Saturday, May 20, 2017

Profoundly, deeply, overwhelmingly....

I just had a great boogie at the school disco! Danced up a storm at the back door where I was on duty letting the cool air come in and no kids go out. The DJs (Dads) were playing all manner of brilliant cheesy hits and the kids were having a blast showing adults how to have fun without bending their brains. It was a lovely ending to a day which started sadly at the funeral of a friend's dad.

Home now, kids are in bed and I am lying on the sofa in my PJs watching TV and drinking chamomile tea.

I know there are loads of people who will be out and about this Friday night .. boozing it up merrily at bars and clubs in town. Or maybe creating their own private party at home with wines or some such (like I used to). I don't worry about that or feel like I'm missing out. I did that sort of thing for years and years. I know what it feels like.

I know what it feels like to get smashed with friends chatting and laughing and dancing the night away.

I know what it feels like to glug, glug, glug my way through the night with my foot to the floor, charging on all cylinders, necking booze like it's going out of fashion.

I know what it feels like to get hit with waves of nausea on the dance floor.

I know what it feels like to ask the taxi to stop so you can lean out the door and puke onto the road.

I know what it feels like to vomit in the front garden then lie down for a wee nap in the bushes.

I know what it feels like to check your bank account for late night transactions that you can't remember ("must've been another round of chocolate martinis").

I know what it feels like to wake with a pounding head, sick guts and a brain full of nerves and regret.

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Then said goodbye, traded in that life for a new one. Re-shaped my identity and became a sober woman.

I love living sober. Living sober means I front up to every experience in my life - whether it be sad or challenging or fun - and experience it 100%. Full throttle. Full noise. Full human experience all day every day. Love it. Love, love, love it.

I often say that I don't regret any of my drinking because what's the point in looking back (and a lot of it was fun let's be honest). But to say that I am grateful to have gotten booze out of my life and be experiencing a totally different way of living is an understatement.

I am so profoundly, deeply, overwhelmingly grateful to be sober. There is not one teeny tiny percent of me that wants to be anything else.

And that is a fantastic way to feel.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What other people think of me is none of my business..

I absolutely love this saying. What other people think of me is none of my business. It sums up such a great attitude to have. I can waste so much time worrying; did I say something stupid when I chatted to that person this morning or does this person think I'm a dickhead or is everyone secretly thinking I'm a yawn fest of a housewife??

But if I remember that what other people think of me is none of my business then I can get myself in perspective and drop the worry.

Getting myself in perspective also involves remembering that most people aren't really thinking of me at all most of the time! I regularly look around and remind myself that every single other person is crazy busy and preoccupied with their own worries and commitments and pressures and close relationships and aren't paying me much attention at all (if any). I find this very calming and relaxing.

Mr D has just gone away overseas for 2 weeks of work and my new book comes out in 3 weeks so it would be fair to say I'm a bit edgy. I'm trying to channel my edginess into good endeavours like getting my smashed wing mirror fixed (whoops!), painting the living room wall deep red (a job for Friday), making online albums with our digital family photos etc etc. Plus all the usual online writing etc and housewife-ing and parenting that I do.

I told the community at Living Sober this morning that I'm going to work hard not to turn into a blobby pig for the next two weeks and to keep up with the things that improve my day just that little bit (dog walking, yoga, healthy drinks and food). And of course no alcohol ever!

It's funny - Mr D being away or out for the evening used to always be a good excuse for me to drink more than normal. So glad those days are over.  Being a heavy boozer seems so foreign to me now.. abstract almost like I can't imagine it ever having been a reality. Five and a half years since my last drink and I am firmly cemented as someone who lives sober. Hallelujah!

Hang in there those of you in the tough early stages. It does get easier and easier the longer you go on.. especially if you do some concerted work on your life to fill in the gap left by alcohol. Find lovely treats and endeavours that will improve your days little bits at a time.

That walk outside might only make things better by 5% but it's better than not having it at all.

This is the trick - to realise these good, nourishing, authentic things (like dog walking, yoga, healthy drinks and food) are subtle and slow-burning. They don't offer quick, dramatic fixes (like booze did), but they are lovely and very effective ... and my lifestyle would certainly be much poorer without them.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Gift of Desperation...

It's 3am on Tuesday the 6th of September 2011. I am sitting on the toilet in the depths of despair. I am suffering the physical ill-effects of drinking copious amounts of wine the night before, and I am suffering the emotional ill-effects of living for years with a heavy and progressive drinking problem.

At this very moment, with my pants down and tears rolling down my cheeks, I make a decision that will dramatically alter the course of my life. I decide to quit drinking alcohol forever.

That utterly wretched moment - me on the toilet with my self-esteem and self-worth severely diminished - delivered me a powerful point with which to make a change.  A rock on which to build a new foundation.

They call this the gift of desperation. From my worst moment something beautiful grew.

Would I have ever made the dramatic decision to not touch alcohol ever again if I hadn't reached that low point? Maybe if we lived in a different world. A world where it's not such a big deal to never touch alcohol. A world where LOADS of people live sober. Wouldn't that be lovely....!

But sadly this is not the case. In my current environment it is dramatic (to say the least) to choose a lifestyle so at odds with the norm. To choose to always be in the minority at parties and events. To choose to say 'not for me thanks' every time booze is on offer. To choose to never touch alcohol ever despite knowing there is going to be so much emotional pain and hurt coming along that will be hell to deal with.

Making the big dramatic choice to live sober was made simpler for me because of the miserable, low place my drinking took me to. Because of my desperation. This is the gift of desperation.

I call to mind often the feeling I had toward the end of my drinking days - and particularly that last day/night - and it helps remind me why I quit. I will never let myself forget.

As unlikely as it sounds I am profoundly grateful for that awful 3am moment back in 2011 - my shittiest, lowest, most miserable point. Because it truly was a gift, one that I will always be thankful for.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, April 22, 2017

New book nerves..

Just a month now to go until my new book is released and I can feel myself getting a bit nervous and distracted. Dates are being set for book store events, media are being sent copies, my publicist is gearing up to get the book noticed.

I'm having dreams where I'm in a newsroom feeling completely out of my depth and like a fraud ... being asked to do complicated stories. This is my CLASSIC anxiety dream tapping into old insecurities (in my past life I was a TV journalist).

Also hitting the sugar a little bit although I've been off recently so this on-phase (which started at Easter) hopefully won't bed in too deeply.

And just generally feeling edgy and ill-at-ease. Not the most chilled out relaxed version of myself anyway... hard to completely relax when I'm about to release to the world another exposing story about the inner workings of my brain and my attempts to deal with life, relationships and my raw emotions.

But I'm not complaining! I'm fortunate I get to write books and someone wants to publish them. I'm happy to share my process in case it helps anyone else. And writing what I'm going through certainly helps me - so all-in-all what lies ahead is good.

But I'd be lying if I didn't say there was a fair amount of nerves and vulnerability to contend with as well.

So! Time to practice what I preach in the book (although it hopefully doesn't come across as preachy!) and use my tools to keep myself feeling good.

* Treat myself kindly and with compassion.
* Accept what is happening and put it in perspective.
* Do lovely nourishing things that will improve my days by tiny amounts that add up to an overall better feeling of wellness (yoga, dog walking, bubble baths etc).
* Focus on all the other people around me and and their lives.
* Remember to feel and notice my breath (ground myself in my body).
* Focus on what my hands are doing and what my eyes can see (ground myself in the moment).
* Allow myself at times to get distracted with good books and absorbing TV programmes!
* Practice gratitude to remind myself of all the lovely little things

It is school holidays here and today the sun is shining. I am grateful for my fingers which allow me to type out how I am feeling. I am grateful for the internet which connects me with lovely like-minded people. I am grateful for our City Council putting on a Nature Trail that we will visit today. I am grateful for my dog who is lying on my feet right now keeping them warm. And I am grateful for my sobriety. Because goodness knows where my life would be right now if I was still boozing.

Love, Mrs D xxx

P.S. You can pre-order the book (hard copy) at Book Depository or at MightyApe or at Fishpond.  Or you can pre-order the Kindle version here at Amazon.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

An alcohol-free Easter...

Someone commented on my last post saying this Easter will be their first sober Easter for 20 years and did I have any "quirky & vibrant tips to have a luxurious A-free Easter?"

Well I'm not sure if they're quirky and vibrant but I do have some tips.

I've written about my Easters before (here and here and here) because it's always been a bit of a sober challenge for me as we go to stay with extended family in a remote location and everyone else drinks daily and I now don't.

It's interesting how my Easters have developed since I got sober. At times I've felt very out of place and conspicuously sober, at times I've felt very clever, special and unique, at times I've felt very judgey and uptight about other people's habits ... but nowadays I just feel ordinary and relaxed about my point of difference, unconcerned about what others are doing, and well practiced in how to take care of myself.

Firstly I keep very grounded in the big picture of my life, and not the immediate reality of these few days away. The big picture is that me and alcohol were not friends. Ours was not a casual relationship. Alcohol made feel like shit about myself, it got me sloppy and miserable and I am so, so, so, so much happier overall without it in my life. The immediate reality is just a few days where I am around boozers and might feel a little bored or awkward at times. I'm happy to take that for the knowledge that in the bigger picture of my life being sober is fabulous.

Secondly I'll go prepared. I always pack a small plastic container with some of my favourite teabags and multivitamins. Obviously this is to feel happy when I'm away (drinking my favourite tea and popping multivitamins always makes me feel good about myself) but also the act of preparing the container sends me a little message that I'm looking out for myself in the days ahead - being my own best friend. I'll also pack books and magazines, take time selecting my clothes, maybe paint my nails and pluck my eyebrows ... all little things to lift my mood and make me feel good about myself.

Thirdly I'll behave in self-soothing ways during the break. I'll go to bed early if I feel like it (and not worry what others will think). I'll try to make healthy food choices were possible (and not beat myself up about any Easter Egg consumption!). I'll indulge in bubble baths or long hot showers. I'll take mini-breaks during the day if I feel like it to go read a book or do some yoga or go for a walk - something nice and calm anyway.

Finally I'll remember to notice the little things that make my sober life so rewarding. I'll recognise every morning when I wake up hangover free and notice how good it feels. I'll close my eyes and breath deeply when soaking in a bubble bath to savour the moment. I'll appreciate every meaningful conversation I have with a relative or time spent hanging with my kids - my connections to other humans are so much richer now that I'm not numbing myself constantly.

So hopefully dear commenter these are some decent tips for you even though they might not be quirky and vibrant. Always remember what you are doing in removing alcohol from your life is brave and amazing and the world should be giving you a medal for your efforts!! And cast your mind forward to the days after Easter when you know that you will feel so happy and proud of yourself if you got through with out drinking. Go well!

Love, Mrs D xxx