My very own pit

Yes, I am in my very own pit, a pit of my own making. I think I try hard at sobriety – perhaps people don’t agree – but I feel as though for the past year, and many months before that, I have thought about and tried to get sober. Blogging, meetings, counselling…I give up for days, even weeks, and once even a couple of months, but still I can’t seem to do it. I’ve just spent the last hour reading other sober blogs, and I can see the sober euphoria, the joy…but I can’t reach it.

I am not going to check myself into a rehab – I’m sure that will be a suggestion – and perhaps it seems petulant of me to say that. But I have to cope with realistic options, and rehab or a treatment centre is not realistic for me.

So, I have to make it work some other way.  Is there another way?

This evening, I felt so low and rubbish, I decided to drink. Even though I had had several successful days when I was away, and was building up successful momentum, I drank. It began with yet another conversation with my long-suffering husband, in which I dangled the prospect of sobriety in front of him by saying I need to go to meetings but I’d like to drink this evening, and I don’t want to be a strange, non-drinking wife. And, bemused, he said that he likes drinking at weekends, but he’d like not to drink in the week, and how about that for a plan? At that very moment, I confess the plan sounded good, but a few hours later, the regret and shame are back, and I am internally shouting: why do you keep doing this to yourself?

And I realised that exactly a year ago, 31st August 2014, I started this blog.

Please help me, my friends.

Home and dry?

I’m home. The rain and grey skies of England are a bit of a shock after sunny Switzerland, and I feel anti-climactic and, quite frankly, low. Coming back from a holiday is always like that, I guess, as we unpack and creak into action, the kids going back to school in a few days.  We were up at 5.30am so I’m tired.

Listen to me, moaning. And I shouldn’t be moaning, because I am lucky and I’ve had a lovely time away. But these low feelings are dangerous. In the past, my husband and I would have a celebratory, the holiday’s not quite over bottle of wine on our return; in anticipation of this, I have made sure there is plenty of tonic water in the fridge so I can make a mocktail instead.

And talk about future-tripping: I’ve just gone into one of the rooms in our house where we often sit by the fire when we have guests, and the first thought that came into my mind was, ‘Oh no! I won’t be able to sit by the fire this winter and drink wine with friends!’ NOT good sober thinking.

Day 3 – because I have started the counting from the beginning again – and not feeling on top form, but I won’t worry about that, I’ll potter through the next few hours and know that it’s ok to be down.

Tug of war

Mixed messages and tug of war: Mary LA’s comment in yesterday’s post was spot on. Over the past 18 months, the will I won’t I/ should I shouldn’t I voices in my head have dominated much of my thinking about drinking. I can be perfectly determined for most of the day, then head towards self-sabotage terrifyingly fast in the evening, or in any stressful or social situation. Quietening that sabotage voice, steering myself away from tempting situations, and focusing on building up sober days is my goal now. Well, it’s always been my goal, but experience is teaching me how very easy it can be to drink at any moment, and I want to make it less easy, less likely. I want the idea of drinking to be so far from my mind, and so ridiculous, that it hardly occurs to me.

I’m some way away from that state, but it’s what I’m aiming for.

I was also reading today’s post from mummyisasecretdrinker (I must work out how to create links), in which she writes about the dangers of romancing the drink. Here in Switzerland, on holiday, that perceived romance has been a bit of a problem for me: the idea of a glass of something, oddly associated with a beautiful mountain, for example.  As I’ve said in a previous post, I have many memories of drinking here which are not in the least romantic (eg.punishing hangover), and yet the overriding memory has been the crisp wine picture. Learning to disassociate thoughts of alcohol from a place which still exists entirely separately from it, is what I need to do.

Wow, I think I’m sounding muddled. I hope you understand what I mean.

Despite my set back, I’m forging ahead in good spirits, looking forward to my Sans Bitters this evening (strange, new AF drink I’ve discovered here: bitter taste, red colour, poured over ice, unlike anything I’ve drunk before), and certain that this is how I need to proceed as we head back home tomorrow.

A realisation

I am in charge of what I drink, and I don’t want to drink. While cooking supper for my parents this evening, old habits reared up and I asked my husband if he’d like a small glass of wine while we cooked. ‘We aren’t going to do that,’ he said, and my immediate reaction was anger: how dare he tell me what to do! I can drink if I want to! And at that very moment, I knew that I didn’t want to drink, that my anger was directed towards my weedling drinking voice, not my husband.

Off to bed now, at the end of Day one, otherwise known as another sober day. Back on track, I hope, the last two days a glitch in my journey.

Thoughts

Thank you for all your thoughtful comments. I am so grateful for all the help and advice I receive here, and I read each and every comment carefully , and think about what you say – so THANK YOU.

The day counting issue is a tricky one. I find it helpful in some ways as I build up momentum, and distance myself from drinking, but it is daunting if I ‘fail’ and go back to the start. For the moment, I will be counting the days from Day One, but I am not forgetting my two sober weeks and the strength I got from them, and I don’t feel ground down and back at the start, but am moving forward, with some good strength behind me I hope.

I drank a little in the last two days, and I’ve felt ok.  But I know that the bigger drinking patterns are only an ice cube away, and that feeling looms large in my mind. On top of that, the slight feeling of inertia compared to the brightness I was feeling when completely sober suggests to me that I function better and feel generally happier when I am not drinking. I still struggle with the idea of being left out, and still hanker after the perfect vision of moderation, one which I know doesn’t work for me long term, but which I still chase.

But it is almost a year since I started this blog. As I’m still here, writing and finding my way, it seems to me that I desire a sober life, and that I can’t find peace drinking here and there.  And when the drink gets a grip, it is horrible. The idea of drinking sensibly is beguiling, but ultimately unobtainable – for me at least.

So while I really appreciated those comments which suggested I carry on from Day 12, I feel I must start again at Day One.  But mentally and physically I’m further along than that, and hopeful that I will find my way again.

Still in the mountains, still clambering over the rocks, home again in a few days.

Where now?

Close to the brink yesterday, today I went over the edge. I drank this evening – only a small amount of alcohol but alcohol nonetheless. I am so disappointed with myself. I had a really nice, peaceful day, trying to rest and be more peaceful, as suggested by some of the recent comments, because I realised I’d been overdoing it with the hiking, and I was getting overtired. My Mum then suggested we have a drink at a little mountain hut near the flat, idyllic and rustic with a little pond and water trough. I could easily have had something alcohol free, but instead I had a shandy, and then at dinner an inch of wine. I was so disgusted with myself, I could hardly drink it. My parents seemed relieved that I was drinking, but my children were horrified: ‘I thought you said you’d given up drinking forever!’ one said, and one of the others said, ‘You’ve broken your promise!’  My son said nothing.

I am not sure what to do now. I seriously considered not mentioning it on my blog, but continuing as if nothing had happened, because I’d got to Day 12 (today would have been Day 13) and knew this would break the momentum I’d built up. But telling such a big lie would be pointless, and so much of my drinking behaviour has involved lying, it is important that I be open and as honest as possible.

My instinct is to carry on trying, but starting at Day One tomorrow is daunting. But I think I need to keep on trying, not to let myself go back to the old ways. I don’t want to forget all the good things which have come out of the last two weeks, because it has felt different this time. I have felt different.

Back from the brink

Hiking all day today, I found myself wrestling with my demons. The nagging voice was worse than yesterday.  By the end of the walk, I felt completely exhausted and was determined to break my sobriety. I’d had enough. I told my Mum I’d like a glass of wine with dinner. Someone was looking out for me, however. Before dinner, we had tonic water and lime (no one had any alcohol at that point), and when we sat down to dinner, and the red wine was put in front of me, I simply couldn’t drink it. I started to eat, the glass like a giant beast in my sights. And then I pushed the glass over to my husband, apologised for having messed everyone around, and came rushing into my room to write this.

I was SO close to drinking.  But I didn’t.  Day 12 and it all feels a bit fragile, but I feel some kind of strength – I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Slump

Bit of a slump today, and I’m not sure why. Day 11 is good, but I feel annoyed, restless. As my husband and I walked through the mountain houses, surrounded by such beauty, I found myself thinking of drinking. It is bizarre how these thoughts pop into my head at the most unlikely moments: it’s hours away from the witching hour. Sabotage, rebellion, rearing their heads above the sober parapet, and it’s unnerving.

Each morning here, on waking, I am grateful. I am not connected to a Higher Power, or God – or at least, I don’t think I am – but I find myself saying a short prayer, a prayer to someone to help me stay sober today. Sounds a bit kookie, but I find it helps me when I’m wavering.

But today I am wavering, feeling weak, and as I said earlier, restless. Ugh. So so annoying.

Double figures

It is many months since I got to sober double figures, and I’m really pleased to be on day 10. Still very early days, I know, but reading back over my blog, I hadn’t realised how stuck I was around the 1-3 day mark, let alone the months in which I didn’t blog when I was probably drinking daily. I read lots of other sober blogs, and see similar patterns in some of those, so I know I am not alone in this. It is important that I try to keep hold of this fragile momentum.

What a quiet holiday I am having!  But that’s ok, and that’s what I need to do at the moment. I have so far refused any evening social events, my family (and parents) are getting used to my ginger ale aperitif, and the kids are commenting on my suspiciously upbeat attitude. It is making my Mum a bit jumpy, I think. I overheard her telling my husband that one minute I wanted wine, another minute not, but she is referring to my life before this holiday, and before this sober quest. It’s not that she wants me to drink exactly, but in the past my drinking has validated her own; my Dad is pretty strict about alcohol, and she and I used to sneak a few glasses in here and there when we could.

Advice from my friends on this blog: just don’t drink, is what I’m hanging onto at the moment. Digging deeper into anything more longterm, or delving into why I drank, why I want to drink…all that can wait while I get used to each day without wine coursing through me. I guess I am missing the buzz, but I’m not dwelling on that as it’s pointless and I am trying to focus on the immediate benefits (see upbeat attitude reference above).

Distance

Day 9. As I move a bit further away from the bad hangover moment, I have those thoughts where I wonder if I’m mad to be sober. I have to think carefully, and remember how awful I felt, not just then, but countless other times. Here on holiday, too, there have been many occasions in years past when I have felt or been ill after drinking, or shouted at people at parties, that sort of thing.

So, working on not drinking is good, and necessary. But today it feels hard, harder than yesterday. It is extraordinary how powerful the voice is – actually, not really a voice, more a picture, a picture of me drinking a glass of wine in a civilized fashion.

Last night, my Mum made mocktails for us all, a kind gesture as I know she’d have preferred wine. Our first celebratory holiday drink was therefore one in which I could fully participate, not feel on the edge. For me, on this holiday, it’s about working through the possible drinking moments, with thought and a degree of participation, not letting myself get into situations where I’m surrounded by drinks and with no plan.

I have to say, I’m feeling a bit low about it all today. Nine days of sobriety feels miserably tiny.