One year tomorrow

So, I hit one year tomorrow!! Woop woop! I’ll be at work so I’m posting a few hours early I guess. It’s hard to believe I’m at this milestone that once seemed enormously impossible, but here I am. If I can finally manage to do it after what seems like a million restarts then you can definitely do it too. Cheering for you all over here yayy!

One of the problems with not posting here as often is that so much stuff happens and I don’t know where to start when I do get round to writing. A lot has happened over the last month – some bad and some good.

A few weeks ago wordpress wished me a happy third blog anniversary. Three years! I was a bit surprised by that so I went back right to the beginning and sure enough, my first post was on December 29th 2014 when I was the tender age of 40 – and in a pretty tender state too. I was 44 at the weekend and I ended up in the same pub where I had my lapse last year. This year it was coffee and sparkling water and not a moment’s second thoughts 😀

A lot has changed and that change has taken a lot of time and perseverance. It was a gradual process and it was definitely worth it. If you’re doing dry January then hang in there if you’re wanting to speed things along or are wondering why you don’t feel awesome after a few weeks. Be patient and congratulate yourself for every win, every day, no matter how small they feel now. Over time it all adds up to something much bigger.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas/Holiday season and a happy new year. I didn’t have much time off work so it was all very low-key which is how I prefer it. I actually ended up eating Turkish food, in a Hindu community centre, on a Christian celebration day which was pretty unplanned but it was certainly different. I had wanted to stay home, cook some nice food and chill out but my partner’s boss bought us tickets to this event which created a sense of obligation. I was a bit pissed off about it but once I got over my objections and just went with it it ended up being an interesting experience.

New year’s eve I was on night shift so I ended up spending midnight in the staff canteen with a few colleagues. When they popped open a couple of bottles of sparkly stuff I honestly didn’t bat an eyelid. I reached over for the bottle of schloer, poured myself a plastic glass of it, ate some munchies, and watched the guys get a bit flushed and silly and talk shit. Nobody commented on the fact that I wasn’t drinking or asked me why. People often care less than you think. I felt good afterwards that I wasn’t even the slightest bit tempted to drink although I was on a bit of a sugar rush, damn that stuff is sweet.

I still get reminders of why it’s best that I don’t drink. When I was setting off for work on NYE I spotted a sweet-looking couple walking hand in hand away from a local shop, carrying a single bottle of wine. My first thought was immediately ‘ONE bottle between TWO of you!? Are you fucking crazy?!’ I was reminded that my idea of stocking up for new year’s eve has always been somewhat different. I would feel nervous with less than two bottles for myself and then I’d buy far too much for anybody else that would be around – just in case, you know? Yeah, if you’re reading this then I know that you know. I’m so relieved I don’t have to think about all that stuff any more. Life is so much simpler now.

The low point of the month was when my elderly dad fell victim to some rogue builder crime. He’d agreed to have some guys clean his gutters out but they went on to do lots of unasked for work and then demanded an exorbitant sum of cash in an intimidating fashion. He handled it fairly well and they ended up getting less money than they wanted but it was still a significant amount. I wish he’d called the police sooner (he reported it after the event) but I think he was in shock and prioritising his personal safety (one old man against three scumbags).

When I found out about this I was absolutely gutted, and completely fucking livid! I really struggled to handle the anger sober. Adrenaline gets extremely uncomfortable if there’s enough of it and I was absolutely packed full of it that day. My thoughts were pretty dark when I considered what those cowardly bastards had done. I wished for a consequence-free few minutes with a baseball bat and other such violent thoughts. I’m kind of ashamed to write that but that’s how it was. Without dousing down the heated anger with booze I just had to sit and seethe and sizzle. Eventually it passed, as everything does. He’s OK and moving on from it as am I. No matter how bad we feel in the moment, everything really, really does pass – this is something I’m learning more and more in sobriety.

My college course started earlier in the month and I’m loving it. More about that later though, it’s a whole post of its own.

I haven’t been around here much but I’ll be catching up on blogs and seeing how everybody’s doing over the coming week though. I’m on the last day of a week off work and I’m going to spend the evening watching netflix and eating donuts – I’m such a rebel these days pffff!

Big sober hugs to all, have an awesome weekend 🙂 x

 

 

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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