Wonder

I simply don’t know how people do it: stop drinking. I’m still only just managing, Day 19, but it is a PAINFUL process. I have just spent the last 15 minutes having a fruitless discussion with my patient husband in which I tried to persuade him to let me have a small glass of wine this evening. But you’re not drinking at the moment because of your tummy, he sensibly said. Why would you set yourself back like that? It would be like picking a scab (he said). He is right but I still feel CROSS and DISGRUNTLED and as though everybody gets this but me. I trudged round the park, feeling difficult, and mentally put up barriers to stop me succeeding. I am a sorry mess, I must say.

Earlier today, I was in awe of a fellow blogger who has just celebrated her first soberversary. She is truly amazing and inspirational (the blog is called Fitfatfood). I cannot imagine ever getting to that stage. Everybody says it gets easier, that it will become second nature, but I feel so stubborn, and as though I’m fighting it all the time.

Meanwhile, it’s getting dark here this Saturday evening.  My plea for a glass of wine has been swept away and my husband is going to light a fire, and I’m going to stop whining and chop vegetables instead.

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Friday

I have just reread every comment from my post yesterday. Thank you to everyone for writing such thoughtful and helpful things; I really appreciate them, and think about them all carefully.

Day 18, Friday evening. My blog is always going to give you the ups and downs, because that’s the way I work. There seems little point in writing a feel good blog when that is not how I’m feeling. So you may be witnessing someone who is not succeeding at all times, but who is here anyway, trying every day.

Worrying thoughts

I feared that yesterday’s positivity would catch me out. Still not drinking – day 17 – but as I walked the dog today, I found myself thinking seriously about going back to ‘normal’. A new normal of course! A normal where I drink the occasional glass of wine and otherwise stick to my shiny new sober life! Oh dear, oh dear. I think these thoughts are playing with the fact that I am feeling so much better. Kicking the coffee has really helped, but I also know that not drinking has paved the way for the tummy healing to take place.

But it’s such a dangerous place to be in, feeling better. Because as I feel the spring in my step, and congratulate myself on reading  two books already this year (no longer dead tired at the end of the evening), and am thrilled when a local friend says I look fresh-faced – at the same time, I think I can create the perfect situation where I only drink a teeny tiny bit, here and there.

I have been writing this blog for a while: stopping drinking, starting again, going silent, returning. Some of my sober blogging friends go through this pattern too, while others seem to have fixed it, managing to stay sober for many months, years even.  I am reaching out to all my sober friends, those who have done it, and those who are struggling, and I say to you all: I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this; I think I’m going to fail.

Day 16

I’m feeling more positive today.  I had been worried that cutting the coffee would be dire, and it initially seemed dire, but today I’ve felt better, and the headaches seem to have gone. I guess this may go up and down, but at this very moment I am ok!

And after 16 days of giving up alcohol, not drinking coffee is a welcome distraction; for the first time in over two weeks, I even momentarily stopped thinking about drinking! Who knew!

I am always cautious when I start feeling more bonny… In the past, that has caused complacency and relapse, so I won’t whoop yet. But perhaps it is alright to be a little bit pleased today?

No coffee

My health problems continue to niggle, although it is clear that not drinking alcohol is helping to improve things. I saw the doctor today. And what do you know? It is not enough to be sober; I now need to give up coffee as well, at least for the moment. It’s only coffee, I know, but I feel cross and sad about this; my delicious coffee was something I looked forward to every day.  And now it’s herbal teas stretching into the future.

I am already experiencing bad headaches from not having had coffee this morning, and the doc said I’d be feeling grotty for 10 days or so while the caffeine leaves my system. Just what I need.

Thank you for all your comments yesterday. I do so appreciate people’s thoughts and advice. Feeling gloomy yesterday, your words helped a great deal.

So where now? Well, onwards, I suppose, onwards.

Troubled

Day 14, but I’m not feeling uplifted and good about it. My troubled mood which began over the weekend continues. I’ve been reading other blogs, trying to absorb some of that motivation and good spirit, but instead I feel utterly fed up, sad even. SORRY.

I think I put quite a lot of energy into my sober weekend, with my visitors and husband drinking. So perhaps I’m just tired. But I can’t shake off this feeling of being worn out by sobriety. I seem to spend so many hours a day contemplating it. I know I need to do the work, but I need a break; not a drink, a break. What shall I do?

In an earlier post, I resolved to write every day, but my words sound so depressed and hopeless, and I don’t want to discourage people. My friends, I am troubled.

Tricky thinking

Sunday, Day 13 and our visitors have gone. I managed a sober weekend. During dinner last night, I had an intense craving for a sip of the red wine they were all drinking, just one sip. But I forced myself to drink the AF wine I was having instead, and felt gloomy when they were discussing Masters of Wine and the intricacies of being a wine expert.

After my anxieties on Friday evening, I felt that I was quite even-tempered while the guests were here, and I was able to enjoy their company and really listen to and appreciate them.

However… I want to be honest on this blog, otherwise it is pointless. I still miss it. On our dog walk this morning, my husband and I had a long talk about what I was going to do. I am seeing the doctor this week, and need to get this tummy thing completely sorted (it has got a lot better), so not drinking alcohol clearly makes sense at the moment. But longer term, I am still doubtful that I want to live alcohol free. Sorry; I would like to have a more determined outlook, but that is how I feel. I am not sure whether this is a nearing 2 week sober sort of feeling, or whether it is something more solid – but it is undermining my sober intentions.

Part way through

The support on my blog really helped me get through last night. I kept sneaking back to my computer and rereading the comments. Thank you all so much.

So, here I am on Saturday afternoon, otherwise known as Day 12. Yes, my friends, I survived. I must admit, I was struggling. When my visitors arrived, armed with SIX bottles of wine, I knew that I would have to tell them. But it wasn’t until they’d had their first glass of champagne, and I’d had my glass of AF fizz unnoticed, that I spilled the beans. I wasn’t drinking. But then – guess what? – it transpired that they were in the middle of doing Dry January, but had decided we’d be too disappointed and had therefore given up their quest temporarily and were drinking this weekend. They had drafted an email to warn me they were doing Dry Jan but had then deleted it, thinking it sounded silly. So if we’d all been honest with each other beforehand, we could have shared and celebrated a sober weekend!

They and my husband proceeded to drink the rest of the bottle, then wine. I was ok with my alternatives. Did I feel left out? A bit, I guess. I found it hard to relax into it, and felt on the edge of having a nice time. But I stuck to it; I didn’t let myself or you guys down.

The weekend is not over yet. I don’t feel stronger as we close in on Saturday night. But I have suggested that we all have a mocktail by the fire this evening before they dig into the wine. Small, small steps.

Visitors

Visitors for the weekend, Friday night looming, Day 11 of sobriety… is this combination dangerous?  I fear it is. I have done the shopping (AF beers are back in stock!  hooray!), made up the beds, am about to prepare the supper way ahead so that I’m not panicking later, listened to a Bubble Hour episode about Sober Fun (it’s hilarious and brilliant, listen to it if you haven’t already), and still I feel anxious. I am not intending to blow my sober 11 days, and I have faced similar situations before, but the temptation just to have one is strong.

As I was walking the dog just now, my mind started wandering: could I stay sober and just drink on holiday? Could I just drink one glass of each sort of alcoholic drink this weekend, but basically be abstemious? Shall I tell my husband that my tummy thing is completely better and I want to join him and our friends in a glass of fizz, just a glass?

Too many questions. And I know the answer of course: NO. One of my sober buddies suggested that I promise myself a treat if I get through this weekend with integrity. It’s a good idea, as I still struggle with the whole notion of treats.

I won’t lie to you: I feel vulnerable, I feel worried, I feel weak. I feel like crying.

The glass

In my past sober attempts, I concentrated on not drinking. That was hard enough; but it wasn’t enough. This time, I am trying to look more carefully at my motivations for drinking, to examine why not drinking can make me feel so blue. So when a craving strikes, as it does every day from about 4.30pm, rather than chop supper ingredients recklessly and curse, I take a moment to think about what exactly it is that I am craving. Is it the wine, or is it the glass? One of my blogging friends described herself as always needing some sort of drink in her hand, and I really get that. This is why I have found my mocktail ritual so effective in the past few days: replacing the alcohol with an innocent fizz is obviously crucial, but it’s the GLASS that matters.

I can feel the novelty of my sober planning wearing off. Rather than settling nicely into my sober rituals and getting used to a new normal, I am starting to feel tired of it. Yesterday evening I did not have a bath (gasp!), nor did I make my beloved mocktail (double gasp!). Instead, I grabbed an AF beer (the last one in the world as Dry January has emptied the supermarket shelves of these little babies), glugged it as though it were real beer, and felt fed up. Note to self: do not abandon the bath/mocktail moment. This is important.