7 March 2012 - "Six month slump"
So I think I'm starting to understand what this six month slump thing is all about. I'm not going to call it depression because for me that would be ridiculous, I'm certainly not depressed but have a melancholy sadness inside with regards to my new sober life.
I've been trying to observe it in a detached way and analyse how I am feeling, because, you know, I'm self obsessed and introspective and this is a blog about ME ME ME ha! So here goes...
Firstly I think the novelty has completely and utterly worn off. The alcohol has not passed my lips for six months, hangovers are a distant memory, I'm used to sleeping well and I can barely remember all the emotional energy I used to waste beating myself up for over-indulging.
So the joy and happiness and self-congratulatory air I had floating around me has drifted off and I"m left with just the reality of being stone-cold sober all the time.
And I'm beginning to accept and adjust to the fact that that I am a changed woman. Not completely, obviously. I'm still a lot of things I was before but I'm not some of the other things. Most of these changes are subtle and not always visible from the outside but I have to accept that they may be picked up on occasion. 'Mr and Mrs D are coming to the party .. you know she doesn't drink any more eh' (said with a disappointed air).
If I'm really honest I think I'm struggling with that because I used to think that sober people were boring (on the occasions when I was boozing). Truth is I used to think non-drinkers were geeks and losers. And now I'm one of them. Geeky Mrs D.
So this is an adjustment. And adjusting I am. One sober day at a time.
But I have decided that I am going to the hens party this weekend. I'm going because I love my friend who is getting married and I want to meet some of her old friends before the wedding. And her mother and mother-in-law will also be there and I bet there'll be more than just me not boozing. So I'll go, but I'll go accepting that I am a more low-key version of the woman I used to be and that's just a fact.
Love, Mrs D xxx
11 March 2012 - "I got my boogie!!!!!!!!!!!"
Went to the Hens party last night buoyed along by all the wonderful advice and encouragement that came in comments to my last post, and the awesome support from my loved ones around me.
So I had an attitude of badassery and an air of chutzpah about me - I wore bright red tights! - and honestly just decided that it didn't matter that I wasn't going to drink and I didn't give a toss what anyone thought. After all my angst prior to this week, admitting that I was changing and feeling different about how I moved in the world, the nerves actually just dropped away and I found myself in the final days just excited to be going out.
And I knew that the bride-to-be, who is a newish neighbourhood mummy friend, was super lovely and kind so I suspected that all her old friends from a small community further up north would be too. And I was right!
I spent my night ordering mocktails and lime and sodas and had great, real conversations with just awesome women who like me were kind of excited to be out and just so happy for our friend who is getting married.
My non-drinking came up at one point when we were sitting at this really trendy bar watching all the gorgeous young things, and the two women I was sitting with at the time were curious and asked questions then shared stories about their own drinking and family habits and it became a really interesting wider discussion about drugs and alcohol, not just about me!
And another woman who I have actually met before and really like cornered me at one point and said that she'd heard about my giving up and really wanted to know how I'd done it and how bad I'd been etc because she was worried about her own drinking. So as always I was just quite matter of fact and honest and I could see she was very interested, it was cool.
She and I were the ones who took to the dancefloor first for a great remix of Michael Jackson's 'ABC easy as 123' it was awesome! We had a great boogie for about 4 songs and then retired for a sit down and someone was bringing some shots over and it was midnight and I thought, 'I've had my boogie, my night is done!' So I said goodbye to everyone, gave the bride a big hug and departed.
Walked back to my car through the pumping party district where our bar was, past a woman who could hardly walk being helped by her friends, some bloke dressed in a frock stumbling along and a young girl looking like she was about to vomit.
I decided at that point that my sobriety was like a cosy sweater, that favourite cardigan that you pull out when you want to feel comfortable and warm and don't give a toss what you look like. I felt wrapped in a cloak of contentment, not necessarily hip and cool, but happy.
Love, Mrs D xxx
14 March 2012 - "Feeling calm"
I'm feeling really lovely and calm right now, in regards to my sobriety, and think last weekend was quite significant.
Firstly because all the stressing I did in the weeks leading up to this Hens party bought me to a realization that my place in the world has shifted slightly because of giving up the booze. That was another 'clunk' in my brain towards total acceptance.
Secondly I accepted that sometimes I just wasn't going to do things if doing them sober would be too much of a trial. That feels really good, and I'm fully prepared now to opt out if I ever want to.
But thirdly and mainly, because despite all this I decided I would go - for my friend and because I was really hoping to get a dance - and everything worked out great! So I'm feeling really happy now with no regrets. In fact I'm even wondering how the night would have been better if I had been drinking?
I've got to be careful here because in the past I've gotten a bit cocky and comfortable about living sober and then had the sly wine-drinking fox that lurks in my brain come to try and win my thoughts over.
If I want to be reminded of that boozy Mrs D I just have to take a look at my living room wall. We've just taken down a big shelving unit to make way for a desk that I can write my thesis at, and behind it is an ugly purple stain dribbling down in little trails. Red wine. Red wine that came out of a glass one of the kids knocked out of my hand one night. I remember being very angry because it was the last wine that was left in the house that night. Shock horror! Knowing me then I probably raced out and bought another bottle. If I didn't feel 'full' (drunk) I couldn't stop.
Speaking of boozy Mrs D, or 'naughty fun Mrs D' as I keep calling her, I've been analyzing her a bit this week. A friend is studying psychosynthesis and told me about this exercise they did on one of her courses. You stand still and think of a sub-personality you have, and take that sub-personality out of yourself and stand them next to you. So for me I would take 'naughty fun Mrs D' out and stand her next to me. Then you look at that person, that part of you and think about what it is they need.
What did naughty, fun Mrs D need? To feel special and outside of societal norms? To escape ordinary life? To always be having fun? (even after it stopped being fun). To cope with insecurities and a lack of self-confidence? I'm not sure yet. But I like looking at her and trying to work her out. She's my boozy persona, is she going to fade away? Or come back into me in another form? Not sure.
Love, Mrs D xxx
17 March 2012 - "David Arquette"
Somebody told me he was on Ellen yesterday talking about becoming sober, and that he'd been really lovely and funny and interesting on learning to live with emotions etc..
I'd missed the show (we get it a few days late here in NZ, they send the tape over on carrier pigeon ha ha) so after I'd finished watching American Idol I climbed into bed with the laptop to try and find Arquette and Ellen on YouTube.
(I should add here that my sober Friday night with Idol had also included almost an entire packet of mini mallow puffs. Naughty, naughty.)
But back to my laptop. There was only a truncated clip from Ellen, so I ended up surfing around YouTube looking for 'David Arquette sober', then 'Being sober' and 'help with alcohol'. Found some interesting clips, and some tragic ones. Then came across a whole bunch of Intervention clips. I love that show! I used to watch it when I was still drinking, when I was starting to educate myself about addiction and recovery, just as I used to watch Celebrity Rehab for the same reason (tragic but true).
I ended up watching this terribly sad episode about an alcoholic called Pam who was swigging vodka from a hip flask out of her fridge and trying her hardest to ruin all the relationships around her. She was a sad, tragic figure, dead on the inside, so so wounded and just so so drunk all the time. Mr D had by now come to bed and was sleeping beside me as I watched with the volume down low and tears dribbling down my cheeks.
Oh I just felt so sad for that Pam, so sad for people feeling powerless and worrying sick about alcoholics they know, and so sad for all the bloggers I read .. some craving, some relapsing, many struggling with learning how to live with the booze stripped away.
And then I started to feel really scared and insecure like 'Holy Cow that demon drink had its clutches hooked right into me how the hell did I get out?!" I was thinking about how I was so used to being affected by alcohol it was almost like a comfort for me, to feel that way, warm on the inside, brain bent. I liked that feeling (obviously I did because I drank all the time). So how come it was impossible for me to live a drinkers life of denial? I just ... well to be honest and use a well worn cliche .. I just felt so so thankful that I was free of it. I almost don't know how I did it but thank the good lord in heaven I did.
And the other thing is, you know, I had NO IDEA what was to unfold when I gave up drink. Despite all my self-teaching beforehand, I honestly didn't know that my heavy steady drinking was me choosing to live life without fully dealing with my emotions. I didn't know that! I thought I was battling a physical addiction, but now I see it as more of an emotional issue. And when people ask me what's hard about being sober, I say 're-learning how to live with all my emotions stripped bare. Feeling moods, acknowledging them, sitting with them and waiting for them to pass.' It's like a whole different way to live.
And all I want to say to all the lovely addicted people trying to live sober is; Keep on. Keep on. Keep on. Hold on tight, you're in for a bumpy ride. But Keep On and things will start to smooth out. We're all bigger than that bloody alcohol. Just get rid of it.
Love, Mrs D xxx
20 March 2012 - "Stress and Insomnia"
.. welcome back. How I've missed you (not). So I've been in la-la land for the past year or 2 with only child minding and housewife duties to contend with, along with a few minor bits of pressure in getting my MA topic approved, proposal written and data collected. All very manageable. Oh, and that bit of emotional energy I've been putting into removing booze from my life..! Yeah that.
The past six months especially since I removed my beloved wine I've been sleeping the blissful sleep of the .. of the .. sleeping the blissful sleep of the ... I can't think of a clever metaphor. Sleeping the blissful sleep of the blissful sleeper I suppose. Long and heavy and restful and wonderful!
Now "BAM" I'm stressed and not sleeping. I'm writing my thesis, I've got to deliver the first draft of my first section to my new supervisor this Friday .. it's supposed to be 9000 words and I've only written 4000-odd and while I think they're a pretty good 4000-odd, well formatted and flowing coherently, it's not even half what it should be!!!!!!!!!!! And I'm nervous that my writing is too colloquial and not 'academic' enough (reading academic texts is enough to make anyone feel like an inadequate dunce) and ... I'm just bloody stressed.
And this is a first for me in sobriety. I've had to deal with boredom, sadness, low-level anxiety etc sober. And I've had to be dry at booze-soaked functions and through traditional heavy-drinking times (like Christmas and New Year). But stress? Stress I've not really had to contend with. And, as we all know, alcohol is a fantastic stress reliever. Want to forget your worries and concerns for a while? Here bend your brain with this lovely liquid. Sure, you'll wake up with a sore head, the guilts, and the realization that your stresses haven't gone away, but wasn't it fun forgetting them for a while??!!!
I need new stress relievers. Seriously. I need advice. My sister suggested listening to meditation tapes at bedtime, a calm voice telling you such things as "Listen to your breath. You are not your thoughts." Last night I tried to imagine myself floating on a lovely calm serenity pool (nestled at the foot of the garden at my palatial mansion/dream home).. and that sort of worked .. but not really.
My wick is much much shorter and the smallest frustrations can set me off and I feel the stress rising in my belly. I am yelling at the kids more and that's making me feel terrible. It takes me ages to wind down to go to sleep at night and I'm waking at the smallest noise and taking ages to get back to sleep. Aaaarrrggghhhh! Stress!
Phew. Breath Mrs D. Friday's deadline will pass. You will get through this. In fact, while you're talking to yourself here's a tip.. STOP BLOGGING AND GET BACK TO WRITING!!!!!!!
22 March 2012 - "Sober wedding no. 3"
There is no way I could be doing this thesis well if I was still boozing. To meet my deadline this week I have been staying up writing until about 10.30pm every night. It's been fine actually, fun even(!), and certainly has helped relieve the stress, just getting on and doing it. I've got my draft of the Literature Review to a really good point I think and now I'm just really looking forward to sending it off and getting feedback from my supervisor next week.
But how could I have managed this if I was busy drinking red wine like I used to? I'd have far fewer opportunities to work, I would have done deals with myself (I'll drink Mon night but will work Tues & Wed and then drink again Thurs). In the past with even just one or two wines in me I wouldn't achieve anything much in the evening, like doing bills or looking at recipes/making a shopping list, or talking on the phone. I never talked on the phone in the evenings. And I'd never stop at one wine anyway, it was usually at least 3, sometimes 4 or 5.
By the way have I ever mentioned how I used to have toast binges late in the evening? After Mr D had gone to bed I would stay up drinking and watching Reality TV programmes and then I'd cook myself toast that I would wait to go cold so I could layer on the butter and it wouldn't melt. I love butter. Sometimes I'd have 4 pieces. On top of all that wine. Then I'd crash out into bed. No wonder I've lost weight.
Anyway I wanted to write about the wedding we went to on the weekend, my 3rd since I gave up drinking. I really think I've got it sussed now, how to do these events. At this one after the ceremony when the bubbles were being poured on the church lawn I grabbed myself a mini bottle of lemonade and poured it into a champagne flute. It looked different obviously as it was a cloudy lemon color but I didn't care, I just wanted a stem glass! And nobody seems to care that I'm not drinking - it totally irrelevant to them.
At the reception I took myself off to the kitchen and grabbed a Red Bull from the fridge (my friend the bride had told me she'd got some in) and poured it into a tumbler to have with the meal.
I have learned from my past mistakes (my 40th birthday party) not to over-caffeinate myself with Red Bull! One is plenty, just enough to give me a bit of a buzz heading into the evening. I've become ridiculously sensitive to caffeine, hardly drink coffee now but when I do have one I can really feel it.
So yeah, that one Red Bull was just enough and I ended up dancing the night away very happily before driving home. Oh, get me.
There were some cliched drunk people there, one very sad fellow who was very sloppy very early but he had nice people looking after him. It was a super, low-key wedding and from my perspective another chance to prove to myself that I'm a much better version of myself now that I'm living sober.
And now I'm off to Sydney for the weekend with a girlfriend, child free! Husband free! Can't believe it. Better get the passport dusted off....
Love, Mrs D xxx
26 March 2012 - "Normies"
Is that what you call them? Normies - the people who don't have drinking issues and can have alcohol in their lives without any angst or battles. Functional drinkers as opposed to dysfunctional drinkers. Normies? I've heard that term used before. Hang on I'll do a quick Google search....
Ok first result was from the Urban Dictionary and says "A person who is not an addict or alcoholic. A person who can drink normally without developing a drinking problem."
I suppose you could debate the definition of a Normie until the cows come home. Someone could appear to be (pretend to be) a Normie but not be. Or someone could be drinking like a Normie until one day WHAMMO the booze gets it's claws in and it's bye-bye Normie, hello Alcoholic.
Mr D is a Normie and took a lot of convincing from me that I had a problem.
A lot of people around me still seem a little bemused about why I've given up alcohol for good and I have to do a lot of explaining until they accept (!) that I did need to take this drastic action. I appeared to be totally normal from the outside. I didn't fall over a lot, lose jobs or kids or crash cars. My personal relationships were all good and I looked healthy enough (although I look way better now). I held down a successful life but had a secretive, very heavy, steady wine-drinking habit. I drank lots and lots of wine, mostly privately in my own home. I was fast heading to where more tragic things would have happened because of my drinking but managed to pull the pin before they did.
Just had a wonderful sober weekend away with a girlfriend in Sydney. Only Lemon, Lime & Bitters for me all weekend...
If we'd taken this trip last year I probably would have had two drinks on Friday at the bar and then more wine with dinner and possibly beyond that. Saturday I would have probably suggested we get a bottle of wine to share in the hotel while we got ready to go out, would have had a wine at dinner and more before the show and possibly at half time too. Which would probably have meant I wouldn't have really been properly present for the show, much like when I went to a musical here at home last year and drank beforehand and during and can hardly remember it. I wasn't even that pissed (for me). Just not really present.
This girls weekend just gone I would have done everything the same but fitted in a crap-load of booze on top of it all. I feel exhausted just thinking of all the extra effort that would have taken, doing all the day activities hungover, gone to bed later, had more broken sleep, and spent probably a lot more emotional energy (excitement, guilt etc) - on drinking.
Now I've taken the alcohol away everything is just so much cleaner and easier. And no less fun! There is nothing that alcohol would have added to this past weekend. Nothing at all! Once again I have proved to myself that I do not need alcohol to live a fun, full and rewarding life. Jeepers, is this another Pink Cloud? No, I don't want to get too smug and self-satisfied and drop my guard. I think it must still be the endorphins from all that shopping, or maybe I'm deliriously over-tired. Whatever the case, happy (with a fabulous new wardrobe).
Love, Mrs D xxx
29 March 2012 - "Unhooked"
What did I say about not getting to smug? Yesterday Mr D bought wine home from work, first time for a while as he's had a heavy cold and hasn't been drinking much. These bottles will last him at least a week it must be said. But anyhow there they were clinking in the bag as he put them on the bench.
He poured a glass of Chardonnay and (this is going to sound cheesy) it was a sunny evening and the sun was shining through and across the kitchen bench and his glass was lit up all golden and inviting. It was definitely the romantic picture of alcohol. End of the day, happy mood, sun shining, nice rewarding wine.
I pushed through and worked my brain to remind myself this romantic picture of booze is not my reality of alcohol any more and never would be again. Also reminding myself that I could still have that same picture, (end of the day, happy mood, sun shining, nice rewarding drink) and the fact of it being alcoholic or not didn't detract from the scene. I even stuck my nose in the glass to see what my reaction would be and the smell took me back to an unhappy place. Oh my god I am so pleased to be past being constantly obsessed with wine, how much to get, drinking drinking drinking, the guilt, the obsession again.
But I did have an 'emotional tummy' (not sure how else to explain that) and that emotional tummy stayed with me right up until I got into bed to finish my book.
This is the book 'Unhooked: How to quit anything' by Dr Frederick Woolverton and Susan Shapiro which I've been really really enjoying. He's quite a full on addiction therapist who doesn't believe in pussy-footing around people who are seriously hooked on a substance. He's really blunt and gets really stuck in with practical and direct instructions for people who need help re-learning how to live without their crutch of choice. He's got these really meaty case-studies (he says they're stories of past patients but I'm sure they're made up) to help illustrate the point he's making in each chapter. Great reading for someone like me who is addicted to stories of recovery.
Anyhow one of his big recommendations to patients wanting to quit an addiction is to start writing every day. Write your feelings, your food and drug intake, your plans, dreams, hopes, frustrations, favorite songs. He says write write write, be honest and write. Well yay! That's what I've been doing with this blog so chalk up one to me.
But then .. and this got me mad .. he says that quitting an addiction cold turkey by yourself is the most likely way to fail. Gggggrrrrr, what??!! What you say??!! No way. I felt a bit slapped by that, because that's what I'm doing. I'm doing it alone with only the support of friends and family and this blog (and my lovely lovely blogging friends!), so am I doomed to fail??
NO! No I'm not!! I'll show him. I'll show you all. I am not touching alcohol ever again my whole life. What do I have to fear except myself? I trust myself. I know I will stick by my resolution.
Ok a bit further along he says "It is my belief that you cannot successfully treat an addiction without confronting the deep, emotional issues that are giving rise to the substance abuse in the first place. If you do not dig deeply enough into the roots of the behavior, you will either start using again, or you will switch vices sometimes without even realizing it."
Hhmm. Ok. Well, the truth is .... I'm not entirely sure why I drank so much wine. Except to say I liked the way it made me feel, and the way it dulled emotions, and it was a habit that just went too far. Is there more to uncover here? Dunno.
Love, Mrs D xxx
31 March 2012 - "A concert and a party"
I'm interested to hear about people that did sobriety alone and then something changed and they started going to AA. Lets just put it this way. I am open to ANYTHING. Anything at all that will help me to live the rest of my life sober. Right now that doesn't include joining any groups. But that's not to say that it won't in the future. As I said to Mr D yesterday evening, I've got a long long road ahead of me.
What am I now? Seven months sober? That's nothing. NOTHING! When I'm 50 I'll have ten years sobriety behind me, I'll still be relatively young. When I'm 65 it'll be 25 years since I last drank. That will make me sober for longer than I drank. Jeez! It's a long long road and I have no idea what will be thrown up for me along the way. So let me just say I am open to whatever it takes and if I find that shit is coming up that I wasn't expecting or that is tempting me to turn back to a life filled with wine wine wine, then I'll do whatever I need to do to not do that.
Talking to Mr D about this yesterday I said to him 'Seriously, why did I drink all that wine?' and he said 'Because you could. And now you don't.' Ahh .. if only it were that simple. Maybe it is! Maybe it is that simple. But maybe it isn't. I don't know what to say except watch this space. Obviously I'll be watching this space because this space is me! (Ok this post is getting a bit twisted up inside and around of itself).
Off to a party tonight, my step-brothers engagement party, and am feeling a bit glum that I'll be dry. But I'm sure it will be totally fun when I'm there. And as it's all catered the food will be amazing. Because I can drive we'll save on taxis which is a positive. Also I'm planning on working tomorrow afternoon so it'll be good not to have a hangover. Another positive. Of course there are a million positives to living sober. I'm just acknowledging the slightly glum feeling I have prior to this party.
On a brighter note on Thursday night Mr D and I went to see one of our favorite bands - Elbow - play at a venue in town and MY GOD IT WAS AMAZING. We love Elbow.
The gig was at the same place where I went to see another favorite artist of mine - Jarvis Cocker - and got so hammered that I fell over with no provocation. Just fell over on the floor. Pissed as a chook.
Thursday night I was sober, I was so so happy, I was singing along, I was full of happy endorphins and even got tears in my eyes on a couple of occasions. Oh happy sober me.
Love, Mrs D xxx