Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I seem to be going through a bit of a low phase after my extreme 'oh wow I'm so wonderful what a fabulous strong sober person I am' phase .. now I'm kind of feeling like actually I'm that boring loser that thinks they're really cool but actually is kind of self obsessed and boring and a kill joy.

Just because I'm hearing stories from girlfriends about fun Friday night wine sessions - pizzas! laughing! dancing with the kids! getting a bit lippy! - and have just received an invitation to a big going away party (the bloke who is leaving says to Mr D 'tell Mrs D to get a babysitter and come along! be great to have her there!').  Yeah.  I could do that ... but it's at my old workplace, a high stress, high performance, high-wired, highly fun, boozy environment and as much as I'd really like to go along and prove that I am still that person it will be a party all about getting hammered and I'd feel a bit sheepish and nervous that it'll be the new sober me showing up not the old fun party girl.

Woe is me.  Harden up. Ups and Downs. Ups and Downs. Life. Normal life. Normal sober life.

Some good things:

Got some fabulous new cookbooks for my birthday - really enjoying making some tasty new things! (crunchy carrot salad with coriander and almonds and a lemony dressing, Moroccan chick pea salad with green beans, chocolate pikelets!)

Getting warmer here in NZ - am about to start tidying up the garden in this house we are renting and plant some herbs and flowers. Am buying the boys a trampoline.

Lots of smiley faces wherever I go in this community. Building up lots of new contacts and look forward to getting to know some people better (and them me).

Got some nice second-hand gumboots at the school gala on Saturday - good for gardening and next year's rugby season (sideline supporter me). Also got a nice hat, some ginger crunch, some new cassette tapes for the car (Michael Jackson, America, The Eagles, Queen), a great crafty cushion and some Russian fudge.

Some fun new shows have started on the tele - Amazing Race, The Block, Married to Jonas. Reality TV addict me.


Love, Mrs D xxx

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Goodbye & Hello

I think talking to myself is something that I have done a lot to get to where I am now.  I wrote in an earlier post about a letter I wrote to myself on the morning that I stopped drinking forever. And just the other night while Mr D was out I found in my bedside drawer another letter I wrote to myself.

I think this one was written a few months before I stopped forever when I knew there was a big issue and I was trying very hard to moderate.  But it's a bit goofy because I am just talking to myself and use my own name throughout...!  I will reprint it here but do know that I was using my real first name, not Mrs D.

It's written in blue biro on two pages of a reporters notebook. One page is headed 'Goodbye' and the other 'Hello'. There are capital letters and underlining throughout.


- To the 'rebellious' Mrs D
- To the Mrs D who throws common sense out the window when it comes to drinking
- To the Mrs D who ignores the inner voice that knows it is stupid
- To hangovers, headaches + sick guts
- To wasting time worrying + beating myself up about drinking
- Say goodbye to a need to GET HAMMERED every time I drink
- To telling myself 'stuff it' it's ok to pound it harder
- Say goodbye to allowing the HUNGER for drink to dominate
- Say goodbye to thinking the only way to have a good time is by drinking LOTS FAST
- Say goodbye to the old Mrs D
- Grow up, move on, embrace a different second half of your life


- Say hello to the Mrs D you want to be for the rest of your life
- Say hello to a Mrs D who is grown up, reliable & sensible when it comes to drink
- Say hello to a Mrs D who is happy to stop drinking when the feeling is enough (think about going to bed, sleeping + waking up in the morning)
- think about that image of the person you want to be. Who feels together, sorted
- Hello to a mother who is not going to cause her sons any worry or harm
- Drink slower. Enjoy it. Remember the effect is delayed. STOP.

My boys are watching a dinosaur programme on Animal Planet in the room next door. The house smells of the delicious seedy dukkah I just made (for the first time). It is Saturday morning and I do not have a hangover. Hello, hello, hello.

Love, Mrs D xxxx

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A journey home

Two years ago we went on a holiday over a long weekend, driving for 4 hours to meet a bunch of old friends for a long weekend. These are other couples we've known since we've all started having kids. Lovely people.  It was 3 days of drinking and eating and chatting and catching up and playing games with the kids and just hanging out in a big holiday park together.

It wasn't a great time for me. I don't know what exactly was going on back home at that time - usual busy life nothing special.  Certainly a lot of drinking, this was me heading into my last year of heavy drinking when my intake was  really starting to escalate and it was getting harder and harder to control the amount of wine I poured down my throat.

Photos from the weekend show a puffy, unhealthy me wearing clothes that were badly chosen and ill-fitting.

The first night I tried to create some kind of crazy boozy party buzz which really just means I was getting hammered and willing others along with me and my enthusiastic attitude to wine.  There were a few that hit it along with me but all in all the night was a mostly gentle one and I vividly recall at the end feeling a bit flat that it was over and I had to head for bed.

I don't know what I was wanting? I had the people, the environment, the holiday but I couldn't settle into that.  I had to chase that boozy high that doesn't actually give you anything you don't have already in front of you.

On the last night I just went for it without caring that no-one else was. Hell for leather drinking.  Pestering others to get wine out of their units after ours had gone.  Talking total rubbish. Slurring.  Noticeably dysfunctional. Wrong. Stumbling into our unit at midnight completely and utterly written off.  Crouching over the toilet vomiting vomiting vomiting.  Lost a dearly beloved earring that holiday and I'm sure it went down the toilet along with the contents of my stomach.

The next day I put on the facade of being ok, packed up our unit and got the kids into the car. Waved goodbye to our lovely friends and drove for four hours back home.  It was an awful journey home. I cried all the way. I felt unhealthy. I felt dysfunctional. I felt sad. I felt lost and I had this nagging gritty burning feeling that things just weren't right here and something had to change.

Just under a year later after growing that nagging, gritty burning feeling into a staunch determination and making a huge decision I drank my last drink and became sober.

And now, this weekend just gone. Same blueprint, same holiday. Same friends, same holiday park.  Different me.

Photos just downloaded onto our computer show a more slender me. A more alert me. A happier me.  But the photos don't do it justice.

The feeling that I had as I drove the car home yesterday, remembering that same journey home two years ago, and feeling as I do now, was UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE. If I could take that feeling, bottle it and sell it online I'd be a very rich woman. I felt happy. Healthy. In control. Strong. A better friend. A better wife. A better mother. I felt calm and I felt settled.

Mostly I just feel so very thankful that I have been able to discover that a life without alcohol is totally possible. Nothing is less fun, ever, if you do it sober.

Sorry about the smug tones in this post but I just had to share.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm not that kind of alcoholic

I never stumbled drunkenly down the street out in full view of the public (mind you, if there'd been a camera in my house late at night you would have witnessed a fair amount of stumbling).

I certainly never drank so much that you'd ever see me vomit (always managed to get inside the house and kneel over the toilet if I ever did go that little bit too far).

I never lost any terribly important belongings when out on a bender (lucky I don't count favourite earrings as important, or that pager I once lost on the streets of London).

My drinking never affected my ability to work a job competently (although I always enthusiastically participated in work drinks).

I held down very successful interpersonal relationships despite my heavy drinking thank-you-very-much (but it's amazing how much better, stronger and more real they feel now).

I didn't go broke because I spent all our money on wine (but we are saving hundreds of dollars every month now that I don't constantly buy the stuff, not to mention all those painkillers to deal with the headaches).

I never had a face reddened by broken capillaries or terribly bloodshot eyes (although looking back I did have a certain puffiness to my appearance that has now completely gone!).

I never offended anyone while loaded to the point where I had to apologise to them the next day (but I did spend a lot of time in my own head wishing, wishing, wishing I hadn't said that thing I said the night before).

No-one ever had to talk to me about my drinking, asking if I worried about how much I drank or telling me to cut back (only because drinking steadily and heavily is totally accepted in our society and for a long time I didn't let on to anyone how dysfunctional and unhealthy my drinking was becoming).

I was in complete control. (I wasn't in the slightest, truth be told. I had no control over how much I drank. Once I started, that was it, I was on a mission to get more in me...get more in me...get more in me).

I was happy being a drinker! (I wasn't actually).

Ok, so maybe I am that kind of alcoholic. Whatever that kind of alcoholic is. If that kind of alcoholic is the kind I describe in parenthesis above, then that kind of alcoholic I am.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Wow you should really check the new video out on the Crying Out Now website, there's some incredibly foxy ladies in it (!! ha ha !!).  No but seriously this site is a godsend and was very helpful to me in my early days.  I remember watching their first video and crying looking at all the strong sober women holding up their signs (maybe it was the Katy Perry song that got my tears flowing).

I do agree with a lot of what Ellie is writing here about changing the way the world thinks about what an alcoholic is.  The word has such a stigma attached to it. So much so that even though I do think I am an alcoholic (someone who cannot control their alcohol intake) I hardly ever say that out loud.

I'm very open about telling people that I have a problem with booze and that's why I don't drink it.  I told a woman who I hardly know while were were on holiday, and I also told a new neighbourhood friend at a school quiz night the other night. But when I do this I don't say 'I'm an alcoholic'. I say 'I have a problem with alcohol' or 'I was finding it hard to control so I cut it out altogether' or 'I was drinking too much and I'm better off without it in my life'.

I very rarely say 'I'm an alcoholic' because it just sounds so full on and dramatic, and like there's a whole lot of really dark and terrible shit in my past, like I was a disheveled, slurring, sloppy, stumbling loser, out on the streets or lurking in seedy bars.  When in actual fact when I was drinking far too much I was a tidy, outwardly normal suburban mum. One whose slurring, sloppy, stumbling loser tendencies were confined to the privacy of her own home.

And this is the whole point - no? There are so many of us alcoholics who don't fit the dirty homeless  stereotype - yet we keep the stereotype in place because we don't identify as alcoholics publicly.

Does the word matter?  Do I have to use the word alcoholic? Can't I say 'problem drinker' or 'dysfunctional drinker' if I want?  At least I'm being open.

One other thing Ellie said in her post kind of freaked me out though.. she says 'I don't think that one can stay sober long term completely online.'  Well holy shit, I'm doomed. Online support is all I do.  Am I destined to start drinking again if I don't seek out face-to-face support??  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Don't let it be so!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, October 12, 2012

Using my techniques

I realise I'm still using my techniques hard out.  Yesterday was a tough day, long day with the kids being whiny and moany, just feeling a bit flat and lonely, definitely felt like I could use a little something 'for me' as the day was drawing to a close.  I don't automatically think of wine at 5 o'clock any more.. but it is definitely a time of the day when blood sugar/energy/patience levels are down.  There has to be a reason for cocktail hour doesn't there.

So I realised I was doing that technique where I look 'through' those tricky hours 5-7pm and visualise myself doing something lovely for me after the kids are down and the house is in order and the work is done. This was something I had to be very conscious of doing in the early days when I was retraining my brain to operate without wine. I visualise myself doing something lovely (sober) later on and it gets me through.

Sometimes it's climbing into bed with a book. Sometimes it's having a bubble bath. Sometimes it's lying on the sofa with a cup of tea and a biscuit watching the news which has been recorded earlier, or the Kardashians. Sometimes it's getting the cookbooks out and planning some meals. Sometimes it's going online for some shopping or reading of blogs.  Whatever it is it's for me and it's me doing it sober.

I actually had a 'pang' yesterday which was annoying. I was thinking about Christmas Day and suddenly had a sad feeling like something would be missing (bubbles or some sort of alcohol presumably). I was pissed off, haven't had sad pangs like that for a while. So I had to work my grey matter hard to think about Christmas day, really think about it and picture it all lovely and warm and fun despite no alcohol going down my throat. Of course it will be! I'm not going to give alcohol all the power to make anything in my life fun. Alcohol doesn't have the power to make anything better for me.  Bloody alcohol.  So I 'thought' that pang away and do now have an image in my mind of a lovely Christmas Day rich with love and food and treats where I am sober.

I've got to keep working my techniques and thinking positively and keeping my brain sharp and alert.

Now, time for a cup of green tea and some thesis writing......

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, October 8, 2012

Holiday snapshots...

So I think holidays are always going to be a little difficult. Difficult because you're away from your routines and security. And difficult because there are lots more social occasions and reasons to drink. There was a lot of drinking around me over the past 9 days. Did I want a drop ever? Never.

Some sober snapshots from my first trip back home:

1) Out to dinner at a restaurant.  Ordered a mocktail. Bartender bought a cocktail over.  Shit. Sent it back. Took another 20 minutes before the alcohol-free version arrived.

2) Someone I don't know terribly well popped over for a visit.  Everyone was having a wine and I was handed a bright green lime drink. She said 'you're not drinking?' to which I replied in a very matter of fact manner.. 'Nope.  Got a problem with it.  Was finding it too hard to control so I stopped altogether over a year ago'. The look on her face was priceless - she was stumped! It was great. Lay it out so baldly and you take away any heat or mystery. We moved on pretty quickly to talk about something else. Felt awesome.

3) Dinner party at someone's house. Pudding was strawberries soaked in liqueur. Felt some pressure to eat it. Asked the chef how much alcohol was in it. Was told 'a tiny bit' but having it sit there all liquid and raw freaked me out.  Decided in the moment given the potential for tension and offending the chef and making a drama that I'd have four small strawberry quarters carefully drained.  Drank two huge glasses of water with it. My first experience of such an issue.  I now have a new line in the sand - won't have any food with alcohol in it that hasn't been cooked down.

4) Drank some alcohol-free sparkling grape juice at a dinner that was so like the real thing I felt very very strange about it. It honestly tasted like booze. It was a weird sensory experience.  Wasn't nice, unsettling.

5) Was asked by someone to bring their wine upstairs as we were getting ready to go out.  It was a long walk up those stairs with that glass in my hand.  I held my arm out in front of me a bit.

6) I slept badly on a selection of beds and sofa beds (3 different houses).  Grew progressively more tired as the holiday went on but still woke up every single morning happy with no hangover.  Holidays like this in the past have been an endless succession of miserable hangovers.

7) A party on the last night with a crowd that is traditionally very boozy.  Was the last thing I felt like doing, but drank a very large sugar-free red bull on the way over, got a second wind and had a lovely, chatty, fun evening - dropping people off on the way home at midnight! Once again proving to myself that I do not need wine to have fun. I do not need wine at all.

Love, Mrs D xxx