It’s time to try harder

So today is day one. It’s time I stopped caving in on day 5 or 6. This is more important, and deserves more than the half-hearted effort I have been making.

Even though I’ve essentially been moderating and only drinking at weekends, this pattern has begun to affect me, possibly as much as if I was having wine every night. I’ve noticed self-care routines get pushed to one side, and even if it is only for a couple of days, there is a definite knock-on effect for the rest of the week. And I am in serious need of self-care at the moment. I’ve read a few posts lately from longer term sober bloggers, and I realise I want to be there again. I know it brought more fears of not fitting in for me last time, but I don’t fit in anywhere at all now anyway. So that shouldn’t make a difference.

Along similar lines to not fitting in… It’s Mother’s day today. Mr W and I are going to his mum’s, then over to my sister’s with all of my family for food later on. It feels like it’s going to be a long day, and maybe a day of putting a brave face on everything. Again.

And when I get back to work tomorrow, I’m dreading the ‘how was your weekend?’ questions. Especially since Friday was a snow day, and especially since it is Mother’s day. I know people just want to make conversation, but I feel like my life is so nothing that I never have anything positive to say, and would rather just get on with keeping my brave face in tact, get on with work.

And then there are other peoples responses…after this weekend obviously they will be talking about what they have done with their kids. This ‘brave face’ is so hard to keep up. The thought of having to act normal around everyone both today and tomorrow is so tiring and it’s making me cry.

Half an hour later...

I’m sorry if this makes me sound bitter and depressed. I’m just finding it really hard at the moment. One day at a time might help me here… Even one hour at a time. I can get through it. I will.

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Maybe this is why I drank…

Well, that ‘happy sober life’ I’ve been looking forward to is ever elusive. I think I count days partly so that if anyone ever reveals at what point that magical transformation occurs, I will know how much longer I will have to wait 😉

By not drinking for the last 132 days, I don’t seem to have achieved much. How is my life better? I would really struggle to be able to come up with something other than ‘no hangovers’ at this point.

What I have done, though, is revealed a lot about myself that I don’t like. More often than I like to admit, I am filled with fear. Fear that I don’t fit in, have no friends, no one understands me. I feel hurt a lot of the time. I can’t seem to let any of it go because I’m too afraid. I worry that I will never make a success of my life, that no-one cares about anything that I do.

I try to make our home a lovely place to be, do all the things a wife does, but it all seems pointless because no-one but the two of us enjoy it, and even then, my husband seems to take it all for granted. And tells me I don’t take good enough care of the car! More jobs to put on the list!!

Is this low-level depression why I drank? I seem to remember that the odd glass (or bottle!) did provide a kind of relief – dragging my thought processes to a standstill so that I could just ‘zone out’ and have a normal conversation with my husband and forget any neurotic ideas I had about not being good enough/popular enough etc.

I used to think it was a good thing to have a mind that works like mine. I thought it made me better able to empathise with others, and to understand people’s pain, maybe even help. But the way all the bits of my life seem to be configured at the moment, how it all works right now, having a mind like mine doesn’t get me anywhere but depressed.

People don’t care if you are sensitive – it’s only ever a negative thing to the vast majority of people. If you need support, no-one notices, or even knows how to provide it. Hardly anyone knows what depression is, how it feels, and certainly no-one talks about it.

By stopping drinking, I’ve become more isolated. The loneliness wont go away. The fear won’t go away. I feel unable to let go of this suffering because…well why? I don’t know, but I just can’t seem to do it… :/

Thinking and feeling

I’m feeling a lot better since my last post – thank you for the kind words of encouragement 🙂

Things did get pretty bad there for a short time. I felt myself edging towards despair because I was in the same dark place as just before I quit drinking. How can this be, I asked myself? How UNFAIR!

The cause was probably related to reaching 100 days. A post-goal let down, flat feeling, combined with the anxiety of potential temptation in the restaurant and pub on Saturday night. The feeling of isolation caused by my not drinking then added to a phase that my husband and I were going through, of poor communication and skewed priorities. I can see it all much more clearly now, but at the time everything felt so fuzzy that I even had some ‘what is the point of anything‘ thoughts. This has made me realise I need to keep an eye out for the signs of depression, because it will obviously start to creep in again, given the right conditions. because I can now look back more clearly, I can see that I have been able to recognise the signs before it does too much damage, and reach out for help. Initially, I quit the wine and then reached out to Belle for help and accountability. This time I have written here, but more importantly, been able to read comments and blog posts, and also find help elsewhere through these. Thank you 🙂

I also told my counsellor what I’d been feeling. I talked about comments from people on that night out, my reaction to some stuff on Facebook, how Mr W and I were doing. She said that the main common theme running through it all seemed to be that I was feeling the need to justify myself. I’m just arriving at this thought now, perhaps I was supposed to get this in the counselling session, but maybe a part of me was demanding justification from another part? Say, my ego had begun questioning what the hell I thought I was actually doing here? Making myself stick out like this, be different than other people, not fit in, and so ultimately prevent me from getting approval from other people?

Damnit, approval from others is something I ALWAYS struggle with!! I am getting better, but it’s disappointing to realise I still have a long way to go…

She also said that what was making me feel bad could be viewed as the same as what made me feel good only a short time ago. ‘I’m an individual, creating my own life’ had become ‘I’m different and I don’t fit in’. ‘I like the fact that I’m an introvert, and have something different to offer’ became ‘I have difficulty relating to people, and I feel alone’. Even ‘I’m happy to be putting myself and my sobriety first’ was starting to feel like ‘am I being awkward for the sake of it – shall I just jack this in now and save a load of bother?’!!!!

Something else that helped (eventually) was that I managed to talk properly to my husband. One day last week he had a VERY bad day, and was extremely low as a result. He is not normally one to dwell on problems, but this really affected him. I was upset for him, but I was also hurting too. I wondered if, when I had the chance to talk to him properly later that day, he would be more able to understand me because he now needed empathy himself. As it turned out, we were able to listen to each other and reconnect. I don’t feel quite so alone now 🙂

So. My counsellor said that I did the right thing. I was down in the hole, and it did feel terrible at the time, but somehow I knew how to get myself out. That is SO ENCOURAGING I can’t tell you how much better that makes me feel! Having been in the hole of depression quite a few times now over the years, knowing that I don’t have to fear being there for too long because I am starting to recognise what I need to do to get out…well, it means I now know myself better, I have made progress and grown.

Another point that we touched on was the idea of choice. It’s my choice whether I perceive myself to be happy as an individual, or to feel awkward and like I don’t fit in, etc etc. But…I did say in my last post I think, that there are some ways in which I think I’ve changed, since becoming sober. Whereas when drinking, I would have been quite ‘happy’ (inverted commas because I wasn’t truly happy!) to go out drinking more or less anywhere with our friends, without the alcohol I don’t feel particularly inclined to spend my time that way. I also seem to end up feeling even more unsure of myself than I would have done after a social event whilst drinking, which is REALLY saying something!! So maybe I should start exercising some of that power to choose. Instead of pushing myself every time to attend, thinking it will get better the more I do it, maybe I ought to just not do those things that don’t make me feel good?

I’m starting to confuse myself. I don’t think my counsellor meant for me to avoid things rather than deal with them. What she did say though, was that the problems start to arise when I over-think things (AH! Husband was right, how can this be??!! 🙂 ). So the way to make my choice is to listen to how I feel. Not what I think.

Now I’m feeling better, and able to get my head around all this, it might be a good time to listen again to the Tara Brach talks on happiness that Lisa sent me (thanks Lisa!). Here is Part 1, and Part 2, if you fancy a listen 🙂

Happy Saturday 😀 x

An extended low

This horrible low feeling doesn’t seem to be shifting.

I feel fragile, and keep getting upset when the tiniest of things sets off a chain of associations in my mind, ending with some version of ‘I’m alone’. Something feels wrong and I don’t know what it is.

Try as I might, I can’t communicate any of this to my husband. His standard response is that I over-think things too much. Which may well be true, but in saying that, he is rejecting my feelings, which is also lonely. He asked me this morning if I had talked to my counsellor about what I was trying (and failing) to tell him. I said ‘yes, but I don’t live with her, I live with you!’

Maybe that’s the problem… I feel lonely because I have no-one who can really listen to how I feel? I have a need for deep connection with people, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (as in, the vast majority of our mutual friends), and it takes time and effort to maintain.

Because I don’t have that connection at the moment, perhaps I’m looking to the wrong person for support. I would like Mr W to be able to provide that for me, but I know he’s not that sort of person. His way of thinking is so much lighter than mine. And anything darker and deeper than the day-to-day, well, he keeps it all hidden.

It worries me that we are like this – like polar opposites. I thought that once we were married, and we’d made that lifetime commitment, that we would try to understand each other and support each other. And after I stopped drinking to swerve an oncoming meltdown, we did for a while…

Why do I feel so alone?

if only sobriety was a magic wand

Yesterday, I went for lunch in the city with my friend who is expecting. We had a lovely time catching up on everything. I’m looking forward to her baby being born, her due date is three weeks away – not long now!

I’m not sure why, but today my mind has been going over and over unkind things people have said to me recently. It has made me feel vulnerable, and it feels like I’ve had to try extra hard to think instead about people who do like me, and have made me feel good about myself. I know I’m really the one who makes me feel good about myself at the end of the day, but sometimes it affects you more than others, doesn’t it, what people say.

Anyway, I also started to feel vulnerable about the infertility. That story about Robbie Williams dancing around whilst his wife was in labour – and posting it on social media – was really starting to get to me. I ended up doing what I haven’t done for quite a while, googling infertility blogs. And now the tears have started, and won’t stop.

I know I will be OK – sobriety has really helped with cushioning the lows. But I sometimes I just wish that sobriety would fix more things. I was doing so well recently, realising that I wanted some sense of clarity about this situation, rather than to feel pressured into trying for a baby just because of my own fears, or searching for worthiness in the wrong places. But it somehow feels as raw as ever right now. I feel crushed by the weight of it all.

If only being sober was a magic wand…For one tiny millisecond there, it felt like wine could have sweetened the bitterness in my mouth. But I know it won’t. And I will not be bitter. Surely that is one thing, at least, that I stand a good chance of being able to control as a result of not drinking.

It will be OK.

You may now turn over your exam paper

I won’t know what this feels like until tomorrow, about 1pm. I haven’t really revised very well, I feel I have been complacent with my sobriety. I haven’t done enough work.

And now the exam (wedding).

I am about as anxiety-ridden as it gets, but I can’t really do anything about it now. I just have to try and get a good night’s sleep tonight.

I just read something that said sobriety is pass/fail. This metaphor is actually starting to work in my favour because I used to like exams at school. I like exams, I am (was? am?) good at them. I generally (always, I think) pass. I can pass this one. I WILL pass this exam.

OK, hand me that clear pencil case, I’m going in…. 😀

crazy 88…what do I tell myself?

I’ve had a crazy day 88. Lots going on at work. Amongst other things, I had a small accident when a boiling tube (large test tube) of boiling ethanol bubbled over, and scalded me on the thumb (ow!) and caught fire on the bench. Oops. Thankfully nothing worse than a blister on my thumb was the result. And, mercifully, nobody was watching. How embarrassing would that have been?!

Is there a message in there somewhere? Alcohol is dangerous and volatile, and you can get your fingers burned if you misuse it…?

Maybe I need to think about that a bit more carefully, because in the last few days, I have really been wanting to drink wine. I know I’m not helping myself because I seem to drift along with no real plan. I mean, I have goals, ideas of what I’d like to achieve, but I’m not good at organising my time, especially in the evenings. And I drift and drift, staying up too late, leaving me with less energy for the next day and so it goes on.

Exactly my behaviour when I was drinking, but then I slept terribly. At least I sleep well now.

Whether it is the upcoming wedding that’s making me have these thoughts, I’m not sure. My mind seems to conjure up possible scenarios in which a drink would go very nicely. Situations which I think might occur in the future, and I hear myself say ‘Oh it’s OK, you wont miss out, you’ll probably be back on the wine by then’.

There is obviously still a part of my brain that is not convinced of this sober thing. Wolfie still has a voice, sometimes loud and clear. I worry that this is coinciding with the wedding, and I worry that I might not make it to the end of day 90.

Or at the very least, that day 90 will be a huge struggle. But I cannot give up with only ten days to go. ten days is nothing, but one day might cost me everything….

I feel a bit better for having written that. My husband has had a couple of glasses of white wine tonight, and we were both at the computer looking at something. I could smell the wine. If I think about that, and think about how the wine would feel in my mouth (horrible and vinegary), and how my body would feel after a few glasses (fuzzy head, thirsty, drowsy), the appeal does lessen.

Please leave, Wolfie. You’re not welcome here.

I am happy to be sober. Happy to be me. I would not be me if I drank. Wolfie would drown me. I must tell myself, over and over and over.

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.

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