Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Graduation jubilation!!!!!!!!!

I'm on watch now to hit a kind of post-high slump. The last couple of times I hit a great high (like when I danced for four hours at my friend's 40th!) I spent the days following feeling low and a bit glum.

So after yesterday's big high - I graduated! - I can already feel a bit of a low creeping in and am going to do all that I can to keep myself feeling good and positive. The longer I live sober the more I start to understand myself and the better I get at managing my feelings naturally. I know I'm capable of hitting great highs, and that sometimes they can dump me down afterwards.. so I'm prepared.

See how the longer you live sober the better you get at it. I'm over 2 years now and I'm still figuring stuff out.

So yesterday... OMG YESTERDAY!!!!!!!!! All those months of hard slog, writing that goddam 40,000 word thesis, the stress, the stress, the stress, yesterday it all paid off and I felt soooooooo good walking across that stage and shaking that man's hand and putting my hat on and walking off again.

The ceremony lasted for 2 hours, my walk of pride lasted for about 8 seconds, but every one was worth a million dollars I'm telling ya. My mum was there and my dad and Mr D and I was soooo sooooo soooo very very very happy to be graduating.

And so happy to be doing it knowing that not only have I got an MA, but I have got myself sober.

Had a lovely soda water to celebrate - in a flute of course! - and the fact that it wasn't champagne didn't matter one iota. Alcohol does not have the power to make my graduation jubilation better. My graduation jubilation was a beautiful, powerful, amazing thing all by itself. Whoop!

(So now you can maybe see why I'm on watch for the comedown.)

And now, if you'll permit me, I'm going to be a bit of a show off.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fizzy book brain..must write!

I'm writing another post sooner than I normally would because I've got fizzy book brain and my synapses are zinging so much I have to write. Must write.....! Writewritewritewrite....Zing! Fizz! Zing!

This book writing process is farking intense.. 3 weeks ago I was writing the part of my story where I was around 80 days without the booze and realising that one of the hardest things for me with not drinking was to sit comfortably in the 'quiet' moments. The weekday evenings with nothing much happening, I'd get hit with big-time pangs.

At this early point in my sobriety I was realising that I used wine to fill the 'empty space' and that I had to figure out whether 1) this 'empty space' was a problem that needed to be solved or 2) this 'empty space' was a normal part of the human condition that I just had to get used to living with.

Re-living this and trying to put it into words for the book I was reduced to tears (literally in tears in my bed with the laptop) realising that this is something I still haven't 'solved' or 'fixed' or figured out ... that I am still very much a work in progress in this department and may be for the rest of my life.

I ground my way through that bit of the writing, sugar binging to help with the difficult emotions, managed to get through that point in the story, realised I am still a work in progress and need to keep working on me, thought about my brain/alcohol/brain/sugar/brain, decided to address the sugar binging, went on the Whole30, kept writing...

And now I've moved on in the book to where I'm writing about all the research and hard mental work I did to try to shift my thinking about alcohol so that I wouldn't be a miserable non-boozer for the rest of my life. I'm re-reading the 2 books that were so helpful to me back then (and big thanks to the anonymous person that reminded me that I could buy the e-version of Jason Vale and not wait weeks for the hard copy to arrive - duh) and I'm feeling all fired up and positive again!

Maybe it's because my body is a temple and I'm only eating whole foods, or maybe it's because Jason Vale and Allen Carr are so good at making all of the beliefs we have about alcohol (that it makes us happy, that it steadies our nerves, that it relieves boredom and stress, that it eases pain, that it helps us to relax etc etc) seem like complete and utter fallacies. They systematically break down all of these beliefs and tear them to shreds. It's so fun to read I'm telling you, reading them is making me feel all positive and strong and just amazing again about living a life without alcohol!!

That is all.

Love, Mrs D xxx

(Mr Hall I put that exclamation mark in the post title just for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Re-working the brain..

My big thing after I took the wine away was that while I didn't want to be a miserable boozer any more I most certainly did not want to be a miserable NON boozer either. I couldn't bear the thought of spending the second half of my life feeling like I was missing out, not going out, not having fun with friends, not laughing or dancing or talking shit at parties.

So that's what I worked really hard on and still work on to this day. I'm trying to articulate this process now in my book writing and have gone and ordered the two books that I remember being the most influential to me in those early days - Allen Carr's 'The Easy Way to Stop Drinking' and Jason Vale's 'Kick the Drink - Easily!' (it kind of irks me that he's put an exclamation mark in his book title for some stupid reason, but then that's the kind of guy I think he is. Actually I can't complain, I love a good exclamation mark!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)..

These books are actually bloody hard to get, not available at any of the stores or libraries in my city so I had to track down second hand copies on Amazon. The Jason Vale one is going to take weeks to arrive (hopefully before my deadline). Allen Carr arrived this week (great excitement!) and I opened it to discover it's full of someone else's underlining and comments throughout. This is the inside cover.

I've been wondering who this person is with their weird scripty handwriting, when did they read this book and write these notes to try and stop drinking? There must have been millions of humans over the decades who have tried to do what we are all trying to do - live a great life with no alcohol added.

So anyway my big thing was/is to try and rework my brain so that I won't be a miserable git sitting at home like a boring sober loser. I wanted to go to bars and laugh with my friends and go to weddings and cut it up on the dance floor to cheesy pop tunes and I wanted to huddle outside on the balcony at parties and rant madly and I wanted to do all of that without the wine messing me up.

The bottom line is, I think we don't have to miss out on anything. I think if you think very hard about the scene you are entering into .. think about all the elements that are there, the people, the setting, the atmosphere, the food, the music, the friendship, the giggles, the gossip etc etc and focus on those - those are the things that make an occasion special. It shouldn't have to matter that the glass you hold has lemonade not champagne in it. 

It takes a bit of work to get this and sometimes you hit the jackpot and have a blinder of a night! Sometimes you just break even and the night is just fine, and sometimes you lose out and do feel a bit flat and sober and go home feeling a bit low (but it's never that bad in the overall grand scheme of things.) And whatever the case, I never, ever wake up in the morning regretting not having drunk the night before (unlike the waves of drinking regret that used to dominate my life).

The sun is shining and I've got a child free day so will get busy with the laptop! 

Love, Mrs D xxx

P.S. Quick Whole30 update. I'm on Day 8. It's amazing. I feel great. Not in the least bit hungry because I'm eating a lot, just veges and eggs and meat and fruit and not crappy easy stuff. Love it. I am having to take a little extra time planning what I am going to eat but I really do feel lighter and happier. That's the crazy bit. This is not just physical but really works emotionally as well. I feel positive, not negative. Duh, can't believe I'm only just cottoning on to the 'what you eat affects your moods' concept. Good one Mrs D. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Warm sun, no slice

Sitting at the public library with the sun on my back, typing on the laptop listening to some students giggling down the other end of the room. Two hours to myself until I have to pick up the boys and go to swimming lessons.

The escalators are humming and there's a man in a suit sitting next to me reading over a contract.

I've just spent half an hour looking up recipes for the new faddy-food-thingy that I'm doing - 30 days with no wheat, no dairy, no sugar, no legumes. Actually I shouldn't dismiss it as faddy, it's an awesome programme called the Whole30, they've totally seduced me with their website, I've paid (not much) to receive a newsletter every day that I am on this programme and have even posted a wee comment on their forum. And I tweeted them and they tweeted me back! That was exciting.

Day 3 and I feel good already. Was going to start next Monday but I couldn't wait! Really jazzed about getting on top of my dysfunctional food habits. My 'I'm stressed so I can sugar/carb binge' thought processes so mirror my 'I'm stressed/bored/happy/sad/whatever so I can drink wine' thought processes.

I had a breakthrough about this while at my lovely soberversary Mexican dinner with my sisters (drinking a delicious Virgin Mojito no less). I was explaining to them about the Addictive Voice Recognition Technique that I used early on when I was first trying to give up wine (I didn't know I was doing it but a clever commenter told me I was after I posted about how I was trying to beat cravings. I had to Google what it was to find out more).

Anyway after Friday night I had a thought; that voice in my head telling me to eat crap isn't something I have to listen to, and maybe there's a way that I can shut that bloody voice up and not reach for foods that are going to make me feel sluggish or guilty. I'll have to let you know if I can control this one the same as I have alcohol. My solution with alcohol = take it away completely. Food you can't do that with and moderation has never been my strong point.

I'm sure it's got to do with my addictive personality (what is that?) or the reward pathways in my brain (what are those?) or something, it's certainly got a whole lot to do with my eternal quest to be the happiest, most healthy, non-dysfunctional, smooth, calm and contented person that I can possibly be.

Bloody hell...why can't I just chill the fuck out and bodge around and not worry about all this shit??!! Ah.. coz that's what I used to do and it didn't make me happy. The alcohol stopped making me happy. I know lately my food has stopped making me happy. And for some reason my brain keeps propelling me forward on this eternal quest.

I tell you what is making me happy right now.. the sun on my back ... it's so warm and lovely....

I will not go to the library cafĂ© for a piece of slice. I will not. Maybe they've got containers of fruit salad... or cashew nuts! I'm allowed to snack on those....


Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The point of change..

Had a super-lovely soberversary, lots of bloggy love and friends-and-family love and just a lovely day. Count the loves in that sentence! Here's another... LOVE!

Anyhoo got this comment from Bella on my last post and really wanted to address her question directly here. Be great if others could share their experiences as well to let her know what their point of change was.

Bella: "The one thing I really struggle with (as a mum-of-two who recently ruined 2 and a half years of sobriety with a 6 month bender, which to be honest hasn't finished yet ...) is precisely how and when and why people decide to stop drinking. Why don't we talk more about people's low points that catalyse their quitting? And why, even if we think we've hit a new low, do we sometimes uncork the bottle again? I know you often say about the memoirs that you've read, that they gloss over the actual recovery part and focus more on the lows. But I'm interested in the nexus between those two. Any thoughts?"

What is it that moves us to finally make the change from boozer (or user) to sober? Why do some people have to make the shift only once and others fall back and have to do it over and over?

My point of change came after two years of being hyper-aware of my worsening drinking problem and trying to moderate and control it unsuccessfully. The last straw was the night I secretly drank a bottle of wine while Mr D was out (despite us having agreed to an alcohol-free night) then knelt down to hide the bottle in the back of the cupboard so he didn't know I'd had it. My point of change came when my fucked up desire to drink brought lies and deception into my relationship. The next morning after that final miserable binge (we drank more after he got home) I got really fucking angry, really fiercely fucking angry and determined. This was my point of change. It came after two years of hard mental work and 8 hours after highly dysfunctional drinking behaviour.

That morning that I changed I had a very clear thought process. It went: "I have HAD ENOUGH of this shit (angry). This has GOT to stop. No-one else can do this for me. I have to do this. I have to change. If it's just me changing me then surely I can do it. I absolutely have to do it." I knew without a doubt that I was very very sick in my head regarding alcohol and there was no way that I could live happily with it in my life. Even now that image of my on my knees leaning into the back of the cupboard makes me shudder. I couldn't bear to continue down that path. I knew I had to take the alcohol away, had to learn how to live without it. I was very determined and I always thought to myself: "People do this. I can do this. I will do this. I will learn how to do this and I will do this."

(It's hard to make this brief but I'll stop now)

This is just my story. It might not be relatable to you. Read around other blogs and books (and hopefully some people will share here in comments their point of change story) until you figure out what it is that will work for you. I do believe everyone's drinking/using story is unique, just as everyone's point of change is unique and everyone's recovery plays out in a unique fashion.

I just read "Ninety Days" by Bill Clegg and the cliched "I got sick and tired of being sick and tired" is pretty much what finally triggered his move into long-term sobriety, the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion about his crack habit (it's a rip-snorter of a read and there's a lot in there about recovery - yay!). He went to 3+ meetings a day trying to stay sober, that didn't work for a long time but finally the exhaustion and wanting to be available to help a fellow addict stopped him from using.

I also recently read "Drunk Mum" by Jowita Bydlowska (also a rip-snorter, all about her crazy vodka-fuelled life, blackout after blackout, lots of sad & lonely boozing). This book really touched me. It is brutal and it is beautiful and unexpectedly quite poetic at the end (probably because she is so clearly not  wishy-washy, when her truth comes it is very touching).

She drinks and drinks and hides bottles and tries to cover the smell of booze and fights with her boyfriend and constantly has a crazy, angry, defensive, dialogue going on in her head and then after one last miserable binge and more lies and defensiveness "..there's silence. My own voice in my head just disappears. And once it disappears, there's an absolute, vast silence. It stops all. It stops me. It's not a moment per se. It's the invisible, non-existent pause between time's passing, one minute turning into the next one. It's so big that it contains everything else - around me and inside me. I see me and I am looking back, looking for help. And with that glimpse everything crumbles. I'm a liar. I'm a liar and I can't afford to lie anymore. I'm an alcoholic, I'm a liar and I've lied about everything."

Bella, you will have your point of change. It will come and it will stick. People do this. You can do this too.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, September 6, 2013

2 years sober today..

Woke up at 4am. Thought about how today is my two year soberversary. Thought about how I don't feel any huge elation about this soberversary. Thought about how soberversarys are strange events, more of a low key 'getting on with it' rather than a high energy 'Whoop Whoop!'.

Thought I felt a bit cold so flicked my electric blanket on to 1. Realised I was wide awake and wasn't likely to go back to sleep so reached for my iPhone. Read this brilliant post by ByeByeBeer. Thought about how lucky I am to never feel alone in my sobriety because of all of the lovely people who write sober blogs, read sober blogs, comment on sober blogs.

Thought about the book I am writing about how I got sober (yes, I have a publishing contract!), about what an intense, introspective process it is writing this book.  Thought about how writing the book sometimes feels like trudging through thick mud, reliving and trying to articulate what I went through after I chose to take alcohol out of my life. Thought about how there was so much was going on inside my mind that I never put into words. Thought about great it is to be writing it all out before it fades completely away.

Thought about how I cried the other night when I was writing the part that explores how after a couple of months of not drinking it became very apparent to me that I used wine to fill a lot of 'empty space', and that the honest truth is that even now 2 years later I still don't know how best to deal with that 'empty space' all of the time.

Thought about how a lot of the time I do well at filling the 'empty space' with family and friends and blogging and pop music and dancing and green juices and green teas and lovely oils and reading books and bubble baths and hugs and Tara Brach and exercise and cooking and homemaking and pop culture and reality TV and politics and new dresses and beauty products and stuff.

But also thought about how sometimes I don't do so well at filling the 'empty space' left when I took away the wine, and I fill it with dysfunctional food habits and uncomfortable glum thoughts. Thought about how I am going to tackle my sugar / carbs issues by doing my dear friend Sherry's 30-day challenge starting on September 18.

Thought about how I don't know if 'empty space' is a normal feeling. A normal part of the human condition that I just have to get used to sitting with, or whether the 'empty space' is something I need to keep working on, need to figure out.

Thought about how the kids would be waking soon and a cup of tea would be nice so snuck out of bed and boiled the jug and put a green tea bag (flavoured with mandarin) into my favourite mug then sat at the computer.

Thought about how really, incredibly, quietly, amazingly, brilliantly, truly, wonderfully cool it is that I live without alcohol. Maybe there is a little bit of 'whoop whoop' in there after all.

Thought about what to write. Wrote this.

Love, Mrs D xxx