Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Big family holiday...

It's pissing down. Raining really heavily. I've got Janis Ian playing and a scented candle burning. Have just discovered a leak in our study.

Am about to start packing the suitcases for our our annual big extended family Easter holiday. We leave on a ferry tomorrow for 5 days of food and drink and family fun in a remote isolated location. 20 adults. 10 kids. Forecast is for rain.

Just got a group email from one of the lovely hosts warning us to bring good wet weather gear. She ended it with the line "safe travels tomorrow and the gin and tonics will be ready".

Not for me thanks! Maybe I'll have a soft drink in a wine glass. Or maybe I'll have a nice cup of herbal tea. Because I don't drink alcohol any more. I'll be raising a glass of self-esteem instead.

That comment isn't a reflection on my family, or a judgement. It's just about me.

Four years ago I turned up for this holiday, started drinking at 2pm and didn't stop. I got completely shitfaced and passed out in bed early in the evening. I had to leave the dinner table without saying goodnight because I'd lost the ability to talk. It was awful.

I spent the rest of the weekend quietly miserable. Still drinking of course, but just quietly, deeply miserable.

So this weekend, with my family all drinking around me, I'll feel invisibly wrapped in my warm cloak of sobriety and quietly toast myself for having turned my life around.

That's not to say it won't be tricky at times. 5 days is a long time to be around family.. especially in a confined space with it raining constantly. But I love my family.. all of them..and I wouldn't miss this annual get-together for the world.

There will be an Easter Egg hunt, and the famous Easter disco (costumes welcome!), and there will be lots of chatting and catching up and re-connecting. Everyone has their own stuff going on, and it helps me to remember that. There will rosters for cooking and doing dishes and lots of delicious food, and yes there will be lots of wine and gin and tonics.. but I'll look after myself. I'll keep my lovely online sober community in mind and take myself away if need be. I have some good novels.

And it's not a bad spot to be.

Happy Easter everyone!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A boring post (with a heartfelt ending)

I'm finding it hard to think of something to blog about this weekend because I'm kind of in an extended phase of 'just being sober everything is fine there's no trouble here'.

Hard to complain about that!

My sister asked me on the phone the other day if it's easier being sober now than before (when I first gave up) and I was like "HELL YES"! I do still feel uncomfortable when I'm in a sad or low phase but that's the only 'issue' I have to deal with now in sobriety. The whole not-drinking-alcohol-no-matter-what-thing is pretty easy.

Do you think that it's time alone that makes sobriety easier? That the more time that goes on.. if we just hold on and don't drink no matter what comes at us … and more time passes … that eventually just time alone is going to make it smooth out..?

Do you think that's the case?

Or do we have to do more than just wait for time to pass and do some hard-out work into exploring the reasons why we drank and fully explore the tricky emotions that booze did such a wonderful job of masking? I think I've been doing that, I'm trying to do that anyway.

Maybe there are some long-term sober people (like 2-3 years sober or even longer) who still struggle every day and miss booze and feel left out when other people are drinking etc. I haven't had any sad pangs about not drinking for ages now.. I'm sure they'll come again at times .. but right now I just don't care that my life has no alcohol in it.

We went out to dinner at some friend's house on Friday night.. Mr D and the husband were drinking whiskey (I think it was whiskey, or rum, or something) and I think the wife had a beer or two.. I wasn't really noticing. It just didn't matter. I know what's best for me, I know how me and alcohol mix, and for me I know that my life is immeasurably better without wine in it. And I'm always happy driving home.

Not much more to say than that right now. Hope all of you lovelies out there in this wonderful online space we call the sober-sphere are having weekends that are lovely and sober, or maybe they're gritty and sober, or maybe they're still a little booze soaked and miserable. If it's one of the latter sort of weekends (newly sober and gritty, or booze-soaked and miserable) then I truly hope from the bottom of my heart that things improve for you soon. Hold on, you will find a better day.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Don't let them give you shit...

You know, I don't think I've ever got any shit from anyone for not drinking. Actually that's not true. There was one guy once at a party who tried to give me shit 'Oh no, what? You're not drinking? I told everyone how fun you are to party with!' he slurred from his slumped position on a chair.

I just laughed and thought to myself 'dude, this is your issue, I'm still having fun' and proceeded to dance the night away while he kept sneaking around the back of the venue to get stoned. Who's having fun really?

Aside from him (and he is a nice guy really, just trapped in a mindset of 'must get wasted to have fun') in 947 days of being sober (just checked - whoop!) I haven't been hassled by anyone because I've quit booze or been pressured by anyone to have a drink. Not even friends and family who still drink steadily and regularly give me shit. They just do their thing and I do mine. We co-exist. It's all good.

There's a lot of talk in this country about our dreadful drinking culture yet I now move around this country as a sober person and it's not the end of the world. It's totally do-able. I'm not ostracized or shunned. Would I be getting loads more party invitations if I was still boozing? I don't think so. I still get invited places. Hopefully people don't leave me off the guest list because of my new lifestyle ("don't invite boring Mrs D - she doesn't drink any more you know"). Frankly if anyone was to think that I probably don't want to be at their event anyway. But I'm pretty sure that doesn't happen.

A long time alcohol counsellor told me recently that he hears from a lot of callers to their hotline that they get shit from friends and co-workers about not drinking. That sucks. If you get hassled, remember… it's their problem. We can choose if we want to make it ours or not.

Maybe things are slowly changing here regarding drinking. Three stories in the media recently. This sports club that has banned all booze. Sales and sponsorship. "It's time for a change" the club boss says. Awesome! The police applying to radically change this event and it's boozy reputation. And special liquor licenses being denied for a holiday weekend in a resort town. This doesn't mean the weekend will fall flat! Booze being available doesn't have to be what makes the weekend fun (the local bars might have to take a bit of convincing on that one).

It always comes down to money. Booze sells, booze is a commodity.. it makes money for businesses large and small. But it messes with us. Alcohol related harm is ridiculously high. Something has to change. Slowly but steadily, one brave person at a time, we might see some change happening.

In the meantime I'm off to indulge myself for a few hours at the hair salon. Oh lucky sober housewife me.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, April 7, 2014

NOT the Monday morning blues….

Woke up this morning incredibly grateful to be sober. Just so amazingly heart-burstingly happy that I live alcohol-free.

Dropped Mr D in town for work this morning and saw all the 9-5ers traipsing through the wet streets to work. Monday morning blues. Have to admit I looked at many of their faces and wondered how many of them are secretly miserable after a weekend of heavy boozing.

Maybe they all spent the weekend happily boozing! In which case good on them. But what if they were feeling down and low and glum on this grey Monday morning,, knowing something is wrong and that things need to change.

Freaking the fuck out at the thought of never touching alcohol again.

It is a bit of a head-fuck at first though isn't it… imagining never never touching alcohol ever again ever in your entire life. I suppose that's why the one-day-at-a-time thing works so well. Don't freak yourself out by thinking about forever… just think about today. Just for today I won't drink.

Just for today I won't drink.

Just for today I won't drink.

One of the other hard things at first I think is that we imagine every other person in the whole entire world is going to be partying on and having a wild and crazy time being incredibly happy and free and we're going to be the sole sad boring sober loser sitting at home being miserable.

It's not true! Don't imagine yourself in a lonely sober boat. Imagine yourself on a glorious sober cruise ship full of thousands of other happy sober folk. Not Miserable! Just being.

Last week I actually purchased two bottles of wine at the supermarket for a houseguest. Actually chose and paid for a bottle of chardonnay and some shiraz. Took me a while to find the bloody stuff (opposite the cheese and yogurt - who knew?!). It was a bit weird but also a total non-event to be honest. I don't care.

Life without alcohol is just life. Just life. It's rather ordinary after a while. Just normal living, totally like normal.. everything just the same just never any brain-bending liquid in my glass. Crazy normal. Sober is the new boring norm for me - and boy am I happy with that!! Whoop!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

We're not shit

Recovering from a tummy bug. Blurgh. Nothing like a tummy bug to remind me what it was like to be hungover. I think I've almost forgotten what it's like to be hungover.

Not just the physical symptoms - headache & sick guts - but the psychological ones - the guilt and the overwhelming feeling that I was shit.

I know that's not very poetic but that feeling 'I'm shit' is kind of what pervaded my brain in the last years of my drinking. I'm shit because I let myself down again, I'm shit because I'm hungover again, I'm shit because I can't moderate. I'm shit.

Of course I'm not shit and alcohol is BLOODY ADDICTIVE! And we're not weak or bad people because we get addicted to something which is addictive. We're just the ones who got addicted.

That's the kind of bummer thing about alcohol… it seems to pick and choose who is going to be able to moderate and who is not. Some people can use it all their lives.. in good times and in bad.. and never cross over that blurry line from 'normal, functional' drinking to 'abnormal, dysfunctional' drinking. But some of us end up on the wrong side .. the addicted side .. the side where alcohol is dragging us down, ruling our lives, squashing our fire .. all those shitty things that alcohol does when you rely on it heavily, can't control it and drink too much.

Alcohol is shit. We're not.

Our challenge as addicted human beings is to front up and admit that we are one of those people who can't control the drug of alcohol. We don't have to admit it publicly if we don't want… we can just admit it privately to ourselves.

And then what we need to do is take a step outside of the 'norm' and become people who don't touch alcohol ever.. in a world awash with booze.

And it's hard, sometimes, because we feel different, and left out. But we're not left out of anything! We can do everything drinkers do.. we just happen to do it without drinking a brain bending liquid. That's my attitude. Right from the moment I realised I had no choice but to remove alcohol from my life I was  DETERMINED that I was going to CONVINCE MY BRAIN  that I could live happily without it.

Happily. It had to be happily. I couldn't bear the thought of being a miserable non-drinker for the rest of my life. And you know what… my brain got convinced..! I am a happy non-drinker.

Tonight I'm going to meet a couple of girlfriends at a local bistro for dinner/drinks/nibbles whatever we decide to have. I've not been eating much the past couple of days because of the tummy bug so I might just have a lemonade. Maybe some fries. They might have wine. They might not. I don't care. Tonight is not about what is in my glass. It's about getting out of the house for a couple of hours and catching up with girlfriends.

Love, Mrs D xxx