Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reclaiming the word sober..

I was in a meeting yesterday and someone was saying how the word 'sober' has all these negative connotations, that the word points to things being boring or staid or flat or dull or whatever…I've had other friends say that to me in the past as well.

I just had to pipe up in this meeting and say "for me, to be honest, I actually love the word because it sums up my entire state of being nowadays. I am sober. I live sober. Sober is the perfect summation of my life and it's far from being a bad thing.

"It's a sparkly word to me" I said. And I really mean that.

Living sober like I do now feels so unbelievably treaty and special and precious. I love it! I honestly love being sober. I'm not making that up to sound positive.. or trying to convince people of anything. I just honestly think being sober is cool and if anyone wants to think otherwise I don't care. I just know what my genuine response is to being sober and inside of me it's overwhelmingly positive.

I do know lots of my fellow sober-ites here in the sober-sphere agree. And interestingly in all the feedback I've gotten recently to the TV story no-one has said to me 'man you're a boring dick-head'. And if people think that privately I don't give a toss. It's just completely unimportant to me. It's my relationship with myself that matters and I dig being sober - a lot.

HOWEVER… when I first took the booze away my brain was not feeling so sparkly and all of my thoughts were telling me otherwise. I had to fight off so many freaked-out thoughts of being BORING for the rest of my life.. of MISSING OUT ON THE PARTY forever more.. of BEING DEPRIVED of fun and enjoyment.

Those thoughts were lies.. complete lies.. they were the addicted part of my brain trying to convince me to keep taking the drug of alcohol. That part of my brain was a monster and very powerful.. but what I now know is IF YOU STARVE THE MONSTER IT WILL DIE.

It's fucking hard at first.. when you first take the booze away.. because your own brain and your own thoughts will work damn hard to convince you to keep drinking. You have to fight, fight, fight to resist the urges. They'll come hard out for 2-3 months and taper off but continue for up to a year (this is my experience anyway and in no way scientific!). Little evil thoughts will pop in when you're tired or shitty or emotional or there's a party on or a celebration or any damn-thing that life throws at us. And you'll have to stay very focussed on the image of yourself as a happy sober person that you want to be.. keep on keep on keep on and you will become that person. The monster will die…

But I'll never forget my monster. I don't trust her. She might rise up again. And so I will be living in my sparkling sober world forever more.

Love, Mrs D xxx

66 comments:

  1. Wow what an inspiration I watched the recorded programme and loved it I thought I was alone and I felt so guilty and ashamed as I rely on wine so much Every morning my first thought is Did I drink last night and feel so much better when I know I didn't but it never lasts My problem is I drink to forget I have a drug addict son who lives with me and the police are constantly here and I never know if I will find him dead He should be in prison but I constantly think I can help him God that sounds depressing I actually come across like I have not got a worry in the world but how good to know there are others out there willing to share how they cope I am hooked on this now as it will help me no end K

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    1. A longtime overdueJune 27, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      I have (HAD - day 4 clear head) those first thoughts each day too. I am hooked on Mrs D also. Hang in there. We will do this together. I am following posts from the start.

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  2. Just watched online as well. Having recently moved to the UAE, where expats either drink far too much or not much at all, I have seen a dramatic decline in my alcohol consumption. That perspective allows me to see that, as an active drinker in New Zealand, being neither the worst or the best in my social set, I was walking carelessly along the alcoholic precipice for probably the last 35 years. Certainly way too many unnecessary hangovers.

    I think is is fair to acknowledge that alcohol does actually do a lot of good in lubricating the social wheels of life (it has been of immeasurable assistance to ugly people), but it has a really unfortunate downside, grabbing otherwise good people and leaving them very depressed about their position. It is a dirty little secret which people can manage quite well by just being a little bit drunker than those around them, or doing it on their own.

    What you have done is fantastic. Accepting that people can and do drink and they are welcome to do so, but standing up for yourself and acknowledging that it does n't work for you is the way to go. You have cast aside any feelings of shame simply to say this ubiquitous product is a tricky little devil that needs to be carefully watched and sometimes completely avoided. Thanks, I will do the same in my life.

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  3. No boring is certainly not the word for you!!! You are an intriguing funny woman. Your journey is such an inspiration to us all. I'm not quite ready
    to go there yet and I am actually so envious of where you are. I just want to thank you for the glimmer of hope and I have your book ordered. Ps I would have pictured Corin with some perfect little pretty blonde thing of a wife. How utterly refreshing to see you... As you say lumps bumps and all and just the most beautiful honest woman inside and out. Thank you for attracting this amazing support world which supports so many (and I know is there if/when I need it) Big hug to you Mrs D

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  4. My second day without today. Hi all. I am glad you wrote about this topic today. I told my husband last night that I'm worried about coping at Christmas already! Will I get stronger then? I hope so. Can anyone recommend some phrases that I can use when someone offers me a drink. I want to be armed with at least a couple!
    Thank you so much Mrs D . Your blog is awesome! I stayed up late last night and they give me hope! X

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    1. Hi there, I'd suggest picking just one phrase, that's quick and final, and using it over and over so it becomes totally natural to you. It will need to be something that fits your own lifestyle... mine was "I'm doing a 40-day yoga challenge and it's booze free." I think the best thing if you're going out and not drinking booze, is to make sure you've got a full-ish glass of something else in your hand so people don't keep asking you "do you want a drink." If you've already got one, nobody's going to notice or ask. Great work on two days sober. Go YOU.

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    2. Thanks Sue. Yes, a good idea about the glass. I like L and P and it looks like wine so that's good! I will think up a phrase. Maybe I will say I'm doing Dry July to start with. ?

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    3. Sue, I saw you on Sunday as well. You are amazing. I live in Wellington and am desparate to find like minded woman. I am so struggling. As I write, it is 10.54 Thurs 26th June 2014. I have been to supermarket and have this bottle of wine looking at me. I so do not want to open it but feel so alone.

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  5. Hi Mrs D. I'm an alcoholic at the moment due to my mum passing suddnely and my friend got murdered a month later. I have 3 beautiful children and a happy relationship with my partner for 10 years. I'm Deaf and use New Zealand Sign Language and it's really hard to go to.aa meetings cos need get interpreter and then they know whats happening with me which I find it shameful of myself. Until I watched your prog last Sunday I thought wow we are so alike. Now I really want to give.up the wine as i hate being hungover and feeling like crap, guilty etc. I will have to read ur blog.and write as well to keep.me going and staying sober and kick the monster in my head! Thank you for being brave and talk on TV, now theres hope for me.

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    1. There is always hope. That is what I believe. It doesn't matter who we are or what we have, or don't have, alcohol just gets in the way. My father passed and that is when my drinking took over. I understand your feelings but can imagine that being deaf would make it so much harder. I would love to communicate with you as we could help each other? Please drop me a note if you want on mrsstryingtobesober@gmail.com

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  6. Mrs D, I really love this post! I've been thinking a lot about this--the only reason the word "sober" has such negative connotations is that we live in a culture that values being drunk and equates that with fun. But I think the only way to change the word (and to change our culture) is to embrace sober living and show what a great thing it is. I'm with you--I don't find it a dark or scary word any more, though I sure did when I started this sober gig. To me it means being free to fully live my life, instead of keeping myself in a clouded prison that I was in when I was regularly checking out of the world. Thanks for being you and sober and out in the world talking about it so clearly. Hooray you!!! xoxo

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  7. Day 2: I'm staring at this reply box and now wondering what to write?

    ...oh, yeah, I needed to go to the shop last night to grab a few things and was, like, hmm maybe not. I reckon I was scared to go there because of the booze aisle. So I didn't go! Shit, now I have to go tonight. As I walk around in there, I must just picture Mrs D's face, when she went from crying to having this sparkling smile - a smile that revealed so much strength.

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    1. Hi Mr H . Day two over for me too. I sent my husband to the supermarket. I'll try to face it tomorrow! Beware of the Sly old Fox!

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    2. I feel very proud of myself, I am on day 3 and have been to the supermarket twice Yah me ! I reckon sly old fox is following me round tho !

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    3. Great going, a massive pat on the back to both of you.

      The monster struck! On Wednesday night, I had the turmoil starting up about going to get booze. I had to go grocery shopping and I didn't get anything from the booze aisle, but I tossed around the idea of going to the liquor store and buying something I never buy and personally find crap - mixers. I thought I could just buy 2 of them which = half the amount of alcohol as a bottle of wine and I wouldn't have the association with my regular choice of poison (red wine). I know the monster can make up all sorts of excuses and realised that, but...

      ...I did!

      ... I gave into the bastard!

      They didn't give me a buzz, except tasted awful and made me feel eeew.

      I am back on day 2!

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    4. Mr H
      It's ok to fall as long as you stay focused to get back up! The first week is the hardest, go for a walk, read some more blogs....just stay strong it's so worth it! :)

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    5. same thing for me mr h..wednesday struck despite all my strong thinking and inspiration from this blog. Weirdly I went way further than normal and spent thursday at work running to the loo all day thinking would vomit.

      Day 2 for me now. Will go to bed early tonight children permitting.

      Gluck for your evening. Lets check in tomoro and hopefully say congrats for day 3!

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    6. Hi Mr H & Ms M.... Anonymous no.2 here, I have thought about a glass of wine everyday, and weneva I get the urge have drunk something else. I think about how I will feel in the morning and know I will be gutted, somehow that has made it easier for me to continue. I have been thinking about doing this for soooo long now and am having the inner brain discussion,
      no I don't want one,
      yes you do,
      go on just one then stop
      But I know it wont stop there.

      Keep reading, find something to distract you.

      I have told 2 friends, they were both 'surprised' lets say, but neither judgemental or facially condemning.

      Am thinking of everyone. It's Friday night, whanau out, I'm by myself....mmmm be great time to catch a glass.....but Im not doing it. Stay strong everyone. Day 6, my short term target is Day 14 - 2 wks.

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    7. Btrilliant anon no.2. Hope u got thru last night! I also came so close to falling off with 'just one glass' but I Didn't! And exactly like u say im feeling pretty pleased with myself today. Ill remind myself of that again tonight. Day 3 today.

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    8. Yooo Ms M well done!!!! anon no.2 here. Yup made it thru the night. Thought at one stage OMG this is so boring but its just that I'm actually sober for once so its telling me that TV really is crap, that I need to get to bed earlier, else do something productive like that back log of work in the office.

      One of the biggest motivators for me is NOT waking up with that feeling ashamed/disappointed in myself feeling, thinking you gutless hopeless stupid useless person. Well onto Day 7 and not feeling any of the above.

      Hey Mr H did you make it thru, I'm hoping so.

      So glad to be on a journey with others. Keep it up Ms M and Mr H, I'll be reading with much anticipation your journeys.

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    9. Thanks goldengreen. Yes my day 3 is over. 3 tricky moments with bubbly on offer at bday party (love bubbles! ) and a couple of moments at home...especially the bath. I cant remember last bath I had without wine! Terrible. Anyway am happy to report that sober bathtime is equally lovely :) bubbles in a bath and not in a glass

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    10. Like that, bubbles in a bath, not in a glass. Well done.

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    11. Hi, thank you for asking me how things have been going for me. I haven't responded until now because I was feeling a bit ashamed (but have since worked through it and not beating myself up) - I didn't drink anything on Thursday and then Friday, Saturday and last night I had three beers during each of those evenings. The good thing is that in a week, I have consumed 1/3 of the usual percent of alcohol I usually guzzle down my throat in a week - so that is progress!

      Well done to all of you above for keeping the strength and achieving what you have.

      I can't wait until the new website Mrs D is working on, gets going, whereby we will be able to type to each other in what I assume will be a chat room. That way, whoever is on, we can provide mutual support at the time.

      Keep on going...

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  8. Hi I its crazy I am so jealous that you got sober by yourself, I had to go to re-hab. and then AA and then I found a dr who specialises in addiction (he helped the most). AA made me feel like I was a loser living with a big ugly secret. But I am sober today and life is good. Thankyou for going public- I dont feel ugly since Sunday night. Us sober girls are ready to shine.

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    1. Are u in nz? If so are u able to share name of doctor? Altho they may be inundated!. Im dojng school run now...my usual time to stop and grab a coulple of bottles for the long evening. Not this time tho. Avoiding the supie completely!!

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  9. Living sober is excellent, I agree. But the word itself has historical connotations otherwise, even when we take the alcohol out of the equation. A person of sober outlook; a sobering thought; he laughed wildly, but sobered up when he remembered the tasks awaiting him... those aren't phrases that deal with alcohol consumption, but the literal meaning of sober is 'serious, sensible, solemn'. I'm all for reclaiming words, but in this case, the word sober is too wide-reaching to be reclaimed entirely by people who don't drink alcohol. I think we need an entirely new word. No idea what that would look like, though.

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  10. Well sometimes life is a "shit sandwhich" but I love the bit about "you don't give a toss" what people think. You have had nothing but acolades. If anyone wrote "your a dick-head" then they have the problem.
    Sober to me means "normal" in that you do normal adult things. I am still working on this because wine is my normal. I am about to write my day 3 blog which has only been inspired from you. I would love it if I could get comments too because it is like you are not alone. mrsstryingtobesober.blogspot.com. Keep your blogs going Mrs D (Lotta) because there is "lotta love and support for you"

    Please comment on my blog - really want to pick up a drink
    Love Cherie (aka Mary Davis - my husband did not want his name put out there - how pathetic because he is nothing compared to Corin)

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    1. Hang in there. Stay strong

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  11. I too love living in my sparkly sober suit. It's a strange word, but I do feel like we are all reclaiming it and making it cool. For me, being sober means having lovely clean pure blood pumping around my body, no chemical interference in my body and mind. Crystal clear. Yum.

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  12. When I watched your programme, I expected some lux living SAHM, Kelburn wife who wore velour track suits (top AND bottom) and carried her dog around in her handbag. And then I heard you say "Holy shitballs" on TV and realised that you're so.... normal..... and definitely not boring.
    I'm a bit worried about being boring without alcohol but apparently I'm "outrageous enough without it" according to my husband. Still.....

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  13. Mrs D , this is the first time I have commented but you have been helping me so, so much. I am up at 5 (UK time) this morning to read your book which has just arrived on my Kindle. I NEVER get up at 5!!!! I am day 15 yet again , but this time I know it's for good. Another boozy housewife bites the dust. Thank you. Thank you.

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  14. Hi Lotta. It was your clear joy at being sober that appealed to me. I wanted a bit of that action, in fact it was an appeal that there is no going back from. Easy to say - 3 days sober. Not hard at all yet. I will just remember your sparkly words if I find it getting tough .The sparkle is taking hold.:)))

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    1. A longtime overdueJune 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      3 days for me too

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  15. Hi there! Mrs D. Your exuberance shines through, post after post but I agree with Afteralcohol here. Language is powerful and has the capacity to attract or repel (and many states in between). For that reason alone I wish the language attached to alcohol abuse and freedom was more directed at both attraction and accuracy. In other words, the language people attach to getting and being alcohol free has the capacity to attract or deter others from listening or trying.

    "Sober" like it or not has multiple definitions and many of them just do not apply to your apparent temperament. "marked by sedate or gravely or earnestly thoughtful character or demeanor; unhurried, calm; marked by temperance, moderation, or seriousness; showing no excessive or extreme qualities of fancy, emotion, or prejudice".

    Some desirable...others...well...a bit downbeat/dull.

    I don't want to be associated with many of those definitions of 'sober' as I just don't feel that way. I haven't thought of an adequate one word substitute and think we may need to make one up. Something to do with being crystal clear instead of befuddled. Something upbeat rather than down.

    For the same reason I think that the word 'alcoholic" has the capacity to shut down listening. I think it is no accident that Alcoholics Anonymous (per research) loses 85% of attendees after 6 weeks and 90% by 8 weeks. That does not even begin to count those who do not go simply because the term feels incongruent or wrong somehow...and induces panic.

    Of course there are many other reasons too apart from the labelling. Many find the "Big Book" absolutely NOT consistent with their experiences and beliefs and that this approach increases risks in some respects (per research). Again, language has the power to draw people in or turn people away.

    After all one would never kindly call a person who has suffered from cancer "a cancerolic".

    In the UK healthcare system there is a strong (and I think highly desirable) movement NOT to define a person by their condition as a) it tends to stigmatise; b) it can cause resistance; c) it keeps people looking backwards "because I once had a condition I always AM that condition for ever" and thus remove or reduce the chances of hopeful and effective action: d) because they are inaccurate. We human beings are far FAR too complex to be defined by a condition, even one that means that you may remain with a higher risk after successful treatment (although there seems to be some research that even challenges that in some significant instances).

    One of the problems is that the society we live in has created a situation where alcohol use and abuse is pretty normal and widespread. the last reason people drink is because they desire to become some of the duller and very long standing definitions of "sober". So if you wish this debate to sit comfortably with a v wide audience there are good reasons to find a word that is both accurate and congruent with their desired state.

    Further I think there are two separate debates...One to do with finding out who CAN successfully effortlessly moderate with what sort of support. The other to do with whether in fact an alcohol free life is a more desirable one (or at least AS desirable) simply because we are living life free of mind altering substances as crystal clear as possible. In other words whether an alcohol free life is NOT a life of less but a life of more, of abundance.

    If we want to really expand this debate to include as many people as possible in as open minded a state as possible the language we use .

    You embody an effervescent alcohol free life so different from the duller attributes of 'sober'. You clearly like a challenge. Find another more cheerful and equally accurate word. Make one up! Let us get a new word in the dictionary that conveys AF as happy and abundant

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    1. Has anyone out there got suggestions of other words? For me, a new word would be cool.

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    2. Totally agree. ... We need s new v word

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    3. Ebullient !

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    4. The proper medical term for "alcoholic" is alcohol dependant. This term can be applied to you after you have completed a questionnaire with a psychotherapist or similar. It describes a person who once they put ANY alcohol in their system will sooner or later be unable to control their intake. These people will NEVER be able to drink moderately but must abstain completely to have any chance of a normal life. I am one of these people. I'm currently on day 17. After numerous attempts of varying lengths from 19 months to 3 weeks. I would love to get to 2 years. Heres hoping! X

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  16. You are awesome. Thank you for what you are doing.

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  17. Im just watching Sunday, Im a single mum that like you use to be, can't wait till five so I can have a wine or can't wait till I pick my daughter up from St Johns so I can have a drink. On a normal night, I can sit down have a glass or two and before you know it I've drunk the whole bottle the next day will be exactly the same!

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  18. Wonder, wonderful, wondrous! I think this is quite possibly one of the most helpful, inspiring & heartfelt posts/blogs you've posted. Reading this makes me feel it is really, really doable to finally give up my booze. I've got a lot, lot, better but would love to be totally sober. Hopefully I will achieve this xx

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  19. I just watched your video. You are exactly who I hoped you'd be. You are a genuine, unpretentious, funny as hell, a cussing, graceful, lovely, lovely, lovely woman! I am so proud of you. Alcohol must have alternately dulled or made of caricature of all those wonderful things that make up you, I'm so glad you told it to fuck off! Love you!

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    1. I really like your wording here it pushed some buttons that need a good hard nudge.
      "Alcohol must have alternately dulled or made of caricature of all those wonderful things that make up you"

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  20. Hey Mrs D, Mrs K here again from not so great morning in Wellytown but have clear head so all great- have my final exam today after 6 years at Uni so excited and I am going to celebrate with a movie with my daughter instead of getting wasted- I like sober word- it is about being in control and not a complete emotional hot mess- thanks for your words helping me lots and I read the autobiography of Slash from Guns n Roses (a bit more hard core than me haha) but he talks about being glad to have taken the high-road and this sticks in my head- I want to be in control and not flailing below my full potential trying to exist xx have a great day

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  21. Thank you, thank you
    Just wanted to check in as yet another avid follower. This week I started a blog and the journey to being sober (sounds like a wonderful non boring place to be
    Thank you for your inspiration and giving me the strength to believe I can do it
    Love
    PG

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    1. I have stated a blog too because of Mrs D mine is mrsstryingtobesober@blogspot,com. Perhaps we can support each other?

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  22. Be careful Mrs D the monster never dies it can hidden for years and one day suddenly reappear.

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    1. The monster is part of you too I have seen too often what will happen if you starve it and forget about it, you can starve it just remember it is still there every day, every morning when you wake and every evening when you sleep - it is not a monster it is a part of you, drink didn't create it, you did, just remember to look after the monster is to welcome it as part of you - just don't feed it, you can not live without the monster either.

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  23. Anonymous talked about AA,- When you are so desperate to be free of alcohol and sick and tired of being sick and tired you will drag your sorry butt to a meeting. The first meeting I went to I hated I was like those freaks and I wasnt going to admit to being a alcoholic. But a year later I was back in there I was so desperate to be free of the demon drink. i loved wine but it was destroying my life. I didnt have to like AA I just had to turn up, every morning I woke up and said to myself I will go to a meeting tonight I had a sober day that day. In those rooms I learnt so much about how to stay sober on a daily basis. I also hear some of the funniest, saddest, and encouraging stories. I meet some amazing people, people who had been sober for 1 day and people who were 50 years sober. I didnt do the twelve steps but am sober today and have been for quite some time. AA is amazing but you do have to swallow your pride and keep going back no matter how much you hate it because you will grow to love it. It started me on my journey and I will be forever grateful to those rooms and the people in them.

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  24. If your husband wasnt who he was, The Sunday Programme wouldnt bother with your story. It was a load of crap.

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    1. Jealousy is a horrible thing, Maybe you need some support and help yourself . They came out in public and it could easily backfire and hurt his career. Are you thick or what. I am so fucken angry with you. Why would you put your family out in public if you did not have a message? Doesn't matter if you are a "bag lady" or the prime minister we all humans (well some of us) and we have feelings and problems.. I was waiting for a dickhead like you to comment. But you are so gutless you did it as Anonymous. Brow some balls and and publish who you are.

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    2. I think what this troll is trying to say is:
      1. Corin Dann's job made this news, and 2. Mrs D was hardly the worst case classic alcoholic out there.
      The first point is probably correct, but so what? It made it news, and that's good. As to the second, people would not have identified with the rock bottom wino. Mrs D's story is for those at near the top of the slope, encouraging them to let sunlight disinfect the problem before it gets any worse. It is a middle class and aged problem she has put her finger on and those people are all over it -good!

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    3. Couldnt agree more well said!

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    4. Sorry just to reiterate I agree with 2nd anon reply not the first silly uneducated anon comment! She has so put her finger on it well done Mrs D

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    5. Could you please elaborate further anonymous and say in what way it was a load of crap? Was lotta lying? Embellishing? Trying to make money? Trying to be famous? Please clarify the meaning of your term 'crap' I'm all ears!

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    6. Hey everyone
      I wouldn't bother with this idiot. I figure they are either an alcoholic who is unaccepting and bitter that someone has done something so positive and amazing - or alternatively someone who is just a plain loser who gets joy out of writing anon negative comments on blogs. Fun to be you!!

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  25. OMG it was not a load of crap and has helped lots of people. Get over yourself you tosser. The only reason you said that is that you obviously have a proble. Go Mrs D screw you you dickhead.

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  26. You're awesome Mrs D! I know I have a problem, I just don't know how to stop, I want to, and I've tried, but it has a hold on me, not that I'm trying to make excuses. Like you I'm highly functioning, I'm a builder running my own business. I think I hide it pretty well, but lately I seem to be losing control. Anyway, after someone told me about your Sunday programme (which tells me that maybe I'm not hiding it so well), sobering up is at the front of my mind. I'll try.
    Cheers

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  27. Hi have a plan today, one hour cleaning, shower, off to paperplus to pick up my preordered copy of your book. Cant wait to escape into the pages. Oh so exciting,cant wait to start reading. The sun is shining - to make it even better. Have a great weekend Mrs D.

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  28. Hi i been sober 10 hrs I am struggling

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  29. Sparkly. Yes, sparkly. I love that. And congrats on your new book!!!

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  30. Thank you. This post about how hard it will be to give up alcohol and the monster and to just keep going is just what I need to hear. I am very hungover today and today if my Day 1 of no more alcohol. Wish me luck, I've tried many times and only ever get to Day 3 before I give in!

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    1. Yes will be willing you thru everyday. Supporting from a distance. Distract that voice wen it tells you what you don't need.

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  31. To above I wish you luck, keep going, keep reading the blog, surround yourself with recovery it will make it easier. Be kind to yourself today.

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  32. The drug antabuse can be helpful in those early days/weeks

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