You guys show me where that switch is every single day.
I am still very much a work in progress at 70 days sober.
At the moment some details of getting through every day life seem to be impossible to keep up with. You want clean clothes? Food in the kitchen cupboards? What unreasonable expectations! After earlier days when all the crapola seemed to get itself magically done I am now getting dragged down in it like quicksand.
Plodding on. Staying here.
The upside is that the day to day effort of staying sober is definitely reduced. To blatantly pinch Sobernorman’s inspired idea about measuring sobriety in dog years: I am now past the puppy stage of needing watching all the time in case I leave puddles on the kitchen floor. It still needs regular attention, feeding and walks, but my sobriety feels like part of the family now and its rewards far outweigh the obligations.
For added doses of motivation I’ve been re-reading older posts by some of my favourite sober bloggers. They were so cute when they were younger! Like looking at photos of your husband when he was 16. (My husband looked like Morton Harket…)
love to you all.
keep at it folks!
First sober funeral.
Being sober has not been high on my list of pre-occupations today. It was something I worried about in anticipation. Hellooo? Don’t do that.
There was that moment in the church hall afterwards where in the past the relief of getting through the service conflated with a glass of something alcoholic, producing a delicious feeling of drama/numbness/reward for getting through it.
Today all I really, really wanted was a cup of tea and to talk to people. Which I did. I am glad that I know the emotions I felt were real and not booze phantoms.
Home now, getting outside a C&T.
I’m not really feeling like drinking right now. It’s more as if I think I ought to be feeling like it.
I’ll be ok. I won’t drink. I do reserve the right to cry and to eat unreasonable amounts of chocolate.
I’ve posted before about the concept of habits and habit forming. I’ve been thinking about it a bit more in the prevailing atmosphere of New Year’s resolutions, Dry January and so on.
I’ve found it fascinating learning that we form physical neural pathways in our brains when we repeatedly perform an action (there was a really good blogpost on this somewhere, will link if I can find it again). And I loved Belle’s podcast about the little chick in the grass being brave enough to jump off the superhighway and make its own cowpath.
What I’ve been thinking about lately is specifically how I can harness this power of habit and make it work for me. A bit like getting the kids to do all the washing up after Sunday lunch. But with less shouting.
I have been dragged about by the heels by my habits for most of my life. Food, unsuitable men, smoking, drinking.
The power it took for me to keep drinking was immense. And yes, there is/was a physical addiction, but I believe that the primary force driving me to walk to the fridge at 6.03pm and open that bottle of wine was habit. So if I can put that immense force to work for me, rather than against me, suddenly I am not fighting against a tide but flowing downstream with it.
And forming those new habits is achievable because it is one action at a time. I can do one thing today and it will make my life easier tomorrow. Interestingly I now feel that very same feeling of ‘phew’ when I have my cranberry juice and tonic at 6pm instead.
I am a constant self-examiner and would quite like to get myself completely fixed and sorted by yesterday, please.
But habits take time to form, so I will give myself the blessing and luxury of however long it takes.
Yesterday morning I started off bright and breezy but got more and more fed up as the morning went on. The brouhaha of getting the kids back to school, not even getting close to catching up with work stuff I’d been putting to one side over the holidays, and the additional admin hassle of starting to sort out getting the storm damage to the house fixed. When I start muttering to myself it’s always a pretty obvious sign that something is about to boil over and my nearest and dearest keep their distance at that point.
Well, I took myself and the scary muttering voice off to a nearby town to run a work errand. First good decision. Getting out. Changing the backdrop.
Second good decision – listening to Belle’s Chicken Little podcast in the car on the way there. Seriously, that woman is amazing. I want a bracelet engraved with every other sentence that emerges from her mouth. Taking care of yourself instead of hitting yourself over the head with two bottles of wine a night? Clean pyjamas? And these sound like a radical manifesto for change to me? How did we (ok, me, maybe you) get to a point where grown, capable, intelligent women with jobs and/or families put themselves so low on the list that an anaesthetic with some of the worst possible side effects seemed like the only solution to every day life?
Ran the errand. Too late to get home for lunch. HALT and all that so decided to have lunch out, which isn’t often something I have time/cash for. I went to a little deli where they also have a few tables, and ordered a coronation chicken sandwich. This is one of my all time favourite sandwich fillings. Chicken in curried creamy mayonnaise sauce, classically including apricot jam, sometimes with mango chutney instead, frequently including treats such as raisins and flaked almonds. Varied and delicious. It’s a justification of the monarchy all on its own.
I sat down with the sandwich and started reading a magazine article about Kate Winslet. I have always felt an affinity with her after my daughter asked once, “Mummy, why are you in the paper wearing a sparkly dress?” God, I LOVE my daughter, but must hasten to point out that any likeness is purely in the eye of a five year old. Put me, Kate, and the Cat in the Hat in a room and ask any passer by to pick the odd one out and they would pick the Dr Seuss character only after some considerable deliberation. In fact, I’d be lucky if they didn’t pick Kate. 🙂
Anyway, this was one of the uber-filled variety of coronation chicken sandwiches, requiring considerable concentration and a big heap of napkins to eat, so I soon gave up on the magazine and focused purely on the sandwich. People came and went in the deli, chatting amiably to the woman serving, but crucially as I was one town over from home, no-one I knew, so I could eat my sandwich in peace, focussing on getting the perfect balance of bread, salad and filling in each mouthful.
The granary bread was malty and rough with delicious nuggets of grain. The salad was crisp with the occasional surprise herb, the sauce was tangy, gloopy but not too runny, and the meat was moist pieces with the taste and texture of ones torn from a chicken you’d roasted yourself.
Once I’d finished the sandwich itself I diligently used the knife and fork to tidy up each delicious crumb, dab of sauce or fragment of salad from the plate.
Then I sat back, and just for a minute, just sat.
No-one else in the deli. No background music. The only sound was the girl behind the counter humming gently to herself. A rare moment of sun streaming in across the wooden floorboards.
I felt so clear, and so calm. It was a really precious moment.
Impossible, isn’t it?
One of the trickiest things I have found about the process of getting sober is that it is a ‘not doing’ process. I can MAKE myself go for a run, or do that xyz work task, or clean the kitchen floor. Then it’s done. But the continual not-doing of something by it’s very nature, in at least the early stages, can make you think about it even more. There is no ‘now I’m done, now I can stop thinking about it’. Because I won’t be done, or finished, with this being sober thing. Alcohol will be in the world around me for the rest of my life. I am finding that the tendency to obsess about not drinking is gradually fading now, which is a huge relief.
In the film ‘Inception’ one of the lead characters is challenged to plant an idea in someone else’s mind.
‘Saito: If you can steal an idea from someone’s mind, why can’t you plant one there instead?
Arthur: Okay, here’s me planting an idea in your head: I say to you, “Don’t think about elephants.” What are you thinking about?
Arthur: Right. But it’s not your idea because you know I gave it to you. The subject’s mind can always trace the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake.’
However much help we find from our friends and familes, online or elsewhere, the true inspiration for getting sober always has to lie within ourselves. No-one can do that for us.
Yesterday our house suffered some significant storm damage.
No-one was hurt. The house was weather-proof by nightfall thanks to a great team of workmen. Internet access was unaffected throughout 😉
It’s nothing that protracted negotiations with loss adjusters and lengthy and highly inconvenient building work can’t sort out, and is unlikely to recur.
The children and I were pretty terrified during the event, but I was most surprised at how I felt for hours afterwards. Scared, vulnerable. Safe as houses? Nah, not so much. The last time I felt this way was during the first weeks of getting sober. All my defences down. Not knowing how to deal with anything life could throw at me. If you are in those days now you are a bloody hero. Keep at it. It gets easier.
I am never, never going to have another Day 1, or Day 15. That is a REALLY scary thought.
I was un-inspired this morning by the various images that came up when I googled ‘sixty’. Most of them seemed to be speed limit signs which is exactly what I don’t want as my whole point is that I want to go PAST 60 in my little sober car and on and on and on.
So I’ve gone with a 60 seconds tribute to the delights of the Radio 4 show ‘Just a Minute’ in which the contestants are challenged to speak for one minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition on any subject that comes up on the cards. Clip here if you don’t know it:
I inundated myself with so many treats to get me through the run-up to Christmas and New Year that I seem to have got out of the habit a bit. I had to think quite hard what would be a good treat to reward myself for 60 days.
I decided that I would have a girls’ treat on Saturday and take my mother and daughter out for afternoon tea.
As Belle says, “Have SOME cake. Not A cake.” 🙂
We went to a drinks party yesterday afternoon. It was on that seasonal knife-edge between really lovely and unbearably tedious… my children certainly felt the latter and congregated with a few other unlucky kids in the utility room. I felt like joining them at some points but resolutely did the social dance of catching up with people I hadn’t seen for a while, or over Christmas. It being New Year’s Day quite a few of my peers were conducting post mortems of the night before – who had ended the night with more of a bottle of Amaretto inside them than they would have liked this morning, and so on.
I didn’t miss having a drink as social lubricant, although of course there was that familiar pang of denial. Many people did have some wine, just the odd glass, enough to raise the conversational volume and bring roses to the cheeks of a few Miss Marple types attending. When I am not actually physically at this sort of event, this is where I tell myself I still miss drinking. The anticipation of feeling left out and weird. Whereas in reality quite a few of the people I spoke to were on orange juice. (Very nice fresh orange juice too, with bits in. Not stuff that tastes as if it came out of a can. Urgh.) No-one questioned what was in my glass at all. Of COURSE they didn’t.
I did have the becoming-familiar wobbles afterwards. I had timed a run for after the party, as it was hideous weather here all yesterday and I was going to get very wet and muddy whenever I went. During the course of my run I came to a point next to a small river where it had come up over the road. This was on an isolated country lane. I stood at the edge of the water for a few moments, trying to decide what to do. I had a route planned out in my mind and was cross at the idea of having to change my plans. I could have run through it – it probably was only a foot or so deep – but in the end I turned round and ran a different loop. It wasn’t worth the risk.
At the moment that is pretty much how I am feeling about alcohol. I have to stay completely away from even the idea of it.
I shrink at the idea of being pulled back down into the depths again. Being swept away, out of control. Dragged under.
I don’t think it is fear. I hope it is a healthy respect for a dangerous substance. And for now that is a protective mechanism, keeping me safe, so I get home to my family and the warm and dry.
Taking a cue from Sober at Sixty (thank you!) here is an example of my questionable musical taste. How BIG is that hair?!
It’s 2014 – and it IS a beautiful new day.