Sunday Morning Confessional

So far I’ve been finding it very cathartic to be honest with you lovely people who are kind enough to read my blog. In the spirit of this honesty, I’m going to let you into a secret no-one else knows. Deep breath. Oof, this is strangely harder than admitting I was a drunk.

I’ve been addicted to painkillers as well as alcohol.

There. I’ve said it. I don’t suppose this is huge in some people’s world.  But it’s a biggie for me. True, it’s not heroin, but yep, it was codeine, which, as an opiate is a step or two down that nasty old path.

Dropping the drink has given me the clarity of mind to start turning the cold beady eye of truth on my life, which is probably why it occurred to me last weekend that I may just have another little demon to pulverise here.

So – the gory details. I’m a tall, gangly creature, and as such I’m naturally more prone to back problems. Which I’ve had on and off since the age of about 16. I’ve never got anywhere following the standard NHS process, which basically results in having anti-inflammatories thrown at you in vast quantity, and referrals to physios which just didn’t help. Over the years I’ve been to osteopaths, and more recently a really good chiropractor. But these options aren’t cheap, and let’s face it, there was wine and beer to find funds for.

I’ve never been a drug taker particularly, I’ve always chosen alcohol as my poison. (Well, apart from a brief phase in my early 30’s, when I had a destructive and idiotic rebound relationship with a drug addict and let’s just say I did a bit of f*cking stupid experimentation).

So I’ve been living with varying levels of chronic back pain for over 20 years. Self-medicating at the end of the day with a lovely, wholesome combination of anti-inflammatories, and a truckload of wine.

More recently, I’ve had access to some nice strong codeine. That was a revelation. A full dose of that swiftly resulted in a complete absence of pain, and a happy, floaty Red.

It was only in the absence of the pain that I realised how grindingly, exhaustingly awful its constant daily presence has been. In my mind, this easily justified taking more of the codeine. During the week, I would struggle through the day, and as soon as I was no longer required to drive or function at work, I’d take a dose. Or have a nice drink. Or sometimes, both. Then at weekends, well, I had free reign to constantly top up with the drug during the day, and then alcohol on top in the evenings.

Now, this combination is dangerous for all sorts of reasons, not least potentially fatal respiratory depression. But hey, I’m Marvel Comic-level invincible, right? Or at least I felt pretty invincible when the codeine kicked in. I started to look forward to the delicious rush and the flood of feel-good shit into my system when it started to work. It was seriously nice.

I began to take it more frequently, and found that the good feeling diminished slightly. But if I topped it up with booze, I’d feel good again. For a short while. And so the cycle of addiction began. I knew I had a problem with both alcohol and codeine, but while I could see and admit the alcohol problem, it was as if the drug problem slid out of view if I tried to focus too hard on it.

And then I stopped drinking. But I kept taking the pills. And they insidiously crept further and further in, as I needed something to replace the alcohol buzz.

This brings me to just over a week ago. I started having bad headaches, which would build in severity during the day to the point I could hardly see straight, and barely handle the cacophony that is my lively, lovely childen (and I would have days like the one here in Bad Mama..).

Last Sunday found me on the biggest dose of codeine I could take, and then counting the minutes between doses. And then when they stopped working, I found an old stash of diazepam, AND YEP, I TOOK ONE THOSE TOO!!!

The mental conversation went something like this:

Brain: “Hey there. Hey up there!! Yes you, doofus! ”

Me: “Yeah, whassamadder? I’m busy feeling all nice, and dreamy up here. Oh. Oh crap. I’m bloody addicted to drugs now aren’t I?”

Brain: “No Shit, Sherlock! STOP RIGHT NOW”.

So I stopped. I admitted to myself that I was addicted to these buggers too. I did a bit of reading. I tapered off the dose over two days, and since Wednesday I’ve been clear of them. All of them. Not even a lowly paracetamol has passed these lips.

Its been, well, tricky, is a nice word for it. It was a bit like going back to square one. I was fed up, irritable, couldn’t sleep properly and had the headache from hell. I’ve basically been The Queen from Aliens. But as of Friday, I gently started to feel better. And today I feel pretty good, well, apart from tonsils like golf-balls, courtesy of my germ-ridden sprogs. I’m not sleeping brilliantly, and I had a bad case of restless legs in the middle of last night but I’m clean baby. Squeaky. And it’s getting better and better.

Happy Sunday everyone. I hope that if there’s just one other person out there who reads this and who’s taking an itsy bit too much pain medication, and perhaps doubting just why they take it, this confession might strike a chord.

Love, Squeaky Clean Red xx

 

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Record-breaking

When I wake up tomorrow, I will have broken a new personal record. The only other time since the tender age of 17 where I’ve gone without alcohol for a sustained period was for 27 days, last July. (Note: apart from my two pregnancies which don’t count. It’s freakishly easy to give up booze when someone elses life depends on it, rather than just your own).

I hadn’t actually set out to stop drinking completely that time; it was more of an experiment. I’d woken up on a Sunday morning, after a trip to the Magic Rock brewery tap the previous afternoon with a group of friends. It was a glorious thing; our favorite brewery where you could literally sample the entire range of their craft beers all in one place. And sample, we did. It started out lots of fun, but ended in the usual melange of rambling incoherent conversations, friends demonstrating martial arts techniques on other friends and nearly killing them, you know, the usual shizzle. Mr Red and I ducked out fairly early (for us) and came home to drink wine and pass out in front of some film or other. I distinctly remember getting quite snippy about Rachel Weisz’s performance in said film, due to Mr Red being rather partial to her, and me being a green eyed monster when pissed. (I do cultivate a healthy liking for Mr Daniel Craig, purely as a form of retaliation, obviously).

Needless to say, the next day was grim. I felt as if my heart was trying to vacate my body. My tongue was three times its usual size, and I was rather worryingly aware of the precise location of my liver, due to all the throbbing, and the ick feeling.

I found it fairly easy to make it though the next 27 days, and then spectacularly slipped straight back into my bad habits on 28th as I’d built up that false sense of security that “I was fine, yeah, I don’t have a problem, cos look how easy that was!”. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Fast forward through a blurry 5 months later. This time hasn’t been as easy. But I think that’s because it feels more permanent, and I’m still stupidly going through an idiotic grieving process, just like you would after breaking up with some numpty boyfriend who’d treated you like dirt. So in theory, I should have a moment of revelation soon, where I realise that “Mr Drink” was an utter dickhead, and I suddenly feel an overwhelming relief to be out of such a crappy relationship, whilst simultaneously being tempted to track said ex-person down and lamp them one round the head.

The revelatory moment hasn’t happened yet, but today has definitely been better. I’ve had what I think is a tension headache on a daily basis for over a week; happily this was much less severe today. I’ve also cut down on caffeine this week, and in an uncharacteristic fit of self-care, I’ve booked in to the chiropractor tomorrow, to try and address my chronic back problem and the headaches too. It’s amazing me how much of my drinking must have been self medication really. And how I couldn’t afford the chiropractor, but I could afford about 10 bottles of wine per week..

I managed today’s stresses and strains with a bit more spirit, handled the post-school and bedtime chaos single handed without losing my temper, despite claims from my youngest son that he couldn’t finish his tea because it would “give him a headache”. I’m now sat relaxing with a chai latte, and a plate of fruit. (Yes, fear not for your sanity, you read that correctly). Reese and his pieces will undoubtedly be jealous, but hey, too much of a good thing, and Red will begin to resemble Jabba the Hutt. And I say bollocks to that – I’m aiming for Leia in the gold bikini now.

Here’s to uncharted territory tomorrow on day 29, and on to Monday for my first month sober. And to all of you out there breaking (or attempting to break) your own personal records.. you’re all awesome.

Red xx

 

Tuesday-itis.

I’ll admit to you, I’m feeling quite “pah” and a bit “bleuugh” about everything today. I’m over 3 weeks into this lark now, and I was fully expecting to feel bloody amazing.  By rights, my liver and various other bits of my body should be healing fairly well from the years of abuse. I’m sleeping better, I’m looking after myself as much as I can – this consists of 1) remembering to take a vitamin, and 2) eating things other than biscuits and leftover sandwich crusts when rushing round after the sprogs. So I should be feeling better than I have in years, right?

But I’m just not, and its starting to get me down. I’m still utterly, completely dog-tired, my head is foggy, and when I look in the mirror, Casper the Friendly Ghost looks right back at me. If you can imagine Casper had experienced a very hard life, and had a reasonable amount of red hair. The dark circles under my eyes seem to be getting worse, for crissakes.

I just got downstairs at 8pm after a long day and a tricky, protracted kids bedtime, and I thought “Seriously – Is This It??”. What a hamster-wheel of drudgery my life feels like. I can’t be bothered to improve it either – I just don’t want to do anything at all, in fact I don’t even want to speak to anyone… well, apart from via this blog; it’s quite frankly all I can be arsed with. And all that’s keeping me going today, apart from the motherlode of chocolate nestling seductively next to me on the coffee table. My best friend sent a couple of messages recently trying to arrange a night out, with a small group of friends. I just feel like screaming “leave me alone I don’t wanna plaaaaaaay”. It’s not even about the not drinking, as these are old friends and excellent company, but I can’t motivate myself to want to go. Maybe if somebody arranged everything for me, got the kids sorted and off to the grandparents, gave me a full makeover (and I mean full; I need rendering), drove me there and wheeled me in, then,  just maybe, I could muster the energy to be engaging. Maybe..

Right, buck yourself up girl, and stop whining. I’m going to scoot around now and look for some inspiration from all my lovely fellow bloggers. Oh, and one good thing – I don’t feel like drinking! Yaaaay! (She cheers, weakly).

Red xx

 

 

 

Gizmo

To anyone kind enough to read my ramblings, I may sometimes come across as irritatingly chirpy about all this AF life so far, but truth be told, I’ve had a couple of visits from my own personal Gizmo the Gremlin this weekend. You know the fella, all cute and fluffy and big eyes.. “But you’ve been so good, and oh you miss the taste of a good chilled NZ Sauvignon soooo so much. You can’t have a real problem with alcohol, you’ve not had a drink for 24 days. You deserve a lovely big glass, just the one, nobody need ever know…”.

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear, I have most definitely not got Gizmo wet, or fed him after midnight. No, in fact I shoved him firmly in the microwave, the fluffy chirping little tosser.

It’s been hard if I’m really honest. I’ve been a bit grumpy, stroppy, and in a tizz with myself. But, I’ve found that once I’ve got through the afternoon/early evening, I’m actually fine. I have enjoyed my evenings. Last night Mr Red and I watched Interstellar together; what a film! Rocketed straight into my top ten, seriously. I could barely see my way up to bed afterwards, what with the swollen eyes from the weeping. And I saw the end too! (Well, mostly, through the weepy eyes). It says a lot about how insular my life has been over the last couple of years, if I managed to miss a film like that..

Tonight I had a lovely, sober phone call with my cousin –  we can go for years without speaking, and then when we do, we gabble on like The Swedish Chef on speed for about 3 hours. We get on really well and we’ve a lot in common, including small children now. Strangely enough, we got onto the whole subject of wine; I mentioned I’m doing dry January (a little lie there, but hey, break ’em in gently). She, like so many others I know, said she can’t wait to get downstairs after settling her little boy to sleep; and the first thing she does is pour herself a glass of wine as a reward. I explained to her that I tended to finish the bottle off every timeI did this, and she sounded slightly shocked. It just proved to me yet again that in no way was my drinking “normal”; I’d always assumed she and I drank a similar amount. Turns out she really does just have a glass! One! Pah.

Anyway, to combat my wine cravings, I’ve now developed a new unholy obsession. This time it’s with Reeses Peanut Butter bars; and I cannot stop eating them. It’s got so bad, that I got really quite upset on Friday when I discovered Mr Red had had the temerity to give the two last pieces we had in the house to his friend who’d popped round. I was in such a state of distress and withdrawl last night that I was forced to make a hot chocolate and dump two tablespoons of peanut butter into it. (Warning – DO NOT try this at home. It was revolting, but I still ate the glutinous muck from the bottom of the mug. I HAVE NO SHAME).

Happily, the status quo has been restored today after Mr Red had the good sense to return home with two bars of the stuff this afternoon. Bliss.

On that note, I bid you a fond goodnight. I fear I’m going to require a winch to get off the sofa very soon. Perhaps I’ll just sleep here, eh. With lovely Reese and his pieces..

Red xx

How to celebrate sober. Pt 1.

Temptation came a knockin’ on the side-door of my brain this afternoon, trying to catch me out, the sneaky bastard. Tried to fool me into thinking that I couldn’t possibly celebrate and kick my heels up without wine. 

You see, Mr Red started a business last summer with a friend. They’ve been doing well, because they’re passionate about, and very good at, what they do. We’ve been feeling the pinch horribly, as they haven’t been paying themselves, and have been ploughing everything back into growing the business. But we’re playing the long game here, and thinking about the future. Anyway, they had a meeting today, and came out of it with potentially some very good news. We’ll know more after the weekend, but hey, we felt like celebrating tonight.

Add into the mix the fact that I received a text from my delightful in-laws offering to have our little people for a sleepover tonight, and you have conditions for the perfect storm in the Red household.

Temptation started telling me that I couldn’t possibly celebrate properly with Mr Red and his good news if I wasn’t drinking alcohol. It would be flat, and boring; I would be flat and boring. I also knew how disappointed I’d feel if I caved in and drank. I can’t win, I thought to myself.

Well bugger you, Temptation, you were wrong. We went out for a few drinks (spicy ginger ale, thankyou) and a good chat at our local pub. Then we came home and ate lovely food and listened to music and talked until gone midnight, and We Had Fun!

We played Wintersleep, Arcade Fire (thankyou for those, lovely Canada) and Kings Of Leon, very loud, because no-one was sleeping and we just could.  I had so much fun that I actually fell off my chair at one point, and Mr Red threatened to take away my sparkling water as I was “getting a bit too giddy, and real friends tell their friends when they’ve had enough to drink”.

So f*ck you Temptation. You lost. Red wins.

XX

Reflections

I’m feeling a little more, well, myself, this evening. Thankyou to all of you who commented so beautifully and supportively last night, after my Beserker-Mama rant.

I’m in a reflective mood tonight,  and I wanted to record my thoughts again mainly so I can look ’em up when I’m next feeling as though I’m not doing so well at this mummy lark. (“Lark”?? Who am I kidding? It’s not Enid-bloody- Blyton, it’s more Stephen King).

The fact I’m even reflecting on what went wrong and how I can make it better says a hell of a lot about the change 21 days without booze has wrought in me. The usual response would have been “Jeez, it’s so tough being a parent. I need some wine so I can get pissed and ignore it all. Yes, that will work! Hic!”.

When I think of where I’m aiming for as a Mum, my thoughts naturally turn to my own mum. She was ace at it, I was so lucky to have her. Kind,  loving, thoughtful, funny, safe. However, tonight I am reminding myself of the following:

  • She basically had me to look after. One well behaved child. Well, until I was 17, and found boys, booze and nightclubs.. I have 3 children all under 5 years old. This is often quite like being in a nightclub, but a little more noisy and chaotic.
  • She didn’t work from my birth until I was about 16, when she got a part time job so that she and my Dad could have a few more holidays each year.(!) I work, admittedly only half the week, but still, it’s a stressful job at times and it’s a whole load of other shit I need space in my brain for. If I’m not working, I’m looking after three small children, and then after 7.30, for a couple of hours I get to cook and eat tea, do chores, and sit down for a bit. She used to go to the freaking gym  during the day after she’d home cooked a months worth of meals and vacuumed the hall carpet twice.
  • My Dad took responsibility for the family finances, and all paperwork, and pretty much everything to do with the house. I look after all our finances, pay all bills, organise all insurance, sort out mortgages when required, maintain the cars, house, garden, plan all meals, shop for all food (online,  I admit) clothe the kids, do all laundry and cleaning, ensure homework is done,&  kids stuff is prepped for school the next day, think about any developmental stuff we need to do with them.

(Please note, Mr Red will do anything if I ask him, and is awesome with the kids, and always helps with the kids when he’s home. It’s just that the other stuff wouldn’t get done until waaaay too late if I didn’t do it. I.e. until things were covered in a deadly mould, or we’d been arrested.)

Right – I feel suitably Superwoman now. I’m not doing too bad at all I think.  And I know one thing for sure, I’m definitely a better Mummy than I was 21 days ago.

Inspired by Candyflossfog’s post on Sober Treats today, I’m going leave you with something that’s cheering me up a lot more than wine would. Happy night to you all.

Red xx

 

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Bad Mama

**warning – lengthy, brutal & unhappy honesty ahead**

One of the most important benefits of stopping drinking for me was that I’d be a better parent to my three children. They are beautiful little creatures, and I want to be the best mummy for them that I possibly can.

Up until yesterday, I had been delighted to find that my patience with them had improved dramatically, and I’d been much more able to calmly deal with the myriad of crises that make up a day in their little lives. I have even been more fun. This has felt so good.

Some background is in order at this point (yep, here come the excuses).  My eldest is 4 years old, and has just started school. My twins are 3 years old, and have just started nursery. They are all at the age where they are little sponges for attention, and I can give them but a fraction of what they need.

Today, I got them all up, ready for school/nursery, got myself ready for work, took the eldest to school (with twins in tow) then got the twins to nursery, then got myself straight to work, then turned around, did all that in reverse, got them home, fed them tea, assisted eldest with homework, whilst entertaining the twins, and then got them all ready for bed. Most of this they did not want to do, and put up a fight against. I am fully aware that a) this is pretty normal for kids if their age, and b)that my life is ridiculously easy compared to the challenges many people face around this world. However..

From the minute I picked the twins up today, it all went wrong; they were tired, cranky, and I had a banging headache and work had been difficult. After hours of countless mini-disasters, deliberate widdling, refusals to eat, jumping on sofas, constant questions, demands, and by bedtime, utter refusal from the twins to cooperate AT ALL, every single one of my buttons had been pushed repeatedly, and I snapped.

I lost my temper, lost control completely and utterly, and absolutely screamed at them. I was a raging tyrant; I shouted in their faces, stormed out of the bathroom and roared like a deranged lion on the landing. They were terrified, they howled, ran to their beds sobbing, whilst I managed to get a hold of myself and tried to reassure my eldest son that no, he hadn’t done anything wrong. I then put him to bed, leaving the twins breaking their little hearts crying in their beds, and finally, when my heart rate had gone down enough, I went to them in turn and comforted them, apologised, and held them. They’ve gone to sleep now, and I’ve been either crying, or on the verge of tears ever since.

What a complete fucking bitch I am.

The thing that is killing me the most is that I thought it was the vicious cycle of booze and hangover which made me a snappy, intolerant mother. Sadly, I no longer have that excuse, and I’m sat here now trying to face up to the fact I’m basically just a shit. I thought it was all so much better now I’d stopped drinking, and that I’d get to be the mummy to them that I so badly want to be.

The irony is, I spend so much of my time worrying about them. I feel completely crushed with anxiety and fear for them, for their safety. Due to certain events in my childhood, I live under a cloud of fear that they may just die on me at any minute. I used to numb all that away with booze. I can’t do that any more. I also can’t numb away the fact I’m an intolerant bitch who doesn’t deserve them.

Still, at least I’m sat here, not drinking, analysing what’s happened, and trying to work out how the fuck I can do better next time. That’s progress,  of sorts.

Red xx