Don’t look forward

I think it’s called Future Tripping, when you worry about how you’re going to get/stay sober at an event in the future. I was listening to a recent Bubble Hour episode about triggers and Ellie was saying something about there never being a ‘good’ time to get sober; the best time was now. It certainly wasn’t ideal for me to start this sober stretch a couple of days before New Year’s Eve, but I did it, and I felt good about it.

However, some things are looming which are causing me some anxiety on the sober front: visitors this weekend, and a few weekends down the line, a weekend away with my husband (without the kids). I’m preparing for the visitors and think I have quite a positive mindset for how to deal with it (mocktails for everyone??) but the ‘romantic’ trip away? – that’s trickier. I have NEVER been away with my husband without drinking; never. Almost without exception, short breaks with him have involved drinking which I’ve really enjoyed, rather than mindless, numbing, weekday drinking. I am not sure how I’m going to cope with this, how I’m going to be able to reinvent this.

But look at me… I’m future tripping. Mustn’t do that. Rather, let me deal with today, Day 9, Wednesday, another sober step forward.

Trying to do it differently

I want to thank everyone for their comments yesterday. I got in the bath and stayed there until my son came to check that I hadn’t drowned. I found the evening particularly tricky, and your ideas and motivating words really helped get me through. I love the blog in this way, when I reach out and find voices.

As I go slowly into my second sober week, I have been trying to work out what I need to do and what I am already doing differently this time, to give myself the best chance of success. To go through the motions just isn’t going to cut it, and I am aware that I am used to these early days from my other sober attempts and don’t want to be complacent about future pitfalls. I like lists on other sober blogs, so here is a list:

1.  I am going to try and write every day, even if things go wrong. In the past, I have gone silent and retreated into my own excuses.

2. I am using more sober support. This time, I am texting a sober friend – never done that before – and emailing others. As well as the comments on my blog, I find the ‘behind the scenes’ support incredibly helpful.

3. I have put in place a couple of sober routines: one is my mocktail every evening, the other is a bath. Whatever happens in my day, I’m going to try and make my mocktail and get in that bath.

4. I am exploring the possibility of going to a meeting.  Big block here, but I’m working on the idea.

5. I am trying to be more willing, to stop denying that I have a problem and that I could moderate in due course, and to accept that I need to give up completely. In the past, I always gave myself get-out plans. No more get-out plans.

It helps me to make the list.  Sticking to it is the tough part.

New week, new angst

The beginning of sober week 2. I am pleased that I’ve made it to Day 7 but today I have felt more like drinking than on any other day so far in the past week. Turn away now if you are wary of triggers, but I would seriously like to drink a cold glass of wine, and then finish the bottle. And I don’t really know why. The children go back to school this week, normal school week routine commences, so I guess that feels a bit flat after all the parties and festivities. A nice cold glass of wine (there it is again) would pep me up nicely. And it’s 4.45pm, so I’m heading towards that time when I usually start to investigate the fridge.

Right, so here’s what I am going to do:  I am going to prepare the supper now, in advance. Then I am going to make a mocktail, run that bath and get in it and stay there until the craving passes. I may have to stay there until my husband comes home if necessary. If I try and do anything more challenging than that (and I’ve got heaps of things I need to do), I am worried that I might cave.

Yesterday I felt physically better. That’s dangerous; almost instantly, I started looking ahead to the possibility of drinking again now that my symptoms had disappeared. WHAT AM I THINKING? My poor body, desperately trying to heal, needs me to be responsible at this point. I need to push through these days of craving and sabotage, and get to the other side.

Flashing lights

One of the more unsettling things about stopping drinking – and I’ve experienced this each time – is that in the middle of the night (Day 5-6) I see blue flashing lights. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before. Last night, I sat bolt upright in bed at about midnight and was convinced I could see these flashing lights, as though a police car or ambulance was outside the house. Not wanting to disturb my husband, I went into the spare room and slept there but I didn’t sleep well and woke this morning feeling really tired and frazzled. Has this happened to anyone else out there? I am about to make the lunch, so I haven’t got time to go back into my past blog posts, but I fear I’ve written this exact same post somewhere, Groundhog Day style. Just shows how I go round in circles…

My grumpiness has lessened, and today I feel a bit better. And so I have managed New Year’s Eve, and a Friday and Saturday evening. I know the challenges lie ahead, and as I start to feel better physically, I will start to talk myself out of sobriety – I need to be ready for that this time. In the meantime, I have an evening mocktail ritual. This may be too much of a trigger for some people, but I take comfort in the preparation and drinking of these. Last night, I made a fresh orange juice/vanilla syrup/lemon-lime thing with mint leaves. Shook it up in a cocktail shaker (I know, dangerous ground) and poured it into cocktail glasses (I know…) but I didn’t drink alcohol and that’s all I can really focus on at the moment.

We have friends coming to stay next weekend. This will be a huge challenge on the drink front. But before that, I need to get past Sunday night, traditionally a time when I drink the wine dregs and make new resolutions for the week. I need to stay strong, and committed (not a reference to insanity…yet…).

Feeling a bit cross

Day 5 and heading into Saturday evening. I had been feeling quite smug, enjoying these few sober days and thinking how easy it all was.  Having tried this before, I should know that around Day 5 I often hit a major low point. Well, I’m hitting it. I’ve started to feel cross and grumpy, and am snapping at my poor family. I know I just need to push through these next few days, but the old feelings are starting to creep back in. Wow, talk about a broken record.

When I gave up for a few weeks in the Autumn, one of my local friends asked me why I was doing it. ‘No one will give you a medal,’ she said. I don’t think she meant it meanly; but I have often dwelt on it since. It’s not that I want a medal – of course I don’t – but I wonder why her comment keeps coming back to me?

Thank you for all your helpful comments yesterday, and for ideas of how to get through Friday. Always on the look out for tips, I’d be grateful for some Saturday night ones. I’ve done this before, but it all still feels brand new, and I’m still a novice. A grumpy novice.

Every day is like Friday

It seems as though the Christmas celebrations started way back in late November, and that’s when my recent drinking pattern started to become more worrying. Drinks parties, school events, or even just being at home getting ready for Christmas – it provided me with an excuse to open a bottle. Now I’m hitting my first Friday of this new sober stretch (Day 4) and because every day for weeks has felt like a Friday, today doesn’t. As I went round the supermarket with my kids, sending them off on challenges to find the peach nectar, or the lemon and lime seltzer, I was relieved to bypass the wine corner (it’s not an aisle, it’s a whole area), and head for the ginger ale. As I need some more strategies this time round, I am trying to be more inventive with my mocktails; my tonic, lime, grenadine mix – though delicious – started to get on my nerves after a while.

Fridays have always been my favourite evening of the week, with that sense of anticipation. Even as I write about being glad that I’m taking a break from the Friday madness, I feel a small disappointment. I never really got to grips with the alternative treat method that other sober bloggers seemed to master – that pjs, slippers, scented candle routine. Perhaps now is the time really to give this a go? Because this time, it has got to work; I cannot keep going back.

January the 1st

Well, I made it! As the champagne was cracked open, I opened my alcohol-free fizz; as the red wine was glugged, I had my fizzy water. I drank a lot of water. I felt a pang of envy as my husband and friends drank their champagne and wine, but I put the pang aside and tried to be cheerful. I kept thinking that the friends weren’t having a nice time: the other husband (not my other husband – I only have one) seemed to be disappointed when I explained that I wasn’t drinking, and he seemed out of sorts after that. But it may be that I just don’t usually notice stuff when I’m drinking; and NOT drinking, on New Year’s Eve, I was hyper-aware of how everyone was behaving.

Did I feel flat? Not really, and that surprised me. I felt a bit of the usual panic looking ahead and wondering how long I’d be able to sustain this, with holidays on the horizon (holidays have been my downfall every time so far), but I woke up today glad that I’d been sober last night. My husband has a headache today; he claims that he drank more than usual because I wasn’t drinking.  Now, how does that work??

During the evening, I experienced a couple of moments where I felt like drinking. I texted a sober friend (you know who you are!) and her encouraging, warm reply really helped get me through. I also thought of the people who had commented on my blog and who were trying to be sober as well for their New Year’s Eves, and the sense of solidarity was palpable. So thank you to you all, Happy New Year, and I hope I can make it work this time.