Sunday, 29 December 2019

Thrive

I was very taken with Anne at ainsobriety’s tradition of selecting a word for the coming year. The word encapsulates the focus for the year, an intention. Her word for 2020 is explore. I have decided to have a go at this.

I have chosen the word THRIVE.

I find reflecting on my story over the past five years that I tend to lose sight of what I want and need versus the potentially harmful external environment I still expose myself to, and my subconscious distracting me away, and not always keeping up with my conscious mind.

I was startled today by the realisation that I am acting like a drinker, I go to drinks parties, to the pub, sit there with all my drinker friends, feeling restless, bored, lonely, even in a crowd. I thought I was the problem, that the bored and restless and lonely was me, and I was the problem. But no, the problem is the choices I am making, which are a barrier to my thriving.

(Side comment on the above - I read a great quote recently:

“You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.” )

I have some ambitious physical sporting challenges planned for 2020, plus a focus on developing my career. I know as I train for the sporting events l will need to take care to not only focus on my physical self, but also my mental health, and manage to balance this with my work and home life. The question of “will this choice help me to thrive?” is one to ask of myself as I act in the world, and grow the life I would like to live.

I wish to see myself thrive in 2020. I wish to consciously consider my actions and choices with the question:

 will this choice help me to thrive?

To thrive mentally
To thrive physically
To thrive professionally
To thrive personally


Friday, 27 December 2019

Making peace

It is a sober Christmas here at pursuits palace, and I have been thinking about this ‘sober episode’ compared to other sober events of the past: birthdays, holidays, christmases etc.

I observe I am more acccepting of this sobriety as normal for me, as who I am. I have been to two drink parties and it is just me, with a soft drink, doing a couple of hours before pissing off home before all the drunk shit gets going. I was at another party tonight. Host was all go on have just one drink! Blah blah. Won’t you have a drinkkkk??? He whined. “Absolutely .... not” say I. I have a peaceful feeling about my sober decision. I have made peace with myself right now.

I am amused this year at all the rating and trying and admiring all the alcohol that spills around my scene. The emperor’s new clothes. Such bullshit when you have the reality of alcohol revealed to you. Try this wine! Now try THIS wine! Try this gin, it has chocolate in it! What I want to suggest is it’s the ALCOHOL in it that is so fucking nice and tasty and amazing and ADDICTIVE that you must try all the drinks all the time over Christmas. You like the drink because in a small, or big, or subtle, or obvious way, you are an addict, simple.


Friday, 29 November 2019

LISTEN TO THIS - Hooked: The Unexpected Addicts podcast

This is absolutely bloody brilliant and deserves a post all by itself. Listen to these wonderful women talk about their addictions. I listen on Spotify and I think you can find it on all the usual podcast platforms. 

Hooked: The Unexpected Addicts
Two women of substance, Melissa Rice and Jade Wye, debunk the stereotype of 
addicts and guide you through the highs and lows of addiction and recovery.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/brand/p07q3jb7

Self harm

I have often thought it strange that the means of providing myself with security, care, stress relief, and relaxation was to harm myself with the poison of alcohol.

I used to work with young people and would be horrified by the way some particularly vulnerable youngster would cut themselves, or get blackout drunk and end up being exploited by predators around them, or would take drugs, and generally deliberately behave in ways that obviously harmed themselves. 

At the time I never made any connection between them and me. It comes back to that cognitive dissonance (CD) that I have read about in Annie Grace. Their actions are damaging and harmful. My actions are stress relieving and relaxing. It was so revealing that the CD caused the stress and my long time struggle with I WANT A DRINK and I DONT WANT A DRINK was the cause of my stress, even worse when I had that drink whilst not wanting it. I never could understand why I behaved in that way. Annie Grace would say (I think?) that it was my subconscious wanting the drink and my conscious not wanting it. So retraining my subconscious is key. 

Relapsing is an interesting thing and I would look on aghast at old timers that said things like “I realise now that it was inevitable to relapse to further my understanding of this addiction” etc. And think WTF are you talking about? I now sort of get it, as the relapse is a prompt, in time (hopefully), to get closer to the subconscious you, and lay bare more of your perceptions and reality to scrutiny. You do also learn you really don’t want to live like this and have a knowledge of a better richer life. The scary thing for me is wondering if this is it now, am I done now?? Today YES and that’s all the matters atm. 

Whilst I have been away, and as we come to the end of this holiday, I have been thinking about what happens on my return. I had in my mind when I stopped in September, that I would remain dry until this trip, then drink (cos, hello, HOLIDAY) then stop as I landed on tarmac back home. Now of course this has changed. I realised the folly of this as I sat on the plane on my outward journey being offered a glass of champagne. Do I really want this sour, acidic drink, cheap crappy fizz? To signify what exactly? What am I trying to prove by drinking it, and to whom? I KNOW THE CONSEQUENCES. I also knew that I would likely carry on until Christmas and have a very tiring, stressful boozy Christmas, with my CD bell ringing all over the place. 

You see you can’t put it back in the box. I have known for a long time, and will forever now know, that alcohol is addictive, a poison, and the more one drinks the more one wants, my cravings and desire being no more than a need to assuage my withdrawal symptoms. I have learned this time, from Annie Grace and listening to William Porter, how this cycle happens and can now begin to better unpick my unconscious mind and rationalise this drink for what it is, not what I have learned it is or been told it is. I have consciously stopped self harming, now my unconscious deserves the same attention. 

SP x

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

And ... relax

I did not have that pre flight drink. I did not drink on the flight. I have not had a drink in the 10 days of my holiday. I have enjoyed these 10 days more than I could have imagined. We are combining a holiday with care for a chronically ill relative. There is a lot of patience and gentleness required for this relative. I imagined it would be very stressful, but actually I was imagining the scenario with drink. The lunch drink, the withdrawal, the how early can I start drinking evening drink, the pacing oneself drink, the hoping for a nightcap after dinner drink, the waking up tired and hungover, the hanging on until the lunchtime drink. Repeat. 


Instead I have sat about happily relaxed drinking my water, going with the flow, not needed to go out quickly or get the drinks order in quick. It is so much nicer and I am so much more relaxed. I have been reading This Naked Mind by Annie Grace, and reconnecting with the idea of the addict, and the withdrawal creating the ongoing drinking desire. It is so clear and straightforward. I am enjoying the sun and the state of myself sober and I do not desire any alcohol. This is a great feeling and I plan to continue my reading on alcohol, and understanding the nature of addiction when I return to the uk. I also plan to stay alcohol free. 

Friday, 15 November 2019

A richer life

“Since I got sober, I sometimes find myself surprised and made joyful by normal life. It can feel like a hallucination, this stunning reality. Face down in shallow water, coated in neoprene and breathing through a tube, I feel as if I’ve opened a door that has always been in my house but I had never noticed. Life can be bigger and richer than I knew.” Amy Liptrot from The Outrun.

I am in the airline lounge drinking Diet Coke and bitter lemon. My head is pounding, I can feel my heart racing. Is this anxiety? I cannot get calm. Is this adrenaline or those ‘brain stimulants’ kicking in? Thinking “ok she’s gonna drink let’s get the uppers going!” Is THAT why I am feeling like this? Is it the association with long haul flights and drink that is making me jittery, is it my low level worry about flying? Does the cause matter any fucking way? I feel crazed. I want a drink. I also know that I will feel angry and let down by myself if I do drink. The knowledge of my drinking life has pulled the plug on my ability to joyfully indulge because I know I’m just an addict. 

I am reading bits of The Outrun to distract myself. “Life can be bigger and richer than I knew.” Yes. This trip can be richer sober. Please try SP. 

Thursday, 7 November 2019

William Porter

I am such a magpie, I have never read William Porter's book. In the way that one picks wine because it has a nice cool label, I always looked at his book and thought "that looks self published and utilitarian and not enough 'cat, sat, mat', or 'sober 101' for me."

How fucking wrong was I? In the time between the last time and this time all sorts of things have occurred. (I feel like sober grandma). Notably the rise of the sober podcast of which I am a fan. I particularly like Rachel Hart's Taking a Break, and stumbled upon Annie Grace recently in that bit where they recommend podcasts based on prior listening (my spotify rec's: diet, menopause, sober. FML/LOL). So I listened to William Porter explain the chemistry of the hangover on This Naked Mind. BLEW MY MIND. I never knew about the brain pumping more stimulants in to deal with the depressing action of the booze, then when the booze wears off, you are left with all this stimulation to deal with, shakes, anxiety, withdrawals, need to drink again to try and balance the stimulants.

Most exciting was to find out why moderation is so, so hard. The 'one drink' wakes up the brain and it goes "Woahh, we need to get pumping the uppers guys, she's in for the big booze haul...", so after one drink your brain is giddy on the stimulants, so you crave and want more alcohol to try and calm the whole thing down. I learn I am not a freak, there is science behind my behaviour. Amazing. Now I should really read the book, and This Naked Mind. Perhaps I'll download then for that long haul flight...