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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 12

I had to check my day counting app to find out how many days I am at. In previous attempts to quit I’ve often found the first couple of weeks to be the easier, gentler part of the process and I’m having a similar experience again. Apart from my 2-day headache and some occasional fleeting thoughts about wine it has been pretty uneventful during the last 12 days.

To me, early sobriety often feels like the feeling you get when you slip into clean, fresh cotton sheets. It’s a rest and respite, a break from the self-abuse, breathing space for my poor knackered body. The struggle comes for me when the sober sheets have become crumpled, sweaty and covered in cat hairs. The doubts and bargaining come a few weeks in when the novelty has worn off. I guess I’ve had enough attempts over the last 2 years to know this about myself by now.

Yesterday I went shopping in town which I always find exhausting. Busy places just drain my energy. When I got home I had an aimless, tired but restless feeling. I didn’t know what to do with myself and felt too flat to do anything productive but I was thinking I shouldn’t really go to bed. I recognised it as exactly the kind of feeling I would spend an afternoon into evening drinking away. To hell with shoulds/shouldn’ts, I went to bed and ended up sleeping until midnight and then I got up and fell asleep on the sofa again about 3 hours later. I can hardly believe how much I’ve slept this time around.

I’ve been trying to look after myself a bit better. I bought a rebounder and I absolutely love it. I’ve only skipped a day if I feel ill or am in pain and all other days I’ve thoroughly enjoyed bouncing around and getting a sweat on. Apparently there are huge amounts of lymph channels within the liver and as rebounding is supposed to be great for moving the lymph it figures that it may be good for helping my poor liver to detox and recover from any booze damage. I also bought a hard skin remover for my feet. I’m not generally one for buying beauty gadgets but I realised my feet made a hard tapping noise when I hit them with my finger nails (nice!!), and the hard skin is getting painful 😦

There’s something I’ve been meaning to mention for a while now. I’m unable to leave a comment on blogspot blogs. When I go there and try to use my wordpress ID it looks like it’s accepting it but when the comment is previewed it’s defaulting to an old google ID that I don’t even remember setting up. I’m looking for a way around this but I just wanted to let my blogger using visitors know that I’m not ignoring you. I really appreciate the comments and support that come from you and I’m sorry I can’t reciprocate at the moment. Does anybody else have the same problem or know a way around this?

I think it’s time to go and supervise some cat chaos. I can hear my cat growling and screeching through the cat flap at a visitor trying to make friends with her. It’s a daily ritual at the moment.

Strength and hugs to anybody struggling, have a good, sober day folks 🙂 x

 

Day 38, still sober

I haven’t had time to write anything over the last week but I’m still sober and doing OK. It’s been an odd week and my moods have been up and down like a rollercoaster though I’ve had no major cravings which is a good sign.

Yesterday I was floating on the most ridiculous pink cloud. I sat in the garden with my kindle, a notebook and my cat. It is exceptionally hot here by UK standards so I felt like I was on holiday somewhere rather than by my kitchen door. My mood was euphoric, almost as good as a peak experience. My life and the future felt full of magic and potential and I felt like everything is going to be OK, whatever sober life brings. I wanted to scoop y’all up for a big picnic on that huge pink cloud with me 😀

Today is not so good. It’s not baaaad, bad but I just feel like I can’t be bothered to do anything. I’ve also got a niggly headache which is probably the usual coffee/dehydration seesaw I ride, exacerbated by the high temperatures.

I had a slight wobble tonight. Today’s can’t be bothered mood meant I avoided going out to do some bits of grocery shopping that I needed before I disappear into my run of night shifts. I realised I was going to have to do it tomorrow and I detest busy Saturday supermarkets so I decided to get in my car and drive to the 24 hour one and get it over with tonight. Driving there around midnight is usually something I only do when I’ve tried not to drink, failed and thought ‘fuck it!’ and gone there for wine. Even though the wine thoughts were not what took me there this time there’s obviously a whole set of associations worn into a groove in my brain that set off a whole load of other associations with relapse and drinking thinking.

It felt odd and slightly disturbing but there was honestly no real danger I was going to crumble and buy some wine. It was just some habitual thoughts chattering away unconvincingly.

I also talked to my partner this week and told him I’d be happy to skip going away on holiday this summer. I’m feeling fairly strong at home but I don’t want to fall over while I’m away again. If we went away when we’d planned to I would be at the same stage I was at when I started drinking again in Venice last year. I was totally honest with him about the reason I wasn’t keen to go and he was fine with it. We’ve decided to put the money we would have spent towards a much-needed new bathroom and I get to wait until much farther along before I have to face my first sober holiday. It’s all good.

I think that’s about it for now. I’m tired but I need to stay awake for another 5 hours or I’ll mess up my sleep pattern for work. I think I’ll go shoot some stuff on the xbox, that’ll get me hyper enought to last until morning. Have a happy, sober weekend everybody x

One month

I now have a full calendar month of sobriety. I think I’ve only got this far once before but I’m not 100% sure, I’ve lost track there have been so many attempts.

I had an interesting encounter in a supermarket earlier. The man in front of me was waxing lyrical about Bacardi being on a BOGOF offer and was encouraging me to stock up. I smiled politely and said ‘I don’t drink.’ Three little words. One huge statement. They came out fairly naturally and didn’t feel forced. It did make me feel slightly odd after saying it, as if I was trying on a new reality and checking it out in the mirror. The mirror also provided an interesting reflection. The guy quickly felt the need to justify himself. ‘Oh I don’t drink much either, I’m stocking up for a birthday party.’ I hope it was the truth.

I was feeling good about the encounter during my walk home but then I noticed a familiar bright-light blind-spot in my vision. I was developing a visual migraine, which quickly rained on my one-woman victory parade. I made it home and got the necessary stuff into the fridge, took some paracetamol and went to sleep it off. They usually last less than an hour and mercifully don’t come with a classic migraine-strength headache. I’ve snoozed for a few hours and feel fine now. I’m also able to stay up all night which puts me back on the right sleeping schedule for my return to work tomorrow night.

Being sober is currently a mixture of 95% feeling positive and enthusiastic about it and 5% that dreadful skin-clawing need to alter my state of mind. I’m getting longer stretches between cravings but when they do come they are pretty heavy. I’ve been experimenting with more natural and helpful ways of altering my consciousness.

A craving hit and I paced around a bit then made myself sit and meditate. The first twenty minutes was a monkey-mind chaos session. ‘It’s not working’, ‘Fuck I want some wine’, ‘Aaarrghhhh!’, ‘Why am I like this?!’ etc, etc… Then I felt it, the lovely receding, quieting feeling when my mind finally settled. I sat for another peaceful ten minutes and came out of the session feeling much better.

I’ve also done lots of drawing during my week off. I spent hours doing an intricate drawing of a flowering shrub in my back garden. That sort of intense-observation drawing changes your consciousness dramatically. Your vision focuses in and the background recedes, colours seem brighter, objects cease to go by their given names and become shapes, colours and negative spaces. It’s very powerful. I was once painting at my desk and a pigeon flew past the window just as a loud motorbike went up the road outside. For about ten seconds my mind totally accepted the fact that the pigeon was revving its ass off until normal consciousness stepped in to make me laugh at that bit of ridiculousness.

I’ve also been paying attention to my addicted bargaining mind. ‘I’m not really that bad am I?’, ‘Could I give up coffee and drink wine again?’ and other such thoughts. They are still there, churning away but they seem to be a bit weaker, as if I’m hearing them from farther away now. I hope they keep on moving away and getting quieter.

Yet again I’m saddened by the news headlines. There’s so much fear, pain and hate causing more fear, pain and hate. It seems to be a cycle that’s so hard to break, like a bigger worldwide version of the drinking one. I wonder if we, as human beings will ever manage it? I really hope so but I really don’t know how. My thoughts are with the victims and their families.

As another weekend approaches I wish you all a happy, peaceful and sober one. Hugs for anybody who’s struggling. Take care and be well x

Past the quarter century

Today is day 26 so I passed a quarter of the way towards finishing the 100 day challenge. That still seems like such a long way off and I’m trying to think only one day at a time.

I’ve had a couple of difficult moments this week. I had some really sudden and strong wine cravings. I really wanted to grab a bottle of wine on more than one occasion but I didn’t. Last night I was pacing round the house with that familiar looming ’emptiness that needs filling’ feeling. It didn’t help that I had a stomping coffee-reducing headache. I just felt bored and ‘blah’ but instead of drinking I watched a ton of House of Cards on netflix and it got me through. I’m fortunately back to feeling better about it all today and glad that I didn’t give in to the cravings.

I’m really appreciating getting back to that sober state where shit gets done. I’ve done so much stuff around the house and garden; nothing big and dramatic but lots of little bits that slowly add up to noticeable improvements. When I allow drink into my life I tend to spend a lot of time being drunk, lazy and doing bugger all around the house. Then I suddenly look around and think, OMG I need to blitz and stagger around trying to catch up with myself. I think I get more done the slow and steady way but I also completely accept that I’m never going to have a ‘show home’ 😉

I feel like things are getting a bit harder now. The initial novelty and elation of the first few weeks has passed but the ease and bigger rewards that are promised further down the line still seem a world away. It feels like I’m entering some sort of limbo state that has to be waded through for now. I’m trying to think about interesting and positive options that could open up with a sober future. These thoughts at least combat the fear and negativity future thoughts. Mostly I’m just trying to stay present and to deal with the day ahead.

I’m going to try to do some creative stuff today as well as ‘useful’ stuff. Taking time out for creativity is an important part of my self-pampering which I’ve let slip a bit the last few days. I was considering going out to do some shopping but I actually don’t really feel like it so I won’t. There’s nothing I need urgently and I’m a reluctant shopper at the best of times. I think it would be more useful to wait until I’m more in the mood for it later in the week.

The sun has just come out here which will help to boost my mood. Have a lovely sober Monday everybody. Love and hugs to anybody who’s struggling x

3 weeks

This will be quick as I’m in a motorway service station tapping away at my phone. Today marks 3 weeks and I’m feeling good about it.

I’m on guard as I have frequently stumbled at around this time but as it stands I’m not doing too badly for cravings. I also have 10 nights off work now which is adding to my relaxation, yay! 🙂

Last night I met up with friends for a luscious curry and I didn’t want to drink at all. Not even a fleeting craving which was pretty reassuring. 

I feel grateful for my current state and I’m mindful that it could change at any moment. I have a long history of believing that raucous intensity was the way to live but I now realise that mindful, peaceful and relaxed stability has been severely underrated.

Strength and hugs to anybody struggling at the moment. Have a lovely sober day x