Sunday, June 30, 2013

Every day it's 5 o'clock...

I think it was after I started having kids (8 1/2 years ago) that my drinking habit started becoming really entrenched. I mean I was already an enthusiastic boozer prior to that don't get me wrong.. but it was after kids that it my habit really started bedding in.

Pre-kids I can remember a time when I realised that I was buying a bottle of red wine every day on the way home from work .. so for a while I decided that  it would be more cost effective for me to buy boxes of 12 bottles at a time instead. That little routine didn't last for long because having a box of red wine in the hall cupboard was just an invitation for me to consume more, so I stopped with the boxes and kept myself to the habit of buying during the day what I was going to drink that night.

Then the kids came along and the habit became even more habitual and steady.. still within the realms of normality but once you take a good hard look pretty bloody steady and heavy and just lots and lots of wine. Right toward the end of my drinking I'd often run out of my daily allowance and head out to buy more.. at 7pm ..

The problem with being a boozy housewife is that every day it's 5 o'clock and when you're stuck at home with kids all day that 5pm point is the point at which you say 'it's my time now' or 'I'm still connected to the adult world' and glug glug glug. I'd often think of old workmates heading to the bar after work and imagine that me at home with my wines was just an extension of that.

One of the other issues with my drinking was that for any event to be considered 'fun' it had to be equated with alcohol. I gave alcohol all the power to make any night out cool. A wedding was just an excuse to get more hammered and that's why it was so special. A dinner party at home meant get the bubbles out and get lots of wine and get plastered. A disco party with the kids was just an excuse to drink more. A rare child-free night had to involve lots of booze.

I've written before about my child-free weekends spent blotto (here) and how tragic they were. Of course ditching the kids and heading to a hotel had to mean drinking more! than! usual!

But not now, obviously, not last night. Last night new sober me and Mr D had a night in a hotel - yes! Thanks to my lovely sister and brother-in-law who took our three boys for the night we have just returned from lushing out for 22 hours. Bathrobes, room service, a movie (Skyfall - not great but good enough), harbour view, books, lots of Words With Friends on the iPhone (my new obsession), lovely chats with my hubby, a magnificent sleep, and not a drop of alcohol. Not a single solitary drop. It wasn't needed, it wasn't wanted, it wouldn't have made anything better or more special and certainly not more restful. I know it's boring that I keep repeating how pleased I am to have removed booze and to have discovered how unnecessary it is to have a good time.. but it's true. So so so pleased and grateful.

And now to end here is a photo of my breakfast tray!!!!

A breakfast that I enjoyed hangover free. Bliss.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Falling down the Hippy hole...

So the old boozy me used to poo-poo any sort of 'naval-gazing' (as I used to call it).. any sort of introspection or 'stupid' stuff like meditation or self-help books or even mellow contemplation.

No siree-bob I was all about keeping things cruisy! (glug glug) upbeat! (slurp slurp) fun! (chug chug). Now of course I can see that all I was doing was keeping myself constantly numb with all that enthusiastic wine drinking.  Wine was my great leveller, it kept me on an even keel, smoothed out all my ups and downs..

But now this new sober me feels more, is up and down more, and as a result is an endless study in how to deal with emotional shit naturally. If I was to, say, have a knot of angsty shit in my belly that wouldn't go away.. I'd have to figure out how to ease that angsty shitty pain without glug, slurp, chugging my evenings away.

And so I found myself in bed on Sunday night listening to a talk on You Tube by the gentle, lovely and  wise American psychologist Tara Brach. In bed with my headphones on - trying not to be distracted by Mr D's movie - listening to Tara's gentle voice guide me in some clever breathing techniques to help sooth troubled minds.

I mean what the hell?! Who am I?! I've already admitted to juicing and burning oils like a bloody hippy and now I'm closing my eyes when Tara tells me to and "breathing in to contact the feeling.. breathing out to sense the space".

I have to tell you though, it was amazing. And the angsty knot of shit in my belly (if I was to have one there that is) was somewhat calmed by her words and her techniques. If you want to spend 56-odd minutes listening you can find the talk in two parts here and here.

I'm being bombarded with great brain food at the moment actually. Tara Brach came via one of my brilliant sisters (I have three). Then a friend in my neighbourhood told me about John Krumboltz - a career theorist and psychologist who developed a theory called 'planned happenstance' which is all about keeping an open mind about the future and being open to the complexities and unpredictabilities that are going to come at us in life. There's loads about him on the net, including You Tube clips (yes I did watch a few!).. but I found this good summary of his theory here. And then a friend in Australia sent me some clips of Abraham Hicks, including this one called "New Self-Talk For Addict".. it's great stuff about calming the noisy mind.

It's all a bit hippy-dippy, new-agey, naval-gazey stuff and frankly I don't give a damn. I'm soaking it all up in my on-going quest to live with a peaceful sober mind.

On a lighter note, how much fun are smoke machines??!!! Yes - a smoke machine!! What a great fun tool for a party. Saturday night at my friends joint 40th they had disco lights and a smoke machine set up in their living room and we danced the night away. It was hilarious actually.. at one point they turned the machine on and couldn't switch it off again.. the whole house filled up with smoke.. smoke alarms were going off.. we were waving our hands in front of our faces and couldn't see them..! All the while dancing to 80's rock. Fun fun fun.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The power of community...

Just checked and I am 655 days sober today!!!!!!  Woo Hoo!!!!!! I'm going to celebrate that random number by putting on my new frock (naughtily purchased regardless of the fact I still haven't received my thesis grade)..and heading out to a party tonight. Really looking forward to it because I'm driving a bunch of friends up the motorway to get there so it'll be a totally fun, community vibe.

'Community' is one of those magical words that carries so much positive, wonderful energy. Community is so important to me in my recovery and on my sober journey...(look how the sobriety jargon is tripping off my tongue). Here's another cliched word - gratitude.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The online sober community has been a hugely powerful force in my life since I started blogging 2 days after I drank my last drink. I had no idea that the blog I was starting was going to end up being all about community. No idea that it was going to turn into the wonderful, warm, supportive, inspiring entity that it did. For the most part people online are really kind and gentle and lovely.. but even when occasionally there is a bit of 'grit' about it's all healthy, robust discussion material I feel.

Drinking problems, alcoholism, sobriety, recovery, and all that jazz.. it's a ginormous topic loaded with emotion and bravery and fear and ... well, frankly baggage. It's real and it's deep and it's life at it's most raw. We open ourselves up and have to take what comes our way. This sober sphere is a wonderful place to be and I'm so happy to be here, even though sometimes I feel deeply vulnerable and wonder why I don't just crawl under the bed covers and hide. 

Then I read about Carrie doing so well and reaching 100 days sober, buoyed along by the amazing  Belle and her inspiring challenge, and RoS inspiring people to get out and run and being lovely giving props to ByeByeBeer who is two years sober today!, and the wonderful male bloggers -  Mr Al K Hall working to silence his destructive inner voice and Paul thanking the sober community, calling us 'lamp lighters' (I love that!).. there is MysteryGirl doing amazingly well on a sober holiday, my darling Sherry feeling exhausted but still strong, the gorgeous Kary May working so hard she's missing her online love (we love you Kary May!!!)..

I could go on and on... brave SoberJournalist, and DrunkyDrunkGirl...and Amy.. and Lilly...

I don't know why I'm doing this actually, it's taking me ages to go to their blogs and then copy the url to get the link then put it in and change the colour to red... I could just say GO CLICK ON ALL THE BLOGS TO THE LEFT OF MY PAGE! There's a whole world out there of us writing, wrestling, dealing with shit, not dealing with shit, getting grumpy, feeling great, lurching from one sober day to the next...

And because of all of you fellow sober bloggers, and you lovely commenters, and you lurkers out there too (yes I can see you in my Stats page. Four hits right now as I type from Australia! Three from Canada! Hello Canada!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), I won't crawl under the bed covers and hide. I won't retreat into my bunker. I'm going to stay here. Sober and present on the internet for all to see.

Now, off to get my dancing shoes on!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dancing shoes..

I love it how this happens!! The clouds have cleared in my foggy mind.. and the sun is shining once again. I could tell when I woke this morning that my 'gritty' phase had passed and I was feeling more optimistic... so I tweeted with bleary eyes from my bed (as you do when you're a strange person like me who has decided to share their sobriety journey with the online world) "...things I have learned: hold on (don't drink), wait wait wait and the sun will shine again." Got a couple of lovely responses from fellow twerps.  One guy in London said "Grind it out Mrs D...drinking is for the masses of sheep.. ba ba ba sober is cool" I love that! Sober is cool. All the cool people are sober, don't you know that??!!

The gritty phase last week involved a bit of defensiveness on my blog... a few tears at my sisters kitchen table ("sob sob I know I mostly make it look easy sniff sniff but it's not always...sob sob... it's not sob sob").. some drinking pangs and pangs of woe-is-me..some extra sugar consumption.. and some general grumpiness and introspection..

But I did still manage to drag my ass to the gym three times, make a nice green juice most days (celery, cucumber, spinach, apple, lemon & ginger root), potter around my community.. even dropped the A word once is was my new resolution...! (that's 'alcoholic' and the friend I said it to didn't make a big deal out of it.)

A sober friend in Paris emailed and wrote with regards to giving up alcohol "removing a compulsive, dangerous, time-consuming behaviour frees up heaps of life-force to do what you enjoy doing". I love his concept of "life-force"... and the realization he's had that getting sober meaning freeing up tons more of that. It's so true. I used to try, try, try to live life to the fullest but pouring copious amounts of wine down my gullet was always pulling me back. I feel much freer now to charge on ahead with nothing in my way.

Got a 40th birthday party this weekend and my lovely friend who is having it phoned me this afternoon to ask what non-alcoholic drinks I would like her to get in for me. How nice is that!! I said to her "one energy drink at the start of the night gives me a nice lift and after that nothing too sugary.. so lime and soda or some such".. we had a nice catch-up and ended the conversation with "see you on the dance floor!". Yes you will.

Still haven't got my thesis result so haven't had an excuse to buy a new frock but have made an appointment to get my nails done on Thursday and will make sure I wear my dancing shoes. Fun!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, June 14, 2013


So I had a pang on Wednesday night. It started in the afternoon when I felt like having a cigarette and then just before 5pm I thought about a nice big glass of red wine, followed swiftly by a feeling of woe-is-me that I couldn't just have one.

I didn't feed that nasty thought and let it grow. I slapped it aside quick smart, grumped around the house for a bit.. grumped at Mr D when he got home .. then got busy cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Took all the twirly arms out of the dishwasher and rinsed all the crap out of them. Then made the bunk beds and tidied up all the mess, then got into bed with a mug of green tea and watched a brilliant cop show from the UK (about the huge problem alcohol causes for the emergency services in Bournemouth).

Went to sleep, got up, got on with the next day...

Sometimes it's really difficult to put into writing what it's like living sober. Sometimes the words don't do justice to the feelings.. or adequately portray the constant reality. Sometimes you just want to forget all about the fact that you're sober - and sometimes you do - but constantly underlining your life is a maintained state of awareness and rawness and inner strength. It can be exhausting at times.

It gets much easier overall as time goes on but there are still times when I feel vulnerable and just cry or have to clean a lot. That's the truth.

But still I'd far rather be raw and have a dishwasher that actually cleans the dishes than go back to that heavy wine drinking reality that I lived before. If I actually imagine drinking a glass of wine now my mind goes not to the immediate relief the wine would bring (sigh), but the likely rapid progression into that cycle of buying, drinking, worrying, buying, drinking, worrying and frankly I know which reality I choose.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Does it even matter how 'bad' I was?

I've been getting a few 'was I really that bad?' thoughts lately. And I know there will be people who think I can't have been that bad because it seems like it's all been 'too easy'. I know that people will feel that because I found this comment about my blog on the UK website "Mumsnet" (on a great discussion thread that is full of brave women supporting each other with their issues around booze)...

"I gave up on that MrsD blog - she made it seem too easy! I only read a couple of months, but basically she quit drinking - cold turkey - without any outside help. Friends and family were supportive but hadn't been in her situation. Husband continued to drink around her. She didn't go to AA or get advice from her GP. 

The books she read were unhelpful, and she didn't mention any tactics like One Day At A Time or HALT. And she never fell off or had any serious cravings! Doesn't sound at all like any of us! I thought she had got in the habit because of her situation (lots of parties and barbecues) but she didn't have that strong an actual addiction and was able to overcome it fairly easily."

Here's the thing. I never touch alcohol now - ever. I don't touch it when celebrating. I don't touch it when dealing with disappointment. I don't touch it when stressed or hurt or tired or emotional. I never ever touch alcohol.

I used to touch it on all of those occasions and most other days as well. Alcohol was a constant companion in my life from the age of 15 to the age of 39. I was a steady, heavy, habitual wine drinker and my drinking habit/problem was progressing rapidly in the final years so that I found it nearly impossible to stop once I started if there was any more alcohol in the house. And often I'd go out to find more. If I was ever out in public (rare due to mothering lifestyle) I would get sloppy, slurry and often embarrassed about my behavior the morning after.

No I never drank in the morning and yes I held down a seemingly successful life but make no mistake, I was addicted to alcohol and my addiction was progressing rapidly. The 'cold turkey' point at which I stopped came after months and months of angst and research and trying to control and moderate my drinking, phoning helplines and getting sent information and educating myself about alcohol and my own dependence on it.

Yes Mr D still drinks around me and yes I haven't been to AA or gotten advice from my GP. But don't think for one second that I haven't had strong cravings and don't think for one second that because I never 'fell off' (relapsed) I haven't had to do some serious mental gymnastics to fight my addictive thoughts and learn how to live sober. Raw and sober.

So I'm sorry if you can't relate to my particular set of circumstances regarding my addiction and my recovery. But I do respect anyone's right to express an honest opinion. What I hope if nothing else is that from my blog you can clearly see that living life without alcohol is not only entirely possible, but also great. And maybe you can gain some strength from that. 

Whatever your level of addiction, or the extent of your dependence, or your chosen path in attempting to live sober, know this - you can live without it. R
egardless of what the liquor industry wants us to believe, we can live without alcohol - it is not a necessary part of life. Get whatever help you need. Find whatever support you need. Do whatever you need to do, but get rid of it. We can live without it. We can.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, June 8, 2013

No shame here...

A close friend who I have just told about my blog (and who spent a large portion of last night reading it from start to finish!) has just emailed me and said:

"Wow, It has given me a much better insight into not just what you have gone through over the last year and a half but also the extent of the battle you were actually having with your drinking before you stopped. Its really helped me see why you had to stop ... I never really knew just how much it was ruling your life and the danger of that."

I do sometimes feel like people who I tell I have stopped drinking think I just blew on a feather and got sober. I mean, why wouldn't they? I try to go into detail ("I found it really hard to stop drinking once I started") but it's difficult to encapsulate a very complex addiction into a few sentences and my set of addictive tendencies are rarely disclosed in our society (seems fine but isn't).  

What might help people understand is if I just said more often "I'm an alcoholic". But I don't. I have to admit I don't readily bandy the word around. I say it online a lot when commenting on my other lovely sober friends blog posts.. and I use it very occasionally with friends and family.. but even though I often tell others I meet that I don't drink any more because "I can't", I rarely use the word "alcoholic". It's almost as though I feel like it's overly dramatic. But it's the truth! 

And herein lies the irony. Being an alcoholic has such a dramatic stigma attached to it precisely because people like me don't adopt it. But because people like me don't adopt it it it retains it's dramatic stigma and I don't use it because I don't want people to get the wrong idea about me...!!  

Here I am an alcoholic who is in a position to change how an alcoholic is viewed yet I don't call myself one because of the stigma and terrible image attached to the term. Aaarrggghhh I'm getting myself all muddled up. 

Anyway, how is that ever going to change unless people like me start freely admitting they are alcoholics? (Is it also ironic that I keep spelling the word 'alcoholic' wrong as I type?! I keep missing the first 'o'. Clearly I don't use it often enough even in print!!)

The problem with the stigma attached to being an alcoholic, and the fact that most people don't ever discuss their alcoholism publicly, is that the resulting image remains - that all alcoholics are complete and utter derelicts who crashed to an almighty rock bottom before they gave up the sauce and now they kind of shudder through life with pock-marked skin, husky voices and sunken eyes. Well come on people.. we all know that isn't the truth (nothing wrong with pock-marked skin by the way!). 

The truth is I am an alcoholic. I am a very nice, smiley, respectable, articulate, groomed alcoholic. I had to get sober because I was completely and utterly addicted to wine. I stopped drinking after I had proved to myself through years of trying that I couldn't moderate or control my intake. And I don't see any shame now in admitting that I got addicted to something that is addictive!!!!!!!  

Right. From today I'm going to start a one woman crusade to change the face of alcoholism, right here in my own little circle of life Down Under. From today I'm going to start using the word 'alcoholic' more in my face to face interactions. Seems like a small thing, but for me it's big. Wish me luck.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, June 1, 2013

There's Getting Sober then there's Living Sober

Getting sober is all about white knuckling your way through a period of cravings... resisting urges... identifying addictive thoughts ('I deserve a wine today' actually means 'I need alcohol to feed my addiction')...dealing with *shock horror!* emotions! (holy shit I feel grumpy what do you mean I just have to feel grumpy and not drink alcohol to smooth the feeling away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)...spend a bit of time feeling boring.. then a bit of time realising you're not boring.. then realise that drunk people are boring.. then realise that not everyone else gets drunk all the time... then accept that there are drunks and normies and sober people and you just fit in the middle of a big spectrum of drinking types and it doesn't really matter anyway...

Then you start living sober..

Living sober means having an overall underlying state of calm.. interrupted by phases of emotion that are annoying but manageable.

Living sober means realising that phases of negative, tricky or uncomfortable emotion come along and are annoying.. but that they pass...they come.. and they go..

Living sober means every time you get through a tricky phase sober and wait for it to feel good about that. You feel great in fact. Great in a low-key, lovely, normal, stable, reliable, respectable way.

Living sober means you start figuring out the other little things that make you feel good about yourself and your life. The really little things. Like enjoying a hot shower.. or drinking a hot drink and really appreciating that hot drink and the way the steam rises off the cup and wafts up into the sunlight. For me it means playing cheesy pop music loudly (still addicted to 'Get Lucky' and another new fave is 'Good Morning' by Chamillionaire).. lighting little candles and popping them in my oil burner to make the house smell lovely.. getting a ton of new cookbooks out of the library and reading them in bed while watching The Voice and eating chocolate biscuits and drinking green tea.

In unrelated news I'm getting my thesis result next week - yikes! Nervous! Can't see how my life is going to change the day before the result and the day after but hopefully if nothing else I'll get some kind of kick out of the fact that I've got a Masters Degree. Will need to celebrate with a lovely mocktail of some description and maybe a new dress. Yes! A thesis dress. Great idea.

Love, Mrs D xxx