A recipe for sobriety

Little gaps are opening up in my brain… the part that has beenBH Pic1 anaesthetised from wine. The part that used to be sober. The part that used to work really well. I remember some of the stuff I used to share in AA meetings.

Gotta admit, it’s still a bit cringe-y recalling it as I have been such a drunk lately, but it’s resonating with me today. The guts was, sobriety is like a recipe you have to make every day. Get the correct ingredients, measure them out properly and cook them for the right amount of time. Pretty much, you’ll get a good result every day if you do the same things. Today, my ingredients have been a good sleep (!), good food, exercise at the beach with a friend, touching base with a person in recovery for some ‘real’ talk, reading recovery materials and this – blogging. And taking time to rest (because shit, I am KNACKERED after this past week or so). And remembering that my absolute priority is to not drink.

I did have a moment when I got home and felt overwhelmed. It was 4.30pm, I had a tired and cranky four-year-old bugging me for ice cream before dinner, a carload of groceries that need un-packing, three meals to cook (don’t ask), a pile of washing to fold and put away before bath and bedtime. Not an unusual night but a bit more than usual to do: I would usually navigate this sort of evening with copious amounts of wine.

I could feel myself building up … tension rising, my voice raising. I caught myself, and told myself I could choose how I dealt with the situation. I asked my oldest daughter to help me pack the groceries away and to give me a hand with preparing dinner. I poured myself a soft drink with loads of ice and promptly got on with it. Yeah, I was tired and over everything, but I got through it. I thanked my older daughter and explained this was my ‘witching hour’ and that I appreciate her help. We enjoyed a family meal together and no drama was performed. And I didn’t drink.

Day 3 – it was good to know ya.

Day 4 – bit worried as back to a hectic work schedule (I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of weeks of down time to have my alcoholic depression in!). I know I’ve got to stay in the day but I have prepared a few things to make life easier tomorrow (meals, housework, etc). Work is always a bit of a trigger for me to drink, especially boarding the ferry back to the island.. where there’s a bar… I think I might do my soft drink with loads of ice trick again and sit in a different part of the boat. ūüôā

Major bonus: talking to a lady who lives here too whose story and mine are uncannily similar. Chronic binge drinkers who only smoked when drinking, daughters the same age, both single parents. Both of us started trying to get our shit together last year by losing a lot of weight. Both of us knew we had to get sober or EVERYTHING else was a waste of time. Both of us knew we were slowly (or maybe even quite a bit faster than that) killing ourselves. She gets it. I get her. Yay.

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I see the light

I don’t know why, but I am so bloody happy. I am Day 2 (again) of sobriety and I feel the best I have in ages. I’m not questioning why or even trying to understand – I’m going to enjoy it. Best Day 2 – and there have been many – I’ve ever had.

Just came back from an AA meeting. My relationship with AA over the years has been uncannily similar to my relationship with alcohol: love / hate. (Bit of background: I have been in and out of recovery – more out – for more than 20 years.) Up until a few years ago, I lived in a big city and didn’t realise how lucky I was to have many meetings on my doorstep. Now I live on an island, there is usually one meeting a week. It’s a small community and the whole thing freaked me out – the lack of anonymity, the fact that I had drunk with some of the people there… I also felt the recovery wasn’t very strong. That was a bit rich coming from me, as I was certainly drinking, if not slipping and sliding, at the time. However, I didn’t feel good about the meetings over repeated visits and gradually gave up on AA as being a viable option for me in getting sober.

But tonight – a year or so down the track – was different. There were a lot of people there (over 10 – good for the island) and women there that I knew who opened themselves up to me. There was real, raw, honest rap. It was awesome and I felt inspired, encouraged, humbled and kind of like I wanted to go back. I also found out (shock) that there’s another meeting on Fridays.

I guess I can see a ¬†recovery support system coming together for me. Some A&D counselling, this blogging (it’s so satisfying) and a whole pile of interesting reading is keeping me focused. I also have a few close friends who, though not addicts or alkies, are very supportive of my journey. I am a lucky lady, really.

I want this – I want sobriety. I want strength and freedom. I got this! For today, anyway.

Relapse

I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t handle one more second of it. The entire seven days was torture.

So I drank. I actually felt better almost immediately. My anxiety slipped away. I was so happy and relaxed. I was smiling.

Yeah yeah, I know. It didn’t last and here I am today, back at square one and Day 1. But I’m back. ¬†I can’t afford to loathe myself. I am going to do this, no matter many times I have failed.

I think from this particular relapse ¬†I have learnt a couple of things: don’t mess around with antidepressant meds (I was reducing because I felt so good – what a dumb arse thing to do), and to always consider a medical detox. Man, that was one rough week – never felt so sick. I was up to drinking a couple of bottles of wine nearly every night. You can’t just take that away without some pretty dire consequences.

Fortunately, I can feel my meds have kicked back in and I’m on a relatively even keel. So, hopefully that translates to a better chance of staying off the booze.

I probably have no right to, but I actually feel incredibly positive and okay. I had a great day (besides the crustiness of a mild hangover) hanging out with my lovely friends and family. The sun was shining and I wasn’t hating on myself. Just resigned to the fact that I am doing progress and not perfection. And I’m not giving up giving up.

So, tomorrow I’m off to an AA meeting and going to tee up some A&D counselling. I need support – can’t do this alone. But, I can so see myself as a strong woman in recovery who has her shit together. Bring it on. It’s gonna happen.

Day 7: Insanity

God I feel like SHITE. Yep, not very articulate, but kinda covers it. I bounced out of bed this morning feeling full of the joys of smug sobriety (day 7) yet now it is nearly 2pm, I have unravelled into a grouchy, discontent monster mummy.

My insides feel like they’re all itchy and agitated and aggravated by every little sound and sight.The SOUND of the little voice is driving me bonkers. The SHADOW of a little person tailing me makes me snarl. The THOUGHT of feeling like this forever is driving me nuts.

Alcohol thought: It was your medicine. Give it back. You might not have felt a million bucks all the time but it’s better than this. At least you got to get pissed. And smoke cigs. You’re mental without me.

Sober thought: Fuck off wolfie. (Re-read blogs to remind myself of misery of drinking and hungover-ness).

Alcohol thought: You can barely make it through the day without falling apart – look at you, you can’t even cope with normal life. For God’s sake, just have a drink tonight. You’ll feel so much better.

Sober thought: Go FECK yourself sideways, Wolfie. I am gonna get past this and look after myself and become stronger. I’m sick of listening to your promises and bull. You’ll have me on my back in no time.

Alcohol thought: You put on 1.5 kg this week from eating crap food that you wouldn’t have touched if you had drunk me. Funny eh?

Sober thought: At least I wasn’t pissed or hung over. Or smoking and therefore dying of lung cancer and leaving my children as orphans.

So, should I clean the house like a demon or should I go to bed and read for the afternoon?

Feel so fragile that I can’t even make that decision. Is this normal? Someone, please tell me this will pass, cos I am a wreck!

So many things running through my mind I am paralysed. Think I will just sit still and let it pass.

Freedom fighter

It’s Friday. The sun is shining. And I feel GOOOOD.

There’re my triggers to drink – all three of ’em, in one shiny little package. A perfect storm to pick up.

But… I went to a support meeting this morning and I have been reading good recovery stuff. The weekend I was to have away with work (full-on schedule, possibly around party animals) has been cancelled by a crazy unforseen circumstance. I am not feeling shaky, although I must admit, the thought of drinking has of course crossed my mind.

So, I’m six days sober. I know it’s not a lot but for me, well, it IS. I don’t want to mess this up, and I know I am at a very, very vulnerable stage. I keep playing the drinking tape forward in my head, and the ending is not pretty: something like waking in the morning with a ginormous hangover, quite possibly regretting something I had done or said the night before, not being nice to my children, lazing around all day feeling like crap and eating shite. Weekend wasted. It’s just not as alluring to me, today, as it usually is.

I had the same feeling last night, when I was at my favourite beachside cafe (beaches and sunshine are huge drinking triggers .. hard when you live on an island). There was a bunch of drinkers on the deck, the ocean twinkling behind them. It looked attractive briefly but I didn’t give it much thought once I had a soft drink and got busy feeding the kids and talking to my friend. We had a lovely time on the beach later and I drove home thinking, ‘I am free’.

If I had drunk at the cafe I would have been obsessing over how many wines I could have before I couldn’t drive. Should I have more and just get a taxi? What will I do with my car? Should I just chance it and drive? Have I got more wine at home? Is there enough? Who can I get to come over and keep me company? The evening would have been taken over by drinking and thinking about drinking. The lovely talk I had with my friend and the enjoyment I had watching the kids play on the beach would have been mere irritations or distractions – something to do until I could get home and relax and drink PROPERLY.

Sobriety is freedom – not a sentence. This is new thinking for me: I have always been of the mind that not drinking is a punishment. I am now starting to realise it’s the opposite. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to get it – maybe it’s the evolution of suffering (there’s been a lot of that, no doubt mainly self-inflicted) or perhaps something has finally clicked for me.

Anyhow, early days yet. Got the weekend of sunshine to get through. Have a good one, folks.

Dance of death: booze and depression

BH Pic1What came first? Depression or the booze? In the end, it doesn’t matter, as both have been my headline acts for as many years as I can remember.

They are suitably codependent and run circles around me and each other. When one fails its duty in keeping me off kilter, ¬†the other is eager and willing to take on the mantle of running riot. What? She’s feeling better? Not like death warmed up? asks Depression. Haven’t I kicked her arse far enough? Clearly not, replies Alcohol. Move over sunshine, I’m going to have my wicked way with her. She just loves it when I tell her to bend over and take it.

I am in the middle of maelstrom, like one of those  cartoons with a cloud of scuffling, scrapping characters belting it out with only flailing legs and arms to be seen among the kerfuffle.  Here, please take my mind, my body and my life. I know you plan to trample  and thrash me (then laugh) but I choose to forget all about how you do that as I am so in love with the powerful promise you bring: you will love me, honour me and have FUN with me. You give me everything, though you also take it all away.

It’s a dysfunctional relationship, I ¬†know. But at times, usually for long stretches, it’s easier to deny the awful truth and stumble along pretending everything is okay. Because changing it, and maintaining that change, is one of the hardest things in the world for me to achieve.

I read somewhere recently that alcoholics are incredibly strong-willed people – they have to be to pretend they’re okay in the face of monumental hangovers and to cope with life. Oscar-winning performances, daily. Exhausting stuff. The idea, say recovery experts, is to transfer that iron will into good things, like stopping drinking, or achieving world peace.

Ah yes, the old stopping story. I know it well. I do it ALL the time. I’m actually quite good at it. I get quite drunk, ¬†then I stop. And I don’t drink again for a couple of days. Then, I stop. The problem is, when I feel better, I forget how horrible I have felt and I want another drink. I want to have FUN. I have worked hard. I have looked after everyone else, despite feeling like SHITE. Surely I deserve a drink? I don’t drink when I am miserable, only when I am happy!

So why do I keep coming back to wishing to stay stopped? I could just keep drinking and have the ‘fun’ I deserve, etc. The thing is , I am not having much fun. I am intensely miserable and I can’t hide it any more. I am sick of feeling numb, desperate, shaky, ill, anxious, paranoid and exhausted. I am over smoking cigarettes (only when I drink … in between stopping). I am sick of hiding how much I drink from others. I am horrified that my consumption and capacity seems to be increasing. My old ‘rules’ of never going beyond two bottles of wine and never drinking two nights in a row have been laughingly trodden all over. I have been drinking to feel better, or normal. I am mortified when realising I have forgotten what people have told me the night before. I am horrified at some of the really stupid things I have said and done whilst drinking. I am exasperated by having no energy and constantly failing to achieve the things I want and need to do every day. It’s not good enough. Nowhere near good enough. I’m beyond sad that I’m not reaching my potential, let along looking at my dreams.

I am in serious trouble with my drinking. Well, the staying stopped bit, anyway.

So, back to the alcohol and depression dance of death. Presently, Depression is doing a big ole boogie on my dance floor, gracefully and skilfully gliding its way around my mind, swishing around with confidence, its grooves well-worn and rhythm well-rehearsed. In some ways I am grateful for its performance as I l know that while it’s on, ¬†Alcohol (though ready and waiting) has not yet taken the stage. And I am frightened of that happening.

However for the next act, I have another performer lined up: Sobriety. It’s been here before and done well but ultimately was taken over by the devilish duo. It’s up to me to nourish and develop this star talent. I’m still frightened, but the show must go on.

Again, again, again

There’s nothing left to do once you hit the bottom. Again. Except to get up, again.

It’s tiring, humiliating, frustrating and just plain irritating.

Why can’t I just get to the magical place of, ‘Oh, yeah, I don’t drink – quite happy about it, actually.’ Right now, I’m at, ‘Yes, few days off the sauce. Bloody hardest thing I’ve ever done. Feel like death, body falling to bits, can’t sleep, can’t eat and everything is about 100 times harder than it should be. Yeah, really LOVING it.’

I know, I know. I should be grateful I am even a few days into sobriety. As any hardened boozer knows, lining up a few consecutive sober days is actually a miracle. So, yes, grateful for that.

And I know that hard work and consistency and steely determination and complete humility are required for me to get to the ‘happy’ recovery time. One day at a time….

So, today, I am going to the gym (even though I have nausea and and a headache). I also ate proper food (instead of biscuits and icecream). And I’ll read more awesome sober blogs (thank you for sharing, oh wonderful bloggers!).

Clarissa-Dickson-Wright-001

Clarissa Dickson Wright, a happy recovering alcoholic

I also just watched an inspiring interview with the recently deceased Clarissa Dickson Wright, of Two Fat Ladies fame, who was a recovering alcoholic.

And that’s enough, really.

Confused and fuzzy, but sober.  More when my head clears. Wish me luck folks!