Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy sober moments

Occasionally I have moments when I'm walking from one place to another or driving somewhere when I suddenly think "I'm just moving around my life and I never touch alcohol any more and it's no big deal."

It's farking amazing that after all the angst and guilt and worrying and heavy drinking that was the end of my drinking days, followed by the cravings and emotional turmoil and pangs and woe-is-me that was my early sobriety days, all the thinking, thinking, thinking I did constantly about drinking, all that bloody brain noise regarding me and alcohol did slowly fade away.

So that now sometimes I find myself moving from point A to point B having a little moment thinking 'look at sober me moving around my alcohol-free life!' And it feels totally super-cool in a low key, lovely way.

Not bells-and-whistles amazing or grit-and-grim angst, just low key and lovely, normal me moving between point A and point B and being a sober person.

I just saw a photo someone took of Zac Effron with his six-month sobriety chip around his neck.. just cruising between point A and point B being a smiley sober dude.

My particular point A this week was the main facilities block at a camping ground and point B was our tent site. I was carrying a pink plastic bucket full of dishes I had just washed in the communal kitchen. Waiting for me at the tent site was Mr D, my sister and her husband, all sitting around in deck chairs having a wine and chatting.

I didn't care that I wasn't having a wine too.. I was happy walking with my pink bucket, and my little private thought that I was happily moving around my sober life and it was totally, fabulously, fine.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve...

Ok so I'm 2 1/2 years sober and even I've found it somewhat confronting being out of my sober bubble (home) and around people who are all drinking all the time. We've travelled away for Christmas and New Years.. down country to see both our families. Everyone's totally used to me being sober now (someone actually tried to hand me a champagne cocktail today and I had to say 'not for me thanks' twice before he face palmed with embarrassment). I thought it was kind of funny.

But yeah, I've been feeling a little bit awkward sometimes at the drinks-being-poured stage. Awkward mixed in with a bit of dismay that most people can just drink and not worry about it. So here's some of the thoughts I think when I get hit with those uncomfortable feelings.

'It won't matter in an hour'

'It won't matter when I wake up in the morning'

'I wonder if any of these people get the drinking guilt like I used to get'

'I hated that drinking guilt so much'

'I'm so pleased I don't have drinking guilt any more'

'Maybe I'll make myself a coffee, that'd be nice'

And then the feeling fades and the moment passes and sure enough it doesn't matter that I didn't have the alcohol like everyone else. I never wake up regretting not having drunk the night before.

I hope everyone who is sober has a fabulous sober Christmas. I hope everyone who desperately wishes to be sober has a fabulous Christmas too, and holds on to the nugget of truth that it is possible to live a full and fun life without alcohol in it.

There are carrots on the driveway for the reindeer and right now I need to go and stuff Christmas stockings with gifts for three little boys. Ho, ho, ho.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A sober silly season

I went to the pub this week! Twice! And it was totally fine. Both time I guzzled a couple of lemon, lime and bitters and nattered with girlfriends. Fairly new girlfriends - some of whom didn't know about my not drinking - but not a single word was said and it really was irrelevant that I didn't have alcohol in my glass.

It's the silly season and everyone all around my fair country is gearing up for a boozy Christmas and New Years. Except for all the fabulous sober warriors of course…!

This is my third sober silly season and so far I've had only one teeny weeny pang (today when someone mentioned they were having a boozy boxing day lunch and suddenly a tiny woe-is-me thought passed through my mind. I batted it away quick smart).

Last year I did have quite a few sad pangs.. and the year before I was brand spanking shiny new at being sober so it was all weird and different. I kept retreating into the bedroom to read blogs.

One of the best bits of advice I've ever heard regarding holidays and how to cope being sober around family and drinking came from Mr SponsorPants. He says "Remember, other people find the holidays difficult and emotionally charged as well -- you're not the only one having a tough time of it -- watch for ego and hyper-sensitivity, and rather than sit in your own upset, see who and how you can help wherever you may be or whomever you may be with."  You can read his whole Holiday Survival Guide here. It's ace.

This advice really works for me because that's the truth of it of course. Everyone comes together at Christmas time and brings their own exhaustion from their own busy year and their own personal stresses and strains and everyone thinks their stresses and strains are the worst stresses and strains (which of course they are to them) and … well I just find it helpful to imagine everyone else dealing with shit and then my own shit doesn't seem so insurmountable.

And remember.. push your thoughts through the evening and imagine going to bed sober. Imagine waking up fresh with no hangover and sick guts or guilt. Those are the beautiful things worth staying sober for. That and the healthy dose of self-respect you'll have after the silly season is over.

I am just so freaking exhausted and ready to stop the treadmill and get off for a bit. Kids are tired. Mr D is tired. The birds outside in the trees are tired too. (I wish the bloody neighbours were tired and not having a party tonight but oh well).

Off to bed. Bye for now all you lovely people.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sobriety Pros and Cons...

There are a couple of bad things about being sober..

1) Occasionally I get a bit bummed out that I can't drink alcohol like other people can

2) My kids always steal my special non-alcoholic drinks (which I have rarely now but on weekends and special occasions I'll buy something different & treaty). They just go after it the minute they see I've got something different in my glass, knowing it'll always be non-alcoholic. This is very annoying.

I would go so far as to say that no 2) is worse than no 1). The number 1) feelings come along rarely nowadays and don't last long. Number 2) I'm totally over. If I want to have a special treaty drink I want it all to myself!!

There are many good things about being sober..

1) I'm no longer a tragic heavy boozer addicted to drinking wine all the time, believing (incorrectly) it made things more fun, not realizing how it was dragging me down

2) I feel calmer and happier in general

3) I look healthier (hair, skin, eyes)

3) I feel more authentic. When I react to something with happiness, fear, anger, sadness, joy, surprise feels more real and I sit more comfortably with the emotions (especially the difficult ones)

4) I get to do loads more writing because I started blogging as a way to keep myself sober and the blog led to a book and hopefully more writing projects will come..

5) Loads of things about me have improved - some of these improvements are imperceptible to others but I am aware of them every day. My cooking, housekeeping, personal grooming, dressing, etc has all got just that little bit better.

6) I don't know what my friends and family would say about this but I feel like I'm way more available and connected emotionally to everyone around me.

7) I sleep waaaaaaay better.

8) I'm part of a warm, wise, interesting, supportive online community of people interested in living without alcohol.

9) I get to be sober! And I think that's a totally interesting way to live. It's definitely more interesting for me on the inside looking out, and I think it's an interesting fun fact about me for people I meet .. something you don't hear every day, especially when I'm so open about my reasons for not touching the stuff (can't control it).

10) Shitballs.. I can't think of a number 10. Um….. I can always drive home, I never wake up with a hangover, I've more money to spend, my insides must be healthier, maybe I've reduced my risk of getting cancer or some other health nasty?, I read more books .. actually I could keep going forever. There are a million reasons why being sober is great and hardly any why it's not.

Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. Go on.. I dare ya….

Love, Mrs D xxxx

Monday, December 9, 2013

A bit of rah-rah-sisterhood-rocks! for ya...

So I didn't go to Mr D's work party on Saturday night and sat at home instead eating Christmas cake and watching Fashion Police on Channel E. It was ok.

I think if I'd still been boozing I'd probably have gone. Even though I would have had the same underlying feelings (it's not my gang, can't be bothered) I would have gone and gotten amongst it and gotten boozed and had a fair-to-middling time. Only fair-to-middling because the underlying truth would still have been there (it's not my gang, can't be bothered) and no amount of booze would have changed that.

So I suppose you could say I didn't go because I'm sober. That doesn't mean I didn't go because I wasn't going to be drinking and everyone else was. That means I didn't go because it's not my gang and I can't be bothered and now that I'm sober I can make a decision based on those truths.

That's what I was telling myself as I sat on the sofa eating cake anyway.

And as I sat there I received a Facebook message from a friend of mine who lives in another town who has fought the brave fight, dug deep and gotten herself sober. She reaches out from time to time to let me know how she's going and she's doing SO WELL and looking fabulous judging from her new profile pic. Another brave sober warrior. Another gorgeous woman who is readjusting to a life that is no longer wine-soaked. She said in her message  "I know it is going to be an ongoing thing but I am determined to stay strong!"

Hooray for her! Yes it is an ongoing thing.. we have to live alcohol free in a world that is awash with booze. Never, ever touching the stuff no matter what comes our way. But we choose to do that because it makes us happier, better, stronger, calmer. Insert your own adjectives here. It's all good.

Forgive me if I'm going to sound a bit gushy and all rah-rah-sisterhood-rocks! here … but…

I think all women are brave, fabulous, gorgeous, amazing, vibrant creatures with flames that burn bright and strong inside of us. I think we sometimes forget that we have this incredible life-force.. the ability to love and laugh and cry and bond with our friends and protect our children and nurture our families and give, give, give to the world. We forget, or we get lost along the way, and we find ourselves dousing our flame by pouring copious amounts of booze on top of it. We glug, glug, glug our way through the weeks not realizing how we are self-sabotaging and dulling our core essence.

But the excellent news, I think, is that despite our best boozing efforts the flame never goes out. We can dull it to buggery by boozing like mad women but it. will. not. go. out. It burns away still.. waiting for the day when we dig deep, grit our teeth, make a firm decision and stop drinking. From that moment on our flame, our essence, our power, our light, our strength, our AWESOMENESS just grows and grows and grows. Our strength, hope and love grows brighter and more vibrant from that point on.

Oh yes it does.

And herein endith the rant.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Making the decision

My sister told me on the phone last night that I was good at making decisions. She was referring to my method of Christmas shopping (fast, no list) compared to hers (lots of forethought and list making). 'I don't find it too much of a stress' I said and she replied 'that's because you're a good decision maker' .. or words to that effect.

I don't know if I am a 'good' decision maker (how do you judge that?) but I'm certainly not afraid to make decisions. In fact I LOVE making decisions.. especially big ones. I think it's always given me a sense of power over my own life and the world in general. I am here! Watch me make my own decisions!

It's such a part of my character that my mum mentioned it in her speech at our wedding. Her exact words (just checked it on the DVD) were "she arrived in the world ready to party, ready to make choices, ready to make decisions".

Ready to party. Well yeah.. we know all about that. Me always chasing the fun! (glug glug glug). Me always looking for things to be upbeat! (glug, glug, glug). Me the good-fun-time-girl! (glug, glug, glug). Me the avoider of uncomfortable and tough emotions (glug, glug, glug).

But then me the party girl starts morphing into me the alcoholic who has no control over her drinking, so suddenly me the decision maker needs to take charge. And make the RIGHT decision, FIRMLY.

I think back to that moment in my kitchen the morning after my last binge. That morning when I was so hungover and so guilty for hiding how much I'd been drinking from Mr D. I was so deeply miserable and felt so stuck and alone in my crazy boozy nightmare, so very desperate for things to change.

It was my personal rock bottom, that morning. And standing there in my dressing gown I made a decision. A firm decision to remove alcohol completely from my life forever. I never did one day at a time. I did "I am now a non-drinker".

And by the way it's not like the decision was made on the spur of the moment - I'd done my research. I'd boozed like a demon for 20 years and spent the last good three or four of those trying desperately to moderate my intake. I knew I was an enthusiastic boozer. I also knew that I could not control the amount I drank.

It was the biggest, scariest decision I have ever made in my life. But while on the one hand it felt utterly  monumental and far-fetched, on the other hand it felt exciting and daring. I think from that day (820 days ago) till now I've had this stubborn drive to prove to myself and the world that when I make a decision I stick to it. And I will.

Because really, if you think about it, within all of the swirling complexities that impact on our lives, some things can come down to one simple choice. "I'm taking the alcohol away."

That much we can control.

Love, Mrs D xxx