Breathing life into another recovery: putting down the sauce again

The lights are on and the sun is out. I’m back in recovery. What a relief. It’s been about a year since I picked up a wine again and since then, I’ve managed to get 3.5 months sober under my belt. It’s been achingly hard. As an out-of-control drinking alcoholic it was sheer hell – the helliest it’s ever been.

I’ve wanted to blog again since I put down the drink again but realistically, it wasn’t possible. I’ve had no energy or concentration and I’ve been fighting madness in my head at every turn. The writing I did manage was stream-of-consciousness insanity that didn’t make sense to me or anyone else. In fact, if someone had read it they would probably commit me to psychiatric care! Ironically, a visit to the shrink was required, which was only part of the action I had to take to get off the booze. I needed to take drastic measures this time, as I was so desperate. As a serial relapser, I knew I couldn’t manage getting sober on my own, letting along staying that way. Time after time over the past 25 years I had proved to myself that I am powerless over this gig. I started out a party girl but decades later, I have evolved into a 24-carat alcoholic with no defence against a glass of wine. Like, NONE! In recent years I’ve had no problem accepting that I’m a drunk – my problem was wanting to stop drinking and then when I did want to, being unable to.

This time I was praying to get sober – imploring my God to remove the desire to drink. It wasn’t working. I raged and despaired and had almost resigned myself to the fact I would probably die from this disease, and likely by my own hand. Thoughts of death were never far away. I was deep in a black hole of alcohol-induced depression and I couldn’t see a way out. Drinking was only providing fleeting relief before sending me spiralling down even further. I felt like the end was near – I craved peace and respite from the craziness in my head. I just couldn’t take any more.

It was love that saved me again: the thought of leaving my beautiful daughters and lovely man stopped me from committing suicide. I had little faith in myself but I had to try again, for them. I really didn’t know if I could do it.

I reached out to a person with long-term recovery who wasn’t sick of witnessing my many failed attempts at getting back on the wagon. She told me praying wasn’t enough to get me sober and suggested seeing an alcohol and drug counsellor, pronto. She also asked me to consider taking Antabuse (disulfiram), since I couldn’t ‘stay stopped’ drinking for more than a few days. She also said I should go to AA meetings to start my recovery in earnest. Do whatever it takes, she said. Go to any lengths, she added.

I had to wait two weeks to see the A&D counsellor, so of course I kept drinking. But the effects of a monster night on the booze saw me manage to stop six days before my appointment. I was in hell – much worse than when I was drinking – and rolled up to the counsellor a wreck. I told her that I was hopeless and my children didn’t deserve a mother like me. I said me trying to get sober was a waste of time. I was totally broken.

Starting again – again – was awful. It was humiliating and seemed pointless. A blind faith had to kick in. So, I put myself in the hands of the experts and did all the things I was told to. I took the Antabuse. I went to the meetings. I couldn’t do much else, as I was really sick. ‘Intensive care unit,’ said one kind soul in AA. ‘That’s what I see in you – and in everyone in early recovery. You need rest and love. If your head hits the pillow every night and you’re sober, you have won. Nothing else matters.’

Tears, rage, fatigue, insomnia and aches and pains followed. Everything felt vicious. I felt like my skin was on inside out and that I was stumbling around in the dark. I was absolutely bonkers and it got worse before it got better. Many times I lamented that not drinking was worse than being on the sauce. What was the point? But I kept going, knowing it had to get better, because people told me it would.

About four weeks in, I began to get some relief. I started to have a few good days, which gave me encouragement during the awful ones. I was holding on tight to every good thing that happened. I even smiled, occasionally.

Today, I am feeling okay, although definitely on that emotional roller coaster I was warned about. It’s full of high ups and low downs, and feels like two steps forward and one step back. But, I have come to see my recovery as a beautiful thing that I cherish and want to nurture and grow. Sometimes I even visualise it as a soft blue sphere I can hold in my hands. It glows at me. I think it feels like love.

More blogs to come but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this day, sober.

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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. 🙂

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.

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.

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!