Anxiety

Well, the ‘fluttering heart’ I mentioned in my last post wasn’t so bad the few days before our appointment at the clinic on Friday. Perhaps I was over the worst of the anxiety – maybe it was still there but I just didn’t notice it as much.

The outcome of the appointment was fairly positive – we have decided to try at least one cycle of IVF with my eggs. I plan to post in more detail about that on the other blog. The odd thing is, although I’m feeling pretty good about that, the anxiety has returned.

I think it might be due to a Christmas meal I have to go to tonight. It’s a work thing, a leaving do, too, in a pub. I’m 15 days sober today, and while I really don’t want to drink, I could do without putting myself into drinking situations deliberately. I actually just want to hibernate. I can’t think of anything to enjoy about going to socialise with people. That sounds so terrible, I know. But the truth is, infertility has knocked my self confidence (not that I had much in the first place), so I can’t see myself functioning in a setting that is purely social. I have forgotten how to ‘present’ myself , if that makes sense? I don’t know who I am anymore, I got lost somewhere. I feel…blank, in a way.

My work colleagues know about the fluttering heart, I told them earlier in the week. So I could feasibly text someone and say it’s causing me chest pains again, so I can’t go tonight. But I can’t keep letting my world get smaller and smaller, can I? I must push myself out of my comfort zone? My chest hurts just thinking about it.

It’s times like this when I need a sober friend, face to face. And I think this is part of what ultimately led me down the path of relapse last time – feeling isolated in a world full of normal drinkers, and lonely because of our struggles with infertility. (There it goes again, my chest thump thumping away. the other day when the irregular beating had died down, I thought, ‘is my heart actually still going??!’). I did drive past the venue for a local AA meeting many times during that year, eyeing it up and always chickening out. But I don’t think AA is for me.

So in the absence of a sober friend right here beside me (because, let’s face it, none of the ‘normies’ get it), I’m writing this to you. I really don’t know what to do.

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Being sober at Christmas

Well, as it turned out, I needn’t have been so anxious about going to the meal I mentioned in my last post. And isn’t that so often the case! I really enjoyed seeing my friends, and the evening went well – although the guy I’d never met asked me straight out if I was a recovering alcoholic!!! I think I need to be permanently prepared for that kind of remark ;-).

The next night we went for drinks with other friends and their children, late afternoon/early evening. Again, I had a better time than I anticipated, actually enjoying myself instead of just getting through it.

I’ve reached a point where I’m OK with not having anything to say sometimes. When drinking, I would have been sipping away compulsively at my wine, willing some scintillating topic of conversation to come to mind. And in the middle to later stages of the evening, I’d be willing someone else to come up with things to talk about because I’d have had a couple of glasses, maybe even more, and wouldn’t trust myself to start a conversation, in case I’d look like an idiot for saying the wrong thing/looking too drunk/etc etc.

What I have noticed is that I now manage to avoid being consumed with anxiety (mostly), and the chances are that during those moments when conversation goes quiet, something relevant to the other person comes to mind! I can think of a question to ask that will actually give them an opportunity to say something about themselves! And I listen! Wow. Who knew I’d be able to relax and have  the odd normal conversation without clinging to alcohol as a way in to  social situations?! This is quite a breakthrough for me, and I’m rather pleased with my progress 🙂

Christmas day was great, we all had a lovely day eating yummy food, giving presents, and we also played a board game – although we stopped part way through because the instructions were a bit complicated. I did get very tired at around 8pm, I guess I had none of that false energy that alcohol gives you. But I must be honest and say that I did miss drinking occasionally throughout the day. And I felt I wasn’t quite as much fun as I would have been had I had a few glasses of wine. But I just ignored the feeling, and got on with it. And of course, afterwards I was glad I hadn’t had a drink.

Today Mr W and I went for a walk along the canal, down to the next village and up a hill and back down again to home. Love boxing day walks!

We’re out for a friend’s birthday meal tomorrow night, then drinks afterwards. I started to worry about whether we will be invited over to theirs on new years eve. I think I might like to just stay home for new years eve actually, and I didn’t want my husband just to say ‘oh yes we’ll definitely come over”. But really, there’s no need to worry. I can always put off giving an answer until nearer the time when I’ve properly made up my mind. It isn’t that I’m being rude, I can just say honestly that I haven’t made my mind up yet. I think people probably realise at this point that I might not be up for whole evenings of drinking – well being with other people drinking – anymore. It will be fine.

I especially need to think twice about being around people drinking on new years eve if I think I might be thinking about drinking. I mean, I don’t know if I will be missing the booze as I did a little bit on Christmas day, but if I do feel and myself feeling that way, that’s a big reason to stay at home. No point walking right up to the edge of the cliff to see how comfortable I feel when I get there. If you get my meaning!

Finally, I just want to say a huge well done to everyone who has stuck to sobriety over the last few days!! I’m finding that although it doesn’t prevent enjoyment of Christmas by any means (quite the reverse – I’m probably enjoying it more!) , it’s not always easy. We are doing a hard thing and all deserve plenty of praise :-). And for those who aren’t quite there yet, don’t lose hope – you will get there!

Social events and telling new people

I think I may have spoken too soon yesterday…

Last week I was invited to a Christmas meal with some friends from sixth form and their partners. It’s tomorrow night, and my husband can’t make it because he’s at drill (firefighter training), so I was going to go alone. Last year, one of the other girls was on her own, so I kind of assumed she would be this time, too. But I realised that’s not the case, and I will be the only odd one….

So. I only see these friends once a year, if that, and I don’t really know their partners – never met one of them – plus I’ll be on my own, and I’ll need to explain my not drinking! The restaurant is in walking distance from my house, and so I will need to give a reason.

I’ve sort of been thinking of not going, to be honest. Not really sure. I mean, I really like these friends, its just that I don’t know the partners that well, plus I won’t have Mr W with me for moral support. I feel like a bit of a fraud for saying what I said yesterday about social gatherings.

Being upfront about sobriety is easier or more difficult depending on the situation, then. And also on whether or not I want to reveal my reasons for it. I do prefer to be honest about it, and have trouble telling half a story sometimes, or trying to avoid giving a reason. But I see now that there are always going to be new people to tell that I don’t drink, so it might be worth my while practising some different responses to the ‘why not?’ question.

For tomorrow night, the question is to go or not to go? How vulnerable do I want to be? How brave? Or am I just not in the right frame of mind to ‘defend’ my choice – as that’s what it sometimes feels like people ask me to do…

Christmas do’s and Christmas dont’s

I’ve just got home after going to a carol service at the church my parents go to. It was my husband’s idea to go, and I’m glad we did. There’s a new minister there, and it felt like a fresh approach, in a subtle way, to a carol service. They also missed a verse or two out of some of the carols, so that there was time to cram in as many as possible 🙂 I’m sure it did me the world of good, all that breathing – hymns seem to always be in a high key and require great lungfuls of air to reach all the notes!

On Friday I went out for a meal with people from work – our Christmas do. It was a lovely evening and a chance to say goodbye to our head of department, and see a couple of other people I’d not seen for a while. I felt quite comfortable, even when we moved on for drinks afterwards. I’m so relieved that I’m getting used to going to social events where others drink and I don’t. I mean, it really does depend on who you are with, I’ve found, and the escape route has to be planned but on the whole I’m improving 🙂

But I am expecting a few cravings. Not necessarily for wine, more like the odd sherry. We decorated the tree earlier, listening to Christmas songs. It would have been nice to have a glass of something christmassy in my hand as well. A Christmas don’t! My plan is to find some good recipes for non alcoholic seasonal drinks, so that I don’t feel I’m completely missing out. So if anyone has any ideas to get me started, please let me know!

I hope everyone out there is well and happy, and managing to find some time to relax 🙂 x