Saturday, November 3, 2012

Slippery world...

It's amazing to me really that after more than a year of living sober I'm still learning how to do it. I shouldn't be surprised given I spent 20+ years using lovely wine as an emotional-smooth-all, obviously it's going to take longer than just 1 measly year to entrench new life strategies.

These aren't strategies for the smooth times. Like recently how I've been firing on all cylinders, fist pumping the air with my oh-so-strong-and-clever-sober-me hat on, rah rah rah-ing about how great it is to live sober.

This is the times when one or two little things happen, my amour gets chinked a little or some stress or sadness or something comes into the picture and ... suddenly I'm a little low. Not crazy bad, but low none the less. Flat. Smiling less often. Everything feeling just a bit harder, needing a bit more effort.

I'm sure this is normal but honestly this is new for me. This. is. new. for. me.  Wine was my great leveler. I didn't have lows like this. I used to pride myself on always being upbeat! Not naval gazing! Not moody or hormonal! Oh great easy-going me! Wine gave me that. It took a fuck of a lot away as well but it gave me a state of same-ness that I no longer have.

It's amazing to think that drinking steadily like I did has that much affect on your life but this has been the great journey of discovery I've been on since I became sober. It's astounding to me how taking the wine away has led to so many changes including me having these low patches. They feel entirely new to me. I need new strategies to cope with them.

I was reading an article about the show Nurse Jackie and apparently the new season has the pill-popping nurse heading to rehab and becoming sober.  The producer was talking about the character and her new sober journey: "You know that slippery world of having feelings now that you're sober? She's still her, but she's on a shakier footing now. She doesn't quite know how to get through the days in a way that's familiar. There will be some adjustments."

So I'm adjusting too.

What do other people do? Have shopping addictions? Drink a lot? Take pills to lighten the mind if it's really really bad?  For me, exercise definitely helps and achieving things like my studies. I clean a lot and I focus on the small banal things around me that make me happy. Hence that last post about food and the weather and smiling faces. I really try to bring my focus down to the immediate good things in front of my eyes. And yesterday, well I just made myself smile more often, and that definitely helped.

Love, Mrs D xxx


  1. I tend to just go with it. If I'm really low I'll put on music that reminds me of all my dead friends, I'll have a good cry and eventually feel better.

    I've always had the highs and lows. I used to try and fight the lows but over time I've found it easier just to accept them. I also sleep more. Being alone (a rarity) also helps me.

    I hope you're feeling more 'even' soon

  2. Hey you! Me too, as usual, traveling one step behind you. I've been thinking that the first year was all about giving up the booze and learning how to live without it and this second year is going to be all about learning how to live with "me". Getting to know me, the moody me, the "flat" me, the "I don't have anymore time to waste on useless shit" me. I think this year might even be tougher than the last one, because last year there was a clear goal, a defined target and I'm not sure what I'm aiming for now. But I'm aiming to find out.

  3. "Wine was my great leveler. I didn't have lows like this. I used to pride myself on always being upbeat!"

    Oh, yes ~ this could have come right out of my own journal. Whenever I hear people talk about their depressed drinking days and how happy they are now I just think, wow ~ really? My experience is the complete opposite. Thought I was such a blissfuly happy drunk... and now sober, oooh such lows. Who knew I had to get sober to experience depression? So I, too, am learning to live with this broader realm of emotional experiences ~ exercise, unscheduled "me" time, photography (wonderful for getting me out of overthinking ruts). Still, I definitely need more tools for this. Flat, sad, depressed... not fun at all. :-(

  4. I've not much to add to the things you are already doing, my list is similar. The important thing to know is that you are not alone in this, and what you are experiencing is normal:

    I keep in mind the AA slogans:

    "This too shall pass"
    "Keep it in the day"
    "Act as if"
    "Do the next right thing"
    "Easy does it, but do it"
    "Don't pick up the first drink and you can't get drunk"

    Also, I read my AA literature, step up my prayers and meditation disciplines, talk with AA friends and go to more meetings.

    Yes, I know this is all about AA, but you will find your own equivalents.

    I eat nice things, and don't fret too much about losing weight. We need some treats at these times.

    I try not to replace my alcohol addiction with something equally harmful though, something to beat myself up about, like getting into debt or putting on too much weight.

    I find things like cooking, sewing, knitting, crafty things help as they demand time and attention, and a clear head!

    Exercise as well.

    Obviously anyone who suspects they might need medical assistance should get it.

    Two and a half years into sobriety I am learning that this mental readjustment takes a long time. There are highs and lows.

    Illness, like flu can really mess with my head, not just my body.

    Also, I am learning that my whole lifestyle is important. Maybe I have to pay more attention than 'normal' people. But I am an introvert and I no longer deal with a lot of busyness, stress and lack of routine easily. My sobriety depends a lot on my paying attention to this sort of thing. I need structure, routine, balance and a lot of silence and solitude.

    Extroverts will have a different set of needs and triggers.

    I was past the menopause when I got sober but I suspect many women alcoholics have to work hard at managing their hormonal cycles. An AA friend was telling me about this the other day. If someone rings her in a state she will often ask them where they are in their cycle.

  5. I know just what you mean. I've been feeling the same way lately. A kind of low energy, every day feels the same, lowness.

    Exercise really helps, also knitting,and getting outside of my own head (which is more difficult with the move). I really need to make some friends I think - part of my doldrums are caused by spending too much time on my own.

    You're doing great -

  6. For me it was kind of the opposite. Wine usually made me feel extremely good, for a while, then i'd feel either extremely angry or extremely sad. It's true that i've become a little more "flat" in recovery but i needed that kind of balance.

    As far as tips on when you're feeling down, the thing that always works for me is sleep. Try going to bed a little earlier?

  7. Oh yes. In my second year, I've hit some low patches that quite surprised me. I'm not in one now, so they definitely pass. I run or do other exercise every day. On the flip side, I also sugar binge. I confide in others, open myself up more when I'm feeling low. I listen and say yes more often and probably feel best when I'm there for others. I journal every day. This helps me work through a lot of the jumble in my head. I just think the second year is a lot of self-discovery and I believe this is when it starts to click and feel familiar. I am starting to really love my feelings.

  8. An afterthought:

    A lot of us stopped growing up when we started drinking, we get stuck at the age we were when we started. When we stop we have to grow up. That is quite painful.

    A connected but separate issue can be that we are accustomed to wearing masks, putting on the personality that fits the situation. Getting sober involves adjusting to life without these masks, finding out who we really are and how we express this. This too is a painful process.

    As byebyebeer said - a journey of self discovery.

  9. Some great comments here Mrs D- I agree with most. It's just a time of self-discovery and getting to know yourself again.

    I have my low days too. Cookie dough helps. (Do you call them cookies or are they biscuits?) Running helps. So does listening to music, crying, sleeping, writing and sharing with others, playing with my dogs, just sitting and zoning and feeling what I need to feel.

    There's a fine line between feeling and wallowing- I know I have to feel stuff and have my lows etc, but I try not to get stuck in my sadness for too long. Sadness and apathy can be so seductive.

  10. Mrs D, I love how you write. High or low, happy or sad, I click with it, I learn from it...It brightens my day. So do all of these wonderful people who respond to your blogs. Its so nice to share this journey with all of you. Day 64 here and I guess the hardest part of this is when I have to go out in a social situation also. I am not tempted to drink but I am nervous like all of you about being boring. I get nervous about having to explain not drinking....although its been easier than I expected it to be. Like you I never had any public humiliation to make it very clear to all around me that I have a problem with alcohol. So I give my 'not drinking anymore' speech and then I have found something WONDERFUL....I find that I can actually sit there and listen and participate in wonderful conversations. Instead of being all in my head, how much have I drank, can I get another glass without anyone thinking I'm a wino, am I slurring my words, etc...all these inner thoughts kept me from really enjoying the evening and my friends. How did I function in life before I gave up wine? Holy Cow, I may be a little 'flat' but I'm a much better person all around. AND SO ARE ALL OF YOU WHO READ THIS!!

    Oh one more that I am not always obsessing over wine...I have had time to think about other things. I personally just LOVE taking my dog out first thing in the morning to do her 'business' because I am clear headed and don't feel sick and I can stand there and just absorb the beautiful brand new day. I notice so much now...the smell of the air, the birds chirping, the quiet before life gets into the hustle and bustle. I love that PEACE. I couldn't do that with a hangover. Being 'flat' can be very very good! xo