Monday, July 23, 2018

Slice of life (and lemon)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, June 29, 2018

Self-care while being busy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Mrs D xxx



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Living my best life...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Who could ask for anything more?

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Thirteen things I have discovered in sobriety...

1) Negative emotions suck but feeling them raw helps immensley (in understanding them and getting over them quicker).

2) Sadness is my least favourite emotion.

3) Powerful positive emotions like pure elation or overwhelming joy don't come by often but when they do it feels soooo good (way better than drunk positive emotions).

4) It's really important to recognise when things aren't particularly bad or good but just trucking along nicely.

5) Life is not a party all of the time nor should it be.

6) Uplifting music can brighten my day and I'm wise to remember to play it when I'm feeling stuck.

7) I'm still not naturally into physical exercise but I know my life is better when I input it into my weeks.

8) Yoga is not overrated like I used to think it was.

9) I love dancing, particularly with props (e.g. glow sticks, ribbons).

10) Owning a dog changes your life for the better in numerous ways.

11) Getting 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep most nights is FREAKING AMAZING!!

12) Owning your truth is empowering and brave and no-one will judge you for admitting struggles.

13) It is possible to live a full, fun life without touching alcohol ever.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

About my weight loss..

I've had quite a few people notice in photos I've been sharing lately that I've lost a lot of weight. And yes it's true! So here is the story.

Last year while I was writing and releasing my new book I got into some terrible (worse than usual) habits around food. I was using foods - specifically bready/sugary foods - very alcoholically. That is, I was locked into a cravings-binging-guilt cycle that was very reminiscent of my boozing days.

I was hyper aware of this dysfunctional behaviour. I knew very clearly whenever I was binging beyond normal 'treating' of myself (i.e. being a total and utter pig) because I often felt sick and really bad about myself afterwards. I could also clearly see that my worst binging came when I felt low emotionally or was dealing with something stressful or gritty.

And the scales were climbing up and up and up. One day I climbed on and saw that I was on the cusp of my highest weight EVER. This was my trigger number one to change.

My second trigger to change came at almost exactly the same time. I was listening to an online conference and they interviewed a woman who was talking exactly my language about food - like .. big time! Her name was Dr Susan Pierce Thompson and she was a recovering addict herself who had switched her addiction to food after getting sober. She talked about flour and sugar having the same impact on the brain as alcohol does and explained the programme she had developed that was working for many, many people.

I got her book Bright Line Eating: The science of Living Happy, Thin & Free immediately and half started following her programme by cutting out flour and sugar. The cravings stopped which was great but I wasn't losing any weight so reluctantly I started doing her full programme (I was reluctant because it involved weighing portions and I was embarrassed that I needed to get the scales out to weigh my food every meal).

But I'm so pleased that I pushed past my reluctance and embarrassment because FUCK ME THE WEIGHT JUST STARTED DROPPING OFF! Her programme is bloody brilliant because a lot of the time I'm not that hungry - just the right amount of protein and veggies to keep me going until the next meal - but the results have been dramatic.

To date I have lost 14kg (nearly 31 pounds)!! Her plan is quite detailed but I'm not going explain it here because it's all in her book and I really recommend you get the book because there is a lot of science and explanation in there about how our brains and bodies work which is so empowering.

I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone who wants to lose weight but mostly wants to be free from that awful cravings/binging/guilt cycle around food that is extremely soul destroying. I do still slip and eat those foods sometimes and then have to combat cravings for a few days until they've gone. But for the most part I live without these foods and happy.

Long may it last!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, February 19, 2018

Itchy and scratchy

I'm feeling a bit itchy and scratchy at the moment. Restless and bored. I need something new in my life. A new job. A new project. A new something-a-rather. I have no idea what. I'm a bit stuck and bored of my work and stuff. It's not the end of the world but I need some change, I'm aware of that.

I'm scratching around at the edges looking for new opportunities, not hustling like a mad woman but poking my nose in a few places. I'd love to be in the right place doing something stimulating and engaging, interacting with cool people, feeling valued and busy. That's what I'd like.

But I'd also like to be very available at home to parent my sons. So I need to find a balance. Hopefully something right will come along. Maybe it will take a wee while and I just have to be patient in the meantime and enjoy what I do have. Count my blessings.

* Good health
* Happy family
* Some work that is rewarding (but not enough)
* A robust sobriety

And it is that last point that will see me right most of all. Because I am sober and 100% present in my life and grounded in the truth I won't stagnate and get bitter or too miserable. I'll stay alert to my circumstance and slowly work to change things around.

Sobriety means never staying stuck. It's impossible to avoid anything in sobriety. That's what makes it so hard sometimes! But ultimately so great because you tend to work to fix things rather than leave them be for months and years.

So I'll just try to sit in my truth, push out at the edges to try find something new, and enjoy what I do have going on the meantime.

On another note we went to a wedding last weekend and a brilliant time. Lots of chatting and feeling the love but most of all DANCING! I danced for hours and hours to a brilliant guitarist that had the whole party on the dance floor. I don't know how one man and his guitar managed to sound like a fantastic DJ and live band at the same time but he did! So great.

I didn't spend the evening wishing I was boozing like most others were at the event. I am so happy in my sober skin and extremely grateful to be living a life far removed from the boozy, disconnected one I was over six years ago.

I don't miss the sloppy, drunk, emotionally stunted version of myself at all.

Love, Mrs D xxx

P.S. This is a photo montage I made of the event for my Facebook page.


Friday, February 2, 2018

A new parenting phase..

There are many times that I feel supremely grateful to be sober, but none more so than this week.

Our eldest boy has just started high school. So it has been a week of tension and stress (him) and emotion and busyness (me). I've been helping organise his stationery and get his uniform together, I've sat through welcome ceremonies and deciphered timetables. It all feels quite new and exciting for all of us and I'm so proud of our boy. But boy he can be grumpy when he's tired and under pressure!

He hates getting up early in the morning so rising to be out the door by 7.30am is a shock to the system. He's been going to his new school for 3 days but today is the first day that all of the school year groups are in attendance (all those much bigger boys!) so I got up early to make some muffins (because I'm a domestic goddess ha ha).

6.45am and I was pottering around the kitchen with the dog. The sun was rising over the hills out our kitchen window and my mug of peppermint tea was delicious. I felt so grateful to be hangover free and clear-headed. I felt so grateful to have my feet fully on the ground as my son enters this new phase of his life. It was a lovely peaceful time.

Unfortunately the peace was soon shattered. I was informed that the PE gear needed to be washed so quickly did it by hand and shoved it in the dryer. Unfortunately this meant that it was still damp when it was time to go.. so despite my motherly brilliance with the muffins ultimately I was just the biggest annoying pain in the arse ever and son left the house grumpy.

Sigh.

I think parenting teenagers is going to be hard work. A huge exercise in staying calm, taking shit but not too much and organising and sorting but not too much (or else how are they going to learn? He should have given me his stinky PE gear last night!).

But I'm up for it, and so grateful that I'm entering these years as a sober woman, not a boozy disconnected lush. I know it's going to be a rollercoaster and I'm going to handle things badly at times and have motherly guilt and regret. But that's ok too. I'm sober, not perfect. And that's perfectly ok.

But right now.. having waved my grumpy boy off ("a wet PE top is better than a stinky one!"), and written this post, I think I'm going to crawl back into bed with a book. Self care right there. I deserve it.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

My fantastic New Years Eve..

This New Year's Eve was the best I have had for many years. So, so good. I just wish I could go back there tonight and do it all over again, it was that good. It was soul restoring. It was epic.

To be honest the lead up wasn't great. During the day on the 31st I was not that jazzed about the whole thing. We were camping with 4 other families by the beach having a very relaxing and lovely time but I kept thinking to myself all day I wished I could just crawl into my tent and go to bed at the normal time and not have to force myself to stay up till midnight.

I just hate that New Year's Eve comes with such a massive weight of expectation like it has to be the MOST FUN night to rival all other nights of the year. I could probably just relax about that thought process but don't seem to be able to. Maybe I'm too fond of my early nights?

And of course I'm aware that for many people on the planet (including me for 20+ years) the main way to ensure a blinder of a New Year's Eve is to sink lots of piss and get blotto.

But now I don't drink and I've retrained my brain to see that drunk does not equal fun... it's just drunk, and there are many wonderful, natural ways to have fun that don't require chemical enhancement. But for some stupid reason I still feel that NYE pressure to somehow elevate the evening to something great.. and frankly I can't really be bothered.

Anyway, "it is what it is" I told myself in the lead-up and just prepared to get through the evening having a good time knowing that the pressure would soon be off. Little did I know that magic would happen for me although I'd have to wait until after midnight for it to properly kick in.

Early in the evening we had a camp concert that involved a variety of performances (a couple of which I took part in) and that was cool. Then we had a disco with everyone jumping around to a strange mix of poppy dance tunes. Then the guitars came out and we had a singalong. That was all good fun.

But by 11.30pm I was tired, half the kids had crashed out.. some of the adults were a bit boozed.. I was struggling to avoid eating chocolate (and didn't manage to do so, scoffing many Maltesers before midnight), and my air bed had never looked so good. I would have quite happily slipped off to retire at that point.

Soon enough midnight arrived and we all hugged and whooped along with others in the campsite. The last few kids were put to bed and I figured I'd slip away pretty quickly myself.

But then the magic happened.

We had our Megaboom speaker sitting on the sand in between our tents and the music got changed from cheesy kid-friendly hits to more cruisy dancy/trancy/techno beats. And suddenly I got my dance on.

Big time.

I danced. I danced and I danced and I danced. I danced non-stop for over an hour standing under the moonlight with my feet in the sand, a glow stick in each hand and my eyes mostly shut. I totally just got into the groove with the music and danced. I swayed, ducked, bobbed, twirled, waved and moved. It was utterly fantastic.

By this stage there were just us adults - 10 of us - standing around the speaker like it was a bonfire. Everyone was mello, chatting in twos or threes or just grooving along to the music like I was. OMG I don't know how to explain it but the hour of dancing I did between midnight and 1am was amazing and utterly soul restoring. I felt so comfortable, didn't care what I looked like or what anyone thought of me. I was fully relaxed with our friends, fully relaxed in my own skin, fully into the music and just so, so happy.

Grooving, moving, swaying, ducking, diving and waving. I pointed and swished and waved my glow sticks non-stop. A few times I joked that I was directing airplanes like a ground controller at the airport and bent my arms like that! Also made big circles around and around and did quick flicks to make the glow sticks blur. In fact, now that I write I think it was the glow sticks in my hand that gave me so much joy. I was all about waving my arms to move them in time with the beat.

So, so, so happy. It was the best dance I have had in AGES and as a result the best New Year's I have had in AGES. Dancing in the half light with a great group of friends, totally relaxed in the outdoors with fantastic tunes and NO. BOOZE. REQUIRED.

Proof once again that alcohol isn't required to have a fun time. A fun time comes when all the elements inherent in the moment collide to produce genuine feelings of pleasure and happiness.

Happy Sober 2018 to everyone out in cyber-land who is brave enough to dig deep to remove alcohol and live in the raw 100% of the time. It's hard work at first getting sober, but so worth it. Worth it for magical nights like my New Year's Eve. I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

Love, Mrs D xxx