(Below are all the posts I wrote in my sixth 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 February 2012 - "Child-free weekends spent blotto"
My mum has been giving us child-free weekends ever since we started breeding. It's my standing birthday present, a weekend off whenever we like in the year and she'll move into our house to look after our kids - how awesome is that! An opportunity to rest, relax and reconnect with Mr D away from needy offspring.
The first time we did it we left our new baby in the suburbs and went to stay in a fancy boutique hotel in the city. It was so fancy I ordered a lavender pillow from the 'Pillow Menu' left in the bedroom! Then I got shitfaced on wine, some gin or whiskey (I can't remember) from the mini bar and finally a Baileys in the bath. Then I fell into bed and slept like crap breathing alcohol fumes all over the fancy pillow, negating any lovely soporific effects it supposedly had. The next day I was hungover as hell and felt quietly miserable (the niggling knowledge that I had a drinking problem was probably just a tiny spec at this point, but there nonetheless). Second night we went out to a restaurant for dinner where I probably valiantly tried to drink heaps again because That's What You Do! When You're Out! Without Kids! Celebrating! Drink, Mrs D, Drink!
You know that kind of heavy drinking never made anything more fun. I can see that now.
Went home more tired than before, feeling like crap and trying to make my mother believe that we'd had a wonderful break.
Another one of these weekends we went by ferry to a Island near the mainland and stayed in a Bed & Breakfast place and got hammered on wine the first night and again slept like crap .. hungover the next day ... (am I relaxing here?).
Two other weekends away with Mum left in charge I was pregnant so no chance to booze freely. But not drinking because you're pregnant doesn't feel the same as not drinking because you choose not to drink. I don't know why.
So this weekend just gone was the first one where I actually felt like I took full advantage of what mum was offering. I had such fun at the wedding. There was a spell in the middle where I felt quite conspicuously sober - there was a lull in proceedings and everyone was just boozing and piss-talking which I was finding it hard to join in with. But once the sun went down it didn't matter that I was sober, I just joined in the loose talk and had a great time!
And one of the absolute highlights of the weekend for me was lying in bed with Mr D the following morning drinking cups of tea and chatting away happily for an hour or so until we had to get up and check out. We looked out to the courtyard of our eco-motel with grass growing on the roof and the triffid cactus and talked about the wedding, his work, my studies, the kids, or whatever. It was great!
Love, Mrs D xxx
11 February 2012 - "Yet another sober Friday night"
So Friday night rolls around now and I don't really think about having a drink, I mean I do kind of think about having a drink, in a 'isn't it interesting that I'm not hankering for a drink' kind of thinking about drinking way. So I'm not not thinking about it. I'm thinking about it, but not in a struggling-thinking way.
Great writing there but you get my drift.
Quick check and I'm 158 days sober. My first day sober was September 6 so March 6 will be six months. Oh. I thought I was nearly 6 months. I've been telling people that I'm six months sober. But now I see it's only just over 5 months. That's a bit deflating. But irrelevant I suppose. I keep reading other people's blogs and they're celebrating 2 years and I always WISH that I was two years sober.
I've also kept reading that the 6 month mark is a tough one for some reason. So I'll brace myself for that. I would love to be floating on a pink cloud like I was a few months back. Where I felt so clever and special and invincible and Happy! to have kicked the drink. Now my steady state is proud but low key. Humble and a bit ...flat? No, not flat. Low-key, that's all.
But there's nofuckingway I'm going to drink. Just to make that clear.
My new fancy hairdresser (lovely woman but the salon oh-so-trendy and the prices!!! Yikes!!!) offered me a glass of wine on Thursday and I said no thanks with a smile and then momentarily felt really boring. Normally with friends or acquaintances I'd launch in with an explanation about how I'd kicked the drink with well-worn lines like 'I was just finding it harder and harder to control so thought I'd remove it altogether' and 'I was a real boozer but I'm so much happier now'. But at the salon that wasn't really appropriate so I was just left with the feeling of being someone who turned down a treaty glass of wine at 4.15pm on a Thursday. She'd asked with such a cheeky, fun air too.
Love, Mrs D xxx
14 February 2012 - "Why no AA for me?"
Every now and then people post comments here (usually after I've talked about feeling like a lonely non-drinking loser) that I should get myself to an AA meeting to feel the love from a group of like-minded soberistas (I made that word up).
And I had a lovely comment recently from someone who said they thought it was 'amazing' that I was doing this sober thing on my own without the support of a group or sponsor. That was very nice to hear. I do feel proud of myself, definitely, that I am doing this. But not proud because I'm doing it alone. I think I'd feel just as proud if I was going to meetings every Tuesday and calling a sponsor when I needed or having coffees with other group members.
Because whether you do it with the support of a group or do it with just the support of friends and family ultimately you're just doing it alone aren't you? We all have to find our own inner strength to stop boozing. At the end of the day no-one else can stop you from lifting your arm, bending it at the elbow, putting a glass to your lips and pouring alcohol down your throat, can they?
I have actually looked at the local AA website and seen where meetings are in my area and there's one at the church opposite where I go to the gym. But I've never contemplated going. Yes I feel a bit nervous about parking and walking in, I'll be honest about that. But more to the point is that I don't feel like I need to bring other lovely strangers into my world to help me do this. That's it really. I know those strangers could quite easily become friends, and believe me I love meeting new people, but I'm ok with who I've got round me right now.
And BIG TIME blogger has played a HUGE part in my recovery. Writing this blog, thinking of it as a diary to chart my feelings and emotions has been REALLY helpful (use of caps to emphasise point!). Thinking about things that happen, or what I am feeling at any given time, then writing it down into words is a very powerful tool for me. Those words linger with me for days, my own words. And then... the words of others commenting to me! What a joy! And I can comment back! Reading about other sober bloggers struggles and victories is also very helpful and reassuring. I don't feel alone.
So that's why I don't do AA. But I tell you what. If I relapse, or if I stumble or falter on this path of staying sober, I will be running to that church and camping on the doorstep until the next meeting starts. I'm not a complete idiot and if extra support and the addition of local like-minded sober battlers is what I need to make sure I stay a non-drinker then an AA member I'll become. You can hold me to that.
Love, Mrs D xxx
16 February 2012 - "Booze soaked television"
Sat folding washing and watching Geordie Shore on MTV last night, the UK version of Jersey Shore, with a sick feeling in my stomach. My god! These kids are getting paid to leave their families, get overly-tarted up (think spray tans & tight clothes) and go stay in a house together that is decorated in a very urban stripped-back cutting edge style with huge artworks and funky furniture, a hot-tub and 'shag pad' and a million cameras and microphones.
Then they proceed to get shit-faced on booze almost every night, go clubbing, have faux-dramatic arguments with each other and have lots and lots of sex. Booze and sex. That's the entertainment.
I've said before that I am a huge fan of Reality TV for the real emotion that it can engender and the window on other people's worlds that it can offer. I enjoy it for it's voyeuristic elements but also for the people watching that I can do from the comfort of my couch (sans wine, as was my usual evening TV watching companion).
I understand that it is the participants emotional highs and lows that make Reality TV what it is. That the normal life (in the case of docu-soaps) or constructed tasks (in the case of game-docs) are just the packaging around the real stars - the ordinary people who are the focus of the programme. How do they cope? What choices do they make? How are they affected? How do they interact with others? What are they saying? What are they doing? That's the stuff I love. When the tears come on Reality TV they're real tears, and I have joined in and have cried many a time when exhausted couples are being booted off The Amazing Race or Jade Goody talks of her battle with cancer on her own personal docu-soap. (The Kardashians don't count any more, it's not real - they're acting).
But I'm sorry - what do the producers of Geordie Shore, or Jersey Shore for that matter, think they are doing in trying to force emotion by plying these young people with buckets and buckets of booze? They're crying, they're slurring, they're shagging, they're falling over, they're vomiting in the toilet, they're just all totally hammered, and this was just in Episode 1! Is this entertainment? It's certainly car-crash television and me not watching isn't going to stop it being made (or is it?) so continue to watch I will. And worry. And thank the good lord in heaven I'm not boozing heavily any more.
Coz yeah, I'm a recovering alcoholic who views alcohol completely differently now to how I used to. But while I've gotten drunk and cried, slurred, shagged, fallen over, vomited into the toilet on more than one occasions it was always a private, personal endeavour. I was never enticed to do so by fame, money and a bunch of TV executives who should know better.
There's a rant for ya.
Mrs D xxx
17 February 2012 - "Terrible guilt and feeling dysfunctional"
... these are the things that saved me.
I saw a friend for a coffee today and she told me about a friend of hers whose husband's drinking is causing immense grief. He's boozing heavily, hiding it, lying about it. She's trying to talk to him about it, and has threatened to leave and take the kids with her, but he's aggressive and in denial, and he says she's uptight and won't let him be himself. He doesn't seem to feel any guilt or think of himself as having a problem. I don't get that! Is he lying to her or is he lying to himself? This is an attitude that I just cannot relate to.
For me it was the overwhelming guilt and feeling of being a terrible dysfunctional drinker that got me to stop. The guilt, the guilt, the guilt, it tormented me loudly and clearly after each drinking session. I couldn't not be brutally honest with myself. It was blatantly clear to me the increasing speed with which I was drinking and amounts that I was downing. And of course the twisted internal dialogue I had going on with regards to my beloved wine. It was a sickness in my head that I simultaneously embraced (while drinking) and repelled against (when not).
Thank fucking hell that the voice telling me that this was 'WRONG, WRONG, WRONG' was stronger than the voice that told me to 'Drink Mrs D! Drink!'.
Why did that happen for me? And why doesn't it happen for others? What can be done about this bloke who is ruining his relationship and damaging his kids (probably) yet doesn't or won't accept that there is a problem. Does he really genuinely think there is no problem, despite that he pisses his pants on regular occasions? I do not get it.
Love, Mrs D xxx
P.S. Pissing my pants while drunk is one thing that I NEVER did - hooray for me (not).
19 February 2012 - "Girls dinner out"
Went out for a friends birthday dinner last night. Five of us, all mums, with 18 kids between us! (Left at home with the Dads I hasten to add). I had volunteered to be the taxi driver as we all live within a few blocks of each other. I started the pick-ups at 7.30pm so we all had time to settle our kids down and get ourselves a little bit glammed up.
In the past this would be quite a problematic time for me, going out at 7.30, because I used to begin my drinking at 5pm. My drinking habit in the final few years was an at-home solo endeavour. Quite a private, steady, heavy drinking habit. Not fall-over wasted most of the time, but easily a bottle and a bit every second night. No-one but Mr D was aware of how regular this steady, heavy drinking was (and even he took a long time to come round to understanding when I was trying to tell him how dysfunctional it was becoming).
So yeah .. on a night like this one I would have had to try very hard to slow myself down beforehand and limit my pre-outing drinks to just 2 or so. And then while out I would have had to try very hard to not drink as quickly as I usually would and 'out' myself as a boozer (unless it was a boozy group in which case I'd go for it).
We got to the restaurant last night and they took a while choosing what wine to order during which I did feel a bit self-conscious which was annoying. Still getting used to being the non-drinker I suppose. None of them seemed fazed however, they know all about my new sober life (I talk about it very openly to take any heat out of gossip or guess-work about how bad I was), and the birthday girl ordered me a Lemon, Lime and Bitters after ordering their Sauvignon Blanc.
Once the drinks arrived it was fine and I didn't care at all that I wasn't drinking the wine. I could smell it though! And more interesting was that they all sipped away SO SLOWLY!!!!!!! Man, they were like snails getting through that one bottle. Bloody hell. I thought 'don't they want to drink and get all excited that they're out child free celebrating a birthday??!!' Clearly not. Then I thought 'oh no, that just used to be my attitude'.
They did order a second bottle, so two bottles in total between 4 of them. It noticably loosened them up a tiny bit, probably because they wouldn't normally drink half a bottle of wine (!) but really it was a very moderate session.
After we left the restaurant (Japanese, tasty) we went up the road to a busy, trendy bar and ordered coffees and hot chocolates and laughed while watching the hip, young crowd drinking, chatting, flirting and dancing. Then then I drove us all home.
Then - to top off my unusually mature behaviour - I washed my face and put on night cream!!!!!!!!!!! Who am I?????????
Sober Mrs D, that's who.
22 February 2012 - "Grumpy (a drink sure would help)"
There, I said it. Sorry. I could come here and rave away and be clever sober Mrs D but the truth is today I am tired and hot and grumpy and a nice glass or two of wine to slightly blur my feelings would be nice.
I'm grumpy because today is the first anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed 185 people and really munted my home town (the aftermath still affects my loved ones a great deal), I'm grumpy because a friend said two thoughtless, insensitive and hurtful things that I haven't been able to let go of, I'm grumpy because I'm really tired from having just hosted four extra people in our downstairs room for 3 nights, I'm grumpy because I have three young sons who I look after full time and each of them think the world revolves around their needs and their needs alone (like all kids I know) and today I'm sick of their noise and demands, I'm grumpy because I've been alone the last two nights and have done stupid binge eating (a huge bowl of cornflakes with 4 desert spoons of sugar on it at 9pm in bed, hello??????!!!!!!!!!), and I'm grumpy because it's bloody hot and muggy.
So yeah, basically I just feel shitty and because I'm a stupid recovering boozer I can't have a drink or two.
But because this is a blog that 'helps me stay sober' (my own stupid words) I'm going to take this opportunity to make a couple of lists.
All the good things I have ...
1) An extremely clean bathroom and loo (that's what I do now when I'm struggling - I clean. Just spent 45 mins with my yellow gloves on)
2) Three crazy, energetic, engaging, loving little bundles of joy - my sons (little shits - oops, sorry!)
3) A kind, supportive, loving, understanding, stimulating, cool and interesting husband
4) A body that has slimmed down a little and feels much healthier now I'm not working like a demon to process lots of red wine
5) A healthy degree of self respect from having confronted my demons
All the lovely steps I take to look after myself now I don't guzzle wine like it's going out of fashion ...
1) I drink green tea and eat homemade muesli in the morning instead of necking panadol and sculling a huge mug of instant coffee to deal with a hangover
2) I am taking better care of my skin and use cleanser now in the shower in the mornings and wash my face at night and put night cream on (most of the time)
3) I have an oil burner on my kitchen windowsill and keep a good stock of tea-light candles in the cupboard and when I feel like it I light the candle and burn some lovely lavender oil
4) I exercise regularly but now I don't drag my sorry ass around the gym with sick guts or a headache, so I feel fitter and stronger
5) I play tunes on YouTube, turn the speakers up loud and dance around the living room (current faves Lady Gaga - Edge of Glory and David Guetta feat Usher - Without You. You try it!)
Yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah. Still hot and tired and grumpy. But the desire to drink is buggering off. At least one thing I do now know is that this is just a grumpy mood and sometimes grumpy moods just come along. And if I stay patient (and sober) the grump will pass and I'll feel better again soon. Harrumph.
Love, Mrs D xxx
25 February 2012 - "New companions in sobriety"
I was a very easygoing, steady, upbeat woman proud of her even temperament and low-maintenance behaviour. I used to comment (proudly) to Mr D that I was an 'easy wife'. I wasn't often grumpy or tense or tearful or brittle. I cruised along for the most part.
Great, successful way to live, right? Only problem - I managed all of that by self-medicating my negative emotions away with wine. I had softened the edges, evened my personality out by being a steady, heavy wine drinker. Not prone to almighty binges (not because I didn't hit it extra hard sometimes, because I could handle and process large amounts of alcohol) but absolutely reliant on wine as an emotional coping aid.
(Quick side-note: some people try and make me feel better about my boozing now by reassuring me that I wasn't a 'terrible alcoholic'. Their definition of 'terrible alcoholic' is someone who crashed cars, vomited in public, lost jobs or kids, made a public spectacle of themselves or in some way hit a spectacular rock bottom that everyone witnessed. I've had to get forceful to explain to them how 'alcoholic' my steady heavy private drinking was.)
Anyway, almost six months ago I decided to remove my beloved wine (my medication of choice), just Take It Away! and as a result Mr D and I have some new house-mates that we are getting used to living with.
Grumpy Mrs D. If you read my last post you met her. She gets shitty, usually about tangable things like tiredness, demanding kids, MA stress or hormones (time of the month). That was another one of my statements before sobriety - 'I don't really get hormonal'. Yeah, well now I understand why that was.
Sad Mrs D. She gets melancholy sometimes, feels flat and a bit low. Some bits of life are just sad, that's a fact.
Impatient Mrs D. Most often comes out when the kids are ... well, being just kids. Or when annoying things happen like computers crap out.
Self-absorbed Mrs D. Oh my god I'm sick of her! She is so obsessed with herself and the fact she gave up wine. Get over yourself girl, you're not that special. I think I'm going to have to stop blogging one day just to stop talking about myself all the time.
But not yet! And this is not a doom and gloom post. No way. Meet my other new companions.
Strong Mrs D. I'm proud of her.
Honest Mrs D. People are inspired by that.
Sensitive Mrs D. She can relate.
Loving Mrs D. I feel this more intensely. Love for my family. Love for my friends. Love for myself.
Real Mrs D. Warts and all, here I am.
28 February 2012 - "Inspirational sober people"
I just want to offer appreciation to all the other bloggers I follow, people who share their ups and downs and points along their sober journey. I really really appreciate all of you for being there on my Dashboard with your posts about how things are going for you all. I am trying to comment as much as I can, as I know how much I appreciate when you do to me. Time is getting more brief now that I have started writing my MA. But I am always going to make time for my blog and other people's blogs as this is my AA in a sense.
And as I've said before I really love all you anonymous people who visit and tell me that you appreciate hearing how I am doing this sober thing. That's cool. You can all do this you know. We all can. It is entirely possible to live a life without alcohol.
I realise now that I don't spend a lot of time yearning to drink any more. I have just adopted a firm 'that's the way it has to be' attitude with regards to living dry. So I try not to indulge in imagining sipping a glass of wine or going out drinking instead of going out sober. I still feel flat sometimes and worried that I'm boring at events, but I'm hoping that will pass. Most of my energy is spent getting used to living with emotions stripped bare. That the main thing I think about.
Christopher Kennedy Lawford is here in New Zealand speaking around the country on beating addiction. Man he hit it hard. I heard a clip from him on the radio today, a promotion for a long interview that will run on Saturday, and in it he was saying he took loads and loads of drugs every day for 15 years. Then he said 'it is possible to stop. And it is possible to still be the mad fun person that you were' (or words to that affect). I liked the sound of that. It's speaks to the desire I have to still feel like naughty, fun Mrs D.
Also just read 'Happy Accidents' by Jane Lynch the coach from Glee. It was the fact that she lives sober now that got me to her book, I always like reading about other people's paths to sobriety. She says she was 'struck sober' one day. I thought that was cool. Once she decided to stop she just stopped, went to AA for a long time but doesn't any more because she feels she's locked in her non-drinking habit. I love that her mind seems like a steel trap that she can exercise at will and bend to form the new habits she wants to form. She's a woman totally in control of her own life. Cool! Got a couple of book suggestions from her that I'm going to follow up on. Oh, and I'm reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, that's a great book about taking control of your life. I like that she offers loads of detail about lots of little things she did to make positive changes.
That's it for now. We have a tummy bug in the house so I think I'll be up a bit tonight holding buckets and rubbing little boys backs. Oh joy. See ya.
Love, Mrs D xxx
1 March 2012 - "Don't be so cocky Mrs D"
So that was stupid. In writing my last post I inadvertently waved a red flag to my inner alcoholic bull (OH, CUT THAT OUT!). Sorry. Try again. In writing my last post I jinxed myself by stating that oh-so-clever and sober me didn't let herself imagine sipping a glass of wine any more.
Well my tricky mind decided it couldn't let that statement go by and I felt it nudging, nudging, nudging the memory until I was finding myself imagining sipping a glass of wine. Holding it. Lifting it to my lips. Drinking. Drinking. Drinking. Bloody hell. What was this? A yearning? Then last night Mr D was having a few wines (from bottles I had magnanimously ordered for him in the online grocery shop) and I was back to the early days of sobriety where they kept confronting me at every turn. There it was beside the computer. There it was on the bench. There it was at the dinner table. Wine! Wine in a glass! Oh how easy it would be to lift and sip. But no. Sucks. Sucks to be me. (No it doesn't).
Then today I went in to the University to attend an information seminar for post-graduates (moderately useful) and after the session there was an informal wine and cheese function for people to chat and share ideas or whatever. I found myself getting nervous and pre-occupied with the fact that I couldn't see any orange juice, only 4 bottles of red wine and two bottles of white. After a minute I just grabbed an olive and ran.
Sigh. Just the reality. Just the reality of me being different from most in society in that I don't touch alcohol at all any more. Here I go obsessing and feeling sorry for myself again.
I've got another wedding coming up in 3 weeks. That's the 3rd in the six months since I've kicked the booze. I don't normally attend many weddings, this is just a freak of timing in my life. The Hens Party for this latest one is in 2 weeks. The evening starts with cocktail making lessons at an inner-city hotel (purple feather boas compulsory, gulp). Cocktail making, then dinner, followed by dancing. You know, I would love to make it to the nightclub stage as I am really into having discos at home with the kids playing hits off You Tube. But can I get through the boozing beforehand with a bunch of people I don't really know, all the while being stone cold sober? I'll let ya know.
Oh, and a couple of updates;
Cigarettes - haven't touched one since the last wedding and don't intend to. Stupid thing to have even started doing. Not going to replace one addiction with another.
Body - Not back to the weight I was when I was boozing heavily but I have put a bit back on recently. This is due to being a little piggy. But overall I am still a slightly slimmer version of myself than I was six months ago and my face is definitely less puffy.
Love, Mrs D xxx
4 March 2012 - "I admit, things have to be different"
I think I'm only just realising this. For the past six months I've been convinced that my life will stay exactly the same but just with the booze taken out. I was going to turn sober but my lifestyle wasn't. I was going to keep going to everything, doing everything, living in every way the same but just without the wine.
One of my big techniques was to not let alcohol give any event it's currency, but to see that event as having a currency of its own that I could still participate in. (A fun party is fun because of the fun music and conversations, not because it means you can get pissed, a celebratory toast between humans is lovely and joyous because you're sharing a special celebration with other humans, not because the liquid in the glass is alcoholic etc etc...)
I was determined that this would be so. I read Jason Vale and this was his big push - don't be miserable and 'dry', staying at home and counting the days since you last had a drink, feeling left out and boring. Go out! (he said) and show the world that you're still just as fun as ever, that you don't need the booze to lift you up!
So that's what I've been trying to do, and for the most part it works, but at the same time I'm wrestling with the fact that I feel different, that 'naughty, fun, Mrs D' is fading and I'm mourning her loss (why can't I seem to take the word 'naughty' out of that description?)
People often comment on here to me 'put your sobriety first' and 'nothing is more important than your sobriety' and to be honest I've always thought to myself 'oh the fact that I'm sober isn't the leading factor in my life, it's just a little sub-plot'. Maybe I just felt more clever than that.
Sigh. Well, here goes folks. For all you amazing people with 1, 2, 3 or more years off the sauce watching my revelations unfold here in the blogosphere, and for those of you following behind me, I'm six months into it and I'm finally saying 'things have to be different'.
I'm going to not do things if being sober at them is going to be too difficult. I'm not going to put myself through that. Even if it means sitting at home with a mixture of emotions. Even if it means friends are going to comment or become aware that I've changed.
I have changed. I don't drink any more. Sorry. And you do. That makes me different. I am different now. And so is my life. And I'm crying now, shit those tears were unexpected, I can't believe this. But this is why I write this blog. Because it helps me. This is a sad realisation, but I'm hoping it's a dip in the curve of my new sober life and there will be a different sort of peak as time goes on.
Because I'm aiming high. I really mean it when I say I'm never going to drink again. So here at six months I admit my lifestyle will change. I look forward to seeing at 1 year, 2 years, 3 years what that change will be.
Love, Mrs D xxx