Sunday, December 28, 2014

A sober Christmas in photos..

Ever since I joined Instagram I've been thinking more about images I can use to promote recovery and illustrate my sober life. Instagram (features big photos with captions as long as you like) offers a slightly different outlet to this blog (words mostly), Living Sober (loads of words and interactions), Facebook (some pictures and words and links) and Twitter (links mostly, short words and some photos). Each online outlet has a slightly different personality in my mind.

I'm a social media slut for sure - but I don't care! I love being sober and I love sharing about my sober lifestyle. It's fun, it helps keeps me off the sauce and hopefully helps some other folks too.

Anyway, this past week ended up being very much about photos for me - I kept looking for images that I could use to illustrate my third sober Christmas.

I found myself snapping a photo at my Mum's house one evening last week and sharing it on Instagram with the caption: "The best chamomile tea in the world, candlelight, toffee biscuits AND Christmas cake!! Who needs wine? #notme #sobriety #recovery".

A couple of my sisters commented online that this teapot of mums was the 'best in the land'. That was fun (we only communicate via social media in our family ha ha). They're right - it is a magnificent teapot that pours brilliantly, for sure.

Then at my sister-in-law's house a couple of days later I spied a bottle of wine in a ridiculous 'costume' that had been gifted to her by a client - couldn't resist snapping a pic of it and sharing it with the caption: "Devil in disguise?! #sobriety #recovery"

I mean, honestly……

The next day I spent an obscene amount of money on limes and ginger because I'd decided I wanted to take full control of my liquids and was sick of sugary sodas. Another photo opportunity for Instagram! This one captioned: "Got my drinks organized for Christmas! $25 worth of limes. Bloody expensive but only a fraction of what I'd have spent on booze in the past. Squeeze half a lime into a glass of soda water, add a few slices of peeled fresh ginger and ice cubes - sorted! #refreshing"

Then I made the drink and shared a photo of that on Twitter (told you I was a social media slut).

Got loads of favorites and comments including one from my friend JJW (he writes awesome posts like this and this on Living Sober) which said "LIMES! You high roller". Yes Jackson, you are right, they were bloody expensive and I am a high roller.

At this point I was private messaged a photo on Twitter of one of our Living Sober members smiling broadly and holding out a glass containing a creamy mocktail. The message read "Having fun trying different drinks! Yay! #soberchristmas". Honestly the sight of her smiling face made me cry. I wish I could share it here but won't to protect her privacy, but imagine a very happy, healthy, proud looking lady holding a glass with a straw sticking out of it in one hand and a bowl of cherries in the other.  This image made my day, no doubt about it.

Christmas Morning I decided to prep my drink ingredients to take around all the houses we were going to that day. Of course I had to take another picture to share (are we over-sharing here? Don't care, don't care!).

And look what a Twitter friend who goes by the handle @OhioSQ tweeted me back!!!

Ha ha, brilliant!!!!!!!! This made me so happy!!!!!! She's rocking the lime, soda, ginger combo too! See how great the online recovery community is? We all share, share, share and in doing so we feel connected and secure in our sober lifestyles. What's not to love…..

My online interactions through Christmas were going on left, right and centre. Living Sober was buzzing with people forging ahead with a non-drinking Christmas, the Members Feed there was full of grit, love, wisdom & support. (It bloody works that site. If you're not in there go join right now. It's free and you can be anonymous. You have to register to get into the Members Feed and that's where the amazing real-time support goes on.) Facebook - where I'd also shared a photo of my limes and ginger plus my Sober First Aid Kit - had a nice supportive feel to it with a few likes, comments and private messages coming in. Sober folks on Instagram were sharing pics that I was liking and commenting on and Twitter conversations were taking place. I'm sure all my relatives think I'm crazily addicted to the internet, truth is I was on-and-off the iPad a lot, but I still felt very connected to what is going on in the 'real world' and I think they appreciate how important my online world is to my recovery.

Last two pictures of the day - the bottle opener I won in my Christmas Cracker "#notveryuseful" ….

And finally me wearing reindeer horn hair-clips, eyes swollen from days of crying over losing a loved one, but smiling and happy. The caption read: "Feeling the Christmas love. Love my family. Love my friends. Love getting loads of scented candles! And most of all LOVE MY SOBRIETY!!!!"

Yes indeed. Hope everyone had a lovely sober Christmas. And if you didn't quite manage it this year, don't despair. Keep trying and you will get there eventually. You must - sobriety rocks. Really it does.

Love, Mrs D xxxx

Monday, December 22, 2014

A sober funeral...

Tears, lots of tears. A small gathering in the garden. The shining sun. And this from the New Zealand poet A.R.D Fairburn.


What is there left to be said?
There is nothing we can say,
nothing at all to be done
to undo the time of day;
no words to make the sun
roll east, or raise the dead.

I loved you as I love life:
the hand I stretched out to you
returning like Noah's dove
brought a new earth to view,
till I was quick with love;
but Time sharpens his knife,

Time smiles and whets his knife,
and something has got to come out
quickly, and be buried deep,
not spoken or thought about
or remembered even in sleep.
You must live, get on with your life.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winds of change….

So that was really interesting.. lots of lovely comments on my last post about dealing with death and many of the lovely commenters shared that they'd lost a loved one and everyone thought they were being so strong but the reality is that they were boozing their way through their grief and not feeling like they were coping at all…

This: "People used to think I was so strong but in reality I was dulling everything with alcohol."

And this: "Every one praised me for how strong I was but in reality I was just a coward and tried to escape the raw feelings."

And this: "Like others I simply drank my way through my grief originally and was praised for being strong when I was anything but." 

We all probably look at people who seem to be "holding it together" and think they are doing well, and look at people who are "falling apart" and think they are doing it hard… but the truth is we just don't know how people are doing really. 

My lovely friend Sue said the other morning that she thinks sitting somewhere in the middle of "utterly devastated" and "coping marvelously" is probably the natural way to deal with grief. Sometimes crying and deeply sad, other times feeling calm and at peace with the loss. 

But who fucking know what is the 'best' way to deal with grief. Is there a best way? Is anyone judging? Is there a grief competition that we are all taking part in at one time or another?

No. We each deal with it how we deal with it. 

I choose to deal with it raw. 

My beloved step-father just died about one hour ago. He was a kind, generous, warm, giving, unassuming, lovely man who had been in my life for 22 years. 

An hour ago I was sobbing and went through fifty tissues. Now I'm calm and typing on the computer. Tomorrow I get on a plane to be with my family.

Sorry this is not very Christmassy but this is life and I am feeling the winds of change.

And by the way. I am so fucking glad that I am sober.

Love, Mrs D xxx 

Friday, December 12, 2014

How do YOU deal with death?

Because we are about to lose a dearly loved one (I know I said I was going to keep some of my life private but I can't pretend this isn't happening) I've become a compulsive researcher into how people deal with grief.

This is how I roll.. when I come up against something I research, research, research. My work has been all about researching (journalism & documentary researching), my studies have been all about researching (popular culture & media ethics), giving up booze for me was all about researching (how does one become a non-drinker?), when I first got sober I researched like crazy (how do people deal with emotions?) and now this.

I went onto YouTube the other night and typed in "How do you deal with death". Watched some great clips. This one was cutely animated and reassuringly told me "You can expect grieving to be rough." Also loved the way they illustrated the word 'grief' as a roller coaster and said of grief "there are peaks and dips and they don't always happen in predictable ways".

This man I loved - he was so reassuring about the process of death, he's studied near-death experiences and has undertaken major research talking to numerous hospice and palliative care workers etc to examine what happens for people when they die. His talk was fascinating and made me feel a lot calmer about the process.

There are sooooooo many Ted talks on dying and grieving and mourning etc.

And of course I've been listening to my beloved Tara. This talk and this talk are both great.

So where have I ended up?

Sometimes I feel very calm and at peace and accepting of what's going on.

Other times I feel deeply, heart-breakingly, devastatingly, gut-wrenchingly sad.

I think it's definitely what you could call a roller coaster.

Do I want to escape this feeling? Well… I'd rather my loved one wasn't dying, for sure. But they are and they will.

Do I want to numb the pain with booze? No fucking way. I am however eating as much as is humanly possible every day. It's like I can't possibly be full enough. So I know that I am hurting emotionally and I'm not dealing with that 100%. It's so dumb. But then again… emotional pain sucks.

I'll try harder not to eat so much from now on. Maybe confessing it here on my blog will help me with that.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Today in the Members Feed at Living Sober one of our most treasured members who posts all the time has been sharing that she's been in bed crying all day and this is not like her AT ALL. She wrote "I want to be strong and I know this will just be a passing thing, but it just isn't like me to be lying in bed sobbing my silly wee heart out."

I just logged in to Twitter and the top tweet in my feed says "Let your tears come. Let them water your soul."

Today my tears are quick to come, they're popping out and then going back again, popping out and going back. We are about to lose a dearly loved one and it hurts, it's hard.

I never used to cry much when I was boozing. And I always say that I cry more now I'm sober. I said that to Mr D the other day and he said "yes you did" (cry when I was boozing) which kind of took the sober wind out of my sails. But he is right - of course I did cry when I was boozing - but the crying I do now I'm sober feels different. It feels more authentic and proper somehow. Gentler, sadder, more uncomfortable. He can't possibly know that.

I was talking to a friend the other day about something big and bad that happened to me 20+ years ago and I suddenly burst out sobbing when I was talking to her. Sobbing. This thing happened 20+ years ago! But I couldn't hold in the gulping tears. They came from way deep down. It was unexpected, weird, and uncomfortable. But since that day I've felt somehow better about that thing that happened all those years ago. Like just expressing the deep sadness with tears was enough to shift it inside of me a little. How amazing that letting those tears out did that.

Earlier today I replied to the Living Sober member mentioned above "These tears are important…let them come… feel the deep awful just fucking uncomfortable sadness and pain… feel it… I promise when you look back at this day and all the emotion that you let flow you will feel more at peace with it. Your feelings are real and there for a reason.. so feel them and let the tears flow."

Like I'm some goddam guru of life - I'm not! But I'm speaking to her based on my experience. I've discovered that crying, when coupled with feeling my emotions in a raw state, is very cathartic and powerful. I don't know why. Maybe the tweeter above is right, maybe our tears are watering our souls. That sounds kind of a bit kooky. Another way to put it might be "Let your tears come. Let them fall freely so that you may free yourself". Also a bit new-agey and kooky. What about "Let your tears come. It's how we are built to live". Hhhmmm, not sure I've nailed a snappy line about why tears are powerful. What about this…

"Let your tears come. They are fucking amazing."

Love, Mrs D xxx