Day 5: too many rules

I’m always setting myself rules: only drink one glass of every different drink offered; don’t drink during the week; only drink during the week; drink a glass of water in between each glass of wine; never initiate drinking. You know the sort of thing. And I don’t think I have EVER been successful in maintaining these rules. In my attempt to moderate recently, I would pound the park with the dog and come up with the most absurd ideas in order to keep drinking – anything to avoid stopping altogether.

This did not work. By 7pm every night, I’d be tucking into the gin & tonics, opening the wine, guzzling whatever I could find. And long after supper was over and my husband and I had chatted over that sociable bottle or two, I would stay up and search for more. Then I’d hide the empty bottles. And when I thought about this later, I couldn’t rationalise it, but I’d do it anyway.

For the last few evenings, I’ve changed the routine. Once the kids are back from school, and while I get supper ready, I check my blog and read others’ blogs, thereby avoiding that sip sip sip. We all eat together – this is a new venture as I used to feed the kids first so I could drink more with my husband – and they are pleased to see I’m not drinking. Then I wash up straightaway and once I’ve put the kids to bed I pretty much go to bed myself. Clearly this is not exciting stuff, but it’s what I need to do at the moment to stop myself thinking too much about what I’m doing. Because otherwise I’m going to start making those rules again.

At least 20 times today, I have considered writing a post to say goodbye, to give up my blog because I’m so frightened that I won’t be able to sustain it and that I’ll let you all down. But for the moment, I will keep writing and please forgive me if I sound muddled.

Doubts on Day 4

I hope I am not putting people off. I’d like to be more upbeat, but here I am on Day 4 and those niggling doubts have started to SHOUT OUT. After the first few days of feeling fired up with the new blog, and the routine of writing, today I have felt fed up. I guess this is to be expected, and I know from past experience that I need to plough through these feelings; in the last few months, I kept trying to restart on Day 1, and I would get to Day 2 or 3 and then give up. I wouldn’t tell anyone I was attempting it, because I didn’t want anyone to stop me if I went back to drinking. This of course is why the blog and the accountability is good, because now if I go back, I will have to explain myself to you, or just disappear. And I definitely don’t want to disappear. Disappearing is bad.

The blog is good. The blog is good.

It’s not that I’m having trouble not drinking. It’s that I’m having trouble with the idea of not drinking. I want to be NORMAL. I want to have wine if I want.

The evenings so far have been fine, and it is so uplifting to see the children pleased that I’m drinking just water at dinner. I haven’t told my husband what I’m doing, so I think he thinks I’m still on that no wine Monday-Thursday plan which we’d made last week, and that come Friday I’ll be waving the wine bottle about. He is a lovely man, but he doesn’t think I need to stop drinking; he thinks I need to have days off during the week, and then drink less when I do drink. And that sounds ideal, doesn’t it! But we all know that those plans never seem to work out.

I’ve stopped shouting now. Even the writing of this post has helped me to feel calmer, and a little bit more sure about what I’m doing.

Because this blog is good.

Day 3 doldrums

When I say doldrums, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m really depressed; it’s more that I feel stagnant somehow, waiting for something to happen. I’ve been on Day 3 plenty of times before, and at this stage I usually feel pretty positive, as it’s all still new and fresh. Then – usually – I start to talk myself out of the whole sobriety thing, and I hit Friday night with renewed vigour for my drinking. How is this time going to be different? How can I make it different?

Well, this time I’ve got this blog. I said I was going to write something every day for at least 30 days. So if I don’t, you’ll know I’ve cheated, or can’t face you all. Over the past few months, there have been several people who have stuck by me, even when I told them that I didn’t want to continue being sober and wanted to try moderating. No one judged me; they just gently advised and stood beside me and let me find out for myself. I’ve never met these people in person. Unpickled and Mrs D were crucial to my decision to give sobriety a go, and once I began the 100 day challenge, Belle came into my life. She introduced me to Fernie, my wonderful sober penpal, who continued to email me even through my drinking patch. And Viatoday found me through an old BFB conversation, and contacted me when I was feeling really blue. These voices spoke to me from a lighter place, and helped me to begin again this time. And now that I’ve started this blog, I’ve found myself in touch with other bloggers whose blogs I’ve sometimes commented on, and it feels as though I have more support than ever.

How strange then that my sober support in the ‘real’ world is virtually non-existent. My husband doesn’t even know I’m writing a blog yet. And I can’t bring myself to tell my friends that I’m on this sober path as last time a couple of people said I was boring, and when I started drinking again one of them texted me to say, ‘Phew!’ So I don’t think people liked the non-drinking me.

Last night, I never got round to having that bath. I drank my herbal tea and went to bed, but had unsettling dreams – I seem to remember flashing lights! All quite disturbing. Not sure how the next few nights will go, but am beginning to feel itchy about the weekend, and the various social events I’ve got. I just need to remember my wise online friends and to carry on carrying on.

Nearly through Day 2

Well, when I say I’m nearly through Day 2, it’s only 6pm here, so I’m in the middle of the witching hour, but I don’t want to write my post too late as I think it might annoy my husband if I get immersed in computer stuff every evening.

I’ve been overwhelmed by all the lovely comments and support from people out there. I can’t believe it! I’d been worried that my blog was a bit primitive – I don’t know how to make it look pretty or personal; perhaps I’ll work that out, but for now I’m just writing and recording my thoughts over these next days and – I hope – weeks.

When I last tried to give up drinking, I read blogs every day, listened to Bubble Hour podcasts, tried to focus on positive sober vibes. One of the bloggers did suggest that I start my own blog – but at that time, I simply couldn’t imagine doing that. I’m not sure why; I just didn’t feel confident enough or something. This time round – and there have been lots of mini sobriety attempts in between – I am hoping that writing this will help me stick to it. What I find hard about trying to give up drinking is sustaining enthusiasm for it. After 60 days last time, I succumbed to the feeling of being fed up with the plan, bored with all the control. I need to tackle that better this time, be ready for it.

I need to remember what I’m like when I relax into drinking. You should have seen me on Saturday. I had planned to be incredibly sophisticated, sip one or two glasses while I gave everyone dinner. Real version turned out to be me quaffing wine like it was the last liquid on earth, and trying to force one of my guests to tell us all about the fact that he’d been married before, even when he said he didn’t want to talk about it. Not direct and engaging of me, just rude.

Last week, I did 4 days sober, so I’m still feeling relatively relaxed about it. But I know that as I approach the weekend, I’m going to start to worry about it. It’s my birthday this weekend, and I can’t remember when I last had a birthday without a drink, so that is going to be a big challenge. A kind friend of mine is hosting a lunch party for me, and when I told her I’d given up boozing she said, ‘Perhaps you’ll have relented by then’. It’s going to be difficult picking my way through a champagne party just for me. Aaaaaarrrrggghh.

This afternoon, I was hit by a wave of panic about starting this blog and encouraging people to read my story. I now feel as though I can’t turn back – which is the point of it, partly, I know, but it terrifies me. Before, I knew that I could start drinking again whenever I wanted, but now it feels different, as though everyone would be really disappointed in me if I failed.

Plan for tonight? Supper all together, then I think a bath so as to avoid the wine with TV scenario, always so tempting to me, especially when I start to get depressed about the thought of not drinking. Wine is still calling to me, you see. I’d better get some ideas of sober treats lined up. I didn’t use that tool at all last time, and I think it might help.