Monday, May 2, 2016

Born Lucky...

So after I had my little rant at HuffPostWomen a couple of weeks ago (and had a great response from you lovely blog readers), I had an opportunity to write a follow-up article on the issue of the glorification of alcohol in social media here at The Addiction Advisor.

I shared this latest article on my Facebook page - where it also had a great response - and one person there commented.

"While I don't have a problem with drinking (born lucky), I'm surrounded in my life by many who do. Where do you draw the line between those of us who are able to have one drink that does us for days, and those where it's overtaken their lives? Does it mean preventing those of us from having that social drink? It doesn't bother me the memes are around - in fact I follow one - it doesn't affect me like it affects those who are grappling with a problem....where do you draw the line?"

I replied: "I think this is one of the most difficult questions regarding alcohol, and why it's tricky for those who regulate it's sale and marketing. Because for many people it is a relatively harmless liquid (they can moderate it and have it not be a problem), but yet for others it's quite the opposite (incredibly harmful and difficult to moderate and control). Personally I think as a society we haven't got the balance quite right of having it be freely available for those who can enjoy it safely yet make moves that acknowledge it isn't a simple commodity for others. E.G. by all means sell it but perhaps out of the supermarkets next to the bread and milk. And I think you 'draw the line' with the sharing of these memes etc when it is coming from a large influential media company. That's why the HuffPostWomen image annoyed me so much. Of course individuals can share and enjoy these memes if they want, but from a massive social media account celebrating women - not ok in my book. But that's just me! And I realise it is a futile fight. Just felt like having a rant for once. x"

Anyway - enough ranting! Today is a day of celebration because school is back after a 2-week holiday and my darlings have left the house. Finally I have some peace and quiet. I am sitting with a cup of tea, the dog sleeping at my feet, and the only sound I can hear is of the dryer churning away in the wash house. Bliss.

Just one last point. The Facebook commenter described herself as 'born lucky' for not having a drinking problem and I think that is fair enough for her to feel that way. But I consider myself to be born lucky as well.

I feel lucky that I developed into an alcoholic because only by recognising that fact and digging deep to get myself out of it have I experienced the wonderful gift that is recovery. Only by beating my addiction have I discovered what I am truly capable of. The turnaround I have experienced since I got sober, the connections I have made in the recovery community and the connections I have developed with myself and with my loved ones are so valuable and good.

I'm also lucky because I have discovered how great it is to live completely 100% sober, never touching alcohol ever. I have that stuff out of my life, I don't want a casual drink ever, I'm free.

So really - I'm the lucky one.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, April 23, 2016

And now for a happy rant!!!!!!!!!!!!

I AM SO GODDAM HAPPY I AM SOBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just cannot believe my good fortune that I managed to get myself rid of that shitty, lying, brain-numbing, stupid, life-avoiding liquid.

I don't blame myself for spending so many years drinking it. It was presented to me by my society as an ordinary, everyday drink that is to be used at every social occasion, used to help with stress and sadness, and used to make evenings more fun and enjoyable. It was simply presented to me as an ordinary part of life.

And so for 20+ years I adopted an enthusiastic-alcohol-drinking attitude that fitted me like a glove.

Until it didn't.

It all turned to shit, alcohol turned on me and I hit a really low place and went through an incredibly intense few years of getting that shit out of my life and re-adjusting to a life that wasn't awash with booze.

OMG I can't even summarise how much work went into that transition but it's all here in this blog which I have been writing since the start. Suffice to say a HUGE amount of 'work' (brain-retraining, practising a raw life, learning new ways of being) has occurred and now here I am a sober woman living without any alcohol at all.

And holy smokes.. boy am I DELIGHTED that I am here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's incredible!!!!!!!! Alcohol is so not necessary!!! Sure, it appeals because it's a drug that re-creates happy endorphins and feel-good emotions ... and it blurs and numbs which is incredibly attractive because being a human is HARD FUCKING WORK! (that annoying over-working, over-dominant frontal lobe which is hard to get away from)... I get it, I get why so may humans drink it.

But being here now in this place that I am in, living a life which is free of any mind-bending drugs, living day after day after day being clear in my head, enjoying the slow accumulation of lovely benefits that comes from this... its all just so incredibly rewarding and lovely.

That's the thing. It's not what I'm missing, it's what I've gained.

I have gained a sense of calm that is out of this world. Pride and self-belief that is priceless. A level of connectedness with myself, my family and all the humans around me which is deeply satisfying. And most of all a life which is incredibly interesting, stimulating and fascinating. Anyone with half a brain would relish the pure interest that comes from the recovery process.

It's just great. I love, love, love, love living sober. Where I am now is worth all of the hard work, all of the uncomfortable re-adjustments, all of the grit and tears (those that have already occurred and those that are still to come).

It's all just so worth it.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, April 14, 2016

'Huffpostwomen' SUCKS!!!!!!!!

I just got angry with 'Huffpostwomen' on Instagram because they posted a cartoon picture of a wine glass with the words 'Wine is always the answer' written in comical writing above it.

Usually I just let that shit pass by. But today I've just been writing a guest post for a female-focused rehab in the States and have been thinking about all the tender and brave women of the world who are working hard to remove alcohol from their lives. Women who are courageously navigating the rocky waters of early sobriety to reclaim their natural and powerful whole-ness.

I know these memes are ha ha funny jokes, they're all over the internet, all over Facebook, all over greeting cards, all over everywhere... and most of the time I just roll my eyes mentally and ignore them.. but today I just felt pissed off and had to leave a comment and respond.

"That's just bullshit." I wrote on Instagram under their dumb image, "Being a fully connected, fully emotional, fully empathic female is actually the answer".

And then I unfollowed their account.

It's not likely they'll care. They have ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY FIVE THOUSAND FOLLOWERS!!! Their Instagram account purports to be about 'What it means to be a woman'.. and yet they're telling their followers that wine is always the answer?????? For fucks sake!!!!! Are they living in the real world? Do they know what a massive problem alcohol addiction is - it cuts through every socio-economic group, class and race.

Do they really believe a brain bending liquid that mimics genuine positive feelings and depletes your brain of natural feel-good chemicals is the answer? Do they really believe a liquid drug that disconnects you from your family and own emotions is always the answer? Do they really believe every problem, worry, concern or fear will be resolved by a glass of wine? Give me a break.

Sorry but that is utter bullshit and that message is utter bullshit and it does nothing to advance the female race. And I just wish the managers of the 'Huffpostwomen' Instagram account were a little more sensitive and attuned to that fact.

Rant over.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A long waffly post about my alcoholic approach to food...

I'm having a revelation YET AGAIN about food. It is this...

When I eat clean I am happier. When I eat clean my moods are more stable. When I eat clean my thoughts are calmer. When I eat clean I sleep better. When I eat clean my 'system' works better (I'm talking bodily functions here sorry people).

I know there's so much around in the media right now about food and diets and clean eating and often it causes angst in people about foods and what they should and shouldn't eat.. it's the hot topic and everyone has an opinion or a plan to follow or a diet to adhere to....  a million trillion opinions about what to eat/what not to eat.

Yes I have been doing a lot of reading and soaking up of all the chatter around food & eating (Dr Libby's The Calorie Fallacy is great).. but mostly this comes from the living I have done over the past 4ish years since I got sober and became acutely aware of my moods. Over the past four years I have been lurching from one eating style to another.. trying and failing and cycling in-and-out of bad/good habits. And this is what I unequivocally know now about myself, food, and my mood & general state of mind.

What works best for me is when I avoid any wheat/sugar products. When I make a blanket decision in my mind to not eat those things (i.e. almost total abstinence) then I am a happy, calm & stable person. When I do eat these things I am not.

Because here's the thing.....I am an addict. I am an alcoholic in recovery. When I eat these things I don't eat them in what you might call a 'healthy' way.

Since I got sober I have realised that I use these foods (sugary/wheaty foods) alcoholically. The more I eat them the more I crave them. I feel the 'pull' towards these foods very strongly in my core (I don't know how to explain this 'pull' or 'craving' but it's a combination of a very intense sensation inside my chest/belly and a very noisy stream of thoughts telling me to eat them). I binge. I can be secretive/furtive with them. I indulge more when I am low/stressed/tired/sad. I experience intense feelings of low self-worth and guilt when I over indulge. In short I feel like shit emotionally and physically when I am eating sugary/wheaty foods regularly.

Moderation is impossible. It might start that way but over the days my intake speeds up. So I opt for totally abstinence and when I achieve that I SOAR!!! I feel stable, my moods are even, I feel happy, I feel great.

At the moment I'm in a long phase of abstinence from these foods and it's been awesome. Utterly fantastic. I keep bumping into people who ask 'how's it going?'.. and all that comes out of my mouth is 'good!'.

This cannot be unrelated to the fact I'm eating clean at the moment. (My version of clean which = no wheat/sugary foods). It is not unrelated to this fact. Life has been continuing on. We are crazy busy in our household. Work is busy. Stuff is going on. But yet I feel stable and good.

Look. I know I'm going to probably slip back into bad habits again. I hope I don't but my cycle seems to be 3ish weeks off those foods, 3ish weeks on them.

3 weeks off = happy and calm.

3 weeks on = fun at first and yummy but slowly worsening and usually ending in a catastrophic binge followed by a day of self-loathing and then back off them I go again.

I know this post is long and waffly but I'm wanting to get this all out for myself because I do feel (fingers crossed) that I am progressing in myself to a point where I might finally for once and for all stop the endless cycling on-and-off these foods. I really do feel I've finally done enough 'research' to know myself well enough, to fight off the cravings when they come (when I let a little bit back in the cravings start again and I usually let them win and down the hole I go again for 3ish more weeks), and to make my permanent base-line lifestyle almost total abstinence from these foods.

Funnily enough one of the things I worry about most if I do end up living like this permanently is how I'll explain it to people. I'm worried people will think I'm a stupid bore for not having dessert at a restaurant or a piece of slice for afternoon tea or a piece of cake because it's somebody's birthday. Maybe I'll try to explain it like 'I'm an addict. I have a complicated relationship with those foods. It's best if I don't touch them'.  Or maybe over time I won't feel the need to explain myself at all.  This is so reminiscent of when I got sober and stopped drinking alcohol!

Who gives a fuck what anyone else thinks??!! I'm the one who wakes up with my head on the pillow every morning feeling what I feel and knowing what I know.

I'll just have to see how it goes. But for now I'm feeling really strong and resolute. Long may it last.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pour Me...

Oh the wonders of A.A. Gill. I love, love, love him, love his writing. I have always loved his writing.. right from back when I was living in London in the late 90's reading his columns in the Sunday Times.

Back then I had no idea (or didn't care) that he was an alcoholic in recovery. Why would I? I was boozing up a storm myself! But over the years I've become dimly aware of that fact.. and now of course it looms large in my mind when I think of him. He's a sober superstar!

And now he has a memoir out about his drinking! I was warned by an online buddy that 'Pour Me: A Life' wouldn't satisfy as a recovery memoir.. and A.A. himself says on page 8 "Let's get one thing straight, this is no faith-infused pulpit tale of redemption. This isn't  going to be my debauched drink-and-drug hell, there will be no lessons to learn, no experience to share, there won't be handy hints, lists, golden rules ... I have no message, no help". Consider myself warned....

No need. I have absolutely loved this book and found it hugely powerful, very insightful and moving. He has such a clever way with words, such a brilliant way to convey the realities of living with addiction.

On waking up: "It's not a simple transition. It's not how you wake up, like turning the key in the ignition - a couple of coughs and you're ticking over in neutral. A drunk's awakening has layers and protocols. There is a great deal of spare and lonely emotion that has to be acknowledged, folded up and buried between sleep and consciousness."

Spare and lonely emotion. Oh yes, I know it well.

And this: "Booze is a depressant, a close relative of anaesthetic. The symptoms of getting drunk are like those of being put out for an operation - initially, fleetingly, it offers a lift, a sense of transient joy, of confident light-headed freedom, it's a disinhibitor; relaxes your shyness and natural reserve so you can feel socially optimistic in a room, can make a pass, tell a joke, meet a stranger. But this is just the free offer to snag a punter. Drink is, at its dark, pickled heart, a sepia pessimist. It draws curtains, pulls up the counterpane. It smothers and softens and smoothes. The bliss of drink is that it's a small death."

A small death. Death by a thousand sips. Thank fucking goodness I stopped killing myself with that shitty liquid.

And this: "Alcoholic despair is a thing apart, created by the drink that is a depressant, but also the architect of all the pratfall calamities that fuel it. Alcohol is the only medication the drunk knows and trusts, a perfectly hopeless circle of angst, and it is all powered by a self-loathing that is obsessively stoked and fed. And it's that - that personally awarded, vainly accepted disgust - that makes it so hard to sympathise with drunks. Nothing you can say or do comes close to the wreaths of guilt we lay at our own cenotaph."

How can this man write. Wonderful! Highly recommended.

Love, Mrs D xxx