Saturday, May 31, 2014

Short and sweet….

Lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely sunny holiday weekend here in my home town. Lots of the lovely little things that make day-in-day-out sober life so great.

Slowing down my mind and staying in the moment. Looking at the mist over the morning skyline.. the sun rising and hitting the tree tops..the birds flying around doing what birds do…cats doing what cats do.. children doing what children do.

Letting busy thoughts float away like scraps of paper in the wind.. thinking of three things I can see right now.. three things I can hear right now.. three things I can taste right now… slowing down my mind…staying in the moment...

Dancing around my kitchen to Sia's amazing new song Chandelier .. drinking lemon, lime and bitters at the pub with girlfriends.. drinking coffee at the sports field with my family.. drinking ginger beer at the dinner table ... drinking green tea at bed time...

Having bubble baths and reading my book and washing the windows and watching The Voice and doing my jigsaw puzzle and wiping the bench and sweeping the floor and playing Words With Friends with my friends and hugging my family and feeling good.

Feeling good.

Feeling good.

Feeling very very very very very very very very happy to have no alcohol in my life. I know I'm a broken record.

It's great to be sober.

And that is all I have to say right now.


Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This is sober living..

For the most part I cruise along in my life… in my nice little sober bubble.. being a busy wife and mother.. blogging.. meeting up with girlfriends.. folding endless piles of washing and emptying the dishwasher a million times a week.

And now my bubble has expanded massively (or popped?) and there are loads more people inside my life.. emailing and phoning and texting.. friends and new collaborators and media people and publicists.. and there's stuff going on. Lots of stuff.

And I'm like a 3-year-old lurching from one emotional state to another. I'm elated one minute, stressed the next, excited, offended, teary, nervous, happy, wound up, determined… you name it I've probably experienced every emotion under the sun in the past week - sometimes 5 just within one hour! - and it's only going to get more intense.

And there's still this part of me that feels like I shouldn't be doing all this emoting.. I should be smoothly sailing through my busy life with a zen smile on my face calmly interacting with all the people around me.

Not sitting in my car outside school crying on the phone to Mr D because I feel someone isn't treating me respectfully (I got over that by putting my onesie on at 3.20pm and eating chips and dip with my boys).

Then just this morning… five minutes ago no less.. I had these powerful thoughts come into my head. And so I want to use this blog to talk to myself here...

"Mrs D - This is sober living. This is practicing what you preach. This is how a busy sober person reacts to things. With real, strong emotions. Don't resist. Ride the waves! You can expand your sober bubble to let in more noise and interaction. You are robust. But most of all .. you are sober. You are not a miserable boozer any more.. numbing your feelings and avoiding authentic reactions. Be happy that you are experiencing all of this without wine clouding the way. Go with the flow.. no-one is judging you for how you handle yourself.. no-one is scoring you down every time your emotions peak. Feel away!!"

That makes me feel a little better. I'm still strapped in tightly to the emotional roller coaster of life… or clinging tightly to the bucking bull of emotion.. (choose your metaphor, they're both pretty crap)..lurching from one state to another.. but it's ok. I wouldn't want it any other way.

And now to lurch my emotional butt off this computer chair, go to do some housework and then get myself down to the dentist - it's all glamour here baby!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fronting up...

I keep waking up at 5am with my brain whirring… brain-noise-a-rama! It's about to kick off for me here with local media starting to prepare stories on me to come out when the book is released on July 2.

This week I have a magazine reporter interviewing me and their photographer coming to take a photo of me (and they're bringing a makeup artist YIPPEE!!!) and then next week I'm being filmed by a TV crew for a local current affairs show. Yes. Me the middle class alcoholic.

Just goes to show how few people front up and admit to having a drinking problem. But I do have a drinking problem. I am a respectable, middle class alcoholic.

I think that's the point.. and the reason media is interested in my story. I don't present as the typical alcoholic. I'm the nice, respectable housewife .. seemingly well put-together, high-functioning woman who seems to have it all going on.

Except I wasn't that. I was a habitual, heavy, steady, dysfunctional wine drinker. I filled myself up with far too much wine most nights. I was hooked, I was miserable, I was guilty most of the time.. and it was getting worse. I think that's why I stopped when I did.. I could see that it was progressing rapidly. One bottle of wine wasn't enough to fill me up any more.. I was needing those extra couple of glasses from the second bottle. And that was just on a Tuesday night.

I was talking to some mums on the sidelines of our kids sports games yesterday.. and saying to them.."If I were still boozing today you wouldn't notice much difference. I'd still look mostly the same.. and be acting mostly the same.. but I'd have a sick guts right now and a bit of a headache. And privately in my mind I'd be beating myself up.. feeling like I was a worthless piece of shit for having let myself down yet again last night by drinking more than I'd intended."

I hated that 'I'm a worthless piece of shit' thought. We're not worthless pieces of shit! Alcohol is addictive and it's bloody hard to resist it if it's got you hooked! Take the alcohol away and the 'I'm a worthless piece of shit' thoughts will go! (Eventually. It'll take some work but you'll get there).

I still think there are people around me who are surprised that I label myself an alcoholic .. and that I don't touch the stuff ever and never will again. And I can't blame them for that because at the moment in our society we look for the obvious, dramatic, outward displays of alcoholism. Jobs lost, cars crashed, lives falling apart.

Well.. as many of us know out here in the sober sphere that often isn't the case. Many of us look fine but aren't fine. I'm not ashamed to admit that was the case for me. So front up before the cameras I will (that's Yoda speak right there).

Thank god for the makeup artist though..! And I'm getting my hair colored and my eyebrows shaped before hand as well. How's that for a bit of personal grooming! Now… about that sugar binging….

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My advice in a nutshell...

Oh shit.. just realised I didn't fill in all of yesterday's food diary. Oops. Frantically writing in my notebook now…

Dinner = picked at bits of chicken leftover from boys plates, small bowl of muesli with tinned peaches and sugar, handful of white chocolate buttons. 

Not my finest hour.

I know keeping a food diary seems a bit naff but I'm trying to stay mindful of how I'm treating myself, and not slip back into that pattern of 'fuck it' brain which is my drinking brain which used to lead me down the bottom of numerous bottles of wine.

(It was the 'fuck it' brain that opened the packet of white chocolate buttons)

I wrote in pen on the opening page of the notebook when I started this: "Food diary in the lead up to the book coming out. Don't crumble! Stay strong! Remember how good you feel if you eat well + exercise! Write down everything you eat before you eat it. Plus what mood you are in."

Ok, so I'm not doing the mood thing and obviously I'm getting slack about writing before I eat.. but one thing that is clear is that I am talking positively to myself...working on myself.. willing myself to functional eating.. boosting myself along..

It's something I've always done. I did it when I wrote letters to myself before I got sober. This letter when I was desperately trying to moderate.. and this letter on the day that I decided to stop drinking. Three days after quitting I started writing this blog. Obviously using words and language is crucially important to me and a very powerful took that I use to keep sober. I recommend it.

I also recommend getting a onesie and putting it on whenever you are at home alone feeling like you need a hug. Putting a onesie on is just like getting a big hug.

And I also recommend visualizing yourself as the person you want to be - strong and sober and together and calm. And visualize very clearly the person you don't want to be - boozy and sloppy and heavy and dull. I still have a very clear image in my mind of the boozy me slumping my way to the toilet late at night in a dark house. Boozy miserable me. Not going back there ever.

Got a lovely email from a reader in the UK who is a part of a big sober network and says a lot of them are struggling to stay sober after about 8-10 months off the sauce… that the initial rush and excitement and interest in staying sober starts to wane and the 'DRINK WINE NOW' voice starts to dominate once more. She asked me…'have you any thoughts or advice?'

Here's my advice. It holds for Day 1, Day 111 and Day 1111.

Talk to yourself honestly, don't hide from the truth, boost yourself along, believe change is possible, keep a clear vision in mind of the boozy you - the person you don't want to be, and clearly visualize yourself as the person do want to be, don't believe all the lies your brain (and society) tells you about alcohol holding the golden ticket to fun, know that it is possible to live a wonderful, full, fun, lovely life with no alcohol in it, know that being fully emotional and raw and real is the way us humans are supposed to live and it is a truly wonderful feeling - to be truly alive and alert to everything that goes on, even the tough stuff. It is a revelation.

And buy a onesie.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, May 17, 2014

No sober halo here...

The lovely Paul asked me a question in his comment on my last post .. and then he said 'I know you don't answer comments…'

I never used to answer comments because I was busy writing my Masters thesis and was worried that if I answered all my comments I would spend too much time online in great conversations with all you lovelies in the sober sphere..

Then after the thesis was done I tried answering comments but they always appeared in a bright red box - gah! - which looked awful like I was YELLING MY ANSWER.. so I tried for ages to fix that problem and now it seems to be working. I know because I did a test answer to Paul on the last post and it's not red.. but then I checked it on my phone and it was red there - double gah!

It's just so frustrating .. I've got loads of time on my hands now and would so love to be able to have more discussions and conversations with you all.. and answer comments and ask my own questions and have more of a flow. It feels a bit disjointed that all I do is write a post and then some of you comment (and hundreds don't) and then I write another post .. get a few comments (which I LOVE).. write a post…and so on…

I feel like we're all missing out on the great potential for more discussion and support and warmth and togetherness.

Sigh.. if only I had a fancy new website which was far more about community, where we could all talk to each other all the time and have information and support and loveliness flowing around and around and around…. …… if only ….. …. ….

….. if only …..

….. if only ….

(do you think I'm making this hint about the future clear enough..?!)

I had coffee with a lovely girlfriend (a new friend AND newly sober - Hi K!) and I was saying to her that I was worried that sometimes I come across on this blog as if I float around on a sober cloud with a sober halo perched above my head.. that nothing ever bothers me and all is smooth sailing.

I know I don't write often nowadays about gritty stuff that goes on.. partly because lots of people I know in real life read this blog now, partly because I don't want to whine and moan too much, but mostly because I think I've gotten used now to the normal ebbs and flows of a sober life. When I was newly sober every mood felt like a major event and when I felt sad or grumpy I felt like I was failing.

Now I just take those moods when they come, live them, try and manage them and trust that they're going to go. I've been really testy lately.. snipping at Mr D.. grumping and grouching lots at the kids. My insomnia is back with all the brain noise about what's ahead for me .. I've been hormonal, moody, eating crap and generally feeling angsty. I'm trying to ride it out with grace and style but am not sure how well I'm achieving that.

Yesterday I made some decisions.. I'm going to go for a big walk every morning after dropping the kids off with NO PHONE.. and I'm going to keep a food diary to make sure I'm eating well and not scoffing bad shit because I'm on edge.

No wine though. I'm a wine-free zone.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mindfully blobbing out...

I just lay on the sofa all morning and watched TV. And I don't care what anyone says about that. You know .. there's all this talk about being mindful and staying in the moment.. well I just mindfully watched 3 hours of reality TV.. fully present under my blanket on the couch.

Soon I am going to go pick up my 4-year-old from kindy.. it's raining and I have no idea what to do with him until 3pm when I have to get the two big boys from school. Maybe we'll go to the museum. Maybe we'll go to a mall. Maybe we'll go second hand shopping - now there's an idea! I'll drag him around some second-hand shops and then take him to a cafe. He can have a fluffy and I'll have a nice coffee.


I won't yell it of course.. but it will feel like a yell in a way.. yelling through the pages of the book and all the publicity that will come when it is released.

I'm cool with that. I have in my minds eye the shadowy figure of a women in a dressing gown.. miserable with a pounding head and sick guts and overwhelming feeling of guilt. It's me 2 1/2 years ago.. and it's the me back then that I want to talk to now. I just want to tell her.. it's ok.. you can get out of this… it will be tough at first but you can do it. And you won't be miserable. You'll just be sober and happy.

Been wondering exactly what it means to be 'living in recovery'. Is it something that is on-going? Or is it something we move through and beyond? What does 'living in recovery' mean to you?

For me living in recovery means I have recovered my true self from under the gallons of wine I'd sunk over 20-odd years. It means staying grateful for my sobriety and never forgetting where I've come from or underestimating the transformation I have experienced. Living in recovery means I can lie on the couch for three hours and watch crap TV and not worry about anything except 'what the hell good do the Kardashians do for anyone…??!'

That's a worry I can live with.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Living Without Alcohol…..

…who does that? Who actually lives without any alcohol in their lives at all…????

Me. And thousands of others.

The wheels don't fall of your life if you remove alcohol completely. The sky doesn't fall in. The universe doesn't implode. Blood doesn't come out of your eye balls. You are not doomed to a life of mystery and feeling left out. You are not boring, dumb, weak, square or a loser.

You just live a life with no alcohol in it. And it's fine.

It's better than fine actually.. it's fucking fantastic.

(I'm not denying the difficult transition from living boozily to living sober… that's tough, but do-able).

I love my blog. I love that I discovered that using words and writing out my feelings and thought processes helps me keep on top of my brain and stay sober.

I love that people comment and chip in with their support or advice. I love that I get helped along the way.

I love that people get helped by me sharing my experiences… and can sometimes see reflections in what they themselves are going through. I love that they tell me that in comments and emails… it makes me cry sometimes, and feel full of happiness and warm with love.

I love that I feel no shame in admitting that I can't control the drug of alcohol.. and that every time I tell someone that 'I don't drink because I can't control it' they look at me and see strength, not weakness.

I also love Natalie Merchant's new album, and Elbow's new album, and the new bright green paint I covered our kitchen walls with this week.

There is a lot of stuff going on with me right now behind the scenes.. which will all come out soon.. to do with the book, and this blog and stuff… it's all exciting.. and nervewracking.. and wonderful and brave and real and important and cool. I love all of that.

But mostly I love being sober. I love that last night I had a cup of herbal tea, watched American Idol and then got into bed to read my book (and promptly fell asleep as per usual). I love that I woke up with no hangover and this is my life now.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My sobriety is a rich gift..

Sometimes I'm actually thankful for having a drinking problem because overcoming it has led me through an amazing transformation… and given me the rich gift of living a life in recovery.

Like, if I'd always lived authentically and wholly and with emotional-honestly, maybe being like that now wouldn't thrill me as much as it does. But because living this way is in such marked contrast to the way I used to live (kind of dulled and unaware and removed from the real guts of life) I am unbelievably grateful for it.

I'm still shocked at how I didn't realise how much the wine was shafting me when I was drinking it all the time. I didn't choose to be in denial.. I just really genuinely was in denial about what my steady, heavy drinking was doing to my life.

But now that I do realise that... and have experienced a massive turnaround… I am constantly in awe of my wonderful sober way of experiencing the world.

So even when I'm in a horrible shitty grump like I was last Friday night.. grumping loudly to everyone who would listen (well.. readers of this blog and Mr D I suppose).. grumping off to bed early and just generally grumpily grumping.. I am thinking to myself "I LOVE the fact that there is no hiding from myself. I LOVE that I know exactly why I'm grumpy. I LOVE that I'm not avoiding the grumpiness. I LOVE that I'm not confused by the grumpiness because I'm avoiding it with a bottle or more of wine. I LOVE BEING SOBER!!"

Yes.. that's what I was thinking while I was in the middle of a shitty grump.

Here's a few other things I love about being sober.

I love that I keep waking up in the morning and going 'whoa.. another eight hours sleep just like that!'.

I love that when I meet other people in recovery there is a beautiful rawness and realness so present in them that, even if they don't share their truths with me, I feel proud, respectful of, and connected to them.

I love that my recycling bin is empty when I put it out on recycling day. I'm still ridiculously chuffed about that.

I love going to concerts sober. OMG Arctic Monkeys! What a fucking awesome concert!!!!!

I love driving home after a night out. Never gets old that one.

I love that I take much more time to really appreciate the small lovely things in my life, like the sensation of putting on a onesie (go and buy a onesie and put it on.. then you will appreciate the wonderment of a onesie).

But mostly I just love that I'm not a slave any more to a substance that cost lots of money, messed with my brain and cluttered up my life.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, May 2, 2014

Shit happens…(grumpy post)

The problem is shit happens.. big shit and little shit. Shitty Fridays and shitty Mondays and shitty any-day-you-like. Plans go awry, people say and do things that hurt or disrupt or concern or annoy. Sleep can be brief, bodies can be sluggish, eyes can be tired, feet can drag.

Kids can demand constantly and fight with each other all the time and whine and moan and scream and yell.

Workmates can tell boring stories or bring negative energy or sabotage plans or stuff up duties.

Family and friends can be overly opinionated or cause concern or sap energy or just be bloody thoughtless or mean.

Tradespeople can not turn up or turn up late...charge double or do a bad job. Service providers can fall short or fail to deliver. Things can break, leak, burn or bleed.

Shit. It happens all the time.

And we have these busy brains with this big cerebral cortex that keeps whirring away.. keeps us thinking and planning and wishing and projecting and fearing and worrying and … just endless whirring, whirring, whirring.

So it's natural that we want to escape. Just get away sometimes. This is why humans like to practice brain-bending… just to get away from all this shit that happens and general brain noise.

This is why alcohol works!!!! It takes us away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So it's Friday night and I'm grumpy. And my natural instinct as a human with a busy brain is to want to escape. But I can't escape because, you know, I'm a bloody alcoholic and don't touch booze because if I do I'm likely to fall back into a wine guzzling hell-hole that I don't want to be in.

Living sober means grinding through.. and going to bed early. That's all I can do.

Love, Mrs D xxx