Small changes, big difference!

I not only survived, but really enjoyed a social event on Saturday. It was the carnival. Lots of drinking was done by all (except me!) My husband and I were out with friends and watched the procession – floats, brass bands (and a bagpipes band) and Rose Queens – outside the pub, then we went over to the (crown green) bowling club where there was a bit of a fun fair. Later on, back to the pub. A good eight hours of a day out!

I was truly astonished at how well it all went. I’ve struggled to get on with one of the people we were with, in the last year or so. I’ve written about it on here. But this weekend, something just lifted, the person’s whole attitude was completely different, and everything seemed to click into place. We were somehow both slightly more able to understand each other, and that was enough to make a huge difference. It totally blew me away!!

That wouldn’t have happened, had I still been drinking, I can pretty much guarantee it. I’m so happy I am sober, happy it feels easier and easier to enjoy social gatherings like this. I mean, being an introvert and all, I’m having to learn what’s the best strategy for me. I tell my husband beforehand that I might leave early. Being around so many people for a long time tires me out, but it’s easier to deal with if I’m prepared for it. The next day I try to plan in some quality time alone if I can. Which is what I did on Sunday, and it helped immensely to re-energise me. I think I’m finally getting the hang of it 🙂

I did notice a few times, there were lulls in conversation, and after the fact I realise I could have said more, asked more questions. But I’m not beating myself up about it – like many things, this is still a work in progress. But progress I have done! Do you remember the first post I wrote? I was terrified about going to a social thing. With kids, alcohol, and possibly people I didn’t know. Well, circumstances on Saturday were similar. My husband even wandered off a few times, like he usually does. Ordinarily I would have been anxious and felt abandoned, but not so at the carnival this weekend! Nope, I went to get candy floss (cotton candy?) – I just had to have some – and shared it with our friends’ little boy. Then I had a go on Hook-a-Duck and got myself a prize (a teddy bear in the end – unfortunately the minions were mouldy!) And I just enjoyed everyone’s company. I genuinely think they enjoyed mine, too – even though I was a bit quiet, even though I was completely sober. The important thing is, I was being thoroughly me.

So, I’m happy. Which is a direct result of getting sober, and continuing to be sober for eleven months. It has helped me to be more me, and life feels so much better that way 🙂

Anyone who is struggling out there, or not sure whether sobriety is worth it… I promise you, it soooooo is! Yes, there are hard days and tough times (that’s life I suppose, whether you’re drinking or sober), but sticking with it through all of that, not giving up – it’s worth it a million times over. I’m a bit stunned actually, how much my life has changed – from the inside out. A subtle difference on the face of it, but really a seismic shift in comparison to how I was before I quit.

28 days to go to one year!

I need a plan of action…can you help?

I need some help. This is a bit of a departure from the general subject of the blog (or is it? after all, everything is everything else!) When I finally managed to prise my eyelids open this morning (LOVE sober sleep!!) my head was fizzing with thoughts and ideas. I’m hoping that someone might be able to give me a bit of direction and clarity to help with this muddle in my brain….

As you may know, I work in a school. The other day I brought a very old lab book (hard backed, with lined and graph paper) home from work, with the name of the school on it, back when it was actually a grammar school. So it’s about 50 years old, this book, maybe more. I left it by my bed for some reason, yesterday. So I saw it this morning, and thought of all the cool things I could do with it – I’m going to fill it with some of the history of the school (it’s over 100 years old), what I remember from my days at sixth form there (’95-’97), my mum’s memories from school – she attended when it was a grammar school – and what it’s like now. It will be mostly from a personal perspective, and include various photos, bits stuck in etc, to make it a bit collage-y, a bit junk journal-ish, you know.

So I was thinking about this little project, and I found myself wondering what the original students in 1912 would have thought if they knew that for example, today’s Biology students do a practical in which they transform E.coli with jellyfish genes, which makes them fluoresce in UV light. Or that there’s now an app that you can download onto your mobile phone, which can video, say, a bouncing ball, and produce all sorts of equations and measurements for you based on it’s motion through space – using just that video footage. I don’t describe it very well, I’m afraid, I’m no physicist! Aspirin was already around by 1912, but unavailable in Britain until 1915, apparently. Our chemistry students make it, purify it and analyse it – you can even get the RSC to bring ‘spectroscopy in a suitcase’ to the school and analyse the samples against thousands of molecules in it’s ‘library’ in seconds.

The school has come so far, and since getting the job here, I’ve sort of fallen in love with it again. I loved it back in the day when I was a sixth form student. And yet we are struggling. For money, and for results, apparently. Although, OFSTED cannot understand why we have such good A level results. In 2014, 25% of grades were A* or A, 54% A*-B, with a 99% pass rate overall.

So with results that good, why is the Sixth Form under threat? Because it’s less profitable, I think, than the 11-16 side of things. I think it’s all to do with the salaries that staff who teach A-level are getting, compared with the actual number of students enrolling on these courses. (Another issue for the school as a whole, is that we are staring down the barrel of the gun known as ‘academisation’. I personally don’t think that this is the right way to go for our school. The whole operation seems to become much more focused on the ‘bottom line’, and there are more powers available to cut salaries, change working conditions etc. Ultimately, we would lose more and more experienced and talented staff. Not a good thing for the students education, surely!)

Back to the Sixth Form – apparently courses will be scrapped if there are fewer than six potential students. Which would be the kiss of death for e.g. Science and maybe Maths. Because students will want to do, let’s say, Chemistry, Physics and Maths, so if Physics goes, Chemistry wouldn’t be too far behind, because three of those students will go to the huge Sixth Form College down the road, therefore making a dent in Chemistry and Maths numbers too. And you know how these things go, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

I haven’t got the faintest idea how I can help. I plan to have a chat with the Head of Sixth Form. But I’m unsure how effective any of us can be – I mean, I’m only a humble Science Technician, for heavens sake! If the powers that be are intent on seeing the Sixth Form closed down, it’s probably beyond saving. And yet I can’t seem to let it go. And I feel as though if we allowed it to go without a fight, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. I am worried about sticking my neck out – I even worry that I’ve written too much here. But I really do have the best of intentions. I want to save our Sixth Form, and I feel like there may be some way I can help, specifically from my position in the Science department. This may relate to a wider issue, regarding the understanding of the rest of the school of what we do in our department. I’m not sure….

If you’re still with me, thank you so much for reading this. Has anyone ever been in a similar position before? With a sort of conviction about something, but no real crystallised thoughts or plan of action? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. All I know is that there is something I need to do here, and I don’t yet know what it is.

Back to reality

I’ve been back home for almost a week, after a wonderful few days in Paris with Mr W. It’s our first wedding anniversary on Sunday, so the trip was really to celebrate our first year.

For anyone who hasn’t been, I can’t recommend it highly enough! We stayed in a gorgeous little hotel – almost on the outskirts really, but the metro was SO easy to use, that it wasn’t a problem. We went to Notre Dame, saw the Eiffel Tower, walked around Le Marais, and the  two highlights for me were the Palace of Versaille and Musee D’Orsay. Versaille was out of this world! We only saw the Chateau – there was so much more to see. It was opulence on a scale I’ve never seen before. Breathtaking. I’ve been reading bits and pieces about the French Revolution since we got back but I’m finding it rather complex…. The museum was also stunning. The building is a beautiful old railway station, and its crammed full of impressionist works of art, sculptures, art nouveau furniture from all over the place and much much more besides. We didn’t have time to see it all – I think another trip to Paris is definitely on the cards at some point…!

I had a tiny wobble about drinking, I think it was our last night. I was tired and hungry, and we were searching for a particular sushi restaurant that Mr W wanted to find. The atmosphere had to be right, it couldn’t just be any old sushi bar. Of which there seemed to be many! I’m actually making it sound like we walked for miles and miles, which wasn’t the case, to be fair. But I started down a train of thought which went something like: I’ve done better than I expected on my first sober holiday. I thought I’d want to drink wine every night, because it’s Paris, and because that’s what I’d normally do on holiday. But I didn’t really think too much about it. Just had sparkling water, and one Orangina. So of course the next thing I think about is how I will cope with the anticlimax of success? The treats and rewards system goes completely out of the window and suddenly I’m worrying about drinking. Ffs!! I mean, really!!

Anyway, it didn’t last long. We enjoyed our sushi and that was that. In fact I’m thinking about drinking a lot less in general. And I think those antidepressants are starting to do their thing. I’m not exactly buzzing or anything, but I feel a bit calmer. It’s quieter inside my head. I can’t tell you, the relief! After such a noisy racket of negative thoughts, it’s so good to have some peace. Now is quite possibly the time to go and find some CBT…

La vie est belle 😀