Saturday, 30 August 2014

Finding a new balance

I sit down this morning to write, and I feel that I don't have anything new or interesting to say really.  I have a terrible cold (and am being very whiney about it), am working my ass off, and haven't been for a run or cycle in two weeks, which makes me very very grumpy.  I've had a couple of pink cloud days (where's the rest of those fuckers?) and many many days that I have wanted a drink.

So what is there to say?  What is my message to myself?  I guess it is this: that life is life and not drinking has changed everything and nothing.  Sobriety is only one part of looking after myself, and in my case, probably the most important part.  This does not mean other things should be neglected.

The important factors in my life

My family
Then: Drinking meant I was not present
Now: Still need to work on patience and kindness

My work:
Then: Drinking meant I was not at 100% capacity
Now: It is easy to work all of the time, this is not healthy

Then: Drinking dictated when I was well enough to go
Now: I need routines that remove other excuses and still allow it to fit in my life

Then: If I was unwell, it was usually due to drink
Now: I will be unwell sometimes, I need to be kind to myself, keep warm and work less

Anxiety (this is the big one)
Then: Drink dulled it
Now: I need new ways of managing it.

I think what I am saying is that part of this journey for me is going to be about finding a new balance.  Stripping away the drinking is revealing other areas that need addressing in looking after myself.  I think it might be time for a  "get well me" plan.

Monday, 25 August 2014

My skin

I am not even close to comfortable in my new sober skin yet.  I know I want to be, but I am not there.  I feel moments of happiness at being sober, but a lot of the time I feel irritable, awkward (at social occasions especially) and to my surprise a bit angry.

Thinking about "my skin", and my body as a canvass have been part of my thought processes for many years.  Natalie Merchant, on her album "Ophelia" sings the most amazingly haunting song, My Skin:

Oh, I need
The darkness
The sweetness
The sadness
The weakness
Oh, I need this
Every time I listen to this (right now in fact) I just want to retreat somehow, into some sort of darkness, hurt and anger.  I can't really describe it.  But what I do know, is that I KNOW it and I am comfortable hiding deep down with it (until the pressure builds too much, then I freak out at those closest to me).

So why am I writing about this right now?  I am wondering if just like when Mrs D found that she had been hiding an emotional person - maybe I've hiding an angry one?  I have just found myself so fucked off recently.  Explosive anger if my daughter or partner get something wrong, even more explosive if I do.  Angry at people in my past (it was a woman who broke my heart who gave me this song in fact, so much for her "face saving promises"), angry at the news, angry at anyone really (so watch out).

It's OK.  I know what to do.  I know to breathe, to learn, to live and let this new sober way of life grow up around me.  I know that I will learn to deal with this without alcohol, and that it will be OK.  It's just not that easy right now though.  I'm not comfortable yet, in this skin,

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Drinking and identity

I have been thinking a lot recently about how much of my identity has been wrapped up in being a "good time drinker".  People know me as the one who will always have a drink with them, the one you can talk into opening a bottle at lunch (or breakfast for special occasions). I've got all the crazy drunk stories,  and with me you'll always find a beer / wine / whisky ... I can be counted on.  I am so damn FUN!

But is this really my identity? Is it how others see me?  Is it really the identity I want?  Is this how I would like to be remembered one day?

Well let me tell you who I am, and we can decide if "drinker" is required.  I am fun, and sometimes funny. I am smart(ish) and a leader of sorts.  Fit.  Queer. A mother.  I am a partner, I am a boss, I am a student. I am a friend (a good one).  I am a sister and a daughter. I am a citizen.  I am a diverse and interesting person.  I may even be an alcoholic. I am not a drinker.

.... funny, that last little sentence doesn't take away from who I am at all! Perhaps, just perhaps, it makes me more interesting.


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Day 33 - My tattoo

A good amount of my back is tattooed.  From my left shoulder, down my back, coiling into my ribs and left hip.  It took three sessions to complete the tattoo, each about two hours long.   I was so excited in the design and planning phase that when the needle first hit, the excitement carried me through the pain.  However, as the hours dragged on and that needle reached my ribs, there was a point when I knew that if I took a break like the tattooist offered, I would simply walk away and never come back. So I stayed.

I adore my tattoo. It was painful and hard, but if it hadn't had been those things it would not be so important.   It serves as a symbol of another difficult journey in my life, when I finally gave myself permission to live my life as I truly am.

So now I face something new which is not easy.  Sometimes the excitement gets me through, but often it's just  sheer grit and determination.  My lips smack for that taste of alcohol, but I refuse to reach out for it.  I know, I absolutely know that if I stick this one out, the result is going to be magic.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Day 31 - A deathly reminder of the darker days

Hearing of Robin Williams death hit me between the eyes today.  It took me back to my younger self, age 23, when I received a phone call to say my older brother had taken his own life.

Exit slightly manageable binge drinking, enter about 5 years solid of "I'm lucky to be alive" drinking.  Drinking and standing in the middle of busy streets, not giving a fuck if those cars hit me.  Drinking and taking pills, whatever I could find, "because who the hell cares what happens next".  Drinking straight gin, making phone calls and screaming at whoever was my latest target. Drinking to kill cruel thoughts and memories, drinking to die. 

As I head toward my 30's, then into them, I settled a bit and went back into the more socially acceptable kiwi binge drinking combined with nightly executive stress drinking.  But those dark days never felt far away.

Something was wrong for my brother. I know some of the specifics but will never know all.  I know he was not well.  I know he drank too much.  I know he has gone.

And now Robin Williams has gone.

But we are here people.  We are alive, we are sober, and we get to work on ourselves and find a better life.  I am so glad we have that chance, and that we have each other.

Love to you all xx

Monday, 11 August 2014

Day 30 - Wading through the thick sludgy mud to Sober Island

Mrs D did warn me, the first few months are the hardest and it can be a bit like walking through thick sludgy mud. Well, it is.

I think the first week or so I was in sheer grit and determination mode, but also feeling pretty cool to have made this decision and be surrounded by new found support.  Then I had a couple of really wonderful pink cloud days, which were awesome.  But all of a sudden I am here - where it just feels like plain hard work.

Our weekend up the Mountain was awesome as far as snow and snowboarding (although I must admit, every bone in my body aches today and I have bruises I can't even begin to explain) but boy did I miss the drink.  Not only did I miss it, I began to feel sad and whiny and somehow "wronged" that my beloved post ride/run/board beer had been taken off me.

But the fact is, it wasn't just a post ride/run/beer was it?  It was beerS plural.  Then drive home. It was 5pn wines, 10pm whiskies.  It was thinking about drinking ALL of the time. I have to remember THIS is the truth.

The other thing that I have been finding hard is just how shitty I am being. I am touchy and anxious and snappy and am generally not fun to be around, especially for my family.  I feel like my skin is really thin and can be easily irritated ... and boy am IRRITATED.   I am wound up like a spring and not reacting nicely or kindly to others when I should be

So day 30 - and yes I am proud I have made it, but am not totally proud of myself.  I know its a journey though - and I can see lots of you over on Sober Island waving to me.  I'm on my way!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Day 27 - Friggen Friday

Funny how I can say "fuck" here and just about anywhere else in my life  - but I feel the need to tone it down to "frig" in my post title!
Anyway, its a been a fucker of a Friday.  We are supposed to be heading up the mountain tonight - a bunch of girls going skiing and snow boarding together.  However this morning was very stressful in our house, a fight ensued, and I am about to hop in a car where I may or may not be having a very icy (excuse the pun) road trip ahead of me.
So I am stressed out from this morning's upsets, plus I am about to join a girls weekend that is all about "coffee - boarding - beer"  in that order.  I think I might curl up under my desk and eat chocolate all weekend. Could that work?
The reality is however:
  • I cannot control everything around me (thanks Tara Brach) and family upsets will happen.  I did not react well, and the best I can do is say sorry, breathe deeply, and see what I (and "we") can do better next time, plus
  • I don't need to drink to have fun with the girls.  In fact, this will be my first time up the mountain ever where I have not been on the slopes every day feeling jaded from the night before.  It's going to be fantastic and I am really looking forward to hitting the snow without a hangover.
Finally, before you all begin to think I am too cool for school with all this mountain biking and snowboarding -  I can't snowboard for shit.  I am just learning and spend most of my time on my ass.  This time, my sober ass. :)
Love to you all. xxx

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Day 26 - Hit by the witching hour

After two lovely pink cloud days I am still feeling pretty good, so was shocked when at about 5pm I was hit by cravings.  My lips felt dry and all I could think about was booze.  It started when I said to myself "I feel so good, I'd love to celebrate" and immediately thought about going to the pub.  I was supposed to run home, but had worked late and was tired, so took the bus instead.  My bus stops right outside a nice little restaurant and bar. I so wanted to go in there.

I've come home and had dinner with my family.  I have had soda water in a lovely wine glass, and I have visited Living Sober (which I love) but I STILL want to drink.  It's like a tingling on my lips.

However I will not drink, no I will not.  I am sober now, I do not drink, and this feeling will go away.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Day 25 continued - Pink clouds, mountain bikes and city lights

I have just got home from riding on the stillest of nights (yes, something also much celebrated in Wellington).  It was muddy and clear and fun and beautiful.  I felt so alive.

Looking down on Wellington city

Also today I joined up with Living Sober which has already got my smiling and laughing as our great little community starts to come together in one place.  I'm seeing how easily the support and friendships are going to grow.  The reason I am so happy about this is I have found a place where I fit.  I had it in my head that sobriety was one of two things: BORING or completely down and out.  But here I am surrounded by people just like me, not boring, not down and out (though we feel like that some of the time), just really cool people struggling with a fucking horrible drug.

So yup, day 25 and its grins all round here.  Sleep tight fellow bloggers.  What ever day you are on - you've just got through one more. xx

Day 25 - Lets get this community happening: Living Sober

Day 25 for me, early days yet, but I am very sure of my decision.   I am also very sure I can do this because of the community I have found online. I know it's the same for many of you.

Today Mrs D, who has been the kick up the ass so many of us needed (I am sure there is a nicer more technical word for that) has launched her new website, Living Sober.  I'm so excited and am totally going to become part of it.  I wont stop blogging (I love the sound of my own typing) but I am going to be part of Living Sober too, so the support can continue to grow, and so I can give back too.

Anyway, just putting it out there, as I am really hoping to see some of my new found friends over there.  This is just going to get better and better.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Day 24 - It's sunny outside and I'm celebrating!

It's a glorious day in Wellington today (they don't happen that often and we tend to go over the top about them when they do) and I've just come back from a wonderful little shuffle around the botanical gardens, and you know what, I am totally celebrating right now! (all alone in my little office).

Mrs D's website is going live tomorrow, so we get to consolidate this little community and really support each other.  I am celebrating this support I have found, and I am celebrating being sober.

Oh my God.  I am sober.  How exciting is that?  New friends, new web community, and fucking sober!!!  Wooo hooo!

Pink cloud anyone?  Dunno, don't care -  I'm popping out to buy myself a celebratory "Day 24" treat.

Love to you all. xxx

Monday, 4 August 2014

Day 23 - My three little rules of sobriety

Day 23, so very early days for me and not much to share apart from the ups and downs you have been reading about here.  However, I just found myself commenting to another blogger that I have three little rules which have really helped me thus far; and who knows, they may be of help to someone else:

  1. I blog absolutely every day.  OK, I may have missed the odd day, but I have at least read blogs on those days.  It's like a form of accountability for me, and its a community.  It's kind of my own little AA meeting.
  2. I comment on someone else's blog every day.  Community again I guess.  But the thing is,  blogging is keeping me sane, so I really want to give back into it.  It's a two way thing.
  3. I have promised myself that if I come to a day that I am going to drink and no amount of self talk or blogging will help me - I will go to an AA meeting.  And now I am promising this publicly.
So as I said, no expert yet.  But I'm hoping with these three little rules I'll see myself through the next 23 days, and then the next, and then the next.

Night night fellow sober bloggers.  Love to you all. xx

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Day 22 - Five reasons I'm happy I no longer drink

I've just come in from a fantastic run on the trails.  It went much longer than expected, and I'm pretty fucked to be honest, but also very happy.  We heard a saddle-back sing,  saw tons of seals at the seal colony, and found these weird fungi things.  I'm muddy and smelly and hungry and tired, but I feel pretty damn good.

Anyway, I was thinking while I was out there "what are the top 5 things I don't miss about drinking?"  I'm not talking about the horror stories of my youth (and believe me, I have some), I am talking about grown up respectful me.  Why am I so happy that I no longer drink?  Well, here they are, the top five reasons for now:

  1. I no longer risk myself or those around me by driving when I know I shouldn't.  I never considered myself a drunk driver (I always kind of hoped I was under the limit), but the fact is, I know I drove when I shouldn't - and sometimes with my daughter in the car.
  2. I will never ever miss out on doing something fun again because I drank too much last night, or even worse, try and do that fun thing and just feel sick the whole time.
  3. I wont be saying to my daughter that Mum needs to stop by the supermarket to get wine, and that she needs to just be quiet while I have a glass because its "been a tough day" - I am no longer demonstrating alcohol as the answer to her.
  4. I no longer need to see the fear in my partner's eyes as she watches me have that second and third drink that she wishes I wouldn't take.
  5. I can now work on myself, honestly and openly.  I can be a better mother, partner and friend.
I know I can find tons of other reasons, like how glad I am that I no longer feel sick in the mornings or get loud at parties.  But right now, today,  these are my top five.

I hope you had a lovely weekend sober bloggers.  Love to you all xx

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Day 21 - Tears on a Saturday morning

Saturday morning's in our house are pretty nice.  We have a cooked breakfast of some sort, always fresh bread, and generally a friend or two will drop by.  This morning was no exception, and after a lovely breakfast of eggs, mushrooms, avocado and cheese, a good friend stopped by just in time for us to put that second pot of coffee on.  We hadn't caught up for a couple of weeks, so began filling each other in on what's been happening in our lives.

All of I sudden I  burst out, "Well, here's the breaking news in my life, I've stopped drinking, like, forever."
She looked at me and said, "Wow, tell me how this has come about" and so I did.   I told her the lot, tears streaming down my face.   I told her I'm an addict, I told her how I had tried to stop so many times, I told her how it had come to this.

My friend stood up and wrapped me up in a hug.  She explained she did not drink (I had wondered) and that she was going to support me every step of the way.

So I've begun to tell people, slowly and surely.  I'm very raw and tears seem very close to the surface, but this is very very real.

Love to you all on this blustery Saturday.  Hunker down, be kind to yourselves, and draw your friends near. xxx

Friday, 1 August 2014

Day 20 - Sober in the Koru Lounge

Travelling for work goes something like this for me:

Morning flight, crowded Koru Lounge.  I dump my laptop, hit the on switch and go order my coffee.  I grab some breakfast, scoop my coffee up on the way back past, then settle down and tap away trying to cram in as much work as I can before boarding the flight.  A plane eventually whisks me away to another location where I am "on" all day.  Even lunch and coffee is about work, there is no "off".

The evening and return flight is something quite different.  The  laptop might still come out, but things are generally more relaxed.   People are chatting, books and newspapers are being read, and most importantly nearly everyone has as drink in their hand.  Oh yes, that blessed drink.  It's lovely to come here and  relax in an environment where it is completely understood why I so need that drink.  The people here know my day, my drill.  They know I have taken no breaks, and they know that once I disembark this next flight I will drive (yes drive) home to my family and be "on" there too.  These people understand why I drink, it's their life too.

So here I am on a Friday afternoon sober in the Koru Lounge for the first time ever I suspect.

I've given up drinking before you know, to prove I could.    I did it twice, once for 3 months and once for 6 months; both times to prove that alcohol was not controlling me.  Hah!  It proved nothing except I am an alcoholic. (Oh my fucking god - I just said it!!  Not sure I will ever say that again, so lets just move on).

This time however it is so much harder because this is not a break.  I am not trying to prove I can control my drinking, I have admitted I cannot.  This is a new life for me now, I don't get to white knuckle it for a few months, instead I have to reach deep, learn and grow and change.

So here I am sitting in the Koru Lounge soda in hand, sober and new.  Wow.

Have a lovely weekend fellow bloggers.  xx