Saturday, 31 December 2016

Regrets-You'll have a few

DO NOT DRINK TONIGHT! You WILL regret it I can guarantee you. One more session to say goodbye is just a lie you are telling yourself. If you have any days under your belt stick with it because tomorrow's day 1 will be just another day 1 you'll wonder why it's not day 6 or 10 or whatever it would have been had you not drunk.

DO NOT DRINK TONIGHT! There is nothing about tonight worth drinking for, don't give in to peer pressure, do not think you'll go out with a bang, do not pretend you haven't been here on New Years Eve several times already hoping this will be your year. Pick up some car keys and cram as many people in your car as possible and be the designated driver. The more people you risk pissing off if you get drunk and can't drive the better. Do two runs and double the number of people reliant on you, put a kid in the car, one you care about and don't want to drive drunk with. Do ANYTHING not to drink tonight.

This time last year guess who was struggling with the voice? Guess who struggled all day going back and forth with cravings Last N.Y. Eve post I called the post 'A bad case of the tomorrow's' and how prophetic that proved to be. I cannot say enough to convince you that it will not be the right thing to do if you have ANY days sober in a row. Some if you will still be drinking and have been planning this as your last hurrah, that's ok because you have been building up to it, I get it I really do. BUT......if you are 1day, 2 days, 10 days, 65 days sober, even 100+ days sober please do not give in, I beg you.

I WANT THIS AS MUCH FOR YOU AS YOU DO, more maybe.  I care about all of you because I have been there crying, tired, lonely, disappointed, frustrated, bitter, resentful, regretful, puking, shaking, shivering, head pounding, ashamed, ASHAMED, exhausted, pathetic and depressed. I am occasionally one or two of those things now but never all of them together. That is what day after day, week after week was like for me and I no longer feel like that anymore. I don't want you to feel like that anymore because we are all so much more than this bitch of reliance on alcohol. We can really seize the moment of opportunity and make a different choice to get to a new day just by saying "No I won't give in today, maybe I will tomorrow but not today" and then say the same thing tomorrow.

I drank last New Years Eve, dear, kind SoberMummy tried to reach out and stop me but even her magically soothing voice wasn't enough to stop the runaway train of my thoughts. You can read how I felt on New Years Day 2016 Here which I titled 'Unhappy New Year'

I am not your mom, your boss, your conscience but I am someone who tried 37 million times to quit until finally it seemed to stick. I want you not to feel bad tomorrow and to start 2017 clear headed and ready to keep moving forward. If you do end up drinking I won't be mad, sad or disappointed in you because I came back to my blog so many times saying Day 1 AGAIN! and I know that bottomless feeling in my tummy.

SoberMummy said something to me in her follow up comment on New Years Day "remember that drinking today is only borrowing tomorrow's happiness" which excellently sums it all up perfectly. 

Do what you can to protect yourself from your other self. The blogs will be here tomorrow and everyone is a forgiving and supportive bunch and you will always be welcomed with an understanding ear.  Wishing you all a very happy new year 2017, I hope it is everything you are looking and hoping for.

Heartfelt wishes.


Thursday, 29 December 2016

222-1/365 Another retrospective

Day 222 which is a nice and satisfying number in look and duration. I have flown through the holidays very easily where thoughts of drink are concerned and the only thing I really have missed, but still in passing, is Baileys. It is something I would have drunk for the indulgence of it rather than the alcohol content. For years in our household a Baileys coffee for breakfast on Christmas Day was the norm.

Missing alcohol for me is like a missing back tooth (which caused me so much pain I would have given the dentist the deed to my house to take it out had he asked) I only really miss it when I look for it but most of the time I forget it's not there anymore -however there is a gap there where it used to be. For the first few months of not drinking I filled that gap with food, Becks Blue, more coffee and sugar which had never really bothered me before, I was always a salty person rather than a sweet person. This is akin to fashioning a new tooth out of a Brazil nut or a piece of popcorn or even a pebble, something to fill the GIANT gap you are so aware of. Now at nearly 7 months I have accepted that there is a manageable sized gap in my life and no longer feel the need to stick a replacement there, it doesn't bother me and it's only if I go searching for the gap that I realise it's there. I had the same realisation with smoking years ago and once I learned to cope with the gap it kind if faded into the background.

For anyone feeling like there is a giant chasm in their life opened up since quitting alcohol, rest assured there are ways of getting through the initial emptiness. Blogging helps, eating helps, going for walks, going to bed early, a gripping novel, knitting, adult colouring books, self help books, journaling, AA meetings, online sober support. In the beginning you are looking to fill in the gap as it is so large, so obvious and such a huge part of your life just GONE! But........and I truly mean this, it does start to shrink, maybe oh so slowly but shrink it does. Every now and again you will approach the edge of the chasm and think you know the perfect solution (literally solution) to fill it in but ultimately you know that if you fill it in you will be back in pain again and the gap will be bigger next time. If you are standing on the edge looking in, MIND THE GAP, step away quick sharp. Blog about it, wring your hands and pace up and down, put something in your mouth, food, water, cake, sugar lumps, coffee, chewing gum and go and sit down somewhere away from the edge.

They say time heals all wounds and that can be applied in this case too. What seems like it will never pass and what is causing you so much pain and anguish will subside and only time and distance can get you there. There is no quick fix because as with grief, you have to go through the various stages to understand and grow stronger, a sobriety pill wouldn't work because it wouldn't provide you with the skills and habits needed to create long term success.  Awareness is one of the biggest tools you can use. Being aware of how you are feeling, mad, angry, sad, lonely, disappointed, scared, frustrated, disappointed etc will give you something to think about and work on and at some point you may say "oh, this is why I used to drink" but in that moment you also have the opportunity to think, what happens if I just stay with this feeling and allow the gap to be there unfilled? It might surprise you 5 minutes, 30 minutes or a hour later to realise you survived it, you weren't consumed by the gaping chasm, you are still standing on the edge and you know you can do it again.

I am re-reading some of my very early blogs from this time last year and I am amazed at what was pouring out of my head. Probably because it was 'anonymous' and I hadn't told a living soul how bad I was feeling and how desperately worried I was about myself. This first few posts were just a cascade of thoughts from my head. Like a shaken bottle of champagne, when the corked was popped there was an explosive gush of trapped energy that spewed out unchecked. In hindsight I shared too much and some of it is more than a little mortifying but a lot of it was written late at night when I was at my most lubed up and drunkenly reflective. This one here sums up how deep in I was that night, the weird layout is due to me writing it on a Works doc and the copying it over to the blog. It is a bit cringeworthy reading it back but sums up the way my thoughts galloped around between being philosophical, morose, depressed and self hating and hopeful that I could recreate myself. It's long and rambling but also eyeopening.

This sobriety thing is all very doable but seems so elusive in the beginning and so fragile that it's hard to hold onto at first but it is very very achievable if you just keep telling yourself you can get through the next 5 mins and then the next.  Just allow yourself 10 days to get the alcohol out of your system, 30 days to change a habit and 100 days to get some clarity. Chances are when you get to 100 you wont want to go back but just for now give yourself a chance to see if things can be different and better.

Ginger Groundhog

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

220-1/365 Flashing blue lights

On Christmas Eve eve my daughter went to a party about 40 minutes away and it was out in the middle of nowhere. I agreed to go and collect her regardless of the the time. I can do that now 😊
I set up google maps on my phone to talk me through it and off I set. Having yet another cough and cold, third one in three months (sad violins playing in the background)  I realised I couldn't hear the instructions clearly so picked up my phone and increased the volume. About 1/2 mile later a saw blue lights flashing behind me and I pulled over, half expecting them to go around me but no they stopped too. Long story short they had stopped me for using my phone and I think the fact I was so ill looking and sounding plus I said yes I had used my phone but only to increase the volume  as I couldn't hear the directions meant I didn't get a ticket. He informed me that as I had committed a road traffic offence he would be breathalysing me, I said knock yourself out I don't drink. Needless to say I was clean as a whistle, not even a hint of ethanol in my system.

Rewind to Christmas last year and it was a very different story. I would say I would have been hard pushed to pass a breathalyser test for all but about 2 hours mid-afternoon when I calculate my poor beleaguered liver had processed the night before. I also had a bit of a wild mathematical formula that I had begun to utilise where I would calculate and measure wine against body weight against time so that I could have a drink before going to pick my daughter up from wherever she was. It always seemed to fall in my favour meaning I could have a drink. CRAZY, INSANE, DANGEROUS and CRIMINAL.

Looking back now I can see how bad I was getting and what crazy chances I was taking not just risking getting a ticket but actually killing innocent people. If you are in the last stages of drinking before Jan 1st, please do not drink and drive after any amount or drink and drive the following morning, you would be surprised how long after stopping drinking you are still over the limit. My daughter's boyfriend was stopped twice within about a mile on Boxing Day on his way to our house (poor lad, just cos he's young) so there is a heavy presence on the roads.

 Blimey I feel like a reformed drinker, lecturing you all on not doing what I was guilty of but it was the shock factor of everything that would have happened to me if that same scenario had played out last year. Arrested, suspended from driving, potentially BANNED from driving depending on blood alcohol, criminal record, potential lost job due to location and public transport, explaining to people what happened, telling my daughter. All of this ran through my brain as I drove off on Friday pleased not only that I only had a verbal warning but that I didn't have to worry constantly about getting stopped. I am not proud of how I was but I am proud of how I am now.

Ginger Groundhog

P.S I love this song by Robbie Williams, never really payed attention to his music before. So much of it rings true now and bends very nicely to the blogging community and how I feel about everything. Love My Life I hope it relates for some of you.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

207-1/365 This time last year

So this time last year I was excited at the possibility of stopping drinking, I was scared as well but pretty sure I would be able to nail it as I had set a date, was counting down, had my sober supplies brought in and most importantly the motivation to do it.

My first ever post Here was pretty confident in that I was sure this time would be the time, truthfully I was a great deal more nervous than I let on and deep down I think I was terrified at how much I was drinking. Worse still is that it took me another 5, nearly 6 months to actually stop. Also if I am being completely honest between December 2015 and May 2016 when I did finally stop for more than a few days, my drinking had seriously increased and I mean seriously. WHY????? Why had my drinking increased, well I kept doing the 'one more night' or 'this will be the last one, better go out with a bang' or 'I'll just have all my old favourites one more time and then I am DONE'  What I was actually doing was increasing my alcohol intake and to go one night without drinking was an achievement, to go two was a miracle but then I would construct some very "logical" reason in my head why I should have a drink that night and off I would go again. Not to mention that I would drive myself to work the next morning at 8:00am praying to God, the Universe, Krishna, any deity to get me to work safe and without getting stopped or crashing into something or somebody.

I look back now and seriously wonder if people at work knew. No one seemed to indicate they knew and I always tried to be bubbly and overly alert and upbeat to make it obvious that there was no way I could have a hangover. Ironically I am now miserable in the mornings and it takes me an hour at work to get into the swing -now I don't have to pretend all the time. I have a lingering suspicion though that I used to smell of alcohol in the morning, I don't know at what level the seep of alcohol exudes through your skin but I have a feeling I must have been perilously close. I imagine I used to wander around in a cloud of deodorant, Chanel Madamoiselle, chewing gum and stale alcohol. I always hoped people would assume the alcohol smell was the first layer of perfume evaporating off but I might be deluding myself.

If you are in the last days of drinking because Jan 1st awaits, don't go overboard thinking this will be your last hurrah. Just drink what you normally drink not the ridiculous amount I ended up drinking, it is foolhardy and unnecessary. If you plan to drink over Christmas try to savour it or even try to notice if you are actually getting anything from it. Towards the end I kept thinking "this is so not enjoyable, why am I doing this?" I still did it but there was no buzz left, just a need. Not everyone has gone this far (yet) but it is a slippery slope that I slid down very quickly in those last 5 months between Dec and May. Don't make that mistake yourself.

This has been rather a downer post but to tell the truth last Christmas was a downer Christmas for me in general. I kept chasing the buzz, the fun, the giddiness and it never came. This year however I have turned it around and I am off to a Christmas party in Dublin on Saturday and I am wearing a dress! I have not worn a dress in about 20 years as I have always felt too self conscious but this year I am making a huge effort and I look 'good enough' and for me that is all I need. I have decorated my whole house, not just the tree and a few bits but everywhere. Previously unmanageable cos I was hungover or awaiting the next drink. I have ingredients for mince pies from scratch to make and give away and potentially Christmas chutney if time and quantities of jars allow. I am looking forward to a well planned, decorated, homely Christmas focused on good food, good company, relaxation, conversation and not a drop of booze in sight. And to me that sounds like my best Christmas ever.

Despite all the advertising on tv I have had no desire to drink, no cravings and only the occasional recollection of how much I enjoyed a big bold red on Christmas Day but similar to a memory of sunning myself on a beach in Thailand, it's a pleasant memory but I am not going to dash to the airport and jump on a plane in a sudden weak willed moment. Drinking is DONE for me now and I  have to remember that should at any point in the future it rear its ugly head but right now I am enjoying how calm I feel, how very much I am appreciating the start of festivities without any anxiety about drinking, driving and managing my life. I am in my own little sober wonderland and enjoying my new found sense of peace. I will take this feeling over last year any day.

Ginger Groundhog

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

199-1/365 To be a better person

 I have just been catching up on posts (about two weeks late) over at Just for Today here and the truly lovely lovely Annete always seems to make my heart expand, my eyes to see with more compassion and my brain to think "Jeez, you really need to be a nicer person!" - that would be me not Annette that brain is speaking about.

Maybe this last 2 months has been the space I have needed to step back and reassess what is going on in my life, who I am, how I am, what I want to be when I grow up do with the rest of my life. This combination of chest infection, exhaustion, depression, peri menopause, fuzzy headed, shaky legs etc is a massive HALT sign designed to stop the chatter, lose the obligations, stop the worry and just BE. Maybe there is nothing really wrong with me except overwhelm with it all. I do feel like I have been a hamster on a wheel or running on a treadmill knowing that I was stressed, unhappy, tired, juggling, worried, stressed, bored, [insert your own word here] and at times I almost felt as though I was watching myself and realising that I needed to stop but also being so deep in it I didn't know what to do or how to stop. Apologies if that reads like gobbledegook, I know what I mean. My body has two responses to overwhelm usually, a migraine or lately a chest infection. I have been fighting, resisting and trying to prove I can be strong and dependable but it didn't seem to be working and so my system threw a spanner in the works.

So back to being a nicer person. As I have had time on my hands and time to ponder the bigger questions in life I have noticed that I am not quite the likeable , kind, happy soul I used to be. I commented on my last post that I was now making a bigger effort to say hi to people and try and make someone's day better but this really only came sharply into focus when my friend was over from Chicago. It reminded me of how I was when I lived there and I wondered in fact if my friend would think I was a bitter shrivelled old shrew compared to the person she knew. BRIT BASHING ALERT - we are not always the most welcoming people, especially in London where it is more about being purposeful and hurried than rude but compared to friendly talkative mid-westerners it can appear unfriendly. I clearly remember when I came back to London after 10 years in Chicago, someone sneezed on the 07:23 to Victoria and I said "Bless you" and just about everyone in the carriage looked startled and stared at me. Now I am not saying America is all sparkles, sunshine and rainbows (especially now) but people are friendlier and more talkative, they are interested in you and very polite. I am not an Ameriphile but I did really enjoy my time there and felt happier and more ME than ever before.  We Brits have a reputation for being reserved and polite but is it just me that thinks we have gone too far the other way? I watched and remembered times in Chicago with my friend as she negotiated her way around London and Cornwall, where she would pass a pleasent little aside about the weather or how beautiful it was here and how excited she was to be here in England only to be met with stony silence, a job required smile or just transaction minimalism "here's your change" - no one asked where she was from, was she enjoying it here, how long was she staying etc. Same in Cornwall except for one guide at St Michaels Mount who appeared really interested and happy to talk.  In hindsight, maybe I enjoyed living in America because I could guarantee everyday I would be spoken to, engaged with, questioned on my reasons for being in America etc. I loved it 99.9% of the time as occasionally when you are in a big hurry you would rather skip the history of how you made it stateside to get on the train departing in 3 minutes.

But I am not Brit-bashing exactly, I am ME-bashing. The fact that I stopped trying, stopped engaging, stopped being friendly when I came back. I had a series of bad luck my first 6 months back including my mum dying 4 months after I came back and moving in with a woman whom after about 4 weeks it appeared she was either selling drugs or sex from the apartment shared with myself and my 7 year old. Quick exit, no returned deposit! Rather than bounce back from all these events I shoved them down inside along with my friendliness and give a damn and so entered a newer harder more bitter and resentful Ginger. Fast forward and all life's arrows had hardened me further, increased the bitterness and resentment and added a very unhealthy wine habit into the mix. All of a sudden I realised I hated my life, my attitude, my house, my job, this country, the way I had raised my daughter these last 9 years, how much life I had wasted, my financial disaster, how much I was drinking, everything. I hated everything.

So here I am six months into my alcohol free journey and I have had this complete breakdown breakthrough (that belongs to Brene Brown, not me) where I am surveying the landscape looking for bits I recognise. I can blame returning to England or I can blame a run of less than ideal choices, I can even blame drinking but I have realised all this blame doesn't move me forward it just keeps me stuck in all the old bitterness, regret and resentment. I need to let all that go and look with new eyes free from the negative filter I have been employing for the past 10 years. I can try to engage with people more and be friendly and open and I am pretty well sure I will get some positive feedback, maybe not from everyone but from some. That negative filter became very fine tuned this trip to London after my friend commented that people weren't very friendly here, so basically I went around looking for evidence to prove her right. I don't think she was paying too much attention herself, she carried on being friendly and open whereas I was by her side with my own agenda counting up each slight and tallying up how rude WE Brits were. If you look for bad don't you always find it.? Well now I am going to be looking for the good more and was it Gandhi that said "Be the change you want to see"

I also need to mend fences with my daughter who is not blameless, she has been a real bitch to be honest recently but I am the mom and the grown up and I need to stop acting like a teenager myself when I deal with her as that is not a healthy dynamic. In the the words of  the AA verse Just for Today (and the name of Annette's blog) ' I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it' because that is my go to reaction, hurt feelings and pouty face, always hoping that will be enough to change the other persons attitude 'Look at me, you have hurt my feelings. Feel bad and comfort me'  We have been at war for weeks now and just when I think we are back on level ground, she blasts me with another litany of things I have done wrong and how horrible I am etc
So I have decided that I am going to try and be the change I want to see here and deal with her in a different way. Not sure how this will work out and not sure how accepted it will be but i cant just give up on this or it will just get worse. I mention Annette over at Just For Today because I find her very inspiring as a mother and someone I would like to model more in how I deal with my daughter. Also she is just a very kind and generous soul with how she supports and helps people.

I will apologise to anyone who has been offended by what I have written here today about Brits, American Mid-westerners, Londoners and the Cornish and disagrees with my views but untimately it is more myself I am judging so please don't get too mad.

Goal for today is to reach a detente cordial with my daughter so we can try to at least sit down together and talk. The rest of it can wait for another day.

Ginger Groundhog

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

193-1/365 Russian Roulette

Ok people strap in for an overly indulgent, rambling, overdue catch up post.

I have been really struggling with my health for about 3 months now and have been examined, drained of blood, medicated, bed rested and self prescribed herbal meds in the hope to feel better. In September I had two weeks vacation time where I planned to work on the house and get some much delayed jobs completed. However, the first week I was tired and cranky and really just plain tuckered out so indulged in several days in bed with a book or Netflix until noon or sometimes later. I returned to work still tired, cranky, exhausted and fed up. The first week in October I went crashing into my old nemesis the chest infection and spent a further 2 weeks bed bound coughing, exhausted and sleeping 12-16 hours a day. Weeks 3-4 were similar with me forcing myself to get up and do stuff only to crash later and have to return to bed. Blood tests and examination have not given a definitive diagnosis but everything from post viral fatigue, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, depression, anxiety, thyroid issues etc have been mentioned. Oh and as my friend stated adamantly (and probably closest) "Your having a midlife crisis love!" for full effect say that with a cockney accent.

Month 2 I was starting to feel brighter and a bit more myself spending whole days out of bed only to crash maybe once or twice per week. This was an improvement on the first month where I was almost physically impossible to walk my dogs as my legs could hardly carry me for 1/4 mile with out shaking and giving way. If I can't mange to walk my dogs then I really AM sick. By 3 weeks into November I was definitely feeling better and my friends arrived from Chicago and buoyed with excitement, enthusiasm and caffeine I manage to show them around London. One of them is seriously disabled due to obesity, diabetes and bad knees and because of this we had shorter days and not my normal race around London to show off the sights. It was still hard for me to do and the day they left I felt sadly relieved as I had run out of steam. Next day I woke up barking like a seal/sea lion and back to the doctors again only to be signed off for the THIRD month. This is the fourth chest infection since February and the second in 7 weeks. Both I and my GP are at a loss as my immune system doesn't have time to recover in between illnesses, autoimmune is now starting to be mentioned, yikes! I am literally sick of being sick. I am once again confined to my bed to stay warm, hydrated, and rested like some frail Victorian character with an attack of the vapours. I am happy for now in bed as due to the incessant coughing over several episodes, my ability to cough and retain my modesty has been annihilated. [TMI ALERT] consequently each time I have a coughing fit I either pee myself a little or fart, OH THE SHAME. Needless to say I do not venture out in public until the coughing has reduced. That's the last I will mention of it. I am giving myself until tomorrow to stay in bed and then Dec 1st I am on an all out assault to get my health back, SOMEHOW!

Confession time and this is a warning for all newly sober - DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!

I drank, ONCE. Sometime between day 152 and day 163 (I don't remember now when it was) I drank for one night. This was incredibly stupid, totally avoidable and very much risking everything I had achieved so far. What happened was I became very depressed with my physical condition, I felt like all this work to stay sober and here I am feeling worse than I ever have in my life. It all reads so painfully ridiculous in retrospect especially given that I was so ill anyway and it would do nothing to improve my health but would more than likely be very detrimental to it. Anyway, the cravings were rapid, frequent, obsessive and relentless and when I finally gave in, it was with the resignation that this may very well lead me back into nightly drinking. I wasn't under any illusion that this was 100% guaranteed one night only, I hoped it would be but based on my previous throwing in the towel I knew I ran the risk of being back to square one possibly in worse shape than ever.  Seriously Russian Roulette or playing with fire is the only way to describe it. It is not lost on me that this is extreme self sabotaging behaviour and is the ultimate "go on universe do your worst".

So the night itself I went for my old favourites, vodka and red wine. Two small vodka rocks followed by one of my favourite reds. Hold the front page - I DID NOT ENJOY IT AT ALL.  The vodka tasted how I imagine rubbing alcohol would and the red wine tasted like, well, sour grapes funnily enough, DOH!. Yes, yes I finished the lot but the sense of disappointment of not only not enjoying it but also blowing my sobriety run was indescribable. Needless to say I had the mother of all hangovers including vomitting  and blinding headache, all for what? Nothing! Now here is the silver lining to this woeful tale of self destruction, I can genuinely say I never want to do that again even for one second. It was the biggest let down ever but also the most striking clarity I have had. I now completely understand what Jason Vale expounds in his book, he totally thinks drinking is gross and now so do I. I am slightly evangelical about it and have been converted into an 'anti' drinker, the opposite to my thoughts about smoking, I always think I'll love the idea of smoking again even if I have no intention of doing it. I do however realise the power of addiction and that if I ever did drink again my body will respond like an addicts body and potentially crave, crave, crave. When my friends were here we were in a pub and I drank some of her beer instead of my Becks blue. How did I know? Well, even though it was a small sip my body responded immediately with that warm flush down my esophagus into my stomach and that rush you get when you first imbibe, not a wholly unpleasant feeling but one I recognised and thought oops, wrong beer.

By the time my friends arrived in the UK I still had no desire to drink and was fine having both red and white wine in the house for Thanksgiving along with a cases of Coors Light. For myself and my best friend down from London to help with the driving, who was rewarded with my lovely Thanksgiving turkey, I bought some non-alcoholic spritzer made from Muscat grapes. It was way too sweet for me, for some reason (Red you can educate me) I always thought the Muscat grape was used for very dry wines but I think I must be very wrong as this melted the enamel on my teeth. Imagine taking a sip expecting a very dry champagne like taste and getting grape juice and 7-up BLEUCH, worse still I bought 2 more bottle for Christmas/New Year. Luckily this was all that was left as the rest of the alcohol was consumed that evening, amazing to watch how much people drink only to realise I used to drink more. This continued for the remainder of their time here and aside from the diabetes and obesity curtailing our sightseeing it was also apparent that once 4pm arrived the jokes about the pub started thick and fast and if we weren't in a pub with beer in hand by 5pm I had two very crabby tourists to cope with. Now I feel a bit hypocritical judging them for this as I used to be thinking similar things but invariably was able to hold my tongue until at least 6-7pm. Interesting though that this sheer desperation to drink was passed off without so much as a touch of embarrassment so I am guessing this was considered the norm. Maybe I have been aware my desire to drink wasn't the norm for quite some time and so was shy to ever be the first to suggest drinking mid-afternoon, don't get me wrong, on a Saturday or Sunday I was pouring a glass of wine anywhere from 2pm to 5pm but would have kept this to myself for the most part. Neither one is "better" or "worse" since both are problem drinking but I guess it is all down to awareness. Interesting though that the snide comments about how his doctor couldn't get his diabetes under control was passed after about the 7th or 8th beer. I bought 2 cases of 12 so 24 in total and they were gone in less than 24 hours with only one person drinking them. The sheer volume of liquid is what amazed me along with all the sugar in the beer.

So that is the majority of my catch up. I have either been flat out in bed or racing around like a mad woman - so balance in my life is still missing. I drove over 1200 miles in 7 days and the petrol alone has been enough to bankrupt me (Justonemore I don't know how you do that every week M5,M4, M25) to any Americans reading, in the UK a gallon of gas is approx $5.15 as opposed to your approx $1.90 - $2.50 per gallon. I cooked a fabulous Thanksgiving turkey, even if I do say so myself, brined as per Nigella Lawson recipe - if you have yet to brine a turkey then get on it, it is the best ever. I will close here as I am just telling you random bits of my life that I haven't passed on for 50 days.

If you are newly sober, for goodness sake don't do what I did, I tried this 2 years ago and plunged straight back into drinking for 18 months. This recent experiment in stupidity had a fortunate ending but I can tell you the chances are stacked against you as you only have to read around the blogosphere to see how often people end up at square one BUT........................... stopping drinking is so worth it, even with all the really bad crap I have had in the past 6 months. I wouldn't change anything about this journey because somehow, SOMEHOW, I know I am headed in the right direction and my life is firmly back on track. Despite the sickness, weakness, tears and sheer frustration and exhaustion, I feel like I am returning to my old self and the the mental me is so much better than before but it is taking the physical me a little longer to catch up. That may sound weird after all I have written about how tired, tired, tired, tired oh and exhausted I am but really the old happy me that had hope is just bubbling away under the surface and in a joint selfie my friend took of us I looked at it and for the first time in about 9 years I saw my real smile on both my lips and in my eyes. It is never too late to find yourself again.

If you have made it this far then you definitely have the stamina to stop drinking.

Mega post over!

Ginger Groundhog

Monday, 28 November 2016

191/180 need a new goal

Hello anyone out there still bothering to check my much neglected blog.

This is the quickest update until I get back to Cornwall and the comfort of my own bed.

1. Most importantly STILL SOBER
2. Have been pretty ill for about 2 months now and only just starting to get myself back to  moderate health
3. Have my best friend here from Chicago (we just 'did' London in 4 days) I am both happy and sad as I love having her but it reminds me of how much I loved Chicago. Cooked the most massive Thanksgiving feast ever and was praised to the heavens (glory hound that I am) and Thanksgiving has always been my favourite holiday. I cooked for 12 which wAs awesome and I got to show off my skills, makes a change from my normal petite Thanksgiving for 3-4
4. I have been reading your blogs on my phone in between sightseeing but not commenting.

I am headed home today after the tearful goodbye at the airport and once home I promise to write a proper post.

Ginger Groundhog

Thursday, 20 October 2016

152/180 Getting my house in order

Day 152 -been sick for two weeks recently with my old faithful laryngitis and chest infection. I have been signed off with post viral fatigue since I am in doctors term TATT- Tired All The Time. This is the third time in 8 months I have been physically floored by the same thing and according to the doc my immune system has not had time in between to recuperate. Blood tests are in my future to rule out anything serious but like the doctor I am betting it is more life/stress/work/busy/quitting booze related than it is an actual illness. I have let go of my fears and worry about what work will think and given in to being sick and just allowing myself to recover. So much mental stuff is bubbling to the surface because I have actually stopped the treadmill of life and noticing what is going on around me and in my head.

We are not designed to live the way we do!

I'm a bit annoyed that after quitting booze I am rocked by poor health however........ I think this is all still part of the life detox and I am embracing (grudgingly) this in the same way I am all the positive aspects. Also, not to get too woo-woo new agey on you, my house is undergoing a renovation and literally some rooms have been stripped back to the stone. Getting rid of all the problems that have been spackled over for years, one botched repair job after another. The rooms are laid bare, no pretty finish, no plaster on the wall BUT they are now dry and free from damp and rot that had been lying beneath the surface causing years of problems, cold, damp, mould, blistering. Not only is the house a metaphor for what is happening in my life but I truly honestly belief there is a symbiosis between the house and myself. Both have needed this work done for years but each has been denied the opportunity because it was just so big a task to undertake.  This slow, painful sometimes shocking (being called down from my sick bed by the builder to show me a load bearing 200 year old wooden beam that was reduced to the texture of wet coffee grounds) work is necessary and timely. Everything happens for a reason and in the right time and order but sometimes in the thick of it you struggle to see the natural progression of it. Even out of the most horrible circumstances good can follow.

It is not secret here that I drank too much for about 8 years, excessively for 5 years and very worryingly for a year. Through all this time I neglected my house and my finances subsequently ending up with about £6000 credit card debt. Not horrendous compared to some people but for me who doesn't like debt of any kind -terrifying. Having only a very small mortgage but heavy credit card payments it seemed sensible to draw down some equity and get the credit cards paid off but also get enough to tackle some essential building work. If I hadn't have accrued the credit card debt by drinking I wouldn't have got the money to take care of the repairs which time wise coincided with me  being ready to deal with my longstanding issues from being sober for 5 months. The timing of all of this has just been fabulous, it's almost choreographed. The only thing absent from this scenario is SHAME, my go to emotion. Shame would have been the prevailing feeling and admission about all of the above. Shame I drank too much, shame I accrued debt, shame over the state of my house, shame that my life was out if control and unmanageable. Shame, shame, shame, a shame storm. But... It's not there, shame is notable by its absence. All that has happened is done, I am not proud of how things got to this point but they were all steps along the way I took by misadventure, necessity, survival or habit or some combination of all of those and hundreds of other factors. All steps have led me to here and a clearer view of the road ahead.

Two nights ago I was very close to having a drink due to a devastating row with my 18 year old daughter. I was ready to throw it all away to get back at her (this stupid logic comes up quite often when I am rage filled) but as so often happens now I decided to look into it a bit more from a place of calm. I thought about what I wanted to do, drink, how it would make me feel, good initially then hollow then disappointed then sick, would it help the situation? No, would it be worth it? no, would I regret it? yes, would it be a one off? probably not! Would I be willing to risk all I had gained? Not sure!
Then I asked myself what was I feeling, where was the feeling and what could I do about it? Going deep I realised I was hurt, sad, angry and lonely. I felt like a child myself and that my daughter had "abandoned" me and then the tears came. This activity circled a few times with me still deciding drinking would be the best solution, all the way back through to drinking is the stupidest most self destructive thing I could do and why would I do that. Again, back to the hurt, sad, angry and lonely stage which brought more tears which led to the super smart idea to go to bed. I hasten to add if you think this was very mature of me, rest assured it wasn't as it was still my daughter who had to assume the role of 'grown up' in the scenario and come and talk things out sensibly. I'm definitely stuck in child mode when my feelings get hurt. To be worked on in due course.

So there are the recent ups and downs of my life, a way to see that things go well & shit still happens. It is worth bearing in mind that there is always a window of opportunity to see things from a different perspective if we will but take the time rather than going for our knee jerk reaction - drink.

Today I am still tired, still a bit sick but very clear in my mind that drinking would have set me right back to square one and I don't want to do that anymore. I will continue to sit with the times of discomfort so I can enjoy the times of accomplishment.

Ginger Groundhog

Friday, 7 October 2016

139/180 Personal best!

Day 139 and I had to look it up in my old paper diary to be sure whether I drank on day 138 or 139. It was 138 as my diary entry was titled

29-03-2015 Should be day 139

Well I drank last night and I feel shameful today and know that [unreadable] if I am being honest that I could have avoided it. I could have stopped it before it ever started but I just said 'fuck it'

That seems like lifetime ago and so many experiences ago. Time is both slowed down when you are trying to quit but also perversely speeded up, as in 'yikes where did the last 18 months go' 

Reading through my old journal entries going back to 04-08-2014 (4th August my American friends) titled Day 1 of course , that entry begins " I am in a wondering state, how did i get here? I wonder how I have made these choices to get here. I am all at sea and really really adrift. I feel I have been bumbling along and waiting for a path to appear or become clear but sadly I have ended up at the cliff face and my choices are fall off the edge or step back, take stock and turn it around"

The original entry of that episode of non drinking ie 138 days was
10-11-2014 (10th Nov) Terrified - suitably so!!

Whilst I realise last night I felt a bit wobbly and little bit drunk, the crashing realisation that this morning at 6:30am and I was still in a word 'pissed' [English slang for really drunk, not meaning angry] is terrifying. I awoke fully aware that I was still sloshed drunk. First time ever I have felt drunk still the next morning.

Even though I don't elaborate further about getting to work, I have to assume that since I mention work I must have driven there. Shocking and shameful. I know that there were many mornings I felt like this after I started drinking again but either played along with the denial or persuaded myself that coffee and eggs would make the difference. Truth is if you drink a 13% bottle of wine finishing around 10-11pm you will not be safe to drive until 10-11 am next morning!! Whether you feel sober or not.

At day 139 this time around I feel good about my journey so far, I feel I have been keeping up with thoughts, memories, emotions as they bubble up and can honestly say it is not these things that seem to make me want to drink on the rare occasion that pops up. When I get a desire to drink it just seems to appear in the same way you get a sudden craving for a bacon sandwich or pancakes. It isn't necessarily mood related, just a feeling of 'I'd like to drink right now'. I did have that drinking thought the other day as I stood doing dishes as that is what I had been doing the previous time when I thought 'fuck it, I'm going to the store' This time I was aware I was only having that thought because I was in the build up to my new record of day 139 almost like the contrarian in me saying 'go on I dare you to fuck it up again'.  I feel very confident this time and much more slowed down and in touch with where I am, where I am heading and my ultimate goal.

As I looked through all the numerous entries in my paper diary, many Day 1's jumped out but also many this is the last chance, or this can't continue, I can't carry on like this or after this one last time tonight that's it.  It is sad how many times I have been under starters orders only to fall at the first hurdle. Each time I meant it and each time the entry was profound and heartfelt but echoing statements/sentiments already oft repeated. So many entries read the same yet each time it feels like a new discovery or revelation. I still have a slight worry about my memory as I read some of my older posts and have very little recollection of what I wrote. Maybe it's P.A.W.S or maybe I don't have a great memory for certain things, medical factoids I seem to retain with great ease.

Whether last time was the trial run done with not much awareness, no real inquiry into deep emotions  and just a kind of stumbling, bumbling unsupported lucky run I don't know. What I do know for sure is that the support and understanding you get here on the blogs is a massive part of why so many, not all, succeed. It is a sense of community and knowing and reading that other people are walking the same path as you or have been down it a long time ago and are way ahead and able to shine a light back to us still struggling to get out of the shadows. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to so many bloggers who I'd love to name but fear I would accidentally miss one prevents me from doing so. But if you are newly sober or have been trying to get sober I can guarantee those same bloggers have been typing encouragement and hope to you too.

Lastly I found this in my diary and not know if I made it up (genius) or copied it off something but I love it.


Saturday, 1 October 2016

133/180 Still going strong

So day 133 and I am still in a very strong sober place. It is safe to say I have nearly no thoughts about drinking at all.... until I get smacked upside the head with a massive one. Completely off guard and unawares I get a wallop of a craving(?) craving is not exactly it, a self destructive thought more like.

For example I am walking around the grocery store and I am feeling good, borderline great, and thinking of all that I have achieved recently; done more painting and decorating in 6 weeks than I have in 9 years, building work coming along great, mood has been up and down but I am in control, I am morphing into a very positive determined person, I am eating differently (ie not gorging on carbs 24/7) and have lost 8-12lbs, daughter doing ok, dogs happy and healthy, different outlook on life etc etc. All good stuff. Then........ Vodka on sale for a stupidly low price and on a promotional display, voice chirps up "oooh I'd love to drink all that, all alone, bag of ice. Bliss"  That was it, no struggling to decide if I want to do it or if I should or shouldn't, it is not going to happen and I know that but the thought just came like a flash into my brain.

What a wonderful gift that thought is, I real bone fide gift. That thought just as it stands shows me there is no illusions of a sophisticated glass of Rioja or a martini out with the girls after work, it is about seclusion, isolation, numbing and addiction. A connoisseur doesn't look at a bottle of wine delighting in the fact they are going to guzzle it all down, they sip it. Having that clear realisation and then coupling it with how I would feel the next morning along with memories of my last time drinking was a fabulous reminder of why I don't want to ever go back down that road again. Well apart from the part of me that does, the part that despite everything pointing in the opposite direction, that this time it would be different. My mind occasionally plays out little vignettes of scenarios where I could start drinking again, all horrific and upsetting but in the distorted addict corner of my mind, all good reasons to drink again. Even more worryingly, there is a subtle knowledge that if I started drinking again, it might be til death. Yep there is a part of me that thinks if I start again there is NO stopping and it could be the undoing of me. This fortunately sparks off a list of things I would miss out on in life, fully enjoying my daughter's wedding, or grandkids, maybe even meeting a partner, travelling when I retire etc.

Once you have reached a stage with drinking where you realise you are drinking too much or you know in your heart of hearts that if you open the bottle you are drinking the whole bottle, the only way from then on is further down. This thought is a great lifeline to me but might be a bitter pill to others. I just know I am lucky where I am right now, that I got off the elevator when I did. If I get on again, I might be on for longer than I intend and the next bottom will be a lot further down.

Thankfully I don't have to do that and I am very happy in the place I am now. I still have weeks of crippling, sheer exhaustion when I can barely make it out of bed but interspersed with that are weeks or pure energy where I tackle those lost, forgotten areas of the house drinking forgot. My house is coming on leaps and bounds and the metaphorical cleaning out the closets is doing wonders for my home and my mind. I am moving forward and seeing great progress and in 6 days I will have passed my previous record of 138 days.

I am still having Groundhog Day but now in a more positive way. It's predictable that I wake up with no hangover, it's predictable that even on my most tired of days I get something productive done, it's predictable I don't have to lie and pretend that I feel ok terrified someone will see through my facade. My life is a little bit dull to those looking in but to me it is fantastic compared to what it was before and I feel it is only going to continue to get better.

Ginger Groundhog

Saturday, 10 September 2016

112 Days - Content.

Day 112 and all is well, very well to be honest. I am on the first day of 2 weeks leave, needed and deserved. It is the first morning in months I have woken up relaxed as my daughter is not working today so I can relax in bed with a coffee before I launch into the day ahead.

I had no idea it was so long since I posted I thought I would give myself a day or two of not posting or readin to focus on other things and here it is 12 days later. Having a 12 day hiatus has made me realise how infrequently I think about drinking now and I can't say for certain but I think a good 9 of those had barely a conscious thought about drinking or drink. I did have a very big craving the other day but even that was nothing in comparison to a few weeks back when I wanted to claw my face off rather than sit with the feelings. That night I was just very aware I would like to throw the whole thing away and drink to my hearts content even to the point I thought " I'm going to be sooo hungover in the morning I won't risk driving, I'll call in sick" so you see for me that is not romantic thinking about a glass of Rioja, mine is drinking for taste and to get to a certain level of numb. I will say I probably missed quite a good opportunity to delve deep into why I was feeling like that all of a sudden but it was quite a quick escalation and I made the decision to dash to the store to get some Becks Blue which really shuts the craving down for me. Sure enough it worked immediately.

Recently I have noticed that there is an emerging confidence in me also, it is slowly unfolding and it is happening with awareness. Some of it feels good and some of it, because it involves challenging the status quo, does not feel very comfortable, some of it feels so alien I actually don't know what to do with it. Example being, my boss the Clinical Psychologist is somewhat histrionic herself and although borderline genius is a bit of a 'nutter' (that is the clinical term for it, really!!) part of the reason I do my job so well is I am able to 'manage' her, several others cannot cope with her style. 'Managing' her means putting up with all of her quirks and temperament and picking out the relevant bits to actually get on and deal with things. She is very fond of me and realises that I have to put up with her shit and that I understand her and more importantly forgive her the quirkiest of her quirks.

However...... Through the 100 days I was getting more and more irritated by her and starting to hate my job and hate her to a degree and as I have documented before, my mood was dropping and dropping. In part I think it was because I was managing soooo much; me, my sobriety, my daughter, the house, the builders, my sobriety, the dogs, paying bills, work stresses, car troubles, decorating, my sobriety, my boss going through a crisis, ad infinitum....... at one point I thought I just couldn't cope with her any more, she really is very very high maintenance. Thankfully I have bounced back probably largely in part to the anti depressants and I am seeing things from a much clearer perspective. This is where the discomfort comes in. I am noticing I am causing a shift in the dynamic between my boss and myself as I have changed my reaction to how I respond to her. The discomfort is mutual because all of a sudden she is noticing a shift in my reaction ( positive in my mind, maybe not so much in hers) and she is not sure how to deal with it. It is very hard to explain but the simplest way I can say it is when I react differently there is this pregnant pause where I know as a psychologist she is searching her brain for the logical explanation and how she should now react. I don't know if I will ever be able to capture the essence of the discomfort for you but it is all to do with me growing as a person, that being mutually acknowledged internally but neither of us speaking about what is happening.   It is a liminal state for both of us.

So Ginger is doing ok, making changes and making plans. I have lost a great deal of angst, anxiety, gripping fear or that stomach clenching panic that seems to control you when you are in the grip of daily drinking or the early stages of quitting. Ironically when you are drinking daily the only thing that makes that feeling go away is in the evening when you have that first drink, often guzzled rather than sipped, and the clenching feeling seems to unfurl. Sober now and post 100 days I feel unfurled most of the time with only the occasional clenching grip, so a complete opposite to the old way of feeling. Today I feel completely open, ready for anything the day will bring, happy to plod along or ready to spring into action should the urge come on me. This too can be yours if you make the 100 days of self discovery to get here. Blog, blog and blog some more. Take the risk and spill the contents of your head and you could help both yourself and others reading. It is possible, it's simple but not easy.

Ginger Groundhog

Monday, 29 August 2016

100/100 And so it begins.........

Day 100 and it feels like a new beginning rather than crossing the finish line. I cannot begin to express how different I feel today, day 100 than I did back on the last day 1. It has been a journey and I have been up and down, quite down sometimes to be honest and there have been cravings so strong I thought I might tear my skin off. Somehow, some way, I made it through the next minute, the next hour the next day and all the way to day 100.

Sunday 22nd May 2016 was day 1 for me and it was a grim, bleak day. I am not sure if I had been searching for "bottom" but I sure as hell felt it that day. I had drunk more than I ever had before, nearly a full bottle of vodka and some wine too. I am sitting here cringing having spent ages deciding do I say the real amount or cut it down a bit so it doesn't look so bad - but the reality is I did drink that much and I vaguely remember thinking halfway through the bottle, if I drink the rest I am pretty sure I will be sicker than I have ever been (I wasn't wrong) May I hasten to add here, at no point did it occur to me that I might KILL myself ingesting such a large amount at one sitting. It scares me even more now fully sober that I was capable of managing it.

I crawled up the stairs on my hands and knees! I am ashamed about that so much.

I threw up violently and for some time. Thank goodness!!

I woke up with my head pounding, sweaty and shaky and so very thirsty but I couldn't quench it because I kept throwing up.

Late afternoon pure guilt made me get up and take my poor dogs out for a long walk, you know, clear the old head etc. I did one of my longer Sunday walks as I was only walking them once instead of twice and at the end of the walk there is a steady incline for about 1/2 mile (I have written about this before) and as I was walking up it, I would not allow myself to stop partly as punishment and part as proof I can still do it. Well when I reached the top, I was in trouble, I was very very hot, out of breath, red faced, dehydrated, sick, pounding head again and for a few minutes gravely thought "I might have a heart attack here and die" THAT was a real worry for those few minutes, a real honest to goodness I might die right here, right now. It scared me stiff. Needless to say I regrouped and headed off again after calming myself down and cooling myself off. I made it home very shaken and I think went straight back to bed. It was a turning point for me, like I said I think I was searching for bottom.

99 days later and I am so much further on. I still think about alcohol occasionally but I realise it is an illusion that I will enjoy it and have a great evening watching TV and relaxing. That is about a 30-45 minute window of golden drinking, then you spend the rest of the night chasing that feeling or even just maintaining it or perhaps just out of habit 'cos this is how you always drink. I had a Becks Blue tonight when I sat down, I had 2 chilling but as it turns out I only want one. I was not able to only have one of anything else before, I was often able to only drink one bottle of wine but never one glass. 99 days later and my dogs had two walks today after I had done all the laundry, mowed the front and back lawn, cleaned out the kitchen drawers and took my daughter out driving (oh yeah we got her a car on Saturday) for the second time, after 7 pm!!! ie. after wine o'clock!! It would never have been possible 100 days ago because it would be too late and cutting into my time and oh boy, do you need to practice patience, patience, patience when teaching a girl to drive ha ha.

I want to thank everyone who has commented either regularly, occasionally or even just once. Getting feedback all along the journey has helped no end and is why this blogging really works for so many of us. I also want to apologise for not always responding to comments, especially of late when my mood tanked and I was just trying to keep my head above water. I would like to thank all the people who have tirelessly been kind to me when my posts have been whiney, whiney, moany bloody agony so many of the days. I even planned a jokey post mentioning everyone but was so worried I would miss someone out that I gave up on the idea.

The only person I will single out here today is Red as she was the one who prompted me to join the 100 day challenge and for that I will be always thankful. It was the extra little incentive I needed for staying the course and might not have worked if I had done it another time or under different circumstances. So thank you Red, you were instrumental in this sober attempt and I thank you. OK I lied, I also have to congratulate SamKD on 100 days today also, she has been my day count buddy on this journey and beat me cos she HAS managed to post every day like I said I was going to but didn't manage. Oh well, I made 100 days and that is what I wanted.


Ginger Groundhog

Sunday, 28 August 2016

99/100 Nearly at the Beginning

Day 99 and I just posted a comment on Prim's blog which part of it was "Passing day 100 is like passing your driving test, you know the basics, you are aware of the danger, you know the correct way to do things and you are pretty safe but it is only now that you actually learn how to drive properly."

That is pretty much how I feel, that I have get the hang of it, learnt the rules of the road and am proficient at navigating my way around. However as all learners know, the exhilaration of passing the test is only the start to becoming an experienced driver. I could bang on about road blocks and applying the brakes, checking the mirro regularly, dangerous drivers, drunk driver (ahem) either from that night or drunk still in the morning, etc but you get the analogy without me spelling it out.

So as I mentioned on day 96 I started taking medication to help with my mood. Obviously I know a lot about antidepressants as they are part of working in mental health and the option is always with the patient. Some are vehemently opposed to them and others seem to want to take them without even trying to see if talking therapy can help (incidentally for low level depression and anxiety, talking therapy has been proven equally effective to medication) I do always warn people the side effects can be pretty off putting the first week or so with side effects ranging from nausea, sweating, dizziness hallucinations (ironic) and extreme mood swings. Luckily for me I only had extreme nausea and extreme dizziness bordering on vertigo for 4 days and had to tell work that I thought I had a virus. I was still working but felt quite loopy. Notice how I didn't even tell my work I have started taking antidepressants. Yes my 'shame' (not quite the right word) doesn't allow me to share with people I work with who are by trade in mental health cos they care about people struggling with mental health issues.

All this goes back to denial and embarrassment and sheer terror that I might become like my mum who had text book bipolar or manic depression as it used to be called, bless her. I won't be like my mum because statistically I am too old, way too old to get bipolar. I had a great doctor who told me back in my 20's that the juggernaut of manic depression was not around the corner waiting to hit me. He explained that everyone had periods of low mood and recovered in between and I was just hypervigilant about my mood because I lived in dread of 'this time being the one', the one being the time I would crack and lose it and not be able to get it back together again. I am 46 soon to be 47 and I have dodged the bullet. However, and it is a big however, I have never got over the fear or the embarrassment that I am not able to make my way through life without out occasion side trips into depression, it depresses me that I get depressed. The fear that people will judge me and think 'oh that explains it' is always present.

Taking antidepressants is almost admitting defeat, admitting that I am not a capable human being, that I am weak and defective. I SHOULD be able to hold my shit together right? Well........ I am not and that is the acceptance I am heading towards. I am committing to potentially staying on antidepressants for a year maybe two. I know the protocols and stepped approach to them and this time, the third time you are meant to go for two years. THAT is why I gave come to this kicking and screaming because this time I know this is probably something I will have to live with on and off for years and seems like just another things to tick on the list of 'What I don't like about me'

Having said all that though, I maybe do need to work on the acceptance and work with it rather than against it. When I use these out downs about me or make depression seem like the end of the world, I am piling that judgement on others even if it us unintentional and on an energy level. I don't want people to suffer and live in denial when there is help out there and having been doing myself and others a disservice when I slightly demonise mood disorders or at least mine. But it is fear that has been speaking so hopefully people reading this won't have been too overly offended or pushed back from getting help because I added another layer of stigma yo it. I am very sorry if I have inadvertently pushed anyone away from getting help or asking for meds.

Lastly I gave to say my mood is on the upswing and my brain is starting to remember things like the last paragraph I wrote, that I gave a meeting on Thursday and my friends son's birthday. All good stuff to remember. Sleep still proves to be very deep and not enough but maybe now will start to be more restorative. I am heading into day 100 hopeful, grateful and assured that this is best route for me to take. I see a bright future ahead and I feel pretty calm, for me, which is not a familiar feeling but a good one.

Until tomorrow

Ginger Groundhog

Thursday, 25 August 2016

96/100 I've put the plug in the jug

Day 96 and feeling a little brighter. I have started on 'happy pills' despite every fibre in my body loathing the idea but I had to keep telling myself if I had epilepsy I would take medication, if I had a heart condition I would take medication if I had asthma I would take medication. Sometimes telling yourself "pull it together" doesn't work anymore when you are too depleted. I have just surrendered to it for now.

I am on my bed watching a movie and the guy just said "I put the plug in the jug 23 years ago and I've been sober ever since. Maybe it is a familiar American expression but I love it and I am taking it for myself.

Just a quick check in tonight but hope to post more over my last few days to the 100.

Ginger Groundhog

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

94/100 Still sober, still blue

Day 94 and I am still on sober street but still awfully down. I am doing all the right things to boost my mood but it may come to getting some chemical assistance - I hate pharmaceuticals with a vengeance but even I can see they have their place sometimes. This may be one of those times.

Here are 5 positive things (even though typing that made me roll my eyes, or at least the depressed part of me rolled my eyes, the logical part knows you have to seek out the positive)

1. I am alone. I can pretend all day at work things are fine but as my daughter is not home I can drop the facade.
2. I treated myself to part two of the sclerotherapy on my spider veins for my 90 day 'treat' (note to self 100 day treat should not involve pain) I notice the difference in my face even if it is small.
3. The house looks amazing. Have had 2 compliments from locals one of whom I have never spoken to.
4. Sunny days ahead. Weather predicts several good day = improvement in mood I hope.
5. My car passed its MOT (UK test for a vehicle being roadworthy) big sigh of relief.

Other things I continue to be grateful for, good coffee, good books, somehow not giving in to cravings, knowing I have people who will reach out and help if I really need, a loving daughter, sleep,  the odd startling positive thought about myself, my loyal dogs, the fact I have a job despite not always liking it, having enough money to get by, the colour red, Chanel perfume, bacon, Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps (chips) and so many other random things that I just accept as given but would miss dreadfully if they were gone.

I have failed miserably at sticking Gosh, always with the negative! What I was going to say is I haven't managed to stick to my plan of blogging every day of the 100 as I had intended but where previously I would have therefore deemed the whole thing a failure, I am trying to reframe it in that, I have done as much as I can. I still feel a little bit annoyed at myself that I didn't but I was getting more and more frustrated with being down and writing about it was compounding my low mood.

One last observation is that today there was a minor mess up at work with a print run on 100+ letters and I happened to hear and intervene, this was an old problem that I used to deal with when I was in that department. One of the other team was running around like Chicken Little, "the sky is falling the sky is falling" and dismissing everyone's offers of help and various solutions. I said that I knew what the issue was and could help but Chicken Little scornfully commented that my idea wasn't going to work. Old me, drinking me would have stormed off probably with some choice words thrown over my shoulder but grown up me, competent me simply said 'please just leave this with me, I know what I am doing and currently you aren't helping the situation' needless to say she flounced off in a big huff. The other worker commented that Chicken Little had been shutting down all their solutions and she was glad I had stepped in. Problem solved in 15 minutes. As I was sitting back at my desk I suddenly felt very grown up and together and for a flash I saw what other managers have said they see in me. When people compliment me I usually think they are deluded or flattering me because all I remember are the times when I would have reacted badly and made some negative "fine sort it out yourself" comment. Today I saw the whole picture, I am very competent and highly knowledgeable and the other side of me is only a fraction, not the total me. Now I have noticed that I need to make a point of stopping and reviewing it in all situations. I don't have to feel guilty now for secretly nursing a hangover or underperforming cos I am not quite with it or apologising for not being quick enough. I have more than likely always been good enough even a bit hungover but my perfectionism couldn't allow me to be good enough and drinking and being hungover may have been a way to excuse what I perceived as shortcomings. I am still exploring that so it may not fit but today I definitely for the first time felt really good enough, for once.

Gosh at this rate, I might even like myself one day.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

88/100 Through gritted teeth........

Day 88 and I have to admit it loathe as I am to let these words out, I am depressed. Properly weepy time depressed and it is something I hate about myself and hoped would never come back but these last few weeks of struggling and trying to be positive (not very successfully) and hoping it would go away have culminated in a bad case of 'the dog' or 'black dog' attributed to Winston Churchill who suffered severe depression.

Luckily I get depression 'light' which still sucks and feels like I have treacle/molasses for blood and generally makes me want to cry about everything and anything. And more than anything makes me feel crippling shame having to admit it and actually use the word depression. Despite me working in mental health and letting everyone know mental health affects most of us at some stage in our life and is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, ME having it, ME admitting to it fills me with shame, anger and a sense of failure. So imagine what it is like for those who have it worse than me. Please be sparing in your comments, too much sympathy or niceness will tip me over the edge. I have been putting off posting because, 1. How many times can you post about how moany you are 2. It's a bit like by sayings it out loud it's real! Well it is real but you didn't know it was real so now you know it's real, it's really REAL. And bring on a fresh set of shame, I would be less embarrassed if I had a Nazi swastika on my forehead. I know it's illogical but there you go.

Sometimes I can catch it and change its course, a few early nights, no carbohydrates, escaping into a good book or strangely really hard physical work. This time I thought I had cornered and ready to shoo away with my excellent weekend but the events at work Monday sapped all that goodness and I hadn't got the reserves in storage to rally again *<splat>* like a broken egg. I know i am on the way when the odd commercial makes me a bit weepy and then the next thing is the treacle/molasses for blood, sounds weird but that's what it feels like and then I am like 'OH! You're back'

Drinking causes depression and depression causes drinking, it's a cycle and one I hope I have broken free from. I know it will time for my brain chemistry to adjust back after years of depleting all the good chemicals and ramping up all the bad ones ( now is not the time to tell me its permanent if anyone thinks/knows it might be) I could go on about it some more but I can't be bothered. I will get over it soon enough I know, fortunately I have reached a place of understanding that as hideous and boring and annoying as this is, I will be ok again soon-ish but when it's happening it feels like the end of the world. Oh and embarrassing, did I mention that already??? Don't we all just want to pretend to be "normal" and not have anything like this that sets us apart from the crowd [crying now] it's a stigma and one so many try and keep hidden, I know I do. Even working in mental health I feel like I will be penalised (I won't) I will be judged (I won't) I will be talked about (I might) but ultimately I will be understood and if I would allow, helped.

Funny really with all my overdrinking I was never in denial, I always thought I could quite easily say in an AA meeting, if I went "My name is Ginger and I'm an alcoholic" simple. What I have realised recently is it is depression I am in denial about, if you don't talk about it it's not real. Well folks "my name is Ginger and I am..... almost can't type it... Depressed" euch I feel sick just saying it. It will go away and it will get better I just have to keep going. Bit like not drinking. I am hoping that some of this will fall into 'the truth shall set you free' category. Maybe it won't and maybe tomorrow I will feel a fresh sense of hell that I outed myself and won't be able to force it back into the box marked DENIAL.

Someone please leave a sarcastic comment not just supportive ones see here to understand. That is assuming people do comment, probably bad manners to assume these things.

That's all for now and maybe a day or two, we will see how the mood takes me, literally.

Ginger Groundhog

Monday, 15 August 2016

84, 85, 86/100 I don't like Mondays

Day 84 & 85 were great days. Busy, industrious, productive and satisfying. Spent most of the weekend powering through all the jobs in the garden I have ignored in favour of sitting down drinking some wine on a lovely sunny day or avoided cos I can't possibly go outside on a lovely sunny day dehydrated and with a pounding head. Felt fabulous and empowered, kept thinking wow look at me go, I am going great guns. No cravings only hard work. Loved being physically tired out.

Day 86 and work sucked all the joy out of me and left me feeling depleted and tearful. Had a massive attack of the Billy boo-hoos mid afternoon and felt an overwhelming sense of injustice within my company and how much they expect from us and how little we get in return. I really do need to look at how rapidly my mood changes and how I am unable to regulate my emotions. I was reacting to something but I am not sure my reaction was equal to the misdeed. As SamKD would say I added another pebble to my bag of resentments and the bag marked WORK is full to capacity. i feel trapped in that job and the more days sober I get the more resentful I become and the more I realise I have settled for and that is no longer working.

I have gone to bed with a book as I need to power down.  Tomorrow I am going to look through my bookcase and find one of the self help (I hate that expression but you'll get what I mean) books I used to read when I was a more positive and silver lining kinda gal. Not the bitter husk of a shrivelled misery bag I have somehow sobered up to be. I am no longer content to moan and complain about things, I have to try and take some action to change it. This is me sober but it is not the best sober me.

Ginger Groundhog

Friday, 12 August 2016

83/100 Talked out

Day 83 and it's been a chatty day.

Got an earful all day from my boss as she is going through some drama in her personal life, even psychologists seemingly can't handle their own problems when things go wrong. Work is just crap at the moment and having to do therapy all day on the therapist is not in my job description. Not when I earn 1/4 of what she earns. Sounds really harsh I know but by Friday I am done.

Had a great chat with my best friend on FaceTime for 3 hours, we set the world to rights. She also made me feel less mean when I told her about my boss.

1. No cravings at all today- hooray
2. It's Friday, no work for two days.
3. Builders have done amazing work for 6 days on the job.
4. Slept like the dead last night and woke up feeling almost alive.
5. Daughter FINALLY cleared out the spare bedroom of all her old clothes.

Slowly slowly making changes and progress.

TGIF is all I can say, the weekend beckons for odd jobs.

Ginger Groundhog

Thursday, 11 August 2016

82/100 Coming up for air

Day 82

I was answering comments and typed this as a response and then realised this was worth sharing

I have definitely popped up for air now but for weeks I really felt like I was floundering and might sink. It feels like the end of the world when you are in it but now I am through it just feels like something I had to go through. Isn't that weird, from the extreme to nearly nothing. Yes we ARE all similar and it is obviously part of the process

 I really did feel that I was stuck in the mud of cravings for weeks and every bloomin day I was filled with desperation and feelings of 'is this really worth it?'  I kept thinking that if this is as good as it gets I am going back to drinking. Worse still there were days when I actually honestly thought I would be happy to deal with all the consequences of drinking, even knowing that I might not be able to stop again if I started. Anything,  if I could just throw the towel in. MADNESS of the highest order.

As I mentioned in previous posts there was always something stopping me and I can only describe it as a deep visceral knowledge that drinking was not the answer, I wanted it to be the answer, I bargained with myself about it being the answer and I was so darn pee'd off that I couldn't just pretend it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to sabotage but I was so angry at myself that I wasn't allowing myself to do it cos after all I really wanted to drink but I wasn't following through with the purchase. One day I walked around the grocery store for 2hours trying to persuade/dissuade myself to buy a bottle of vodka. I was in bits with desire and disgust and thought who can help me, who might be looking at thier blog right now? Mark Goodson? SoberMummy? Wendy? Anne? KaryMay?Annette? Jackie? Belle? *your name here*? Who? Who could help me through this?  It was excruciating and at the time I felt helpless and distraught and also convinced that it wasn't those peoples job to fix me, it was mine. They would be kind and helpful and tell me everything I needed but ultimately I had to just decide to not drink. I wish I could say I had some epiphany there and then but no, I had days more of feeling like this and was more furious still that whatever was stopping me drinking was still FUCKING IN CONTROL arrrrgggghhh. By now I would normally have caved in and buckled under the pressure but no I was still being ruled by sober thinking. God it was annoying!
Then it was gone, just like that!

Do I think I am done with cravings? No way, I still crave cigarettes after 11 years but the quagmire I was stuck in suddenly released its hold and I have regained some sanity. Today I barely thought about drinking and have a calmness I haven't had for weeks, despite having a rough day at work. And I do feel like I have just burst out of the water and can take a deep breath and all the near drowning feels like I was exaggerating but in hindsight it wasn't, it was really full on, I nearly drown!

Recently I read someone who said something along the lines of 'no craving lasts forever' and it's true. It is hell when you are in it but it will pass and once it us gone it doesn't seem as big a deal. Deep down I think everyone knows that drinking is not working, it's had its day and no longer does what we want but it is easier to give in and believe the lie. That is what I was struggling the most with, I didn't believe my own lies anymore but soooo wanted to. I am not saying it's easy peasy cos I have struggled so hard to get momentum in the early days and did days1,2,3, for week after week, month after month. I can't go back there it was soul destroying.

Today I am grateful for every shitty day I have had up until now, I guess I must have needed them.

With much love

Ginger Groundhog

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

81/100 Painful Treat

Day 81 and I had a painful but rewarding treat. I had the spider veins on the side of my nose zapped and yowzer did it hurt but instant result. They are gone. I have always been conscious of them but they have got worse over the years (daughter says no one can see them except me) and not sure if dog walking in all kinds of brutal Cornish weather or the free flow of red wine had the biggest impact but either way this was a big treat. Put it off for years due to cost, thinking it would be thousands but no £32 for 30 minutes and the majority have gone, one more session for about 3 tiny ones on my chin. I can see a massive difference even if no one else can. I am doing all of this for me alone so if I am happy that is mission accomplished.

1. No more veins, yay.
2. Mood, oh so much better-about 7/10
3. Chippy chips for dinner and no regrets
4. Have been making calls and organising future jobs on the house, getting quotes etc.
5. I didn't cry today. Today is the 22nd anniversary of when my dad died and it usually floors me but this year I remembered what a lovely man he was and how proud he always was of me. Sad but not devastated.

After yesterday's MEGA post today's is short and sweet.

Ginger Groundhog

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

80/100 I deserve it and I am worth it

Day 80 - Not some cheesy advertisement but I have been thinking about changes in my life in the last 9 years. Or "the wine years" as seems more appropriate?

When I first moved into my home it had been previously owned by an older lady and the tastes and decor reflected her style not mine. It also had some renovation work that needed to be done along with a complete electrical rewire. The light switches were old round black Bakelight ones harking back to the 1920-1950's, decorative but apparently highly dangerous. When I bought my house I had visions of getting in the builders, having all the work done and it would be the house of my dreams all finished and sparkly new. In the UK there used to be a show called 'Changing Rooms' that shows you someone's home or at least a room or two transformed in the blink of an eye.  Condense this down to a 60 minute show and this is probably what I had in my head would happen when the work was finished.  Buying a home at the high end of the market (drat) and when builders were turning work away (double drat) I was forced to go with one of the builders that did come back to me instead of one of the ones laughing at my £25k budget. Instead of waiting, I settled for a builder and in hindsight I didn't have too many concerns and was gung Ho to get things under way. Long story short, he wasn't that great, he probably took advantage of my ignorance, he fobbed me off with a lot of jargon, and some of the work was a little shabby but I thought I could finish it off nicely myself. Why? Cos I didn't want to upset him (and looking back because I was grateful that he would work in my house) This was all to do with my lack of self worth and fear of speaking out because I was so undeserving, I should be lucky this guy has agreed to fleece me out of my money. Gee, I should buy him a thank you gift for fucking up my house. Within a year, some, not all of the work was failing or obvious it was substandard and a few people had commented that it didn't look as well as it should.  My solution to this was to stop people coming into my house and to don imaginary blinkers, if I didn't look around at it all then I couldn't see what a fool I had been and how yet again ignoring the warning signs mentality had led me to a place of humiliation and shame (there is that word so many of us know and understand) Shame that I was gullible, a fool and had squandered my fathers hard earned money from my inheritance by not demanding my money's worth.

In hindsight I should have asked more questions, demanded more answers, told them to finish things to a higher standard and pursued it further when the work was finished and I was dissatisfied. He went bankrupt in the end and had a bit of a breakdown, how do I know that? because I work for mental health provider and saw his referral. I am only a little bit ashamed to say it is the only time in six years I have delighted and reveled in someone else's misery but I felt no compassion for him at all. I pinned all the blame on him when in reality there is the possibility that he could have been doing his best work and was just a lousy builder. Along the way I kind of forgot to mention to people that I hadn't stepped up and corrected him or asked him to do it again or better. I had responsibility in this too but to admit it was more painful than telling everyone about how he had 'done me wrong'. I spent a good 6 years or more feeling sorry for myself, telling anyone who would listen my tale of woe and frankly looking back, I was in a full on major depression. I wasn't tending to the house or the garden and the whole place just got really shabby and tatty, after all why vacuum when parts of the ceiling plaster have fallen down. Why polish the dining table when you have black mold in the corner of the room, why clean the bath when you don't have a finished floor in the bathroom. I wasn't apathetic, I was near catatonic with depression, I cried and cried and cried. I was in really bad shape but had to carry on regardless because I had the mortgage to pay.  Any spare ounce of energy I had went into trying to pretend everything was normal for my daughter and keeping her involved in stuff and not seeing her mom fall to pieces.

It was during this period that the wine became my friend and it was the norm to have a few glasses every night with a little more at the weekend. I could even have a few relaxed hours where I was able to ignore my troubles and get a laugh out of a TV show or play a game with my daughter. I won't bother with the slow decline into increased consumption as it is just the normal slow steady build to the knowledge that all of a sudden you are drinking at least a bottle of wine a night and way more at the weekends. All of this has come to a head recently with the arrival of the new builders, who I hasten to add are doing a great job. I have challenged them already about something and clarified that I wouldn't be paying the extra for the higher powered machine they had to buy because it wasn't my fault if they underestimated the power they needed. Their answer was of course I wouldn't have to pay as it was their mistake. So differs from last time when I would have thrown £500 at them apologising that my house was made of such solid stone and poor them for having to work so hard on it.

The biggest difference is..... I feel like I deserve better. Somehow through all this turmoil my self esteem is kicking in and I am not allowing myself to settle for lesser than, I have done enough lesser than and now it is time for more than. I deserve a nice house! I deserve to get my money's worth! I just deserve to treat myself with the respect that has been lacking for some time.
It has been coming in tiny increments over the past year but quitting alcohol has helped that along more reliably and faster. All the times I have bust my tail trying to get the brambles under control, teach myself how to tile both floors and walls or working solidly on my daughter's bedroom for 3-4 days nonstop has given me a bit more self respect and shown me that I can do this and expect more than I previously have. I am normalising myself and realising that everyone has stuff in their life they brush under the carpet and I am not an oddball for having an unfinished or messy house. I am not the only person to have gone to bed without washing the dishes or let the kitchen floor go unmopped for a week longer than was socially acceptable. We all have flaws and weaknesses and I am not the 'worst person in the world ever'. Why this has suddenly burst forth today, I am not sure but maybe all that moaning and complaining about everything and constantly saying how tired I was was part of my re-calibration. I even think that some of the fighting with my daughter is to do with me not standing for her teenage antics anymore and instead of acquiescing I am standing firm or walking away until she can discuss it civilly with me.

Before, my deserving related to alcohol in a "I deserve a drink after that" way. Now it is "I deserve more than alcohol gives me"

About a thousand words ago I said 'to cut a long story short', I won't say that again as I realise it is not within my capabilities but I am ok with that too ha ha. As for the punctuation either lack of or all in the wrong place, well even that doesn't bother me too much tonight as I figure if you want to read it you can pick your way through and get the overall gist.

I havent had a drink in 80 days, about 30 of them I didn't want a drink. The rest have been an up and down mix of cravings and feelings of this just has to get better but despite it all I have managed to reassie and accept that I can no longer lie about what I think will happen and what actually will happen. When I play the story through to the end it is always the same, me feeling like crap, sleeping terribly, waking up feeling like I have been hit by a truck and the gripping terror that I am driving to work more than likely over the limit and lastly hours on hours of feeling less than, pretending everything is fine at work and self recrimination only to reach 3pm when all of a sudden it starts to look like a good idea once again.That is only the tip of the iceberg.

In conclusion, thanks for sticking with me and bustling me along the path with your supportive comments and kind thoughts.

Ginger Groundhog

Monday, 8 August 2016

79/100 In quiet mode

Day 79 and I am feeling very insular. Not much to say for myself.

Here is what I have been grateful for recently.

1. Becks Blue. Had a weekend full of cravings and feelings of missing out. I know it is all very ridiculous and I feel like I am always struggling with cravings. Becks Blue are just the panacea I need to help me over the hurdle each night.
2. Work has started on my house and it looks like it is going to take time but will be beautiful.
3. Awareness. I have realised that despite my constant moaning and complaining I am having certain realisations and observations about myself but I don't currently have the capacity, energy or motivation to share here. This is in stark contrast to the early days when I was so open to sharing everything and anything that you are lucky I didn't share my bathroom routine.
4. Mysterious forces! I figure I should thank whatever, whoever, how ever forces that are keeping the distance between me and chucking it all in. I have spent countless hours mulling over why I haven't just acted on my cravings and thrown it all away and I don't know why this time it's different but something is anchoring me to not drinking. It is a mystery to me cos sometimes I am writing my  'I drank' post as I am getting on with my day.
5. Sleep. I have reverted back to the early days when I couldn't get enough sleep. As many of you have commented, I may have PAWS because the fatigue is overwhelming. I feel beaten as soon as I get out of bed and take my first few steps. Maybe it is the constant shall I/shan't I conversation that plays out in my head from about 9am- 8pm. 8pm cos then it is too late to drink as much as I want and still be able to drive the next day. INSANITY!!!

Old timers - Question. Am I crazy? I feel like every day is a constant fight with my thoughts and I feel worn out by it and so grumpy that all I seem to do is moan here about how bad I feel. Am I my own worst enemy? Should I shut up? Is this normal or even normal for me. Should I just shut the hell up and only post when I have something good to say?

Ginger Groundhog

Thursday, 4 August 2016

75/100 or 3/4 of the 100

Day 75 got better as the day wore on

1. The scaffolding is up and the builders come in tomorrow to strip all the old paint and render back to the old Cornish stone.
2. The daughter and I are back on speaking terms and have both unspoken decided to just let the argument go unaddressed.
3. My car decided it would start and get me to and from work without too much shuddering.
4. I feel like things in my life are changing, that I am progressing instead of stagnating. The house is a big benchmark for me and is like a new beginning again.
5. I am grateful to authors for taking the time to write books. A funny thing to be grateful for but I get such pleasure and escape from reading that I say thanks for taking the time to put it all together for mine and others enjoyment.

I am already thinking how grateful I will be for my morning coffee. Now it is my main addiction it has suddenly become most prevalent in my mind.

Ginger Groundhog

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

74/100 Being Childish, not in a good way

Day 74 Transactional Analysis in action.

Today I am stuck in CHILD mode and cannot seem to unstick myself. Following on from the argument last night I have adopted a petulant, hurt feelings, childish, I'm not going to apologise-stance. It is frustrating and shocking to be aware of this and still not do anything about it or feel able to do anything about it. I know I am tired, I know I am hurting, I know I feel rejected and I know I should be the grown up and bigger person but I feel so STUCK. The little child in me is saying "but what about me"

1. I had 2 dry dog walks today
2. I didn't have any cravings today
3. The cars 'GOD' intervened today when my car started vibrating and shuddering and I exclaimed "please no, not today" and got an instant miracle when it settled down a bit.
4. I had my last session with my therapist today and it was good to recognise how far I have come, especially as I feel so stuck right now.
5. Lavender oil. I really needed something not food or drink related for my senses and in lieu of physical hugs, lavender oil comforts me.

Bonus for today.

I am grateful that blogging allows me to be pretty much 97% me and get feedback from supportive and generous people. I am even more grateful that at times when I feel weird and like the only one going through something, someone graciously sticks their neck out and says 'me too!' I love that nearly every day I read something that brings a tear to my eye, warmth to my heart or a smile to my lips. I am grateful that this exists for me and everyone else and is a safe haven for us to come and bring our experiences and our troubles and know that there is someone who always seems to nail exactly the right thing to say. I must be very hormonal because I really am grateful for all this and think it is one of the main reasons I have stayed the course this last 74 days. Anne at Ainsobriety posted about her yoga room and how she is giving away so much of her extra stuff to others and it has made me very thankful for all the good that has come my way over the years thanks to the kindness of strangers. It was a timely reminder that I have far more good in my life than I reflect here and I gentle nudge that you get what you give and I have been pumping out the negative lately.

I have hugged my daughter since writing this, still can't let go of the hurt but also don't want her to think I don't love her.  Unlike my dogs, she does not seem excited to see me everytime I walk back into a room. Nora Ephron once said, and I am paraphrasing 'Every home with a teenager should have a dog. That way when you come home at the end if the day, someone is pleased to see you'

Ginger Groundhog