I could be rubbish

Thank you for your comments yesterday as I approached my 30 day mark. And now here I am, having reached 30 days. It feels like a small triumph.

Towards the end of last year, when I had pretty much given up giving up and was drinking what I wanted when I wanted, things began to unravel. An ordinary weekday evening would stretch ahead, and I would feel bored; I would open a bottle of wine to pass the time, and then I got to like the way it meant I didn’t need to tackle the various jobs left undone; it meant I could be ‘rubbish’. Now, I feel as though I have given myself permission to be rubbish at this time of day, I just don’t drink wine at the same time. Hence the new habits that have sprung up in the past few weeks: the TV watching, the chocolate eating, the bath taking. I don’t have to be busy busy busy all the time; it is ok to be sitting…eating cakes.

I would hazard a guess that many of us sober bloggers are organized people who like things to be well done and ‘just so’. We are probably pretty hard on ourselves. I am finding that to be successful in trying to be sober, I have had to relax my efficiency, not mind so much. The kids don’t notice if my in-tray is threatening to topple; they do notice if I don’t say goodnight to them because I am ‘cooking’.

So, still here, still counting, still hoping, still trying, still not perfect, still glad not to be perfect, and still a little bit rubbish.

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Nearly there

Well, when I say nearly there, I mean I’m nearly at Day 30. Tomorrow. 30 days feels like a bit of a milestone. For the last few months, I haven’t been able to string together more than a few sober days. Sometimes, I haven’t wanted to, but mostly, I’ve been searching for a way. I’m not complacent, and I know I’ve got a long way to go, but I am still pleased that I’ve got this far. A few things have helped me manage it better this time: the daily blogging (almost daily; I didn’t write a post yesterday);  reading other people’s blogs every day; the feeling that other people weren’t drinking in January (although some local mums began this quest and quickly dropped out); my mocktail/bath routine; a slightly worrying tv habit; and a bit of determination. And, my sober support. The encouragement I get from the comments is what brings me back here.

In the past, it has been at these milestones that my plans have started to waver, so I need to keep going, to be alert to the possible temptations. My mini-break with husband fast approaches and that still seems like quite a hurdle. But I won’t worry about that now. Off to squeeze another lime.

Looking back

Today I looked back and reread parts of my blog. I hadn’t quite realised how many circles I have run since I started it back in September. It made me feel a bit sad, seeing the same old thought processes weave in and out of my sobriety attempts. Have I learned nothing?

Day 27 today and yes, still counting. I have noticed that a couple of other bloggers have decided not to count anymore – but for me, I think stopping counting might signal an attempt to wander from the path, and I am trying very hard to stay on it. Telling my blog what day I’m on helps to keep me accountable.

Yesterday I made a stew which required a sizeable quantity of red wine AND Marsala.  I didn’t shy away from using these in the recipe, and as I poured it all in, I thought back to how I would definitely have had a quick sip in the old days.  Instead, I corked it back up and gave the stew a good stir.  I wonder if I am testing myself, to see if I can turn away and be happy. Actually, the stew was delicious, and not at all wine-y (unlike me in this blog).

Cucumber and mint

Yesterday was a low point; and today I feel better. These ups and downs seems to be pretty common for me, so I must remember not to be ground down by them when they happen. Thank you for all your support in your comments; I appreciate you all very much.

I can report that the cucumber and mint martini on Thursday night was a success. Only a hint of cucumber flavour, and the whole thing a good mix of sweet and fresh. Mocktails are still an important part of my sober routine – when I miss them, my evening doesn’t seem to go as well – so any new recipe ideas would be welcome.

Day 26 today, so day 30 is in sight. I know there is much debate about day counting in the sober sphere; I am undecided about it. I like building up sober days, but it is so awful if you slip up and have to start at Day 1 that I am beginning to question how helpful it is for me. Last year, I managed a 60 and 40 days stretch, and still I feel as though I haven’t got there yet. Is my ultimate aim total sobriety? Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know that I am struggling to commit to that.

It sounds as though I am making excuses, and perhaps I am preparing myself for a fall. But for today, I am still not drinking.

Not good

I don’t feel good today. I feel physically good – and that perhaps is partly the problem. But I feel fed up, angry and hopeless. Another Friday night of sobriety? Another Friday night where I can’t relax, always looking out for myself, making sure I don’t slip? I am trying to write, but I don’t think I can even articulate what is happening to me.

Take a deep breath. Breathe, Annie, breathe.

Lonely

It’s Day 24, and I guess I should be feeling good about that. But I can’t seem to shake off this low, flat feeling. My tummy problem is still faintly there; it has improved, particularly since I stopped the coffee, but it hasn’t completely gone and that worries me a little. At least it stops me from drinking: it would clearly be crazy to exacerbate my symptoms. But in an odd way, this physical problem almost prevents me from enjoying and getting on with the mental side of sobriety. It feels too easy: possible stomach inflammation = no alcohol. But what about when I am mended (I hope)? Will it then be easy to make excuses and start drinking again?

It is 3.30pm, and this is a typical 3.30pm thought process, the downward twist towards the evening and another weekend on the horizon.

So – enough grey thoughts! A couple of good points to focus on: skin clear and dare I say rosy (I always notice this when I’m not drinking; forget skin products, no booze is the best skincare out there); patience with kids and time for reading to them in the evenings continues with our speeding through Harry Potter with glee (MTM asked me which book I was on in a previous comment: just finishing the first one, but this is the FOURTH time I have read the whole series to them. Aaaarrrrgggghhh); and my mocktail menu has increased today as I found a cucumber mint martini on the Internet.  I will try it tonight and let you know whether it is good, or if it tastes of liquid salad.

Listening

Listening to the radio in the car today, I happened to hear two separate alcohol-related discussions: one was about someone who makes cocktails with interesting herbs, the other was related to a group of journalists who had undergone various tests while doing Dry January.  Without going into too much detail, the gist of the latter was that the researchers had been amazed by the results of these tests which had shown significant health improvements in a very short space of time. If there was a drug which did that, the researcher said, it would be worth billions. The herbal cocktail lady was describing how she creates different drinks with herbs from the garden; they all sounded pretty potent. When the interviewer asked if there were any mocktail versions available, the lady rather scathingly remarked that there were, but that these were for the ‘sanctimonious and serene’. And ‘sensible’, the interviewer suggested.

As you will have seen from my post yesterday, I am finding myself drawn to these sorts of medical findings on radio or television programmes, or in the papers,  perhaps to add weight to what I’m doing.  It’s as though I don’t quite have faith in myself.  My short holiday with my husband is rapidly approaching, and I am seriously concerned that I won’t be able to stay strong.  We have been married for 18 years, and I have never had a holiday with him without drinking.  I know it sounds feeble of me to be anxious about it, but that is how I am feeling.  23 days today, so I do feel that I’m making progress, but these anxieties are preoccupying me.

Please drink responsibly

Isn’t that what they put at the bottom of alcohol advertisements? If I could drink responsibly, then I wouldn’t be here blogging! In the past few weeks, as I have gone back and forth in my mind about stuff, I have often contemplated the notion of drinking in a sensible fashion: one drink, not twenty drinks. But who does that?  Who has one drink?

Headline story in today’s Times newspaper is about how it’s actually good for you to drink one drink, something about how it helps to protect you from heart disease. There is a sentence about how drinking more than that is very bad for you, but I still find it disconcerting when I read things about abstinence not being the best choice. I find myself almost looking for articles like this, searching for an escape route.

Annie! Stop doing that! Stop looking for escape routes! Carry on with your mocktails, and your baths, and your reading to the kids, and stop making such a fuss! Day 22!

I am talking to myself. Is this the first sign of madness?

Quiet days

Do I dare say that things felt easier today? The evening routine is pretty settled: mocktails, chat, supper with kids, Harry Potter (reading to kids), washing up, bit of tv, bed. Ok, so it’s not very exciting, but it’s working at the moment, so I’m sticking to it. 21 days in, and I have cocooned myself here in sober safety. Apart from our weekend of guests – oh, and New Year’s Eve, but that was right at the start – we haven’t been out at all. No socialising, no dinners, no drinks parties…no temptations outside the house. It hasn’t been easy changing the routine but I’m getting used to it, and it now feels faintly absurd that I used to quaff wine during the week.

Another mum this morning was listening to me explaining to someone else that I wasn’t drinking alcohol or coffee because of my ongoing tummy problem; and she suddenly piped up, in front of everyone, that her husband remembers pouring me glass after glass of wine at a party, years ago. That wasn’t nice, to be exposed like that, but I guess I deserve it; I used to drink a lot and people noticed.

Day 20

When I woke up this morning, I made a mental note that I felt good and that I would put this in my blog. Banish the gloom! Be more upbeat! I do feel clear headed and calm when I wake, and this has really helped me cope with kids, family life etc. I often write my posts later in the day, when the cravings have started to nag me, so I’m writing this earlier in the hope that it doesn’t sound so depressed.

On another positive note, last night my children said how much nicer I’ve been these past 20 days. I think schools do a lot of work about the perils of drinking and drugs, so all three kids are currently anti-alcohol; my 10 year old says she is going to be teetotal. It helps to have these mini accountability members in my sober group, and they keep me on track. Having a mother who reads to them every night now rather than sloping off down to the kitchen is a good thing, and I need to remember that.

So. Still cross that I can’t drink, but grateful that I have people in my life who care about whether I drink or not.  Opening the wine bottle now would feel like a kind of betrayal: of them, of you guys, of myself.