Month 4 - Challenges

(Below are all the posts I wrote in my fourth month of sobriety. I've compiled them here into one page so that it's easy to see where I was at throughout this stage of my recovery. What you don't get to see by reading the posts this way is all the wonderful, supportive, warm and wise comments that came from the online community and that have been so crucial in my recovery. To share in that warmth and wisdom you need to read by going through my Blog Archive on the right.  If you are reading this here and you are at the same stage of recovery yourself, please comment at the bottom to share your thoughts and experiences with others. Love, Mrs D xxx)
=========
8 December 2011 - "I am an alcoholic...am I?"


Hi, my name is Mrs D and I am a ... *coughs*.. um .. hi.  I'm Mrs D and... um ... huh.. *clears throat*.. sorry, lets try that again.  Hi.  I'm Mrs D.  And I. Am. A ... ... ... dysfunctional drinker.

I've never called myself an alcoholic.  Am I one?  I like to call myself a dysfunctional drinker.  A boozer.  A enthusiastic wine-drinker.  But alcoholic, no.  Semantics?  Probably.  But still.  I don't want to call myself an alcoholic.  For one thing I think it provides too blunt a label, or at least one that I'm not comfortable with.  But also .. well .. I dunno .. I'm embarrassed to say that I am one.  It conjours up images of derelict losers and I'm not one of "them".  You know the type.  Those winos in the gutter. Those smelly ladies with filthy clothes and unkempt hair I see in my supermarket with trollys filled with big casks of wine.

I mean, I never drank cask wine! Admittedly my bottles were only worth about $10 but, you know, there was glass involved.  No cardboard round here.  And I wasn't a stumbling drunk out on the streets creating a scene.  Ok so there was that one time I sort of stumbled in front of my inlaws while holding my 6 year old and sort of dropped him a bit .. but I don't think they all knew how much wine I'd poured into myself that evening.  Oh and there's those favourite earrings that I lost during almighty binges (still think they might have gone down the drain, there was vomiting involved).  So that's all pretty sloppy behaviour.  Me as a derelict loser, yeah.

Trying to read Allen Carr's 'The Easy Way to Stop Drinking', finding it rather intense but will persevere in the interests of keeping my brain alert to the perils of alcohol (my sly wine-drinking fox is still lurking in the back recesses of my brain I'm sure of it). Anyway he says the definition of an alcoholic is someone who has lost control over their intake.

Well I had definately lost control over my intake.  I think I lost it back in the late 80's actually.  But sorry Allen I'm not ready to own that label yet.

Love, Mrs D xxx

==========

12 December 2011 - "Just quietly"


I'm just going to say this quietly because I don't want to come across as all cocky and confident, and maybe this is another pink cloud floating by in my life (I love the whole pink cloud concept, why are they called pink clouds anyway?) but I just love love love love being sober.

I have so much more self respect. Someone once commented on my blog when I was going to an event and was nervous that I should 'raise a glass of self respect' instead of booze and I thought that was such a great concept.  My self respect is so much higher now that I'm not feeling so horribly dysfunctional.

And another lovely Australian chap keeps commenting to me to 'be kind to myself' and I love that concept as well because it carries so much weight.  It doesn't just say be kind, it says look after, nurture, love, protect.  All those things are true when you are being brave and making a big scary, almost unheard of (in my circle of life) decision to live without alcohol.

I feel so much more 'in touch' with myself.  This is a hard one to explain but when my brain isn't affected by alcohol so much any more I can trust all my feelings and emotions, know that I'm feeling them honestly and fully and not under a cloud.  Also I don't have those little memories when they're vague and I think 'was I pissed when I thought that/said that/did that?'

I just feel better.  Emotionally and physically.  I had a huge weekend this weekend with a BBQ on Friday night, two parties on Saturday plus hosting a lunch here on Sunday.  Last night Mr D and I got into bed at 7.23pm! and we were absolutely knackered, but I said to him how different it was to feel that exhausted feeling after a busy social weekend but without the headaches, sick guts, or guilt.

I actually can't think of a single reason why I would want to go back to wine again.  Hope I'm not getting lulled into a false sense of security.

(Incidentally parties are fine sober until about 11pm when people start giving you sloppy hugs and stop making much sense and at that point slipping out the back door is advisable)

Love, Mrs D xxx

=========

15 December 2011 - "The evenings"


So I seem to have a familiar pattern now with my new sober life.  I am good through the busy, noisy times being a non-drinker, but I struggle a bit in the quiet of my own brain.  Didn't have a problem with all the parties last weekend at all, in fact (as I keep saying) I'm so much happier going out and being a sober-together version of myself.  I always feel so much happier in my memories of the night.

Anyway so that was the weekend, full of noise and life and me more than happy not drinking.  Then come Monday, I'm tired and it's quiet and I feel like a wine at 5pm would have been really nice.  Just a few thoughts, not a huge wave of them like it would have been 90-odd days ago when I was first sober, but still they were there.  Tuesday also a bit tricky.  I'm still learning how just to 'be' without the wine.

I've been thinking how I used to be quite useless in the evenings.  I'd never answer the phone if I could help it, I certainly wouldn't get on the computer (have done the odd drunk-facebook session and cringed the next morning at my over-effusive comments on people's photos 'your kids are so beautiful you're awesome love you guys so much' etc etc), couldn't achieve any sorting of paper-work, paying bills or transcribing interviews for my masters research or anything really.  Just me on the sofa with a wine or 5 and the TV.  Lots and lots of TV.

I have been known to get through an entire programme of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and realise only toward the end I had watched it before, pissed.  Or maybe those idiots are just imminently forgettable.  Still can't stop watching them though!

Now I have these lovely gentle evenings and if I'm in the mood can actually achieve things.  Admittedly it's just things like sitting on the sofa with my notebook and cookbooks and making a meal plan & shopping list for the week (budgeting housewife geek me), or sitting with the laptop ordering books online from the library catalogue, or reading recovery blogs and making effusive-but-sober comments on other ex-boozers blogs!, or wrapping Christmas presents.  Or maybe just deciding with Mr D that we'll climb into bed and watch Downton Abby.

Oh and I'VE FINALLY LOST WEIGHT YEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Mrs D xxx

=========

17 December 2011 - "What are you thinking?"


So there are a lot of people that come to my blog and not many that comment.  And that's totally fine, this ain't no guilt trip to get you to comment.

For while the comments I do get are really lovely, (some have made me cry with their kindness, or get a little teary at least, some have really helped me be strong when I was in a rough patch, and some have made me laugh out loud) really this blog is mainly written for me to help keep myself sober.

It actually came about because when I finally decided I was going to take the plunge and attempt to completely remove alcohol from my life I thought about getting a diary to put in my top bedside drawer so I could write every day and keep track of my thoughts and boost myself along.  Then I thought why not type it down somewhere, then thought open a blog, do it anonymously and .. well here we are.

But for all of you that do arrive here and then leave without commenting I can only guess at what you're thinking.  So I'm going to take a stab at what your thoughts might be and put you into three categories.

Reader Type-A is thinking: "Man that Mrs D, wow she's amazing to be removing alcohol from her life.  How cool and strong is she!  And she seems really down to earth, such brutal honesty.  I've been wondering about my own alcohol intake .. I'm going to have to keep coming back to see how she's getting on."

Reader Type-B is thinking: "Jeez, what a lush Mrs D is.  Can't believe she was such a boozer, all that wine drinking, what loser behaviour.  Only dicks can't control their alcohol.  I bet she's going to relapse.  I'll pop back every now and then just to see her fail."

Reader Type-C is thinking: "What the hell is this?  I'm looking for the blog of the uber-cool New York DJ Mrs D.  This ain't the right Mrs D! *navigates away*"

Ha!  No but seriously, I've decided to put up a pic of myself as soon as I can get it scanned (it's old, but very appropriate).  So whether you're Reader A or B watch this space and you'll get to see what I look like.  If you're a Type-C and you've made it this far - what the hell are you still doing here??!!

Love, Mrs D xxx

========

19 December 2011 - "What if you can't abstain?"


We all have our stuff, our issues, our problems (our reasons).  And we all have our ways of dealing with them, or avoiding them.  I don't really know exactly why or what combination of factors led to me being a sloppy, out-of-control heavy drinker, but that is what I was.  Pouring wine down my throat even though it wasn't making my life happy.  Drinking glasses and glasses and bottles and bottles of wine.  Endlessly and constantly drinking as much and as often as I wanted, those amounts growing and growing until finally I stopped.

I got to a point where I was acutely aware of what a problem my drinking was and thankfully that feeling was strong enough to overcome all the previous ones and I made the decision to remove alcohol completely from my life and retrain my brain out of thinking that it made me relax (it didn't), helped me with stress (it didn't), made things more fun (it didn't) made me more interesting (it didn't) took my problems away (it didn't).

But what if my way of dealing with (or avoiding) my issues had been different?  What if, for example, the way I had decided to deal with life was to binge on food and then vomit it up?  Or just binging and binging and keeping it in and getting really overweight.  Or starving myself, withholding much needed food until I was a skeleton of myself.  Food issues in other words.

I mean without getting too deep life is actually pretty hard isn't it, we're complex emotional creatures struggling to like ourselves, have decent relationships, deal with problematic parents, or partners, or money worries, or weight issues, or sex issues or .. or .. or ..

And seconds tick by, and new problems arise, and new feelings surface, and new shit happens, and good stuff too!, and then tricky stuff, and then boring stuff, and still the seconds tick by, and the minutes and the hours.

So what do you do?  Do you drink heavily?  Do you smoke too much?  Do you eat too much?  Do you make yourself vomit?  Do you starve yourself?  Do you inject yourself?   What do you do?

And then, if you want to fix it, what do you do?  In some ways I've been lucky.  I've had a thing - alcohol - to focus on.  Remove that thing, focus on why it's not helping you, retrain your brain to accept life without it.  Good luck staying the course but if you do, problem solved.  But food issues is a whole different kettle of fish.

Love, Mrs D xxx

========

21 December 2011 - "A sober Christmas"


I've been looking forward to it actually.  A chance to show everyone how happy I am sober.  Oh clever sober me!  Planning nice fresh ginger beer drinks and lime and mint crushed with ice and soda water.  Super! Wonderful! Awesome!

But here I am, four sleeps to go, it's nearly midnight, I'm wound up like a top, my brain is whirring and I've just snuck quietly out of the bedroom to come write this blog in the hopes that it will release some of the tension in my thoughts and I can get to sleep.

I think I've been living in a lovely sober bubble for the last however-many days that it's been since I took the wine away (just did a quick check, 106 days). Just me in my house with my lovely husband and sons and my neighbourhood of friends plus family, some close, some far away, all there on the phone and email etc..

And now it's Christmas and everyone is descending on us and I'm doing all the organising (which is fine, I'm an organisational geek) but there's things being said and actions being taken that is the usual stuff of families but it's like brutal fingers are poking, poking, poking at my bubble upsetting my quite delicate equilibrium.  I don't think I realised quite how delicate it was.

It doesn't help that I wrote in my last post that I loved 'getting out of it' and I've just been thinking of getting out of it lately.  Just getting totally 'out of it'. OUT of it.  OUT OF IT.  Just getting out of it.

I'ts not going to happen though.  Oh no siree bob.  No fucking way. I'm going to grit my teeth and get through.  And who knows maybe this tension will pass and I'll enjoy myself!  I'm sure I will actually.  Once everyone is here in one place I can submit to the craziness and look in my boys faces and feel good for them and look in the mirror and feel good for myself because all I have to do is not drink and everything will be alright in the end.

Oh and I've finally gotten organised to get the old photo of me scanned and have posted it on my 'Who Am I?' page so go take a look!  Mr D says I haven't aged a bit.  Flattery will get you everywhere Mr D.

Love, Mrs D xxxx

========

24 December 2011 - "So far"


... almost all my family here and last night the first big evening together.

I was called 'amazing'...

I was called 'virtuous' and 'boring'...

And I was warned 'just don't start lecturing anyone else'...

========

25 December 2011 - "Christmas Day"


Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Man we are churning through the work.  Preparing meals, cleaning up, relaxing for 2 minutes then lurching into the next meal.  It's a food and drink feast.  A rolling festival of food.

Funny thing is my non-alcohol beverages seem to be more popular than wine and beer!  Everyone is drinking alcohol but they're not really pounding it (like I would be).  Maybe it's because I'm not?  Still, the main Christmas meal is tonight perhaps they'll get amongst it then.  I've already thought that if that happens I'll take myself off to bed.

Ha, just heard Mr D in the other room saying 'time for a beer! Anyone else?'.

It's 4.13pm.  Back soon.

Love, Mrs D xxx

========

26 December 2011 - "Final Christmas Blog"


It's so totally fine to be not drinking at Christmas.  It's so much better than fine.  I'm still laughing, chatting, joking being totally normal but without that edgy feeling like I've got the dial turned up to 9 or 10 (over the top) instead of sitting comfortably at a 5 or 6 (nice and normal).

And I'm sitting at that comfortable level while hosting tons of people coming and going, plus around 6 extras staying including two babies.  The dishwasher has been going three times a day, we're constantly cleaning up and getting ready to prepare the next snack or 3-course meal.  And all the while it's a melting pot of humanity with all their foibles, stresses and problems and of course all of us think our issues are the most important. A million and one dynamics and the odd tension spot blowing like a leak in a pipe.

But sober Mrs D is able to keep herself reasonably level-headed.  Not too stressed, not too territorial, generous enough with my house and space, busy but not feeling too under-appreciated, washing, cleaning, answering questions constantly (where are your table cloths? is the local diary open today?  how can I set your washing machine to low?  is there a container I can put this in?  shall we cook the rosti like this or like that?  have you another cushion for the outside chairs?  where's the hose fitting so I can fill the paddling pool? ).

I've had three people cry over me in private (we're an emotional female-based family ok), one or two snap testily at me, a couple of them treat me like I'm the most bossy person in the world (well you told me to ask for help) and the sleep throughout has been brief and broken.

But not once have I been even slightly tempted to drink alcohol despite everyone else doing it (except pregnant sister).  Not even remotely interested.  Just do not want to.  Don't need it.  Don't want it.

I rekon if I had been experiencing all of the above while pouring copious amounts of alcohol in my system I'd not only feel a shit-load more tired and sicky in my guts with a pounding headache most of the time but I'd be feeling far more watery emotionally myself.  I'd have a nervy feeling in my tummy probably because I'd not been able to think and feel and process all the dynamics and interactions clearly.

Happy Merry Glorious Sober Christmas to you all!!!!!!!!!!

Off camping now for a week .... please may it not rain.

Love Mrs D xxxxxxx

========

2 January 2012 - "I'm ready to say it now"


It's funny how this sobriety journey of mine is playing out.  I'm sure it must read in pretty typical fashion, these words of mine on a screen.  The early days of fear and fight, the highly emotional phases, the pink clouds, the introspection, the revelations coming one after another.

All so cliched I'm sure.  But what is really hard to convey in letters and words and the odd bit of punctuation and syntax is the real gut renching emotions that accompany each stage and step along the way.  But all this blog can offer me is words on a screen so I'll type them down and hopefully reading it back I'll forever be reminded about the pure release that this particular revelatory moment gave me.

We were on our camping holiday heading up to the tip-top point of New Zealand to look out to where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.  Mr D was driving, the boys were all slumbering in the back and I was staring out the window at the beautiful countryside rolling by (green grass, sheep and cows, light rain).

I was thinking about not drinking, I was thinking about my past, I was thinking about my future and suddenly it felt like a door opened inside me and some sort of light, or a rush of endorphins or a turning of my stomach or something happened and the thought came to me.  I am an alcoholic.

It was amazing.  This is annoying to write because the words don't do justice to the feeling but believe me, it was amazing.  I am an alcoholic.  I am an alcoholic.  I am an alcoholic.  There were tears rolling down my cheeks.  It was quite remarkable actually.  A real release.  A total freedom.

My name is Mrs D and I am an alcoholic.

xxxxxxxxx

========

4 January 2012 - "Rearrangement"


(Warning.  This post tries hard to be clever and contains laboured metaphors)

Just spent 9 hours solid rearranging all the bedrooms at home which was a bloody hard job but oh so worth it!  Mr D and I are now nestled at the back of our house with heaps more light and sun and a door looking out to our back deck with it's new shade sail and pot plants. Our Big Boy now has his first bedroom on his own and he is so happy and the two little ones are sharing the bunk beds in the middle sunny room.

Had a strange thing happen last night.  We went out for dinner with my sister and her husband and stopped at a trendy bar for a drink beforehand and I had this sudden shocking thought come to me as we sat down .. 'oh my god I don't drink alcohol any more...!'

I mean that's crazy right, because I am obsessed with being sober and blog about it twice weekly for gods sake and, you know, it's a brand shiny new fact about my life.  But I think actually what happened is that in the lead up to that 'surprise! No booze here!' moment I hadn't had the thought at the front of my brain.  It had slipped away momentarily.

So instead of my sober self always leaning over the bow of my life arms outstretched like Kate Winslet in Titanic (you know, with Leonardo Di Caprio in the movie.  I warned you ...).. she's now slipping down below deck occasionally.

This must be what happens as it becomes more and more the norm to be a non-drinker.  It's like my thoughts are rearranging themselves just as today my household bedrooms have been.  (OH SLAM DUNK ON THE WRAPPING UP THE POST NICELY HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!)

I'm exhausted, that's my excuse for this laboured writing.  I really should be watching TV not blogging.  But that was a real moment that happened in that bar.  Oh, and one more thing.  I do not miss drinking one bit.

Love, Mrs D xxx


17 comments:

  1. I'm ready to take the plunge. I was watching TV while simultaneously reading your inspiring blog while drinking a big glass of red when Sarah Silverman comes on and says,"if your one of those people that thinks the whole world is judging you, then you're an alcoholic." I thought holy sh**, how did she know I was watching?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahahah! i saw that too and thought the SAME thing!

      Delete
  2. I've just discovered your blog having been impressed with how lovely you were on The Bubble Hour. I love it! 'I think it lost it back in the late 80s actually' made me laugh out loud. Good job all round. I will keep reading.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I,m still reading your blog and I,m on day 9 sober, I feel so good but today has been hard.. will keep going , never want to go back to being drunk night after night and feeling awful .. you are such a big help to me thank you. x

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've so enjoyed reading your journey so far and thank you for being so honest. I too find the "still moments" hard and that is often when I will drink, upon reflection I have examined how I have thought of alcohol as a "friend/companion" when my kids are sleeping & my husband is working or sleeping. The problem is, the reality is like you say, it is a 'sly fox' of a friend and becomes such an enemy as well. Again thanks for sharing your journey, you are inspiring

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dry July has been a perfect time to test the waters here in my little corner of Auckland.
    People just say good on you and so on and move on, so I am planning to carry it on once August arrives it`s a way to not get the look of shock and horror from friends that you were actually still fun and it`s going to be ok hahaha, I think otherwise they would find it as hard as me (not to drink I mean)
    Although I have already felt them looking at me thinking I know what their thinking but fuck em I say, they have no idea how I have struggled 5 yrs drunk every day except the ones I was too hung over to drink on.
    So go me!
    Thanks so much as you are the one that helped me stop, when I saw you on SUNDAY I think it was a few weeks back.
    14 days sober and yes too freaked to say I am an alcoholic, but on the inside i know I have been for quite some time (the 80`s) I have the same story as you with sitting on a park bench with friends and a bottle of mark a spew! hahaha xxx J9

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Im 100 days sober tomorrow. I had the strangest experience last night. I wasnt ready to go to bed and nothing was on tv so I turned to the computer and watched some old favourite party songs on utube, well the party memories came back into my mind and so did the tasted of the rum which I used to drink 15 years ago. Such a strange experience

    ReplyDelete
  7. So inspiring....I saw you on "Sunday" and have been enthralled by your story. ...it's a mirror of my life. ...today is day 3....a long way to go...thank you

    ReplyDelete
  8. You express the realisation of drinking so much - I am giving up tomorrow because yet again have let my family down with coming over for a meal. Yes I am a functioning alcoholic and you are soo inspirational!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Day 8 for me... I have done this before but I am finally tired of it. 8 days of getting things done, being more involved with the kids and just an overall sense of well being. My mom just called to tell me she got my wine for Thanksgiving.. Anxiety sets in on how to handle this as I am not ready to confess my at least bottle of night wine habit to anyone. This blog is so great and I just can't stop reading it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Awesome blog, thanks for sharing your experiences,I really admire your stand and can relate to your struggles. At the start I thought I had my wine drinking under control, couple of glasses every couple of days seemed ok. Now I'm a guzzling wine sponge, finding any excuse to pop a bottle of cheap wine into the shopping basket while getting the milk/bread..phew. And I'm a Mum. Think with me its an attempt to avoid emotional issues with a couple of hours of alcoholic numbness, which comes at a price. I run long distances when I'm not hungover, I'm not enjoying my life at all. I called a helpline today, the woman I spoke to told me about your blog - after reading to here I am determined to get sober and real again.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Mrs d - Very generous of you to share your journey, so THANKS from me. This is my second 3 month sobriety stint. The first about 18 months ago. After 3 months of sobriety , I thought I could have the occasional drink, but it wasn't long before I was back to my usual 2 - 3 glasses of red each day ; sometimes more and sometimes at 9 am in the morning ! Now I'm 3 + months sober again and I love it. I rarely think about drinking now, and when I do it's an idle thought, not a craving. But i know I mustn't be complacent. Drinking is not what I want in my life again. What I love at the 3 month mark, is self respect and clarity. so here's cheers to us with a cuppa tea !

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for this blog. I am not ready (apparently) to cut out booze altogether just yet. But I can say that your blog helped me through some dark moments when I quit using meth. If I accomplish nothing else this year, having done that will still be a shining moment. And you had a part in it, so THANK YOU from a clean mom in California.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Be proud. Fill the dark with light.

      Delete
  13. Found this blog @ 2am in the middle of another alcohol induced insomnia-lots of this is resonating with me, thanks Mrs D. and keep up the good work-

    ReplyDelete
  14. You crack me up woman! The biggest "dysfunctional drinkers" I've ever met keep so called "investment wine" cellars in their English country piles and fly first class (that's where the free flowing Crystal champagne is darling!) Lol And now you've revealed yourself to be not only a wine snob but an alcoholic, hysterical! I chuckle because 3 days ago I wrote a note to self stating: "Ï'm an alcoholic. All I have to do is not drink. It's that simple (smiley icon)". Thank you again so much for brightening up my evening. I can't stop reading your blog but failed to find myself among your reader profiles - as the lovely Australian chap has asked you - please be kind to yourself Mrs D.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The Food Issue thing is so interesting I'm part of a Healthy Mum's facbook page that follow a diet and exercise plan. For me food's never been too much of issue I just need to get back into shape. But I see lots of people posting on there and they sound just as fraught as the people on sober sites like HSM when they fall off the wagon. Addiction is addiction just the poison differs. But yes you still need to eat so the temptation must be so hard. As always love reading your stuff. I'm only on day 11 of my second serious attempt - wish I'd found you sooner.

    ReplyDelete