Month 5 - Stripped

(Below are all the posts I wrote in my fifth 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)
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8 January 2012 - "Not so good"


So I've got a couple of gritty thought processes going around in my brain today and (surprise surprise) I'm feeling mournful that I can't have a drink.  I suppose the truth is I really feel like a drink.  I'm having to do some mental work to remind myself why I don't really (gritted teeth) want a drink...

Think big picture Mrs D.  Do you want a 'quick fix' release from these thoughts and head back to that loser miserable lush lifestyle or stay fabulous sober reliable solid person that you enjoy being so much more? (Talking to myself, first sign of madness).

Thing is someone told me yesterday that they missed drinking with me.  I mean what were they thinking?  I just felt so stink and had to sit with their words and kind of process them and push away the glum feeling that they left me with.

Sorry this is a bit glum.  I just feel like I want some light with my shade.  A glass of wine would be perfect right now.  Aaarrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Mrs D xxx

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11 January 2012 - "I choose to be sober because"


.... I was worried about the insides of my body having to do all that processing of wine.  My god I did used to drink lots of wine.  Bottles and bottles of wine that would endlessly be tossed into the recycling bin.  We have so much more room in our recycling bin now.

I choose to be sober because it is a good exercise in patience. Being a mum is about practicing immediate patience, (talking to the child) 'sure you can jump in all the puddles and examine the wet grass on the way to the car' or 'stop yelling and tell me what it is that is making you so grouchy today' type of patience.  Sobriety patience is a slower and more extended type of patience, (talking to yourself instead of the child) 'I just have to ride out this melancholy phase and it will pass in a few days' or 'I'll just push past this gritty feeling and things will eventually start lightening up for me'.

I choose to be sober because when I think now about how many times I was tipsy while looking after my children I feel sick in my stomach.  I'm so grateful now that I won't ever do that again.

I choose to be sober because all I have to do is not put any alcohol into my body and I will feel immeasurably more proud and connected to myself.  A small action denied = huge beautiful consequences.

I choose to be sober because the last time I drank I hid wine from my husband to hide how much I'd been drinking and if I was going to continue down that sick path I would have destroyed the wonderful honest connection we have with one another.

I choose to be sober because my friends and family are amazed that I am doing this, I can tell that I have changed in their eyes and they are really impressed (if not a little shocked still) and I look forward to showing them that I really mean it when I say forever.

I choose to be sober because I always said I 'didn't want to have any hidden shit' and yet I had a whopping piece of hidden shit which was a nasty private drinking habit. But now I really don't have any hidden shit and I love being able to be honest about my inner voice, the sly wine-drinking fox that was lurking in my brain.  I love being able to be fully open, it is such a clean easy place to be in.  I am also discovering that people are drawn to that honesty and it makes them more inclined to be honest too.

I choose to be sober because I can!  Because this is my life, my only life, and I am 40 now and I want to live well and happily until I am sitting on my porch in my rocking chair with Mr D by my side looking back and feeling good.

And that's why I choose to be sober.

Love, Mrs D xxx

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15 January 2012 - "This is not a food blog"


So I had that slightly gritty phase, nothing too dramatic really, which led to those stupid melancholy feelings about alcohol. Like that liquid was actually going to do something to help?! I mean, really?!  But came out fighting in the last post to remind myself why I. Am. Sober.  Have been for 131 days now.

Took a bit more than just that fighting post to shake the melancholy, romantic feelings about drinking however.  Seemed to be everywhere there were images and scenes of happy, cool drinking.  So I've been having to do more mental exercise and employ some of my old tactics to rework my grey matter and remind it that I'm not missing out on anything.

That alcohol doesn't make any special occasion more special than it is without the booze.  That bending my brain won't help me deal with life.  That the boozy me isn't to be admired or envied, whereas the sober me is so great.

It helps that I seem to be getting a lot of comments about how good I look.  It's not a weight loss thing.  It's a 'you're just looking really good in your skin' type of comment.  From Mr D, my sister and a couple of friends.  Truth is I have lost some weight since I've gone sober, but (and this is strange), my body seems to be slowly changing shape.  My tummy is still wobbly (3 kids and a huge appetite will make that hard to shake) and my boobs are still saggy but my arms are slimmer and my shoulders, collar bone & chin area all a bit more ... a bit more .. bony I suppose.  So yeah, it's a weight loss thing .. but more .. more of a less puffy look (sorry about the writing there).

I've read about that puffy look before and never thought that I looked puffy before but the me now is definitely slightly more angular.

And boy do I sleep long and heavy now, regularly.  So that helps.  And no hangovers.  Every morning clear eyed.  These things are .. well they're glorious actually.

Went to a BBQ on Friday night and did everything else all the other adults were doing; laughed, chatted, ate, played cards, lit fireworks. But did it sober and stayed more alert toward the end.  Was able to comfort the Little Guy calmly as he was terrified of the loud bangs, then drove everyone home.  Woke up alert and happy and made a picnic lunch to take out for the day.  Oh, get me!!!!!!!

Which leads me to my food stories, although this isn't a food blog I have been channelling Martha Stewart (or more Nigella Lawson) in the kitchen these last few days and loving it!  Have made banana choc chip muffins, a silver beet and feta pie, a carrot cake, black eyed beans with fresh coriander and red onion, tabbouleh, pizzas (one with marinaded zucchini on top), a spanish omelet and a berry shortcake dessert.  Awesome!!!!!  Now about that wobbly tummy .....

Mrs D xxx

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18 January 2012 - "Pondering, pondering"


I'm still in a slightly flat low key mode and am thinking this is a flat slightly low key mode that has nothing to do with being off alcohol, it's just a low key state that is lingering for a while.  But because the 'sober' facet of my life is the big new feature I attribute every mood and emotional state to the fact I don't drink.  I mean sometimes you just get a bit flat and low key don't you?

On another wondering-about-it note, I'm wondering when does drinking emotionally turn into problem drinking?  Like I can say now that I was drinking heavily to deal with emotions and that I'm having to relearn how to live without that crutch.

But then drinkers like Mr D have alcohol at emotional times yet he's not a dysfunctional drinker by any stretch, not like I was.  He can stop after 1 or 2 if he wants.  Can go without.  Can take it or leave it.  These things I couldn't do.

Yet he still associates all those emotional 'moments' in life with booze.  Celebration, Bubbles!  Difficult conversation, whiskey.  Hard busy day working, cold beer.  Nice meal, nice wine.  You know what I mean.  Where is the line that you cross into dysfunctional drinking?

Also, I think for the first few months of my sobriety I was feeling quite aggressively 'sane', like I'd seen the light and realised what a fallacy alcohol was and how we've all been brainwashed to accept this mind bending, awful tasting liquid as a regular part of our lives.  One that we turn to in times of pain, anger, sorrow, joy or celebration.

That won't always be the case in our society I thought. It was almost an arrogance that I was superior because I had 'become enlightened' and had taken the 'big bold, oh so clever' move to live without it and I would show everyone how possible it was to still enjoy life but with the booze removed.  Alcohol industry take that! Mrs D is one of the first to lead the charge in  a worldwide change in attitudes towards drinking that will lead slowly to alcohol being treated as tobacco is.  Outlawed, frowned apron, becoming rarer and rarer.

But that feeling is slipping away as I look around and it seems like that will never happen because - my god! - bars and cafes and bottle shops are everywhere.  E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.  And booze is in almost every house and workplace. Everyone drinks.  Mostly in a functional, moderate manner.  'It's ok' (society says to me), 'we all handle this fine.  It's just you sorry.'

So now I'm starting to feel a bit more humble and .. well .. flawed.  It was only my excesses and abuse of the liquid that meant I had to remove it completely, and now I'm a lonely sober boat in a booze soaked world.  Aside from you other lovelies that is.  But you know what I mean.

I dunno.  Maybe this humble state being more ashamed of myself is a better place to be than a cocky know-it-all.  Or maybe this is just another stage in the learning-to-live-sober roller coaster.  I can't bloody wait to be 2 years sober.  I really can't.

Love, Mrs D xxx

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21 January 2012 - "Me me me me"


... me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me.

Enough about me, what do you think of me?

Ha! No seriously.  I do sometimes feel terribly self obsessed what with all this 'woe is me I can't drink' carry on.  I think it's the inevitable result of blogging about sobriety that it seems to come across that all I do is think about is myself and my relationship with alcohol.

I mean, I am obsessed, don't get me wrong.  But there are plenty of times in the day where I am just being a mum, or a wife, friend, sister or daughter and am listening to other people or just being normal with everyday life and not thinking about being sober.  (I've really been focusing on my boys recently. Really looking and listening to them.  That takes me out of myself wonderfully).

Cooper, clever man with 5 years sobriety, commented recently to me and he said he thought one way he got through was to not think about what he was doing all the time.  He's a smart man.  Actually while I'm handing out praise take a look at the comments at the end of my last post.  There are some fantastic, sharp, warm, clever, lovely people reading and thinking and sharing which I'm so fortunate for.

I always visit other blogs and try to comment often as I know how great it is when I hear from people.  I especially love the anonymous ones who just say 'me too' in in relation to what I'm going through.  Maybe my lonely boat isn't so lonely any more (I'm dancing with you up on the 17th deck Riversurfer!).

Anyway, like I was saying, I try to comment and offer advice or encouragement on other sober blogs but really all I want to say is 'take care' and 'hugs' from Down Under.  Down Under is how we describe living down here in New Zealand.  Seen us on the map at the very bottom to the right?  Picture me standing down there up the top of the North Island facing up with my hands cupped around my mouth shouting 'THANKS EVERYONE!'

Love, Mrs D xxx

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25 January 2012 - "To sum up"


I just used to drink a lot.  That's all.  I used to drink a lot and now I don't.

Is it hard sometimes?  Yeah it's hard sometimes.  Sometimes I feel a bit sorry for myself that I can't have a drink.  But I don't mind too much really.  Sometimes it's a bummer that if I'm feeling low or bored or frustrated or excited I can't drink alcohol to escape/avoid/enhance or whatever the fuck alcohol does.  But is that feeling enough to make me want to start drinking again?  No way Hosea.

What's different now?  Now overall I feel much calmer and more grounded.  Sometimes it feels like a sadness, and I had to get used to that as it's not something I used to let myself feel a lot.  Sometimes I'm just tired from the kids and bored from the kids and it's Tuesday and I would normally drink a bottle (and possibly a bit more) of wine but now I don't and .. it's fine.  I know that I'm just tired and bored from the kids because they're tiring and it can be boring looking after kids sometimes and alcohol isn't going to do anything constructive about that.  It's just a fact and getting through the 5-7pm hours without drinking lots of wine is entirely possible and much much better for all involved.

Then Wednesday morning comes around and I wake up feeling fresh and so so happy and so so proud.

That's the other thing.  I feel very happy and comfortable with myself now that I have removed alcohol from my life.  In some quiet way I feel quite 'cool' that I've done something so strong and brave, and I know that a lot of the people close to me think I'm pretty amazing for having done that too.  So that's a good feeling.

But then I have that other feeling, that 'woe is me' feeling tinged with a bit of shame for past excesses so that balances out the pride and stops me getting too big for my boots.

I just used to drink a lot, and now I don't any more.  I am living sober, have been for nearly five months now, and it's fine.

Love, Mrs D xxx

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28 January 2012 - "Brain bending"


I'm tired because I've been staying up every evening transcribing interviews for my Masters research and  when I get to bed my brain is fizzing and it's hard to drop off and then the kids keep waking me up ridiculously early.  So I've got that weary-behind-the-eyes feeling and it's reminding me a little of what I used to feel like all the time.

I think I've actually forgotten what a hangover used to feel like.  Hangovers were almost a normal state for me.   Now I'm feeling tired I can remember the feeling of dragging my sorry ass through the day hungover.  Most of the time now I get up full of energy and fresh without reaching automatically for some panadol and a big mug of instant coffee.  I must remember to appreciate this....

I had a few thoughts in the afternoon yesterday that it would be nice to have a drink given it was Friday night.  You know, I actually wanted to bend my brain a little.  Coz that would be fun, just doing a little brain bending.  I was sitting outside a vege shop late in the afternoon as Mr D ran in to get some mushrooms and over the road was a SuperLiquor and the cars were pulling in and pulling out, pulling in and pulling out.  And people were trotting in and trotting out with their boxes of beer or plastic bags with who knows what.

And I was watching, aware that I'd wanted some of that brain bending liquid just earlier, thinking Man our society condones brain bending.  Human beings want to bend their brains and we just do that all the time openly and whole heartily.  Friday night and there were all those people in that little store, one of millions around our country, trotting in and trotting out to get their brain bending liquid.

Later in the night we were sitting around at friends, the kids snuggled up watching tele and us adults were playing cards and drinking.  Red wine for everyone but me, I'd bought a couple of little bottles to drink on the way over.  A Lemon, Lime & Bitters and something called a 'Peachee' which I'd grabbed on a whim.  It was bright orange peach juice made by a trendy drinks company.  Late in the evening I poured it into my wine glass (still don't want to have stem withdrawals so I drink from wine glasses a lot) and Mr D asked for a sip to try it. He had one then commented 'Hhhmm, bit boring.  Be better with a shot of vodka in it', there was a pause and then he PATTED ME CONDESCENDINGLY ON THE SHOULDER.

Ok sorry about those caps there but ... what the hell??!!  I was a bit flummoxed and blurted out 'don't give me pity!  Don't pat me condescendingly on the shoulder!' and everyone sort of laughed a bit but I think Mr D was a bit shocked (at me or him I'm not sure) and he said 'Come on, I can do that with you' and he was meaning 'come on we're not like that' and I could see in his eyes what he meant, that we're always cool, and we are, so I laughed and forgot about it.

Until this morning in bed when I remembered and started to feel a bit miffed but then I was like oh bloody hell I can't be too precious, we're very close to these people and maybe getting to a place where we can laugh and tease about it means it's becoming even more normal.  I just have to not care.

And then I also remembered that a bit earlier I'd made a joke that the more they all drank the worse their card playing got and I was still sharp as a tack and going to keep winning.  So the tone was set by me.

Obviously still navigating this new sobriety landscape of mine.  And about those thoughts earlier in the afternoon about wanting to bend my brain.  They were thoughts, not cravings.  I listened to them, analyzed them, acknowledged them and dismissed them.  Eventually they'll get the message and go.

Love, Mrs D xxx

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1 February 2012 - "A confession"


This is stupid actually, I don't know what I'm doing.  But I'm having the occasional cigarette.  Why? Why? Why? There's no benefit, no fun woozy boozy feeling, in fact sometimes it actually gives me a nervy tummy and makes me feel a little insecure for a time, but I keep doing it.

Just went away for the weekend with friends and the bloke in the couple is a smoker and I found myself sharing ciggies with him all the time.  Then in the evening Mr D would have a few too while drinking.  It's kind of flash back to our boozy faggy days from our youth (except our 'youth' lasted through till mid 30s and is still lingering a bit now).

Aside from the fact that a packet of cigarettes is so friggin expensive, it's just dumb!  Dumb, dumb, dumb. Must stop.

That smoking bloke also asked me on the weekend if I was resentful of others drinking.  Interesting question.  I said no, that it was more a 'woe is me' feeling toward myself rather than a resentful feeling towards others.

To be honest (although I didn't say this to him) I still have the feeling when others are drinking (especially when they're really hitting it) that they can't see as clearly as I now do what a crutch and a fallacy alcohol is.  That's the super-clever part of me coming out.

And again I'm left with that dichotomy.  The proud me feeling oh-so-clever and enlightened and the sorry for myself me feeling just like a loser addict.

Aaarrrgghhh too much analysis and introspection!

Off on a plane this weekend to a wedding - child free!  It will be a very very very boozy affair and that's fine by me.  I will confess though, I will have a packet of fags tucked away in my handbag.  Then that's it, no more ciggies after that, I promise.

Love, Mrs D xxx

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6 February 2012 - "Another wedding."


Just back from the most lovely, loved up wedding in one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.  The bride and groom were just so so happy, it was a joy to witness their love laid out for all us guests.  The event was quite low key yet so perfect in every way.  It was a distinctly kiwi wedding; a good mixture of formal and casual, poignant and emotional yet lots and lots of fun.

For Mr D and I it was a great few days away from the boys, some lovely time alone but mostly an intense time meeting new people and chat, chat, chatting which I thoroughly enjoyed.  There was a lot of drinking but not me of course, and for the most part (aside from a couple of sluggers) everyone held their booze pretty well.

I did feel a bit awkward initially when everyone else was drinking and not me, but after the sun went down I didn't care any more that I wasn't boozing and just joined in with all the boozy talk and took the mickey out of some people spilling their drinks etc.

Right towards the end when there was one bunch of people disco dancing inside and another down the end of the courtyard singing 'Hotel California' loudly while Mr D played guitar, a German woman I'd been chatting with a lot leaned across the table and said to me 'You know, I sink it is very strong, vat you are doing with zee alcohol'.

Yes, yes it is.

Love, Mrs D xxx

P.S.  I smoked a million cigarettes and That.  Is.  It.  No more!


15 comments:

  1. I'm 56 yr. old male and just begun my own journey a month ago and find your blogs extremly helpfull. Knowing there are folks out there going thru the same exact thing - It's a GREAT help - thanks!

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  2. don't beat yourself up too much over the occasional (or not so occasional) smoking....REMEMBER HOW FAR YOU'VE COME! Progress, not perfection. ;-) xoxo

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  3. well a month sober tomorrow and feel fantastic, and I look great but still plump as I am eating like a horse. I need a lot of sweet things when my body hits a slump. My brain is battling with me to have a drink bit I,m not giving in, I will fight this awful addiction it has ruled me for far too long.. thank you your blog keeps me going. x

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  4. For time immemorial mankind has strived and attempted to get "out of it" or brain bending as you call it. I like that term!. So, its not a new thing or modern affliction by any means and happens in all societies. I too struggle with the demon drink, and have longish periods of sobriety, followed by a binge just to escape and change things up. Am so relating to your posts and enjoyed your telly appearance. looking forward to seeing how life is with you as I read further down the line. I am working towards giving up completely too. Managing as best I can is ok for now and a LOT better than the last 30 years

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  5. I'm one of the anonymous lurkers who is on Day 136 today, thanks in part to reading your blog every day. Just finished Month 5 to compare notes on how you were feeling around this time. I want to thank you so much for doing the video profile. My husband sees me reading and typing on the computer all the time as I do my daily sober blog reading, and he's very supportive of my journey. But he doesn't really get what it's like to be a dysfunctional drinker (or whatever you want to call it). Well I asked him to watch your video last night. I told him you were one of the people whose blog I read every day and that your story felt a lot like mine. And then we had a real conversation about why I finally stopped drinking and how it was affecting our family and what it's like to stay sober now. So nice to have a long conversation with him! So nice for him see other women like me and a husband like him. Thanks to both you and Mr. D for sharing your story! :)

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  6. Thank you so much you are changing lifes this is how AA started one person saying one more. You were so brave on 60 minutes all the girls at work are talking about it and questioning ourselves. I have been 3 days sober since you aired for the first time in many many years. In the last few years I have learned to meditate (pre 5pm) but you can really get out of it and its a natural mind bender. It helps you visualize your perfect life and makes you question exactly what you want.
    Thank you so much you are so brave!

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  7. Ho lee crap, just when I thought your story couldn't mirror mine any more, you too have the odd cigarette. I feel so bad about and there is no reason for it, sometimes I figure I just need something that resembles my old life!

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  8. I too have an occasional cig, we can't be perfect!

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    1. Uhmmm...me too (like this very second). Was doing so good, but needed that "release." I'm on month 4 :)

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  9. ohhhhh cigs.....but I certainly don't want to seem too perfect!! How large would my pride be if I conquered not only alcohol, but cigs too!? But man to kick those too would be so lovely! I know a lot of people who only smoke when they drink. So I guess that won't be a problem when I quit! Baby steps.

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  10. Thank you so so so much for this blog. It keeps me going and feeling strong - what a relief to hear your story and have hope. Day 5. Xo

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  11. Haha! This is great I used to be a smoker for over 10 years, quit, started again after each pregnancy, and started stopped!!! But I have been having occasional drags when everyone one else is drinking. I'll just do this instead! (Dumb, but hopefully it's just for these 5-ish month days!)

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  12. Excellent read! I'm at 129 days now and 26 years old, started drinking when I was 13 and there is no way I wanted to keep going down the gloomy path I was on. The last 129 days have been a roooollercoooaster and so cool to read your thoughts at the same time period I'm up to now! Thanks heaps for sharing xoxo

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  13. Day 30 here. Very happy to have found this blog. So many things you've commented on/lived are exactly as i've lived/felt/living now. The worst has been how grumpy i can get on a whim. Boom! out of nowhere i'm screaming and i have no idea why. but then other times, i'm not angry at all (i used to be a lunatic in the car in traffic, but, lately, not as much - i think it's the brain chemistry evening out possibly??? anyway - didn't want to be a lurker without saying thank you for writing, and now i'm going to keep reading, because it's july 4th and in all previous years i'd already be "celebrating" with a bloody mary, wine or vodka - cause it's a holiday, and holidays are meant for drinking, right (well, not for me anymore... a bit of a wistful sigh, but i'm better off, i know i am!)

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  14. did any of you have withdrawals, including mrs. d. no one has mentioned that

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