Monday, 15 May 2017

Learning #2 - Codependency

When I started this journey I did not know what the word codependent meant. I know now that I maintained a number of codependent relationships. I have (had?) friendships which were fuelled by drinking. I have (had?) friends where we encouraged in each other alcohol abuse, bingeing, drunkeness and celebrated this as just a grand night out.

I have been in positions where despite my protests I have been criticised for not drinking, encouraged to drink, had drink pushed on me and many, many times over I have caved and taken that drink and fallen back into my destructive relationship with alcohol.

It was a chance listen to a bubble hour episode about coping with the holidays (I think) where I first heard the word codependent. I first heard women talk about doing anything it took to maintain sobriety. I heard women talk about walking out on events, or not taking part in social occasions. I was in awe of them. I also knew right then that this is what I had to do. It took me about another five months to do it, but I knew I had to deal with this codependency and knew I had to reject the damaging relationships which held me in alcohol's thrall.

I avoided social situations. I refused invitations. I left events early. I rearranged catch ups to coffee time not drinking time. I slowly said "nope still not drinking", I slowly felt able to put up with the constant nosiness of those around me.

I have lost closeness with some friends. But realise perhaps we lost closeness long before I quit drink. My codependent drinking buddies and I created a faux intimacy born from silently colluding to prop up each other's drinking habit. I am in reality losing certain friendships that I should have outgrown years ago. Alcohol stunted my growth and held me back.

I will never again let myself be influenced to behave in a destructive way. I will not collude with others to enable abusive behaviours. I celebrate choosing a better path for my body and my mind.

I know what is good for me. I know what nourishes me. I know it can by hard to choose a different path. I know one can feel alone in this. But it feels so good to stand proud on this path, to love what you are becoming, and to feel brave, powerful and strong.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Learning #1 - loving it

The last sentence of my last post about hitting one year reads: I love it.

I wasn't sure about typing that when I wrote the post because sometimes I am like "I fucking hate this, I want a G and T and I want ice cold white wine and I want a big ballsy red to follow and I want and I want and I want!"

But what I have learned is that I don't want the drink. What I want is:

To relieve stress
To signal relaxation
To occupy myself
To fit in with the crowd
To not have to answer all those stupid fucking "still not drinking?!?" questions
To be "normal" and not a weirdo around drink

I have achieved one year away from a 20 year abusive relationship with drink and so the old associations with booze can remain and pop up when least expected.

I genuinely love sobriety. What I hate is not quite yet having the right tools all the time to deal with the above situation of stress, relaxation, crowds at parties and other people grilling me.

So I have learned that I love sobriety. I have learned that the perceived craving for drink is not a craving for the drink, but a craving for a fix for the stresses, pressure and ups and downs of life.

To be successful in sobriety I think we need to work on alternatives to fix the stresses and strains of our lives. This is why I suppose it is so common for us sober crew to do meditation, or yoga, or snaffle chocolate. We are seeking the fix.  I am finding my fix, I've used becks blue, virgin marys, walking, chocolate, haribos, exercise and yoga so far. I have learned that a craving does not mean I want a drink but that I want relief from a difficult situation. As for sobriety? I love it.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

One Year


I am delighted. I am delighted that I have achieved something I thought I would never be able to do. I have reached a target, a goal, a waypoint in my journey. I am a non drinker. I do not drink. I am tee total. I am dry. But what else am I?

I have been for some time seeking to improve myself more holistically. I have been more mindful of what I eat. I have stopped abusing myself with sugar and do not inhale chocolate and sweets and all that shit. I have been more mindful about my body. How it feels, listening to it, noting the comfort and the discomfort. I have been finding out what I can do with this body, and how I can do more.

I have taken up yoga which I simultaneously love and hate. I hate it because I am shit at it, and I love it because there is so much to learn. Every class I find myself doing things I never thought I could, moving my limbs in such ways as I thought impossible. I am finding it is a form of meditation too. I concentrate on each pose. My mind focuses on the tiny adjustments required to improve. I love that, and it feels like the way I progressed with sobriety. Focus, care, time and tiny adjustments each day. I also swear a lot in my head when I am trying to do yoga, "fucking downward facing dog, ugh!" etc. which I have also done throughout my sober practice, "fuck you alcohol you motherfucker go fuck yourself." etc.

I am enjoying this new yoga/mental challenge and know I need to have a personal challenge in my life. I need a project. I need a problem to solve. For over 20 years my project, my hobby, my pal of choice, my love, was drinking. Unraveling this takes time. I am slowly developing new activities and I am determined to make these healthy for body and mind. I am discovering a whole world of people who do not rely on drink for their kicks and I am still astonished by this. HOW HAVE YOU DONE THIS YOUR WHOLE LIFE?? I want to ask. Instead I now say "yeah I don't drink, such a waste of time right" like some naughty fraud who is just a non complicated non drinker. I now have friends who have never seen me drink, never known me as a drinker and have only known me as a non drinker. FUCKING HELL. TELL THE OLD SOBER PURSUITS THIS, PLEASE! She needed to know this when she was scared and lonely and struggling. She needed to know it would be OK. She needed to know life would be good. She needed to know that she could be happy and liberated and joyful. She needed to know this.

I know without a doubt that my sober work is far from done. I suspect I will always need a consciousness of the dangers of drinking for me. I will always have to play it forward. I will always have to recall the dark and soul destroying drinking years. Sometimes this knowledge feels very tiring and I feel sad that I am burdened with this challenge. 

However most of the time I am ecstatic that I am free. So free to live a life full of endless possibilities. Sobriety has given me freedom. I love it. 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

11 months (and six days)

I have been on holiday. No data, no wifi. I had countless meals out, countless country pub visits. I was beginning to feel like I was clinging on for dear life. I existed sober. I sat in restaurants realising I simply wished for the night to end so I could get out and get away. I grew sick of watching others drink. I grew sick of Diet Coke and bloody water. I thought the other day that what is the point of all this if all I am doing is marking time, with no enjoyment and no shared pleasure.

I have not drunk alcohol, but I feel like I'm in my first month again. I want to drink but I know I cannot have it. I have enough experience to know this will pass and I will be ok. I know I will be happy. I know I will be grateful that I did not drink. But right now I feel flat, joyless and like I am treading water, waiting for life to happen.

So my aim for the next month is to get the joy back. I hit a year soon and am concern that with a one year sober target achieved I will feel even more shitty and meh!

I have no idea how to get the joy back. I fear that I might need to make some very big changes to my life in order to do this. That frightens me and I think the fear of change has lead to an inertia and the slump of joylessness I find myself in.

I hope all you love sober (or not) sisters are doing well, let me know below xxxxxx

Friday, 3 March 2017

10 months

Well I could not resist marking my 10th month! I forgot until this evening, looking at my diary and was delighted that I forgot. Usually I have a half conscious knowing that
I am approaching a monthly milestone, but this time it crept up on me, until .... TA DA!!!

I have not thought much about drinking. I am an out and out sober at work now. I won a silly type of game recently at work and in front of ALL the staff I was awarded the prize, a bottle of wine. I said there and then, I don't drink, choose another winner.

I think deciding not to blog has helped this. I made it private for a while too, closing of this virtual life for a bit. I stopped thinking about not drinking for a while. It was refreshing and a break I needed.

I realised in doing this that I want to blog about other thing to do with self improvement, self care, not just drinking. So I may use this space to talk about those things too. I guess I am moving on to a new stage in recovery. I think if I read the journey of others who are nearing their year mark, I might find the same dialogue.

So I have no revelations, no major updates to convey. I just have a contentment with my choice to remove alcohol from my life.

10 months seems like a long time I know, if you are new to this and counting days, but it has flown by. Take heart, time moves on and so will you.

If you are reading this and wondering if quitting drink is worth the work, the focus, the care, the caution and the change you must make in yourself. Then take heart. It is worth it. You are worth it. A world of possibilities will open up for you.

Take heart. Have courage. Be brave. Be your beloved.

Love SP

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Dependency and taking a break

I have a friend, I think we all have one like this, who posts cryptic poor me me me messages on facebook and otherwise picture perfect family snaps. Think Cath Kidston on acid.

The posts are generally about, but not confined to:

What a general waste of space her husband is and how she has to do EVERYTHING.
How she is ill (never serious).
How she is tired because she (chooses to be) is super mum.
How hard done by she is by some other mums who do not appreciate her offspring
+67 images of a walk in the woods/party/craft activity all in matching Boden jumpers.

Most posts are followed by multiply exclamation marks!!!! And are passive aggressive in nature, eg "lucky I always wanted to be a single mum!!!!! #not #whydoihavetodoeverythingarounghere" "AWESOME FAMILY WALK!!!!!! #lovemyhubbyeventhoughIplannedallthiswithnohelpasusuallolnot"

I don't follow her but do remain friends. She is delightful in real life.

The comments that ensue are the usual "*hugs* hun xoxoxoxo"

And I always wonder what everybody really thinks. I wonder about the complicit nature of feeding this self absorbed attention seeking. How it feeds a culture of believing we are special, different, unique, entitled.

I don't think we are any of those things. I thought I'd expect my mother to be the sole benefactor of those beliefs about me, but I am a mother, and I don't think those things about my daughter.

I suppose she does it to provide validation for her choices and behaviour. I think she may suffers with low self esteem so compensates with Peter perfect Facebook family life snaps. She lives the life she wishes she could have, via FB.

Most of us of course do all of the above too, to a greater or lesser degree. I enjoy likes, comments, love hearts lighting up when I engage in social media. I also find I get annoyed, angry, compulsive in using it. This is to the detriment of the great book I am half way through, or the conversation with my husband I half pay attention to, whilst gazing at a glowing screen.

I transfer dependence. From drinking, to chocolate, to social media. I have decided I need to take a break from this virtual world and spend more time in my real world. I'm taking a break from blogging. For how long I'm not sure, but I need to stop composing the next post in my head when I should be composing a conversation with my friends and my family. I need to live in real life and see how sobriety is without my blog as a crutch. I know I won't drink. I may find I need this space and spring back soon. Who knows. But for now,


Thursday, 2 February 2017

New Normal - 9 months

Well here I am at 9 months.

When I first quit I used to read other blogs that said stuff like that and think "9 months, that's fucking mental HOW DO THEY DO THAT?!?!?" and be in awe of those superhuman skills of willpower employed to stay dry all that time. Of course the reality is not like that and there are no superhuman skills, it's just tiny choices, tiny adjustments, tiny pauses, tiny steps, every day, that add up, until you take a look back, and see how far you have come.

I find that my life is a new normal.

Last week I was sitting in my car on Monday morning at 6.30 am starting my commute to work when I found myself going through the mental checklist of my day, the things I planned, what I needed to do, what I was looking forward to, noting the energy I had, and realised HOLY SHIT it's MONDAY at 6.30am! WHO HAVE YOU BECOME?! You are feeling grrrreeeat! This is now normal for me. What was exceptional on the rare non hungover day, what was astonishing when I was in early sobriety,  and exhilarating as I clocked up the sober days, has become just how it is almost every day. It is my new normal.

This is clearly a good state of affairs but requires consciousness and appreciation in order that I don't fuck it up.

I must not be complacent and forget how super I feel now compared to how utterly shit I used to feel. That includes physically utterly shit. Mentally utterly shit, emotionally utterly shit.

I am now so used to feeling grrrreeat!, that I forget how great this feeling is. Even when I am annoyed, upset, angry, drained, bored, contrary, all these times are so much better than before. So much better sober.

Mirrors someone talked about (sober mummy?) and that is a zinger of a truth. As a drinker I would wake every morning, look in the mirror, and feel shame and disgust at myself. Now my normal is to look, and like myself. I am proud of who I am becoming. I am proud of my achievements. (My husband is proud of me too!)

I can look in the mirror and like myself. I can look in the mirror everyday and remind myself how far I have come, and how truly great this new normal is.*

I like myself.  How great it that?!

*plus obvs. in a self absorbed, vain idiot manner check out my bloody great sober skin and shiny eyes and think "looking good for a middle aged broad!"

High five ladies!

SP xx