Thursday, October 30, 2014

My friend Sue...

I had lunch with my lovely friend Sue yesterday (she who was on the Sunday programme with me, and writes guest posts and contributes 'Drink of the Week' ideas for Living Sober) .. it was her second soberversary - yay! - and we had a fantastic nearly two hours together chatting away. I had the waitress take a photo of us at the end just because I feel so fortunate to have her in my life.


I was looking at this photo last night and got worried that I was squashing Sue rather too tightly (look at my hands clasped together against her arm!) but then I thought no loving hug can be too tight can it?

Sue has said to me before, and I think that she's right, if we'd met when we were both still drinking we probably wouldn't have hit it off quite like we have now that we're both sober. I'm sort-of social and verbal and she's quite reserved and gentle.. and when we were drinking we became more extreme versions of ourselves and therefore further apart from each other. Funnily enough getting sober has moved our personalities closer together. I am definitely more gentle and reflective now than I ever was when boozing, and she has just blossomed in herself without wine in the way. I hope she doesn't mind me summarizing her this way…! Of course we are both very complicated creatures and this paragraph can't do justice to our personalities or what has transpired for each of us since we got sober but hopefully you get the gist.

The gist = Sue rocks.

At lunch we talked about how crazy it feels to have had our eyes opened to alcohol now that we've had to work hard to remove it and re-train our brains to accept life without it. It seems incredible to us now looking around at how deeply so many people are hard-wired to believe all of the fallacies that booze offers.

That it's the best way to relax (it's not, relaxing is about quietening your brain and dropping your shoulders and feeling calm and happy and not stressed or wound up or busy).

That it's the best way to enjoy a party (it's not, enjoying a party is when you feel genuinely happy with the company, your outfit, your mood, the music, the environment, the decorations, the chats & jokes etc).

That it's the best way to bond with a friend (it's not, bonding with friends is when you are listening and sharing and giving and connecting and loving and caring).

That it's the best way to be a good host (it's not, being a good host is about making your guests feel welcome and warm and comfortable and happy to be in your space, chatting to and sharing time, food & music etc with you).

That it's the best way to deal with stress (it's not, the best way to deal with stress is by thinking clearly through what is making you stressed, taking steps to reduce or manage that stress in a proper, productive, tangible, real ways).

Why does a brain-bending liquid get all the power? Because we give it the power. We're hard-wired to believe it has the power. Marketing and advertising tells us it has the power.

Well guess what? It doesn't. Booze doesn't have the power to do any of what it promises or offers. We have the power. We hold the power in all of us.

That's what me and Sue reckon anyway.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Home again home again jiggity-jig...

Mini-tour went well!!!! I loved it actually. I was knackered at the end of it but not lie-me-down-for-a-month knackered.. just quietly worn out from 4 days of chatting and interacting with lovely people.

Worn out but happy, and very full of warmth and satisfaction after having met a bunch of brave sober people working hard to turn their lives around… and also a bunch of hard-working caring people trying hard to improve our drinking culture (all the organizers.. public health workers and the like….)

The turnout was good.. one event in particular was quite a big crowd (70ish).. the other three were smaller but that made them intimate and chatty and warm which I enjoyed. I think maybe the organizers were disappointed in the turnout (not disappointed in me, just sad that more people didn't come to hear me talk) but I wasn't surprised to be honest. A big chunk of my presentation is about how great online recovery is because of it's safe/private nature (you can tap into it from home from behind the safety of your computer, you can hide your real identity and no-one judges you for it and you can still make real, strong, tangible connections.. etc etc) so really coming out of your home and into a community hall to hear someone speak flies in the face of all of that. It's scary, so I wasn't surprised.

And I was really proud of myself that I ate well throughout the four days and drank lots of water and slept pretty good and kept myself 'in the moment', and remembered to appreciate the beautiful scenery that Central Otago has to offer.

I don't know what it is about me but I don't get nervous before I talk. I just stand there listening to the person introducing me and think calmly about what I'm about to say. I'd practiced my presentation a bunch of times beforehand - it was an hour long with about 20 slides in a powerpoint presentation;  photos of me at 15 when I started drinking, photos of me drunk later on, photos of me at 39 the high-functioning boozer "classic example of the outsides not matching the insides", a few one-word slides when I talk about specific techniques I used when re-training my brain out of a lifetime of boozing, screen shots from my blog and Living Sober, photos of me crying on the TV, my book cover etc etc….. I just tell the story.

I actually cried on two of the evenings when reliving my last drinking days. I did not expect that to happen. It was intense, but ok. It's real. I can't hide the depth of feeling that comes with getting sober.

And always I'd imagine my one person that I do all of this for. The imaginary figure that I have created in my mind, a woman in shadow looking scared and miserable, trapped in a boozy hell, whispering to me "don't stop, don't stop".. it's her I'm doing all of this for and I don't care what anyone else thinks of me.

I got an email yesterday from someone that came to my last talk. It read "Thank you so much for being so open and honest with your sobriety. Today is my first day of not drinking in over 15 years. Wish me luck."

That makes the whole trip worthwhile in my book.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, October 20, 2014

Road trip!

Feeling great! Fun pop songs keep coming on the car radio and I'm turning them up and getting hit with happy endorphins. I'm buzzing.. my energy has lifted right up in advance of this wee 'speaking tour' that I'm going on.

I feel a bit dumb calling it that.. but not sure what else to call it.. I've got a busy itinerary for the next 4 days where I fly down south, get picked up by one of the organizers, taken to meet some people at a bar (yes! a bar! sober people go to bars!), then to the venue to check that the projector etc is working, then out for a meal with some of the organizers, then back to the venue to speak and tell my drinking and recovery story to whoever shows up, drive to a nearby location to stay with a friend for the night, get picked up in the morning and driven to another town, out for dinner with more organizers, then to the evening event to present my drinking & recovery story again, home to stay with an old family friend, get picked up and driven to another town (I'm not sure of all these drive times? Some 30 minutes some more than an hour?), do an afternoon event telling a slightly shorter version of my drinking and recovery story to whoever turns up, rest at the motel, do an evening event telling my drinking and recovery story to whoever shows up, back to a motel to sleep, get picked up and driven to the airport early in the morning, fly home.

Phew!

Can't wait. I'm sure I'll be nervous whenever I first stand up to speak but I really just want to breath deeply and take the opportunity to honestly and openly tell my story. I want to stand up as being proud of my recovery and explain how I experience life differently now that I've taken the alcohol away. And I want to talk about what's happened to my 'professional' life with this blog, the book and now our fabulous new community website Living Sober (which is an amazing, powerful and transformative space btw) so that more people get dragged into the online recovery community.

I just drove to the waterfront and got a takeaway decaff flat white (coz that's how I roll nowadays) and listened to a Tara Brach podcast to try centre myself somewhat. I want to try to balance this 'up' energy that I need to have to get through all of this busy-ness..with a calmness inside of myself. I want to remember very clearly why I do all of this… it's not to show off or for glory.. it's so that people who might right now be stuck in a boozy nightmare can see that there is a way out.

If one person imagines they too might be able to get sober after hearing me speak over the next 4 days then all my effort will be worth it!

And I'm very looking forward to coming home on Friday and spending the weekend lying around in my onesie. That will be nice.

Wish me luck!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The funk has started to lift...

I have to be honest though… it's taken a while. I kept trying to 'think' myself positive but I was just really stuck in this grumpy low place. It wasn't fun, but at the same time it was interesting.

Me being me tried desperately to come up with a reason WHY I was feeling like this.. managed quite a few reasons…..

* 2-week school holiday with me full time caring for our three boys who are gorgeous but full on (didn't organise enough playdates/holiday programme stuff. Note to self: Do this next time)

* For the first time trying to juggle full time care with the new website job = stressful (kept getting mad when I would try grab a quick moment to post up a new drink or spend some time interacting in the Members Feed or reply to an email etc and the boys would be coming at me with complaints or requests or whatever it is little boys need every second of every minute of every day…! Not their fault…but gggrrrrr)

* Coffee? (why do I drink it I'm now asking myself? Why? If it's for the lift then that's dumb and I should wean myself off that so I don't 'need' a coffee lift. If it's for the ritual - which I think it mostly is I love my 2x a day hot coffee fix feels like a special treat for me - then why not replace it with something else? So I've switched to decaf).

* Food/weight? (Still over 2kg heavier than before our hell month of September with Mr D away for work the whole time. Not happy with that .. but have completely cut out bad sugar and most wheat for the past 2+ weeks and have been on a crazy food mission loads of green juices, healthy muesli etc. No movement in the scales yet though. Might have to look at quantities next, sigh….)

* Upcoming events (Flying down to Central Otago next week to speak at 4 public events, me the invited speaker telling my story to a crowd 4 times in 4 different places .. power point presentation and all! I'm really looking forward to it, not that nervous but obviously it's going to take a lot of energy. That being said it is also going to take me out of my normal routine for 4 days and that's a good thing…!)

Anyway.. nothing insurmountable.. just the normal life of a busy person.. we all juggle 5 things at once, right? And we all cope in different ways. Sometimes funks just happen. Shit happens.

Everyone's shit is relative. But the bottom line is we all have busy brains and we all have loads of different personalities around us and we all have jobs or responsibilities or duties or requirements and we all have bodies that need looking after.

It's life!!!!! This is life. And this is my life. Here it is I am writing my life out in a blog because over 3 years ago I gave up booze and started writing about it. My life still goes on.. but at least despite any other concerns and my trial-and-error methods of dealing with things… I NEVER TOUCH ANY ALCOHOL EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HIP HIP HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bye for now…

Love, Mrs D xxxx

Friday, October 10, 2014

In a bit of a funk...

So yesterday I found myself trying to convince myself that it would be ok to get stoned.. because, like, you know.. marijuana isn't alcohol dudes….

Mmmm it was a lovely thought. I could have a wee toot on a pipe and put my sunglasses on so no-one could see my eyes and I could be locked in a wee bubble in my head.. a private stoned place where I could feel strangely removed from everything going on around me..

"What fun" my brain told me.

"Interesting" my brain responded. "Interesting that you are hankering after this feeling of being 'removed'". At that moment an attractive part of the mental image was definitely having the sunglasses on and kind of being in a private, removed place.

'What's going on?" my brain asked my brain (because that's the kind of twisted place my brain is in, where thoughts kind of do a Mexican stand-off and talk to each other).. "I don't know" my brain responded. "Maybe I'm just sick of being so goddam raw all the goodam time."

Raw and raw and sober and raw and here I am sober and raw all the fucking time.

Like other  people can have alcohol sometimes and sugar because they can MODERATE and they're not a freaky GIVE-ME-LOADS! person like I am when it comes to those substances.

Last night I had HARD-OUT sugar cravings and I'm having them again right now. I am really hankering for some sugar. Something hard core like a handful of lollies or 10 marshmallows.

So what is going on? I'm feeling vulnerable that's for sure. A bit needy where normally I'm not. Kind of 'itchy' and uncomfortable… feeling the need for something….. pot/candy/not wine no fucking way.

Just in a bit of a funk I suppose. It happens I suppose. Moods. Life. Pesky emotions.

But I am not going to get stoned, nor am I going to eat some hard-core sugar dressed up like fun, and certainly I'm not going to put any poisonous alcohol in my body. I am going to make myself a cup of tea and go gently with myself (this is so funny because this is what I say to all the newbies at Living Sober all the time) and I'm going to go to bed and wake up in the morning and hopefully by then I'll feel better.

Because this is uncomfortable emotion and it will pass. Time alone will heal it.. I do not need to reach for a substance to 'help' me 'deal' with this. I just have to be kind to myself, go gently and go to bed.

Night night.

Love, Mrs D xxx