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.
Image reproduced from http://www.offthemark.com/cartoons/dot-com

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.


  1. This is great and something for me to think about for sure. Thanks!

  2. Well done for getting through that ramble. X I'm not an unhappy sober, but it's not easy. And some days it tumbles out.

  3. Brilliant post, truly. Thank you. Do xx

  4. Great insight Daisy, I've never really thought about the difference between planning drinking time turning into planning sober time. This was a definite line I crossed at the end, great reminder of how much simpler life is now!
    Thank you.

  5. I related to so much of this, Daisy. Self-care IS the key. Time to get it out of Room 101 :) Bea xxx

  6. That was a gift to us Daisy - thank you. So beautifully written and so true. Your insight and honesty is spot on. You do know how to self-care but like all of us you just need to get better at it :) xx PS I hope you get that walk today.

  7. this was an incredible post, Daisy. what a perceptive and raw description of the last days of your drinking. thank you for writing and sharing it. Prim xx

  8. Loved this Daisy, just what I needed after a few days of crazy work schedule and eating cookies for dinner and chips for lunch. Thanks for helping me remember self-care!!