Still writing

I wasn’t planning to write a post today; but I can’t help it! I’ve got so used to it! Day 31 and I feel quite strange. I was really touched by the mass of supportive comments yesterday – and every day! And I read and absorbed every single one. Please believe me when I say that I take all your words to heart, and I really think carefully about them.

When I looked at the 30 days idea from about 10 days into it, I imagined myself cracking open the champers as I dotted the i on my last post. In fact, as I went to bed on Day 30 and woke up on Day 31, I was struck by how much I wanted to continue with my sober plan. Sure, the idea of a g & t is still lurking, but it seems to be in the shadows, rather than in the sunlight. I was in London earlier today, and glimpsed two men having pints of beer at midday in a pub. Nothing strange about that, but the idea of someone choosing to drink a whole pint of anything at midday suddenly seemed completely ridiculous. That’s what I’m feeling today: that drinking alcohol is ridiculous!

I won’t get too excited. I might well be back on the cravings path tomorrow, but today I feel good.

Day 30

So, I have reached Day 30. Those of you who have read some of this blog will know that I was originally set a challenge of not drinking for 30 days, and writing about it every day. And I have done it! It has been a difficult but fascinating few weeks. Certainly, writing a daily blog has helped enormously, and I am so grateful for everybody’s comments. The routine of thinking what to write, writing, and reading people’s responses has become part of my life this September; in particular, the moments when I’ve been really struggling and have turned to the blog to get those tricky feelings down – that has been amazing.

What now? I had a long conversation with my husband about this at the weekend. I think he thinks the blog has taken over somewhat; whenever he comes into the kitchen it seems as though I am poring over the iPad, writing or checking. But he acknowledges that it has been successful. He says he hasn’t read it, and I really don’t think he has! I have the sense that he would like me to be normal – by that I mean have a glass of wine with him here and there. We discussed next weekend when we are going to a school drinks party on Friday and a dinner party on Saturday, and he suggested I drive to both events, and then have some wine with him when we get home!
Part of me doesn’t want to say to him that I can’t/shouldn’t do that, because part of me is still holding out for the idea that I can drink again. I asked him, ‘Can I ever be drunk again? Isn’t that sometimes fun?’ He said, ‘No, I don’t think you should ever be drunk again. That should be your aim.’ Or words similar to that.

There were moments at the weekend when I envisaged drinking again; there were also moments when I enjoyed the possibility of not drinking again. I’d like to ask you all: if I do drink again, do I write about it here? Or is that a possible trigger for people? Do I only write if I continue to be sober? If I don’t write, will everyone assume I’m drinking?

My friends, what shall I do?

Quietly thinking

A few people have commented that they would like me to continue writing every day. I am touched that anyone wants to read my stuff! It got me thinking about why I was writing. Initially, I started the blog as a way of keeping on the sober straight and narrow for 30 days, and writing every day was part of the challenge set for me by a lovely friend. It was good having to write daily, as it forced me to think about what I was doing and encouraged me when I felt like giving up giving up. It also helped me to structure my no-drinking plan: every day, I read other sober blogs, try and comment, and then write my own post for the day, a nice routine which I began to look forward to.

I know people comment on blogs, but I hadn’t realised I would get so excited about these comments; I have been amazed by the sober support I have had here, and this wave of advice and love – yes, it feels like love! – has been a humbling experience. Some people have said that my posts are helping them; I hope that’s the case, and I also hope that I am not discouraging people in any way, as I feel responsible writing my feelings and knowing that they might affect others.

Oddly, I feel really calm today. Day 29, and a Sunday. Over the past month, those Friday evenings seem to have been the time in which I’ve been most anxious, and where the sober path has been rocky. As I get to Sunday, I have tended to feel better about what I’m doing. What is scary is the way in which my mindset can change, sometimes within minutes, from thinking I will carry on for another 30 days, to wanting to throw the whole thing in. I need to find a gentler way of thinking.

Storm clouds gather

Rather an alarming title for this 28 day post, but I’ve just looked out of the window and the evening clouds are indeed dark and threatening. Thank you everyone for your wise words yesterday when I was having a bad moment. I drove to the party, was absolutely fine having elderflower even when the others had prosecco in really pretty Venetian glasses, and I put my hand over my wine glass when red wine was offered. So, all fine there.

And yet. And yet. Day 30 looms, on Monday, and I can’t help wondering how I’m going to proceed from there. I know I keep saying this; in fact, my blog must seem very repetitive (sorry). But the 30 days does seem to be a potential stumbling block rather than a gateway to better things.

Once I get to Tuesday, my plan is not to write every day anymore. Perhaps some of you will be relieved! I won’t disappear; I’ll try and write a post when I have an update. Having said that, writing daily has been an amazing experience for me, and I have valued your comments more than I can say. I am grateful for the friendship I have found here.

Staring at my skin

Two posts in one day, but that is because I am panicking (again) and I wanted to document it, rather than hide it.  I am going out tonight, and I’m not worried about that as I offered to drive (see last post); but what I am worried about are the BIG thoughts I’m having about giving up my blogging/sobriety experience and having a glass or two this weekend.  Tonight I just feel SO FED UP with it all suddenly, it is almost overwhelming.

This is how I feel:  aaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh.

I am desperately pulling out all my tried and tested methods:  positive thinking, distraction (I’m about to have a bath), rereading old posts, reading other people’s blogs… I have even been staring in the mirror, in a very vain way, to remind myself that my skin is definitely better since I stopped drinking, and I don’t think I’m imagining that.  Not that skin is the big issue here, but I thought it might help.

I don’t want to let myself down – or my family.  Or you guys.  But I also don’t want to do this anymore.  Oh no!

Another Friday night

Friday nights do seem to be my trickiest times.  Is this the case for everyone?  It’s usually such a nice evening, starting to wind down from the busy week and looking forward to the weekend.  Sober, I’m not so sure how much I can sustain that ‘Friday feeling’.  New treats need to be sought out and enjoyed.  This evening, I’m going to a dinner, but I’ve offered to drive and am taking another lady – she was delighted when I suggested it.  ‘I’d never turn down the opportunity to have a glass of wine!’ she said, and that’s what I would have usually said/thought.

I had lunch in London today with my husband, something I only do once or twice a year.  Sweetly, when I arrived, he had asked the waiter if they had any AF wine.  Apparently, the waiter looked completely nonplussed.  But I was touched by how my husband had tried to get something special for me to drink.  In the end, we both had fizzy water, and it was fine, and we chatted away as if we were enjoying champagne.

Thank you again for all the helpful comments.  I’m still teetering on the edge of success or failure, and I wish I could send you stronger messages.  But the only message I can really send today is that I’m still sober, Day 27, and am hoping to reach Day 28 with my sobriety intact.

On the train

This is not a metaphor: I really am on the train! I’m sorry if people were worried about me, as I know I’m posting later than usual. I didn’t have time to write earlier today and am now on my way back from a rehearsal. Thank you for all your comments; they really help me to think through what I’m doing. Trying to stop drinking for longer than 30 days seems to be a popular choice; if I can get to 60 days again, as I did a few months back, perhaps I’ll have a better perspective, as it still feels quite raw and new. I need to get a grip on these mid-afternoon lows, for a start. I’ve been getting better at taking them by the shoulders, shaking them, and making myself an AF alternative, or just making myself do something else. Sometimes I literally have to force myself to turn away from my thoughts, to walk away from them and go and sit in another part of the house, or take the dog for a walk.

It is not easy, but slowly slowly slowly I think I’m getting a bit better at it. Nearly the end of Day 26 and heading towards another weekend with all its tricky corners.

Fluctuating feelings

I wish I was feeling more consistently positive about what I’m doing. As I near my 30 days (today is Day 25), thoughts of giving up on giving up are swarming round me in an alarming fashion. I know that the sweet sweet friend who suggested my 30 days abstinence with blogging task hoped that I would continue long after that; but as I approach it, I am finding myself exploring the possibility of going back to the life I knew before. Obviously I hope that I can take with me all that I have learned over these past few weeks, and apply it to a new fresh version of myself, one who drinks very occasionally but basically avoids it most of the time. But part of me knows that in a matter of days, if not hours, I’d be back at the start, and if last time is anything to go by, I’d soon be drinking more than ever.

So, what to do?

I wanted to write a much more uplifting post than this, telling you all how fantastic I’m feeling, what a calm mother I’ve been, how not drinking is the way to go forwards. And yet, I’m still feeling this rebellious urge to stop having to try so hard, and to think about something else for a while.

Is there still time for me to turn the corner?

Sober work on Day 24

I’ve been spending a lot of time today reading and commenting on sober blogs. I’ve been trying to make this part of my sober work each day, as I think that’s what I need to be doing at the moment. I do worry that I’m spending too much time doing this, and other jobs are being neglected, but I also recognize that if I’m managing to get through each day without drinking, then my homework is being effective.

But when I find that someone hasn’t posted for several days or weeks, or even – as I discovered today – a whole blog appears to have been deleted, then I panic. Where are they? What has happened? I find that it worries me. I realise that I won’t always post every day (after my 30 days, I think I will post slightly less often), but I have this horrible thought that one day I will delete my blog, that I will go back to drinking and not tell anyone and the blog will no longer work. These thoughts are exacerbated by my dream last night in which – and I kid you not – I sipped steadily a whole bottle of brandy. Brandy! And Christopher Reeve of Superman fame came back to life and helped me drink it. Now what is THAT all about???

I am so immersed in my attempts to stay sober that I think I’m going slightly mad.

High heels hurt

Day 23 and I’d like to be in a calmer place, but I’m still having these wretched conversations with myself about when/how I can drink again, sometime in the future. It’s annoying. I was so grateful for people’s comments yesterday (and every day!), and their ideas were good. They know, and I know, that drinking again is not a good idea, not if I want to have a happy life.

Lovely Bea at besoberbea wrote a timely post about the reality of drinking as opposed to the alluring image of it we have in our minds. She reminded me of the good things we achieve when we’re sober, all the things we get done, and when I look back at my weekend, at the last 23 days, I can see that my family’s world has been a calmer place with a clear-headed me in it. And yet, for some extraordinary, irrational reason, I find myself mulling over the alternative. One of the things I think I’m missing is chewing the fat with my husband over a bottle of wine, the way one can linger and talk. Meals seem quite hurried now, and because I’m so alert I dive into the washing up minutes after eating and do all sorts of other organized things before bedtime. It’s not very relaxing.

It makes me think of stilettos: I think they’re glamorous to wear, and for about 20 seconds they look good at the beginning of a party, but then they hurt and you want to take them off and be in bare feet. And nobody notices anyway. And if you are determined to wear them for the duration of the party, and for every party after that, you end up with bunions. And then it’s not so easy to get your perfect feet back.