perfect and I’ve made plenty of mistakes but I can honestly say that I like and respect myself and my values, strengths and weaknesses.

Now I’ve (mostly) stopped wishing to be anything other than what I am and started embracing who and what I am it’s brought a level of inner peace that’s eluded me for most of my life. I suppose it’s a far healthier version of what I thought I was feeling all those years ago in the woods with the illicit guinness. It’s a tentative peace and I can easily lose contact with it but I know it’s always there within my reach as long as I am able to make the effort to keep an attitude of self-honesty, gratitude and acceptance rather than lose my way worrying about ‘social norms’ or chasing after a false alcohol-induced copy of it.

Bloody hell I’m exhausted now, I think I need a nice cup of tea. If you’ve got as far as this then thanks for reading and I’ll make you a virtual cuppa too 🙂

Day 12 was a mixed day

Some good things happened today, and some not so good.

One good thing was that I went swimming for the first time in almost 2 years. Seeing as I live a 3 minute walk from my local pool it’s not exactly a hassle to fit it in so hopefully I’ll keep it up – just once a week for now.

After about 15 minutes I was really starting to feel it so I thought, ‘I’ll just do half an hour then get out.’ It was feeling like a real slog and a chore.

After about 20 minutes the endorphins started flowing and I started enjoying it. At 40 minutes I could feel the slightest pulling at the back of one of my knees (they’re both injured) so I slowed down and did a very slow few lengths and stopped at 45 minutes.

During my cool-down lengths I was pondering the parallels between the swimming and sobriety. I had to push through the early stages and resist the urge to give up. Once I reached a certain point it became easier and even started to become enjoyable, creating a positive momentum of its own. It was still important that I didn’t push myself too far and to take care of my known weaknesses too. Yes, I think there are a lot if similarities between the two.

I also had another drinking dream 😦 I was very happy to wake up and realise I hadn’t had a drink but I can’t remember the details of the dream. This was probably triggered by an unfortunate conversation with my partner earlier in the day…

I’ve just arranged to meet up with another couple for a meal for my birthday in a couple of weeks. This is obviously a tricky point for me. I’ll be over 3 weeks sober by then but I’m not complacent about how difficult it might be. One of the friends is an old-time hard-drinking partner I’ve known since I was 18. We’ve both grown up and calmed down a lot but the strong association with him and drinking is still there in the background and has been known to occasionally pop up cause some ‘hilarious’ drunken shenanigans, even though we’re supposed to be mature now 😉

I offered to drive there, partly to ensure I don’t drink and partly because he drove last time. The next part of the conversation went into stressful territory…

Him: ‘No, I’ll drive, you’ve got to have a drink on your birthday.’

Me: ‘I’m doing a dry January and that includes my birthday.’

Him: ‘Come on… it’s your birthday!… you can have just one can’t you? That’s not going to make a difference.’

Me (thinking to myself): That’s highly fucking unlikely!

This could have easily turned into an argument and probably would have less than two weeks ago. Instead of getting pissed off I just quietly stated that not drinking is really important to me at the moment and that the last thing I needed was for him to give me any hassle me about it. He apologised immediately and we were OK.

This incident gave me plenty to think about for the rest of the day. One thing it highlighted was the pervasiveness of British cultural brainwashing about alcohol. This is even more pronounced when you consider the fact that my partner is from a muslim family who obviously did not mark celebrations with alcohol. I pointed this out to him and the conversation continued…

Me: ‘You’re from a culture that never included alcohol in celebrations so why is it so hard to believe I want to do it?’

Him: ‘Yeah but I always found celebration times stressful.’

Me (after a pause): ‘So you’re saying you could have done with a drink?’

Him: ‘Yeah.’

At this point we both laughed at the ridiculous turn the conversation was taking and any remaining stress dissipated.

He’s been immersed in British culture for about 8 years now and the booze brainwashing – particularly regarding birthdays – has obviously seeped in. He’s now a take-it-or-leave-it-only-have-1-or-2 sort of drinker but in the past he has made mistakes with alcohol. Coming from a background where drinking is entirely absent (and highly taboo) he was suddenly let loose in pissed-up Blighty and learned his alcohol lessons the hard way. He once drank so much so fast at the encouragement of his hard-drinking Brit work mates that he passed out and ended up in an ambulance. Something even I’ve never done and I’ve done a lot of stupid drinking stuff.

There’s nothing stressful about going for a tasty meal with 2 easy-going friends and I’m sort of looking forward to being fully present and focused on the people, the food and the conversation – not on drinking. I can’t predict where my head will be by the time my birthday comes around but I’m determined it’s going to be a sober one.

One week and a weird dream

I’m just going into day 7. I’m surprised that a week has already gone by. I also just had a very odd dream.

I was on my annual camping trip that I go on with some friends but things were pretty strange, as they often are in dreams. For a start my bed frame, mattress and chest of drawers had somehow been set up in my small tent. As it’s usually a pretty boozy few days and I was insisting I wouldn’t be drinking my partner was saying ‘We’ll see shall we?’ which pissed me off.

Then I was half in the tent (which must have been the size of a marquee by now), and half at a bar – a gaudy neon sort of bar you’d find in a nightclub. Somebody put down a shot glass of some green drink and I downed it straight away without even thinking.

My immediate reaction was ‘Oh fuck I’m not drinking, why the hell did I do that??!’ It was particularly disappointing because I don’t even like those sort of hulk-green chemical-flavoured shots anyway 😦

A few other themes appeared in the dream that seemed particularly relevant at the moment. I was struggling with the changes in and potential loss of some friendships. I became aware I was blaming my partner for things I should have taken responsibility for checking myself. There was even an appearance by a particularly picky shit-stirring work colleague that I have to work hard to handle constructively. She was telling me I hadn’t fitted the tent groundsheet straight.

I was very happy when I woke up and realised it was all a dream and that I really am on day 7. Yay!!