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