Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy sober moments

Occasionally I have moments when I'm walking from one place to another or driving somewhere when I suddenly think "I'm just moving around my life and I never touch alcohol any more and it's no big deal."

It's farking amazing that after all the angst and guilt and worrying and heavy drinking that was the end of my drinking days, followed by the cravings and emotional turmoil and pangs and woe-is-me that was my early sobriety days, all the thinking, thinking, thinking I did constantly about drinking, all that bloody brain noise regarding me and alcohol did slowly fade away.

So that now sometimes I find myself moving from point A to point B having a little moment thinking 'look at sober me moving around my alcohol-free life!' And it feels totally super-cool in a low key, lovely way.

Not bells-and-whistles amazing or grit-and-grim angst, just low key and lovely, normal me moving between point A and point B and being a sober person.

I just saw a photo someone took of Zac Effron with his six-month sobriety chip around his neck.. just cruising between point A and point B being a smiley sober dude.

My particular point A this week was the main facilities block at a camping ground and point B was our tent site. I was carrying a pink plastic bucket full of dishes I had just washed in the communal kitchen. Waiting for me at the tent site was Mr D, my sister and her husband, all sitting around in deck chairs having a wine and chatting.

I didn't care that I wasn't having a wine too.. I was happy walking with my pink bucket, and my little private thought that I was happily moving around my sober life and it was totally, fabulously, fine.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve...

Ok so I'm 2 1/2 years sober and even I've found it somewhat confronting being out of my sober bubble (home) and around people who are all drinking all the time. We've travelled away for Christmas and New Years.. down country to see both our families. Everyone's totally used to me being sober now (someone actually tried to hand me a champagne cocktail today and I had to say 'not for me thanks' twice before he face palmed with embarrassment). I thought it was kind of funny.

But yeah, I've been feeling a little bit awkward sometimes at the drinks-being-poured stage. Awkward mixed in with a bit of dismay that most people can just drink and not worry about it. So here's some of the thoughts I think when I get hit with those uncomfortable feelings.

'It won't matter in an hour'

'It won't matter when I wake up in the morning'

'I wonder if any of these people get the drinking guilt like I used to get'

'I hated that drinking guilt so much'

'I'm so pleased I don't have drinking guilt any more'

'Maybe I'll make myself a coffee, that'd be nice'

And then the feeling fades and the moment passes and sure enough it doesn't matter that I didn't have the alcohol like everyone else. I never wake up regretting not having drunk the night before.

I hope everyone who is sober has a fabulous sober Christmas. I hope everyone who desperately wishes to be sober has a fabulous Christmas too, and holds on to the nugget of truth that it is possible to live a full and fun life without alcohol in it.

There are carrots on the driveway for the reindeer and right now I need to go and stuff Christmas stockings with gifts for three little boys. Ho, ho, ho.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A sober silly season

I went to the pub this week! Twice! And it was totally fine. Both time I guzzled a couple of lemon, lime and bitters and nattered with girlfriends. Fairly new girlfriends - some of whom didn't know about my not drinking - but not a single word was said and it really was irrelevant that I didn't have alcohol in my glass.

It's the silly season and everyone all around my fair country is gearing up for a boozy Christmas and New Years. Except for all the fabulous sober warriors of course…!

This is my third sober silly season and so far I've had only one teeny weeny pang (today when someone mentioned they were having a boozy boxing day lunch and suddenly a tiny woe-is-me thought passed through my mind. I batted it away quick smart).

Last year I did have quite a few sad pangs.. and the year before I was brand spanking shiny new at being sober so it was all weird and different. I kept retreating into the bedroom to read blogs.

One of the best bits of advice I've ever heard regarding holidays and how to cope being sober around family and drinking came from Mr SponsorPants. He says "Remember, other people find the holidays difficult and emotionally charged as well -- you're not the only one having a tough time of it -- watch for ego and hyper-sensitivity, and rather than sit in your own upset, see who and how you can help wherever you may be or whomever you may be with."  You can read his whole Holiday Survival Guide here. It's ace.

This advice really works for me because that's the truth of it of course. Everyone comes together at Christmas time and brings their own exhaustion from their own busy year and their own personal stresses and strains and everyone thinks their stresses and strains are the worst stresses and strains (which of course they are to them) and … well I just find it helpful to imagine everyone else dealing with shit and then my own shit doesn't seem so insurmountable.

And remember.. push your thoughts through the evening and imagine going to bed sober. Imagine waking up fresh with no hangover and sick guts or guilt. Those are the beautiful things worth staying sober for. That and the healthy dose of self-respect you'll have after the silly season is over.

I am just so freaking exhausted and ready to stop the treadmill and get off for a bit. Kids are tired. Mr D is tired. The birds outside in the trees are tired too. (I wish the bloody neighbours were tired and not having a party tonight but oh well).

Off to bed. Bye for now all you lovely people.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sobriety Pros and Cons...

There are a couple of bad things about being sober..

1) Occasionally I get a bit bummed out that I can't drink alcohol like other people can

2) My kids always steal my special non-alcoholic drinks (which I have rarely now but on weekends and special occasions I'll buy something different & treaty). They just go after it the minute they see I've got something different in my glass, knowing it'll always be non-alcoholic. This is very annoying.

I would go so far as to say that no 2) is worse than no 1). The number 1) feelings come along rarely nowadays and don't last long. Number 2) I'm totally over. If I want to have a special treaty drink I want it all to myself!!

There are many good things about being sober..

1) I'm no longer a tragic heavy boozer addicted to drinking wine all the time, believing (incorrectly) it made things more fun, not realizing how it was dragging me down

2) I feel calmer and happier in general

3) I look healthier (hair, skin, eyes)

3) I feel more authentic. When I react to something with happiness, fear, anger, sadness, joy, surprise etc..it feels more real and I sit more comfortably with the emotions (especially the difficult ones)

4) I get to do loads more writing because I started blogging as a way to keep myself sober and the blog led to a book and hopefully more writing projects will come..

5) Loads of things about me have improved - some of these improvements are imperceptible to others but I am aware of them every day. My cooking, housekeeping, personal grooming, dressing, etc has all got just that little bit better.

6) I don't know what my friends and family would say about this but I feel like I'm way more available and connected emotionally to everyone around me.

7) I sleep waaaaaaay better.

8) I'm part of a warm, wise, interesting, supportive online community of people interested in living without alcohol.

9) I get to be sober! And I think that's a totally interesting way to live. It's definitely more interesting for me on the inside looking out, and I think it's an interesting fun fact about me for people I meet .. something you don't hear every day, especially when I'm so open about my reasons for not touching the stuff (can't control it).

10) Shitballs.. I can't think of a number 10. Um….. I can always drive home, I never wake up with a hangover, I've more money to spend, my insides must be healthier, maybe I've reduced my risk of getting cancer or some other health nasty?, I read more books .. actually I could keep going forever. There are a million reasons why being sober is great and hardly any why it's not.

Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. Go on.. I dare ya….

Love, Mrs D xxxx

Monday, December 9, 2013

A bit of rah-rah-sisterhood-rocks! for ya...

So I didn't go to Mr D's work party on Saturday night and sat at home instead eating Christmas cake and watching Fashion Police on Channel E. It was ok.

I think if I'd still been boozing I'd probably have gone. Even though I would have had the same underlying feelings (it's not my gang, can't be bothered) I would have gone and gotten amongst it and gotten boozed and had a fair-to-middling time. Only fair-to-middling because the underlying truth would still have been there (it's not my gang, can't be bothered) and no amount of booze would have changed that.

So I suppose you could say I didn't go because I'm sober. That doesn't mean I didn't go because I wasn't going to be drinking and everyone else was. That means I didn't go because it's not my gang and I can't be bothered and now that I'm sober I can make a decision based on those truths.

That's what I was telling myself as I sat on the sofa eating cake anyway.

And as I sat there I received a Facebook message from a friend of mine who lives in another town who has fought the brave fight, dug deep and gotten herself sober. She reaches out from time to time to let me know how she's going and she's doing SO WELL and looking fabulous judging from her new profile pic. Another brave sober warrior. Another gorgeous woman who is readjusting to a life that is no longer wine-soaked. She said in her message  "I know it is going to be an ongoing thing but I am determined to stay strong!"

Hooray for her! Yes it is an ongoing thing.. we have to live alcohol free in a world that is awash with booze. Never, ever touching the stuff no matter what comes our way. But we choose to do that because it makes us happier, better, stronger, calmer. Insert your own adjectives here. It's all good.

Forgive me if I'm going to sound a bit gushy and all rah-rah-sisterhood-rocks! here … but…

I think all women are brave, fabulous, gorgeous, amazing, vibrant creatures with flames that burn bright and strong inside of us. I think we sometimes forget that we have this incredible life-force.. the ability to love and laugh and cry and bond with our friends and protect our children and nurture our families and give, give, give to the world. We forget, or we get lost along the way, and we find ourselves dousing our flame by pouring copious amounts of booze on top of it. We glug, glug, glug our way through the weeks not realizing how we are self-sabotaging and dulling our core essence.

But the excellent news, I think, is that despite our best boozing efforts the flame never goes out. We can dull it to buggery by boozing like mad women but it. will. not. go. out. It burns away still.. waiting for the day when we dig deep, grit our teeth, make a firm decision and stop drinking. From that moment on our flame, our essence, our power, our light, our strength, our AWESOMENESS just grows and grows and grows. Our strength, hope and love grows brighter and more vibrant from that point on.

Oh yes it does.

And herein endith the rant.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Making the decision

My sister told me on the phone last night that I was good at making decisions. She was referring to my method of Christmas shopping (fast, no list) compared to hers (lots of forethought and list making). 'I don't find it too much of a stress' I said and she replied 'that's because you're a good decision maker' .. or words to that effect.

I don't know if I am a 'good' decision maker (how do you judge that?) but I'm certainly not afraid to make decisions. In fact I LOVE making decisions.. especially big ones. I think it's always given me a sense of power over my own life and the world in general. I am here! Watch me make my own decisions!

It's such a part of my character that my mum mentioned it in her speech at our wedding. Her exact words (just checked it on the DVD) were "she arrived in the world ready to party, ready to make choices, ready to make decisions".

Ready to party. Well yeah.. we know all about that. Me always chasing the fun! (glug glug glug). Me always looking for things to be upbeat! (glug, glug, glug). Me the good-fun-time-girl! (glug, glug, glug). Me the avoider of uncomfortable and tough emotions (glug, glug, glug).

But then me the party girl starts morphing into me the alcoholic who has no control over her drinking, so suddenly me the decision maker needs to take charge. And make the RIGHT decision, FIRMLY.

I think back to that moment in my kitchen the morning after my last binge. That morning when I was so hungover and so guilty for hiding how much I'd been drinking from Mr D. I was so deeply miserable and felt so stuck and alone in my crazy boozy nightmare, so very desperate for things to change.

It was my personal rock bottom, that morning. And standing there in my dressing gown I made a decision. A firm decision to remove alcohol completely from my life forever. I never did one day at a time. I did "I am now a non-drinker".

And by the way it's not like the decision was made on the spur of the moment - I'd done my research. I'd boozed like a demon for 20 years and spent the last good three or four of those trying desperately to moderate my intake. I knew I was an enthusiastic boozer. I also knew that I could not control the amount I drank.

It was the biggest, scariest decision I have ever made in my life. But while on the one hand it felt utterly  monumental and far-fetched, on the other hand it felt exciting and daring. I think from that day (820 days ago) till now I've had this stubborn drive to prove to myself and the world that when I make a decision I stick to it. And I will.

Because really, if you think about it, within all of the swirling complexities that impact on our lives, some things can come down to one simple choice. "I'm taking the alcohol away."

That much we can control.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Friday, November 29, 2013

A must watch...

This is a really, really, really amazing powerful video.


I have been the blond woman in this video so so so many times. Not that I've been taken advantage of like she (almost) was.. but completely lost like she appears to be. Vacant eyes, stumbling, numb. Lost inside a drunk woman's body.

Just gone. Gone inside a body that is full to the brim with booze. That was me for years and years and years.

Young me at bars and clubs and parties and the like. Then older me on the sofa at home. Drunk me lost inside a drunk woman's body.

It is remarkable the fundamental shift I've had now that I have removed alcohol from my life. A phenomenal change in how I move in the world, how I feel to myself. How I am.

I really love being sober.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My sober guardian angel...

Phew, well thank goodness for that. The noisy crowd of people outside my living room waving their placards and shouting "you're a boring sober loser!" have moved on to the next recovering alcoholic's house and now I have my beautiful guardian angel back, floating around my head gently whispering 'you're great, drinking sucks and your life is better without it'.

Of course.

So now I'm pottering about my life once more being a contented sober person, not touching a drop of wine (or beer or whiskey or bubbles or anything) ever.

Ever.

I have a flat day and I end it with a cup of green tea and a somber early-to-bed attitude. Not a bottle-and-a-bit of red wine.

I have something to celebrate and I might get some treaty foods and play some music loud or just punch the air excitedly and smile a lot.  Not drink many glasses of champagne.

It's a beautiful hot day and the city is buzzing with people happy that summer is here and heading to the pub for afternoon beers. I head to the pub too with the same happy-the-sun-is-out-attitude and drink a nice tall glass of lemon, lime and bitters. Not chardonnay.

And after all those moments pass with no alcohol entering my system I see that nothing is missing. I wake up without a hangover. I relish in the lack of guilt. I move through my days feeling grounded.

I am, however, back on the Whole30 until Christmas. That is, no wheat, dairy or sugar until we go away on holiday on the 23rd of December (except for milk in my coffee). This will make me feel much better. Much, much better. And my little guy is about to start morning kindy so I am planning on going to the gym to run on the treadmill every day. Well....maybe every second day...

These are things that I am going to do before Christmas and our summer holiday. That, and remember to smile at my sober guardian angel whispering sweet nothings in my ear as I move around my life.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pangs.. they come...

I had some sad pangs on the weekend about not drinking. The same old shitty sad feelings that tell me I'm kidding myself that sober is the new black, and actually I'm a sad sober loser.. that everyone thinks non-drinkers are boring, that being sober = being boring, that I should just get over myself and have a wine, that I should stop harping on about how amazing I am for stopping drinking and just shut the fuck up and crawl into a hole and keep my head low and what's the big deal I should just have a wine and get over myself ...

.. and stuff like that.

Which, frankly, is all bloody bollocks. These thoughts are NEGATIVE and TIME WASTING and ANNOYING AS ALL HELL (should I stop yelling now?).

But they come, these thoughts. I wish they wouldn't, but they do. They arrive in my brain for a variety of reasons and rattle around unsettling me. They are strong, they feel real, they ARE real at the time, and so I have to acknowledge them and deal with them.  I can't pretend they're not there. I can't bloody have a drink! (Could you imagine if I came on here and admitted that I'd had a bloody drink!! OMG!!)

I'm not fucking drinking. So here's what I do.

1). Think 'what is happening right now that is making me feel like this?' (Answer: Mr D is overseas for work so I'm lonely, I'm doing some extra-worky stuff that is making me feel a little vulnerable, there are inter-personal relationships rattling around me that are tricky). Recognise that these are triggers...

2). Tell myself firmly that these thoughts aren't true. That I'm not a dick for thinking sober is the new black. Work hard to convince myself again that it is cool to be sober and that I am fine being sober and that who cares what anyone else thinks anyway.

3). Remind myself about all the good things in my life and rejoice in them (I have a new spray mop with a water bottle on the arm - you pull a trigger and it sprays water as you mop OMG I am telling you this is a housewife's dream!!!!!!!)

4). Eat some ginger crunch and then make a green juice to counteract it (and the guilt), tidy out the garage, pick up a novel and read it, do something kind for someone else, look up and out at the horizon and appreciate the view, put my pyjamas on at 5pm, just chill the fuck out and let time pass.. if nothing else time passing helps ..  the thoughts fade away....

Slowly they fade away....

Love, Mrs D xxx

*** Update for those who have asked about Ginger Crunch - here is the recipe! I had no idea it wasn't a worldwide phenomenon, get into it people! It is decadent and divine. If I'm feeling really naughty I double the amount of icing....

Friday, November 15, 2013

We are not missing out!

Had some amazingly lovely comments to my last post - do go and look at them all. Yay for community! Wonderful to hear from a new local lady. Hello my kiwi friends xxxx

One comment in particular stood out, and I wanted to answer it directly here. It's from someone bravely reaching out through the all-important veil of anonymity. Anonymity is very useful in this environment which is why I always encourage anonymous comments. Lurking is very useful and powerful too. Hello lurkers!

Anyway, here is the anonymous comment from my last post...

"I was sober for 180 days. Now back on the booze; not happy with myself, but felt like I was missing out on life. What to do?"

The wonderful ByeByeBeer has already offered this reply; "Give it another go if you're not happy with going back. Many don't get it on their first try. It takes time to get used to sober life but the rewards are plenty when we stick with it :)" 

Very wise words. Here's my entirely unscientific and massively over-simplified answer to what is a very important and complex question. Here's what I humbly suggest you do if you want to stop drinking.

1) Decide that you are going to stop drinking.

2) Stick to that decision no matter what.

3) Prepare yourself to lurch all over the show emotionally for a while. Like ALL OVER THE SHOW. Prepare yourself for annoying tears and pure rage and deeply uncomfortable sadness and crazy moods and just lurching, lurching, lurching like a crazy person. Know that it will even out eventually. It always does.

4) Remind yourself constantly why you have decided to stop drinking and why you are going to stick to that decision no matter what.

5) Make lists (write them down or just think them) about all the good things in your life and all the little things that make you feel happy. Cling to those things like beautiful life buoys. Nurture and foster and embrace all those good things. Seek out new good things.. grow your list of things that make you happy and make you feel good. Things that ARE NOT alcohol (which lies to you and is not your friend).

6) Keep reminding yourself why you have decided to stop drinking and why you are going to stick to that decision no matter what.

7) Find community. Find it in your neighborhood, in meeting rooms or online. Communicate with or listen to other people who have made the decision to stop drinking. Know that you are not alone.

8) Know that you are not missing out by not drinking. Know that not everyone drinks. Know that it is entirely possible to have a great life full of laughter and dancing and fun WITHOUT booze. Sounds crazy but it's true! I was petrified of that too - that I was going to live a miserable alcohol-free existence feeling like I was missing out on all the fun. But the longer I live sober the more I realise that it is people and music and camaraderie and relaxing and chatting and sharing time with people that makes things fun.. not booze. Do not give booze the power to make everything fun. It doesn't have that power. We do.

Any other thoughts for anonymous?

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Back to the scene of the crime

Been doing a lot of crying in the past week. Sad things happening and upsetting things too. This is how I live now.. when I get sad or upset tears fall out of my eyes. They just come out, sometimes when I'm talking to people I'd rather not cry in front of, but they come out and I wipe them away as I talk and .. it's fine.

I do think that the people witnessing the tears are cool with it.. often they appreciate being shown the real emotion..

Me, I'm sometimes embarrassed but at the same time, when I look back on the moment I always feel 'clean' somehow like I was just expressing and honoring how I was feeling.

This is all a bit deep so I'll move on to talk about last night...

Last night!!! Big posh dinner!! So very posh.. pomp and ceremony and black tie and evening wear for ladies.. so many waiters and beautiful chandeliers and candles and flowers and very soft squishy carpet and big sweeping staircases, drinks in a reception room then through to a ballroom for dinner, three courses of delicious food, speeches, toasts.. I'm telling you this was the whole nine yards ..

We went to one of these dinners many years ago and it is not my fondest memory. Got absolutely hammered (along with a bunch of other people).. badly behaved.. there was broken glass at the end (not by me but I was in the group of hammered people being ushered out at the time)...

Yeah .. what can I say .. not my proudest moment...

Last night I got the opportunity to return to the scene of the crime. Same event, same pomp and ceremony, different me.

Borrowed a gorgeous Karen Walker dress, had my hair done during the day (salon hair!), wore funky boots that are cool yet stylish and (most importantly) comfortable.. put my coral lipstick on and drove to the venue feeling happy and excited.

Had a great time chatting and mingling and eating and laughing and just quietly feeling so proud of the new me and to be perfectly frank not feeling like I was missing out on anything by not drinking the alcohol.

The friendly waiter kept filling my wine glass with appletise, someone at the table asked if I didn't drink and I told them no and why ("I couldn't control it so I cut it out altogether") and that was fine, it's just a fact, I don't care what anyone thinks..

Sober is the new black don't you know!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Small pleasures..

So much great, gritty stuff going on with others in the sobersphere - I am totally grateful to be reading and thinking and processing all that is happening for other people with regards to their relationship with alcohol.

Me, I'm just so unbelievably happy to be sober and to be living without any alcohol. Sorry, I know that's boring but that's just where I'm at in my mind.

I do have this weird, twisted thinking going on right now that being sober is actually the 'cool' way to live. That living alcohol free is interesting and real and healthy and cool. Maybe I'm deluding myself.

Maybe it's because I'm not out in bars or at parties much at the moment so I'm not seeing what I'm missing out on. But am I missing out on much?  If I do go to bars or parties I can usually still laugh and talk loose and joke around and even have a boogie if I'm in the mood.

Maybe it's because I can vividly remember the loser boozer that I was.. always drinking wine and avoiding emotion and numbing myself constantly .. so for me to come from that place to where I am now is pretty damn cool (I think).

But don't think I'm a bloody saint. I got really really really grouchy at my boys yesterday for being boys and bickering and moaning and whining and I lost it and yelled a lot which wasn't cool. I calmed down and we had a nice afternoon and this morning we have had a 'meeting' about rules and screen time and stuff.. so I'm not beating myself up too much for losing it like I did, it's part of being a mother of three boys and also a sober person I figure.

And I'd rather be sober and raw and lose it sometimes than boozing and numb and detached..

Also have been reaching for the sugar again which is annoying. The Whole30 programme did such great things for my body and mind and diet. Since I've been off it I've hardly eaten any wheat or dairy or sugar.. I mean I do eat it but in much smaller amounts than before. Loads more meat and vege and fruit.

But then Halloween came along and heaps of candy entered our house and went down my throat. Must. Stop. That.

Got a voucher for a facial for my birthday and had it done on Friday afternoon. Talk about lush! An hour on a warm bed with lovely lotions and potions being administered to my face. Bliss. Before the treatment I had to fill out a long form about my skincare habits and lifestyle. Question: How many alcoholic drinks do you consume in a week? Answer: None!

Can you imagine how ridiculously happy I was at being able to give that answer!!  Small pleasures....

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A special message from Sue..

Had a lovely lunch yesterday with my new sober friend Sue - we met through this blog after discovering we lived in the same city. Yesterday was her 1-year soberversary! Yay for Sue!!

She's asked that I post this special message from her, so here it is below.

Also wanted to quickly say that I am doing a long-overdue clean out & update of my blog list.. if you write a sober blog (or follow one) that isn't on my list please drop me a comment below so I can get you on there.

Now here's Sue...

====================
A huge thank you to all you sober bloggers.

I had my last drink a year ago today. The only reason I've made it to a year was because I found all you sober bloggers, and even though most of you had no idea, I've leaned heavily on you, every day, for support, information, encouragement, and company.

I met you all on Day 2, at 5pm, when I was buckling, and heading for yet another failed attempt at quitting. For some reason, before I went to the fridge for a wine, I Googled "sober blogs", and I found you all. I never did make it to the fridge. I spent the next couple of hours finding out that other people craved booze at 5pm, and how they get through, and eventually break the habit. I found out about having non-alcoholic drinks on hand, and actually drinking them. I found out how to look past the craving, and imagine going to bed sober, and waking up with no remorse or self hatred. But most importantly, I found out I wasn't alone in this horrible drinking place. You all made me feel like I was normal, that I was among friends, and that I was actually going to make it this time. I've been reading your blogs all year, and they've helped me deal with everything that getting and living sober deals up. I'm totally grateful to you all.

So I want to say a huge thank you to the sober bloggers.

Thank you for your courage -- to tell it like it is, in public. I leaned on your courage, and found my own courage because of you.

Thank you for your honesty -- for sharing intimate details about your lives, the ups and downs, the passes and fails. This helped me finally be honest with myself, after a lifetime of lies about drinking.

Thank you for your encouragement -- for responding to comments and cheering each other along, and offering advice and help so generously. Your practical advice and enthusiasm taught me so much, kept me strong and committed to staying sober.

Thank you for your humour (and cussing!) -- for being real live ordinary unintimidating people, speaking your truth. I feel comfortable with you, and even though you don't know it, you've been real friends to me.

I know I would not be sober today if it wasn't for you all writing your amazing blogs. Honestly, I've tried to quit so many times before, but this is the first time I've had support, and it's been the difference between failure and success.

So please, all, accept my heart-felt thanks for being such amazing, courageous, generous, encouraging, real people. You are awesome, and I am totally grateful for you.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ten great years..

I am writing this post from a HOTEL ROOM!!!!!!!!!! It is 7am and I've just opened all the curtains, we are on the 16th floor - Mr D and I - and from my position on the bed I can see the tops of some high rises and some houses on the hills behind and lots of green bush-covered hilltops. The sky is a brilliant blue and the sun is in full force.

In about 30 minutes there should be a knock on the door with our BREAKFAST ON A TRAY!! (use of caps for emphasis.. oh how I love to have food delivered on a tray, one of the great joys of life I reckon).

Anyway the reason for the hotel is our 10th wedding anniversary. Very chuffed with that milestone. The actual anniversary was on Friday and we celebrated with a 3-course dinner with the kids, cooked by moi. I bought Mr D a nice boutique beer and a posh red wine (felt a little weird at the bottle shop but not too bad). I had elderflower cordial in a goblet with ice and soda water.

Our wedding 10 years ago was a big fun party, an all nighter with us heading home in a taxi as the sun came up. I do regret the fact that I can't remember much from midnight till 5am, but mostly I regret the fact that the next day when we hosted a big lunch for all guests I was a tired mess, mooching around, not able to converse much I was so wiped out by the partying from the night before.

But.. no point in dwelling on regrets. Not going to waste time looking backwards... all that happened before got me to where I am now - sober and free.

I've written before about how child-free nights in hotels used to always involve me drinking lots (because, as every good alcoholic knows any 'special' night is an excuse to drink more than usual). I love that I don't do that any more.

Yesterday when we arrived I had a cup of herbal tea (ginger and lemon) and a bottle of fizzy water from the mini bar (probably vastly expensive but so what). At dinner (went to a local Asian restaurant) I ordered a mango iced tea which was yum, and back home at the hotel I had an instant coffee with my chocolate pudding (delivered on a tray from room service - lushing it out big time baby!).

I'm just so pleased not to have any alcohol in my life. I don't regret my boozing, that was me then, this is me now. And now I'm in love with my sobriety. I think it's cool to be sober. All the cool people are sober don't you know...

Oh, I hear a knock.. breakfast calls.....bye!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A bit flat (life's like that)...

Feeling a bit flat... restless... not sure why... having another coffee...trying all my 'feel good' strategies..

Put a smile on my face (that worked momentarily but it slid off pretty quick)

Put a tee-light candle in my oil burner and added some delicious oil (should start to make the house smell nice soon, that usually cheers me up a bit)

Made a yummy green juice (spinach, celery, cucumber, lemon, ginger and green apple)..

Looking out at the horizon.. I've a nice hill I can look at. The sun is shining..

Um...

Yeah just one of those days I suppose. Feeling a bit weird now the book is finished. Really 'book' could read 'distraction' or 'goal'... I seem to always need one of those.

Question is.. what is my next goal?

Could try and train for a marathon YEAH RIGHT. Am always a bit jealous of my fellow sober bloggers who get into running. Not my thing. I could step up my gym work though, maybe that could be a goal.

I'm learning how to crochet with the help of my sober buddy Sue and some YouTube videos..I'm into that although I think it'll take months before I actually make something cool.

Mr D just told me I'm an overachiever and I need to chill out for a while, relax and enjoy pottering around with no pressure to deliver anything (first thesis, then book)...

Ok I'll try that. I'll try....

Novels. I need some more novels.

And cooking adventures. Maybe I'll get the cookbooks out and try some new recipes. And maybe I'll go through the house and sort out all the little piles of accumulated 'stuff' that have gathered in every corner.

That'll do for now.

And maybe I'll do lots of sober blog reading and commenting. I've been a bit remiss in my interactions with fellow sober bloggers lately, with meeting the book deadline taking up a lot of my energies. That's no good. I like the 'give and take' of this online community. I'd better step up my 'giving' and reconnect with you guys. That's the best plan of all.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The full story is coming...

So today I finished my book. I finished with a flourish, got teary typing out the last line, then danced wildly in my kitchen to Born This Way by Lady Gaga.

The sun was shining, the music was loud, and I was kicking up my feet, safe in the knowledge that no-one could see me. I felt soooooo very happy.

My book will be the final step in my integration process. For quite a while now I have had a double life.. the 'real' me (suburban housewife mother of three) and the 'online' me (Mrs D sober blogger).

I have gone halfway to integrating the two me's by telling more and more people in my 'real' life about my blog (scary as all hell but necessary).. but only when the book comes out will I be fully integrated as one. All you lovely blog readers will get the full story behind this blog. Who I am, what was going outside of all my posts (soooo much), and how and why blogging was so amazingly helpful to my getting and staying sober.

Like how on the day when I received my first ever comment from a reader it was like someone reached into my living room and gave me a great big hug. Suddenly I wasn't alone. It was awesome, and that day I really needed a hug from a fellow sober person.

Sober blogging is the newest form of recovery, where people like me can reach out through the internet and find amazing support. Really, the book is about you - my warm, kind, supportive, amazing worldwide community of brave sober warriors. We know how amazing this blogosphere is... I want other people to know too.

The book won't be out until next year some time, there's lots of editing and fiddling and formatting and stuff that goes on now apparently...

Until then I'll keep posting and sharing and being a part of this wonderful online world.

Oh, and one last thing.... I FUCKING LOVE BEING SOBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Over-sharing?

Did something a bit weird today. Was at the butchers going crazy on meat purchases and the two very nice, jolly men (what is it with butchers being so jolly?) were chatting away to me and then one of them commented on my broach. It's the silver broach with wings that Mr D gave me for my 1-year soberversary.. I wear it on my winter coat and it's bloody cold here so it was in full view..

Anyway he said 'I like that you're wearing there.. is that a watch mechanism in the middle?' to which I replied 'yeah it is.. my husband gave this to me for an anniversary'..

And both men kind of made 'oohh that's nice' noises, in a male/butchery way..

And then I opened my mouth and said; 'it was for my year anniversary of giving up wine'.

And the guy who was bagging up my marinated chicken drumsticks sort of gave me a look like 'Oh wow' and then pulled a funny face and said 'are you back on now?', nice and chummy like he was saying 'poor you how hard it would be not to drink'..(I think that's what he meant, he was being very nice and given he was probably a bit taken aback at my blunt information offering he was handling it pretty well I thought)..

Anyway I laughed and said 'oh no.. no way .. never again for me. Wine and me don't mix well' and he laughed and reached for the knife to slice up my steak and then I laughed and said 'or rather wine and me mix too well!' and he laughed even harder and the guy off to the side (small shop, hearing everything clearly) also had a chuckle and then we moved on to talk about how many beef kebabs I'd need.

Then the butcher to the side came closer to look at the broach again and told me how he thought it looked like some kind of car emblem.. (I can't remember what car he said because cars aren't my thing). Here it is anyway, judge for yourself.



It was all incredibly comfortable and no big deal.

I did wonder for a nano-second as I left the shop with a cheery 'see ya, thanks!' if I'd over-shared and should have not told them that the broach was for a soberversary rather than a wedding anniversary or something ...

But then I thought no fuck it, it is a broach for a soberversary, that's a fact, I don't drink wine, that's a fact, wine and me don't mix well, that's a fact too and frankly if anyone think's that's over-sharing to tell the butchers then bite me.

It's my story and I'll be open about it if I want to.

And anyway I don't think the lovely butcher men minded one single jot.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, October 4, 2013

An authentic life...

I don't want stupid alcohol anywhere in my body, my mind or my life.

It has no place in my world.

Shit will come and bad things will happen and happy things too and all manner of stuff and I choose to deal with it all without drinking something that affects how I think and feel.

I want to think and feel in a way that I can always trust is authentic.

Alcohol just gets in the way of that authenticity.

And that's why I choose not to drink today or ever again in my life.

The amazing thing is that this wasn't my objective when I first gave up. I didn't know how negatively alcohol was impacting on my thoughts and feelings as I moved around in the world.

I just thought I had to take it away because I couldn't control how much I consumed. Only after it was gone did I discover what an impact it had been having on my emotional landscape FOR YEARS.

Sometimes I feel like it's a blessing that I was pounding it so hard I had to stop.. because only by stopping did I discover what a huge obstacle it was to my living an authentic life.

And now that obstacle is gone - hooray!

And now if you'll excuse me I have to go run the bath, the boys are covered in mud and it's time to settle in, get jammies on and get cosy.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Graduation jubilation!!!!!!!!!

I'm on watch now to hit a kind of post-high slump. The last couple of times I hit a great high (like when I danced for four hours at my friend's 40th!) I spent the days following feeling low and a bit glum.

So after yesterday's big high - I graduated! - I can already feel a bit of a low creeping in and am going to do all that I can to keep myself feeling good and positive. The longer I live sober the more I start to understand myself and the better I get at managing my feelings naturally. I know I'm capable of hitting great highs, and that sometimes they can dump me down afterwards.. so I'm prepared.

See how the longer you live sober the better you get at it. I'm over 2 years now and I'm still figuring stuff out.

So yesterday... OMG YESTERDAY!!!!!!!!! All those months of hard slog, writing that goddam 40,000 word thesis, the stress, the stress, the stress, yesterday it all paid off and I felt soooooooo good walking across that stage and shaking that man's hand and putting my hat on and walking off again.

The ceremony lasted for 2 hours, my walk of pride lasted for about 8 seconds, but every one was worth a million dollars I'm telling ya. My mum was there and my dad and Mr D and I was soooo sooooo soooo very very very happy to be graduating.

And so happy to be doing it knowing that not only have I got an MA, but I have got myself sober.

Had a lovely soda water to celebrate - in a flute of course! - and the fact that it wasn't champagne didn't matter one iota. Alcohol does not have the power to make my graduation jubilation better. My graduation jubilation was a beautiful, powerful, amazing thing all by itself. Whoop!

(So now you can maybe see why I'm on watch for the comedown.)

And now, if you'll permit me, I'm going to be a bit of a show off.


Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fizzy book brain..must write!

I'm writing another post sooner than I normally would because I've got fizzy book brain and my synapses are zinging so much I have to write. Must write.....! Writewritewritewrite....Zing! Fizz! Zing!

This book writing process is farking intense.. 3 weeks ago I was writing the part of my story where I was around 80 days without the booze and realising that one of the hardest things for me with not drinking was to sit comfortably in the 'quiet' moments. The weekday evenings with nothing much happening, I'd get hit with big-time pangs.

At this early point in my sobriety I was realising that I used wine to fill the 'empty space' and that I had to figure out whether 1) this 'empty space' was a problem that needed to be solved or 2) this 'empty space' was a normal part of the human condition that I just had to get used to living with.

Re-living this and trying to put it into words for the book I was reduced to tears (literally in tears in my bed with the laptop) realising that this is something I still haven't 'solved' or 'fixed' or figured out ... that I am still very much a work in progress in this department and may be for the rest of my life.

I ground my way through that bit of the writing, sugar binging to help with the difficult emotions, managed to get through that point in the story, realised I am still a work in progress and need to keep working on me, thought about my brain/alcohol/brain/sugar/brain, decided to address the sugar binging, went on the Whole30, kept writing...

And now I've moved on in the book to where I'm writing about all the research and hard mental work I did to try to shift my thinking about alcohol so that I wouldn't be a miserable non-boozer for the rest of my life. I'm re-reading the 2 books that were so helpful to me back then (and big thanks to the anonymous person that reminded me that I could buy the e-version of Jason Vale and not wait weeks for the hard copy to arrive - duh) and I'm feeling all fired up and positive again!

Maybe it's because my body is a temple and I'm only eating whole foods, or maybe it's because Jason Vale and Allen Carr are so good at making all of the beliefs we have about alcohol (that it makes us happy, that it steadies our nerves, that it relieves boredom and stress, that it eases pain, that it helps us to relax etc etc) seem like complete and utter fallacies. They systematically break down all of these beliefs and tear them to shreds. It's so fun to read I'm telling you, reading them is making me feel all positive and strong and just amazing again about living a life without alcohol!!

That is all.

Love, Mrs D xxx

(Mr Hall I put that exclamation mark in the post title just for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Re-working the brain..

My big thing after I took the wine away was that while I didn't want to be a miserable boozer any more I most certainly did not want to be a miserable NON boozer either. I couldn't bear the thought of spending the second half of my life feeling like I was missing out, not going out, not having fun with friends, not laughing or dancing or talking shit at parties.

So that's what I worked really hard on and still work on to this day. I'm trying to articulate this process now in my book writing and have gone and ordered the two books that I remember being the most influential to me in those early days - Allen Carr's 'The Easy Way to Stop Drinking' and Jason Vale's 'Kick the Drink - Easily!' (it kind of irks me that he's put an exclamation mark in his book title for some stupid reason, but then that's the kind of guy I think he is. Actually I can't complain, I love a good exclamation mark!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)..

These books are actually bloody hard to get, not available at any of the stores or libraries in my city so I had to track down second hand copies on Amazon. The Jason Vale one is going to take weeks to arrive (hopefully before my deadline). Allen Carr arrived this week (great excitement!) and I opened it to discover it's full of someone else's underlining and comments throughout. This is the inside cover.


I've been wondering who this person is with their weird scripty handwriting, when did they read this book and write these notes to try and stop drinking? There must have been millions of humans over the decades who have tried to do what we are all trying to do - live a great life with no alcohol added.

So anyway my big thing was/is to try and rework my brain so that I won't be a miserable git sitting at home like a boring sober loser. I wanted to go to bars and laugh with my friends and go to weddings and cut it up on the dance floor to cheesy pop tunes and I wanted to huddle outside on the balcony at parties and rant madly and I wanted to do all of that without the wine messing me up.

The bottom line is, I think we don't have to miss out on anything. I think if you think very hard about the scene you are entering into .. think about all the elements that are there, the people, the setting, the atmosphere, the food, the music, the friendship, the giggles, the gossip etc etc and focus on those - those are the things that make an occasion special. It shouldn't have to matter that the glass you hold has lemonade not champagne in it. 

It takes a bit of work to get this and sometimes you hit the jackpot and have a blinder of a night! Sometimes you just break even and the night is just fine, and sometimes you lose out and do feel a bit flat and sober and go home feeling a bit low (but it's never that bad in the overall grand scheme of things.) And whatever the case, I never, ever wake up in the morning regretting not having drunk the night before (unlike the waves of drinking regret that used to dominate my life).

The sun is shining and I've got a child free day so will get busy with the laptop! 

Love, Mrs D xxx

P.S. Quick Whole30 update. I'm on Day 8. It's amazing. I feel great. Not in the least bit hungry because I'm eating a lot, just veges and eggs and meat and fruit and not crappy easy stuff. Love it. I am having to take a little extra time planning what I am going to eat but I really do feel lighter and happier. That's the crazy bit. This is not just physical but really works emotionally as well. I feel positive, not negative. Duh, can't believe I'm only just cottoning on to the 'what you eat affects your moods' concept. Good one Mrs D. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Warm sun, no slice

Sitting at the public library with the sun on my back, typing on the laptop listening to some students giggling down the other end of the room. Two hours to myself until I have to pick up the boys and go to swimming lessons.

The escalators are humming and there's a man in a suit sitting next to me reading over a contract.

I've just spent half an hour looking up recipes for the new faddy-food-thingy that I'm doing - 30 days with no wheat, no dairy, no sugar, no legumes. Actually I shouldn't dismiss it as faddy, it's an awesome programme called the Whole30, they've totally seduced me with their website, I've paid (not much) to receive a newsletter every day that I am on this programme and have even posted a wee comment on their forum. And I tweeted them and they tweeted me back! That was exciting.

Day 3 and I feel good already. Was going to start next Monday but I couldn't wait! Really jazzed about getting on top of my dysfunctional food habits. My 'I'm stressed so I can sugar/carb binge' thought processes so mirror my 'I'm stressed/bored/happy/sad/whatever so I can drink wine' thought processes.

I had a breakthrough about this while at my lovely soberversary Mexican dinner with my sisters (drinking a delicious Virgin Mojito no less). I was explaining to them about the Addictive Voice Recognition Technique that I used early on when I was first trying to give up wine (I didn't know I was doing it but a clever commenter told me I was after I posted about how I was trying to beat cravings. I had to Google what it was to find out more).

Anyway after Friday night I had a thought; that voice in my head telling me to eat crap isn't something I have to listen to, and maybe there's a way that I can shut that bloody voice up and not reach for foods that are going to make me feel sluggish or guilty. I'll have to let you know if I can control this one the same as I have alcohol. My solution with alcohol = take it away completely. Food you can't do that with and moderation has never been my strong point.

I'm sure it's got to do with my addictive personality (what is that?) or the reward pathways in my brain (what are those?) or something, it's certainly got a whole lot to do with my eternal quest to be the happiest, most healthy, non-dysfunctional, smooth, calm and contented person that I can possibly be.

Bloody hell...why can't I just chill the fuck out and bodge around and not worry about all this shit??!! Ah.. coz that's what I used to do and it didn't make me happy. The alcohol stopped making me happy. I know lately my food has stopped making me happy. And for some reason my brain keeps propelling me forward on this eternal quest.

I tell you what is making me happy right now.. the sun on my back ... it's so warm and lovely....

I will not go to the library cafĂ© for a piece of slice. I will not. Maybe they've got containers of fruit salad... or cashew nuts! I'm allowed to snack on those....

Bye.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The point of change..

Had a super-lovely soberversary, lots of bloggy love and friends-and-family love and just a lovely day. Count the loves in that sentence! Here's another... LOVE!

Anyhoo got this comment from Bella on my last post and really wanted to address her question directly here. Be great if others could share their experiences as well to let her know what their point of change was.

Bella: "The one thing I really struggle with (as a mum-of-two who recently ruined 2 and a half years of sobriety with a 6 month bender, which to be honest hasn't finished yet ...) is precisely how and when and why people decide to stop drinking. Why don't we talk more about people's low points that catalyse their quitting? And why, even if we think we've hit a new low, do we sometimes uncork the bottle again? I know you often say about the memoirs that you've read, that they gloss over the actual recovery part and focus more on the lows. But I'm interested in the nexus between those two. Any thoughts?"

What is it that moves us to finally make the change from boozer (or user) to sober? Why do some people have to make the shift only once and others fall back and have to do it over and over?

My point of change came after two years of being hyper-aware of my worsening drinking problem and trying to moderate and control it unsuccessfully. The last straw was the night I secretly drank a bottle of wine while Mr D was out (despite us having agreed to an alcohol-free night) then knelt down to hide the bottle in the back of the cupboard so he didn't know I'd had it. My point of change came when my fucked up desire to drink brought lies and deception into my relationship. The next morning after that final miserable binge (we drank more after he got home) I got really fucking angry, really fiercely fucking angry and determined. This was my point of change. It came after two years of hard mental work and 8 hours after highly dysfunctional drinking behaviour.

That morning that I changed I had a very clear thought process. It went: "I have HAD ENOUGH of this shit (angry). This has GOT to stop. No-one else can do this for me. I have to do this. I have to change. If it's just me changing me then surely I can do it. I absolutely have to do it." I knew without a doubt that I was very very sick in my head regarding alcohol and there was no way that I could live happily with it in my life. Even now that image of my on my knees leaning into the back of the cupboard makes me shudder. I couldn't bear to continue down that path. I knew I had to take the alcohol away, had to learn how to live without it. I was very determined and I always thought to myself: "People do this. I can do this. I will do this. I will learn how to do this and I will do this."

(It's hard to make this brief but I'll stop now)

This is just my story. It might not be relatable to you. Read around other blogs and books (and hopefully some people will share here in comments their point of change story) until you figure out what it is that will work for you. I do believe everyone's drinking/using story is unique, just as everyone's point of change is unique and everyone's recovery plays out in a unique fashion.

I just read "Ninety Days" by Bill Clegg and the cliched "I got sick and tired of being sick and tired" is pretty much what finally triggered his move into long-term sobriety, the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion about his crack habit (it's a rip-snorter of a read and there's a lot in there about recovery - yay!). He went to 3+ meetings a day trying to stay sober, that didn't work for a long time but finally the exhaustion and wanting to be available to help a fellow addict stopped him from using.

I also recently read "Drunk Mum" by Jowita Bydlowska (also a rip-snorter, all about her crazy vodka-fuelled life, blackout after blackout, lots of sad & lonely boozing). This book really touched me. It is brutal and it is beautiful and unexpectedly quite poetic at the end (probably because she is so clearly not  wishy-washy, when her truth comes it is very touching).

She drinks and drinks and hides bottles and tries to cover the smell of booze and fights with her boyfriend and constantly has a crazy, angry, defensive, dialogue going on in her head and then after one last miserable binge and more lies and defensiveness "..there's silence. My own voice in my head just disappears. And once it disappears, there's an absolute, vast silence. It stops all. It stops me. It's not a moment per se. It's the invisible, non-existent pause between time's passing, one minute turning into the next one. It's so big that it contains everything else - around me and inside me. I see me and I am looking back, looking for help. And with that glimpse everything crumbles. I'm a liar. I'm a liar and I can't afford to lie anymore. I'm an alcoholic, I'm a liar and I've lied about everything."

Bella, you will have your point of change. It will come and it will stick. People do this. You can do this too.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, September 6, 2013

2 years sober today..

Woke up at 4am. Thought about how today is my two year soberversary. Thought about how I don't feel any huge elation about this soberversary. Thought about how soberversarys are strange events, more of a low key 'getting on with it' rather than a high energy 'Whoop Whoop!'.

Thought I felt a bit cold so flicked my electric blanket on to 1. Realised I was wide awake and wasn't likely to go back to sleep so reached for my iPhone. Read this brilliant post by ByeByeBeer. Thought about how lucky I am to never feel alone in my sobriety because of all of the lovely people who write sober blogs, read sober blogs, comment on sober blogs.

Thought about the book I am writing about how I got sober (yes, I have a publishing contract!), about what an intense, introspective process it is writing this book.  Thought about how writing the book sometimes feels like trudging through thick mud, reliving and trying to articulate what I went through after I chose to take alcohol out of my life. Thought about how there was so much was going on inside my mind that I never put into words. Thought about great it is to be writing it all out before it fades completely away.

Thought about how I cried the other night when I was writing the part that explores how after a couple of months of not drinking it became very apparent to me that I used wine to fill a lot of 'empty space', and that the honest truth is that even now 2 years later I still don't know how best to deal with that 'empty space' all of the time.

Thought about how a lot of the time I do well at filling the 'empty space' with family and friends and blogging and pop music and dancing and green juices and green teas and lovely oils and reading books and bubble baths and hugs and Tara Brach and exercise and cooking and homemaking and pop culture and reality TV and politics and new dresses and beauty products and stuff.

But also thought about how sometimes I don't do so well at filling the 'empty space' left when I took away the wine, and I fill it with dysfunctional food habits and uncomfortable glum thoughts. Thought about how I am going to tackle my sugar / carbs issues by doing my dear friend Sherry's 30-day challenge starting on September 18.

Thought about how I don't know if 'empty space' is a normal feeling. A normal part of the human condition that I just have to get used to sitting with, or whether the 'empty space' is something I need to keep working on, need to figure out.

Thought about how the kids would be waking soon and a cup of tea would be nice so snuck out of bed and boiled the jug and put a green tea bag (flavoured with mandarin) into my favourite mug then sat at the computer.

Thought about how really, incredibly, quietly, amazingly, brilliantly, truly, wonderfully cool it is that I live without alcohol. Maybe there is a little bit of 'whoop whoop' in there after all.

Thought about what to write. Wrote this.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, August 31, 2013

It's the little things...

Boozing is living a wild, crazy, blurry, detached and numbed out life that is sometimes fun and sometimes sad and sometimes downright miserable (when you get to where I was with my boozing).

Sobriety is not. Sobriety is not grand gestures and exciting developments. Sobriety is all the little things.

It's the lovely conversations at the end of a party, the quiet cosy conversations that are real and memorable.

It's getting up at 10pm to rub a sick child's back and thanking your lucky stars that you're fully alert.

It's the delight in an empty recycling bin.

It's driving home at midnight. I love driving home so much.

It's hearing people talk about their own struggles and not inwardly running a mile, but listening, really listening.

It's that beautiful moment after you've stared down a drinking pang - resisted the urge to drink - and the pang has gone and you realise it was lying to you and you didn't want/need/deserve that drink after all. That is a truly beautiful sober moment.

It's sitting with an inner calm that blows like a warm breeze over your mind (ok, sometimes sobriety is like a vice grip on your thoughts but I'm trying to keep this positive!)

It's waiting, waiting for bad moods to pass, waiting for glum phases to end, waiting for the lightness to return. Knowing it always does, eventually.

It's really appreciating a hot cup of tea, noticing the steam as it rises. Or really appreciating a small sweet square of chocolate as it melts in your mouth.

It's looking in the mirror and knowing that whatever is looking back at you is real, not some blurry, distant mirage.

It's the underlying beauty of the knowledge that you are sober. You are not a drunk any more. You are sober. It's that little gold nugget of truth that you tuck away inside and nurture.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Swedish dinner party

This is probably a very strange thing for an alcoholic to do but bugger it, I wanted to so I did.

We hosted a dinner party here on Saturday night - 10 adults in total.

I chose a Swedish theme because I have some heritage there, so the menu was all smoked fish roe and pickled herring and salmon gravdlax and lots of dill everywhere. I decorated the table with yellow flowers and blue ribbons and Mr D printed Swedish flags off the internet and sticky-taped them onto wooden skewers - fun!

Can you see there's a shot glass on each place mat with a rolled up piece of paper tied with a blue ribbon? Well that's the printed lyrics to a Swedish drinking song called Helan Gar (Riversurfer probably knows it well). I've been singing Helan Gar for years with my family.. it's a short funny song and you have to pause at the end to drink your shot and then resume singing to finish with the last line.

And I thought what better way to kick-start my Swedish dinner party than with a group round of Helan Gar! So when everyone came to the table I told them to unfold their lyrics and Mr D went around the table filling up everyone's shot glasses and I sang them the song so they could hear how it went and then the whole table had a go. It was great! It was such a hit the guests all insisted on doing it between each course! So we ended up with about four rounds of Helan Gar I think....

Traditionally the shot would be aquavit or vodka but I bought Peach Schnapps and for the non-drinkers I made up a jug of elderflower cordial (nice and rich and syrupy).

Here's my mate holding his lyrics up so I could take this photo (took a few goes for him to get the angle right..!)


Ok so it felt a bit weird going into the bottle shop to buy the liqueur but not that bad.. and if I did have any sad pangs that I wouldn't be drinking it in the lead up to the party they only lasted about five seconds (honestly.. the thought "am I sad I can't drink?" popped up and got dismissed pretty quickly)..

I wrote in my last post that my biggest fear when I gave up drinking 2 years ago was that I wouldn't have the same fun, full social life that I had when I was boozing (the good side of the boozing).. and I'm delighted to have discovered that I can. I can still do all that silly, fun stuff without alcohol being involved.

This is what works for me and my personality and my recovery, everyone's sobriety is different just as everyone's drinking story is different.

But for me sobriety means I still want to sing Helan Gar and slam my shot glass down on the table at the end of it with everyone else. It doesn't matter one jot that my glass has elderflower cordial in it. Not one jot! The moment is about the group of people and the singing and the together-ness and the laughter. I can have all of that and not the booze and it's totally, utterly fine.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A lost afternoon...

Spent a good portion of this afternoon glued to my computer screen watching riveting videos on two great new local websites I've only just found out about.

www.likeadrink.org.nz and www.drughelp.org.nz is what they are.. there are probably versions of this type of site in countries all over the world, and I'm sure all of the experts behind them know that the most powerful way to get messages across is to use real people talking about their real experiences.

And oh boy.. what a bunch of experiences these sites contain. Person after brave person sitting there in front of the camera just talking about their using and what it did to their lives.. how they used to exist.. how crazy their lives got.. how bad and dangerous and miserable and shitty their lives got.

Mostly they seem to have gotten clean but there was the odd person that sounded like they were still using occasionally. Plus some people talking from a partners perspective. It was all very powerful stuff. I couldn't stop watching even though I'd decided to treat myself to some Keeping Up With The Kardashians until I had to collect the kids.

I was waiting for one of these people in the web videos to tell a story like mine - how they were a quietly secretly boozy housewife or bloke, a high functioning addict, seemingly fine from the outside but in reality not fine at all, just sinking loads too much piss all the time - but there weren't any 'high bottom' stories that I saw anyway.. but lots of 'to hell and back rock bottom' stories (if you know what I mean).

There must be thousands of people like me who were totally addicted but pulled the pin before the shit really hit the fan.. and I'm convinced there are thousands of people who are right now still locked in a private, miserable drinking hell like I was. It'd be great to reach out to those people and let them know that it is entirely possible to live a fun, full life without alcohol in it.

My biggest fear two years ago was that giving up booze would mean life would be boring all the time. And it's not. It's totally fine. Better than fine even. That's what I've discovered anyway.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Big buttery Chardonnay

Mr D had the day off work on Friday and the kids were at school/pre-school for the day so he and I went out for lunch - a rare treat! I was very happy driving into town.

The restaurant had a special lunch menu where you choose two courses and one drink (red wine, white wine or a nice coffee) for a fixed price. We quickly choose our food and our drinks - mine was coffee and his was a chardonnay.

I'm telling you when that chardonnay arrived I could smell it so strongly and it was a LOVELY smell.. big and buttery, just the way I used to like chardonnay. So I remarked to Mr D; "that smells nice" and he said "nah its horrible, really awful, honestly" to which I faux-snarled "yeah right you dickhead" and did a dramatic hissy-fit kind of head flick and stared out the window taking fierce sips of my bubbly water and then we both laughed.

It was a sideshow. It was me acting out loud my reality and him cheerfully going along with it. The reality was 'I-can-smell-that-wine-it-smells-yummy-bummer-I-can't-drink-it-because-I'm-an-alcoholic-that's-just-a-fact".

So we acted out the sideshow - it took about 30 seconds - then we got down to chatting and after about two minutes I'd forgotten all about it.

And we had a lovely lunch! The restaurant was buzzing, there were lots of ladies lunching together, boozing away merrily (not that I noticed much, ok yeah I did ha ha), the food was delicious and so was the COFFEE!

Afterwards we raced home and I got busy making up the spare bed for my sister who was coming from out of town to spend the night. I got the vacuum out as well and at that point got to thinking how if I'd had a wine at lunch it would have felt really dissatisfying right now because all I'd be wanting is MORE WINE. I'd be itching for more but it would only be 2.30pm and therefore difficult to just keep sinking glasses of wine in quick succession like I could after 5pm.

Because once I get alcohol in me all I want is more alcohol.

That's why I'm an alcoholic.

That's why I don't touch alcohol any more.

(Do you like the dramatic way I lay those sentences out separately?!)

Also just quickly read another brilliant book this week - The Interventionist by Joani Gammill. She's on Dr Phil and the show Intervention I think - used to be a big-time pill addict but now helps try and get others to rehab. Full of juicy stories of her interventions interspersed with her personal story. A great read.. rips along and she drops loads of wisdom along the way. I really enjoyed it.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Watery

I've had 3 drinking dreams in the past week... one was particularly intense and I woke up feeling really sad. I'd been offered a drink by a 'cool' person in a 'cool' room and had to say no and walk out... wandered around this hillside place and someone from my past was being mean to me.. I was trying to find Mr D because he had some keys I needed but I couldn't find him..

(I know other people's dreams are really boring and hard to follow but wouldn't Freud have a field day with this one??!!)

I woke up at 5.30am feeling sad, then lay in bed and listened to this talk by Tara Brach to help me with something that's going on in my life.. I was kind of finding it hard to focus all the way through (29 minutes long) but then I got to the end and she said something and I just burst into tears and sobbed. It was very intense and weird.

Later that day I was sitting at my sisters kitchen table talking to her about stuff and I was all watery and had teary eyes but I didn't mind.  Usually being watery would be a very uncomfortable place for me to be. But I didn't mind.

We left her house and went walking to the park with the kids. I got a coffee from the nice man in the coffee caravan and then pushed my Little Guy on the swing. It was windy and I felt so alive.

Even in my tender, watery state I just feel so thankful to be living, really living and really feeling and really moving through my life in a totally alert fashion.

That night I got a babysitter (Mr D was away on work) and went to a quiz night for a dear friend's school fundraiser and had So. Much. Fun!!!

Last night I speed-read "Smashed: Growing Up A Drunk Girl" by Koren Zailckas. A great read if you want to read all about someone's crazy boozy exploits (and boy did she have some crazy boozy exploits). As seems to often be the way with these memoirs the bit where she got sober was pretty brief (this is always what I want to read about) but she does sum up nicely what she has learned about herself since she took the booze away (a lot, and not all of it peaches and roses). She ends by railing against the alcohol industry; "which alternates between pandering to women and using us to bait men" and with a great feminist rant about all of the evil alcohol creates for women; "I've had it with a world that has created a generation of women who are emotionally dependent on alcohol".

And then there's this: "I'm tired of the world that won't rescue girls until we're long past the point of saving. Too many people rely on outward signs of aggression to indicate their daughters or girlfriends or sisters have problems with alcohol. They wait for fights, or D,U.I. charges, or destruction of property, when girls who drink are far less apt to break rules in overt ways. As a gender we are far more likely to turn our drunken destructiveness inward, to wage private wars against ourselves, to attempt suicide, to be pinned down by fear and depression. "

So very true. Remove the alcohol and we un-pin ourselves and really start to live.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lifting up again...

I've transferred my alcohol addiction into a rubber glove one. I get nervous when I don't have a back-up pair under the sink. I think I've got a problem.

No but seriously .. all going ok here.. trucking along and I think my post-party funk who-knows-what-the-hell-was-going-on low phase is finally beginning to lift. Phew! Managed to get though without drinking of course but do admit to having a couple of tiny teeny weeny sad romantic pangs about how nice it would be to escape the glumness with a nice glass of wine.

Batted those shitters away as quick as they entered my mind! Pangs be gone - POW! (Picture me fending off pangs with my yellow rubber gloves on. Their uses are many and varied)

Anyhoo going to increase my recovery reading for a bit I think. Have very kindly been sent a book called "Soul Recovery - 12 Keys to Healing Addiction" by Ester Nicholson. Quick look - Key 1 is "You Are The Power" Yes! I think I'm going to like this book. Hey get this.. Key 2 is "Yellow Rubber Gloves Are Amazing".. holy shit what are the odds??!!

No seriously I look forward to it. I do like a good recovery book. I'm also going to order "The Sober Revolution - Women Calling Time on Wine O'Clock" by (among others) blogger Lucy of Soberistas fame. I also want to get the book a Canadian reader told me about in a comment on my post banging on about sugar - something called "Potatoes not Prozac" ... AND I want to get a new memoir a lovely chap from Utah emailed me about called "Guts: The Endless Follies of a Giant Disaster" by Kristen Johnston of 3rd Rock From The Sun fame. Apparently she's a recovering drug addict and alcoholic - yes! Another cool sober chick!!

Anyway that should keep me busy for a while.

Speaking of keeping busy I'd like to end this post by displaying something truly gorgeous. Check this out..


This is a chair that my local sober friend Sue (we met though this blog) reupholstered HERSELF! She says it was only after she got sober that she had the confidence to try something new and challenging like this chair project. She stayed up late on a Saturday night working on it and got up fresh and early on Sunday morning to finish it off. And best of all she leapt in the air for joy when it was finished and feels incredibly happy every time she looks at it. How cool is that?

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Always chasing the fun...

That's what drinking was about for me. Always chasing the fun. Being upbeat! Not naval gazing! Cruising my way through life! No dramas! No hassles! Everything fun all the time!!

Glug, glug, glug.

I just wanted everything to be smooth and cruisy all the time, and upbeat and fun wherever possible and alcohol helped me do that. My brother-in-law once came to stay with us for a few weeks while he was working on a film. After he went back home my sister told me that he'd remarked 'It's a party every night at their place'. I didn't register the comment as a negative at the time. Of course it is! Look how fun and cool we are!

Glug, glug, glug.

Of course what I discovered after I took the alcohol away was that I'd been using it to push aside uncomfortable emotions. Uncomfortable emotions had no place in my fun, cruisy, no-drama world. Uncomfortable emotions were such a downer, man, and so they got pushed aside constantly.

Glug, glug, glug.

So learning how to live sober for me was all about discovering that I could still be upbeat and fun and cruisy and happy without glug, glug, gluging all the time (that took a bit of time, to discover that I could still be that chatty, warm, social person without vino).

But learning how to live sober was also about learning how to live in the quiet and flat times. How to sit with those bloody uncomfortable emotions. Or just sit with nothing much going on at all except a normal busy life.

And that's the bit of sober living that I'm still working on. I'm definitely still a work in progress in this area. I can do sober events and have a great time (while wearing sequins and waving my hands in the air).. but come down from a high and head into a hard week and I lurch all over the show. I reach for crap food like bread and butter (real butter mmmmmmm) and cheese (tasty cheese mmmmmm) and lots of sugar. I get introspective and boy does that feel uncomfortable. I withdraw and kind of fret about the fact that I feel glum.

I fucking hate feeling glum and flat and sluggish and grumpy. I hate it! I want to be upbeat! Cruisy! Happy! all the time. Glug, glug..oh wait.. I don't do that any more.

Instead I'll lift my eyes to the horizon and look for the beautiful things around me. I'll burn my oils and make green juices and lie in bed with an eye mask on. I'll listen to Tara Brach if I can be bloody bothered. I might have a bath at 11am just because I want one.

And I won't drink and I'll lurch through and this will pass and everything will be ok. Yes it bloody will.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Thursday, August 1, 2013

A post about sugar and food and emotions and shit...

I know it's kind of boring to go on about food and diets and sugar and shit but forgive me if I just have to do exactly that for a bit.

When I gave up alcohol I used to drink at least one if not two sugary soft drinks every evening at 5pm (ginger beer or some such).. sometimes I'd have one at lunch as well. I had no idea how full of sugar they were until other bloggers started going on about sugar and I checked the label .. sometimes 45g per bloody bottle of sugar! Loads of sugar.

So I cut that crap out and now I don't have anything much in the evenings.. just water with dinner and a green tea later on.

But don't think I'm a bloody saint because I'm not. I seem to struggle constantly with a sugar 'pull'. Often at night I'll want something sweet.. a biscuit or a little bit of chocolate or something. Boiled sweets if we have them in the house.

If I'm really struggling with some stress or angst or something, you know, emotional, I'll practice really dysfunctional behaviours and make myself a tiny bowl of muesli and heap 2 huge desert spoons of sugar on top and then eat it in bed. It's a sugar binge folks.

I did that on Tuesday night.

Then yesterday I ate crap all day (cheese on toast times a million for lunch) and then had heaps of sugary slice with the kids after school (they made me go to the deli.. they forced me.. honestly).. and then more sugary fudge in the evening with Mr D.

Is it any surprise I got into bed feeling shitty and grumpy and gross? Slept badly and today feel grumpy. It's got to be the sugar, right? Tell me it's the sugar.

Now for the food bit of this crazy disjointed post. I'm a faddy food/diet person always trying to not be the little piggy that I naturally am. Got really into the MyFitnessPal app earlier in the year and spent a good few weeks obsessively entering in all that I ate and trying to limit my daily calorie intake. Gave that up. Did a 8-week fitness/diet challenge at the gym. Mixed results. Right now I'm trying the 5:2 diet where you 'fast' for two days a week (only 500-odd calories) and eat normally the other 5 days.

So today is a fasting day. My fourth ever. And I feel sluggish after my sugar binging of yesterday and hungry already and it's only 9.24am.

But mostly I'm just wondering if all this is related to my alcohol addiction and my need to put shit in my body to deal with emotional states and I'm probably just naturally coming down off the high of the weekend with all that busy social activity but right now in my life I'm no good at managing myself naturally and so I lurch along the days following a high fueling my moods with cheese and sugar and the like.

That was a very long sentence!

How do people that aren't recovering alcoholics or food addicts or sugar addicts or whatever live their lives??? Tell me! I want to be one of them! I want to be even and calm and cool and controlled and healthy and smooth all the time. That's what I want.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Got my sequins on....

I think I hurt my shoulder from all the dancing I did last night - yes!  Lots of hands in the air like you just don't care!!!!!!!!!!! dancing at a friend's 40th. So so so so fun.

Same DJ played last night who played at this wedding in February - he's actually Mr D's cousin and he has a great collection of 80's vinyl, and loads of tunes on his digital collection as well. He played for 3 hours straight and we danced, danced, danced! Boy did we dance. My creaky old body was really feeling the pain by the time midnight hit but still I couldn't stop the dancing...

I'd said to Mr D earlier in the week how totally amazing, how totes amazeballs it is that in the lead up to this party I wasn't in the slightest bit worried that I wouldn't be drinking alcohol. It's incredible to me that because I couldn't control my alcohol and had to take it away I've actually discovered that it's not a necessary part of having a good time.

Last night the venue was spectacular (first floor room right on the waterfront), decorations fantastic (big crepe paper flower-bursty things hanging from all over the ceiling - pink, black and white), food delicious (birthday girls husband is a brilliant chef and kept the delicious nibbles coming all night), drinks yummy (had one red bull then lemonade), crowd super-fun (some of my bestest old friends and some new ones too) and the music! The music!!

The invitation said "feel free to wear something sparkly" and I found this silky number at the Recycled Boutique that had sequined stars on the shoulders ....


And once again happy, happy me driving people home at 1am. Clever sober me. Couldn't see that I was missing out on anything not imbibing booze, nothing at all. Great party.

It's been a busy social weekend actually because Friday night we hosted a pizza night here for some new local friends and some old mates as well - 8 adults and 9 kids in total. We did some disco dancing competitions for the youngsters and had parents in the kitchen all chipping in to keep the home-made pizzas rolling out. Some of the adults were boozing (Mr D bought his dusty bottle of whiskey down from the top shelf) but not everyone and certainly not me.

I know I'm getting repetitive here but forgive me if I am because honestly.... how great it is to have realised that I can live the full, social, fun life I have always wanted to live without needing to pour copious amounts of vino down my throat. Yippee!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Alcohol's target gun...

I seem to have found myself talking a lot lately about alcohol and my sobriety. One of the by-products of 'coming out' in my normal life about my blog. Loads of friends and family have been reading back over what I went through when I gave up the booze, and I'm getting a lot of warmth and understanding, and comments like 'I didn't realise how hard it was for you' and 'had no clue what you were going through' a lot.

Everyone's being very lovely about it which is good because I do feel a bit strange and vulnerable opening myself up. Although I've been open online from the get-go, in my real life the blog was my safe anonymous haven, my special, secret, go-to place to vent and ponder and explore and examine.

However I do feel good about opening it up. It's got to a point now where if the blog is going to continue I don't want to have to keep it a secret from my loved ones. I'm not ashamed that I got addicted to something addictive, nor am I embarrassed by anything I went through in those tough months before I stopped drinking or the crazy emotional months after. This blog is a big part of my life now and a crucial part of my recovery. And while I'm much stronger in my sobriety than I was at the start I'll always be 'in recovery' and hence think I'd always like to blog, but I don't need it to be a secret safe haven any more.

Sorry that is a bit rambling and I could go on but just felt the need to write that out.

Anyway! One of the things I've been saying a lot to friends lately is how cruel it seems alcohol is to pick and choose who is going to get bitten by the addiction bug. It's like alcohol is a target gun that points it's way through the room going 'you're going to be fine', 'you're going to be fine', 'you're going to be fine', 'you're not - BANG'... and then it shoots you. I got shot. I got addicted. I can't drink moderately. I can't control my intake. I had to take it away.

Mr D on the other hand - he got spared. He's got a bottle of whiskey in the pantry that has been there for about two months. TWO MONTHS! It wouldn't last that long if I were still drinking that's for sure.

I think a big step in getting yourself sober is accepting that you are one of those 'unlucky' people that got shot with alcohol's target gun and just can't control it. We can spend loads and loads of energy trying to control and moderate, or we can just accept that fact - we are the 'unlucky' ones - and then set about retraining ourselves to live without alcohol. The period of 'retraining' takes a while, but once it's done - hey presto! We are free. I know that I am massively over-simplifying a really complex matter but that's the kind of mood I am in today.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Not a drinking holiday

I kinda had this super-clever idea (I thought) for the first blog post I'd do after my holiday. I thought to myself before we left "I'll take photos of all the non-alcoholic drinks I have while I'm away and call the post A Drinking Holiday and put one photo after another of all the drink alternatives I have while away".

What a clever plan, I thought, and away we went!  First evening on holiday my mother-in-law pulls out this fancy and delicious sparkling apple juice from France. The label was all in French and everything. Yum yum. So far so good with my clever-post plan...I snapped a pic...


Next evening I was poured this delicious lemon, lime and bitters cordial mixed with lemonade. It's got bits of peel in it and everything. Great! Another snap taken. Took me about five goes to get this one for some reason. Hard with the phone in one hand and the drink in another. You can see my middle guy through the glass playing a ukulele (arty me).


Um..... and then .. well .. that was it. I took no more photos for the rest of the week! I thought about taking more photos.. but the truth is I wasn't really having any 'alcohol-replacement' drinks. I kind of stopped bothering. Gone are the days when I have to have something in place of the wines at 5 o'clock. Most days I didn't have anything pre-dinner, and just took a glass of water to the dinner table.

And (I can't believe this) I hardly even notice other people drinking any more. I used to feel quite self-conscious when the booze came out and conspicuous in my not-drinking.. but now I hardly register it and if I do it's barely in passing. I certainly don't count the drinks other people are having like I used to. Sometimes I'll catch sight of a glass and think 'jeepers that's a big pour' but the thought passes by pretty quickly. I just don't really care.

HOW FUCKING COOL IS THAT???!!!

I remember my sister telling me ages ago about a guy she knows who is many years sober and how he once told her 'I don't even notice other people drinking any more'. And I thought (skeptically) "Really? That can't be true." I just didn't believe that could happen. Well I think it's slowly happening to me. Hooray!

Just checked and I'm 683 days sober... this is proof should I ever need it that the longer I live sober, the easier it gets. It just gets easier (even when I'm bloody stressed with loads of stuff going down and not sleeping very well but I won't bother going into details about all of that!).

Love, Mrs D xxx