Day 50!

So I have reached 50 days! I’m so proud of myself!!

I’m still spending a lot of time reading blogs, and I found something really encouraging on Running From The Booze, entitled ‘expectations and realisations’. It’s a list of things learned up to day 95, and a few things reassured me:

  • It’s OK to be unsure

  • Don’t think so much

  • Being confused and clueless doesn’t prevent me from moving forward 

I’m very happy about that 🙂

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Ooof, confused…

Today it has started to sink in just how much I have still to learn about living a fulfilled life without alcohol.

When I stopped drinking, I was aware on some level that it was the first step to dealing with the problems I was facing. But then stopping drinking initially was only that – I had to start somewhere, and it did take some getting used to not including alcohol as part of the normal routine.

I think I may have become side tracked by the first stage. Look, I’m not drinking, so I’m sober… Am I? My husband went to the pub last night to meet a friend he’d not seen for years, who asked why I hadn’t come out. (Actually, Mr W didn’t really ask me to go with him anyway, and I was fine with that). My husband said I’d stayed in and I don’t drink….!!!! I immediately felt like a huge fraud when he told me what he’d said!! I mean, yes I’m not drinking but I’ve only got 49 days, and describing me as someone who ‘doesn’t drink’ makes it sound as though I know what I’m doing, that I’m an experienced ‘non-drinker’. Neither of which is true.

Since yesterday’s post I have become slightly obsessed (oh that’s an oxymoron I’ve just realised, but I like it anyway) about the phase that follows on from ‘stopping drinking’, and I’ve googled ‘dealing with problems in sobriety’ a few times. Confusion reigns…

There are people who say that being sober is the most important thing, and everything else comes afterwards. Which I agree with in that I think the first step in quitting drinking is not admitting that you are an alcoholic, but instead, stopping drinking. I felt that my brain was quite literally under the influence while still drinking, and the first thing I needed to do was stop that.

But I also found articles/info describing ‘dry drunks’, who seemingly can be just as unpleasant to be around sober as when they were drinking, because they are stuck in the process of recovery, and feel resentment that they can no longer drink. Argh!

I don’t want to be stuck in recovery (am I in recovery? what is recovery?!), but I am just beginning to sense the magnitude of what I need to deal with to be healthy (mentally, mainly) and live my life fully. And quite frankly, it’s a bit scary.

One of the things I found through my google search was something written by Jean Kirkpatrick, founder of Women for Sobriety, appropriately entitled ‘Dealing with the confusions of early sobriety’. It was reassuring. It does mention the ‘New Life’ programme of Women for Sobriety, which I haven’t really looked at, but it mainly just explains that we shouldn’t be shocked when we realise that being sober doesn’t solve every problem, and to stay calm even though we feel like sobriety isn’t working or helping. Which of course, it is helping, it’s just that it’s hard to look at our lives with sober eyes and have to face up to things without reaching for the wine to hide behind.

I also found ‘Maintaining Abstinence vs Achieving Sobriety’ at alcoholrehab.com, which was a bit harsh, I thought. This was the page which described the ‘dry drunk’. But it also said that people who have unhealthy drinking habits may have developed these as a result of poor coping abilities, and so quitting will then expose these difficulties when life happens, and I suppose when all of the things we may have been hiding from whilst drinking, resurface. Because you can’t stuff things down forever.

Something else just came into my head… I watched ‘Thanks for Sharing’ On Netflix the other week, with Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow. One of the sponsors said ‘Feelings are like kids – you definitely don’t want them driving the car, but you don’t want to shove them in the trunk either’. I liked that.

Have I really got anywhere? Well, yes. I now have some idea of what I’m dealing with, so that’s got to be progress, surely?!

Why I quit drinking

My husband and I received our wedding photobook yesterday. We showed it to a few people today – it is really beautiful, the day was beautiful. I am starting to feel more relaxed about it…

About an hour ago I was reading around the blogs, and I saw a post which reminded me, together with the wedding album, that there was a reason why I stopped drinking – I had hit a ‘bottom’ of sorts.

I need to explain a bit. My husband has two daughters from his previous marriage. They aren’t really in contact with him (it’s just a coincidence that they live on our road so we see them occasionally in passing. Odd, I know). Let’s just say that for him and me, well if we do nothing, we will be unable to have children. If we do something, we may slightly improve our chances. I am 35, and for the last 5 years, my body has been telling me I want kids, and my heart has been telling me about all sorts of bridge-crossing in the future, miracles happening etc.

By the time of the wedding (June 7th), I had been drinking a fair bit. I’d done dry January and felt good, then gone back to the wine and it didn’t take long before I was drinking a couple of glasses on the odd weeknight etc etc, until it was pretty much every night, more at the weekends. And there were social things going on the closer the big day got. The best man’s wife, and one of my bridesmaids (my best friend) were both pregnant. On the day, the BMs wife was only about two weeks off her due date. I was dealing with it (sort of) because it was such a full on day.

Until right near the end of the night. I’d had a fair amount of wine and champagne by this time. But luckily I don’t think there were many people around. I’m embarrassed and ashamed to say that a song came on (which I hadn’t put on our playlist, because I think it was written about a child), and I fell to pieces. I stood in the middle of the venue, and sobbed. Real, body shaking, desperate sobs that seemed to come up from the ground itself. The best man found me and asked what was wrong but I couldn’t tell him. I felt so much fear and sorrow that I may never be able to experience what his wife and my best friend were experiencing. I may never be a mother. The BM’s pregnant wife found my husband who took me outside to comfort me.

But for the most part, my husband didn’t understand and couldn’t cope with all my feelings. When we came back from honeymoon and the baby was born I couldn’t deal with it. I felt alone (couldn’t really talk to my pregnant best friend about it) and afraid, sad and the absolute worst, jealous. Plus ashamed, for feeling jealous.

I thought we wouldn’t survive. I worried that our marriage would be over practically before it had begun. We went to a party at the couple’s home. She said I could hold the baby, and I said oh no, thank you. I drank too much. Why wouldn’t a couple of the women meet my eyes when I was trying to blink back tears and be normal? Worried what everyone thought of me the next day.

A couple of days later I realised that was it. I had to do something. I was staring depression in the eyes and to stop it’s attack and hopefully get my husband to listen to my hopes and fears properly, I had to stop drinking. I managed 10 days, and then had a fuck it moment one night and opened one of the bottles the teachers had given me at the end of term. I knew I ought to have given them away at the time…

So 5 days later I stopped lurking around Belle’s blog, and asked to be signed up for 100 days. I needed some accountability. And I’ve felt good. I’ve started seeing a counsellor – not sure for how long I can afford to go though. And I’ve mainly kept myself in a lovely safe sober bubble.

Then I saw that other blog post and remembered it all again, and the wedding album made me think of it too. How could I not have noticed that gaping wound?

My pregnant friend hasn’t been in touch for a while – I don’t know why it has gone quiet but I’m not complaining. And I’m ashamed of that. What if she needs me? She is my oldest friend but I can’t handle it. I’m not there yet. And what will happen when she has the baby?

Time might be running out to deal with this… but I’m not ready. I still have such a long way to go. In sobriety, too – I’m only on day 48. That’s not even half way to 100.

Some good things though – I am no longer afraid for my marriage. My husband has seen how hard it is for me sometimes (the party last Sunday), and he knows I am doing the best I can to deal with this (quitting the wine, getting counselling).

I feel a bit less alone. I think there is help out there if I need it. We will try something. It might work, it might not. I’m sober.

just plain weird for a natural worrier

The situation at work is stuck. Nothing will change in the short term, at least.

I’m not really sure what I think about that. But for the most part, I find that I don’t care.

I love my job, and it’s only this little blip that is making it stressful at times. So overall, things are good.

I’m just so stunned because I’m not obsessing over the blip in the same way that I would have been before. I mean, I can’t even be bothered to think about it at the moment. And that’s just plain weird for a natural worrier.

It is staggering to think how big a part the wine might have played in fueling my anxieties in the past.

Right now I’m extremely happy to be sober and can’t stop telling people…

Day 47 feels good 🙂

Beware of Problem *Lite*

What was I saying about less stress??!!
In the last four days, the following has happened to me twice:
First of all, Problem *Lite* arises. I take swift action to avoid it, it’s a little bit stressful, but nothing too horrendous, and give myself a pat on the back. All sorted.
Then, the very next day, Problem *Lite* makes itself known again, this time as Problem *Real*. I become much more distressed, thinking I had got rid of it already, yet it has returned, and it is WORSE!
See, in the first place, I wasn’t solving anything, just avoiding. Something happened, I got the chance to express my feelings about it, but nothing actually changed. I didn’t deal with anything.

So avoiding the issue is clearly not the way to go. But the current situation involves a colleague at work. Who I see every day. I’m finding it very difficult. I have just spoken to my counsellor about it (it just came up and she seemed to want to carry on discussing it), and she explained some stuff about Transactional Analysis. She said I could try dealing with this by adopting a position of ‘Adult Ego’, rather than ‘Adaptive Child’ to this person’s ‘Critical Parent’. I think it sounds easier than it is in practice, but it’s worth a try!

None of this would have even been on my radar before I quit the wine.

Note to self though; beware of Problem *Lite*…!

less stress

I felt more confident at work today. I had a conversation with the head of department about something that had been bugging me. I just wanted to let him know what was going on, and how I felt about it really.
I think it’s probably better to do that than keep quiet and then complain about it at home, which is what I usually do.

I feel so much less stressed in general. Yes, I know Sunday was obviously an exception! But I don’t want to be worried about expressing good feelings, just in case I happen to have some bad ones too.

Don’t get me wrong, the same old issues are still there – money being one of them – but I don’t feel as though they are taking over my mind as much as they did before. I don’t dwell on them so much.
Which is obviously a good thing. And it’s leaving room in my brain for new ideas on how to fix things, or stay on top of stuff.

Like paying more attention to my bank account and organising myself so that I’ll be OK until payday. And remembering what they say about focusing on abundance – we still have a few John Lewis vouchers so I can get something frivolous to demonstrate my faith in an abundant universe! (Digital bathroom scales are on the wishlist – not so sure that’s a good idea considering my current daily intake of cake).
And dealing with stuff as it comes up, enabling my mind to move on and not be so stuck.

Being sober is great. I’m so glad I decided to do this 🙂

The New Normal

I went back to work today. The holidays have been seven weeks long, and I was trying to put thoughts of work right out of my mind until the last possible moment. Last night I fully expected not to be able to sleep, but it wasn’t bad at all. Apart from a dream I had that was very vivid at the time. The details are a bit hazy now but I remember wondering if it had any meaning when it woke me up in the night. I was on a boat or ship, at sea. With some people I knew, and some I didn’t. We were in danger, there were baddies in disguise, and they were trying to get us. I think we got on a life boat, and it went under water. Somehow I knew I’d return to the surface, but it was terrifying nonetheless. I was crying in the dream, and I felt the fear and sadness still when I woke. Anyone have any ideas what that’s all about?
Work was good. I’m lucky to have a job I actually really like, after ten years of doing a job I loathed. Like any job though, there are things (or people, should I say) that make it stressful. Random question, but does anyone feel as though a certain ‘type’ of person is always in their work life? Whatever the situation, there is always that person making you feel the same way, have the same sort of issues/stresses/etc?? Or is it just me?
Anyway, half way through the afternoon, a though wheedled its way into my brain, ‘ooh, it would be great to have some wine tonight’… I haven’t felt that way for ages! Sober was beginning to feel like my new normal… Happily, that thought did not last long at all. It was only Wolfie taking a chance. Oh, here’s a situation we haven’t been in for a while, let’s just see if she’ll cave in.. Nope! No thanks! Posh cordial and soda water for me if it’s all the same:)
Full steam ahead tomorrow with work – everything gets going properly. More potential for stress…But look, look at me, I’m anticipating it! I know I need to line up some sober treats here, Belle has taught me well!!
Hope everyone is well and sober 🙂

Oh, the relief!

Well, I went to the thing, the social gathering. And I survived!! I was getting nervous as we got ready – I didn’t really know exactly who would be there and how many people. So I couldn’t quite picture those first few moments when we would walk in and say hi to everyone.

Before this challenge, I would have said, when offered a drink, ‘yes, wine would be lovely, thank you’, and then cling to the glass gratefully, just waiting not to feel so socially awkward. But this time, that option was obviously not available to me, and I was dreading a sudden attack of nerves at the wrong moment. So I had a Kalms tablet. Just one. They’re mild herbal sedatives, for use during the daytime. I sometimes (rarely) take a couple if I can’t sleep at night so I’d never have two in the day! Anyway, I felt a bit bad for taking something to help me feel less anxious.

My husband and I went to the place, we were offered drinks and I refused bubbles and opted for coke (seemed like the easiest non alcoholic option) and we said our hellos to people. It went OK. I was prompted by the hostess to tell her Father the story about the escaping pet crayfish (it belongs to school, I’ve looked after it over the summer) which I’d shared on Facebook at the time. It gave me something to talk about, albeit a haltingly, and sparked off quite a conversation between him and his wife, and my husband and I.

More friends arrived, and one guy who my husband had told about the 100 day challenge yesterday just came right out and said to me, in front of everyone, ‘Still dry then?’!!!! Oh My God!! The host (weird to talk in these synonyms but hey) said things along the lines of ‘oh right, so you’re not drinking!’ etc, and the wife of the guy who rumbled me caught up with what was going on and said ‘But why?’, with a very confused expression on her face! Bless her, I mean she really is a lovely girl, and it was great that no one seemed to be judging me at all! She seemed very concerned that I might have to tackle Christmas alcohol free, but I said the challenge would probably be over by the end of November or so.

After that, everything was fine, we stayed a couple of hours, there were lots of children and babies there, which I thought there would be. But that was OK. When we left, the host was just bringing out pizza, and he assured me that it was alcohol free as I took a slice. Just his normal way of joking about stuff I suppose… So I didn’t get into any deep and meaningful conversations about my being sober, but everyone knows about it now. No more big revelations to get out of the way.

In the car on the way home, I asked my husband (shall I just call him Mr W?) how he thought it went. He knew I was feeling very anxious about it beforehand, and I have to say, he has been great about me trying this sober thing. I said I felt I had got through it OK – I was just myself, no crazy insecure behaviour, no being too loud because of too much wine. He agreed, that it was fine and I had nothing to worry about.

I mean, I did feel a bit awkward, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might have been. And I was used to doing that kind of thing with a drink, so it’s bound to take a bit of getting used to. Another plus is not worrying about what I did or said while drunk.

It’s getting late, I’m back to work tomorrow, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to say about everything later.
I don’t know if anyone is reading but I hope you’re all happy and sober out there…

xx

I have to leave my bubble

I’m on day 42 of the 100 day sober challenge.

I decided to start a blog today because I suddenly have to go out there and face life. I’ve been in a lovely safe sober cocoon all summer, and now I have to leave it. I’ve been feeling anxious and afraid since I found out I’d have to go out this afternoon, not really because I think I might drink, more likely because I went to this same place a few weeks ago, and that was the occasion that made me really question whether I should be drinking. There are all sorts of demons there.

But I’ll be with people I know, so I just hope I can get past all the ‘oh, so you’re not drinking’ comments, hope my husband doesn’t leave me at any point, and wait until we can go home. That sounds really awful, I know.

I’m going to be late if I don’t go and get ready… wish me luck!