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.