How to proceed?

And so I am on the cusp of my fourth week. This taking it one day at a time thing is the way to work it – for me, at least. And yet today I’ve still been projecting ahead to beyond my 30 days, a holiday in October, Christmas… can I do this? The day to day life without drinking is hard enough; I’m not sure I’ll be able to cope with a lovely trip away, celebrations with the family, because these are times when I look back at drinking fondly. It was the daily stuff which wasn’t working so well.

Are there people out there who don’t drink, but then do drink on holiday? Or at Christmas? Or does it simply not work like that? Can one be really strict with oneself, then let oneself go for a couple of weeks and go back to sobriety afterwards? What are the rules?

I always have so many questions. Sorry.

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My people

You are my people. After writing yesterday’s post, I sat with my awful feelings and tried to decide what to do. Every half hour or so, I would turn to my blog and read the comments there, which began to appear soon after my posting. I was overwhelmed by the love and wisdom which came from you all; it was amazing. Such friends! Such support! And what is extraordinary is that I didn’t turn to anyone locally, I turned to you. The advice I got was incredibly helpful, and the power of the feeling behind the comments was truly humbling.

So, this is what I did: I made myself a tonic/lime/grenadine concoction (think I may have mentioned this in another post – it’s a stalwart), and sat down and drank it while reading an article I’d been meaning to read. Then I made this ‘fun’ supper and the kids and I ate it while watching a film, a big treat for them as my husband would hate our eating in front of the TV. They then went to bed while I cleared up, soon following them to bed myself. I got an email from my husband who is cycling in France, saying that all the boys were drinking loads, but that he was drinking less, out of support for me (and I expect so that he can bike up those mountains). I felt loved.

Day 21 today. Thank you, my friends, for helping me.

Panic on Day 20

I have to admit to you all that I’m in a bit of a panic. I’ve reached Day 20 but I’m not feeling good about it, as I hoped I would; I’m feeling frustrated, angry even, and I want to drink like a normie. I’m about to hit Friday night, and I think that’s been tough for me each week so far (this is my 3rd Friday), and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier!

I’ve read lots of sober blogs today, I’m half way through ‘The Good House’, and yet I still feel like opening a bottle of red this evening and having a couple of warm glasses once the kids are in bed. My husband is away, no one will know. Except that I will know. And you will know, because I’ll have to tell you. I can’t keep writing this blog and not tell you; and if I don’t write the blog, you’ll know anyway. And I’m not going to lie because that would be pointless.

As I drove back from school just now, I found myself following a wine merchant’s van. Free delivery! It’s a sign, I thought, a sign that I should give up giving up and just go with the flow.

Sorry for this negative post, but I wanted to write now, while I was having these bad thoughts. I’m not doing a very good job of this, am I!

Awareness on Day 19

I was at my rehearsal this evening in London.  This involves my walking for about 20 minutes through bar-strewn streets, and tonight I observed how many people were drinking.  I couldn’t spot one single person drinking an alcohol-free drink, or at least that is how it seemed.  Everyone had a beer, or wine, or cocktail, and everyone looked happy and convivial… As I walked past, I felt left out, and started to worry about how I was going to cope with the whole social thing, because drinking alcohol just is a social thing to do.

A few hours later, I walked back to the station, passing the same bars.  The scene was very different.  Various people were sitting on the pavement, drinking and smoking, and it all seemed quite sordid.  I felt much better about what I was doing, and came home relieved that I was on this path.

This comes after last night’s weird dream in which I drank 3 little medecine cupfuls of red wine.  In my dream, I remember thinking that this was allowed because it was ‘medecine’.  Hmmmm… I am clearly entering dangerous territory with my husband away, and the temptation to drink hovering over me.

But thank you so much to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post, with so many wonderful ideas of how to combat these unhealthy cravings.  I am planning to arm myself with various tools over the next few days:  nice treat-y food, films, hot baths, activities with the kids…and hope that I can fend off the call of the bottle.

Fearful mid-week

I was worried that my feeling more positive might be followed by anxiety. Oh dear. Day 18, and as I crawl towards Day 20 which feels like a bit of a landmark, I am trying to feel good about what I have achieved so far. And I love the blog, and I love the people who comment, and things were going so well!

But I had several thought stabs today where I was genuinely pining for a glass of something, and I don’t mean tonic water. I think it may have something to do with the fact that my husband is about to go away for a few days, and I’ll be on my own with the kids. Before – before this latest attempt at sobriety – I’d have been excited about this in that it would have given me the opportunity to buy ready-made meals for myself, to open wine and bask in an evening ritual which would have involved staying up late and watching bad tv, with no one here to tell me not to do that. And now, I’m not sure how I want the next few days to work… I want to be able to tell you that I’m looking forward to a calm few days with the kids, eating with them, drinking sparkling water and getting to bed early. But the truth is, I’m frightened that I won’t be able to sustain this without the watchful eye of my husband. It makes me realise that I’ve been relying on his watching me, although I thought I was being sober all on my own.

So – what will happen in the next few days? Will I let you all down? Will I let myself down?

Observations on Day 17

I’d like to record some observations of how I’m feeling today. 17 days in – and that feels like a long time – am I feeling better? How do I feel?

* I feel good. Perhaps more accurately, I don’t feel bad. Before, when I was getting hangovers or just feeling generally tired, I would feel sluggish; I’d often be dealing with an awful headache, or I’d feel sick mid-morning (I was increasingly noticing that my hangover symptoms wouldn’t start until then; I’d wake up relatively perky, and feel smug, before BAM! 10am disaster!), and I’d get massive lows at various points of the day and struggle to do stuff. Those things have gone, and although I do still have those cravings and sugar lows around 5pm, I don’t get the same sort of slump.

* I know everyone always says this sort of thing on sober blogs, but my skin is looking better: clearer, rosier, though I went through a few days (around days 7-9) of medieval style pox spots along my jawline: unusual for me, and not nice.

* A distinctly uncharacteristic calm has occasionally been spotted coming from me, rather than the usual impatience. Not too much calm though, still lots of frustrations etc.

* I am not in such a panic about my sober plan. Yes, I still don’t know how things will progress, but I feel better about it now than I did at Day 5 when I wanted to abandon the whole thing. Now, it is actually beginning to feel like a possible way forward.

It’s as though I’m allowing myself to investigate a sober route without sabotaging it at every turn. I hope I’m not jinxing it by being positive today…

Now, and then

Here I am on Day 16, so just over half way through my 30 day challenge. I want to go further than 30 days, much further, but I need to keep my eye on that goal for now. In the spirit of being more positive, I have tried not to look too far ahead, but today I had waves of thoughts about future holidays, and celebrations, and the old anxieties about not drinking came creeping back. So, to counter this, I decided that I’d imagine what I would normally be doing at 8pm on a Monday evening, normally in the sense of my old life, the one in which I was drinking. I would have probably already broken my promise to self about no alcohol Monday-Thursday, and would have made sure there was some wine left from the weekend. Earlier in the day, I would have panicked about there being only half a bottle left, and would have bought some more – for Friday, to look forward to. That bottle would have been opened, and I’d have persuaded my husband to share it with me. He would have gone to bed, and I’d have stayed up watching old reruns of Sex and the City until the small hours, having raided the cupboard for the remnants of the Tia Maria.

And this evening? The new life? We’ve had supper, together with the kids (I used to feed them early so that we could drink aperitifs while they ate) and we all drank water. Everyone chatted. They’ve gone up to get ready for bed while I write this, and in a minute I will go and settle them. Then we are planning to make some tea and watch a bit of a film.

Spot the difference?

On another note, I hope I am not boring you by writing so often. It was always part of my challenge to write a blog post every day for 30 days; if I get that far, I will probably not write so much, but I don’t want you to think I’ve disappeared.

Forgot to say…

… I pressed publish too soon, and have no idea how to edit an existing post. But I wanted to add that I fear I’ve been feeling sorry for myself, and that I want to stop wallowing in self-pity. Today, on that walk, I suddenly had a real sense that there was a good force behind me – I guess that’s you guys!

A new direction

In writing this blog, I have received countless words of wisdom from fellow bloggers. How about actually following some of their advice? I think I’ve been quite down over the past fortnight, and I thought I’d try something different. As I walked the dog today, I fell to thinking about what I could do to improve my mood, my resolve, my motivation. Rather than honing in on that dreaded witching hour, what about thinking of some more positive ideas instead?

Radical, huh?

So, for example, I have ordered several of the books which were recommended on a Bubble Hour episode; I actually took a little pencil and paper with me on the dog walk, and as I listened to the podcast on the walk, I jotted down the book titles, then bought them on my return. They should arrive next week. I’m also going to invest in some more interesting teas, and may even treat myself to a really nice cup and saucer if I make it to Day 30. I hope to go beyond that, but I need to keep that target in my sights for now.

Saturday night

Yesterday, I felt very close to drinking. But I didn’t. I so appreciate all the comments on my blog. The thought of you all out there helped me push through the cravings and wake up this morning grateful. It worries me, though, the strength of the feelings which shout sabotage. Today, I decided to pay more attention to these, and to do some more ‘sober work’: I listened to an old Bubble Hour podcast about books which are good in recovery, and am thinking of ordering some. And I tried to be more mindful about how I approach various problem times of day, late afternoon for example. Becoming fidgety around 5ish, I took the dog for a walk instead.

I am still finding it a bit depressing that the weekend is so quiet and free from wild cocktails. But this quietness means that I am now able to go and collect my daughter from a party at 11pm this evening; usually, I’d have tucked into a bottle of wine by now and would have persuaded my husband to have a dry night so that he could do the driving. Talking of husbands, today I told mine about my blog! He said he wondered why I’d been hovering round the computer so intensely for the past 2 weeks. Yes! 2 weeks! That’s where I’m at.