Brief blog through the craving

Second post today, because I am experiencing an intense craving and wanted to blog about it, rather than drink over it. Just past 6pm and I’ve been feeling it for about half an hour. I had to drive my son to cricket, and I used to buy wine or prosecco on my way back to drink quietly at home. My husband would then collect our son, so I could drink more at that point too. Today, I felt a strong urge to take my purse with me, and to stop off and buy some drink. So, in my new frame of mind, the first step I took was NOT to take any money with me. All the way to the cricket and back, I fumed. But it was a good decision.

I’m still slap bang in the middle of the craving though. Yuck. So my next step is going to be to make a little something to eat, and an alcohol free drink, before I cook supper. Because I need to feed the urge safely somehow.

It is difficult and painful.

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Remembering why

Day 2. I’m quite pleased, as I’ve had a bad run of consecutive day ones, or even day zeros, so this feels like a little piece of progress. It’s very hot here in the UK, with blue skies and a proper summer feel, so tempting to sit back and break open the Pimms. But in the last 48 hours, I’ve enjoyed the clarity of my new plan, and I want to stick to it.

It is taking a good deal of resolve. I am trying to plan each day carefully, moving cautiously through the tricky zones. Yesterday, 5pm still screamed ice cubes, but I steadfastly ignored the call and made supper. My younger daughter’s sports day offered Pimms (again!  See above. It’s on my mind), a strange thing to have at a primary school, but I was glad to have water. The old me would have sunk a few glasses of the other stuff without even thinking about it. And that’s how I feel I’m making a bit of progress, by thinking about it. If I pick up that first glass of alcohol, I will forget why I’m doing this; and I’m doing it because I want to feel better, to feel clearer, to be a better person, someone who can watch her child run a race without needing alcohol at the same time.

It’s only Tuesday, and the double digits seem a long way off. But I’ll keep going and try to enjoy the sun.

A journey to double digits

Before I start, I wanted to apologise for my post yesterday, which I think sounded self-righteous and arrogant. I didn’t mean it to sound like that. It’s sometimes hard to get the right tone here, and on this occasion I think I ended up sounding as though I was on a route to isolation; an ‘I’m alright and I know what I’m doing’ sort of voice.  Clearly, I have no idea what I’m doing and am pretty much constantly floundering around. So, if you have been feeling peeved by what I wrote, I am sorry.

Someone commented yesterday that my blogging voice had sounded completely different when I’d reached double digits. I did what she suggested, and read back over parts of my blog, and I could see what she meant. It’s been so long since I had more than a few days’ sobriety, that my voice has got stuck. And so I am aiming to get to double digits. That may sound easy, but I have been caving so regularly, failing at sobriety has itself become a kind of addiction.

I am not trained in the psychology of addiction, but I’d like to bet that people who regularly drink a lot of alcohol, and who can’t stop when they try to stop, are also people who are addicted to other things.  In myself, I see plenty of addictive behaviours: obsessive tidiness, too many shoes, anxiety about what people think of me..and there are plenty more. My husband says that I always need something to worry about, to obsess about; he thinks my attempts to give up drinking are part of that.

I know that I feel better when I’m not drinking. The discomfort in the lead up to the decision whether or not to drink is quickly followed (if I don’t pick up the drink) with gratification that I’ve avoided the temptation, and a real sense of joy when I get past the craving and out the other side.

So, I am aiming for double digits. My skin is tired, I feel unfit, I know that a couple of sober weeks will help me to feel better, and to restore faith in myself, that it is possible not to drink and to be happy at the same time. Another day one today, but more positive than before.

Listening

Although I have never met the people who comment on my blog, or who contact me through email, they feel like my friends; I feel as though I’ve met you all. I wish I could meet you! I am so grateful when I read the heartfelt comments. Their advice comes from a good place. It may sometimes seem from my blog posts that I don’t listen, or don’t act upon the advice, but let me tell you that I do. My blog cannot possibly tell you 100% of what I do (who’d want to read all that!), and is really just a snapshot of events based around my attempts to get sober.

I started the blog last September, and began reading and commenting on sober blogs a few months earlier, in April 2014. And I was reading around sobriety and addiction for years before that. But only since I started Belle’s 100 day challenge, and blogging regularly, have I acted on the advice I’ve received. Some examples of action: I’ve gone to some meetings; I’ve seen an addiction counsellor; I’ve given up drinking for several long-ish stretches; I’ve seen my doctor. Ok, I haven’t yet reached the holy grail of complete sobriety, but slowly I am edging my way towards it.

What I’m trying to say is: I do listen; I do try out things I’m advised to do; I do fail; but I do succeed as well. It’s not the greatest sober story ever written, but it’s my story and I’m working on it. And I am so very grateful for all your support.

A leaden heart

I am worried that my Groundhog Day cycle of Day ones may be off-putting to anyone reading this blog, particularly people in early sobriety who are looking for help. My current lack of ability to get more than a couple of sober days under my belt is depressing. But I always try and write honestly here, and my stumbling journey is an accurate picture of what is happening to me at the moment. I read a variety of sobriety blogs: people starting out, people way ahead, people starting and stopping, and I find them all inspiring in different ways. However, I’m getting depressed reading and writing my own blog as I seem to be so very stuck.

Yesterday afternoon, I texted my poor husband and said I wanted to abandon my sober plan. No way, he said, having listened to my ranting for an hour the previous night; but once he got home, I persuaded him that I wanted to go back to the drinking at weekends/no drinking in the week plan, and he agreed because I know he doesn’t want to stop drinking entirely.

I am stuck stuck stuck stuck stuck. All day, I will be intent on sobriety, stock up on tasty alcohol free alternatives, look up healthy recipes to make, dip into sober literature, all clean and new. But by 4pm I am crippled with anxiety by my intentions, and the slow descent towards the first glass of wine begins. And then it’s all over, because one sip and I’m off, draining glass after glass and all the while sure that this is the way to do it. The last two evenings, I feel as though I have drunk less than usual, and yet I have fallen asleep before going to bed, and can’t remember conversations I’ve had; and I’ve then slept so badly, and have woken with a leaden heart.

Listening to the Bubble Hour yesterday – I think it was the recent episode about Father’s Day – Jean said something about alcoholics/addicts drinking to feel normal, rather than drinking to have fun. Yesterday afternoon, I felt terrible, headachey and very tired, and when I drank, I instantly felt better. And as I felt it, I knew that I had reached a whole new stage of my drinking, and that I was in a really bad place.

It sounds trite to call this another Day one – I’ve had so many in the past, they become meaningless. But it’s the only place from where I can start, always with a sober plan in place, and good intentions, and then hopeful that I can get through the 4pm sabotage moment. I will write again this afternoon as those feelings kick in, to see if I can analyse more carefully what is going on at that point.

Triggered

On my way to the meeting yesterday, I walked past a group of people – 2 men and a woman – drinking wine and beer on a bench. I never want to be like that, I thought. But at the same time, it was oddly triggering. And then in the meeting, people’s stories of their drinking days, especially the recently sober ones, also got me thinking more about drinking than I wanted to. The hiding bottles, the drinking on waking, the rehab treatment programmes – these were cautionary tales (though I’ve definitely hidden bottles) – but the everyday tales of drinking too much at parties, drinking alone, the drinking creeping up so that suddenly you discovered that you were drinking far more, and far more often…these stories were more familiar. I didn’t say a word; I felt worried.

And so what did I do, to try and prove to myself that I didn’t have a problem? I rocked up at my daughter’s open air concert that evening and took the first paper cup of fizz that I was offered and gulped it like there was no tomorrow. And there will be no tomorrow if I carry on down that route. Then I eagerly looked for more. Look at me! I’m fine about drinking! Nothing to see here, folks! At home, I poured generous gin and tonics for me and my husband, topped mine up a second time when he wasn’t in the room, and then had wine. I ranted to my poor sister-in-law for 47 minutes on the phone, when what she needed was quiet, calm marital advice, not drunken talk.

Bedtime, I listened to a podcast that a lovely friend had sent me earlier that evening. And I spoke to my husband. I asked for help. I told him about the meeting, and I asked if he would give up drinking as well, for the next few weeks at least, so that I didn’t have to watch him drinking. And he said he would.

Day one again, in a long line of recent day ones. Things have been progressing. I think my drinking is the worst it’s ever been. So I start today, and my husband will be with me this time.

Feeling my way forward

Day 2. I really struggled last night, and am so grateful to the people who commented – I kept checking back into my blog, and found their words so encouraging. They kept me going. I cleared up the supper, read to the children, then watched the film armed with tea. It sounds simple, doesn’t it, but those alcohol cravings are a kind of madness. The intensity of it terrifies me; the weedling, coaxing voice urging me to give up the fight, with all its nonsense (it’s not worth giving up, you’ll only drink again eventually, you put too much pressure on yourself, why can’t you enjoy life and stop worrying, you can’t be perfect anyway a little drinking problem won’t hurt…all that sort of thing).

But only Day 2, and it feels pretty overwhelming.  I can’t do it alone – I know I’ll cave if I’m left to my own devices – so this afternoon I’m going back to a meeting.  I haven’t been for a while, and it’s scary, but last time I found it helpful to hear other people’s stories and I felt less alone.

Reaching out.  It’s crucial for me at the moment.

Day one update

I’ve been going through so many endless cycles of stop/start, recently only managing one or two days sober before drinking again, that I wanted to update you as to how I am doing today. Because I need to think about today, and get to the end of today sober. And I will.

It’s 6.30pm here so I’m bang smash in the middle of the witching hour. I’m crawling with anxiety. I had intended to go and do something calm like play the piano, but instead I’ve been flipping through the Internet, looking at ridiculous fashion which I will never wear. I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s stupid and awful.

When I’ve written this post, I am going to stand up and chop vegetables for a stir fry. When my husband comes in from work, I’ll cook it and chat to him, sipping fizzy water, because if I try and make a mocktail I’m going to start crying. Husband is then going out to his orchestra rehearsal, and the girls will go to bed (my son is away on a school trip; he is the one who wants me to stop drinking the most), and I am going to watch a film, a DVD which I bought earlier today.

It’s a plan. I need to manoeuvre my way through the next few hours, and I feel like screaming, and drinking an entire bottle of gin.

Day One again

Totally miserable this morning. Day One again. I went to a memorial service last night – the father of a great university friend of mine – champagne flowing. You know the rest.

Several people have commented that I need to avoid social occasions in these early days and weeks of trying to get sober; I need to take this seriously. I am going to cancel all social events for the next few weeks if I can, and hide away here at home.

I was like a mad person last night.  Once I’d had that first glass of champagne, I spent the rest of the time there seeking out more, crazy crazy crazy. I stumbled back from London, barely aware of what I was doing. The compulsion is intense, and I am going to have to do all I can to crush it.

And I’ve also just managed to put a pack of nurofen in the washing machine, so they’re not going to be very effective.

Sorry. I am hopeless and broken today.

Day one

My second post today. I wanted to tell you a bit more about how things are going.

It would be safe to say that things aren’t going brilliantly.  I am still very much struggling with the alcoholic voice, especially around this hour (4.25pm) which is when it usually starts. Determined to get through Day One, its pleading voice is trying to undermine me, giving me the whole don’t bother thing: if you keep going back to drinking after a few days, it’ll never work; you will never be one of those bloggers who talks of the pink cloud and the brand new better life, so you might as well drink properly, stop worrying about it all, give in to it and be a proper old soak.

That’s what it’s saying.

But I’ve noticed that I now absolutely need to drink every day, that I’m willing to drink things like brandy if there’s no wine, that I will go to pretty much any lengths to get it.  And my 4am waking is becoming more frequent, my sleep so thin that I feel tired looking at myself in the mirror.

It is time to go back to meetings.  It is time to throw myself into this wholeheartedly, to embrace the possibility that I might really find sober me to be better than the not as hilarious as I thought I was drinking me.

In the last couple of months I have really wanted to give up on sobriety at times because I just don’t think I’m any good at it.  But I feel as though I am just touching the tip of being able to do it, that if I reach out – to people who read my blog, to other bloggers, to people at meetings, to the addiction counsellor I have seen and often cancelled, to my family, to my children who so desperately want me to stop drinking – if I stretch a little further, I will be able to do it.