Circles

Day 1 again. I went to the doctor yesterday as I had had a sore feeling in my stomach since last weekend. She gave me some pills, I came home and drank some wine. I’m not even going to begin to look at how crazy this was. My husband was at a drinks party last night, so I didn’t tell him about the wine, but this morning we agreed that it would be sensible for me not to drink so that I can see if my stomach pain gets better. So I’m hitting the dreaded Friday night with an enforced plan of action! I might even get through today without drinking! Imagine!

Lots of exclamation marks, but I’m not feeling bonny. However, although the past couple of months have been pretty hopeless on the sobriety front, I do feel as though the circles in which I’m running are getting smaller and smaller, and that I will eventually find myself right in the centre, and at that very point I will have to face myself.

For now, for today, I am going to be quiet at home, and try and get better. No wine aisle visits at the supermarket this morning; instead, I stocked up on some pudding treats and am going to sit on the sofa this evening with a hot water bottle. Better than a wine bottle I reckon.

Still reaching out

Yesterday I felt terrible. I reread my blog from beginning to end, and was saddened by my recent weeks of indecision. Yesterday, I wanted to hide. By the end of the day, I felt very low and ill, snapping at the family, so angry with everyone and everything. It was another Day 2 and I realised that all my stopping and starting with drinking is exhausting me. Drinking at the weekend is tiring in itself, but then the recovery time in the week is becoming harder and harder to do, and here I am now feeling completely washed out.

I am still determined, though it may not seem like that. Today is Day 3 and I am going to keep writing, I’m going to keep trying.

Put your left foot in

Mrs D’s new book arrived on Friday, and I started reading it over the weekend. It is brilliant. I find it encouraging reading the early part of her story – she is such a Sober Legend, that I sometimes forget she must have had a Day 1 somewhere. I am constantly amazed by the longevity of some of the sober bloggers’ sobriety. I’m back on Day 1 today.

I was also listening to the most recent episode of The Bubble Hour this morning, about the Holiday season. I’m only part way through the episode, but one of the contributors described her time before she became sober as having ‘one foot in’ and ‘one foot out’. That is how I have been feeling for some time now; I want to be sober, and then I want to drink, and I haven’t yet managed to make the choice and stick to it.

But I am going to keep trying, to keep chipping away. It may seem as though I am dithering, but I am moving forward slowly.

On the fence

Someone commented that I seem to be on the fence. They are right, of course. I am constantly wavering between giving up and drinking, and go round in a cycle of determination and weakness with very little sense of progress. The same commenter suggested that I lack the courage to decide which path to follow. I have been thinking about this a lot: do I lack the courage?

Sunday morning and another Day 1. I guess I am still on the fence. I often feel like this: weary of the drinking, disappointed in myself, wanting to move forward in a more positive way, but unable to be clearly on one path. My path is unclear to me.

Sometimes I feel super-motivated, with lots of sober tools and a sense that this is what I want to be doing. Later in the day, I feel overwhelmed by the decision and start to back out of it. I consider giving up the blog: I didn’t have the blog when I managed my 60 days earlier this year. But although I sometimes have to face tough (but truthful) comments on the blog, I feel supported and I need some sort of accountability, some sort of network where I can get advice and feel understood.

But the question is still nagging me, and I think it may be fundamental: do I lack the courage?

A wandering path

It didn’t work, my plan. My plan was not to drink, but I drank. I had so much support and good advice from my friends here, and still I drank. I could feel the plan beginning to crumble on Friday morning when yet again I stood in front of the shelves of wine in the supermarket and chose several bottles. I still had the crazy intention of somehow not drinking them, but the voice was very very small and I knew I would overpower it. By 6pm I poured myself a glass and thought that nothing else mattered: the blog didn’t matter, my health didn’t matter, it was absolutely meant to be that I was going to drink and I was a fool for ever thinking differently.

But slowly slowly I do feel that I am climbing towards a place where I won’t want to think like this. Primrose directed me to one of her posts (see her comment on my last post) – it rings true for me. As I was drinking last night, I tried to examine what was going on, and how I was feeling. The taste was irrelevant, and the buzz not so great. Sure, I quickly launched into ‘meaningful’ conversations with my husband (gossipy talk, Friday night banter) but then I kept wanting more wine. My 6pm glass had been by myself, and when I heard my husband coming home I washed up the glass and put it away. As I was doing it, I knew I was right back in that secret behaviour which is one of the biggest warning signs that my drinking is out of control.

I was struck by the extreme nature of the feelings I have surrounding alcohol: either elation at achieving one or two sober days in a row, or utter depression at the thought of not drinking, and joy when I decide to drink again.

On top of this, I had a headache all day yesterday, my fourth sober day, and I couldn’t get rid of it with pills. It just wouldn’t go away. I felt more sad and depressed and hopeless than I’d felt in a long time. Are you ill? asked my Mum.

I feel as though I am slowly piecing together a picture of what is happening to me. I am sure it’s completely obvious to everybody reading this blog, and in some ways it’s obvious to me too, but in the moment, in the dark afternoon, in the very moment when I open that fridge, or buy the wine, or decide that drinking is brilliant – in that moment the picture is blurred.

Shifting thoughts

Imagine writing a really moany blog which went on and on about how dreadful giving up drinking was, and kept repeating itself and driving its writer and readers mad? Oh dear, that might be me and my blog.

Last night, I decided that I needed to look at this process in a slightly different way. Clearly I am struggling with giving up drinking, and feel angry and resentful that I can’t drink; and when I do drink, I feel hollow and guilty. So I clicked on a link on Mrs D’s website Living Sober which directed me to some information about alcohol/addiction and the reward pathways of our brain. It was fascinating. If I knew how to put the link here, I would, but I’m so unsavvy where computers are concerned. The article helped me understand the physical effects of alcohol on the body, and how we become addicted, and how the body and brain try to adapt to the alcohol, thereby reducing the body’s natural means of creating reward and pleasure. I won’t continue to try and summarise it here; the link is in Mrs D’s post (on Living Sober) entitled ‘You’re not a bad person, you’re addicted’.

I stop drinking for a few days, then I start again. I am not giving my body a chance to recover and to reset itself to being without alcohol. It’s no wonder that I feel in a constant state of confusion and frustration.

And I also notice that I am finding it increasingly difficult to give up for any length of time. 60 days? 40 days? How on earth did I do that, when I now can hardly do 3 days? My biggest trigger is Friday, as in tomorrow. I need a serious plan of action so that I can get through this weekend and start adding some time to my body’s attempts to work at its natural best.

Darker afternoons

I am very grateful for people’s comments; they really help me. I try and reply if I can, but please don’t worry if I don’t – I still appreciate you.

Day 2. Or is it day 2002, another day when I go over and over what I am doing? Earlier today, I ate a huge slice of chocolate cake, and I immediately felt this hopeless sense of having failed some sort of self-imposed health quest. If I’d failed there, then I might as well fail with my drinking quest too (I thought to myself). I often find that these things are tied together: a sense of having not been perfect. Drinking has allowed me to be ‘rubbish’ and I sometimes quite like that, the feeling that I don’t have to be organized, tidy, efficient. If I’m having a glass of wine, then it doesn’t matter if the children haven’t done their piano practice.

If I am to succeed in not drinking, I need to be able to feel not good about things and not mind about that.

Wednesday, and I’m already thinking about Friday. I need to be honest with you, otherwise this blog is pointless. I can feel myself thinking – already – that on Friday I’m going to do the same thing as I did last week, which is to buy some wine, and drink it. I don’t want to enlist my husband’s help not to drink, because I don’t want him to stop me. In other words, I want to do what I want. I am sounding petulant now; sorry.

It was a beautiful Autumn afternoon here today. I walked the dog and listened to the most recent Bubble Hour podcast about PAWS. I love The Bubble Hour; people who pass me in the park must think I’m odd as I nod and laugh (or cry!) while I listen.

Patterns

Can it possibly be Day 1 again? Again? I don’t think I should get hung up on this; it’s just another day where I try again. But there do seem to be some sad patterns emerging. And there have been many other sober attempts over the years, not just since I started reading sober blogs and writing my own. I’ve been circling this area for a long time.

In the lull between my goodbye for the moment post and yesterday’s one, I decided that it would be really fun to drink at weekends. I’d have a nice, clear sober week, and then on Friday I would have a few sparkly drinks and be normal. I stocked up my supermarket trolley with fine wines, sherry (sherry? Why sherry?) and prosecco and made a drinking plan for the weekend. As soon as my husband came home on Friday evening, I sat him down and got him to drink with me. But there was a problem: he wasn’t feeling well, he didn’t want to drink over the weekend, and suddenly my drinking plans looked ridiculous. I proceeded to drink anyway, telling myself that it was fantastic to be back to how I wanted to be, free to drink. By Sunday evening, I was opening a bottle of wine late at night, in anticipation of there still being some left for Monday.

What a load of rubbish. From the very first sip on Friday night, I felt a deep sense of how precarious my situation was. And by Sunday, when I’d already woken up with a headache but found myself pouring sherry at midday I knew that this just wasn’t going to work. I had to stop.

You see, I have to stop.

As I enter yet another attempt at a sober run, I think I need to think small to start with. I need to get through these first few days, I need to get through Friday and Saturday evenings which are just my biggest biggest triggers. I need to break the pattern.

In limbo

I suddenly feel compelled to write. I was going to wait until I tried another Day 1, but I can’t even seem to reach that day. This is not going well.

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling ill: not ill from drinking, more ill at ease with myself. I resolved to start my Day 1 today, and woke feeling good about this plan. But as the day went by, I started to talk myself out of it. And now here I am, on a Monday evening, usually my sacred no-drinking evening, already having had a drink.

As I said, this is not going well.

I think I am quite an organized person, so I like lists, and plans, and challenges. Part of me has really relished the sober challenges I have set myself, but as I fail each time, the novelty of these self-imposed tasks starts to wear off. I see the pitfalls in advance and, rather than tackle them with strength and determination, I give up before I even reach them. A sort of I know how this story goes so I might as well not go there routine.

I think I need a new plan. As I keep coming back to my blog, to others’ blogs, to a sober possibility, it seems to me that I am seeking something, and that at the same time I am avoiding something. I am hiding.

Going quiet

I may go quiet on the blog for a while. I am finding it a bit stressful writing every day because I am not sure what I am doing.

I wanted to say that I have so appreciated everyone’s thoughts and comments. I am grateful that people have read the blog, and I have read and reread the comments many times. I take them all very seriously, and I really listen to what people say.

For many years now, I have been in and out of this process, sometimes for a day or two, sometimes for a month or so. The blog has been an anchor in many ways, and I am glad I started it, but now I feel I’m floating away.