Will I lose the music?

Yesterday was a good day. I had tons more energy, I even took the children to a local beauty spot for a roam about in the fresh air, and felt really alive. At 5.30pm, the bad hour loomed so I raced off to garage to do 20 minutes on the x-trainer. Not one to do things by halves, I threw myself into the first exercise I’ve done in months full-pelt, motivational music blasting. After nearly doing myself a mischief whilst trying to match the beat to The National’s “Mr November”, I was forced to bring things down a notch.. and the next track  (“Regret” by Everything Everything) got me to thinking. I’m pretty sure there’ll be plenty of ripping plasters off old wounds in the coming days and months, during the process of discovering who I am without alcohol.

And the next fear that I need to break through is that I will lose the music. Specifically, that high that I always got from an evening with my OH, candles blazing, wine flowing, listening to our favourite music, honing and cherry-picking amazing tracks from our youth, and the sheer joy of discovering some incredible new sound we both love (Wintersleep, anyone??) and talking, talking, talking for hours about anything and everything.

These are always our favourite times together, what makes us feel like best friends. However I fear I am romanticising. I need to turn the cold light of day on those nights, otherwise they might be what causes me to fold. So here goes:

They would start well, the first few hours would be so much fun. But they would inevitably end with us barely able to speak coherently, empty wine and beer bottles littering the dining table, or the garden table in summer. In the wee small hours, OH would have to talk me out of dragging out some age-old rank bottle of spirits or a liqueur from under the stairs to drink (as we’d usually run out of booze by this point). We’d stumble upstairs, passing out cold, only to be woken at 7am by the kids wanting to start a new day, at which point we’d be in the hideous stage between still being pissed and starting a raging hangover. It wouldn’t be unheard of for me to throw up on and off for the rest of the day and end up in bed, leaving OH to wrangle three disappointed children who wanted to play with their parents. I have also occasionally ended up drinking something in the morning, as hair of the dog, to get me through the hangover.

Dear God – on reading this back, I am horrified. That kind of behaviour might have been acceptable in my wasted, rock-chick youth, but in my 40’s? With children? The words which spring to mind are “pathetic”, “irresponsible”, and downright “dangerous”. Urgh.

Thats it. I’m definitely done with that kind of behaviour; I’d like to attempt to find some self respect in the New Year. So I’m back on my sofa, stuffing down the booze cravings with chocolate. And readying myself for the novelty of a sober NYE!

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Toughing it out

Last night was tough again. I’m finding the most difficult time is about 5pm when I’m in the kitchen cooking. Where’s my treat, dammit??

So, I took some good advice and went out shopping. I bought myself flowers, fancy M&S tea with cocoa nibs, AF fizz for New Years Eve, and that helped for a while.

I still nearly cracked though. OH suggested I wait till after tea, and see if I still felt like wine, which worked as the craving magically disappeared once my belly was full.

We ended up having a really good, open talk about what I’m doing. I tried to explain to him how my relationship with alcohol is different to his;  how I use it for different reasons. For me, I’ve realised drinking is an escape route, a way of pulling up the corners of the big comfort blanket, flipping down those blinkers and making the world a tiny, dark, safe place, where I can live right here in the moment. I can say a great big “f*ck it” to all the STUFF THAT NEEDS DOING, the constant mental list of things I  never quite get round to and all the associated guilt. The joke is, that when I’m sober, I actually have time to deal with the myriad of molehills which make up the unconquerable mountain in my mind. I know, because during my sober July, I felt in control and on top of things for the first time in years.

So, tonight Red has a plan. I’m going to exercise through the tough hour, because as I remember, those endorphins are quite a rush. Then I’m going to get some SHIT DONE. And then I’m going to relax, with my endorphins, my sense of achievement, and a bloody great big hot chocolate.

Mermaid-Wine

So. Last night and tonight have just been really, really tough. It’s been at its worst early in the evenings, when the wine has been crooning my name like a mermaid luring a sailor to his doom. And I’ve denied myself, and felt very hard done by. At some points I’ve been hanging on by a thread, and the thought of this blog has kept me straight.

I’ve been so ridiculously tired since I stopped drinking, and, for various reasons, I feel like I get absolutely no time to myself. It’s been an intense few days, with the festivities and three very excited small children. I’m wondering if it’s because my way of escaping has been removed – I can no longer switch off and numb everything into a warm fuzzy blanket of “nothing matters” at 7pm each evening (or earlier). I tried a few tactics I’ve read about,  like “playing it forward” to tomorrow morning, and how I’d feel then if I drank tonight. I ate some food. Both things helped.  A bit.

So I’m going to list a few of the reasons why I wanted to stop, to remind myself why I’m doing this:

  • I want to be a better Mummy. I want to be the best one that I can be, instead of being short-tempered, stressed, shouty-Mummy-with-a-hangover who doesn’t have the energy or will to play.
  • I would like more energy, instead of feeling tired and jaded, constantly.
  • I’m interested to see who I really am without the effects of alcohol & what I can achieve if I’m fully present in my life.
  • I want to feel more in control. As somewhat of a control-freak, I can’t really believe I’ve let myself feel this out of control for so bloody long!

Right. Deep breathing, Red. Tomorrow will be better.

Boxing Day and the gloves are off

Wow. Yesterday was the first Christmas morning since the age of 17 that I’ve not had a raging hangover. (Note: This is not counting the year I was in the early stages of pregnancy with my oldest boy, where I was obviously not actually hungover, but felt like I was, due to the combination of extreme tiredness and morning sickness. Oh, the irony).

It’s also the first Christmas for years where I’ve jumped out of bed with a fair degree of excitement. And then not started drinking at about 10am.

I was able to drive my little family over to my in-laws without a raging case of the uncertainty-jitters. (A condition characterised by probably not being still drunk, but having enough of a hangover for impaired decision making abilities, and therefore driving like Dougal when he’s stolen the milkfloat in that episode of Father Ted).

I enjoyed a fairly relaxed Christmas day, and had a lot more patience with the children. I was offered champagne, but also offered sparkling apple juice by my Dad-in-Law, so didn’t feel massively tempted to drink. Result!

The best (and worst) part came when it was time to make the journey home, on a dark and torrentially rainy night. We set off out of the village on our usual route, kids nodding, OH and I chatting happily. I crested a hill, only to be confronted with a large van abandoned in a dip under a bridge in about 3 feet of  rising flood water. I managed to stop – just – in a safeish manner, turn around in the tight lane, alert other motorists to the problem, and find another safe route home.

I don’t really like to think about how my reaction speeds would have been had I been nursing a hangover, and if I’d accepted that glass of champagne (“It’s only one – it’ll be out of my system by the time I need to drive”). I’m not keen on thinking about having to get three small children out of the back of that car, if we’d got stuck.

We got home, got the kids to bed, and collapsed on the sofa to watch a film. I had a moment of temptation when OH opened a very good bottle of red and asked if I wanted to taste it, but it lasted merely a few minutes, and later when I caught a whiff from his glass, it actually smelt quite repulsive (despite him waxing lyrical about smoky tones!).

So the best part of my sober Christmas day was actually being able to keep my little family safe. Pretty good result really.

If you’re reading this, a very Happy Boxing Day to you. My goals for today will be trying to get the children to eat some food which isn’t chocolate, or ham, or chocolate-coated ham. And NOT drinking.

 

Obligations

It’s day 2 here for me, and I’m feeling odd. A quiet low-level hum of actual excitement about being free from it. The Booze. I feel strangely optimistic about a sober Christmas. I think I’m actually going to have a lot more fun, if I’m brutally honest, as I’ll actually feel like playing with the children, (and hopefully have the energy, too)  instead of praying I could just stay with my butt parked on the sofa for just a minute longer.

The only negative thoughts I’ve had so far today are mostly about offending other people. Feeling obliged to drink. For example:

“Oh bugger. OH has bought me an expensive bottle of XYZ for Christmas – I’ll feel terrible saying I don’t want to drink it! He’ll know if I give it away!”

And

“Aarrgh!! What about my boozy lunch on 9th January with my old friend? She’ll be horrified that I’m not going to keep her company on the vino, and get so battered over our fancy meal that I can barely find the railway station to get home!”.

You see how much it helps to actual write this down and re-read it? Because on reflection, those worries are pretty pathetic really. If said people become offended, well sod them. (Obviously not OH. As he is lovely, and I’d quite like to keep him). Why would I poison myself to keep others happy?

I won’t lie, I’ll admit that breaking up from work for two weeks today would normally have seen me “celebrating” with at least a bottle, if not two. And probably some shit dancing around the kitchen. And on my way home, the old habit called me for a short while.

However – I’ve just enjoyed a really relaxing evening, trying out a J2O (woot woot) and watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and I’m now in bed eating chocolate and looking forward to no hangover in the morning.

Bring on the mayhem, I’m ready!

 

 

 

 

The highly imaginitively titled..Day One!

22nd December. To many (including myself) this may seem like an extremely odd day to decide to give up the booze. After all, we’re heading into what’s traditionally the booziest two weeks of the year here in the UK. And in my own personal world, a period where my already high consumption of alcohol would absolutely sky-rocket. I mean – Christmas day? The day when I can legitimately have booze with breakfast? Bring on the bucks fizz, darling, it’s got vitamin c in it for Christ’s sake…

But, you see, for about the last twelve months, I’ve been gently starting the process of becoming alcohol free. I’ve discovered the world of sober blogs, and been reading them avidly, on a daily basis. I’ve started downloading sober literature onto my kindle. I’ve even tried a couple of periods of not drinking – for nearly a month in July.

So here I am. I drank a huge amount last night, on a Monday night, just at home with my OH. I’d knocked back my first bottle of Sauvignon Blanc by about 7.30, just after we’d got the kids to bed. We then opened not one, but two bottles of red wine over the course of the evening. (John Hughes movie night – and why not?). And then at about midnight, we topped it off by opening an expensive bottle of fizz which I’d been given from work. So all in all, I probably consumed about 25 units. God, that looks horrific written down.

I feel quite rough this morning (“really??” I hear you cry.). And jaded. And, well, finally ready, I guess.

So let’s see how it goes. I’ve learned from the many sober blogs that I follow, that blogging through this can be incredibly helpful, so I’m going to treat you all to the various outpourings from my addled mind on a daily basis. You lucky souls. If anyone would like to join me, well the more the merrier. And if I can help or inspire anyone else on the way, then bonus.

I’m going to try writing a list of the many reasons I think going AF will improve my life later. I think I’m going to need something to refer back to at crisis points! Until then, I’ll mostly be eating vast quantities of toast, wrangling 3 small children, and beating myself over the head for being so bloody stupid last night. Urgh. Bleugh. Foolish Red.