Wide awake

I should actually be in bed asleep, but I had to post this because I think Ive just had a bit of an insight into WHY I was so wound up before… (this might not make sense as Ive forgotten where I was up to with the story, plus I’m rushing cos husband might get cross that I’m downstairs tapping away on the computer, disturbing the peace at 2:45am!)…

Ever since I started in my job, I have tried to bring a sense of order to a fairly chaotic collection of chemicals, safety information, equipment, general supply, and schemes of work. It has been a part of the role that I have found especially satisfying. I’ve worked very hard on it, it has taken along time, for various reasons.

This new software we are using to combine most of the above in one coherent, frankly rather impressive, digital, overall record (sorry. Its late), is basically the start of the final stage on all of this organisation that Ive been doing over the last three years. I have a major interest in doing a fair share of this work myself, and yet I felt that the opportunity was being taken away from me – N was taking over.

I think that now I have some idea why I felt so irritated, I might be better able to articulate (where necessary) my feelings, and hopefully have an equal part in working on this database.

If I had been drinking because of how wound up I was earlier, I don’t think I would have come to this realisation. I wouldn’t have connected the two things together. But thanks to being sober, I now realise that my irritation and frustration, is actually due to my vested interest, if you like, in contributing fairly to the final stages of this work I’ve been doing for so long.

This feels pretty major, being able to think more clearly about the reasons behind my emotions, because I’m not using alcohol to zone out. I don’t feel like I had such moments of clear thinking the last time around. Perhaps I’ve just forgotten. I know I’m rambling at this point, but do you think I might finally be waking up….?!

 

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A good day

Yesterday was a much better day at work. I felt a bit fragile and emotional because the pregnant teacher and head of dept were giggling about her baby bump. She’s showing a lot more, and for some stupid reason, I just don’t know where to look when people talk about it. But I’m still trying really hard to redirect my thoughts to myself, and the action that my husband and I need to take to get to where we want to be. I’m doing quite well at that, I think. Having said that, my brain is trying to have silly, anxious thoughts about what my colleagues think of me. A and I were talking about the new supply teacher, who seemed very anxious. I compared this to myself – I admitted I’m an anxious person, but I didn’t think I made other people feel anxious by being anxious myself, as this supply teacher does. He said ‘oh yes, you were very nervous when you started here’. Yes I know. But  I wasn’t immobilised by fear, I’m certain of that. I remember deciding to smile, say yes a lot, and be friendly all the time, and worry about what the hell I was doing later. It was a good strategy, I think! But now I’m worrying that I looked like a total idiot.

No, no. I can’t allow myself to think like this. I worked in a supermarket for 10+ years, completely away from my academic background of science. Then I got this job, where there was no-one doing the job to train me. So I picked it all up along the way. Even when the second technician joined a few weeks later, she’d never done the job either. I’m really proud of how I’ve progressed and what I can do now. Dammit, who bloody cares if I was nervous to start with!! This just goes to show that sobriety is absolutely the way forward for me, as my mind definitely tends towards anxiety, and drinking would only add to that.

So to continue with the story…N and I swapped activities for the day – there was an experiment coming up which meant she could put into practice the skills she learned on a recent training course, and I explained I really needed some practice using the spreadsheet. So instead of doing what we both found easiest (she is so good on the computer I am rather intimidated), we worked on areas we needed to improve. Win/win!

It’s been a good day today. I slept in late (Mr had a fire call, so I was awake for a couple of hours early morning), then did a couple of loads of laundry. Walked to the post office, then did a detour on the way home, along the reservoir and through the woods. The birds were singing, it was lovely. I planted more seeds in the greenhouse, then had a bath, and made curry for tea afterwards.

It’s late now, husband is out at the pub and I’m going to have one more AF drink then go to bed. He said earlier he’d like to go out, and I thought oh no, I hope he’s not going to try to make me go with him and ‘just have one drink’. But no, I told him he should go if he wanted to and he said ‘can I?’. I don’t feel I’m missing out at all, and I’m so glad he’s doing what he wants and I’m doing what I want. Another win/win:)

 

 

One foot in front of the other

Yesterday afternoon, I got home about 4pm after visiting my sister and my parents, and I felt there was a strange gap to be filled before dinner. Anxious not to let my mind settle on thoughts of wine, I just announced ‘right, I’m going to have a bath’, in a reflex action sort of way. I took my tablet and listened to a couple of Belle’s audios. Husband made dinner (we say ‘tea’…it feels odd to say dinner, but I think you wouldn’t know what I’m on about) so it was ready when I got out of the bath. I had about three glasses of pomegranate and something cordial with soda water and mint leaves. Loooovely!! Self care ROCKS!

Watched the new Sunday night 9pm drama, then had a fairly sleepless night before going back to work today after the two week Easter holiday. I think the sleeplessness was partly the usual will-my-alarm-go-off post-holiday anxiety, and partly the hot flushes. Honestly, its enough to drive you mad, the constant flinging off of the duvet because of the heat and then huddling under it again because of shivering. And no sleep. <sigh>. On the bright side, this should start to wear off soon, as I have had my last injection.

I always love the idea of the sober bubble, but this time I wasn’t sure how I’d feel being back at work for the very early days. I’m just going to have to take one step at a time, and be extra mindful to maintain the self care. So after a good day at work, I got home this afternoon and hoisted Husband out of his chair and off for a bracing walk before tea. I wanted to investigate a possible route for running, should I ever pluck up the courage to go out in daylight with my running stuff on. The fresh air was great, I really enjoyed it. Self care ROCKS! Again!

So I’ve had another of the pomegranate drinks with fresh mint, I’m looking forward to 9pm drama on the telly, and I’ll probably have another sleepless night, but I feel brilliant. Day 3 🙂

 

 

 

Things that make me feel better #1

I went back to work after the half term holiday yesterday and I think being busy has helped me feel better. It’s still a little odd, knowing that my colleague is pregnant. I don’t think many other people know – she is waiting until the first scan. I think I saw her with a green form (to book the time off work) today. So it could be soon. I’m hoping so much that people will keep it low key and not refer to it constantly in front of me…

I feel strangely wooden around her. She has always tended to be business-like, and can seem a little bit rude if you don’t know her well. Maybe its just that side of her that I’m picking up on too much, feeling too vulnerable. I’m trying not to dwell on it though. Our stories are different, it just can’t be helped.

I’ve also decided a couple of things in the last few days.

1. Mr W and I want to do IVF. Although he is getting used to the idea in his own way. I’ve learned that he operates completely differently to me when it comes to emotions and reasoning. Whereas we can pre-empt each other’s thoughts and take the words right out of each other’s mouths because our minds work the same way to a certain extent, I know that I need to be patient and not demand a ‘yes I totally agree with you and I’ll do exactly what you want’ right this minute. It may be an age thing as well as a gender thing – he is 16 years older than me, and while it doesn’t matter one jot, it can make a big difference. So basically (yes I’m getting to point number 1…honestly!…) I DON’T CARE what anyone else thinks about that. It’s completely up to us, and if anyone disapproves, they can fly off because it’s none of their business.

2. I have no idea what is possible, considering the extent of my endometriosis. All I know is, I get my first GNRH injection tomorrow at 16:30 – the start of the second phase, if you like, of treating the condition. There are six injections, four weeks apart. As I mentioned, I think I may need further surgery before IVF could even be an option, and I don’t know when that could happen. I am taking steps to find out. In the mean time, I need to live my life – not just try to get though the day. Six months – at least – of waiting before anything can start at all. So I need to get on with living. I want to feel better than I did last week.

As far as number 2 goes, there are a few things I can try. I’ve started doing a couple of (tiny) things differently, and I might post about them soon (hence the optimistic ‘#1’ in the title) but for now, I wanted to share this: I was looking on my phone for Belle’s Sober Jumpstart audios, the first five days from when I began my big sober stretch. I found Mystic Cord of Memory by Michael Bernard Beckwith, that I downloaded a few years ago. I stumbled across it, like I do with most things on the internet, whilst looking at something else entirely (art journaling, which I don’t do anymore). It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I find it really calming and full of positive energy. The only link could find was this one for an Effy Wild video on YouTube. If you’re not into the art, just listen. I think you might like it 🙂

 

 

 

Feeling good

I feel good at the moment, and I’m really focusing on enjoying that feeling because I know how fleeting my moods can be. I’ve also been pondering why I feel good now. What is it that’s working at the moment? Am I doing something differently than I was before, or did I stop doing something? Can I keep doing something to improve my chances of continuing to feel good?

Well, after mulling it over for a bit, I think there are a few things. Since the new year, I have been working out. Admittedly only on my cross trainer, which apparently is the worst machine going for cardio, but it was the most cost effective and small-space friendly item I could get at the time. When I realised, years ago that my money ended up being the only thing that went to the gym, I cancelled my membership, and didn’t work out for a few years. I’ve had the cross trainer for about four years, and I can honestly say I’ve never used it so much as I am doing now. I’m not really worried that it’s an unnatural exercise, and I’m not training my body for any actual activity (such as running on a treadmill, or cycling on an exercise bike). I already own it, it fits in with my routine, and it seems to be working for me. Sometimes I don’t have time for it, and sometimes I just don’t feel like it – in which case I either make myself do it anyway (75% of the time) or I don’t do it (25% of the don’t-feel-like-it times). I think it has helped in improving my mood. I feel fitter, and better about myself. So that goes on the list of thinks I’ll keep doing.

At new year we also bought a juicer. I forget whether I mentioned it before, but we watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead again, with Joe Cross, and Hungry for Change, over Christmas. Something must have struck a chord, and buying a juicer seemed like the right thing to do. I haven’t done a juice fast, where you don’t eat solids, but have four or five juices a day. But I have had a green juice most days. I’ve heard several criticisms of juicing since, for example, the machines supposedly breed nasty germs because of the hard to clean areas. Also, juices are full of sugar, so you should just eat the fruit instead. Not sure about the first point, but I put mainly veg in the green juice, and A LOT goes into one juice. I just wouldn’t sit down and eat that many vegetables. And I know that by juicing, you’re missing out on a lot of fibre, but that’s not what I’m after, really, it’s the nutrients. And I drink the juice straight away, so the nutrients won’t just dissipate because it’s sitting in the fridge for 24 hours. I’ve gone all round the houses there, but basically, I do think that the green juices help with my energy levels throughout the day, even though I have just one in the afternoon. And I’m basing that on not having any for about three or four days last week, when two snow days completely disrupted our routine, and I ended up not working out, or drinking juices. So juicing also goes on the ‘keep doing’ list!

I’m enjoying my interests again. Before my current job, I spent ten years working in a shop. I enjoyed the first couple of years, but it really went downhill after that. Partly due to my drinking, partly due to the whole atmosphere of the place changing, my role changing, and then eventually, I was forced to change to a position that I hated. I had virtually no choice, and me doing that job was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I ended up off sick with depression, it was that bad. The point I’m getting to is that fact that for the vast majority of my time – outside and inside work – throughout all this, I felt I should be looking for other work, applying for jobs, re-writing my CV. I would go through phases of this, and then become despondent, comparing myself to others who earned more than me, or who had ‘proper’ jobs. I felt like a failure, and I barely ever let my guard down, by which I mean that I never let myself enjoy my life. There were moments, obviously – especially when I met my Husband – when I forgot to beat myself up all the time, and let go enough to have fun and enjoy myself. But a lot of the time this nagging feeling was at the back of my mind – ‘you’ve no right to relax, you don’t deserve it, you failure’.
I think it’s a combination of me actually succeeding at getting a job I love (school science technician) and reaching a point in sobriety where I’m starting to feel more at ease with myself, that means I can finally let myself spend the time on things I enjoy. For example, working out would fall in this category (win:win 😉 ) and so would anything crafty – currently it’s sewing. Mr W bought me a full sized machine for Christmas, so now I’m raring to go. Oh, and Great British Sewing Bee starts on Thursday – more inspiration!! Also: Chemistry homework. Self assigned. Revision of A-level. I love it. I did Biochemistry at uni, which I also loved. But going back to straight Chemistry is brilliant. It will hopefully come in useful in this job, plus in the future, should I ever be lucky enough to be a technician at a university or similar.

Next: I’m starting to notice my thought patterns, and really explore and question them if I think they might be lying to me. I notice that if I start to feel a certain way, it can and will begin to dictate my thought processes, and change my mood. It’s true, we do create our thoughts with our feelings. And I’m working on determining whether what I’ve come up with in my head is a true representation of the world around me, or whether I’m actually just making it up, as part of my self-destructive tendencies. I’m not blaming myself for doing that, I just want to get to the bottom of where this stuff comes from, and can I change it for the better instead of letting these thoughts run wild and consume me.

Occasionally I’ve been furiously thinking away (that’s exactly what it feels like) about someone or other thinking a certain thing about me, or putting myself down for whatever reason, and I’ve spoken up. To my husband, who perhaps isn’t always the best choice of sounding board, but he can be very supportive in the right frame of mind, and luckily this was indeed his reaction when I told him what was on my mind. I’ve just listened to the Bubble Hour podcast on PAWS, and they talked about this in relation to coping with the symptoms of PAWS. Do I have an underlying depression and anxiety going on or are my issues PAWS? I don’t know, and in any case, I think there is probably some overlap to these things. But what they said on the programme was that the important part of sharing these feelings, in order to diminish their power over us, is speaking the words. As if the thought/feeling is transformed into something less powerful by the words we use to describe it. In our minds, it can go on and on indefinitely, causing havoc and controlling us. But say the words (even though it can be hard – sometimes I feel sort of like I don’t even want to put the words out there, as though they’re dirty words) and it stops there. Gone. Maybe not forever, but out of your head at least for now. So that will keep on happening!

Lastly, I am trying to stop berating myself for not doing a thing ‘properly’. The all-or-nothing mentality is something I don’t even think I was aware affected me, until I found the sober blogging world and heard people talk about perfectionism. ‘There’s no way I suffer from that’, I thought, ‘I never do anything perfectly anyway!’. But that feeling of not being able, for whatever reason, to do something the way it is supposed to be, and therefore not bother at all – well, yes I get that! So, having spotted it, I’m trying not to let it get in the way. I try to tell myself it isn’t pointless to have a go. It doesn’t matter if I don’t complete something, or maybe I’m not an expert straight off. More often than not, I will get something out of it, whatever it may be. Plus, nobody is perfect, so my idea of how something should be done might not be possible under normal conditions anyway.

This has been a long post – thanks for reading if you’re still with me!
I’m just happy to be happy, a high on a long rollercoaster of ups and downs. I’m more than familiar with the downs, and if I forget what ‘up’ looks like, I can always come back here 😉

 

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

Today is my day 100!!

Yes, that’s right – me, the girl who loves (loved) her wine! I have successfully reached 100 days sober.

I’m so proud of myself – I set out to do this thing, at a time when I felt shaky and vulnerable. I wanted to stop comparing myself to others and let go of the anxiety that seemingly held me back at every turn. I was also afraid for my marriage, which I was all of about seven weeks into.

And how did I get here? Just by taking it one step at a time. I’ve had highs and lows, times when I’ve felt like a drink because I’m sad, times I’ve felt like drinking because I’m happy. If I’m honest, I don’t think I ever got very far down that thought process though. I was enjoying the process of recognising myself far too much for that. ‘Oh hello, waking, I’ve not seen you properly for years – how are you?’ I’m getting to know the real me.

And there is still so much to know. As I move past day 100 and continue this sober journey, I want to pick up all those threads of my life that I had left behind. Some I can see clearly, others just glimpsed at. I have a feeling that I will be able to twist them all together to create a life with more meaning. Meaningful work, a meaningful contribution, more meaningful relationships. And I can do all that with what I already have inside me – it’s me, just me. I don’t have to try to be something I’m not. What I have to offer the world is worthwhile. I just needed to get sober to realise it 🙂

I’ve found that being sober doesn’t fix everything. Which is a shame, but hey. Maybe I am getting better at fixing stuff. And what I can’t fix? Well I guess there are some mountains you just have to live with 😉 I could stick the serenity prayer in right about now…:)

Speaking of which, I will just add that that prayer reminds me of my late Nanna. She was a truly amazing woman, full of love, and would do anything for anyone. Of course I would say that…but so did many other people, not just family. Everyone knew of her generous, loving nature. Anyway, she always had in the lounge, a little stained glass window ornament – you know the ones, with the hinge so they stand upright – with the serenity prayer written on it in coloured glass. I wasn’t aware of its significance to the recovery movement, until a friend pointed it out. ‘That’s funny’, I said, ‘My Nanna has been a Methodist all her life and has never once touched a drop of alcohol’. A very wise woman! She was 99 when she died. I think she might be proud of me, too. 🙂