snapshot at 1,631 days sober

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last night we had a friend of my husband’s staying with us, and they had wine with supper (which was fine with me).

clearing up afterwards, my daughter picked up the corkscrew, looked at me, and said,

“Mum, is this ours?”

I felt a glow of pride that my beautiful teenage daughter sees our corkscrew so seldom nowadays that she doesn’t even recognise it as belonging to us. it has been relegated to the little-used-utensils drawer, along with the lemon zester and the cherry pipper.

sober life is not a bowl of cherries – but it is infinitely better than the alternative.

wishing you a sunny, sober day! Prim xx

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image credit: lavenderandlovage.com

 

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Square It Up Friday

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it’s Friday. and I’m feeling  braver than I have for a while.

I think I have spent more time recently BEING brave, and then the feeling-like-it comes later (does this sound like anything else to you?!)

how are you feeling today?

Prim xx

 

Square It Up Friday

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image credit: Elisabeth Gilbert

The following are the words of Elisabeth Gilbert, and NOT mine own:

Dear Ones:

I woke up this morning with my mind in a tangle, and my emotions in a storm.

I lay there in bed for a long time, wrestling with my thoughts and fighting hard against my feelings. But I was losing ground. No matter how hard I used my powerful THOUGHTS to try to extract myself from my other powerful THOUGHTS, it didn’t work. My THOUGHTS just got darker, and then my THOUGHTS about my THOUGHTS got darker, and then my THOUGHTS about my THOUGHTS got more panicked and distressed, until new and worse THOUGHTS arose, and now we have a tornado, folks. (This has happened to me before. But only once or twice.) My mind thought: I NEED MORE THOUGHTS, TO FIX THESE THOUGHTS! THINK HARDER! FIND A SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING! STOP THIS! GET CONTROL! DIFFERENT THOUGHTS! BETTER THOUGHTS!

Then I remembered: I cannot use my mind to help my mind, when my mind is in distress. At these moments, only the heart can help.

So.

My heart stepped in quietly and said to my tired mind: “Come and rest your tangle here with me. I’ll take care of you, just the way you are.” My mind said, “But, but, BUT – ” My heart said, “Shhh. I’ve got you.” Then we all rested together – me, mind, heart.

No solving happened this morning.

Solving doesn’t always have to happen.

Sometimes it can’t. Sometimes all you need is a safe place to rest.

HEART.

Then I got up and drew this picture, for the next time I forget.

Onward.

LG

Square It Up Friday

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it’s not easy, I know. there are circumstances and life dramas and damn other people and outside crappy events beyond our control.

(would you believe that – literally as I am writing this – my cat has just regurgitated semi-digested mouse on my office floor? gee, thanks cat.)

shit happens, on an all-too-regular basis. and now I don’t use alcohol to regulate and drown out my feelings then I get to co-habit with those feelings in ways that are still pretty novel to me.

so I still need to remind myself that that is okay. that I am learning by doing: by choosing to respond rather than to react, I make it more likely that I will do so next time, and every time it will get easier.

Wishing you bananas and good choices this Easter weekend. Oh, and a little more chocolate than is good for you 😉

Prim xx

St. George fought THE dragon – not ALL THE dragons

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St. George and the Dragon, Briton Rivière, 1914

this morning I was reviewing my diary for the month of January. I start each nightly entry with a couple of words summarising the day.  these range from:

very tough day / tough day / OK day / good day / happy day / very happy day

and overall, January has been a bit of a stinker round here. several very happy days, but also lots of tough and recently very tough days.

won’t go into the reasons for either, here – but a combination of internal choices and external events acting upon me have left me feeling drained and battered this morning.

so this post is to myself, as much as to anyone…

I chose this depiction of St George by the Edwardian artist Briton Rivière as I preferred his exhausted yet thankful version of St George to the more frequently seen vanquishing hero on horseback, skewering a cowering dragon while a grateful maiden languishes in the background.

the only person I am saving is myself.

the dragons I face – that we all face – on a daily basis can be of our own making, or they can come snarling in from the outside world, throwing us into disarray and confusion.

and often the dragons do come in battalions, or seem to – especially when we have been drinking for years, and letting them mount up, unchallenged and unfought.

I am four years and two months sober right now. I have given up expecting to be ‘fixed’ and instead believe that my recovery will progress onwards, in an eternal corkscrew, until my last (and hopefully sober) breath.

I remind myself that I don’t have to do everything at once.

that it took everything St. George had in him to conquer his one dragon.

if you are in early sobriety, and your dragon is alcohol, keep your eye on that one dragon. don’t let anything come between you and that battle. it’s one you have to win. 

if you, like me, are in longer-term sobriety, let’s fight our dragons one at a time to give ourselves the best possible chance of defeating the one in front of us.

and let’s all remember that, unlike St. Georgewe never have to do this on our own.

thanks for being here, as ever, my fellow sober warriors.

Prim xx

looking back on the first seven days of my own sobriety

the New Year brings to mind, as ever, thoughts of those who have decided to use it as a leaping off point into not-drinking, whether for a month for Dry January, or with hopes of the longer term. when I stopped drinking it was on an ‘ordinary’ Monday in November 2013 – nowhere near the New Year, but definitely at the end of the road.

I dug out my journal from those days. here are my first seven days – well, days 2 to 7 actually. I think I was too shell-shocked to think of writing on day 1.

Day 2: haven’t drunk for 2 days in a row for first time since June and possibly not before that since ? 2006? Five years? Eight? V. bad sleep last night.

Day 3: Felt unbearably awful today. Long run helped. Sleep bad but not as bad as previous night. Actually – did alcohol for Lent in ? 2010 or 2011.

Day 4: Feeling v positive in day but then drained by dull evening at [local social event]. Better sleep than Day 2, still some night sweats. Headache.

Day 5: Headache most of day. No night sweats but terrible skin itching in night on legs. Running low on NA drinks – need to buy more on Sat. Told [husband] I am doing a non-drinking experiment but that I don’t want to talk about it. 

Day 6: Doing OK. To theatre to see Paul Merton – had Diet Coke beforehand and no-one remarked on it. Sober laughing! Bit odd being with people drinking but ok. Good night’s sleep.

Day 7: Survived lunch with [family friends]. Small blow-up with (husband) afterwards because he asked me to take a sniff of his sherry glass because it “smelled like Christmas”. He doesn’t get it but I can’t use that as a justification to drink – I need to do this irrespective of his attitude. Need to NOT bring him into it. Good sleep tho strange dreams. Lovely email from Belle 🙂

reading this back makes me feel proud that I got through that really tough time. it was utterly grim and I had very little expectation that I would be able to see it through, because I had failed so entirely at moderation.

I am also surprised at how much I was going out and socialising in this time – it wasn’t a planned stopping point, I almost fell into it, so I hadn’t picked a time with no social commitments. it would have been easier if I hadn’t had three social occasions in the first week!

my sleep was all over the place. my writing is staccato and terse to start with and loosens up and lengthens even just by day 7. and I love that I wrote a smiley face in the journal on day 7!

in days 8 – 14 of the journal I expand on my moods during the day, continue to record sleep patterns, in particular that I have no energy in the evening. on day 14 I started my blog, and on day 17 I report being less tired in the evening.

On Day 20 I describe it as a ‘happy day’, and record receiving my first email from another sober blogger, telling a close friend that I had stopped drinking, and watching ‘the best ever Doctor Who’.

I think what I am trying to say is that if you have just started not drinking, feeling exhausted and dreadful is utterly normal. it is not a sign that you can’t do this, but a sign that you need to do it – that your body has begun healing and that it needs rest and nourishment. I started to feel better in what I think is a very short timescale, really – within three weeks, my mood and energy had lifted considerably and the world was an immeasurably brighter place.

if you are on your third day sober reading this, or if you are otherwise early in sobriety, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

how are you feeling today?

Prim xx

PS – I think you are BLOODY WONDERFUL.

How to close the books on 2017

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I was listening to a podcast by The Good Life Project this week, titled ‘How to close the books on 2017.’ Highly recommended listening – I’ll see if I can add a link later (post edited to add – link now included in comment by Lisa below!)  I was intrigued by his recommendation of performing a physical ritual to symbolise the drawing to a close of the old year, and making space for the events of the future.

I thought about it today as I put the Christmas rubbish and recycling out (havers!) – would that do? No, too prosaic, too much of a weekly action.

I cut up browning bananas and bagged them for the freezer and future smoothies – how about that? Nearer the mark, but not quite.

Then I remembered the container-full of defunct batteries which I had been gradually filling over, I think, several years. All that past energy spent on activities, whether  important or time-sucking, vital or otherwise. So this morning I took them to the nearby recycling facility, and poured them in ceremonially, leaving me an empty space to fill with new things in 2018. It felt like a really concrete, deliberate statement of clearing the decks, and I’m glad I did it.

Is there a physical ritual YOU could do to mark the transition from things past to things future? No self-castigation allowed!

If one of the things you would like to leave behind in 2017 is a dependence on alcohol, then there is so much support and help available in many places, online and in real life. Bon voyage!

I wish everyone reading this a happy NEW year – I look forward to spending it in your company. Lots of love, Prim xx

Things we can and can’t control – a pocket guide

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Control is a weighted word, with its anxious overtones of perfectionism. I prefer ‘change’, as in The Serenity Prayer, which has talked me down from many a high ledge.

It’s an entirely crazy-making time of year. Our self-care skills are never needed more, when expectations run high and time, money and solitude are scarcities. I find it hardest now to have good boundaries with other people – particularly heavy drinkers around me – and to avoid rumination about how others perceive me. I am working on that!

I hope that you and I can find the peace at the heart of Christmas. It is my very sincere belief that our sober selves are the truest, bravest and kindest versions of us. That’s who I will be continuing to become  in 2018, and I heartily wish those gifts of sobriety for you, too.

Happy Christmas! Prim xx

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Square It Up Friday

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this image was very kindly sent to me by Lou, who found it on Catherine Greer’s blog, who reblogged it from christinehassler on Instagram.

it really hit home for me – especially no’s 1 and 5. as we head into this craziest of seasons I need a very basic and frequent reminder of how I want to lead my life.

which ones speak to you loudest today?

happy sober Friday, dear cyber-companions! Prim xx