(Below are all the posts I wrote in my eighth 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 April 2012 - "Awesome"
I'm sorry to say this and sound like a freaking uppity dickhead but honestly .. becoming sober is just the most awesome decision I ever made. And I am loving how the more time that goes on and the more events I go to and occasions that occur my sober-persona is becoming more and more comfortable to wear.
And believe me, I do not regret a single thing that came before this. I don't regret all the boozing I did and all the lushing-out I did and all the over-indulging I did because all of that got me to this point. Plus I should never feel like I'm missing out on crazy booze binges because I've enjoyed my fair share! I know exactly what it feels like having done it over and over and over for 20+ years. A couple of times I was asked 'is this just for a while or forever?' and I would say 'it's forever, I'm never going to touch alcohol ever again' and that would just feel so easy and clean and right. In many ways I'm simplified things greatly by just doing the blanket 'take it away completely' method of alcohol control.
I feel like I respect myself. I trust myself. I am comfortable with my behavior at all times and I just feel happy. I have simplified my life immensely by deciding to live without alcohol and even though that has involved a roller coaster ride, getting used to living with emotions and moods and having no 'escape' sometimes when I want it, the roller coaster ride is worth it. I'm strapped in now (ok I'm going to labour this roller coaster metaphor) and will continue to ride away and and endure some twists and turns and lumps and bumps along the way in order to benefit from the big picture which is ... awesome.
Love, Mrs D xxx
11 April 2012 - "Upheaval"
A few years ago we packed up our lives completely and moved cities because of a big new job that Mr D landed. It was an immense effort on my behalf, liaising with a million different people, supporting the kids through the move, supporting Mr D in the transition to a new job. I was the go-to person for the entire move logistically and dealt with the movers, the bank, real estate agents, letting agents, utilities providers, schools, insurance companies etc etc.
It was very emotional leaving our old life behind and saying goodbye to the community of people we had around us in our old city. I did a lot of hugging people and feeling sad but one way or another just got the job done.
I got through the whole mission with a clipboard full of pages of contacts numbers and notes and lists and lists and lists.
I got through with very little sleep (insomnia kicked in majorly because of stress, emotions and general brain noise).
And I got through with a lot of my beloved wine. I drank to help relieve the stress. I drank to cope with the strong emotions (sadness, excitement, nerves, grumps). I drank because that's what I did and during tough times, well you drink more don't you? Wine was my constant companion through the move, as it had been for most of my adult life.
Since we've been in the new city we've had a new baby and have built up a fabulous new community of people around us - neighbors, school teachers, kindy teachers, new mummy friends, previously distant family members, sports team buddies, gym friends, workmates. We love our life here. We are happy in our house and we are happy in our community which has become rich with people that we love. And the climate here is so much better than in our old town!
Oh, and I've gone and gotten myself sober and am in the middle of writing my MA thesis through the local University. Life is good.
So what's this all about? Well, it's happening again. And fast. We're selling up, packing and heading away within a matter of weeks. I can't talk about the details but it is the right move and a necessary one. But I feel tired and emotional just thinking about what's ahead. In the long run it will be great, but in the short term, hard work and tiring. And emotional.
And this time, my coping mechanism has gone. This time I'm going to do it all sober. This will be a test. Wish me luck.
Love, Mrs D xxx
15 April 2012 - "Hello insomnia my old friend"
(Sung to the tune of The Sounds of Silence).
It really is remarkable how different it is to live life when there is no escaping your emotions. Every feeling that I have, big or small, is so sharp and real. What's most interesting is that I didn't realise how I was experiencing feelings less acutely when I was constantly dulling them with wine.
I don't want to entirely dismiss my life that went before as being bland and unemotional. I did lead a happy life with some emotional highs and lows, yet there is no denying the fact that now I have taken away the wine and am living sober I feel way more present. Here's some more cliched descriptions for how I feel now ... clearer, connected, participating fully.
I look at these words now and they do just read in such a cliched manner, and I bet there's people reading this and those descriptors will be washing over them because it all been said before so many times it's become bland. And I know from my own recent memory (of before I got sober just over 7 months ago) I had no idea what was meant. I can remember wondering if clearer meant your eyes weren't blurry any more from being tired and hungover. Seriously!
But believe me, the feeling that I have in my head and my heart as I move around my life is quite revelatory. I now know that clearer means having a better understanding of things. Even the sad emotions, or anger, are ok to feel because they're real. Being emotional is real and it's good. I think I spent too long trying to squash down emotions, hide them, be happy chirpy person all the time and that's just not real. Sorry but my friends are going to get crying Mrs D a lot more now.
And especially now. I really am sad to be leaving our life here and I'm fully grieving already and we've only told a small group of family so far. I was crying when I wrote an email to my sister-in-law with details about the move. But as I said to Mr D, you can't be a real person and make real connections with people and then not feel sad to be leaving them.
I'm so bloody emotional I cried watching the judges save Jessica Sanchez on American Idol! And I cried when Tim Gunn cried saying goodbye to a contestant on Project Runway (I've already admitted on here that I'm a Reality TV addict). I even cried at 4am this morning lying awake in bed imagining telling some of my neighbourhood friends. That's all to come this week.
In the meantime I have my trusty red clipboard back in operation and am filling it with phone numbers, to-do lists and costings. First item on my shopping agenda - a bloody expensive Jo Malone scented candle!!! Well I need something to keep me calm if I don't have my normal stress-reliever-in-a-glass handy!!
Love, Mrs D xxx
18 April 2012 - "Fucking normies"
My stress levels are rising with this having-to-move-in-a-hurry business, and I'm bloody knackered thanks to the increased brain noise that is giving me terrible insomnia, and I'm finding it hard to stay all easy-going and calm about things like PEOPLE AROUND ME WHO HAVE NO F%#*ING IDEA WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BECOME AND REMAIN SOBER!!!!!!!!
I love that I can come on here and 'talk' in the virtual sense to others who know what it's like, and I enjoy reading all my recovery books that I get from the library (Moments of Clarity by Christopher Kennedy Lawford is the current one - great) but I'm sick of having no-one in my face-to-face life who really gets it.
Now don't get me wrong, Mr D is awesome and he does get it, he really does. But even so, he's a normal drinker. But other friends of mine (this is what's sparking this rant) act like I just blew a feather one day and became sober and that's it.
Mr D thinks it's because I come across all 'sorted' and 'strong' people don't think I have any internal battles but I do. I DO!!!
Last night I climed into bed really early to watch a cooking competition show and the contestants were taken off to a winery for a cooking challenge and I got hit with this feeling like 'oh my god never again am I going to go to a winery and have a wine'. And I felt stink. So clearly I'm feeling vulnerable. No suprise I guess given everything. But as I say, I'm sick of not having anyone around me who knows. Woe is me (said with mock sarcasim).
Love, Mrs D xxx
20 April 2012 - "Amplified"
I'm running the risk of 'over blogging' (if there is such a thing) but in keeping to my primary function of using this site for myself I have to write right now as it's 4.45am and my brain in whirring and I think getting things out in words will help me.
I think the thing is, and I was trying to explain this to Mr D last night, I think the thing about doing this move sober is that for me all the emotion associated with it is way more amplified than it would be before. It's like someone's put 'relocation headphones' on me and has turned the fucking volume up to one million decibels (if there is such a thing, and sorry about swearing but I just want to swear here ok).
And normal drinkers or non-drinkers or heavy drinkers don't get this because they're used to whatever their habit is so their emotional volume level is sitting more comfortably where they're used to. Only people who used heavily then took it clean away know what this is like. I'm still relatively newly sober (7 1/2 months) so my volume is peaking and I"m sure it slowly be turned down as I get used to living without liquid anesthesia.
My eyelids are swollen because yesterday I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed huge gut wrenching sobs all the way home from the University where I'd just told them I needed to put my MA on hold for 3 months and continue via distance learning from August.
It's not that the Uni thing was particularly gut-wrenching, it was also that I was supposed to be rushing home from that meeting and then taking my 5 year old round the road for a sleep-over but every time I thought yesterday about telling my friend there that we're moving I felt like crying. This woman is the most awesome lovely strong kind and amazing friend that I have met since we've been here and for some reason saying goodbye to her is really really going to hurt. We don't see each other all the time because she is back at work now but she is very very special.
So I had texted Mr D from the corridor outside my supervisors office asking could he please take our boy round and tell my friend that we are going because I was too emotional to do it (which he understood and did) and then I got through my meeting and walked out the door and basically lost it and spent the next 2 hours crying.
It was absolute woe-is-me grief, to be perfectly frank I don't want to be doing any of this. I don't want to be putting my MA on hold and I don't want to be crying in front of all my friends and I don't want to have to say goodbye to my neighbours and I don't want to be looking for a house to rent in the new city and I don't want to get 3 fucking written quotes for Mr D's firm to approve the furniture removal company and I don't want to be organising gardeners and cleaners and painters and builders to get our house ready for sale and I don't want to deal with real estate agents again and I don't want to talk to schools and help my boys with their nerves about moving and I just don't want to do any of this because I am really really happy here.
And all of this emotional pain is much more keenly felt because I've radically changed my lifestyle.
So FUCK!! Right I have to fucking snap out of this and dig deep and be smart and fine and cool. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck.
Do yoga poses at night to relax. Burn scented candle lots. Buy lots of treaty magazines. Think about friends in the new city who are going to be so happy to see us. Think about the fact that Mr D said last night that we're going to rent a really treaty posh house for the interim to make the move more palatable (yes!). Think about how great it is I've lost weight. Think about how nobody has died or gotten cancer. Think that this is hard and emotional but totally do-able. Think about how living in an emotionally real way is the best way to live. Think about how the new job is the best job in the world for Mr D and he is like a new man standing tall in his shoes again because the old job was so wrong. Think about how once all the hard work and sadness is over there will be a lot of fun and excitement to look forward to.
Love, Mrs D xxx
25 Aril 2012 - "Grief"
Our lovely neighbour Mike told me that relocating was one of the hardest things to do, and that leaving a community was like a grief. The lady at the school office gave me a sympathy look and made a sad noise when I told her we were leaving and that made me feel like crying. I was pissed off about that because I'd had a good couple of days before that and she's never been my favourite person anyway because she's quite often grumpy and rude. But in that moment she was kind to me and all the sadness came back again.
Yesterday was another hard day actually, I moved around my community really struggling, talking to my sons kind teachers, talking to all the lovely mums, arranging playdates and sleepovers, talking to my neighbours.
I think I'm always going to look back at this move and say 'that was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do'.
I had my first ever drinking dream the other night, and have been regularly imagining drinking and feeling how nice it would be to be able to have wine in the evenings for fun and to help deal with these really strong negative emotions. I'm just so deeply sad and really grumpy. These next 5 weeks aren't going to be fun AT ALL.
Yes I know that no-one has died or gotten cancer and that we're so lucky to have each other in this family and I'm so lucky to have so many great friends here that I'll always know (in some form) and that we'll be totally fine in the new city and all of that. I know all of that. But this is not nice. I'm just being honest, that's all.
I really am trying very hard to dig deep and really trying to think positively but I've also got no choice but to be real about these hard negative emotions because they are very powerful and I live sober now and am having to learn new coping strategies to deal with them.
Why is it good to feel and show these negative emotions? What benefit is it going to have for me going ahead in life? I suppose I'll be proud that I did this without drinking. But will doing this sober make it easier to process the change in the months ahead? I don't know.
Would wine make these emotions easier to handle? Yes I think it would. I think I'd enjoy blurring my feelings in the evening and being slightly detached from them during the day if I was hungover. And I think if I was drinking regularly (and probably quite heavily) now I'd be better able to be more cheery and flippant about the move, a bit more heartless perhaps about what I'm leaving behind.
But I don't drink alcohol any more, I never will again. So here I am grumpy and sad, dreading the next 5 weeks but getting through one goddam sober day at a time.
Love, Mrs D xxx
29 April 2012 - "Gourmet food weekend"
Phew. Ahhh. Ok. I'm starting to feel better. And don't worry, even when I'm feeling like shit and struggling with strong negative emotions like I have been with this relocation, and not sleeping and dreaming about drinking I'm nowhere near actually having a drink. No way. Nowhere near. I don't do that any more.
I struggle with learning how to live sober and having my emotions stripped bare and dealing with life up close, but I don't struggle with cravings or yearnings to drink. I am never ever ever drinking alcohol ever again. I am bigger and better and stronger than that bloody liquid and I am so so so so so so grateful that I have managed to get it out of my life.
We have just been away for the weekend while two rooms in our house were painted (to get ready to sell) so we drove an hour north to a beach resort and stayed in someone's holiday home we'd hired which was full of games and books and magazines and it had a trampoline and a bath and 2 TVs!
We stopped at a posh deli on the way out of town and spent SHITLOADS of money on treaty treaty food. Olives, chocolate, pate, salami, beautiful breads and olive oil and all manner of gourmet delights. Then we stopped at an organic butcher and spent an obscene amount of money on the best steak money can buy and got lots of beautiful fruit and veges from the local market.
And the weekend was great, the boys bounced their hearts out on the trampoline (we don't have one so it was a big novelty factor) and Mr D and I sat around reading and preparing food. We took the odd trip to the beach or the market but really we just relaxed. A small oasis of calm in the midst of this relocation storm.
Mr D drank a bit while I was away .. but nothing like he would have if I'd been drinking too. He says he doesn't want to drink lots if I'm sitting there sober, and that's fine by him. I would have been piling away a lot of wine normally (a weekend like this an excuse to drink more than usual) but you know me nowadays, herbal teas and the odd ginger beer. It's fine, really it is.
Love, Mrs D xxx
3 May 2012 - "Never forget"
Ok so it's 4.36am and here I am blogging so clearly the insomnia is still with me and my brain is full of the noise of this relocation. But .. and this is amazing .. I really feel emotionally to have shifted inside and overall I feel much calmer about the move and am looking forward with excitement rather than just looking back with sadness and grief.
And I really do think that having expressed so freely all that sadness and grief about leaving our community here has made it easier for me to do this.
I asked in a grumpy post a couple of weeks ago if doing this sober was going to make a difference to how I processed it later and I can already see that it has and will. If I think back to the many times that I cried in front of my friends, really showing them how deeply I was feeling this move and expressing myself so openly, I feel a sense of calm like that was the right thing to do. It's hard to explain, but it's definately new to me and related to my sobriety because I was quite uncomfortable at the time and my natural instinct was to squash those tears and appear more together to them, but I just couldn't control it. And now that I've done that I feel ok with it, good about it actually because it honoured my feelings toward them and this community. I'm happy about that.
I'm also happy that we have found a great rental in the new city which Mr D flew into yesterday to view and sign up! It has a great outdoor space for the kids, a long driveway (fenced) for riding bikes and a small grassy patch just perfect to fit a trampoline! (One of the exciting 'bribes' we have promised them to help deal with the move).
So, phew. There is still a lot to do and as I haven't been able to put my MA thesis on hold I am still writing that in the evenings so it's all still crazy busy (hence the insomnia) but emotionally I'm a bit calmer. And yes folks, still sober!!! Yippee!!! I stuck my nose into Mr D's wineglass while we were away on the weekend and once again was taken back to an unhappy place by the smell.
I never want to forget what I have left behind. That obsession with wine .. always buying it, always planning to drink it, drinking - hard and fast and often joylessly, slobbering into bed and passing out, and then painkillers in the morning - good for the headache but not for the guilt, guilt, guilt. I never want to forget that, and be thankful that I have managed to change my life considerably by giving up the booze. I never want to forget, and I never want to go back. I only hope I can stay so firm in my resolve to never touch alcohol again. Sometimes 'never again' feels overwhelming, but I've got to remember, I must.
Love, Mrs D xxx
4 May 2012 - "My Lush Sobriety"
Finally got hold of a copy of Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Scoblic after hearing so so so so much about it from all of you other lovely sober bloggers. I got sick of waiting for my library to get a copy and ordered my own online. It arrived just as I was heading off to the hairdressers thank god because I find sitting getting a cut and colour so incredibly boring.
My hairdresser asked what I was bringing in to read and to be honest I was a bit hesitant about showing it, like I was going to out myself at this hip place or something. But she read the title and didn't really comment and then 10 minutes later offered me a glass of "pinot gris? or pinot noir perhaps?" Ah, that would be a no.
Anyway .. I practically read the damn thing in one sitting. Seriously. I have maybe two chapters to go. Yes this book is as good as everyone has been saying. She just writes so well and so punchily. It motors along and probably about 250 times I was thinking - yup, me too. There was so much that I could relate to; when she described how she drank and why she drank, and what a reliance on alcohol is all about, and what becoming sober is like. It's very good.
It seems she was a bigger lush than me in some ways, more vomiting and major binges, I mean she didn't have kids so could go out and get hammered till dawn whenever she pleased. But as always I was kind of left with a slight feeling of 'am I alcoholic enough? Was I really that bad?' It doesn't help that someone said to me recently that they were sceptical about whether I really needed to stop drinking. Is that because my drinking habit was largely private? Or that I pulled the pin before major tragic consequences occurred? That I had a 'high bottom' as they say?
Oh fuck that, whatever. I can't be bothered analysing how much of a tragic boozer I was. I know exactly how dangerous and obsessive my drinking was and where it was heading and if people think it's been easy for me to stop because I didn't appear to be that bad I don't care. And if they think it's easy to live sober now because I make it look easy then ... whatever. I shouldn't even question myself like I did after reading Unwasted. That's just stupid. I used to have gallons of wine in my life. Now I don't. End of.
Love, Mrs D xxx