Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Channelling Caitlin Moran

I woke up in a snit on Sunday after a terrible sleep and mentally prepared to limp my way through an underwhelming day. I wasn't holding out any hope for it to be a winner for a variety of small but accumulated reasons.

But shortly after waking while sitting with a mug of green tea and the newspaper I came across an article by the clever and fabulous British writer Caitlin Moran, and read all about her obsession with the new Daft Punk single 'Get Lucky' (I'd link to her article here but it's behind a paywall on The Times UK website, you'll just have to trust me it is as brilliantly witty and clever as all her other writing).

As soon as I finished the article I took my phone out, went to iTunes, bought the new Daft Punk album, plugged the phone into the speakers in my kitchen and played 'Get Lucky' loudly.

Then I played it again.

Then I played it again.

Then I played it again and again and again.

Let me say this clearly.. if you want to make your day IMMEASURABLY better then listen to 'Get Lucky' by Daft Punk loudly over and over and over. Find it on Spotify or YouTube (the long version which goes for just over six minutes). It will greatly improve the quality of your day. It sure did me on Sunday! Thank you Caitlin Moran and thank you Daft Punk. You helped make one sober mama down in New Zealand very happy. I'm listening to it right now with the headphones on. "We're up all night to get lucky..."

Anyway finally yesterday I walked my six-day-old sore throat to the doctor. This is the first time I've been to the doctor in this community despite having lived here for a year (healthy sober person me!!). He was very nice and had a good chat with me, taking bits of family history and other details to help him get to know me. He said (while looking at my notes) "...and I see you're a non-smoker which is good".. to which I answered "and a non-drinker!". He raised his eyebrows so I continued in my usual blunt fashion "Gave it up about a year and a half ago. Was just getting too much. Found it really hard to stop drinking once I started so I just took it away. I do call myself an alcoholic now, although that took a while."

(I'm jiggling around in my chair. "She's up all night for good fun, I'm up all night to get lucky...")

Is it weird that I was proud telling the Doctor this? Not embarrassed. Not shy. Just matter-of-fact, and I felt strong. He was low-key but definitely interested. Said "good on you" a few times. Then he started shaking his head and said "You know, I do think the person sitting in my chair 20 or 30 years from now is going to be talking about alcohol the way we talk about tobacco today. It just causes so much harm. So many problems in our community."

I'd like to think he's right, I really would. I'd like to think that there is going to be a more open dialogue in our societies about alcohol and how addictive and problematic it can be. And more people will be open about having a problem with it. And more people will give it up. But I'm not sure that's going to happen. As I've said before... it's a big old ship to turn around.

(we're up all night to get lucky, we're up all night to get lucky, we're up all night to get lucky....)

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, May 24, 2013

I am never drinking ever again

I am never ever ever drinking alcohol again ever in my whole life.

If I have to deal with a major disappointment and feel like a glass or two of wine would be nice to comfort myself and commiserate there's nofuckingway I'm going to have one, even if it means going to bed and eating five chocolate biscuits instead.

If I feel like a bit of a sad boring loser at a party because I'm finding everyone else's crazy boozy talk completely unfunny and stupid then so be it. So. Be. It.

If I have to have new people judge me and wonder about my drinking past and form negative opinions about me based on my sobriety then so what.

If someone close to me dies and someone tries to give me a whiskey while I'm deep in my grief I'll scream through my tears 'I DONT' TOUCH THAT STUFF DON'T GIVE IT TO ME!!!'.

If I have to stay self obsessed in order to stay on top of my emotional states and keep myself from taking the easy way out and numbing myself with wine then self obsession it is.

I choose sober self obsession over boozy sloppy misery.

I choose raw and vulnerable over breezy and false.

I choose sober over drunk.

I choose it. I do. Me. This is my life and if I choose not to touch alcohol ever again then I won't touch alcohol ever again. I have no-one to fear but myself. I don't fear myself. I trust myself.

Call this determination. Call it grim reality. Call it sad and boring, call it brave and amazing. Call it what you like. I don't mind. I'll just be over here staying sober for the rest of the days of my life.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, May 20, 2013


Is it crazy that I'm completely jazzed about the fact we haven't put our recycling bin out for SIX WEEKS!!!!!!!

Anyhoo my mum told me this past weekend that my personality had changed since I gave up alcohol and that I appeared more vulnerable now. I first reacted (inside my head) like "what do you mean vulnerable I'm incredibly hard and cool and feisty and together and on top of things thank you very much!!!!!!" and then after about a minute of processing it I decided to relax about her observation and accept that it must be tied in with that 'raw' thing I've been going on about since I got sober. I've used other cliched words like 'present' and 'clear'...but 'vulnerable' was new and it's stayed with me since.

Then today I remembered about this TED talk by the social researcher Brene Brown which I've had people rave on to me about but have never bothered watching to be honest (everybody in the world probably has already judging by the number of hits on her YouTube clips) .. so anyway today I finally had a listen.

So what does Brene Brown say about vulnerability? She says of all the individuals she has researched (interviewed and analysed) throughout her career .. those who appear to live 'wholeheartedly' (that is the people who believe they're worthy of love and belonging) were all united by the fact that they fully embraced vulnerability. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they actually were. They didn't talk about vulnerability being comfortable, they just talked about it being necessary.

And she said that while vulnerability is at the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness it appears to also be the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.

However, she said (and I couldn't believe this) WE NUMB VULNERABILITY by spending money, by eating, by drinking or doing drugs, by trying to make uncertain things certain, by trying to make the imperfect perfect etc etc.

Well hello what is steady heavy wine consumption (like I used to practice) if it's not numbing vulnerability I ask you??!!

Brene Brown: "The problem is that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can't say, here's the bad stuff, here's vulnerability, grief, shame, fear, and disappointment ... I don't want to feel these things I'm going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions. So when we numb those we numb joy. We numb gratitude. We numb happiness. And then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning and then we feel vulnerable and we look for a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. It's a vicious cycle."

So yeah... I guess that by taking away the wine, I have let myself be vulnerable. Mum got it right, but I've never thought of it like that. I always knew I was 'raw' and feeling the ups and the downs more.. but I didn't know it lead to appearing vulnerable. But according to Brene Brown that is not a bad thing at all.

And as Clarence said to Alabama in 1993's True Romance (love that film!); "You've got to take the crunchy with the smooth". How true that is about a sober life.

Nice pop culture reference to end there.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My soft bottom...

Man, it's so interesting going through my old posts....what really strikes me is the fact that I made a hard and firm decision to not drink ever again and I have never wavered from that ever. *Sigh*. Even though it's hard sometimes.

From day one my attitude has been..."throw what you like at me life.. I am meeting you head on, (fucker), with no booze attached." I added that 'fucker' in because it's the perfect word to denote my hard attitude to my alcohol addiction. You've got to be hard and mean and determined to take whatever shit comes and never ever reach for the lovely elixir that numbs stuff away.

That magical elixir that turned on me and became my enemy. I couldn't control my drinking. Once I started drinking alcohol, once my synapses began fizzing with the lovely effects of that gorgeous liquid I was lost. A goner. I just wanted more and more and more. Another glass. Another bottle. I never said no. I never wanted to stop. I loved drinking. I loved loved loved loved drinking wine.

Thankfully I recognised that my lovely friend booze was turning into an enemy, that I couldn't control it no matter how much I tried, no matter how many techniques I employed. I just could not control my intake. I was rapidly getting more and more lost to an alcohol addiction and I decided the only way I could combat that was take the alcohol away completely and so I did.

I've just read Pamela Stephenson's biography "The Varnished Untruth" and there's a great bit in it when she writes about how she gave her husband Billy Connolly - huge crazy boozer - an ultimatum: "It's drink or me".

She writes; "Fortunately, Billy decided that he was going to plump for personal happiness and changed his life to a sober one.  It didn't happen all at once; 'one day at a time' was very much the way it went, but he was essentially strong and resolved and, to this day, has not touched alcohol or drugs for nearly thirty years. Billy never entered a rehab programme. He tells people, 'I decided to quit drinking while it was still my idea'."

I decided to quit drinking while it was still my idea too. I'm what they call a 'soft bottom' or 'high bottom' alcoholic. i.e. my 'rock bottom' - the point I reached where my life changed - wasn't as dire as others. For some 'rock bottom' can be sitting in jail, or waking up in hospital, or losing a job or crashing a car or destroying a relationship. My personal (soft) bottom was hiding a nearly empty wine bottle from Mr D and lying about the fact I'd drunk it. My bottom was deception and lies entering into my relationship. That was enough for me.

And so here I sit six hundred and fourteen and a half sober days later. It's mothers day, Mr D is away on work, the house is a total mess, my sons have elected to spend the entire day in their pyjamas, the sun is shining and life is good.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Doing events sober...

You have good ones, you have bad ones. You have fun ones, you have flat ones. It would be a lie to say sober events are always great. Sometimes they're shit. I've had sober weddings that were so awesome I danced for hours and felt on a natural high for days! I've also had sober weddings where I felt a bit flat and disjointed and like a bit of a boring loser. I've had sober dinner parties where I laughed so much my cheeks ached, and others where I felt quite removed from the jokes and like I just wanted to go home and crawl into bed.

I've been to parties where I was so nervous to be sober I chain smoked cigarettes all night, ones where I raced around fetching other people drinks like a weirdo, ones where I fixed a false smile on my face and had no fun at all, and ones where the fact I wasn't drinking was totally irrelevant and I had great chats with great people.

Sober events rise or fall on a peculiar convergence of factors; my mood, my outfit, the crowd, the vibe, the location, the music, the atmosphere, the food, my energy levels. I've learned that just because the last event I did sober was great doesn't mean the next one will be. Nor will the last sober event being shit mean the next one will be.

Sometimes they're just not great, and I wake up in the morning feeling flat like it was only really a 75% night and then the "is it because I'm a boring sober person now?" thoughts creep in. Then other times I wake up feeling like the night before was 150% fun and "get me I'm the coolest sober chick in the world, who needs booze!!!!!!!!".

(Driving home is always great whether the event was boring or fabulous. That fact remains the same. Oh how I love driving home.)

So if you have a shit sober event don't think you need to drink to make the next one more fun. It's not about the drink, it's about all those other factors. I don't think any amount of booze in the world is going to make a boring party more fun. It's just going to make me drunk at a boring party.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, May 3, 2013

Happy in Sober-Land

I'm going through all my old posts organising them into new pages - one page full of posts for every month of the first year of my sobriety. It's so interesting to go back and be reminded about all the things I don't miss about being a boozer. It's so easy to forget as time passes and the new sober way of living becomes the norm.

I don't miss having painkillers dotted all around the house. Most important was the packet I kept in my top bedside drawer. I'd reach out in the dark at 3am to grab a couple and swallow them down with the water I always made sure to take to bed (in my sloppy state). Sometimes I wonder how our bedroom must have smelled in the mornings after a binge. Often I wonder how my kids must have smelt wine on my breath all the time.

I don't miss that panicky feeling when the wine had almost run out.

I certainly don't miss staring at the back of the toilet door thinking 'I'm boozed again'. I don't miss sitting on the sofa late at night by myself full of wine, feeling like a dead weight, watching tele I would forget .. too sluggish to get up and go to bed. I do not miss the 3am wake-up. Head pounding, mouth dry, bladder full, feeling so guilty and dysfunctional. I don't miss hungover mornings, feeling like my kids are screaming loudly through breakfast on purpose (as if they knew I had a hangover and couldn't deal with any noise).

I don't miss any of that bloody boozy bollocks.

I love getting into bed sober now. I love my morning mug of green tea. I love when tiredness can be assessed simply as 'not enough sleep' or 'crazy busy day' rather than 'that bottle of wine last night can't have helped'.

My clever friend the nurse thinks the world is on the cusp of a big turnaround with regard to alcohol. That slowly but surely societies around the globe are going to start turning on booze as we have on cigarettes. 'It's a poison' she said to me simply. Alcohol is a poison.

Check out this article about an expert in global health at the University of Copenhagen. They say about alcohol "this isn't a harmless staple of living. This isn't bread or water. This is ethyl alcohol, or ethanol. We know it can be addictive, we know it's harmful to our health and we know it causes an enormous burden to our society. The alcohol industry may spend large sums to help us resist questioning our relationship with alcohol, but lets be honest - this relationship is truly bizarre."

It's a big-ass ship to turn around though.. but maybe alcohol's time will be up soon. And if that's the case I'll be happily standing on the sober shoreline waving to all the drinkers on their boozy boats going; "Come on over guys! It's fine over here in sober-land, really!"

Love, Mrs D xxx