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

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

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 😀