Sunday, February 23, 2020

Hi friends!

Oh my golly, golly goodness it has been a loooong time since I wrote here on my lovely original blog. But I never forget about you!

I've got a new job facilitating addiction workshops and as part of the day I have to tell my personal story. I stand up and relive my last drinking days and the lead up to quitting.. then I talk about this place, how I started writing to myself daily right after I quit and how powerful and awesome that process was. I talk about how a community of support built up around my blog and every comment (especially in the early days) felt like a hug.

This blog was my lifeline, my support blanket, my safe resting place, my powerful outlet. It was my everything for so long.

Now I am still writing and posting about sobriety and recovery daily, but my focus has shifted away from this site and to Living Sober and my social media accounts. But this site is still live hence me popping back here to say hi!

Sill experiencing a bit of anxiety as I wrote about in my last post. Not sure what this is about.. maybe because I've got some tricky stuff going down with some relationships in my personal life (not Mr D no way!), maybe because I'm heading into menopause, maybe because I'm running a busy household & raising 3 sons, maybe because I'm working two part-time jobs, or maybe because I'm about to release my 3rd book which I'm a bit nervous about (getting feisty about the priviledged position alcohol holds in our society and the impact it's having on women)... or maybe all of the above!

Whatever the cause, I am dealing with the anxiety and all the other emotions that come my way with the tools I have developed over 8+ years of being sober. And for that I am extremely grateful.

I love having alcohol out of my life. I love, love, love it. I never want to go back to where I was, locked in a booze habit that was habitual and heavy and deadening. If somebody said I could magically one day be able to moderate – I still wouldn’t choose to chuck that carcinogenic shit down my throat.

What I have gained from getting sober and living every single moment of every single day with a wide open brain is immense. Only because I live with my raw emotions, reactions and feelings 100% of the time have I been required to develop coping mechanisms that are grounding and healing and lovely. And for that I am grateful.

Every hard day that I have slumped around feeling glum, every sad day that my tears have fallen, every angry day when my fists have been clenched, every boring day when I’ve been crying out to create some fun, every tricky day when I’ve been gritting my teeth desperate to escape (but haven’t), every single day that I have lived sober has been a gift. A goddam gift I tell you.

If I go back to my early posts on here and read about all the hard work I had to do in those tough-as-hell early days to learn how to not drink.. I just feel so proud and grateful to the me back then who did that.

It was so worth all the blood, sweat and tears. So worth it. I have ZERO regrets.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Monday, June 10, 2019

Hello anxiety...

I seem to be getting more anxious lately - which is a total bummer. I'm worried it's the start of menopause, because I keep reading that anxiety is one of the symptoms of menopause, and I am (gulp) getting up to that phase of life.. turning 48 this year!

All I need is the slightest thing to be worried about - a tricky work meeting ahead or a dissatisfying interaction with someone - and I'll suddenly be on edge. Sometimes I'll forget what the thing is that's making me uneasy, I'll just spend the day feeling nervy and then I'll have to stop and ask myself, "why am I uneasy right now?". And then I'll think, "Oh, it must be that email I got", or "It must be that meeting I have to attend next Thursday". Sometimes I can't pinpoint anything! But then again.. there's a LOT going on.

I'm busy writing my new book, and I am a bit nervous about that because I'm going to be bolder than ever before about the state of our drinking culture and the impact it's having on women. I'm also working part-time running Living Sober and have two other new work things bubbling away in the background. Then there's parenting our 3 sons, one is now a teenager and another will be soon. Plus our parents are getting older and we've just lost one - my beloved, amazing mother-in-law died unexpectedly last month.

So yeah - it's all a lot.

But who's life isn't like this? Aren't we all just bloody busy all of the time? I mean, it's no wonder people turn to drinking and eating and shopping and many other things to help them deal with the stresses and strains. I keep talking to Mr D and my girlfriends about how we feel this stage of life is the most pressured. We're all run ragged parenting our teenagers, worrying about our ageing parents, juggling job pressures, exploring our own health niggles. Sigh. So what to do?

Well for me it is involving a lot of mindfulness. Contantly being aware of the workings of my mind and catching myself when I'm lost in thought, working to ground myself in the moment & my body by concentrating on what my eyes can see, what my hands can feel, my breath in my body, the calmness of the exact moment I'm in. Because when you look at it, most of the moments in our day are lovely and calm and straight forward, it's just our thinking, worrying, planning, regretting etc that is making them not so.

Gratitude is another biggie. This is a really underated habit! I often remind myself to look at all the things I have to be grateful for. There is always plenty and when I focus on them, no matter how small of a thought it is, it makes a difference.

And I also really work on putting myself in perspective. I am one of many, many people in the world. No-one is as fixated on my life as I am, they're all fixated on their own. Everyone has concerns and worries. No-one feels like they're on top of things 100% of the time. We're all muddling through, sometimes feeling insecure, sometimes feeling anxious, sometimes feeling sad, sometimes feeling worried, often feeling tired and stretched (also happy, joyful, glad, contented, appreciated etc etc, let's not forget the full gambit of human emotions!). Feeling like a tiny part of the entire human race does work to calm me somewhat.. and that's lovely too.

So yeah, muddling through as best I can is my game right now. Trying to keep up with my wellness habits. Trying as always to avoid flour and sugar (and achieving it probably about 70% of the time right now).  Trying to stay mindful and grateful and in perspective. Trying my best to be my best self. Practice not perfection. And as always - staying sober!! My numero uno winning strategy for life. Because even with this anxiety that has landed in my chest, I am not tempted to numb it away with booze. No way Jose. I'm here for the full, unadulterated ride.

Always.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Love will conquer all...

Oh my goodness it has been a loooooooong time since I wrote on this my trusty old blog. Apologies trusty old blog and anyone who might still be visiting here despite my absence. Or, if you subscribe to my posts by email, wondering where the hell I've been ... sorry to you too.

I have been around and I am still very visible on my social media accounts and of course Living Sober where I communicate in the Members Feed many times a week and also publish lots of posts.

Things aren't great here right now with a beloved family member being terminally ill and a terrible, awful, horrific terror attack in my home town of Christchurch. It feels like just such a hard time right now and I am very unsettled by all the emotions and sadness and pain.

BUT none of it is enough to send me back to stupid alcohol of course! No way am I ever touching that shit again! Rather I am stepping up my self-care, listening to lovely Tara Brach talks, doing yoga, walking the dog, crying, buying flowers and facemasks and magazines and treaty herbal teas, looking for the beauty in nature. It all sounds so wah, wah, woofty, namby, pamby but if there's one thing I've learned in my 7 1/2 years of being sober... it is that it is PRECISELY these sorts of gentle nurturing actions that soothe my way through emotional pain.

And of course I feel very connected with my feelings which is actually super lovely. It makes perfect sense that I'd be sad and grieving now and anxious and unsettled. PERFECT sense. My goodness. Major, major tough things are happening in my world. Of course I'm going to be uncomfortable and emotional! But I'm feeling the feelings fully, letting them out and pass through me. I know that in six months.. one year.. I'll look back at this tough time and won't feel confused about or disconnected from it.

I know now from 7 1/2 years of sobriety that tough emotions are there for a reason and simply feeling them fully and not seeking to numb or avoid them makes them easier to manage. And especially in the long run when more beats of life have occurred.. they're easier to understand.

But for now, despite all my self-care techniques I'm still incredibly watery with tears popping up at unexpected times. And I am aware that I've got a knot of angsty pressure on my chest. But I'm breathing through it.. remembering to practice mindfulness and ground myself in my body and not get lost in my (unhappy) thoughts.

And the main one of all - hugging the ones I love very, very tight. Because love will conquer all.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Make mine a booze free Christmas

Heading into Christmas like HELL YEAH! We pack up the car on Friday night and catch a 3am ferry to the South Island on Saturday. Yikes, what were we thinking when we booked that back in July?! But it's ok, we'll cope. Not drinking sure makes travel easier!

Things are good in the D household. The kids are looking forward to getting away, Mr D is on holiday after a busy year at work (he travelled away every single weekend this year), and I am just pottering along doing my usual online stuff which will continue while we are away. I'm very excited because I've got a new book project to work on next year. I do love having a project on.. keeps my mind occupied and me stimulated and busy.

We relaunched Living Sober a month or so ago and that went really well. We now have a fancy new online space for our members to hang out in.. but fundamentally it's the same kind, supportive, non-judgemental site that it always was. Just a better way of displaying posts and a clearer 'call to action' for new visitors on the homepage (hopefully encouraging them to join our community)... alongside a pretty cheesy but friendly welcome video featuring moi. I published a Silly Season Survival Guide there which would be worthwhile reading if you're struggling with sobriety at the moment.

In other news I am totally on top of my food and sitting 15kg (33 pounds) lighter thanks to Bright Line Eating which I have blogged about here before. I stumbled across it a year or so ago after listening to the women who runs it - Dr Susan Peirce Thompson - speak during an online conference. She’s a recovering addict herself and listening to her was amazing because it was the first time someone totally spoke my language about food (because there’s a LOT of noise about food out there right now).

Her thing is she's all about the addictive properties of food - particularly flour and sugar - and how it impacts on your brain (dopamine receptors etc). Made total sense to me because after I got sober I developed a nasty sugar habit. It's a pretty strict programme but I’m unashamed about following it now because it honestly has changed my life. When I’m 100% sticking to my bright lines (which I don't always achieve but am right now) I am free of any obsession over food, binging, guilt etc. I just feel calm in my body and mind, it's amazing. She’s just released a free video series check it out here if you're interested (it's only going to be up for a short amount of time).

Sometimes I can't believe how things have changed for me, but at 47 years old I'm delighted to be working hard at being the best I can be.. and not just settling for being the kind of lush, mindless woman that I was before. I feel like I've only got one shot at my life, and I'm happy to be doing it as I am. Sobriety is TOTALLY worth the hard work people! So just do it! (to use a well-worn, cheesy slogan).

I mean, crap still comes along but it's easier to deal with when you're not clouding your brain with booze. Trust me on that.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Friday, October 26, 2018

Milestones...

Had some lovely celebrations recently. My 47th birthday was a couple of weeks ago and yesterday Mr D and I marked 15 years of marriage!

I get through these celebrations without a single thought of reaching for alcohol - so rock solid is my sobriety. My life is just trucking on fine without booze in the picture and for that I am SO SO SO happy and also so grateful to past me for making the big, brave move 7+ years ago.

I'm not visiting here so much any more but I do write blog posts regularly at www.livingsober.org.nz. Our incredible recovery community is going from strength to strength and soon we are relaunching with a whole new look!

I also post regularly on Facebook and Instagram. And also on Twitter.

Hopefully see you there!

Love, Mrs D xxx 


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Seven years today!!

Happy Soberversary to me! Happy Soberversary to me! Happy Soberversary to me! Happy Soberversary to me! Seven years today!! Woo bloody Hoo.

That is 2557 days by the way - crazy!

Waking up this morning with the memory of having yelled at my kids last night because one of them pissed all over the toilet floor - whoopsie! Grumpy mum alert. But at least it was sober yelling not drunken yelling! Unlike last night 7 years ago when I was totally full of wine and an utter wreck on the inside.

So anyway.. what to do on my soberversary? I have to take the car into town to get fixed so thought I might walk myself to the movies after that and go see Crazy Rich Asians which is apparently great. Then maybe get some food in a cafe.. then bus home and do other normal stuff like walk the dog and go to the supermarket and pick up the kids from school and make dinner and stuff.... such is the life of a sober housewife. Yay for being a sober housewife!!

Thank you me of 7 years ago for digging deep even when you were feeling miserable and making such a monumental life-changing decision.

Thank you me of 7 years ago for pushing through the hard-as-buggery early stages of getting sober. Learning how to socialise, filling my days, getting through wine o-clock, and the hardest work of all - retraining my brain to stop seeing booze as a good idea. Thank you!

And thank you me for every one of the last 2557 days for being brave enough to deal with emotional stuff and not seek to escape or numb. I am so proud of myself that I have committed to living 100% of the time in the raw. It is a fantastic, grounded, brave, real, honest way to live. And I love it!

No regrets! Sobriety is my new normal and I'm so happy with that. Happy Seven Years to me! Can't wait for the next seven.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Monday, August 20, 2018

Ain't that the truth.

Monday morning and I have just decluttered our downstairs room which was a mess with old CDs everywhere, kids dress-ups, various tools and bits of sporting equipment, swim gear, school art projects, old DVDs.. you get the picture.

I love decluttering!

And this is just the first area of the house that I'm going to deal with. Every day this week I'm going to do a different area which has gotten dusty and crappy and messy. Satisfying.

I've finished my 3-month work contract so now have more time on my hands to get on top of the house, plus get back to the gym and start walking the dog daily again and stuff like that. I let my self-care and some houseewifey jobs slip a bit while I was a busy working mum juggling two jobs and everything else.

But that's over for now - until the next contract comes along at least. And until it does I'm going to enjoy having a bit more time to potter about and get organised and look after myself and the family.

Been a bit of angst around lately as well with some stuff going on (out of my control but worrisome and stressful) but I've been coping with that fairly well. It's interesting for me to note that nowadays in the midst of a crisis I don't for a second hanker for a wine or wish that I could bend my brain with a drug to escape. I just deal with life as it comes - sometimes messily with tears or anger or sugar - but deal with it nonetheless and trust myself that I will cope.

And I always do.

I've taught myself now after nearly 7 years of sobriety that I can handle my emotions, that they're not to be feared or judged or avoided.. they are just emotions. Sadness, anger, worry, frustration, stress.. they're all there for a reason. It's how us humans are made! And I'm very happy to be a fully realised human riding the waves of life as best I can.

Most of all I'm happy to be showing my sons a mum who is well rounded, not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but just dealing with life on life's terms. They can see me up, down and sideways and circling around again. And they will learn by watching me that this is how life goes.

It's not what happens to you, it's how you deal with what's happening to you that counts.

Ain't that the truth.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, July 23, 2018

Slice of life (and lemon)

It's 4.27pm on a Monday afternoon. I'm sitting at the kitchen bench drinking from a glass filled with fizzy water and a big slice of lemon. I've just made tomorrow night's dinner (chicken fajitas) and soon will embark on tonight's dinner (fish and veggies parcels). The Greatest Showman soundtrack is playing loudly which is cheesy as hell but fun to sing to. The dog is prowling around the kitchen looking for scraps of food. Now he's given up and is lying on the rug. 

Eldest son (nearly 14) is sitting at his PC in the study watching YouTube and surfing Instagram on his phone at the same time. Youngest son (8) is playing Arc on the PlayStation in the TV room. Middle son (12) is at his swim training. He'll need to be picked up in an hour or so.

I'm feeling pretty tired as I'm working two jobs right now while still running the house and kids etc. And it's been a busy weekend. I hosted a birthday party sleepover for our middle son and 3 of his friends and also had my mum staying. Also, because I'm tired my food choices haven't been great lately and I'm a bit frustrated that the house is a dusty, cluttered mess. But none of this is terrible and I know that everything is elevated because I'm tired. 

So I'm practicing mindfulness - focusing on what my hands are doing and what is before my eyes - rather than getting lost in negative thought patterns. And I'm being kind to myself, accepting that life is up and down, trusting that I'll pick myself up again and congratulating myself for being grounded and aware.

I think it's important right now that I remember what a fucking legend I am for being sober. Excuse me for blowing my own trumpet but sometimes being in long term recovery means I forget to celebrate the turn my life has taken and the improvements I have made to my world - both internal and external.

Because this picture could be quite different. I could be 2 wines deep right now, slightly buzzed and disconnected. I could be hungover from the weekend and struggling every day with an intense internal dialogue about my drinking. I could be regretting things I've done or said recently while under the influence.  I could be fighting with my husband or other relatives, or dealing with angsty friendships. But none of this is my reality.

My reality is tiredness, emotions, awareness, gratitude and a big glass of fizzy water with a large slice of lemon. Perfection, really.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, June 29, 2018

Self-care while being busy

Well! Be careful what you wish for. After spending quite a few weeks moaning about how bored and underutilised I was feeling...about how my confidence was low because I hadn't worked outside of the house (like, in an actual office with other people and stuff) for over 8 years.. about how I needed to get a job but didn't know what I wanted to do... well... I went and got a job!

It's a nice re-entry into the workforce.. a part-time, temporary contract (26 hours a week for 3 months). Doing writing and communications stuff for a big health organisation. So it's using my skills but also teaching me new things.. and now all my bored and insecure complaints have flown out the window and BAM! I'm super busy.

I'm getting up and out of the house four mornings a week and driving into a busy workplace. I've had a shit-ton to learn, my brain is full of a million details. I've been stressed, stimulated, frustrated, satisfied.. but most of all - busy!

It's been great on many levels. I've reminded myself that I'm capable and hard-working and efficient and have a lot to offer. And I've reminded myself that I work well with others and enjoy meeting new people.

But it's also been a big adjustment in terms of my schedule, demands on my time, tiredness levels and self care. Suddenly I'm that person who is juggling a million things and feeling rushed a lot of the time. The meals at home aren't quite up to the same standard. Emails are taking a bit longer to respond to and some of my writing deadlines are being pushed out.

It's quite good actually because I'm being reminded that it does take more of an effort to look after yourself and make good choices when you're stretched. When you're super-busy it's easier to just grab that quick snack that isn't fully healthy, rather than take the time to chop some veggies. It's easier to skip your yoga class because you are tired.

My sobriety is rock-solid, but some of my addictive behaviours around food have crept back in. But it's ok.. I'm very aware of this and am 1) first and foremost and most importantly treating myself with great compassion and kindness, recognising that I am tired and busy and a human being with flaws and all of that is ok and understandable and 2) trying hard to keep a focus on good self-care routines knowing that although they take more effort when you're tired.. they are worth it!

It helps that I have an end date for this contract so can push through knowing that I'll be back to a more cruisey routine soon enough. But then of course I'll probably start complaining about being bored again and worrying about what job I'm going to do! Ha ha. Hopefully soon enough - in the next year or two - I'll find the perfect thing that will keep me stimulated and busy (but not too busy) and allow me to look after myself and my family as well.

Life is a journey with twists and turns! And I'm happily bumping along for the ride. One sober foot in front of the other.. facing each day with a clear head and honest intention. And that's all any of us can do.

Love, Mrs D xxx



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Living my best life...

Hello anyone still reading this! I'm not blogging here as often as I used to which feels a bit weird but also the natural way of things. This blog was my absolute lifeline in the early days (as you will see if you go back to my early posts). It led me into the wonderful world of online recovery and taught me the importance of support and empathy and kindness and compassion.

Not sure how it's going to go in the future but just wanted to let you know (if you care that is!) that I am very present on my social media accounts which are Twitter @mrsdalcoholfree, Instagram  @mrs_d_alcoholfree and my Facebook page - Mrs D Is Going Without.

I'm trucking along pretty well right now. I'm still looking for some work outside of the home but am trusting that the right thing will come along soon. In the meantime I'm running the Living Sober website, appreciating my kids and all the parenting and pottering around the home I do. Trying to keep my mental health good by eating right and walking the dog and going to the gym and stuff. This is how I work my recovery, by keeping an eye on all of the physical and emotional aspects of my life and working to keep things in balance. I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination (last night I had crackers with butter and jam for dinner), but that's perfectly ok. Overall I have come a HUGE way since I quit drinking.

I'm now fully accepting of the fact that I am an addict and anything that kickstarts dopamine in my brain is kryptonite to me. So I try to avoid those things (alcohol all the time, sugar and flour 90% of the time) because when I do I feel free from cravings and compulsions and that is a much happier place for me to reside in. How very grown up!

Being sober is grand. I am completely settled into my sober skin now and can't for a minute imagine my life soaked in wine like it used to be. I am so, so, so, so happy to have booze out of my life. I look around at others drinking and can't see that I'm missing out on anything at all. Is that just because I have forgotten the pleasure of having that liquid drug in my body? Maybe, but I don't care. Life in the raw is great. Daring, rebellious, gritty, real, grounded and rewarding. And I have gained so very much.

It takes a huge adjustment to go from living boozily to living sober, so please do hang in there if you are in the rough early stages and know that you are undergoing a huge, heroic life change that will be really worth it in the end. Nothing bad ever comes from getting sober and any changes that come about from quitting booze are usually good ones (even if it dosn't seem like it at first). I know I'm generalising massively here but this does seem to be true.

Here's a selfie taken while on a big walk last weekend with the family. This is me aged 46 and a half, six and a half years sober, 14kg lighter than when I quit drinking with a mostly very settled brain chemistry (other than natural mood fluctuations and hormonal swings).


Sober. Not perfect, but facing every challenge with an honest intention and my best foot forward.

Who could ask for anything more?

Love, Mrs D xxx