Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pour Me...

Oh the wonders of A.A. Gill. I love, love, love him, love his writing. I have always loved his writing.. right from back when I was living in London in the late 90's reading his columns in the Sunday Times.

Back then I had no idea (or didn't care) that he was an alcoholic in recovery. Why would I? I was boozing up a storm myself! But over the years I've become dimly aware of that fact.. and now of course it looms large in my mind when I think of him. He's a sober superstar!

And now he has a memoir out about his drinking! I was warned by an online buddy that 'Pour Me: A Life' wouldn't satisfy as a recovery memoir.. and A.A. himself says on page 8 "Let's get one thing straight, this is no faith-infused pulpit tale of redemption. This isn't  going to be my debauched drink-and-drug hell, there will be no lessons to learn, no experience to share, there won't be handy hints, lists, golden rules ... I have no message, no help". Consider myself warned....

No need. I have absolutely loved this book and found it hugely powerful, very insightful and moving. He has such a clever way with words, such a brilliant way to convey the realities of living with addiction.

On waking up: "It's not a simple transition. It's not how you wake up, like turning the key in the ignition - a couple of coughs and you're ticking over in neutral. A drunk's awakening has layers and protocols. There is a great deal of spare and lonely emotion that has to be acknowledged, folded up and buried between sleep and consciousness."

Spare and lonely emotion. Oh yes, I know it well.

And this: "Booze is a depressant, a close relative of anaesthetic. The symptoms of getting drunk are like those of being put out for an operation - initially, fleetingly, it offers a lift, a sense of transient joy, of confident light-headed freedom, it's a disinhibitor; relaxes your shyness and natural reserve so you can feel socially optimistic in a room, can make a pass, tell a joke, meet a stranger. But this is just the free offer to snag a punter. Drink is, at its dark, pickled heart, a sepia pessimist. It draws curtains, pulls up the counterpane. It smothers and softens and smoothes. The bliss of drink is that it's a small death."

A small death. Death by a thousand sips. Thank fucking goodness I stopped killing myself with that shitty liquid.

And this: "Alcoholic despair is a thing apart, created by the drink that is a depressant, but also the architect of all the pratfall calamities that fuel it. Alcohol is the only medication the drunk knows and trusts, a perfectly hopeless circle of angst, and it is all powered by a self-loathing that is obsessively stoked and fed. And it's that - that personally awarded, vainly accepted disgust - that makes it so hard to sympathise with drunks. Nothing you can say or do comes close to the wreaths of guilt we lay at our own cenotaph."

How can this man write. Wonderful! Highly recommended.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Making Recovery Visible..

I've been in two mainstream media stories recently focused on sobriety and recovery.

One was a newspaper story headlined "High-functioning alcoholics: A hidden hell". The article carried the story of three of us former heavy drinkers now living sober. The link to the article is here.

The other was a TV item on a popular nightly news programme. They called the piece "Quitting drinking for good: The stories from those who've done it." The story featured me and one other sober woman talking about how happy we are now that we've stopped drinking, plus a psychologist on how she reckons New Zealanders are dialing back on their drinking. The link to the item is here (ignore the presenter's defensive and egocentric comments at the end - says more about him than anything).

Nothing could detract from the fact that these smiling faces of happy non-drinkers were featured prominently on prime-time tele.

These are powerful images. Happy non-drinkers. Happy people in recovery. Happy people who were formerly miserable because of alcohol. Happy. Happy. Happy.

Both stories - but particularly the TV one (such is the power of that medium) - had a big impact. Visitors to my blog spiked. I had loads of interactions on my social media accounts. Hits on Living Sober exploded and we had a MASSIVE influx of new members.

This is called Making Recovery Visible. This is why I do all that I do. To reach out via whatever means available to let people know you CAN get free. You CAN rid yourself from that misery and guilt. You CAN retrain your brain not to miss that liquid.

Recovery is possible, attainable, desirable, and great.

You WILL get to a place where 5pm rolls around with little or no fanfare (and no booze ever!). You WILL get to a place where you trust yourself again. You WILL get to a place where you love yourself again. And best of all.. you WILL finish your life discovering who you really are.

That's the best bit. Through all of the hard work and tears, through all of the anger, sadness, boredom, and angst, through all of the joy, delight, satisfaction, and pride.. you will discover who you really are.

And what better respect can you pay to your one wild and precious life than that?

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sober Hero YEAH!!!!!!!!

Ugh have been slammed with a heavy head cold which is VERY reminiscent of having a bad hangover. Not fun, not fun at all.

Spent most of the weekend trying to hold my head up complaining about the fact that I couldn't taste any food.

Speaking of food I'm so sick of all the hard-core 'clean eating' messages that keep bombarding me through our local news websites, and my Facebook and Instagram feeds. Am sick of feeling guilty about bread and sugar and cheese and stuff. It's such the modern-day bandwagon isn't it.. all this healthy, paleo, grain-rich, veggie-rich food.

Everything in moderation!!!

If only it were that simple. I am TERRIBLE at moderation. I've said before that I think my moderation button was broken at birth. If I have a piece of chocolate I'll have 10. If I have one delicious warm fresh-out-of-the-oven banana choc-chip muffins with butter and jam added I'll have 3. If I have one piece of fresh bakery bread slathered with butter I'll have 4.

And obviously if I have one glass of wine I'll have 8. One was never enough. In fact even now I don't see the point of one glass of wine. What is the point of one glass of wine? Why not have lots? Why just have a teeny tiny buzz when  you can have a hard-core buzz?

If I was given the option now to magically & miraculously be able to drink one glass of wine every night for the rest of my life I would say NO THANKS!

What would that nightly single glass of wine offer me? The taste of wine? Yuk. The feeling of having a blurred-out, numbed-out, checked-out brain? Well no.. one glass of wine wouldn't offer that. It would just hint at that.

So what's the point? To not feel left out because I'm the only one not drinking (as is often the case)? Well I'm not bloody left out by not drinking.. I'm still totally involved in whatever the scenario is, just so happens my glass has a different liquid in it.

I can't see anything that that one glass of wine could offer my life to make it better.

And anyway.. I love being sober too much. I love the challenge of having to navigate a raw, un-inebriated brain 100% of the time. I love belonging to the fantastic, brave and amazing gang of people who never touch alcohol ever. I love being fully alert and aware of all that is happening around me and to me all the time.

I love waking up every morning with no hangover. I love never having to worry about my liver because of all the alcohol it is processing. I love that even if I am not managing to be a clean-eating goddess like many other people seem to be (all over my social media anyway) I am managing to be a sober hero.

Sober hero!!! That's me. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, March 7, 2016

Authentic me.

Have had a fun & social weekend! We went to a neighbourhood party on each day so there has been lots of meeting people and chatting and being social and polite.

It's been lovely, a little bit of effort but not too much. Both events were very relaxed and nice and I met some lovely new people in the neighbourhood.

Most people were having the odd beer and wine at each event but not much. If I'd have been drinking I probably wouldn't have presented as over-enthusiastic either.. I would have had a respectable one or two wines and would have remained well-behaved.

But because the beast in me would have been awakened I would have likely gone home after each event and continued on drinking - a lot. I would have polished off at least a bottle of wine to myself on Saturday night (probably more) .. and as a result at the Sunday afternoon event I would have been hungover. That wouldn't have stopped me from having another wine or two in the afternoon and sure enough I would have been pulled in the direction of even more back at home on Sunday night.

How often I would turn up to things hungover? A lot. Kids birthday parties particularly - I have distinct memories of being at kids birthday parties where I was so hungover I could hardly string two sentences together.. I remember making mumbled excuses as to why I was a bit quiet - 'am pretty hungover today' sort of thing. Wonder what the other adults thought of me when I said that? 'She's a lush' probably. But in my mind I just thought it showed that I was sort-of cool and hard core.

How deluded I was.

I like sober me. I know that some people might think I'm boring because I don't drink. I know some people might think I'm quiet or low-key at a social event.. but the more I live not drinking the more I just settle into who I am. Who I really am. Authentic me.

Authentic me is more comfortable sitting quietly in a group not feeling the need to fill every gap in the conversation. 

Authentic me is happy to quietly stand and smile and chat a little but not feel itchy or jumpy about the interactions that are going on. 

Authentic me has space in her brain to really listen to what other people are saying and to engage with them in a genuine manner.

Authentic me can still get embarrassed or feel awkward at times in a social setting.. but by and large authentic me is pretty comfortable in her own skin. 

Without a doubt the word authentic is one of my most favourite words in the entire English language nowadays. It has such wonderful connotations. It implies qualities that are calm, content, genuine, honest, truthful, real. All of those things I was desperately wanting (and trying) to be when I was boozing. 

Without booze you have no choice but to discover authentic you. 

And that, my friends, is a truly wonderful & rewarding thing.

Love, Mrs D xxx