(Below are all the posts I wrote in my third month of sobriety. I've compiled them here into one page so that it's easy to see where I was at throughout this stage of my recovery. What you don't get to see by reading the posts this way is all the wonderful, supportive, warm and wise comments that came from the online community and that have been so crucial in my recovery. To share in that warmth and wisdom you need to read by going through my Blog Archive on the right. If you are reading this here and you are at the same stage of recovery yourself, please comment at the bottom to share your thoughts and experiences with others. Love, Mrs D xxx)
9 November 2011 - "Starting to get it"
I've been thinking about drinking these past few days which is really bloody annoying. I've gone for ages without thinking about it, without imagining holding a glass and sipping. I've had that stupid sad longing, like I'm hard done by and missing out on something special. What bloody bollocks is that? Had to go back and read some old posts just to remind myself about my dysfunctional no-fun drinking.
The longing to drink first came in a moment of stillness, which is very interesting actually. My busy weekend was actually very lovely and calming and I found myself on Sunday evening in a lovely relaxed state after my week of emotional turmoil.
Then Monday afternoon, in a moment of rare and absolute stillness (sitting on a sofa in the corner of my Big Guy's school classroom having just helped with an afternoon of art projects, waiting for the bell to ring while the teacher read the class a story) I had a thought about drinking, followed by a pang. A familiar pang.
"This is a thought, not a craving" I told myself. And I tried to analyse why it was that the thought had appeared at that moment. I rode it out, but to be honest that sad longing about alcohol has lingered for 2 days now. I think it's starting to drift away finally.
And there's absolutelynofuckingwayI'mactuallygoingtodrink.
Just had to make that clear (in bold italics no less)
I'm starting to think that the drinking for me was to fill the silence. I'm having to learn to be still. I'm also having to get to know sad Mrs D. She's there and I never let her out much. Without the heavy, steady alcohol drinking squashing down my emotions I am having to learn to ride the waves of emotion naturally when they come. Acknowledge them, feel them, hear them, watch them go.
Is it stupid that I'm only just starting to see now that my heavy alcohol consumption was me choosing to live a life suppressing emotions? How can you feel, really feel, clearly and simply and in a real way if you're always pouring booze down your throat? You can't. So I'm having to learn that way of living I guess.
It is a bloody hard and unexpected journey but an absolutely beautiful one that I'm so so so so so pleased to be on.
Love, Mrs D xxx
14 November 2011 - "How to talk about it"
I think I'm going to have to work on getting the tone right when I talk about my removing alcohol from my life.
I don't want to come across as anti-alcohol because in many ways I feel the opposite. Like - 'don't let the fun stop just coz I'm not drinking!' (that feeling comes mixed with a bit of me desperately trying to prove that I am still fun without the booze).
I also don't want to come across holier-than-thou. Like 'you're all dysfunctional drinkers coz I know now that drinking heavily is all about suppressing emotion and how can you really feel when you're pouring wine down your throat constantly, by the way how is that drink there treating you?' Yeah, that's not a good look.
And I want to explain to people that I wasn't exactly vomiting and falling over every night so to that end I'm developing some quick responses to explain what led to my sober lifestyle. 'It was just wine but it was lots of it' and 'Only ever after 5pm but most nights' and 'it wasn't crazy binges just steady heavy drinking' and 'I just got sick of being a boozer' and 'I always thought I'd give it up one day and now I have!'
Did a lot of talking about my new found sobriety on Saturday night at my 40th birthday party (a joint party with my brother-in-law who also just turned 40). Lots of lovely old friends from out of town came along plus some family members (step-brothers) who I haven't seen lately. I wasn't sure how I was going to approach the whole alcohol thing - the party was in a bar and started at 8pm so it was bound to be a boozy affair.
I was nervous before-hand, not because I thought I would drink but just because .. well .. um .. just because .. I suppose just because I was going to do the party sober and I had no idea how that would go.
Well, I found myself announcing to my loved ones 'have you heard my big news?!' soon after they arrived and talking really openly about it while drinking red bull and smoking the odd cigarette (which I haven't done for years). It was a good night and I was very proud of myself driving home at 2am! Not so happy when I realised in bed shortly thereafter that I'd overdone it on the red bull and was too wired to sleep.
Anyway, that's why I'm now thinking about how best to talk about my non-drinking. But then again I suppose the longer it goes on the more everyone will know and it will just be a feature of my character. Yeah, Mrs D doesn't drink alcohol so just give her a lime and soda.
That'll be me.
16 November 2011 - "Telling the kids"
I was just chatting to the Big Guy and Middle Dude while I was putting them to bed and for some reason asked if things were better now that I'm not drinking wine and the Big Guy (7) said very definitely 'yes it is'. I said 'why?' and he couldn't really answer with any specifics but said very clearly 'it's just better now'. I asked if it was because I don't smell of alcohol any more when I kiss them goodnight and he said 'yeah that's one reason'.
They know I have stopped drinking alcohol and I'm sure they must hear me talking about it with Mr D and others a lot. (I am obsessed ok, but I'm sure this will pass. I'm trying not to talk ALL the time about my sobriety and the books and blogs I'm reading and what I'm discovering about myself and our drinking society and everything so fascinating and interesting and and and.. I'm obsessed ok!!)
But anyway I've been unsure about what exactly to say to the boys, but tonight I just explained to them that lots of people can drink alcohol but for me and some others we shouldn't because we find it very hard to stop once we start.
It's for my boys as much as anything that I'm sober.
Love, Mrs D xxx
18 November 2011 - "Strategies to feel good"
Sigh, so here we go again. Up and down, up and down. Yesterday afternoon I found myself getting grouchy and tired feeling. Wondering what was wrong. Wondering if I was low in iron. Wondering if I was hormonal. Realising it was probably just a normal 'tired' and 'low' mood hightened by the fact there was no escaping with a nice glass (or 10) of wine.
Didn't help that Mr D had a beer. Then a white wine. Then a red wine. Then anotherbloodyfucking red wine. Sorry. But his glasses kept confronting me. There it was on the bench. There it was beside the computer. Sigh.
Woe is me.
So I tried to just feel the mood. Have it there. Let it pass. I got into bed at 7.09pm! With the tele on and my new lovely white cotton nightie and a couple of little boys to read books with me.
Anyway now it's Friday and I feel the day stretching ahead of me. And the evening (Mr D is going out). So I'm going to think of some treaty things to look foward to. Coping mechanisms.
1) Remind myself all day how AMAZING and STRONG and ADMIRABLE I am for giving up the drink (through gritted teeth).
2) Go shopping for some treaty supplies for the pantry. Crystalised ginger, quinoa (I want to try it), fresh basil.
3) Wear a dress with a belt. Don't over-eat.
4) Clean enough to feel good about the house.
5) Do a little transcribing to feel good about my studies.
6) Watch a little day-time tele.
7) Start making lists for Christmas. Look online for some decorations - that's a good idea!!
8) Get down on the floor and play with my sons. Look at their faces and remember that this is their childhood and you are doing the absolutely best thing to make it the best it can be.
9) Look in the mirror and say to yourself 'Mrs D, you are doing it. You are good and you are kind.'
10) Lie sober head on the pillow at the end of the night and sleep well.
Happy Friday everyone.
Love, Mrs D xxx
20 November 2011 - "Colourless. (Warning: contains negativity)"
I hate to say this and be all boring and low and flat and introspective but this weekend has felt really colourless and frankly quite hard work. I just keep thinking that I am the most boring person in the world and everyone else is having way more fun than me and they're going to always have a better life because they can relax with a drink or two or even get a bit naughty and have 4 or 5 and I'm just going to be boring sober uptight person.
Told you this was going to be a bit negative. Sorry.
I just feel pissed off, that it's not fair and no-one is making me do this. In fact no-one ever told me I had to stop drinking, it was only me telling myself. And now this weekend I've been telling myself that that is a really kill-joy idea.
I'm not even slightly contemplating having a drink I'm just being pissed off and grumpy and flat and sorry for myself. I mean why would you choose to have a weekend like this when I could just be having a weekend like I have for the past ten or twenty years looking forward to a few drinks each night, laughing and having fun with Mr D and the kids.
Yeah I know. It stopped being fun and the hangovers were terrible and I was a more grumpy mummy and I was squashing down my emotions and I was spending too much money and the drinking usually led to over eating and really this is a much better way to live.
I just hope this is a 'getting used to living sober' weekend and not a weekend I'm going to have regularly from now on.
Oh and by the bloody way why hasn't stopping pouring copious amounts of wine down my throat led to significant weight loss? Eh?? Eh?? Answer me that !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And now to transcribe a passage from a book I'm reading on drugs by Andrew Weil and others called 'From Chocolate to Morphine'..
"We think that addiction is a basic human problem whose roots go very deep. Most of us have at some point been wounded, no matter what kind of family we grew up in or what kind of society we live in. We long for a sense of completeness and wholeness and whatever satisfaction we gain from drugs, food, sex, money, and other "sources" of pleasure really comes from inside of us. That is, we project our power onto external substances and activities, allowing them to make us feel better temporarily. This is a very strange sort of magic. We give away our power in exchange for a transient sense of wholeness, then suffer because the object of our craving seems to control us. Addiction can be cured only when we consciously experience this process, reclaim our power, and recognise that our wounds must be healed from within."
Love, Mrs D xxx
23 November 2011 - "The Letter"
Ok I think now is a good time into my sobriety (76 days) to reprint the letter I wrote to myself that tearful morning after my final binge. This is word for word, written in red pen on a page of plain A4.
I am going to stop drinking forever.
I am not going to lose anything by removing alcohol from my life.
I am going to gain a lot!
I cannot control alcohol, it controls me.
I don't even have joyful + fun drinking any more.
I cannot moderate.
Every time I drink alcohol I binge.
I suffer the next day and as a result the kids suffer.
Alcohol stops me being the best mother I can be.
Alcohol makes my life harder and increases negative thoughts.
I will be 40 soon and I need to stay in good health.
Today is September 6th 2011. Today is Day One. Go me!
26 November 2011 - "MacKenzie Phillips"
Feeling much better, have got through my 'hard done by' phase and have quietly settled back into 'this is just the way it has to be' mode. Drove to a trendy bar during the week to meet someone and actually imagined myself buying a shiny glass of Chardonnay and sipping it and the thought wasn't at all nice. I so so so don't want to drink.
I am finding that whenever I see a picture in the newspaper or a magazine of people having lunch or at a social gathering, or a similar scene on the tele, I'm scouring the shot to see how many glasses look like they might not contain wine. Looking for the sober people (and not just the ones with the telling preggy bellys). There are surprisingly few! I know there are many of us sober types in the world but hell, we are way in the minority. Every happy face raising a glass to the camera always looks to be imbibing. My next thought is always 'I wonder how many of them are dysfunctional drinkers?'
Anyhoo Mackenzie Phillips. Mackenzie Phillips!!!!!!! Holy Hell. Just read her memoir. That woman is living breathing proof of just how much a human body can take. It's quite a dark read of drugs, drugs, drugs. Sad, intense, prolonged drug taking. Poor woman. Although having said that I do think she seems lovely (from YouTube clips I've watched). Her dad clearly had no moral compass whatsoever so from a young age she was pretty stuffed. Hence the title I suppose; 'High on Arrival'.
Anyway when writing about what she learned at her final rehab, and what hadn't worked with previous rehabs which led to relapses, she said; '..maybe what I'd also gotten wrong was that I couldn't throw away who I was to be clean. It sounds corny, but what I realised was that I could still be my quirky left-of-centre self without doing drugs.'
This speaks to me because a large part of my identity for twenty-odd years has been 'fun, naughty Mrs D', that fun, naughty, chatty, up-for-it party girl. I don't want to see her go! But now I'm sober. So how do I keep bringing her to the party? I haven't worked that out yet. Because if fun, naughty Mrs D is all about the booze then she's gone forever. But if I can be that way sober then great. Thing is, I don't know if I can. It's different out if you're not boozing. Coz .. well .. you're not boozing. I had fun at my 40th but I felt sober. Very very sober. A sober life is .. very very sober.
So it will be a different life and maybe I'll carve out a new self-image, or adapt the old one. It's early days, I can't tell how that's going to go.
Love, Mrs D xxx
30 November 2011 - "Almost there"
So on Monday I will have been sober for 90 days. Yeah!!!!!!! My sister said to me yesterday 'so do you think you'll ever drink again, like in ten years?' and I said 'No. I will never drink alcohol ever again.'
I could hear her brain creaking and stretching down the phone line to try and understand and fathom that concept - a life with alcohol completely removed (remember outwardly I wasn't a fall-down wreck of a drunk with a life hanging by a thread so some of those around me have no concrete picture to hang this knowledge on).
I will be living breathing proof that - shock horror! - you can live completely sober. I'll show everyone. I really feel this is the path my life was meant to take and it's a fantastic way to spend the second half.
I know there will be times when I do have a sad pang about not drinking but I also know that those times will pass and the majority of my time will be spent feeling amazing without booze clouding the way.
I also know that everything is just as fun and great without alcohol. A cafe table beside the water with the sun shining, a platter of nibbles and a shiny drink and laughter is just as fun if the drink is a lime and soda.
A great party is a great party because it's a great party, not because I'm getting hammered. (A boring party will always be a boring party no matter how much you drink).
A celebratory toast is loving and cheerful because that's what a celebratory toast with other humans is. It is not given it's currency because it involves then sipping a drink that (for me) triggers a switch in your brain that turns you into a loser lush.
Stress isn't going to go away with 6 glasses of wine, it's just going to hide behind the door until you've sobered up then jump out at ya - 'still here! Now deal with me with that hangover and the guilts'. Same goes for Sadness, Anger, Hurt and Grief.
In fact in my house those emotions had a secret room behind the door and they used to have a private party in there while they waited for me to sober up. They'd plot their next move, 'lets get her at 4am when she gets up to go to the loo and keep her up for the rest of the night, yeah!'
They live with me constantly now those emotions, no hiding and plotting, and I'm getting used to having them around. It's ok, you know. It's ok.
Love, Mrs D xxx
4 December 2011 - "Tomorrow's the day"
So this 90-day thing feels quite significant. I'm not sure why. It's an AA thing and I'm not in AA, but I know that they make a really big deal when someone has managed to stay sober for 90 days (a special coin? some sort of ceremony?). I've been getting excited myself about tomorrow and feeling like I should do something special like make a big pavlova! And cover it with whipped cream and fresh berries and a broken up flake bar. Lots of lovely crumbs of chocolate. That would be a statement.
But personally, inside me, I have to say that the journey to this point has been intense and revealing. And now that I'm here I feel a certain level of calm about living a life without alcohol.
Having said that I did have a pang or two yesterday, accompanied by a small stomach turn (nerves?) and a kind of incredulous voice inside saying 'Really? Never again? Really?'. I think it's still going to be hard, and at times I'll be sad that I can't be a casual drinker.
But I can't, so there, move on Mrs D.
Anyway. One of the main things I have learned in the past 90 days is that it is in the stillness and quiet that I find it hardest not to drink. The hardest weekend I had recently was a weekend where we had no plans. Just the family hanging out. I struggled all weekend.
I've been to a wedding, hosted a party, attended BBQs and meals at friends houses. I've been to bars, attended Black Tie dinners and dined at fancy restaurants and all of these events have been fine sober. Better than fine. I love going out socially when I'm not drinking and not revealing to everyone that I have an enthusiastic attitude to wine.
But Tuesday nights are difficult. Random Wednesdays at 4.59pm. Weekends with nothing on. The quiet, the still, it scares me and I feel an urge to drink. I used to think it was boredom but Dr Drew told someone on Celebrity Rehab that boredom is another word for depression. I'm not depressed. But I have been avoiding some sadnesses. I'm having to learn to be low sometimes, and flat. I never knew that was going to happen.
Bring on the next 90 days I say.
Love, Mrs D xxx
6th December 2011 - "90 Days!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
90 days hurray!
90 days hurray!
Hi Ho the Dairy-O, 90 Days Hurray!
What a lovely 90th day of sobriety I had. What a contrast the day was compared with my last binge which also fell on a Monday. In my first ever post I talk about my sculling wine and then hiding the bottle while Mr D was out at Scouts with the Big Guy and Middle Dude.
Yesterday I went to the gym, went and bought Mr D and I a new bed! (this wasn't on a whim, our old one is one I bought before I even met him), made some fresh ginger beer (thanks Jamie Oliver), ginger crunch and a pavlova while the little guy was napping, had a lovely family dinner then pottered round cleaning up the house while Mr D took our two eldest to their Scouts meeting. Bathed the Little Man then made train tracks with him. We all gorged on Pavlova when the others got home, then put the kids to bed, lay on the sofa watching TV and .... FILED MY NAILS!!!!!!! Yes ladies and gentlemen .. some personal grooming!!!!!!!!
Actually some weird changes are occurring in my new-found sober life. I file my nails more often. I'm thinking I might start *shock horror* flossing my teeth every night. I have plucked my eyebrows more often (I once did this pissed on the sofa in the half-dark and the result was disastrous). The first thing I now put in my tummy every morning is a cup of Green Tea with a little honey added. What am I, some sort of crazy hippy?! I used to start every day with a huge mug of milky instant coffee but now it's Green Tea and it really makes me feel much cleaner and lighter.
Cleaner and lighter. That would sum up my feeling in general at this point of 90 days. Cleaner and lighter with no guilt or hangovers, clean teeth, neat nails and semi-shaped eyebrows. But not resting on my laurels. Someone told me yesterday that the 90-day chip is Red to warn against being complacent. That was great to hear. I'm considering myself warned. So am going to keep up my inner work and continue to work on training my brain to accept a life with no alcohol added.
Love, Mrs D xxx