Reflection, and a test

I’m feeling pretty solid in my thoughts and mind today (well, and in my body, but that’s a different story involving an obscene amount of cheese). I’ve picked myself up, and I’m feeling more as though I know I’m not drinking any more, as opposed to asking “can I stop drinking??”.

I’m taking my lessons learned from the blip on NYE, and I’ll be testing them out and applying them tonight. We have friends coming to stay with us. This is a friendship initially forged through alcohol, a mutual love of craft beers to be precise. They have become very good friends, and I believe that if I’m honest with them, they will respect my decision whilst being able to still relax themselves.

There’s another reason why I think these particular people will understand; in that my friend (let’s call him G for the sake of this) was actually present at an event which occurred in October 2014, which was the genesis of my move towards sobriety. At the time, I was coming down off a combination of suddenly losing my beloved father, and a period of what I can only think was postnatal depression – (I had 2 year old twins and a 3 year old boy). Our friends had recently become parents themselves, and I think we were all going through the massive period of adjustment this takes. G and I had been given afternoon pass-outs by our respective partners, and so we met in our favourite craft beer bar. The joy of being out and the freedom (plus a truly wonderful selection of beers) resulted in me getting drunk. Very very drunk, very very fast. I remember us getting in the 3rd pint of 7.2% abv ale at about 5pm, and then it all goes blank. Until I found myself on a bench in the railway station, being talked to by a policewoman,  incapable of talking coherently and even less capable of finding my way home( me, not the policewoman, obvs). After this, there are flashes of memory at best, but the next thing that’s clear in my mind was me arriving home, to find my mum-in-law looking after our sleeping children. Apparently I’d phoned my husband in tears, panic stricken and babbling and unable to tell him where I was. Naturally he’d freaked out himself, called his parents, and he and my father in law, and by this time G, were out searching the city centre for me. Apparently, I’d left G in the early evening quite suddenly and said I needed to go home. I was piddled, but this was nothing new, and G had no idea I was blacking out and so incapable. I gave a lot of people a huge fright that night, and put myself in at a fair bit of risk. For example I have a flashback to walking down the dark country road home from our local station with a total stranger, which could have gone another way. I was lucky, they were concerned and just wanted to see me get home.

And this was my “start”, the day after, I began looking for support online, and found I wasn’t alone. Such a powerful moment, and I started my journey to here, reading, thinking, assessing for over a year.

Yikes – well that was cathartic – if you made it through,  thanks for reading this far! If you are a new reader who’s found me through SoberMummy’s blog, then welcome, it’s good to have you here. Stick with me, I’m going to prove that anyone can do this. And I will.

Red xx

 

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Ruddy idiot

Well folks. I’m here to ‘fess up to you, I had a big fat f*cking failure at being sober last night. I’m so ashamed, I actually considered not blogging about it, and trying to cover it up. But then, what’s the point of this blog, unless I’m truthful here?

We took our little family up to another town to stay with friends – the kids played together in the afternoon, and the grownups had a delicious meal once the kidlets were asleep. I made it through the afternoon till 5pm, when I was offered a “real” drink. I declined, and my friends were utterly horrified. I downplayed things, saying “oh I’m thinking of having a year off the booze; my consumption was creeping up”. With hindsight, I should have been brutally honest, as I doubt they’d have tried talking me into drinking if they’d been aware of the full extent of the problem. They convinced me that I couldn’t possibly be sober on NYE, or celebrate properly without a drink. They were so crestfallen when I said I wasn’t drinking, I felt I’d be disappointing them and spoiling their night. Plus, honestly, I really really wanted a drink. And so began the first of many many drinks; G&T, white wine, red wine, champagne, more champagne, more G&T. We all got battered, and ended up dancing/moshing round the living room to music at full blast, falling into bed at 4am, and then getting up at 8am with the five children, the adults all feeling like death. We were so drunk, and it seemed like so much fun at the time. But even through the drinking, when I felt relaxed and fairly invincible, a part of me still realised it was a mistake, and just after midnight I felt huge, huge regret that I was so drunk.

So here I am. Sitting on the sofa, looking and feeling as rough as a bears arse. But with renewed determination to succeed in being free from the booze in 2016. This is damned well going to be my year of feeling amazing.

Wishing anyone reading this a very happy New Year, and if you’re thinking of stopping drinking, well then let’s do this thing!!

Red xx

 

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!

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!