The trouble with going sober is…

my brain started working again!

All those ideas, plans, thoughts I had whilst drinking were pushed to the back of my mind. Alcohol made me too tired and unconfident to start any of them, and I couldn’t give them 100%. Occasionally they’d pop up and bother me, but I’d push them away again. Now I’m sober, those ideas and more have come flooding through. At first it was hard work, my brain hurt and I felt slightly stressed to prove that not only was I sober but I also had a purpose. Of course I am a mum, that’s satisfying enough. But I am also very creative and doing creative things with the kids or for myself is not enough for me. I need to feel part of the grown up world, satisfied by creating things for others. As I said to a friend, so many things I want to make but so little time or need for them at home. Especially from the world of baking! So I started off small, having fun with projects at home. Working out what I liked doing more than once a week, then once a day. Deciding what is a hobby and what can be a career has been the hardest part. So this is why I disappeared from here for a while. Like I said before I’m an all or nothing girl.

Now all those plans have come together and I’m embarking on a new career path that I know will be hard work but extremely rewarding. It combines all the things I love doing, and I’m good at them too. I’ll be working for myself, which is perfect for me, keeping control is what works best. I haven’t rushed into this. I have been sober for one year 4 months, it is just about the right time for me to embark on a new adventure physically and mentally. One friend said to me about a year ago “I know you, you need to get a job as soon as possible” I replied…”I’m taking my time, working out what’s right for me” she said…”no, you need to stop thinking about it and just do it” I disagree. In those early days/months of sobriety you have to spend time healing yourself and not rushing in to new things until you are ready. Learning how to reattach yourself to the world again, is a big part of sobriety. I was emotionally unfit to begin any big new things. Time needed to be spent fixing things that had gotten me into that mess in the first place and a new job was not the answer. I sometimes kick myself for not doing this sober thing sooner, and wonder what could be if I had not wasted that part of my life at the bottom of a bottle. But I have come to realise that this has come at the right time for me and I’m ready for it.

So here I am, embarking gently but surely into a new adventure. My brain has started working again and I like it….

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Chocolate…yes please…

I’ve always loved chocolate. Dark, dark plain chocolate. No fancy bits, extras and shapes. Just pure, unadulterated, plain yummy chocolate. My chocolate consumption in the past had been somewhat sporadic. A small chunk on the odd evening, not allowing myself much more, due to booze weight gain. Now I am sober my choccy habit has increased. Maybe a third of a 180g bar will disappear on a sofa, netflix watching evening. Am I worried that I’m consuming too much, or that maybe its becoming a little too habitual? Well no, not in the way I was about alcohol. Its healthier, I don’t have a weight issue (though some may think I do) since I lost a lot of weight since my sobriety journey. So I don’t go to bed and wake up regretting my evenings consumption. I am wondering if it affects my mood, post sugar withdrawal. But in comparison to my post alcohol mood its way better, and I certainly don’t need to sleep it off the next day. A big bowl of muesli in the morning perks me right up again. I don’t think about chocolate all day, but I do get slightly irritated if I don’t have my scrummy bar of Tony Chocoloney in the house. But a quick raid of the kids cupboard and voila a bit of milk choccy or a cookie will do the trick. Its my treat, but its not my new friend. I can take it or leave it. It is a habit, it has similar traits as my alcohol habit. But its so much better for me and a lot less life ruining. So I’ll keep this habit.

It was my habit…

I’d pour myself a cold glass of white wine at around 6pm every evening. This was the way I lived. It was my habit. A signal to relax, to start to wash away the feelings of the day. But also the moment when my body seemed capable of taking the first glass of the day. If the day ran with a normal routine then I would probably only consume my normal amount of alcohol on that evening. Normal would be 1 small bottle and one normal bottle of wine (one normal bottle was not enough anymore) This I see now was as a good day. On a day when my routine was disturbed, then my alcohol consumption went up. It could have been due to an event where I’d start earlier or couldn’t regulate my drinking, I tried to put ice in the drinks to make them last longer or have a glass of water in-between but this didn’t work. It could also have been an argument or bad feelings at home that triggered the fuck you in me which ended with me staying up late drinking what was in the house and then eating toast. This was a bad day. The bad days were coming more and my body was struggling to keep up. I was waking every night at 2 or 3am with an immense thirst, after drinking 2 large glasses of water I’d eventually fall asleep again only to wake an hour later needing the toilet. After that my sleeping was erratic and irritated by every sound, and then I’d eventually doze off again when it was actually time to get up. By then I was exceedingly grumpy, tired and red faced. I wore make up to cover my discoloured face, sunglasses to cover my glazed and clouded eyes and mints to disguise the morning smell on my breath as I dropped the kids at school. So in the day with the kids at school I’d do my chores, then lie on the bed, heart racing, head swimming, acid burning my chest and tried to sleep. I was always tired. I was just hanging in there, giving what I had left to my kids and then nothing to myself and anyone else. I felt ashamed, worthless, ugly, scared, and in need of change. But I still carried on. As I look back I’m wondering how on earth did I end up like this. Why on earth do we carry on doing something to ourselves that is so destroying not only to ourselves but also to the people we care about. But it was my habit and nobody was going to take it from me.

making new years resolutions or not…

Well, a happy new year. I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but I’m not one for making new years resolutions. Like I said I’m stubborn, perhaps a little less so lately. But I don’t believe in making resolutions, or marking the beginning of a calendar year with the thought that this next one should be better, admitting in some way that the last one was a bad one, just like my old school report ‘could try harder’. Maybe it would be interesting to hear someone say ‘lets make this year worse than last, I can’t carry on like this’. Also, deciding what I’m going to achieve in the year to come, setting myself up for failure or being forced to do something that seemed like a good idea at the time but wasn’t, is not my thing. In a way I am admitting here not only am I stubborn but a bit of a perfectionist so its that all or nothing rule again. I don’t even consider a new year as a new beginning, a fresh start. I’m sure it works for some, but not for me. My fresh start happened over one year ago, well as near as I can get to one. It seemed like a good idea at the time to set myself a few goals, most were almost inevitable, even necessary and a few were emergency resolutions, just incase I fell. Some came and went, some have lingered ignored, bothering me that I haven’t started/finished them, most never had a chance. But what I did do was achieve a lot of things that were not on my ‘list’. Things so insignificant to myself and others, but if I look back they are the things that I never even thought about or considered to be possible. So I suppose my resolution rule is not to make them, but to enjoy what you’re doing and let life guide you where you happily want to be. Oops that sounds a teeny bit like a resolution to me!

Learning trust….

Looking back it was so easy to not drink anymore. I didn’t have any cravings, symptoms or regrets after I stopped. Well regrets yes, but not about stopping. I wasn’t climbing the walls, we didn’t need to empty the house of booze, although there wasn’t much at home anyway. We also didn’t need to stay away from social occasions. I’m certainly not bragging, I’m actually surprised that it was that easy. I’m also relieved. So why hadn’t I done it so long ago. Well I suppose I’d never been held accountable for my actions before that day. I had been given a new challenge. To save my marriage and my family. That was where my mind was. Don’t get me wrong, I did have many many sleepless nights, stressful days, panicky days. But not caused by the withdrawal from the alcohol itself but from the withdrawal of my alcohol led existence. My focus had moved from my destructive  relationship with alcohol to fixing the relationship that had been destroyed. The non alcohol part was in fact the easiest part. But I’d always considered it to be like giving up smoking, which I have only ever done successfully whilst pregnant and even that was hard. I felt that giving up alcohol would be the same or even harder. There are of course parts of being sober, a non drinker that are difficult but the alcohol use itself for me is not.  One of the hardest parts of this journey for me was that someone walked out on me, deserted me and I have had to learn to trust them not to do it again. And trust is one of the hardest of emotions to rebuild. What I realise now, is that the trust had to be rebuilt by both sides of this relationship. Of course its not possible for me to prove I won’t drink again and its impossible for my husband to say he won’t leave me again. We can’t sign an agreement. So, It has been an intense, emotional, scarey rollercoaster journey, but one I value immensely. So now we have slowly learnt to trust each other again, but there’s still a little way to go but the beginning is much further away.

There’s a storm coming…

The day before that day, I knew something wasn’t right. The mood was like a storm was coming straight at me. I see it now, he had broken away from me. Made his decision. But all I saw then was someone irritated in me again. So what was I going to about that? Well drink of course, find comfort in my friend. Even though deep down I knew I shouldn’t have. But I’m very stubborn and it was like a big ‘fuck you…I can do what the fuck I like’. The storm didn’t come that night. I’d gotten away with it again. So I thought.

This is not the way it was supposed to happen…

If you ask me now, do I feel the way to my sobriety was a good way, I will probably have to say no. It wasn’t the way I expected it to be. Nor the way I hoped it would be. It was the way I feared it to be. But if you ask me am I better off now, then I will have to say yes. Absolutely.

November the 18th 2013 was the day that my husband left me. Left me, never to return. How had that happened? I had not been given an ultimatum. How dare he. But he did. My world was shattered. I had worked so hard. So I believed. I never wanted to end up like my mother, who has more than a few failed marriages under her belt and many broken relationships in between those. But all of a sudden I was staring that right in the face. Shit.

No this was not the way it was supposed to happen, I was going to stop drinking by myself and get fitter and healthier by myself. You see, I had started seeing a friend a few months before, who runs a fitness and weight loss practice. But as we delved into my ‘habits’, alcohol kept rearing its head as the perpetrator of my weight gain and fitness decline. Of course I didn’t reveal the true extent of my relationship with alcohol. But the few times I did, my acceptable was of course unacceptable. Being a specialist in food problems rather than alcohol, she told me she could not help anymore and recommended that I see someone more specialist in alcohol. I appreciate her honesty, but I left feeling devastated. I cried all the way home, it was the first time I’d cried over this. I felt alone again. It was not a comfortable thought to consider seeing a stranger. It had taken me many months to pluck up the courage to ask for help. Then and only then was it a friend. I’d gone back to square one, and this is not where I had wanted to be.

But this is where I was.

one year sober …

As I sit here writing this I am one year and one day sober. Happier, healthier and positive about the future. The reason I am writing this, I’m not sure yet. I was going to start writing a year ago. But all good intentions and time went by. But I couldn’t switch off the idea of writing down my experiences of giving up alcohol forever. Yes forever. That feels like a long time, very final, but thats the way it has to be with me. So here I am, laying it all down on paper (well it began the old fashioned way a few days ago!) O.k so I could’ve just written it in a diary, kept it secretly hidden at home, just like the good old days with the wine bottles. So no, not the best idea. Do I want my family, friends, school yards acquaintances to know what I have experienced. No. I have told them enough, what they need to know, what I need them to know. Tailoring each to each. I’m not after sympathy, a pat on the back or offering advice to anyone trying to achieve sobriety. So I suppose at the moment the reason I am doing this is because writing down my experience is a way of understanding how I got to this day and how I have achieved this so I can move onwards and upwards.

I think its going to be hard to write down memories of a year, to place them in some sort of order. So it may sound rather muddled in order and style, and at times like I’ve thrown up all over the page…even whilst sober. But I guess thats what blogging is all about and why I chose this medium to tell my story.

I’ll begin…

A year and one day ago I dumped my friend alcohol. It was a strange friendship. I was too needy of my friend, desperate to spend every evening together until my friend was drained. I didn’t need the friendship in the daytime, my kids needed me and I was there for them. But at the end of the day when the kids went to bed I needed my friend.

We’d been friends for a large part of my life. It started many years ago, but my friend was only around on certain occasions. Together at parties, down the pub, gatherings with friends, at christmas and birthdays and on the odd evenings at home. We had a great time together, sometimes too good, sometimes bad. Its amazing how bad some friends treat you but you always go back to them a few days later, all is forgiven and carry on like nothing happened. Thats a great friendship right?

My friend never complained.

As the years went by our friendship grew, pushing out my husband. He didn’t like the friendship, he liked my friend but not so intense. A year and a half ago I decided to downsize our friendship, hoping that the hole it left would be filled by my husband. It didn’t. So I slowly rebuilt my friendship and we spent even more time together. So my husband left, never to return. But he did. I promised never to see my friend again, so I said goodbye to alcohol, the friendship was over it had to be. This time the hole is filling again with my new friend my husband. But of course that sounds too easy. It hasn’t been. But it is a whole new life and a better one at that, and over time I will tell how I got here today, happier, healthier and positive about my future without my old friend alcohol.