Monday, October 2, 2017

Out of the darkness and into the light..

I know Facebook can be a tricky place emotionally for us sober people.

Sometimes I see photos of people I know out in town having drinkies, or families I know having BBQs together, and it can make me feel a bit sad and left out like being sober has cut me out of the fun. Usually I get hit with these sad and left-out feelings when I'm tired or low in mood already. If I'm in a good strong place I see those images and don't give a jot. So I can usually quickly flip my sad and left-out feelings around to recognise where I'm at emotionally and that helps.

I've also had experiences when I've been interviewed for a newspaper article about something to do with sobriety or my books or whatever.. and that media company has shared the link on their Facebook page and the comments section underneath the post has been less than kind (especially when I dared to suggest that taking alcohol out of the supermarkets would be a nice recognition that alcohol isn't a harmless ordinary commodity for some of us). Some people can be very unkind and, frankly, downright rude and awful when they comment on such posts. That is Facebook at it's worst.

But I have to say that on my own Facebook page (which is called Mrs D Is Going Without) I am constantly blown away by how lovely and kind everyone is! I just published a post there yesterday which was called 'Twenty reasons why hangover free weekend mornings are the best' and it's had a very awesome response.

I'm most surprised at how honest people are being on Facebook about their own situation. I thought Facebook would be a tricky place for people to open up about their struggles with alcohol because it's so public. But maybe the tide is turning and more people are feeling unashamed to admit that they have a problem. Certainly on my Facebook page it seems like more people are comfortable stating they've faced up to the fact that alcohol is causing grief in their life, they've working hard to take it away and now they feel so much better without it!

And that's the best thing about more people being honest in public, it starts to broaden the message and get it more out there that not only is it possible to live without alcohol but preferable! When I was stuck in a boozy hell-hole I only had a very vague notion that people got sober and got happy.. mostly I was just brainwashed to think that alcohol was necessary for a fun, full life and living without it would lead to abject misery and boredom.

IT'S JUST NOT TRUE! I don't touch alcohol ever, don't miss it and have a great, full life! And now it seems to me more people are publicly backing this up and agreeing. That's so great! Because for every one person being honest on Facebook there are probably 15 more who are lurking and still feeling lonely and stuck and perhaps ashamed (they shouldn't - there is no shame in getting addicted to something that is addictive. That doesn't make us bad or weak people.) And if those lurkers can see more people expressing joy and freedom at living alcohol free perhaps they'll feel strengthened to give it a go as well.

And that's what this is all about. That is why I blog and Facebook and Instagram and Tweet and run Living Sober.. to drag more people out of a boozy hell and into sobriety. Come out of the darkness and into the light. Leave that shitty liquid behind that is lying to you, stifling your inner spark and numbing your emotions.. and start to live sober.

Raw, real, recovered. I highly recommend it.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The big adjustment

If you are embarking on a mission to remove alcohol from your life and get sober, it's no understatement to say it's probably going to be one of the most monumental processes you're ever going to go through.

I remember when I first quit drinking it was like I was an intergalactic traveller that had been plonked down on an entirely different planet. I moved around as though I was hindered by a ginormous spacesuit, struggling to interact with others or even sit comfortably with myself for any length of time.

I lurched from emotional state to emotional state - one minute deeply sad, the next irate, then nervy, followed closely by bored. Anything slightly troublesome or problematic caused me to jerk uncomfortably into action. I'd frantically look around for some sort of remedy for my woes.

Oh, I'm sad! I need something to take this sadness away!

Yikes, I'm grumpy! Quick help me deal with this anger!

OMG I'm bored! How can I make this boredom go away!

I was looking for quick fixes. Fast solutions. Easy remedies. Because of course that is what I was used to. My usual fix/solution/remedy to any sort of feeling (but especially the uncomfortable ones) was just one pour away. It was alcohol. Alcohol had always been my main man, my go-to problem solver, my beloved cure-all.

So with alcohol out of the picture and life stuff keeping on happening, the biggest adjustment for me was learning how to relax about my feelings and stop grasping for instant solutions. To put it bluntly I had to learn how to chill out and slow the fuck down.

And this is the big adjustment in sobriety I think. This is the crux of what getting quitting booze is all about. When we remove our liquid solution we have to learn to relax into whatever is going on - as uncomfortable as it may be - allow it to occur, allow feelings to be just as they are, trust that things will shift and change, and chill.

Sounds easy but in practice it is not and I have to be honest and say it took me an awfully long time to do this. But now, six years after my last drink, I am a far more chilled out version of myself than I ever was. I am used to feeling the whole range of my emotions. I have stopped looking for something, anything, to help me deal with shit. I have relaxed.

There's a great mindfulness saying which is 'respond don't react' which would make a very good mantra for people getting sober. When we're in active addiction we are reacting constantly - taking quick actions based on immediate, surface feelings. The problem is when we do this we aren't pausing to give the wise, calm parts of ourselves a change to get involved. Acting responsively, on the other hand, is much better because we're pausing to take stock and giving ourselves time to respond in a calmer and more considered way.

To live reactively is quick and hard. To live responsively is gentle and soft.

To live as a boozer is quick and hard. To live sober is gentle and soft.

This is the big adjustment. It takes time and it takes work. But know that the longer you go not drinking the more naturally you will calm down into a more responsive way of living.

And trust me, that's a great way to be.

Love, Mrs D xxx



Sunday, September 3, 2017

SIX!!! (a mighty fine number of sober years).

Heading for a big Soberversary and am quite excited about that. In 3 days time I will be SIX years sober!! Woo Hoo!!

Soberversaries are funny things though.. especially early on I remember building up to them and being weirdly let down when they failed to deliver anything particularly special. There was always that realisation that it's just another sober day in a long line of sober days.. and that celebrations aren't the big (boozy) things that they used to be.

Because lets face it - any celebration in my former life would involve champagne - like somehow adding bubbles to alcohol made it more festive. I suppose bubbles are festive but you know what I mean... celebrations were just another excuse for me to drink more than I usually did.

But as the years have gone by and I've settled into my sober life I've gotten used to more gentle and subtle emotions, and in doing so I've come to enjoy Soberversaries for their authentic nature. They're not artificially forced high points that come from a bottle. They're authentic and meaningful which is far more satisfying ... and I appreciate everything they provide.

They provide me with an opportunity to reflect on how far I've come.

They provide me with an increased appreciation for having left my disconnected boozy lifestyle behind.

They provide me with a day full of quiet pride and joy.

They provide me with a reason to treat myself in little special ways.

They provide me with an excuse to shout my achievement on social media which hopefully helps others.

And they provide me with a new lovely number to claim for my own. And boy do I love watching that number climb.

SIX! What a mighty fine number of sober years that is. I love how it keeps climbing. I can't wait to get to 10, 15.. even 20 years!!!!!! I love being in long-term recovery. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Not saying it's fun and easy all the time - no way. But being sober is incredibly rewarding precisely because it's hard bloody work a lot of the time.

And we all know hard work never killed anybody and I'm certainly up for the challenge of life in the raw every single day.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sobriety - it only brings good things.

OMG I can't believe I've been going SO LONG now without eating any sugar or flour and I'm feeling SO GREAT!! I almost can't believe it! Who am I? Maybe this is me and finally at nearly 6 years sober I've gotten my shit together regarding food and this will be me for the rest of my life....

Maybe....

Or maybe not. Whatever the case I am thoroughly enjoying being cravings free and guilt free and generally just feeling lighter and happier without those sugary/floury foods (and believe me, when I go for them I really go for them and the past year while writing and putting out the new book I was REALLY going for them....)

No big weight loss as yet but it's not about that (although I'd be lying if I said I'm not hoping for a bit of a drop!) .. mostly it's about feeling free mentally from the obsession and binging and guilt.

Just to be clear I would class myself as 95% free from flour and sugar. I do sometimes have some fruit cordial with my fizzy water or sweet chilli sauce with my dinner. A few times I've had a piece of pie with pastry around it or a little bit of pasta. So there is some flour getting in there and some sugar.

I've found that letting in these very small amounts is enough to keep the cravings at bay. And if I do eat something sweet (like the other night I went out with girlfriends for pudding and I ordered a fruit crumble but asked for no ice cream and left half the topping behind) I know that the next day I'll probably have a craving.. and sure enough after my crumble-eating night I did. The following evening I found myself itching for something sweet, my thoughts were pulling me in that direction.

But I was prepared for it and tried to observe the craving with interest rather than fight it and think stressfully about it (and certainly not act on it!). I noticed the craving thoughts but didn't let them bed in and dominate. I told myself the craving was like a wave and would pass. I visualised myself getting into bed without having had anything sweet (like I used to when I first quit drinking, I'd visualise myself climbing into bed without having a drink). I put on the jug and made myself a cup of tea and sure enough the craving passed and I didn't spend my entire evening obsessing and the next day it was gone!

If I don't feed the cravings (literally) they die!

Like I said earlier.. long may this healthy eating phase last!

So this isn't really about drinking and I'm sorry about that because I get the feeling a lot of people visit this blog to read about sobriety except to say there is NO WAY I would be here now living my best life, learning about myself, accepting who I am and how my brain works if I hadn't quit drinking nearly 6 years ago.

I challenge anyone to find someone in long term recovery who hasn't experienced positive developments in their life.

Also quickly just to end on I'd like to update my Blog List (running down the left hand side of my blog page in case you are reading this on email). If you write a blog or can recommend someone else's sober blog please let me know so I can add it to my list!

Love, Mrs D xxx


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Introducing the Nucleus Accumbens

Had a lot going on lately. Very busy at home with the kids, doing my usual writing and social media and stuff, also working through some significant changes with my job at Living Sober, and had to give a talk yesterday evening in Parliament which also involved a bit of prep and some advance media (here and here).

Also managing to get in time to read some novels (this was great!), watch some of my beloved (crap) TV and go to the gym & walk the dog. Who am I??!! A busy sober housewife that's who!

Honestly I sometimes wonder how the hell I achieved so much when I was still boozing. Back then I was hellishly busy too - bringing up babies, working part time and doing my Masters etc... all of that and at least a bottle of wine a night. Sheesh... it's pretty amazing how much a human can handle.

Anyhoo it's far easier now I'm sober and I just love the end of every day when I'm snuggled up on the sofa or in bed with a mug of my favourite Chamomile tea. I LOVE my sober evenings, I LOVE laying my sober head on the pillow, and I LOVE sleeping all night long and waking up without a hangover. Bliss.

The Parliamentary talk went well. I was a bit nervous but not too bad - always happy to give voice to the thousands of us who are sober or busy getting sober. Bloody legends all of us. Happy to articulate our experience and try to get us more recognition. In this country we treat alcohol like a normal, ordinary, everyday, harmless commodity and that is simply not the case for all of us.

They had delicious mocktails at the event and I'm kicking myself for not getting a photo and asking for the recipe as it'd be a great drink to share!

And I am very proud to report that I am STILL avoiding flour and sugar and I'm feeling sooooo much better for it. I've been reading about the human brain and I now know that it's the Nucleus Accumbens which is responsible for dopamine production and when you pound it all the time with substances that cause major dopamine surges (alcohol, cocaine, sugar & flour to name but a few) it 'downregulates' and gets smaller, so then you need more of the stuff to kick out any dopamine.. and then you're in the addiction cycle, one that I know so well.

So now I like to think that I'm in the process of healing my Nucleus Accumbens back to normal size by avoiding these things and then I'll have a healthy brain capable of delivering normal, healthy doses of dopamine when appropriate - not when forced out by crappy stuff.

Love learning about my brain! Real practical information is really helpful for me when making decisions. And I'm so, so delighted to be free of ANY addictive behaviours at the moment. I truly feel free. Long may it last.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Monday, July 17, 2017

Ordinary and fabulous...

It is 8.20pm on a Monday evening. I have just tidied away the dinner dishes, put a load of washing into the dryer and made some beds.

I am now lying on the sofa with the laptop resting on my thighs. I have on my comfy pants and my slippers and a big pink sweatshirt. Comfy, comfy, comfy.

Mr D has just walked into the room after putting our 7-year-old to bed and I have (nicely) asked him for a cup of tea. He knows it's the chamomile time of night.

On the TV is a show about people renovating homes. My 10-year old has now just joined me on the sofa with his hair wet and PJs on after having a bath that I insisted on him having. He resisted but now he is clean and fresh and that makes me happy. He turns 11 in three days and we are discussing what he wants for his birthday breakfast (a pancake stack, maple syrup and bacon "with icing sugar sprinkled over like at a cafe mum").

I can hear my 12-year-old in the study with his friend who is here on a sleepover. They are playing Minecraft and talking online with other friends who are also playing.

The dog has just ambled into the room and stuck his nose into my arm. I had to pause typing to give him some scratchy love and now he's collapsed onto the rug.

My muscles are sore from the gym this morning. I have increased my weights slightly because I want to keep pushing myself and because I can!

The tea has arrived and it smells delicious. Mr D has switched the renovation programme to Game of Thrones. I'm not a huge Game of Thrones fan but I suppose he has the right to do that given he made the tea.

This is my ordinary and glorious sober life. Utterly fabulous and ordinary and cosy and sober.

Sober, sober, sober, sober.

Sobriety gives me so much. It gives me calm where before there was boozy chaos. It gives me clarity where before there was blurry confusion. It gives me peace where before there was guilt and misery.

Above all it gives me strength and pride and the ability to keep pushing myself forward. Onwards! Always.

Love, Mrs D xxx

(Photo taken yesterday on the wonderful wild coastline just 15 minutes drive from our house.)



Friday, June 30, 2017

Proud of myself

I have been so proud of myself this week dragging my middle aged, wobbly body to the gym three times to go over my new weights programme.

Proud of myself that even when I'm lying on a mat doing bicycle crunches looking at myself in the mirror from the most unflattering angle ever noticing my boobs have basically fallen into my armpits all I am thinking is "I'm doing it!!"

Proud of myself that I'm not letting all the buff bodies around me put me off my own private mission to stay in touch with my fitness and keep working on my body.

Proud that I keep pushing myself forward even when I self sabotage (I ate a huge piece of fudge last night and felt sick when I woke up but still went to the gym).

Proud of myself that even though I might have had a sugar hangover this morning I did not have a booze hangover and that is because I gave that shit up 5 3/4 years ago!!

So, so, so, so proud of myself that I am sober.

Proud of myself that I face every goddamn emotion in my life like disappointment, frustration, boredom and sadness with a clear head and willing heart.

Proud of myself that I have gotten so much better at accepting situations for what they are rather than pushing against them wishing things were different.

Proud that I am modelling sobriety to my kids and even if they don't fully understand at this stage of their lives what I did in beating my addiction they will when they're adults and that will be a great thing.

Feeling proud of myself is one of the greatest gifts of sobriety. All the tea in china can't buy pride - nor can loads of money or the right connections. Pride has to come from deep within and when you feel it towards yourself it is so powerful and magical.

Every day - even the shit ones - I always feel proud of myself that I am sober.

It's a glorious thing.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, June 19, 2017

Gym bunny me!

I have just re-joined the gym! Woo Hoo! Enough wallowing in my emotional funk. Enough ruminating over how nervous and vulnerable I've been feeling about the new book coming out and all my boring thoughts about me, my book, me, my life, me yadda yadda. Enough insecure introspection. Enough emotional eating to distract myself from uncomfortable feelings. Enough bad TV to distract myself from uncomfortable feelings. ENOUGH!

(In case you thought I was the perfect example of a sober zen housewife, I'm not! I still use food and TV to distract myself when the going gets tough.)

Anyway... that phase is over. It's time for some forward momentum. I'm going to get my body back into shape (even a little bit of shape will suffice!). I'm going to pump myself full of all those natural endorphins and serotonin and whatever-else-comes-from-exercise and I'm moving on.

Feels bloody good to be honest. I'm back at the gym where I used to go when our littlest was a pre-schooler and he attended the creche there while I worked out. I know the place. I know they have a pump class at 9.30 on a Monday morning which I used to love. I'm going to start doing that again plus maybe another class or two and sometimes my own programme of weights and cardio.

I may be 45 but I am not giving up on this body quite yet! And I'm not going to stagnate in a pit of self-absorbed despair. I'm going to get back exercising and keep focusing on all the other stuff I do (parenting and housewifeing and running Living Sober) with increased positivity and a metaphorical spring in my step!

It's not that things have been terrible but it has been quite a gritty phase lately and I have fallen into bad habits and have gained weight so I'm feeling a bit blah. Not terrible, but blah so it's good that I've decided enough is enough.

I'm still a goddamn motherfucking legend for getting through all of my life without numbing and avoiding with booze.

I'm still a sober superstar who lives every single moment of her life with a raw and wide-open brain.

And I'm still a heroic recovery warrior who feels all the feels at full volume - 150% awake and alive to everything all of the time.

And now I'm a gym bunny to boot - ha ha!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A fully realised human...

Things are calming down now and getting back to normal. In other words my nerves and adrenaline are subsiding now and I am calming down and getting back to normal. 

I have to be honest I didn't hugely enjoy that whole 'putting out the new book' process. Bit of a bummer because I wanted to feel happy and proud and all my lovely friends and family were happy and proud for me but I can't hide the truth that overall I felt very edgy and vulnerable and insecure about the whole thing. 

Of course the fact that I'm sober means every experience I go through I feel acutely at 150% volume and this was no exception! Raw and real is how I experience things.. I'm cool with that because I LOVE being sober and out of the boozy trap I was once in.. but I'm not sure I will be writing and putting out another book any time soon. 

Or if I do it will be about something other than the innermost workings of my mind.

Anyway - got a wee bit of media around the book release which was nice and all the interviewers were very kind. Jack Tame on Newstalk ZB called me 'reluctantly introspective' which was right on the money I thought. His radio interview is here. Jesse Mulligan on Radio NZ laughed when I told him I was a 'girly swat' when I set about learning mindfulness. His radio interview is here. Carly Flynn was very complimentary which was very nice of her and I really enjoyed talking to Tim Fookes as well. Also got a couple of print articles here and here

I'm never nervous when I'm actually talking to journalists because I always see it as an opportunity to get the word out about recovery and hopefully reach more people who might be living in a boozy hell. It's just when I'm sitting at home in the quiet that I feel a bit exposed and weird... but no more complaining! No-one made me write this book and overall I am pleased to have written out what I learned to make my sober life more manageable .. and there's no denying that consolidating it all into book form helped me further cement many of the concepts and tools I've been learning and developing. 

I've had a couple of people say the book isn't available overseas yet. The kindle is on Amazon (just make sure you're not looking at the print copy as they don't get it till November) and if you buy a hard copy from Book Depository they'll ship it straight away anywhere in the world for free!

Today I am pottering at home doing some blog writing, cooking dinner (getting a bit fancy and making Chermoula Marinade for chicken kebabs), and looking after the dog who has a cone on his head to stop him licking his infected paw. I am watching The Real Housewives of New York while I cook and drinking a delicious Hot Cinnamon Sunset tea. Later I will run the boys around to their rugby practice/drama classes/Scout Scavenger Hunt and finally will collapse into bed with a mug of chamomile tea. 

Sober life is good. It's gritty and gnarly at times but always rewarding and genuine. I finally feel fully alive truly experiencing what it means to be a fully realised human. 

So, so grateful I got alcohol out of my life 2102 days ago. 

Love, Mrs D xxx

P.S. Cheesy selfie taken at the airport when I spotted my new book on the shelf!



Monday, May 29, 2017

You are not alone...

My new book is now out! Very exciting. It's called Mrs D Is Going Within and it's all about the next-stage work I did on myself and my recovery after getting to around 3 years sober.

It is available on Kindle through Amazon but DON'T buy a hard copy through Amazon they don't get it in their American-based warehouse till November (which strikes me as extremely odd but there it is). If you live overseas best to buy it on Book Depository and they'll ship it anywhere in the world straight away. If you live in NZ MightyApe is best... or of course walk into a book store!

Opening up my buzzy mind to the world in the form of a book has lead to a crap-tonne of vulnerable feelings and lost sleep and nerves in the tummy so I have been pounding my tools to help me get through.

Number 1 tool is forgiving myself for being a nervy wound up mess and not a perfect shining example of a calm zen person and accepting that I am who I am and I can't control my emotions.

I've had a little bit of media around the book which has given me a good opportunity to also talk about Living Sober and it's been great to see some new people hear about our community and come and join us to start talking about their own circumstances regarding alcohol. Hopefully we can all pull together and offer them lots of kindness and understanding and they'll start to climb out of the boozy hole.

It breaks my heart to imagine all the people who are right now in that awful, stuck, lonely place like the one I was in when I was deep in my alcohol addiction.

It's such an awful place to be in - especially because you feel like something is wrong with you that you've got to this miserable place and everyone else is having a fine and dandy time supping their chardonnay and being totally in control.

But believe me YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are so, so, so, so, so many of us who are (or have been) locked into a place of boozy misery. Alcohol is a readily available, cheap, glorified, normalised, highly addictive drug that causes masses of harm to huge amounts of people.

If you are reading this right now and you are feeling stuck and lonely and miserably then please know that it IS possible to change. BELIEVE that change is possible. KNOW that you can get to a place where you won't miss that shit at all. REACH OUT and connect with others who are going through and have been through the same thing, and then START working towards living the rest of your life sober.

You won't regret it. I promise.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Profoundly, deeply, overwhelmingly....

I just had a great boogie at the school disco! Danced up a storm at the back door where I was on duty letting the cool air come in and no kids go out. The DJs (Dads) were playing all manner of brilliant cheesy hits and the kids were having a blast showing adults how to have fun without bending their brains. It was a lovely ending to a day which started sadly at the funeral of a friend's dad.

Home now, kids are in bed and I am lying on the sofa in my PJs watching TV and drinking chamomile tea.

I know there are loads of people who will be out and about this Friday night .. boozing it up merrily at bars and clubs in town. Or maybe creating their own private party at home with wines or some such (like I used to). I don't worry about that or feel like I'm missing out. I did that sort of thing for years and years. I know what it feels like.

I know what it feels like to get smashed with friends chatting and laughing and dancing the night away.

I know what it feels like to glug, glug, glug my way through the night with my foot to the floor, charging on all cylinders, necking booze like it's going out of fashion.

I know what it feels like to get hit with waves of nausea on the dance floor.

I know what it feels like to ask the taxi to stop so you can lean out the door and puke onto the road.

I know what it feels like to vomit in the front garden then lie down for a wee nap in the bushes.

I know what it feels like to check your bank account for late night transactions that you can't remember ("must've been another round of chocolate martinis").

I know what it feels like to wake with a pounding head, sick guts and a brain full of nerves and regret.

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Then said goodbye, traded in that life for a new one. Re-shaped my identity and became a sober woman.

I love living sober. Living sober means I front up to every experience in my life - whether it be sad or challenging or fun - and experience it 100%. Full throttle. Full noise. Full human experience all day every day. Love it. Love, love, love it.

I often say that I don't regret any of my drinking because what's the point in looking back (and a lot of it was fun let's be honest). But to say that I am grateful to have gotten booze out of my life and be experiencing a totally different way of living is an understatement.

I am so profoundly, deeply, overwhelmingly grateful to be sober. There is not one teeny tiny percent of me that wants to be anything else.

And that is a fantastic way to feel.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What other people think of me is none of my business..

I absolutely love this saying. What other people think of me is none of my business. It sums up such a great attitude to have. I can waste so much time worrying; did I say something stupid when I chatted to that person this morning or does this person think I'm a dickhead or is everyone secretly thinking I'm a yawn fest of a housewife??

But if I remember that what other people think of me is none of my business then I can get myself in perspective and drop the worry.

Getting myself in perspective also involves remembering that most people aren't really thinking of me at all most of the time! I regularly look around and remind myself that every single other person is crazy busy and preoccupied with their own worries and commitments and pressures and close relationships and aren't paying me much attention at all (if any). I find this very calming and relaxing.

Mr D has just gone away overseas for 2 weeks of work and my new book comes out in 3 weeks so it would be fair to say I'm a bit edgy. I'm trying to channel my edginess into good endeavours like getting my smashed wing mirror fixed (whoops!), painting the living room wall deep red (a job for Friday), making online albums with our digital family photos etc etc. Plus all the usual online writing etc and housewife-ing and parenting that I do.

I told the community at Living Sober this morning that I'm going to work hard not to turn into a blobby pig for the next two weeks and to keep up with the things that improve my day just that little bit (dog walking, yoga, healthy drinks and food). And of course no alcohol ever!

It's funny - Mr D being away or out for the evening used to always be a good excuse for me to drink more than normal. So glad those days are over.  Being a heavy boozer seems so foreign to me now.. abstract almost like I can't imagine it ever having been a reality. Five and a half years since my last drink and I am firmly cemented as someone who lives sober. Hallelujah!

Hang in there those of you in the tough early stages. It does get easier and easier the longer you go on.. especially if you do some concerted work on your life to fill in the gap left by alcohol. Find lovely treats and endeavours that will improve your days little bits at a time.

That walk outside might only make things better by 5% but it's better than not having it at all.

This is the trick - to realise these good, nourishing, authentic things (like dog walking, yoga, healthy drinks and food) are subtle and slow-burning. They don't offer quick, dramatic fixes (like booze did), but they are lovely and very effective ... and my lifestyle would certainly be much poorer without them.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Gift of Desperation...

It's 3am on Tuesday the 6th of September 2011. I am sitting on the toilet in the depths of despair. I am suffering the physical ill-effects of drinking copious amounts of wine the night before, and I am suffering the emotional ill-effects of living for years with a heavy and progressive drinking problem.

At this very moment, with my pants down and tears rolling down my cheeks, I make a decision that will dramatically alter the course of my life. I decide to quit drinking alcohol forever.

That utterly wretched moment - me on the toilet with my self-esteem and self-worth severely diminished - delivered me a powerful point with which to make a change.  A rock on which to build a new foundation.

They call this the gift of desperation. From my worst moment something beautiful grew.

Would I have ever made the dramatic decision to not touch alcohol ever again if I hadn't reached that low point? Maybe if we lived in a different world. A world where it's not such a big deal to never touch alcohol. A world where LOADS of people live sober. Wouldn't that be lovely....!

But sadly this is not the case. In my current environment it is dramatic (to say the least) to choose a lifestyle so at odds with the norm. To choose to always be in the minority at parties and events. To choose to say 'not for me thanks' every time booze is on offer. To choose to never touch alcohol ever despite knowing there is going to be so much emotional pain and hurt coming along that will be hell to deal with.

Making the big dramatic choice to live sober was made simpler for me because of the miserable, low place my drinking took me to. Because of my desperation. This is the gift of desperation.

I call to mind often the feeling I had toward the end of my drinking days - and particularly that last day/night - and it helps remind me why I quit. I will never let myself forget.

As unlikely as it sounds I am profoundly grateful for that awful 3am moment back in 2011 - my shittiest, lowest, most miserable point. Because it truly was a gift, one that I will always be thankful for.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, April 22, 2017

New book nerves..

Just a month now to go until my new book is released and I can feel myself getting a bit nervous and distracted. Dates are being set for book store events, media are being sent copies, my publicist is gearing up to get the book noticed.

I'm having dreams where I'm in a newsroom feeling completely out of my depth and like a fraud ... being asked to do complicated stories. This is my CLASSIC anxiety dream tapping into old insecurities (in my past life I was a TV journalist).

Also hitting the sugar a little bit although I've been off recently so this on-phase (which started at Easter) hopefully won't bed in too deeply.

And just generally feeling edgy and ill-at-ease. Not the most chilled out relaxed version of myself anyway... hard to completely relax when I'm about to release to the world another exposing story about the inner workings of my brain and my attempts to deal with life, relationships and my raw emotions.

But I'm not complaining! I'm fortunate I get to write books and someone wants to publish them. I'm happy to share my process in case it helps anyone else. And writing what I'm going through certainly helps me - so all-in-all what lies ahead is good.

But I'd be lying if I didn't say there was a fair amount of nerves and vulnerability to contend with as well.

So! Time to practice what I preach in the book (although it hopefully doesn't come across as preachy!) and use my tools to keep myself feeling good.

* Treat myself kindly and with compassion.
* Accept what is happening and put it in perspective.
* Do lovely nourishing things that will improve my days by tiny amounts that add up to an overall better feeling of wellness (yoga, dog walking, bubble baths etc).
* Focus on all the other people around me and and their lives.
* Remember to feel and notice my breath (ground myself in my body).
* Focus on what my hands are doing and what my eyes can see (ground myself in the moment).
* Allow myself at times to get distracted with good books and absorbing TV programmes!
* Practice gratitude to remind myself of all the lovely little things

It is school holidays here and today the sun is shining. I am grateful for my fingers which allow me to type out how I am feeling. I am grateful for the internet which connects me with lovely like-minded people. I am grateful for our City Council putting on a Nature Trail that we will visit today. I am grateful for my dog who is lying on my feet right now keeping them warm. And I am grateful for my sobriety. Because goodness knows where my life would be right now if I was still boozing.

Love, Mrs D xxx

P.S. You can pre-order the book (hard copy) at Book Depository or at MightyApe or at Fishpond.  Or you can pre-order the Kindle version here at Amazon.




Thursday, April 13, 2017

An alcohol-free Easter...

Someone commented on my last post saying this Easter will be their first sober Easter for 20 years and did I have any "quirky & vibrant tips to have a luxurious A-free Easter?"

Well I'm not sure if they're quirky and vibrant but I do have some tips.

I've written about my Easters before (here and here and here) because it's always been a bit of a sober challenge for me as we go to stay with extended family in a remote location and everyone else drinks daily and I now don't.

It's interesting how my Easters have developed since I got sober. At times I've felt very out of place and conspicuously sober, at times I've felt very clever, special and unique, at times I've felt very judgey and uptight about other people's habits ... but nowadays I just feel ordinary and relaxed about my point of difference, unconcerned about what others are doing, and well practiced in how to take care of myself.

Firstly I keep very grounded in the big picture of my life, and not the immediate reality of these few days away. The big picture is that me and alcohol were not friends. Ours was not a casual relationship. Alcohol made feel like shit about myself, it got me sloppy and miserable and I am so, so, so, so much happier overall without it in my life. The immediate reality is just a few days where I am around boozers and might feel a little bored or awkward at times. I'm happy to take that for the knowledge that in the bigger picture of my life being sober is fabulous.

Secondly I'll go prepared. I always pack a small plastic container with some of my favourite teabags and multivitamins. Obviously this is to feel happy when I'm away (drinking my favourite tea and popping multivitamins always makes me feel good about myself) but also the act of preparing the container sends me a little message that I'm looking out for myself in the days ahead - being my own best friend. I'll also pack books and magazines, take time selecting my clothes, maybe paint my nails and pluck my eyebrows ... all little things to lift my mood and make me feel good about myself.

Thirdly I'll behave in self-soothing ways during the break. I'll go to bed early if I feel like it (and not worry what others will think). I'll try to make healthy food choices were possible (and not beat myself up about any Easter Egg consumption!). I'll indulge in bubble baths or long hot showers. I'll take mini-breaks during the day if I feel like it to go read a book or do some yoga or go for a walk - something nice and calm anyway.

Finally I'll remember to notice the little things that make my sober life so rewarding. I'll recognise every morning when I wake up hangover free and notice how good it feels. I'll close my eyes and breath deeply when soaking in a bubble bath to savour the moment. I'll appreciate every meaningful conversation I have with a relative or time spent hanging with my kids - my connections to other humans are so much richer now that I'm not numbing myself constantly.

So hopefully dear commenter these are some decent tips for you even though they might not be quirky and vibrant. Always remember what you are doing in removing alcohol from your life is brave and amazing and the world should be giving you a medal for your efforts!! And cast your mind forward to the days after Easter when you know that you will feel so happy and proud of yourself if you got through with out drinking. Go well!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Then and now...

THEN:
I used to fall into bed at around 10 or 11pm completely full up with wine. I couldn't tell you exactly what my mood was or what thoughts I was having because I'd be totally numbed out, blurred, disconnected from my thoughts and cut off from my emotions completely. No drama. Just me drunk.

I'd fall into a boozy sleep (is that good sleep? I'm not sure it is...) and stay that way until about 3am when I'd wake up to go to the toilet. I'd sit on the throne doing my business - my pounding head slumped forward, thoughts rushing at me like a freight train....

"Why did you drink so much wine yet again? Why did you open that second bottle? What the hell are you like? You promised you'd have an alcohol-free night. Why did you start and why did you keep going? Why did you eat four bits of toast at 10pm? Why? Why? Why?"

I'd finish my business and get back into bed - often swallowing a big gulp of water from the glass on my beside table and necking a couple of pain killers (conveniently left in the drawer, always). My bladder would be empty but my head still pounding and racing with unhappy, guilt-ridden thoughts. 

I'd lie awake for an hour or two...tossing and turning..alcohol insomnia I'd call it. I had it bad. Night after night I'd be awake from 3 until 5ish..

Eventually the painkillers might work enough that I'd get a little bit more (crappy) sleep only to be woken by the kids at the crack of dawn. I'd drag my body out of bed. Drink a big mug of instant coffee. Beat myself up. Shower. Feel like shit. Dress. Beat myself up. Get into the day beating myself up. Beating myself up. Beating myself up. Until the afternoon came, I convinced myself I didn't have a problem, and away I'd go again...

NOW:
I usually climb into bed at around 9pm with a mug of chamomile tea. I decide whether to watch some TV or read one of the 10 books I have sitting beside my bed. Maybe I have cookbooks with me and am making a meal plan for the week ahead. A son might come and join me to watch 'Boarder Patrol' or "Storage Wars New York". I get up and down a few times to help put the older kids to bed, taking the time to snuggle them in and have a quick chat. 

At around 10.30pm I turn the light off. 

Eight and a half hours later I wake up, and think to myself "Holy shit that was a good sleep".

And then I get into my day only to do the same the next night and the next night.

And this is why I will never touch alcohol ever again.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Adele

I think when you live raw all of the time you become very sensitive to strong emotions and feelings.. very easily swayed by heightened environments, and they affect you quite strongly.

This is living in the raw. Sometimes it sucks.. but sometimes - like last Thursday! - it's totally awesome!!

Last Thursday we went to Adele. Me, my mum, and two of my sisters.

I'm pretty sure I've written before about sober concerts. They are the best thing EVER! I've really embraced concerts since I quit drinking because I realised early on it's one of the best ways to get a big natural endorphin rush.

Everything is laid out for you to have an amazing time. The buzz of a crowd (bigger the better!), the lighting, the music.. I just love it. Since becoming sober I've been to concerts in small venues like Ladyhawke and Elbow, and I've been to bigger shows like The Arctic Monkeys, Elton John, Sting and Paul Simon together, Coldplay, Rhianna, and then last week ... Adele.

Adele!! What a hilarious legend she is. Her show was fantastic. I was so moved when it opened (with much drama to ginormous cheers as she appeared under the spotlights and started singing 'Hello') that my hands were shaking. Talk about heightened emotions!

She was hilarious and brilliant. She chatted to the crowd as much as she sang. Me and my mum and sisters sang and danced and swayed and just had the best time. I felt very grounded in my body and my experience.. a small spec in a tiny crowd.

Me the sober, alive, heightened, appreciative, happy woman in Section C4 Seat S19.

I love sober concerts precisely because I am sober. I don't go with any furtive desire to get to the bar for drinks time and again nor do I need to go to the toilet over and over. I go with my head on straight to experience things fully, my eyes wide open to watch people and soak up the atmosphere, my feet planted firmly on the ground (in comfy shoes), and a positive and excited attitude.

I'm still riding on a post-Adele high 5 days later, feeling so grateful for her performance and so happy to have spent really lovely and enriching time with my mum and sisters.

Sobriety has given me all of this and I don't take it for granted. My life would not be what it is if I was still guzzling wine all the time. So maybe I've got myself to thank for last Thursday's joy as much I do Adele.

Thank you Adele for being so warm and talented. And thank you me for being sober to appreciate all she has to offer.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Consistency is HARD!

I'm feeling pretty good this week. Why?

Well, for starters I'm eating well. After my cake eating binge on Sunday (literally ate half a lemon sour cream cake dripping with sugar syrup mmmmm) I've sworn off wheat and sugar and dairy for two weeks and now, three days into it, I'm feeling strong and proud and fine and dandy.

Secondly I'm moving my body and getting into nature regularly. I'm doing yoga at home still - yes! I'm going for walks around the hills in my neighbourhood with my girlfriends. I'm running around after my kids as per usual. And I'm attending my regular Tuesday night yoga class.

Thirdly I'm forcing myself to get more organised and focused on my new writing project rather than spend my down time during the day watching Netflix.

All of these things are contributing to me feeling great!

Clever, functional, healthy, positive thinking, forward moving Mrs D. Aaaahhh the joy in being so very successful.

Problem is, in two weeks time all of this could have gone to shit. I could be binging on the sugar again, spending far too much time watching tele, turning down offers to walk, failing to do any yoga at home and generally just wallowing in my piggy, lazy, unhealthy mindset.

If only I could be consistent!!!!! If only I could maintain a perfect perfect lifestyle 100% of the time.

Sadly that is not my reality. Consistency is not my strong point.

But you know what? I can't be bothered worrying about that right now. For fucks sake, I accept who I am, cake-binging warts and all.  If I slump into a pit of lazy despair in a few weeks so be it. Knowing me I'll lift up again afterwards and end up feeling like I do now. That's how I roll.

I'm a work in progress.. not a problem to be solved. And of course there is one MAJOR thing that I am able to remain consistent at, and that is not drinking alcohol ever.  If this the only thing I ever manage to stay consistent at for the rest of my life then that's ok with me.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, March 2, 2017

All the complications of the world....

Sometimes I look at my boys rattling around the kitchen being noisy and cheeky and can't quite believe that they're going to be men one day. Big grown men looking after their own lives and families.

And I get this swelling in my chest and I fill with overwhelming emotion. A whole heap of love, a bit of fear (will everything turn out alright?), some guilt (why did we have that massive fight about salami yesterday?), sadness (they won't be living with me forever), and finally happiness and contentment (look what I have right in front of me right now).

Oh my goodness just started crying while I typed this. Emotional me. I am very emotional nowadays!

Everything since I stopped drinking booze has been about my feelings. About how they were squashed under concrete following years of boozing. About how they burst out of me with overwhelming intensity when I first got sober. About how I struggle to deal with them as my alcohol-free life goes on. 

Sometimes I hate my feelings and think they suck balls. Sometimes I find them really intense and lovely like the ones I'm feeling for my sons right now. I'm actually typing this standing in the kitchen with 20 minutes to go until we head out the door. They are playing Moana songs and singing along and making bread rolls and practicing scooter tricks and playing with the dog and chatting to each other. And here I am in the corner middle aged, sober, lumpy and bursting with feelings. 

I am such a hyper-emotional and super-sensitive person nowadays. Maybe I have always been this sensitive and my drinking was to dull things and make them manageable? I cry watching sentimental television programmes or hearing sad stories on the news. I feel very acutely when nerves are creating butterflies in my tummy or stress tightens my chest. I respond strongly when any raw emotion is expressed by another person in front of me (even if they're on the tele).   

I'm not complaining. I'm up for the challenge of a hyper-emotional life, warts and all. I'm up for the challenge of sobriety - have been since day one and now at day 2004 I'm just as game. 

As Sarah Hepola said in her brilliant book 'Blackout'; "Sobriety is full throttle. No earplugs. No safe distance. Everything at its highest volume. All the complications of the world, vibrating your sternum."

Yes indeed. All the complications of the world. The pain of loss, the shards of disappointment, the rays of hope, the satisfaction of success, the delight in being understood, and the glory of connection.

And the brilliance of a 10-year-old boy who just farted and blamed it on the dog.

Time to stop being sentimental and get these boys to school....

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Kick-arse sober warrior

Sometimes I forget that the only constant in life is change. I get lulled into the current state of things and think this is how it's going to be forever.. then something happens and everything shifts again.

Sometimes the shifts are good and exciting, sometimes they're a bummer and hurt and take a bit of emotional management.

I know I'm being cryptic, there's nothing to announce.. just a few things shifting and changing and me in the middle going 'this is how life is. Nothing stays the same forever'.

In the midst of this change I'm doing ok. Going for walks with girlfriends around the neighbourhood. Doing my weekly yoga class and even doing some yoga at home sometimes with Adrienne on YouTube (this one is my current favourite). Using my mindfulness techniques to ground myself in the moment (enjoying my dog and interactions with the kids). Trying to eat healthily (sometimes succeeding sometimes failing). And of course the best one of all - staying fabulously, gloriously sober.

Oh how I love being sober! There are a million reasons for this but the best one is that no matter what else is going on I can always rest back on the knowledge that I was brave and amazing to beat my addiction and no longer pour carcinogenic shit down my throat by the bucket load.

I watched a doco on addiction the other day called Risky Drinking and it really brilliantly illustrated the sliding scale of addiction. There is no doubt at all that I was on the sliding scale. My relationship with alcohol was anything but casual. It was furtive, focused, heavy and determined. Thank goodness I got out when I did, and was attracted to the challenge of sobriety early on so that I embraced it and stuck with it. THANK GOODNESS!!

My mood has been a bit up and down lately but I'm riding the waves as only a sober, emotional, messy woman can. On the bright side my new book is about to go to print, the cover has been finalised and it's full steam ahead. Soon people will be able to read 60,000 words on the inner workings of my brain. I'm feeling nervous and vulnerable about this but that's ok.

I can deal with a bit of vulnerability because I'm a kick-arse sober warrior!

That's me.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ghost Tequila!

We went to a wedding on the weekend and I did feel very sober but that's ok because that's just me now and I'll take the crunchy with the smooth.

What I mean by that is that in choosing to live sober I have chosen to accept that sometimes I will feel conspicuously sober in a crowd of party goers. It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen. And I will deal with that crunchy feeling and not wail about it internally because most of the time my sobriety feels very smooth.

Anyway this wedding was lovely and relaxed, the bride looked absolutely gorgeous, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. It's not important that I had a patch in the middle of the event where I felt a bit lost and was casting around looking for people to talk to (I knew people there but didn't have any great buddies if you know what I mean...).

It's not important because it wasn't about me in the slightest. This is another great realisation that has come to me since I got sober. Not everything is about me all the time and this knowledge gives me a great sense of calm. Weddings are about the bride and groom and their families and close friends and on this instance I was none of these things. So who cares if I, random guest, floated around for an hour or so after the formalities and meal etc feeling a bit self-conscious and awkward. I wasn't too bothered by it and just wondered if maybe it was time for me to slope on home.

However in the end I pushed through that awkwardness, it got dark.. I found myself sitting around in a big group chatting away merrily as others danced in the marque across the grass. The DJ was playing some cheesy hits and I even did some chair dancing and singing (what a geek).

Someone came round with a bottle of tequila handing out shots. I raised my imaginary glass and did a "Cheers!" with them all, pretended to drink my ghost tequila and then imitated the face puckering that most of them were doing once their foul tasting liquid went down - how I laughed!

I was just feeling good and having fun, being in the vibe even though none of that shit went down my throat at all. I didn't even care one iota.

Sobriety is the best life-choice for me.

That, my friends, is freedom.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, February 6, 2017

A long weekend

Hammering my mindfulness exercises this weekend as have been a bit glum in the mood department. So lots of focusing on my breath and what my hands are doing and what my eyes can see and what my ears can hear and not what my brain is saying. Sometimes easier said than done but at least now I have the ability to recognise when my thoughts are not helping me feel calm and happy and get a slight detachment from them.

Long weekend here and Mr D is away for work so me and my three glorious (boisterous), stimulating (feisty) and delightful (stroppy) boys have been getting (struggling) through the days doing this and that.

I've got two books that I am reading (one novel, one memoir), I'm dipping in and out of various TV shows, am cooking a lot, folding washing, negotiating arguments, trying hard to avoid sugar, drinking lots of tea, looking after our injured dog, reviewing the first layout of my new book, publishing posts on Living Sober ... blah blah blah.

Not bending my brain though with shit booze!!!!!!!! No Way Hosea. Life in the raw - all the way baby.

Someone commented anonymously on my last post that I should consider replying to them and others.. I presume this means reply to the comments that are left on my blog posts here? I have never done that .. partly because my replies always show up in a bright red box which is annoying (I've tried to fix it but can't).. and also because I find it a weird disjointed way to communicate.

The best way to get more interaction from me and other awesome kick-arse sober warriors is to join the community at Living Sober which is the recovery website I run. I'm inside the Community Area there every single day interacting with members, and there are always plenty of others inside the Members Feed talking amongst themselves as well. Everyone there is honest, warm, supportive, non-judgmental, helpful and kind. That's how we roll. It's an incredibly powerful space and honestly, anyone who is spending time online trying to get sober should be in there.

It's also free to join and you can be anonymous so there's no barriers to entry - so get yourself there pronto!

I started writing this post standing up at the kitchen bench making pizza and drinking a delicious pineapple and coconut drink ... am finishing it now sitting on the sofa watching Bridge of Spies with my boys, about to put some cookies in the oven to take to my friend tomorrow who has recently had brain surgery. Soon I will have a mug of chamomile tea and later I will rest my sober head on the pillow and fall asleep.

Sobriety rocks. Even on gritty weekends. It truly does.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Monday, January 23, 2017

*Shudder*

I shudder to think what my life might be like today if I was still drinking. SHUDDER!

I'd likely still be that disconnected, fuzzy-headed, numb woman that I was .. although 5+ years older, thicker around the middle and dumber in the head.

Ugh I shudder to think about a life where I'm still having boozy nights filled with faux exuberance and slurry togetherness.

I know lost of people still do that and enjoy it and good on them but for me I just sooooooo appreciate authentic get-togethers and genuine emotions. I love feeling everything in the raw - yes even the bad stuff (although it hurts like hell sometimes). I love that I can always count on myself to be available in any scenario to my full capacity. I love that little memorable cracks of light come through every event - even the ones that are slightly tricky on the surface (see my last post for a perfect example of that).  

Since I've gotten sober I've achieved so much! And I have grown so much as a person. Unbelievable amounts of growth and achievements. I don't think anyone can help but grow and achieve things and sort things out when they quit drinking. You just do because you can never avoid anything.. even if it happens really slowly, change does happen.

I watch many, many people get sober now through the blogosphere and the Living Sober community.. and NEVER have I seen someone in long term recovery (like after a year or so) say their life is getting worse. NEVER.

Only good things come from giving up drinking. Only good things. Because we are forced, slowly and sometimes with great resistance, to change that which is not fulfilling and good. We are forced to address pesky issues that when boozing we probably left to simmer and drag us down. It is uncomfortable and annoying and depressing at times but slowly sober people just SORT SHIT OUT.

There are no downsides. NONE!

I love, love, love living sober and I love, love ,love hanging around a tribe of people who are digging deep to become the best versions of themselves that they can be.

I am typing this with a bored outlook because the school holidays are dragging on, a slightly depressed feeling about my lack of exercise and over-eating habit that needs to be addressed, a bloody sore neck that kept me awake last night, and yet I am still feeling utterly delighted to be living a life that is raw, real, and recovered. Yes!!!

Sober is good.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, January 9, 2017

Glow-stick mission worth a million bucks...

New Years Eve is such a funny thing. The evening comes with such a loaded meaning and massive expectations. I spend most of the year not giving a jot when other people are drinking around me at parties and events, but then come NYE and I had this funny little sad spell when I felt left out.

We were camping at a beautiful spot by a surf beach and lagoon in the South Island. Four families in our immediate campsite, plus other friends nearby. The days had been filled with swimming and bike riding and game playing and book reading and chatting and just general summer loveliness.

NYE started out really well with an early evening camp concert which morphed into a disco dance (dancing in the daylight to 'Moves Like Jagger' with a bunch of kids is super fun!) but then everyone settled down and the kids ran off to play and the adults were hooking into the drinks and I felt a bit weird and 'lost'. Conspicuously sober.

It's crazy because not everyone was boozing.. it really was just in my head because of the loaded expectations of the night. I made myself a fancy drink of sorts in a plastic cup but then it spilled onto the sand which bummed me out. So I got busy pottering around tidying and stuff. I wasn't relaxed and not entirely happy. Mostly I felt a bit weird about being stone-cold sober on NYE.

This is a BUMMER because I love living sober and don't miss alcohol at all.. I don't want to drink it or go back to my boozy ways. I am happy as Larry with my new life choice. It's just the bloody NYE thing - it's hard to escape I suppose.

Anyway soon enough it got dark and the guitars came out and people were sitting around on deckchairs singing and the kids were playing and I relaxed and my woe-is-me thoughts slipped away. The glow sticks came out and everyone had a wild and crazy glow stick time. Everyone except our 7-year-old that is. He had a meltdown because his weren't working, or he didn't have enough or something. It was the kind of kid meltdown that could easily have been brushed aside with a "you're fine, you've got enough, just go play" message from mum.

But I didn't do that. I remembered that there was another packet deep inside a suitcase in the back of the car. And even better - I had the time and patience and desire to go on a mission to help Mr 7 find them.

We set off with torches to the car, but then I realised I didn't have my car keys so we navigated our way back to the tent to find them. Mr 7 was chatting all the way.. we were on a mission! Keys found we navigated our way back (always a tricky mission trying to avoid tripping up on tent ropes), unlocked the car, found the suitcase, found the glow sticks, then sat in the back getting them going and then making them into necklaces, wrist bands, and ankle bracelets.

The whole endeavour easily took 30 minutes.

There is NO WAY that I would have taken the time and effort to do this whole glow stick mission had I been boozing. NO WAY.

But I am a sober mummy now and as such absolutely made my 7-year-old's night. We had such a great, gentle, satisfying time together for those 30 minutes.. and we've talked about it since.

By the time he was fully adorned and glowing he was so tired he sat in my lap in a deckchair wrapped in a blanket all cosy and warm for another hour or so listening to the guitars and the singing until he announced he was ready for bed. Not quite midnight but a good effort nonetheless.

People who haven't been miserable boozers probably won't understand the significance of this incident but for someone like me who is still so aware of how things have changed in my life - it was gold.

I LOVED my little glow stick mission with my little man. It totally made NYE for me. I LOVED that we connected and he stayed by my side from then until bed. I LOVED that I was clear-headed and present for him. I LOVED the warmth and cosiness of our deckchair singalong.

After he went to bed I went on a solo walk with a torch around the entire campsite, soaking up the atmosphere of all the parties that were going on (and marvelling at all the dark tents - many campers weren't even bothering to stay up!). It was a peaceful, gentle, reflective walk and I felt calm and happy and good.

Back to our site just in time for "HAPPY NEW YEAR!!" followed by a vigorous round of hugs and kisses, the obligatory rendition of 'Auld Lang Syne', then a midnight feast of cheese and salami and bed.

NYE done and dusted, happy as always to wake up hangover free. Bring on 2017.

Love, Mrs D xxx