Tuesday

I have read and reread everyone’s comments from my last two posts. I am profoundly grateful to everyone who commented, and I mean everyone. It is true that I find ‘tough love’ comments hard to take, but I recognise the wisdom in them, and I know they come from a supportive place. A few months ago I would have walked away from my blog, following an apparently negative comment; now I see the potential for discussion in people’s reactions, and the forum for debate. I still get hurt, I still find it hard to hear, but I suspect we all feel like that from time to time.

In the spirit of honesty with which I try to write this blog, I must tell you that I am yet again back on Day One. This follows a pretty sad evening in which I pretended to my husband that I was drinking an alcohol free drink, giving him the AF alternative, and then later hid a glass of another drink in a cupboard. I then stayed up late drinking more and slept in a different room so that he wouldn’t smell the alcohol on me. All this after I had promised myself I would drink nothing in the week, and only drink at weekends.  And this was Monday.

Addiction.  And me with no power to control it.

So, before I went to bed, I started to investigate how I was going to get some outside help for what is happening to me.  I won’t write about this on my blog – at least, not for now.

I am going to keep trying.  I am going to keep recording my struggles, and I sincerely hope I move forward.  I have got this holiday soon, and it is impossible for me to avoid it, but I can’t wait until I get back before starting my umpteenth sober thing, because otherwise I’ll just drink masses, behave badly, disappoint myself and my family, and feel terrible all over again.

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Why blog?

A comment yesterday got me thinking. The commenter said, amongst other things, ‘I’m really not sure what your blog is about because you’re not helping these people [in early sobriety] or yourself’.

It made me wonder: why was I writing the blog?  And does a blog need to be about something? Well, I started it as a daily record of a sobriety attempt, a suggestion given to me by a friend, and once I’d started, I enjoyed airing my thoughts, the frustrations and successes, and getting comments and feedback from people. The blog felt like a safe place to document my progress, and lack of progress.

No one has to read my blog. No one has to do what I do, or even believe what I say. I’m just a person writing down my thoughts. I am pleased if people say they are encouraged by what I write, and I guess I am sad if I think people are frustrated by what I write. I imagine that all kinds of people read sober blogs, and for different reasons: they might be looking for solidarity in the early stages of sobriety, inspiration if they’ve hit a rut, friendship if they feel lonely, or they might just be curious about sober blogging in general.  But as I have no influence over who chooses to read my blog, I can’t be responsible for people’s actions. If someone reads that I have started drinking after a few sober days, and then that person decides that this gives them permission to drink, I can’t really do anything about this. I do not think that I glorify drinking, or that I make it ‘ok’ to drink. I am not suggesting that other people do what I do, that they follow the same path, because everyone’s story is unique. But if anything, I hope that reading about my journey, about my successes and failures, shows people that this is not easy, that there isn’t one route, that my sobriety story is not a fairytale and that I may struggle and fail, time and time again, before I eventually succeed. And I may not eventually succeed. But that is what is happening; so that is what I write.

I have always tried to be completely honest here. I write frequently, and I don’t choose my words particularly carefully. My posts aren’t finely crafted, it’s more a sort of online diary, jottings if you like, charting my sober attempts. I don’t know if I’m helping anyone – I hope I am, but I can’t know this – but my blog really does help me, however imperfect its story.

Back to the early days

So I’m back navigating those early days of sobriety. Days 1 and 2 don’t seem so bad, the memory of feeling rough still fresh, but I know it gets much more difficult in the next few days, and I am determined to get through these difficult patches this time. I know I always say I am determined, but I’ve got to keep saying it, and believing it – and actually trying to do it.

I was playing in a concert last night so drinking wasn’t an option (although some people do drink in the interval), and I was able to appreciate the good night’s sleep I had after Friday night’s dreadful one. I was still smarting from my husband’s comments about my being belligerent after my Friday wine, but it is partly his reaction which is making me want to be sober.

I counted 100 days ahead in my diary to see where I need to get to for the 100 day challenge. It seemed an impossibly long time away, towards the end of June. June! I won’t project that far ahead; I also won’t worry yet about our holiday in a couple of weeks, when we are meeting up with a whole bunch of boozy friends and I have no idea how I’m going to manage that yet.

No, I’ll just think about the rest of today, the rest of Day 2, and how I’m going to manage that.

Hammer and nails

Insanity. Going to the party last night, and thinking that I wasn’t going to have any alcohol, then immediately taking a glass, drinking it and looking for top ups for the next few hours. Any thought of moderation disappeared within the first few seconds of my arrival; I threw my few sober days away without even pausing.

Time and time again, my attempts to moderate are scuppered. And increasingly, I find this to be the case. I read about it in other blogs, and I know it is common, but it still amazes me, the way the alcohol voice shouts so loud.

Day One. I recognize the need to change the way I tackle this, but first I need to get through today; I feel groggy, stupid and a bit sick.

My blog

10.25pm on a Friday night and I am turning to my blog. Yet again, I am back in a bad place. I had had 4 sober days, and then caved this evening when I went to a book signing party and drank lots of glasses of I’m not sure what. I liked talking to the people there, but the more I drank, the more I lost a sense of what I was doing.  I looked about at one point and EVERYONE was drinking.  EVERYONE. I could not see one single glass of water, not one.  And at that moment, I felt a sense of desolation, a sense that I would never be able to manage a scenario like this.

And then the rest of the evening fell apart. My husband had been out, and when he came home, I was immediately obstreperous. He is having a hard time at work at the moment, and earlier in the evening, he had asked for my help. I think his words were, ‘Please help me.’

But later in the evening, he said I was aggressive, and by then I was questioning how much help he was being for me with the family, and I was challenging him about it. And that’s when he said, ‘You’re different when you’ve had pop.’  Those were his words.

Pop.

It’s just not working.  Drinking, I mean.  I went out this evening, planning to drink nothing.  I drank I don’t know how many drinks.  I came home and my husband and I argued.  He is now in bed, and I am downstairs writing this.

Day 0, Day 1, Day 60, Day 30.  When is it going to be my day?

Day 3

In yesterday’s post, I said I wasn’t going to count days. I’ve changed my mind about that. Although the day counting can be scary, I think it does help me gain a sense of momentum, and may also be helpful (or unhelpful) to other people reading about sobriety.

So, here I am again, on Day 3. I’m leaving last weekend behind, and moving forward. I know what to do; but I need to do it and to keep doing it.

Drinking last weekend added nothing – NOTHING – to my experience of the celebrations. Rather, it made me feel guilty and, quite frankly, it felt stupid. It didn’t even taste nice.  I guess alcoholic drinks don’t really taste nice, we just get used to the buzz and then make ourselves believe it tastes nice.

One of my sober buddies has directed me back to Mrs D’s website Living Sober. Amongst other excellent things, it has a section entitled Sober Toolbox, and that’s what I’ve been looking at this morning. I have some good sober tools (AF drinks, bath, books, tv) but I still need more. I was also reading about sober treats on the same site, as I get weary or lazy about treats, and that’s when I tend to cave. So I’m going to be more vigilant on the treat front. All ideas gratefully received.

One of the comments I read this morning described someone needing shots of whiskey to keep her buzz going late in the evening. Seeking the alcohol buzz is one of the things I hate most about my drinking: it’s so futile, so transitory, so…well, empty. I need to find a natural buzz, or maybe be happy with no buzz!

Counting days

Tuesday morning. Since my weekend blip, it has felt strange not being on the sober path. I haven’t been drinking, but I’m not counting days, and I want to see if that works better for me. I kept falling at various hurdles, and it’s so disappointing to go back to Day 1, and to go through those difficult early days. It may be that day counting, and the 100 day challenge, or my own personal challenge are the only ways forward; but for a little while I’m going to try something else.

So, I’m not going to count the days for the moment, but instead deal with each day separately. Because, looking back, I seemed to get restless around the 2 week mark, and that’s when I’d often give in.

Last night, I felt the familiar urge to drink as 6pm approached. But I went through my tried and tested routine and opened a bottle of ginger beer, pouring it into a tall glass full of ice. The urge passed, and my evening went well, calm and sober.

I do not know how things will go; I do not know if I can lead an entirely sober life. I do know that when I’m not drinking, I feel better and things go well. I am learning all the time, and am determined not to sink back into oblivion.

Where now?

The party went well, and was a success; except for me. I drank. At 16 days sober, I drank some champagne and wine. Not a lot, but one sip breaks my 100 day challenge and I had several sips. So I’m back where I started. I know what happened: I lost my focus. I felt it happening a few days ago, but I didn’t put in enough emergency tools to get myself through last night, and I let the I don’t care voice win. I didn’t behave badly, I enjoyed my daughter’s party, but I let myself down. And all of you. I am sorry. I had the support, but I ignored it. I will email Belle, I will text my lovely sober friend, and I will think about what to do now.

Day 16 doubts

I’ve been having lots of doubts, and am finding this really difficult. The 100 day challenge seems impossible, 16 days a mere drop in a vast sober pool that I can’t swim across.

But there are signs from the universe that I need to do this. Struggling yesterday, the film that dropped on my mat was Begin Again.  Mentioned by Mrs D on her blog a long time ago, and jotted down by me at the time, it is partly about alcohol and its damaging effects; I had forgotten all about it, and then there it was. So I watched that last night.

Then today, I woke thinking that today would be the day that I would drink again. And then I realised: not only is it my daughter’s 16th birthday today, but it is also Day 16, and that although this is a coincidence, it seems as though someone is watching out for me, nudging me in the right direction.

Big party this evening for my daughter, a dinner for her and her friends which we are hosting at home. I would normally drink through this, and miss it. And although it sounds obvious that I shouldn’t do this, the idea still hovers lazily overhead. It is as though I am sick inside.

Stay here, Annie, stay here.

Oh dear! I am talking to myself!

Wishful thinking

This morning I was listening to a Bubble Hour podcast about Getting Unstuck. If I knew how to link it here, I would. I’m so computer illiterate. But it’s a recent episode from January this year. A sober friend from this blog recommended it, and it is timely, because two weeks into my latest sober walk (crawl? run? creep?), I have begun to experience that ‘wishful thinking’, the thinking which leads you down the ‘how bad was I’ route, the ‘this is all quite a big deal’ route…the route back to drinking. It has happened to me every time: I get a few days or weeks under my belt, and then I lose interest, or motivation, or I get frightened, and I start trying to moderate. Someone on the podcast described it as the idea that THIS TIME it would be different, that this time I’d be able to control and quite happily drink one glass of wine a week.

That’s what I’ve been thinking.

Well, we all know how well that will go. And so it is really important that I don’t allow myself to go down that route, and that I keep on with what I’ve been doing so far, which is: not drinking alcohol, texting my sober friend, emailing Belle, reading and replying to comments on my blog, emailing some sober friends I’ve made along the way, having good alternative drinks in the house at all times, treating myself regularly (I find this hard), baths, candles (I’ve always scoffed at candles, but it turns out that candles are good), not looking beyond today, not romanticising the drink, wearing my bracelet, and not pushing the blog away. And not pushing myself away.

14 days today. My aim is to carry on with all the above, and add new things if necessary, and not to let wishful thinking get the better of me.