Mighty Bea

Over at Besoberbea, a very wonderful lady is celebrating 100 days of sobriety. I hope she won’t mind my shout out for her here; she is truly inspiring, and I always find her posts wise and helpful as I stumble along.

100 days is amazing. I haven’t been able to reach it yet, but I hope to some day, and people like Bea are certainly inspiring as they write about their journey, the struggles and the joys, and help people like me to persevere.

And persevere I will. Because although my blog may seem a litany of hopeless failures, countless day ones, and many many mistakes, I still want to get there, to 100 days and beyond, into a better place.

I raise an alcohol free glass to you, Bea. Thank you for sharing your story, and for your help and friendship to me along the way.

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The morning after

I couldn’t do it. I went to the party, and I drank. Everything else went well, and the party was a great success, but I drank. And so I have failed my personal challenge only a few days in, and am not sure what to do now.

It happens time and time again, and I keep trying different ways – and still it doesn’t stick.

I felt so good last week, so determined, and so much better as the days went by. So I think I should try again, because every time I feel good like that, a little part of me stores it away to remember for next time. But I must admit, this morning it looks pretty hopeless, and I feel quite miserable. My mind is sluggish, I am very tired after the late night and the weekend ahead has lost its brightness.  I’m such a fool.

I know what I need to do, I know what I want to do, and yet I keep failing.

This time, I’m going to keep writing, even though it is painful to show you my weaknesses in this way, but I really value the help and advice I find here.

50 years

No, not yet 50 years old (I’m 44), but 50 years of marriage – my parents’ marriage. And this evening I am going to a big dinner to celebrate it. So early in sobriety, it is not advisable to go to a dinner with champagne, white and red wine, and I think pudding wine, but of course I must go, and I want to go. I am their only child – my brother died when I was 21 – so it will be a moving event.

But the drink?

My intention is to be sober, not only because I am on Day 5 of my challenge, but more because I want to be present for the occasion, to savour every moment. And yet I know it won’t be easy to avoid those twinkling glasses, not to get caught up in the celebratory atmosphere.

Yesterday, schooseslife’s comment on my blog got me thinking in a different way. I’m a bit doom and gloom about sobriety (have you noticed?!?!?), and I think it would be helpful if I made a list of some of the things which I gain through being sober; they may be pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how easily I forget them:

* no hangovers (my hangovers were getting worse recently, and would sometimes last all day)

* more patient with my family (husband and children)

* more likely to get things done in the evening

* healthier food choices (begone Kettle Chips! Well, not completely…)

* fewer opportunities to ring people up while drinking wine and advise them about their failing marriage (this has been a feature the last month or so, and I don’t think my advice is necessarily welcome)

* more likely to exercise

* more likely to write my diary every day (huge gaps recently)

* no need to hide bottles underneath the mustard glass jars in the recycling bin

* less likely to damage my body (though I’ve had a good go at this)

I’m sure I’ll think of more as I walk the dog.  I’ll be thinking about my challenge tonight as I head to the dinner; I might even print out this list and take it with me.

Through

Getting through the witching hour yesterday was HARD, but I did it. Thank you for all your kind words, and for ideas of how to tackle it. I’ve been in these early days of sobriety before – several times – and yet it still feels painfully new.

If sobriety isn’t working, Belle from the 100 day challenge suggests trying things differently, rather than doing the same thing over and over. So this time, what am I doing differently? Well, so far, the main difference – perhaps the only difference at the moment – is that I am not projecting more than a few hours ahead. Yes, a few hours. Even thinking about tomorrow freaks me out, so I’m not doing that. And the things that work: stocking up on alcohol free drinks; putting that old bath time routine back in place; these I am doing. I’ve had the odd bath in the past few months (you’ll be relieved to hear), but I haven’t savoured the baths, or seen them as being better than drinking. Night after night, the drinking would start at 6ish and would take over, so that apart from eating, I was good for nothing. I would feel horribly tired, and slump into bed half cut, every single night.

Yes, I am still tired, and yes, yesterday afternoon and evening were damn tricky, but there was much less slumping.

Default setting

It is amazing how many times in the last hour or so that my mind has turned to drinking: shall I drink? Shall I give up my challenge? Shall I have one, then start my challenge again tomorrow? I am feeling tired, and overwrought, and my default setting is to drink.

So instead, I am writing here. Then I am going to make supper. I am going to push through and make it to tomorrow sober. Once I’ve had supper, I will try and get through each quarter of an hour until bedtime, not drinking.

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it, being so consumed by it. But from past experience, I know these cravings will pass.

For today, I can’t do more than these 15 minute sections, as day 3 draws to a close.

Trying to face denial

Although  I stopped writing the blog, for a while I still tried to tackle sobriety. I went to a few meetings, and though I sat silently and listened, and didn’t speak, I felt part of a wider group, of people dealing with similar issues. But because I couldn’t commit to the programme, I felt a fraud and I stopped going. I went to see a counsellor and discussed setting up a series of sessions; again, I backed away before things got going. Always on the brink, but never going that extra step towards commitment.

And so, unable to envisage a future where not drinking really worked for me, I slipped away from the meetings, from my intentions to stay sober, and slowly fell back into the old ways. And in the last month or so, the dappled path has been almost entirely obscured.

Moderation! It doesn’t work for me. And the plans I began to formulate in order to drink every day became more and more entrenched. My husband was unaware of it, and was relieved I think that I seemed to have stopped obsessing about ways to get and stay sober. And so our drink free weeks would continue, him on the sparkling water, me slugging back glasses of wine before he came home, then keeping a glass on hand in the cupboard which I could sip on all evening. And I felt ok about this. Sober doesn’t work, secrecy does… No one need know that I am participating in a clandestine drinking life, all by myself.

But I began to notice that the rituals were becoming less important – the nice glass, the sophisticated aperitif time on my own, even the quiet dinners with my husband at weekends, knocking back the red wine. What I noticed was that I barely cared what I was drinking any more, or even when I was drinking it; I simply had to have it, and I had to know I’d be drinking at some point that day or I would start to panic. And when I looked at myself queuing up in the garage to pay for teeny tiny bottles of prosecco – and no petrol – I knew I had to stop, and look, and reassess. It had got a grip on me again, it was getting worse, and I was out of control.

So, here I am, on day 2 of my self-imposed challenge, desperately trying to claw my way out of a very real hole.

A new challenge

It’s been a long time since I have written here. And it’s been a long time since I had a stretch of more than one or two sober days. For a while, I went to meetings, and I found them helpful. But I am still stuck in a cycle of stop/start; good intentions on waking, swiftly followed by a dulling of those intentions and a resolve to begin again tomorrow.

But I don’t want to be this person, this drinking person, this person who goes to bed every night sad inside.

In recent weeks, I haven’t even been able to have one sober day. I have contemplated many times retrying the 100 day challenge, but it seems impossible for me at the moment. Back in September last year, a kind friend suggested I try not drinking for 30 days and that’s when I started this blog. I broke the habit, I felt better, kick-starting a more positive attitude to sobriety. And so I am going to try a 30 day challenge again, my own challenge, writing here every day to record how I am getting on.

I have not forgotten the sober blogging world, and have still been reading several blogs a week, commenting here and there. But I’ve been hiding.