Friday, November 30, 2012

Thank you thank you

I think there are three main things that us sober people have inside that got us to stop, things which are keeping us dry.

1) A belief that change is possible. Believe it. It is.

2) A real desire to stop. We just do not want to drink alcohol any more and will put up anything to stick to that.

3) An ability and willingness to deal with shit raw.

It's this dealing with shit thing that will really test you. Parties etc become much easier to deal with sober. If it's a good party, warm with lovely people, fun and giggly, with great music or awesome displays, excellent chats or delicious food... you will have a great time regardless of the fact you're not drinking. Trust me. Probably not the first few you go to sober because you'll feel very strange and obsessed with the fact you're not drinking, and flat and odd and just out-of sorts. But after a few when you get used to it they're totally fine!

And don't get me started on the feeling you have when you wake up the day after having stayed sober throughout.......

This is not - by the way - true if the party is just a dumb party full of dickheads or bores or really trashed people. That party will never be fun, and even if you're one of the trashed people you probably won't look back on it as being super-fun.

No, I think the biggest trial in choosing to live sober is deciding that no-matter what shit comes at you, you will tough it through raw. That shit might come on day 5, or day 55, or day 555. But once you decide to live sober then that's what you are committing to do forever more - deal with shit raw baby.

The more I live sober the more I realise how in the long run that is a way better way to live, rather than numbing constantly like I did with wine. It doesn't make the tough time any easier at the time, but it so improves your long-term feelings looking back.

But I'm also working on accepting that there are those who don't want to deal with shit raw, that's why they continue to drink, and that's their choice and their right. What I choose for my life isn't what everyone wants. And I can only focus on me, as others lives are their business. This would be a hard position to take if I was living with a heavy boozer and I do so feel for you folk that are. Check out this post from Mr SponsorPants - very helpful in this regard I would think.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hidden away boozers...

I was out on the back deck when I heard a tell-tale 'Clank' as a glass bottle hit others in a neighbor's recycling bin. It was followed by the sound of their back door closing. This is a neighbor whose property only connects with a tiny corner of ours and there are large trees blocking us from each other. So I have no idea who this person was, or what kind of bottle they were clanking into their recycling bin, but it was after 5pm so.....

Could it have been a housewife slowly filling herself up with chardonnay in the privacy of her own home? Lord knows that's how I used to do it. Tidily and neatly and privately filling myself up with wine and clanking bottles into my recycling bin over and over again. At least when I was boozing our bin was kept inside so no-one could hear me 'clank'. Although it did have to go up on the road to be collected once a week. Bottles spilling out at odd angles (I was very good at getting a lot in - you have to put them upside down at the end and just poke the thin top into gaps in the pile).

A friend of mine used to joke when she saw me at kindy - 'saw your recycling bin, looks like you guys had another good week!!' Ha ha! How I laughed. This was before I saw my heavy drinking as sad and dysfunctional.

Now our bin is kept outside and I do 'clank' glass into it regularly but it's usually bottles of ginger beer or other soft drinks. And it's funny, sometimes I feel like calling out should any neighbors be listening..."if you heard that clank I just want to let you know it's a soft drink bottle ok?! I don't drink alcohol any more .. ok??!!" But of course I don't.

I do look at others recycling bins on rubbish day thought I have to admit. And as I drive round the neighborhood I play 'spot the boozers'. And sometimes I look at people around town and wonder... who amongst them is a secret boozer wishing they could stop.

I get loads of lovely comments, and I love them all - heaps! Especially those from you anonymous folk who tell me that you're trying to give up, and I'm in a small way helping.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, November 19, 2012

Navigating new social waters...

So here I am in a new neighbourhood slowly getting to know people. I'm crazy busy all the time going  in and out of school, pre-school, the supermarket, the library, the swimming pool, the scout den, the shops, school again, the pool again, sports fields, gyms, rah rah rah. Taxi driver me. The life of a full-time mum.

And I've got some interesting territory to navigate because I am new here and no-one knows me yet, and certainly they don't know my 'secret' that I'm a boozy lush who had to give up the wines a year ago because I was hitting it too hard.

Twice in the last week I've found myself chatting to other mums on the sidelines of various events and they've made comments about drinking. One was on Friday afternoon and the woman I was talking to said something like 'can't wait to get home and have a wine' to which I replied 'I was just thinking how nice that would be' .. because unusually I had just been thinking that it would be nice to get some relief from the stressed out, wrung out feeling I'd had all day. I'd been allowing myself a moment of self-pity that I couldn't escape on a Friday evening with a bloody fucking wine LIKE MOST NORMAL PEOPLE!!!! GGGRRRRRR.......

Sorry about that...

Anyway so she said that to me, and I responded in a way that gave nothing away about my sobriety. Kind of odd but, you know, it wasn't the right time to launch into an explanation.

Then tonight the same thing happened... a different  mum on the sidelines of another kid event making a comment to me like 'can't wait to get home and *mimes opening bottle* have a drink!'. She said it in a kind of solidarity-type way, like 'us busy mums we need our wines don't we!!' kind of attitude. Again I decided it wasn't the time nor place to reveal my boozy background so I just sort of laughed out a 'ha ha yeah' kind of response.

One day I'm going to have to come clean. I suppose I'll just judge on a case by case (mum by mum) basis when I'll open up.

I sometimes wonder whether I should worry more that people might gossip about the fact that I'm an alcoholic who doesn't drink, or whether they're going to think that I'm boring because I don't drink, or any number of responses they might have when they discover my deep dark secret.

And then I think who gives a fuck what people think, if they get to know me and like me and if I like them we'll be mates regardless of my relationship with alcohol.

It's just the way it has to be and I refuse to be ashamed (fighting talk).

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why it's better...

Rather than whittle on about how I'm stressed again (MA) and emotional (kid dramas) and tired (lots of solo parenting) I'm going to try instead to articulate why I think it's better to go through tough feelings sober and raw, rather than reaching for a wine or five.

I could use all the well-worn phrases like; I just feel more connected to my feelings and I feel a lot more whole and I can understand more clearly but I remember reading shit like that before I got sober and those words just washed over me. They're such well worn phrases that they've almost lost their meaning.

Christy had a great turn of phrase; "How amazing that we can sit at the table with these funky depressed moods and just have a stare down with those suckers until they get bored and leave us be."

So why is it so amazing?

Well I had a major emotional upheaval earlier this year and had to pack up my life and leave a community that was rich with love and warmth and support. It was so hard and boy did I cry. I cried and I cried and I cried. I cried so much it was ridiculous. I couldn't stop the tears. I cried saying goodbye to my sons' school teachers. I cried saying goodbye to my neighbours. I cried all over my friends. I cried doing the dishes. I cried in bed at night. I cried driving the car. I cried so much I stopped even trying not to cry and was just an openly crying sooky mess. I cried as we left and I cried as we transitioned and I kept crying even after we arrived.

And then I stopped crying, and I kept moving forward, and ... well it's all gone. Not gone like I've pushed it away but gone like I dealt with it. I didn't hide the problem like filing away a bill I didn't want to pay. I paid it and it went away. Now I feel really at peace and resolved about the whole move. Not that I don't care to have left those people any more.. but clean like I expressed to myself and the world my sadness. And unbelievably that alone made it better. Nothing changed except how I expressed my feelings but just doing that made it better.

So (I'm working this out as I write) just expressing and honoring how you feel about something, cleanly and wholly, makes it better even though you can't change the thing itself.

Now when I think back to that time of the relocation and all that emotion and all those tears I feel clean. I feel really clean about it. It's hard to explain but it feels great. Resolved. Done. It feels like I totally honored my feelings by expressing them so openly and in a way that kind of cleared them.

Ok even now it's hard to explain, this is a bit convoluted sorry.

But to try and apply this logic to general sober life now, fairly regularly I get in funky moods .. grumpy, stressed, sad (but I am a fucking full time mother of 3 demanding boys and a bloody supportive wife trying to write a difficult MA thesis sorry just had to rant there) But instead of pretending I'm not grumpy, stressed or sad (which wine consumption used to help with) I actually just let myself be grumpy and stressed or sad and ... well overall it feels much better. Much better. Cleaner. It just feels cleaner. Better.

It's hard to articulate, and once again I don't think the words are doing the feeling justice. So don't just take my word for it. Try it, you'll understand too.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, November 12, 2012

On the up!

And like a phoenix from the flames (being a bit overly dramatic there) my sober mojo has returned and I have risen from my funk to once again be feeling fine and dandy about things.

I'm riding those waves of emotion like a pro don't ya think?  Well .. actually not really .. I still think that all the moaning and groaning that I do on here about being in a funk and stressed and all of that is kind of a failure.

But then I think well I am writing a blog charting my journey in sober living and I have to keep updating so there is going to be a bit of naval gazing now and then isn't there.

And then I think that actually me moaning and groaning and even admitting to having low moods is an entirely new thing for me and I shouldn't feel like it's a failure to do so.

And then I think am I thinking too much?

And then I think what shall I cook for dinner, and that I'll buy some herbs to plant this weekend.

And then I think I'll do some more work on my thesis tonight, and I wonder yet again how the hell I would be able to do this MA if I was still boozing.

And then I think back to my low mood over the last week or two and I feel really good about how I sat with those feelings and got through them without drinking.

And then I think isn't it amazing how I never want to drink.

And then I think how my sobriety just keeps getting longer and longer and longer...

And then I boil the jug and make a cup of tea....

And I feel just fine.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Working on it...

I was at my local store stocking up on a few supplies including beer to give to the guys who are going to help me put up the new trampoline.  The lovely store owner laughed as I put the 6-packs on the counter, saying 'Ah ha! While the husband's away..the wife will play!' or words to that effect (he knows Mr D is away on business for the week).

I laughed and said 'not for me! I don't touch the stuff'.. to which he replied 'I don't like beer either actually' and then we moved on to talk about the US elections.

Later as I was driving back from dropping the boys at scouts I was thinking how that store owner has never known me as a drinker. If we'd lived here before I got sober he would definitely have been aware that I was fond of red wine. As it is this beer is the first alcohol I've bought from him ever.

And as I was driving thinking about him and our conversation, I suddenly imagined myself actually buying red wine and taking it home and drinking it. Pouring. Drinking. Pouring. Drinking. Pouring. Drinking. Drinking. Drinking. Drinking.

Gross. Honestly, the thought of going back to all that pouring and drinking is gross. Awful. I think I actually pulled a face to myself in the car imagining all that pouring and drinking.

So thank fuck for that. I have no temptation to drink. None. Which is a total blessing because sober living is a bit raw and tricky for me right now. I'm stressed and emotional, to put it bluntly. And am working very hard on my new strategies to cope.

As always so many lovely comments and lots of wise advice is coming my way on here. And I am determined to meet this living-raw challenge head on (albeit with tears and gritted teeth right now).

I'm working on compassion and forgiveness, breathing and thinking clearly and calmly, and just general positive thinking. This will pass. I will learn. And hopefully, like the brilliant Byebyebeer has, I will grow to love my feelings. Even the tricky ones.  And hopefully, like the clever Daisyanon says, I will start to really grow up, without any masks. (That Daisyanon link will take you to her blog but she doesn't post often. Her immense wisdom comes to me in comments. I'm very lucky).

I am slowly finding the real me. So this is what they mean about the second year being difficult. I see that now. First year all your energy is on just removing the booze and living without it. Second year, learning who you really are.

How fucking cool is that? (Positive note to end on!)

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Slippery world...

It's amazing to me really that after more than a year of living sober I'm still learning how to do it. I shouldn't be surprised given I spent 20+ years using lovely wine as an emotional-smooth-all, obviously it's going to take longer than just 1 measly year to entrench new life strategies.

These aren't strategies for the smooth times. Like recently how I've been firing on all cylinders, fist pumping the air with my oh-so-strong-and-clever-sober-me hat on, rah rah rah-ing about how great it is to live sober.

This is the times when one or two little things happen, my amour gets chinked a little or some stress or sadness or something comes into the picture and ... suddenly I'm a little low. Not crazy bad, but low none the less. Flat. Smiling less often. Everything feeling just a bit harder, needing a bit more effort.

I'm sure this is normal but honestly this is new for me. This. is. new. for. me.  Wine was my great leveler. I didn't have lows like this. I used to pride myself on always being upbeat! Not naval gazing! Not moody or hormonal! Oh great easy-going me! Wine gave me that. It took a fuck of a lot away as well but it gave me a state of same-ness that I no longer have.

It's amazing to think that drinking steadily like I did has that much affect on your life but this has been the great journey of discovery I've been on since I became sober. It's astounding to me how taking the wine away has led to so many changes including me having these low patches. They feel entirely new to me. I need new strategies to cope with them.

I was reading an article about the show Nurse Jackie and apparently the new season has the pill-popping nurse heading to rehab and becoming sober.  The producer was talking about the character and her new sober journey: "You know that slippery world of having feelings now that you're sober? She's still her, but she's on a shakier footing now. She doesn't quite know how to get through the days in a way that's familiar. There will be some adjustments."

So I'm adjusting too.

What do other people do? Have shopping addictions? Drink a lot? Take pills to lighten the mind if it's really really bad?  For me, exercise definitely helps and achieving things like my studies. I clean a lot and I focus on the small banal things around me that make me happy. Hence that last post about food and the weather and smiling faces. I really try to bring my focus down to the immediate good things in front of my eyes. And yesterday, well I just made myself smile more often, and that definitely helped.

Love, Mrs D xxx