I need help. It is clear that what I’m doing isn’t working. Last night, I started to drink again. I have got myself into a rut where I stop for a day or two, drink, feel momentarily glad, then wake full of shame and regret and start all over again. I read all the helpful comments, and I try and follow people’s advice, but I keep ending up in the bottle.
I need more help.
I am not going to walk away from the blog, because the connections here are really important to me, and I need a space to write what’s happening, and to chart how I feel. Yesterday I read back over the first few entries of this blog: my voice sounded so different then, so full of hope even when I was struggling. And now I hear a different voice, a much more destructive voice, and I recognise how this is creeping up on me, and is threatening to take me over completely. Mid-afternoon it is like a hammer in my head, shouting at me to abandon sobriety and to take that first sip. It’ll all be alright, it says. And hours later it laughs in my face.
I am frightened. Before, I felt in control to a certain extent. But now I see that I have never been in control, that I can’t do this alone, that it’s not going to be as ‘simple’ as just stopping drinking. Because I can’t stop drinking; that’s the problem.
It is Day One again, but it is as though it it is my first ever Day One because it needs to be a completely different Day One. Everything needs to change, everything.
Day 2. I am tired. In fact, I am exhausted. And it’s not as though I work down a mine, or have a labour-intensive job: I feel embarrassed that I’m so tired, because I know I am responsible for feeling like this. This is where I need to focus, as I know I’ll feel like this for many more days to come, and sometimes in the early days, I give up because I just think I’ll never feel better, so I might as well drink and give myself a reason to feel rough. That’s the psychology of addiction, I guess, right there.
People on sober blogs often say ‘be kind to yourself’, and I don’t really know what this means. No one ever says this to me in real life. What does it mean? Because I think it is somehow crucial, and something which I’m missing in the 1000 piece recovery jigsaw puzzle which I’m taking a very long time to make.
When I was a little girl, I was bullied at school. And I think this has partly fuelled a need for me to seek approval: from my family, my friends, my online friends…everyone. In my current struggle with alcohol, I feel as though I am letting everyone down, and I am desperate for them to think we’ll of me. But what I’m missing is approval from myself. Time and again, I let myself down. I feel people’s frustration as they see me failing, and I don’t blame them: it’s annoying to watch someone make the same mistakes over and over again, not to heed advice, to wilfully march into dangerous territory, then cry when things go wrong.
I am shifting my focus. Of course I still mind what people think, and I don’t want to disappoint people; but I also need to have greater self-respect.
Day One again. My son says he will buy me a present if I get to 100 days. My husband is confused and says I keep saying one thing, and doing another – he still thinks I’m mad – but I have told him I am trying the 100 days again. I am learning every time things go wrong, and I don’t feel the situation is hopeless. I know it will be hard for people to believe in me – I have failed so often – but I believe in myself.
I considered going to bed and saying nothing. It would be easy to get up tomorrow and carry on as if it was Day 5. No one would know. But I want to tell you. This evening I drank, so yet again my sober attempt is scuppered.
It began this afternoon when I went for a walk with my husband and basically persuaded him that my current sober 100 day strategy wasn’t going to work, and that I wanted to feel normal. By normal, I mean I want not to be thinking about drinking/not drinking. The ‘get-out’ strategy always kicks in mid-afternoon.
He agreed. But it was really weak of me, because he is a kind man, and I think he will always want to help me, and go with what I say. It’s not fair of me to put him in this position.
He asked that I control my intake. So we began well with one or two glasses. But after a while, he went to bed, and I have stayed up, drinking alone as usual. My children are so disappointed with me.
I was so tempted not to write this on my blog. Because I know I will wake up tomorrow and wish I were still sober, and you’d still think I was succeeding, and no one would know.
But this is not the way forward. I know this is awful, and that I am making little progress. I stumble almost every day. But I absolutely have to keep on trying. I can’t give up.
Day 3. I had some passport photos taken today. Yuck, I look like a convict, and with such large bags under my eyes I could be 404, not 44. It made me realise quite how badly I’ve been treating myself lately, drinking so much, and so carelessly. I’ve noticed before that when I do stop drinking – although it needs to be for longer than a few days – those bags diminish.
So, in a mission to start tackling those heavy eyes, and in an attempt to quell the slight panic I’m feeling on a Friday night, I am trying to focus on the whole self-care thing that people talk about in sobriety. I’ve always slightly scoffed at the notion of self-care because I think it can sound self-indulgent; but I now see how important it is. I need to heal, and I need to be not horrified by my passport picture. The convict look is definitely not the way forward.
Elderflower bubbly, bath, candles, maybe a film later… And a firm resolution not to waver this time round.
So, post doctor’s visit, I am feeling a bit different, as though I am approaching sobriety with greater self-awareness. Only Day 2 so early early days; I’ve been here so many times before, I don’t want to be complacent.
Thank you to everyone for your comments yesterday. Your support is humbling, particularly as I know I’ve fallen many times before.
Last night, I went to a dinner where champagne and wine were offered from the start. In the past, these sorts of events have often derailed me, but because this was on Day One and I was feeling sober new and squeaky clean, I didn’t cancel. It seemed obvious to have ginger beer instead, and to watch my friends drink copious amounts of wine. I felt not the slightest bit envious or deprived, but rather strong, guarding my sober secret.
I told my husband about the doctor. He was bemused. He thinks I’m overreacting. He mentioned that I always seem to be hooked on something, and that at the moment this was my attempts to be sober. I think he’s frightened that I won’t be able to be the fun-loving wife he loves, but will be some sort of zealot. I can’t worry about this at the moment: I know how easy it would be for me to give up giving up if he were to persuade me that I never had a problem to start with.
Slowly, carefully, kindly, I need to move forward.
I’m on Day One again. But this time, I’m trying something different. I’ve just been to the doctor, and for the first time ever, I’ve been honest about what’s been going on. She was kind. As a medic, she immediately said I wasn’t physically dependent because I’ve been able to give up for several weeks at a time without being ill, but I was probably psychologically dependent. I reckon there’s a hair’s breadth between these two states. I’m having a full set of blood tests early next week, and am then seeing her again.
She asked me what I wanted to do. I said I want to stop drinking.
Still Day 1, second post today. Here is what just happened: 5 o’clock-ish slump and I started to panic about what I was embarking on. I asked my husband what he thought I should do – I couched it in terms of ‘don’t you think this sobriety plan is all a bit of a big deal, and don’t we like drinking wine at weekends?’ He looked confused, and said it was my decision, and he’d support me whatever I decided. So I skipped off to the larder and put a bottle of white in the fridge and planned my downfall. I emailed a couple of people who know what I’m trying to do, and tried to worm my way out of sobriety, apologising, laying a path for myself which would mean I was forgiven, could do what I wanted, carry on drinking drinking drinking.
Went back to where my husband was working and said that I did want to do the 100 days after all. He commented that I’d come to find him at 5pm, the time I usually text him at work and suggest a gin and tonic. He’s getting used to my tricks. I said to him, ‘I think it’s worrrying that I’m in this head space. I think it’s worrying that I’ve just spent half an hour debating with myself whether or not to have wine tonight.’
Put wine back in larder. Need to give wine away.
I could so easily drag myself down, start again tomorrow, never ever get to where I want to get, always make excuses for myself. It’s happened countless times before.
6pm now. I’m still here.
I am back in the UK, and having come from a trip in the snowy mountains, I have returned to spring with flowers everywhere and blue skies – well, today at least. And it is also Day 1 so I am feeling optimistic. But don’t we always feel optimistic on Day 1?
As we drove back from the airport, I told my husband that I was going to try not to drink for 100 days. I have attempted the 100 day challenge several times, but have never got there. I asked if he would do the challenge with me, but he said no! But he said he would support me, and as he doesn’t really drink much anyway, I hope it will be ok.
I do feel fragile. There is much work for me to do. Over the holiday, I sank into oblivion, and the self-loathing was intense and futile. I drank mindlessly. In the past, what I have liked about trying to be sober is the thought process, the thinking ahead, the planning. I know what works, but I need more tools this time; it needs to matter more if I fail. I have my meeting with someone in a few weeks, but before then I am going to explore other avenues. As I’ve said before here, I don’t want to write about that, but I am not ignoring the people who say ‘try a meeting’.
The sheer weariness of the past few weeks… I have felt so tired. Now I am planning to wake up.
I have been away: away from this blog, and away from sobriety. While on holiday, I have been drinking every day, and I don’t think there has been one moment when I have felt good about it. I couldn’t even bring myself to write about it.
I am sorry if people have been worried about me, and wondered where I was. For a while, I felt out of my depth on my blog; but I don’t want to be frightened by it, I need it to help me with my journey.
I think there are going to be people who disagree with the way I am moving along my path. But I cannot design a perfect story, and I use the blog to chart my stumbling progress. And yes, I say progress, because even though I am back on Day One (tomorrow), I see a return to writing, and to trying again as some sort of progress.
I ask that you be gentle with me.