Saturday, 31 January 2015

My sober week

Wolfie followed me to the alps. Not a great start to a sober holiday!
But I drowned him with good food and plenty of fresh air and exercise. Lots of hot baths!
A bad attempt at a mirror drawing of a happy sober girl.
I found the saddest snowman in the alps.
And found companionship both rewarding and challenging this week. My husband asked me if I'd thought of being teetotal on a chairlift high above the snowy ground. I'm not sure I said, maybe. He said whilst he'd had a few pints of cider, he'd preferred my limon-soda. 
So he's considering just stopping completely. 'We're at that kind of age' he tells me, when looking after ourselves is a good idea. Cheeky sod! That kind of age, although I guess I kind of agreed.
So we had a coke to seal the deal. Sober holiday eh? Who knew that was possible?
The wolf kept howling. I must admit in some ways it's been a bit of a struggle but sober treat and podcasts have helped. Like belle says drinking is like that old ex who you know doesn't treat you right and yet you keep going back. Despite knowing the paranoia and despair drinking will cause you. Ok so I'm still romantically attached to the idea of a glass of wine. But lets face it for me it would never be just a glass, more like at least a bottle, maybe two.....
And my skiing is bad enough without that hangover, paranoia and angst which drinking also brings me. Never mind how it effects my choice of natty hats. Nope totally sober when I bought the giant hat with the massive long Pom Pom!
I've enjoyed the time with my son, sober. Ok so I've missed being his 'vin chaude' buddy, a kindo of odd right of passage we both went through on holidays before when he came of age to drink. But, what I've noticed is there's more soft drinks for those of us not entrapped with the wolf. As for my friend, she's still drinking but her passion for skiing is reignighted, so maybe she will start to reduce her own intake over the next year to get herself a bit fitter. Who knows. Going on holiday with someone drinking a lot on holiday hasn't been easy, but its also been an eye opener. Was that me? Was i that selfish. Almost certainly.
Suns out, our flight is this evening, so just time for one last run up the hill, in the sober sunshine. With a clear head. Enjoy your weekend, hope your sober week has been good too, without too many challenges.

Bonne chance mes amies. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Struggling a bit

Must admit tonight having been skiing all day again I could murder a vin chaude. But I opted for a long pint of limon-soda, I get myself a bar of chocolate and I'm off for a bath with a podcast. I bought an Internet subby tonight as my other sober treat because I know I'm struggling and there's an open bottle of wine here in the apartment. My friends drinking, no booze rule in our apartment she had broken during the first day, a 'fait accompli' yeah it pissed me off a bit but its her holiday too. So I'm off for a Bath, I'll listen to belle and tell myself wine doesn't make it any better. I don't really feel like I'm missing out, it's more of a hankering for an old (shitty) friend.

Still a Sober girl.


Here's a snowman for you.
Doesn't look that happy does he?

Thanks for letting me check in.

Hugs x

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Day 112 - sober snow!

First time in a ski pub sober! Quite happy, here in the snow with my coke. Have a great weekend folks!

My sober week

So how can I find myself writing another post about another sober week. Sometimes they seem to come by so quickly. This week's been OK, no drinking, a bit of reflection and some sober self care. A trip to the city to see my daughter and a chance to remind myself that whilst I don't often dip into city driving, I can do it. I just prefer not too. Whizzing around at a million miles an hour doesn't really suit me but I can do it. Its nice to be reminded of old lives, in cities and how we prefer things now. A bit like being sober, we prefer that, we prefer that to drinking and the chaos it causes to our heads and our family so we stay sober. Less paranoid.
This week has seen me walking in new places. Tide far in, I've taken different paths and enjoyed new views. I'm trying to keep active whilst my body is in a sloth like state of semi-permanent sleep, I must wake it. I imposed a sort of reboot-rehab at home in October this year and I've not wandered far from its safety.  I'm tired, I'm tired all the time. Lots of thinking, a bit like 'defrag-ing' a computer, I'm feeling like I'm in sober life reboot.
I think its time to take a few new views. And start stretching my sober a bit, from its cosy bed. Who knows what I might find.
Same skies, different views. Looking out towards the future.
I'm noticing, slowly that the self-care side of my sober is something that's quite high in my consciousness at the moment. I'm very keen to make sure that I, this person here, is taken care of. And looked after well. So after my therapy session I found myself driving down towards the local wee fishing port in search of, I wasn't sure what, a cup of tea? A wee gift? Something in the way of a sober treat that's for sure. So I got a coffee and sat a while watching the boats gently swaying in the crisp air.
I only sat for a few minutes as I sipped my hot drink, but, often or not I'll scurry back into the chores of my life, needing to 'get on'. When, actually sitting for a while reflecting, helps me to listen to myself. As the boats rigs (?) gently clink way in the breeze, a calmness comes over me. I feel rested.  How is it that five minutes is sometimes all we need to reset?
This week I was expecting a friend to stay as I took myself out to this beach she was about an hour away. Her room is ready, barely cold from her  last visit. I was nervous, I'd nearly drank last time. I'm anxious and a bit stressed. I stomped along on this beach, dogs under foot and had a good talk to myself, trying to turn a few things on their head, upside down, thinking differently.
I also wrote my number, well why not. 
Sand is perfect playground for sober people who want to write their number.  There will be beaches around Scotland dotted with random numbers, from sober souls celebrating quietly their steady sober days.  

My sober treat on Thursday was to take time to walk and then sit with an early lunch, before my friend arrived, I took time to sit in a cafe and treat myself to some food. I had a busy day ahead and my friend arriving later, so a bit of time to just enjoy some me time. Some sober time, quietly. Although I did eavesdrop on the family beside me and it got me thinking a lot about my own kids, and our relationship. My paranoia constantly bastes me for drinking when they were living at home. How much have I damaged them? Its incredible the power of paranoia. It was nice to let go of a bit of that this week. I experienced real gratitude at letting go of some of it.
Over the hills to home.
After lunch I drove home inland to gather some supplies and for once I took the route over the hills to home, rather than the coast. I took a different route with different views. All paths lead to our future, its up to us which route we'll take. For now, I choose the sober road.  And, here and right now, its very bonnie, still, calm and still leads home. And whilst its often bleak and cold outside, there's cheer and brightness at home. 

My friend arrived, although anxious, she came wine free. Our friendship is a bit rocky at the moment, but I'm hopeful if she's beginning to listen to me, perhaps we can find a way forward together. This week we're off on holiday, a party of five. One sober girl, one drinker, one moderate occasional drinker and two teenagers, not fussed by alcohol. We'll see what this journey brings. I've my sober treats packed, bubble bath, scented candle, my new fountain pen and a new sober journal to write in. Podcasts, and treats. I'm about to take self-care and sober self love to the alps.

Truth be told I'm a bit nervous I'll be tempted. But, right now, I'd rather be sober than sloshed. Right now, I'm happier here, with the self-care and the lack of paranoia. Clear headed.

Remind me I said that! Have a great week, I'm hoping we will too. Not sure if I'll manage to post or not, but I hope you all have a great week! I've scheduled this to pop up when I'm checking in tomorrow. Lets hope everything goes to plan! 

Sober girl, signing out. Big hugs and much love

Friday, 23 January 2015

Day 110 - paranoia and gratitude

I wrote my number yesterday. 110 days without booze. Go me a quiet celebration here, no one really still understands why I've stopped for a while, no one saw my drinking as a problem. I did. Yesterday, I'd left early for a meeting in a local garden. Greeted by the lady of these lands and a very boisterous Border Terrier, I found my handshake to be good and strong and my mind to be focused. Is this the 'clear head' that they talk about in these here sober lands? It was an interesting meeting and for me, in search of some consultancy work, or lets face it just some 'work', I found my nerves around my appearance, my usual hungover self, my self flagellation at drinking the night before something big like this were all gone. Because, now, I don't drink. No hangover, no guilt. The lack of paranoia in my life is a positive forwards step. I strode into my life for once, instead of sort of sidling in wishing I fitted in. Paranoia is crippling. If Wolfie had a friend he would be called Paranoia.

Its funny how paranoia debilitates our very core isn't it?  If the only thing I can currently take from not drinking is the lack of paranoia, I'll have a gallon of it, a gallon of sober please, no paranoia required. How many wasted days, hours, weeks, months, years I've lost to paranoia and its bedfellow self-loathing. Well no more. No more I tell you. 

So an interesting start to my day. Instead of doing my normal rush home and get myself back into my life, I took time to walk the dogs, write my number, wrap it in a scarf (why not) and then, quite uncharacteristically go for a coffee and have a wee bite to eat by myself. A sober treat I told myself. So off I trotted to the local cafe in our university town, I paid my parking for an hour and I took time for myself to reflect on the meeting and reflect about where I am. A couple with their daughter at school here sat in the next booth. Their family camaraderie clear to see. I do miss my family. Whilst an empty nest is the sign of a productive parenting adventure, the loss still stings. I reflected on my time with my daughter this week, the same age as this girl.

I did catch up with my daughter this week after my SMART meeting. Since leaving home our relationship has been a little strained. I can see she's creating her new self, new boundaries are erected. Initially my paranoia led me to thinking, I'm a bad parent, she doesn't want to spend time with me because I drink/drank. So I drank more and more, until I needed to really think and stop my spiral of despair. I found sober. I found you all. The joy that's given me. The longer I got sober, the more reflective of our family relationship I become. It also helps to have a therapist who's happy to talk things through with. So whilst these new boundaries are erected with my daughter, many of which I grudgingly agree with communication between us has been sparse and often difficult. Its perplexed and upset me. 

My paranoid drinking self has told me, my wolfie has told me I'm a bad parent. I drank, what did I expect when she left? She's finally free of me. Her drunken mother. That stings. My paranoid self has told me lots of bullshit to be fair. But the new sober head is slightly less critical and more analytical, if of course you can apply analytical thinking to teenage girls newly embarked at university. But, I have. I get the new boundaries, they feel new right now but I know they will become familiar. Whilst I moved 300 miles to be nearer my children at university and to join my husband finally, that was my choice.  I might tell myself the key part of this is 'move nearer the children and also be near my husband', my children probably see this more as 'Mum's finally settled in with her husband, we're off the clock, woo hoo!'. 

Now, after much snot and tears and tantrums on my own part, I know I'm a good parent. I've had my moments but overall I'm a good parent. I worked hard at it. Snivelling into my hankie at my last session I talked about the pain I'd experienced during the last few years of my daughters time at home. How my drinking became more secret and my mood, difficult. It was a hard time for me and the family as we adjusted to life and sometimes the changes it can throw at you. I've always blamed my drinking for her distance during this last time at home. Maybe it was, something I'll never know. The paranoia runs deep here. And, it crippled me to stop me asking for help. What if they take my kids, no help for you Daisy. You're alone.

Fast forward to sitting having tea in a student flat in the city. My daughter jovially unpacking the groceries I've brought along. She's still oohing and ahhing at the large jar of chocolate spread in the bag. She's still half way between childhood and woman hood. Its a curiously nice thing to witness. We chat about nonsense mainly. Flatmates come in and out as we talk. Stories of silliness and boozy student capers buzz about in the air. We're alone again for a while. I notice the Vodka and the Rum on the windowsill. Half empty. Giggles of UV paint clubs and drinking spill out of her wee lips. I worry, does she have my addictive pattern inside of her? My paranoia regarding my own drinking is high in my throat.

'You're careful aren't you, with this stuff? You look after each other? You know I worry?' the words are out before I have time to stop my 'mothering'. Rolling eyes and smiling greets me. 'God Mum, we're hardly a hard core flat on the drinking front, but yes we look after each other'. The conversation drifts off into clubs and silliness. Its interesting as a parent seeing this new version of my own flesh and blood. Confident, sassy, bold and yet as she packs her 'tea' up for evening lectures, she's clearly looking after herself. It makes me smile. She turns and says 'I can't imagine you at university, out and being silly, you're so serious and as for the drinking.

My heart stops, as it always does, when any mention of my name and drinking is aired. What do you mean, I sat and think when she leaves that statement there. 

For once, being 110 days sober I'm not sitting thinking, can she smell the wine on me? Did I message her something stupid last night? Am I OK? For once I'm totally in the moment armed with a clear brain and no paranoia. What did she mean? Maybe its time to tell her I'm sober now. Maybe I'm strong enough to share this with her. That the past, is exactly it, in the past.

I begin to think of the things to speak, words forming in my mouth. She finishes her sentence 'as for the drinking, you'd never cope.'.  Excuse me? I'd never cope?  The conversation takes a different turn to the one I thought it would. My paranoia sits expressionless, beside me as my daughter regales to me how rubbish a family we were at drinking. 'I mean, I've never even seen you drunk, well maybe a glass of wine now and then. But I've never seen you drunk, not even at your wedding and plenty other people were'. The words she leaves off here is 'you're such a square'. Its true I didn't drink at my wedding, I mean in public, drinking, erm no thank you. I never drank in public after I really got into my drinking. But I'd never thought that really, they hadn't noticed my drinking. I'd hoped for sure that they didn't know, but I thought they must know.

Never seen me drunk. Never seen me drinking but a glass of wine, now and then. Surely this can't be true. But, I know that my son says the same. When I told him I'd given up wine for a bit he 'Pfft'.
In my face, he 'PFFT' me. 'Its hardly like you drink, now, is it?'  So they both know I'm off the wine for a bit.

Out of the mouths of babes. My paranoia still lurks inside me, I knew how much I was drinking. I hid it from most of my life, but it was there. My constant.

What I know I need to do is forgive myself for the deceit and the self-loathing and start afresh. Somehow, a silly conversation about not very much, at a time when I was ready to open up and say sorry for it all, sorry for all the deceit, I'm faced with a different reality. A nicer one. Maybe its no ones business that I use to drink. But, I've been so paranoid that my drinking has deeply affected my children and our relationship that it stifles me and blurs my thoughts constantly. Its been a constant, alcohol in my parenting life, but I hope its effects have been limited. I truly do.

I know its affected the way I act around people so to say its had no impact on their lives would be a lie. But, sitting in the student flat, I'm calmer now, I'm sober now. She didn't see my drinking and I don't do that any more, so maybe I do need to take heed and move on myself. Paranoia created by alcohol consumption, is not kind. It affects your self-worth and reactions in relationships. I see that so clearly now. And, I'm grateful that (whilst its deceitful), my family really didn't notice my drinking. I know I shouldn't be as grateful as I am, but I am truly grateful. 

I look at this beautiful 18 year old in front of me, blossoming. And, thoughts of her 'square mother', lol, I can deal with being a square, for sure.  But when I was young, I'll tell you........I did my share of partying. I had fun young lady. No really I did. For a while, so be careful.

It only got no fun when the drinking turned all consuming, when it turned inwardly and became secretive. And, when wolfie arrived with his veracious appetite and his paranoid pills.

We hug, she goes to class, tea in one hand, packed meal in another. Speak soon, the words are off my lips a bit lighter. I'm beginning to see the changes in both of us.  They're not as bad as feared. I'm calmer, more whole-hearted, she's blossoming. Its amazing what happens when you take Wolfie and paranoia out of the equation.

Today's motto is to be kind to myself. What's yours?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Day 109 - turning things upside down

Our SMART meeting today had a few more bodies attending and it made for a lively discussion. Being the mid-end of January its possibly not unexpected that 'motivation' was the topic for discussion. And we looked at goals for this week, this year and longer term. It was an interesting exercise. As I am struggling for motivation to even get up at the moment, it was a good subject for me. My goals for this week were 'find passport' yes its here somewhere and we leave for a holiday in France on Saturday. My other goal was catch up with family. My son is coming with us next week, so I can tick that one beautifully if I get myself to the airport (passport in hand). I also saw my daughter today. She's not coming on holiday with us for one reason or another, her classes don't break at the same time as my sons and for a while our relationship has been in a bit of a reboot phase. So taking time today to catch up over a cup of tea, was January's mission for us. Big tick on that front. So its just the passport, hiding in its safe place is what I have to achieve this week.

Its interesting at these meetings how much I seem to purport self-care, self love and kindness to yourself. All lessons I know I need to hear and apply to myself. Especially the kindness bit. Be nice to yourself I hear myself saying to a lady in my group, treat yourself kindly, like your best friend. If only I'd listen and take heed myself. A bit like on this holiday coming up. I'm stressed when I should be excited. There are five of us leaving on Saturday for the Alps. I'm dreading it if I'm honest. I had a wee talk to myself today in the car. Yes I do this a lot. Its perfect me on me time. So I asked myself why I was so stressed.

1 First sober holiday.
2 A group of five, wondering how the dynamics of that will work.
3 My boozer chum is coming, go me on the planning front, if ONLY I'd realised two years ago that I wouldn't see this as a great idea once I'd thought about being sober. I didn't know about sober.
4 I'm a worrier, I worry about limbs breaking, passports being lost (ironic I know), everything, I worry about everything.
5 Alone time, will I get any.
6 Booze. See point one and three above.

As I chatted to myself like a lunatic in the car, I thought if this was my best friend what would I tell her. I turned a few things on their head, upside down and thought about it from me, my new best friends perspective.

1 - First sober holiday, big deal in some ways, small deal in others. Lets think, before 109 days ago you did nothing sober, you're sober now, that stays the same, its just the geography which is about to change. So its a sober first, yes that's important, but remember, there was a time there when I'd never had a sober week, never mind a holiday. Its merely a week, in a different location. Its just geography. I don't drink, therefore geography shouldn't change that. Its not like I'm only sober in the UK.  We arrive on Saturday night late (so that's both Saturday's taken care of), leave the following Saturday late then I'm driving. So Sunday-Friday my sober geography will just change. The days of the week are the same, my husband still doesn't drink, my kid will be there with his chum.  So my geography is changing for a week, my commitment to sober isn't. It's just geography. A different sober view.

2 - I can't control the dynamics of other people. People might make me or each other crazy, it might work amazingly well. For once maybe I should think glass (of water) half full, rather than half empty looking for problems which aren't there. We're all quite even tempered, we're all adults, we all love being outdoors in the snow, it should make for a great time.

3 - My friend. She's a boozer, I'm not, now, I was but I'm not now, now I'm sober. Yes this will be tricky but she's unlikely to turn me upside down and force wine into my chops now is she? For one, I could so take her in a fight. So she can't exactly force me can she? I did say to my husband, I don't want to drink on holiday, remind me if I get a bit tempted. His answer? You're a big girl responsible for yourself, you need to do this for yourself, no one else. Whilst his logic is grand, I'd expected a different answer I have to say it did floor me a bit, but he said it so kindly and with such love, I kind of get it. He's taking the rebelling bit of my nature and turning it on myself. If he told me not to drink under any circumstances, my wolfie would probably bite his head off and I'd pour booze on my head like a rebellious teenager. Well played Sir, well played. He knows me better than I know myself.

4 - Worrying is something I can't really change but I can limit my worrying to myself and let the other adults look after themselves. I need to give myself permission to enjoy myself. Daisy, I hereby give you permission to enjoy yourself.

5 - Skiing is done on two legs, a safe distance from people. Sure we'll be together for some of the time, but equally I need to make sure I take time to be alone if I need to. Perhaps whilst they're all in the Ski Pub having a post skiing drink, I need to get myself up to the apartment and grab a cosy bath. One thing I know for sure is that unless I make time for me, its not going to happen. Sober time is important, its just a change of geography, so I need to take sober time with me. I'm downloading my podcasts to my phone/ipad and I'm taking a few books. Must remember my headphones. And keep the sober treats up. French sober treats, how exotic.

6 - I'm not big on day time drinking so a holiday doesn't offer much in the way of entertainment for me and daytime drinking. Yes there will be booze in our resort, it will stay in the pub. I'm asking if we can have a booze free chalet. In previous years the only person who's ever brought booze into our apartment is me. ONLY ME. If people drink at all its normally in the pub, or at dinner. Yes I've liked a wee drink after skiing, usually a vin chaude (mulled wine). So I'm packing my cordial in my suitcase in a plastic bottle, the kind that tastes like mulled wine and taking it with me. I know the pub does hot water if you ask for it, so why not. I don't normally drink at dinner, only in the apartment, so if we can keep it booze free, I'm hoping it will be OK. I don't drink at home anymore, so I don't think starting that again in a different country, in a different house, is a good idea. After all, I'm sober, its just my geography which is changing.

So I have given myself a stern but friendly talking too. I'm trying to take the stress out of my thoughts before they change into large boozy monsters and wolfie starts waving his passport and telling me we're on holiday so we can drink.

Erm, no Wolfie we can't. Even a wee voice is telling us (me) that one drink in the pub won't hurt. Of course it will. I listened to a random podcast of Belle's the other day in the bath. It was about arrogance. How we think that we'll be different from all other people because of course we can have one wee drink and it will be OK. Despite the hoards of others who tell you losing sober momentum isn't a good idea. How one always leads to two etc.

A timely podcast. So yes I'm off next week to the Alps. That's just geography, I tell myself, this journey needs to keep on going. After all, now I'm a sober girl, wife and mum.  And whilst I might be arrogant enough to think one drink after skiing isn't a big deal, for me it is. I'm sober, being on a pair of ski's doesn't change that. Sober skiing holiday. That's going to be fun, and probably more fun sober and less guilt ridden. I might actually be able to focus on my skiing for once, not my hangover. Focus for once.

And, apart from anything else I don't want to end up like this. So maybe a clear head and less worrying for me!
Time to find my passport I think! I'll worry about myself this holiday and leave the others to do the same. And, I'll keep reminding myself that I'm sober, its only my geography that's changing for a week. Sober is worth taking on holiday and looking after.  I might try and leave Wolfie behind, house sitting in my absence. Worth a try?

I do waffle on, so thank you for getting this far! If you've something kind or helpful to add or just want to say hello. Please drop a line below. I'd appreciate that. Thank you.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Day 108 - Defrag-ing and homework

I've been sleeping. And, I mean sleeping. I get up and I want to sleep. Its like some kind of post illness deadness or fatigue that makes my body limp and my head unable to lift itself from the pillow very successfully. I'm not ill. But, I'm so tired. I'm wondering if I'm slowly defragmenting my old booze brain for a new streamlined sober one. Maybe eh? Maybe all the bits that have been mished up all over my brain are starting to realign. Well I hope so. It could just be that mid January blues/laziness that gets many of us.

We got set some homework for my group session tomorrow. Its got me all muddled up as well. Its quite a simple exercise you'd think. It goes like this.

1. What do you want for your future?
2. What am I doing now?
3. How do I feel about what I'm doing now?

What could I do differently to help me get what I want?
How would changing what I do or getting what I want make me feel?

Now I could say a killer job, or a new house but I've heavily drank in both of those. So I just don't know.

The only thing in my head is that I just want to be happy.

Just that.

Happy inside.

I could say closer to my family, but we're pretty close (my family, not my extended parental family).
I could say health, I'm pretty healthy and I know I'm lucky.
I could say love, but I have that surrounding me. I want that to be nutured so I know I have to work at that, but I know I'm lucky I have that now.

So I'm sitting here (yes under the duvet because I still seem to be defragging) wondering what on earth I can put in my homework boxes.

What do I want for my future aside to be sober? That's all I can think about right now. How do I see past this? Or don't I? Maybe its my path to happiness inside. Abstaining seems to be the way to keep that momentum up. And I feel life and thinking about it, I'm bloody tired about all of it right now.

Really tired. Dog tired.

I'm on a multi-vitamin, which ran out last week and I only got them again a few days ago. Is that the issue has my inner workings been sent slowly to sleep by my lack of vitamins? Or is being sober just hard work? It shouldn't be I've not really thought about wine for a couple of days.

Regarding happiness from the inside, I'd be interested to hear anything people would suggest giving a try. I'm thinking of going back to yoga, if I can get my sorry head off the pillow. I've been looking at my diet, (its not bad, if rather abundant!) and I'm looking at ways to get myself engaged with life again. Perhaps a wee job? A bit of exercise and some increasing sober experiences under my belt. Like the holiday next week. A sober holiday.

So what would you put for your homework?

1. What do you want for your future?
2. What am I doing now?
3. How do I feel about what I'm doing now?

What could I do differently to help me get what I want?
How would changing what I do or getting what I want make me feel?

For now I'm working on my brain defragmentation and hoping it doesn't take too long. I'm off to my therapy session soon.

I found this article on 12 exercises happy, successful people practice every day here.  Here's an extract from the article which has really resonated with me. As I seem to be spinning in circles, sober circles, but circles nevertheless.

From the link above by MARC CHERNOFF

12 Rituals Happy, Successful People Practice Every Day

No 12.  Ask yourself the right questions.

Voltaire once said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”  This is such sound advice, because if you keep asking yourself the wrong questions, you will never get an answer you like.
What questions are you asking yourself?  Are they helping you better understand your purpose?  Or do they have your mind spinning in circles?
Truth be told, the questions you’re regularly exposed to act as guideposts that have a powerful influence on the direction of your life.  And, not surprisingly, the questions you hear most often come directly from YOU.  So instead of looking outside yourself for answers, start asking yourself the right questions.  For instance…
  • “Who am I?”
  • “What do I need?”
  • “How do I function best?”
  • “What do I have to give?”
  • “What’s the next step I can take right now?”
It’s all about self-inquiries that help you stay true to your principles, pursue your desires, grow through adversity, and add value to the world around you.  (Angel and I cover hundreds of important life questions as a theme that radiates through every chapter of our book, 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

My sober week

An old place always explored.
This is the time I like to look over the week in my life and be grateful for being sober. Last weeks post is here, this week has been quite different. I like to look and reflect on what's been happening and where I am. I like doing this it helps me to appreciate the calm days like the one above. How beautiful a day was this? Still and sunny, snow on the hills, a wonderful walk with my husband in my favourite place. My grandfather had a boat here a long time ago, we came most weekends and 'plowtered' about on his wee fishing boat. Its a time of my life I'll always be grateful for.
A new place to explore in the city.
So on Sunday I met a bunch of lovely lovely friends for a birthday lunch. Only see them now and again, you know how it gets. So much chatter the waiter/waitress had to come over several times before we could order.......And then a walk. Its lovely to be with friends that just get you, love you and respect you. No pressures and no hassles. No drinking, and on day 99, last Sunday I emailed the lovely Belle and joined the 180 day challenge and shut up Wolfie for a while which was good as he'd been very loud. I smothered him in sober love. And, moved forward.
Its been a week of celebration, getting to day 100 on Monday. A reflective time, my daughter travelling back to the UK from her fathers, always makes me edgy. I know this and I prepare for it, lots of self care, my real sober 101.  Its the only thing that's kept me from my downward spiral of drinking. 
Therapy on Tuesday, no tears this time just some revelations and some time to acknowledge a few things to myself. 
I'm a fretter, I'm anxious, these emotions have always been smothered in booze so they feel raw-er (real word) and I know to prepare for them.  But the storms of emotion always come.  I'm learning to prepare for them. A bit like a real life storm, preparing for bad weather, or bad moods, or just bad seems to help.  A bit like chopping logs, you do it when its calm, to prepare for the stormier times when you need them.
And we've had some storms this week. And, I've not been as prepared as I'd like. We talked a fair bit at my group meeting (SMART) on Wednesday about triggers and the positives and negatives of drinking. Hardly surprising perhaps that all the 'positives' about drinking were about short term gain. Whilst all the positives of not drinker were about long term gain. An interesting meeting, one new person to the group was having one, two then no three day sober. 
 At our meeting, its usually set by how our 'check ins' have been, and with someone new in the group we worked on triggers and how to over come them, how to delay. They said to me, I'd so like to get where you are. I looked around. ME? ME? Oh lord I'm so new at this I thought. Be like me? EEK. Get support I said, I'm so glad you're here I said. Load up on extra help I said. Trying harder didn't get me here (so new on my journey, I feel I have only a newbies voice) I so know day 1, day 2, drink day 3 its been my pattern for years, I said, trying different and loading up on so many 'sober tools' did help me to break the cycle a bit more often than not.  So I know it works for me. As always after the meeting if I can I go for a walk, this one, two days sober then third day drink is a pattern I have long been stuck in, I thought about that a lot on my walk. And I'm so glad I found you all.
Here I am. The one advantage of having a chum to stay is that they take your photo. Glamourous as always, stomping on a beach near home, this is me. The first evening my friend arrived there was a huge amount of weather disrupted travel in the north of the UK and I ended up stranded on a train, meeting my friend earlier and quite growly (grumpy) that my couple of hours I had planned after work alone had been destroyed. No ones fault but it left me more than a little touchy. I need my alone time. I need time to brace myself for people in my space. I started into the evening grouchy and as you'll no doubt be aware, it almost ended in disaster with me drinking. How I didn't drink I do not know. I'm grateful I didn't drink.  I don't feel strong. I feel pissed off. I feel sometimes like I don't get heard in my real life. Maybe my anger at her is really for my own situation. We drank in a pretty similar way and she's the same. Maybe I'm angry at me. 

I want to thank all of you over in sober lands who've touched base with me and checked I'm OK. I really can't thank you enough. And, whilst I feel unheard in this old friendship, I know you hear me and I'm so grateful for you all.
Having weathered the storm on Thursday night, space invaded, drink brought to my house when I asked for it not to be, I arranged that we'd attend a local 'Burns Supper' together. You could take wine if you wanted, but I forgot (oh dear) to tell my friend this. And so we drank water. And it was fun and fine. I certainly didn't miss it I don't know if she did, I didn't give her the option.

Saturday was for more walking, I feel sometimes that my space is invaded by people I love. I don't mind so much, but I'm beginning to realise a lot of these plans were for enabling my drinking. So maybe its not surprising that now, I'm finding them hard. Part of me wonders if its always been this hard for my husband. They all arrive clutching their bottles, and I run and hug and join them, with mine. For a non-drinker partner, can this be much fun. Probably not. So on Saturday we walked with the last of the visitors. We had breakfast out, (no hangover), we talked about the Burns supper (guilt free, no paranoia) and we had a lovely sunny walk. In my favourite place. I don't mind sharing it sometimes.
What I did do however, was remove myself from the company of my husbands Mum. I'd expected him to take her home and he'd muted he'd like her to stay longer. I smiled and asked if it was OK to take myself off to the woodshed for a wee while, if he was OK keeping his Mum company. Now, normally I'd find that too rude, but unhungover and free of guilt I thought to myself. I've done my bit for this weekend. I need some time to go and be alone. To reflect and to take out some of my anger on my wood pile. 

I'm very angry. I think perhaps I've always been pretty angry. I grew up in a very angry and quite violent household. My innermost core reaction has always been anger and lashing out, as I got older I lashed out with my tongue not my fists, when I learned that actually, people don't hit other people.  Its funny what you learn at home, its only when you leave you realise that perhaps not everyone acts like this. So I know I have a lot of anger inside me. Its often near the surface. Don't get me wrong I've never been a violent parent, heaven forbid any child had an upbringing like mine. But I do have anger, I was angry on Thursday when I found drink in my friends bag. Anger seems to be a trigger for drinking for me. I don't know why, maybe its how I suppress it. I think I'm angry at her because we drank the same, which isn't very kind now is it. But, I know I'm angry at me.

So off I took myself yesterday to my wood shed, out with the axes and the splitting tools. Yes I realise I sound a little demented and that I might not be a nice person, but I'm generally outwardly calm, and this is what I do to find my calm. I go vent and bash things with hammers and axes. So I spent a couple of hours splitting wood until my arms ached and then digging the garden until my other muscles ached and I took turns in doing both. I took them both on until my anger went, spent.
And I wore my best boiler suit and my best boots. Because, you know, I'm worth it. After all, I'm all about the glamour too.

So that was my sober week, a high five for 100 and then some tough times. And, a fair bit of wood chopping. How was yours?

I do waffle on, so thank you for getting this far! If you've something kind or helpful to add or just want to say hello. Please drop a line below. I'd appreciate that. Thank you. Or email me direct on I'd be delighted to hear from you.

PS I've been having some technical issues with blog comments and posts so please bear with me until I fathom out what's going on! Thank you sober lands. xx

Friday, 16 January 2015

Today I'm grateful I didn't drink.

I stood with an open half empty bottle of wine at my lips last night. The smell was acrid, I stood in my kitchen thinking fuck it. No one listens to me in my real life, no one. (so not true) I stood and thought fuck it, why not. I can't get away from this stuff why fight it. I stood for a good five minutes, which seemed a life time. The sour smell up my nose, the taste almost on my lips. But, I put the bottle down.

Two things also went through my mind simultaneously

I don't' want to go back here.
There isn't enough wine for two of us.

After what seemed a life time, I put the bottle down. I just went and sat down, heart racing. I don't know which statement brought me back sooner, there isn't enough, nope there wasn't. Is there ever?

Or, I don't want to go back there, grudingly that was there.

But the there's never enough and there isn't enough tonight was the louder voice. That what stopped me. And a tiny bit of, I can't go back there. Standing in my new posh kitchen, bottle at my lips, wine-hunger too ravenous for a glass.

And yes my friend from down south is staying again and yes, she brought wine. I asked her not to, she hid it in her bag and yes I looked. Her wolfie is very loud, I get that.

Shame all round I say.

Me for snooping and not trusting her. Her for not respecting me and my wishes. I'd braved it to ask her not to bring wine.

Part of me wanted to drink it to teach her a lesson. Part of me just wanted it, otherwise I'd have thrown it down the sink.

This person isn't someone I can just launch out of my life. Although she lives a long way away, for various reasons she's here around once a month. And, will be for the foreseeable future. There are no other options for her aside a hotel she's been in my life since my kids were 2 and 3. Always my rock, my safe escape, my wine buddy.

Its like wolfie decided to bring along a twin. As if one of the fuckers isn't hard enough to deal with.

Man I'm cranky. I'm on full sober treat alert today.
She's with me a lot, I get her, she's been my rock for so many things but this isn't one of them.

She's here for two days (initially it was one, now its two which also pissed me off). I'm her escape from her mad as a bag of squirrels balls in a sack, family. I get that.

Next week we go on holiday as a party for a week, she's announced she's arriving early Thurs, we fly on Sat. Given the weather I guess this is sort of sensible, at least to arrive on Friday. So next week we'll have the same challenges and a holiday on top. So next week I've got this for close on to 11 days minimum.

This holiday, was of course all arranged pre-sober.

The change is me not her. I know that. I just don't know how to move forward somehow, sanely without a fall out. She needs me. And, here I am bitching.

Can you have eternal sober PMS? I seem to have a bad dose of it.

All I know is that rather than being angry I should be grateful I have friends who want to be in my company.

And be grateful I didn't drink.

That and playing it forward. I'd have probably drunk the half bottle, then drove and got more, or something like that. Today could have been so much messier.

So I'm trying not to be so Sober PMS'y and be grateful.

I should be grateful for kind friends and sobriety.

And I just need to get through tonight. And, himself has invited his mother tonight, because you know one person to stay with an evil-cranky-sober-hell-bitch, is never enough.

Life jacket anyone?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Sober 101 - self care

Hey hello and thank you for all your lovely comments over the past couple of days, I really appreciate them. I've having issues (aren't we all) so bear with me until they're sorted. And thank you again.

Its cold and dark in this household and the fires just stirring. Himself left a good while ago and I've got some 'sober time', probably the first I've really had all weekend and that's really made me think. One thing it made me think is that this is so much harder than drinking, it needs work. My inner voice has just drawled at me 'No shit Sherlock'. Drinking just requires the purchase and opening of a bottle, this sober stuff requires work, acknowledgment and thinking time. Its a thoughtful process. I hadn't expected that. I guess I'd expected to be me, but just sober, go figure its not like that at all.

Again with that voice. No Shit Sherlock. You're not the same.

So we're on sober day 101 hence the catchy title. No 'how to do it's here' more of a reflection. I'm too new into this journey to have a proper how to and we're all different. If I had a sober 101 it would be self care, self care and more self care.

This is hard. Yes, harder than I thought. 

The thing that's struck me the most, in sober land, is that for years I've been wanting to give up for all the wrong reasons. In fact even saying that I don't think that there is a right reason to give up. No amount of my inner voice telling me it would be better for the kids, better for my work, better for our budget. Just better if I stopped drinking. None of these statements made an ounce of a difference. Of course they're all valid and they produced a lot of 'try harder' 'try really harder' statements in my head so I vowed to try harder. It never worked. It was always giving up to make things better for other people, never for me. Never to make me better.

The truth is that I never wanted to give up drinking, nor did I want to, for me. Having been sober now for a couple of months. [Shhh she's using the 'M' word, we think in DAYS lady not MONTHS, months are for other people who can do this, stick with the days please, days we can process. Just today in fact I won't drink. I'm not thinking about tomorrow.]

I've never, if I'm totally honest wanted to give up for me. When I lost (through moving and kids fleeing the nest) daily accountability in my life, kids all left, job hours vastly reduced and could realistically be done in bed, aside a husband coming home each night, I had no commitments. Nothing to be sober for. I've cooked plenty times pissed, doing it on a daily basis just focuses the prep time. So even getting a meal out when hubby came home wasn't a big deal.

So of course, being me, I drank as much as I could, as often as I could. It wasn't until I stopped to think what I was doing that huge staircase of booze opened up in front of me and fast. Direction down. Tick tock, down I plod.

I started planning the bits in my life I needed to be sober for, rather than planning the bits I could drink in, so that I could still function. A kind of drunk reverse engineering. For me this made perfect sense.

I need to do this in the car, or do this chore, therefore I need to not drink until X time. 

The logic here is scary, its what woke me up. I'm planning my sober time, not my drinking time. 

My drinking time was a given, its what I needed. My sober time was what was required to fulfill my limited obligations.

As a working parent I've always (sub)consciously planned the drinking bit. I need to do X, Y and Z before I can have some wine. I need to do this pick up from the sports centre, this bit of shopping, this bit of chat with the kids until I can drink my wine. I need to be done by this time because I've work the next day. I've always planned my drinking.

But when left to my own devices, when the nest emptied in May, the old house got packed up, my new life began. And, somehow the drinking time relatively job less, childless and effectively on a bit of a sabbatical from life, my drinking-time-planning turned quickly into sober-time-planning. Not when can I drink, that was a given, I'd be drinking, but more when do I have to not drink so I can still function. When do I need to be sober? That was my new thought path.

Something tipped slowly over from a life of drinking planning to a life of only being sober when I need to planning. And, if I'm honest I wasn't planning on being sober more than I needed too. Tick tock down I go, down the staircase of booze. Tick tock, tick tock.
If booze is a staircase that only goes down as time marches on, was I plodding down the first steps from daily heavy drinker, functioning through life, to mostly a drunk girl? My brain wanted to be softly numb, my body started to hurt and ache in places. I began to get hangovers, I began going back to bed in the mornings because I could. So I knew I could drink more the night before, feel like crap and it wouldnt' matter. No one would know, and aside from that why not. Why not be like this. Its numb. I like numb.

I always use to be the drink like a fish up with the larks kind of girl. Hangovers were new, (or maybe I was still drunk?) given the choice and the space to do it now I had no kids at home, I chose booze. I guess it could have been worse, I've never been a day time drinker, makes me too fuzzy, but maybe that would have been the next step down my staircase? I'm sure I could have worked out a window of sober need versus drinking time and slowly pushed my own boundaries downwards at bit.

So, where was I going with this. Yesterdays 100 days sober was rather glamourously spent covered in paint in our my husbands old flat. Internetless, listless having left at 7am to take him to work due to car issues. No breakfast, no coffee, no self care. I am not good early in the mornings hangover-less-or-otherwise. My brain told me if you're leaving this early you need an hour to get sorted before you go to look after you. My body pulled the covers over tighter and said 'Piss off five more minutes' so we dashed out early doors and then I went and painted walls. I did a lot of thinking about how it was 100 days sober and why hadn't I taken my purse with me so I could at least have BOUGHT BREAKFAST. Or got up earlier, or packed myself up some food like I did for my husbands lunch. And a lot of reflecting about why its taken this long.

Why didn't I stop sooner. Why didn't I stop sooner. Tick tock.

Quite frankly I didn't want to. Of course I did for the kids, of course I did. And, I tried so hard for so long and instead of stopping my drinking just got quieter and more secret. I didn't want them to see. I got up and I functioned like a parent, largely well, sometimes not so good.  I didn't look for support, mostly too scared. What if they take my kids? Cue lots of guilt and more drinking, in secret. I wanted to be a better person, a better mum, but instead of working hard at getting sober, I worked harder at being a Mum and managing, I worked harder at work and managing. I worked hard at my drinking and keeping that a secret from most of my family and managing. I guess I worked harder at the things I knew family/work/drinking rather than what I didn't know, sober.

This time however, I wanted to stop for me. Given the choice of boozing or sober when faced with every option in the universe when the kids left home, I chose booze. And, that voice inside of me, the one that knows all my darkest, darkest secrets told me I couldn't keep doing this. It told me it was getting worse. I had all the mechanisms for planning drinking/sober time finely tuned. I had all my hiding the evidence strategies perfectly in order. It wasn't hard to drink and keep most of it a secret, or look like I was drinking quite moderately, if regularly. And, I had even less accountability.

But that voice inside of me kept prodding me, very gently, when my Wolfie was sleeping it off, telling me that there was more for me than this surely. More than just drinking, planning drinking or as I'd got to 'planning sober' and working my drinking around the things I had to do. What about me that tiny voice said. What about us.

What about being entirely present for the kids whenever they call. I have several friends I don't call after a certain time of night or answer their calls or messages because I know they'll be drinking or drunk. Do my friends do that to me?  Do I want my kids to hear me like that?

So now I'm just present. I did it for me. I'm hoping the relationships around me benefit from my changes. I'm seeing differences inside of me and how I'm not resentful of things interfering with my drinking time. I'm seeing more in my relationships, I'm more present. These times are a gift.

My head is calmer, its not fixed, but its calmer. I've given up drinking for a day here or there so many times before and resented it. I resented moderating. I resented having to think so much about my drinking and manage it. But, I never wanted to give it up. I didn't really want to give up this time, but I couldn't see how this would end well for me. My inner tiny voice told me, its getting worse. How many more boundaries and lines will we break and cross. 

So yesterday standing on a ladder with an empty tummy resenting the universe for my bad life choices at 7am, that voice in my head said 'At least your not drinking. Happy 100 days'. Because chances are I'd have still been up that ladder having gone into work with my husband. I'd have also been paranoid about everything I did when he was home, as I probably wouldn't have been sober. I'd have been worried about my ability to drive but would either have drunk earlier or just driven and hoped I'd not get stopped. I'd probably have forgotten my purse and be feeling like shit, but I'd still be painting.

The only difference is that I'm sober, slightly less paranoid and very safe to drive. I've got my sober tools and some very lovely sober chums too. And, yesterday on my special day a paintbrush. If I'm honest with myself and I hadnt' been landed with a request to go and paint flats and stay in for new mobile phones arriving (not mine) I had planned to sneak off to a local garden for a walk, in the rain, but its a good hours drive from home and plans were scuppered when it was announced I was needed elsewhere, please, until the goddamn phone didn't arrive and plans changed. I should have said its my Day 100 and I'm going for a walk first and I'm going to collect pine cones, because I want to. But, that kinda sounded a bit lame. So I said nothing and cancelled my plans with myself. I told myself I'd do it another time. (I'd already had my 100 day treat a day early or so)

Clearly I need to work on the self care side of things more if I'm going to try and keep on the straight and narrow. Drinking is easy, sober is harder. But I'm often still putting everyone before myself. Yesterday I'd prepared in my head a nice dinner as a celebration, after a long story and a plumber, we ended up going out for a curry. I said you know its 100 days since I've had wine. WOW said my husband that's a long time, will you drink tonight. No, not tonight I said and we chicked our soft drinks later.

I saw a fox slink off into the distance on the way home, it crossed our path on the road, was it Wolfie in changed guise, who knows. Whilst the day turned out well, its turns and unexpected changes, left me a bit scuppered. I let other people put themselves and their wishes before mine. So I need to work on that one too. I need to work on self care.

Mostly I am and I know that needs to change. Sober 101, self care is the key.

And after going back to sleep today for a couple of hours, having some breakfast and walking the mutts, I can press go on this ramble. SELF CARE. As a parent, partner or generally human being we never use enough self care. What do they say on the plane, put your own mask on first before you help others. I'm not saying ignore others needs Daisy, I'm saying your needs count too, apply self care.

SELF CARE that's the key. So with that sober day 101 bombshell I'm off to my therapist. Another bit of time to figure out me.
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Monday, 12 January 2015

Day 100 parades, numbers and for you.

100 bottles of wine undrunk by my good self over the last 100 days. Lets not let on about how many gins or ciders I'd normally have had with those each night. I was an everyday drinker.

Now I'm an everyday NON-DRINKER.
Roll on my parade, its been hard but so worthwhile.

And now I've signed up to Belle's 180 Challenge because Wolfie was being a gigantic dick.

And thank you for all your lovely support.
These are for you. xxx

I do waffle on, so thank you for getting this far! If you've something kind or helpful to add or just want to say hello. Please drop a line below. I'd appreciate that. Thank you.