Day 18 but I’m still flipping between conflicting thoughts: to drink/not to drink, to see the counsellor again/not to see him, reaction/overreaction. And the doubts seem to come out of the blue. Earlier today, I was pottering along, no cravings, nothing stressful, when the thought that I should cancel the counsellor, and start drinking again came into my mind. And it stuck there for hours. I emailed the counsellor, I decided not to read any more blogs, I closed my mind to sobriety and almost felt relieved that I was off that treadmill. And then, just as suddenly, I panicked: I reinstated my appointment, I touched base with a couple of blogs, I reaffirmed to myself that I need to keep plodding along this route, to explore further.

It may be partly because I am going to a big dinner thing tonight, which I’m helping to organise, and I know it will be difficult being around all that drink. But there will also be lots of people there who don’t drink, or who don’t care about drinking.

All this conflict, all these doubts, all the uncertainty…it’s horrible. And the obsession troubles me.

Good counsel

If you have read this blog for a while, you will know that I have found it difficult to to go and see the counsellor. I cancelled and rebooked him about 50 times. Yesterday, I went to see him! This feels like a major breakthrough for me, and I think it’s going to be helpful.

16 days in.  Swathes of the day seem to be taken up with internal monologues about drinking, but I’m trying to push through those, and get to a calmer, more accepting place. The tonic versus gin debate continues – and I still have to be hyper-aware of triggers, and plan carefully alcohol-free alternatives at 6pm. You’d think I’d be used to this by now, but I still feel a total novice.

Someone once said to me that my sobriety attempts felt like a hobby, rather than something I was taking seriously.  There was a lot of truth in that.  Today, I think the seriousness of it is uppermost in my mind.  This isn’t a health kick, a breaking of bad habits: it’s a reinvention of my life, a complete rethink.

Trying to walk the perfect path

Here I am, day 14. Thank you for all your help and encouragement last night. Yesterday was difficult. I so nearly drank, at one point actually carefully making a gin and tonic, ice and everything, then putting it in the fridge, and then pouring it down the sink and having a plain tonic instead. Rather than drinking, I sat down and read blogs, coming across an interesting post on Fitfatfood’s blog (which I love), in which she’d posted an article about Moderation Management. Reading it, a whole host of thoughts went through my mind, including the possibility of drinking, but it was at the end of the article that I poured the gin and tonic down the drain. Primrose had commented on that blog, putting up a link to another post by hipsobriety which also made fascinating reading – it’s about embracing sobriety and seeing the positives, rather than feeling different, like a leper (it didn’t say that, but that’s my interpretation of it) and it helped me to see that I could turn sobriety into a good thing for me, that I could enjoy it, rather than constantly seeing it as a hurdle and as a terrible burden. Alongside these two blogs, and many other helpful ones, I read Mummywasasecretdrinker’s latest post, about obstacles, and that really helped too.

So you see, instead of drinking my gin and tonic, and returning to the torture that is my daily will I/won’t I drink debate, I put that aside, and did some more research, and that helped me stay sober for another day.

I am stumbling along the path, and it is far from perfect. It’s one of the things that makes it hard for me, the quest to have the perfect path. I guess in my mind I have the Ideal Sober Plan set up, with regular meetings, counselling sessions, a tidy toolbox, rewards, a mind increasingly clear, a shiny blog, a crisp sense that what I am doing is right.  The reality is so different: daily struggling with whether or not I want/need to be sober, constant cancelling and rebooking the counsellor, big question mark over whether I should attend meetings and whether or not they are helpful to me when I do go, the nagging feeling that I’m overreacting…

But today I am here, Day 14. Not perfect, but not hungover or regretful. Perhaps I shouldn’t think about it all quite so much!

Unlucky 13

It’s Day 13, which is further than I’ve got in a long time. But it is painfully difficult this evening. Over the course of the day, I have decided to drink/resolved not to drink about 25 times. It is now 5.45pm, my husband had son are out this evening, and so I am here with my two daughters. About 5 minutes ago, I had a small meltdown in my head, where I imagined myself having a glass of something with alcohol in it.  My trying to be sober suddenly seemed like the hugest hard work and I wondered why why why was I doing this?

I am finding this so incredibly hard.

Friday Friday Friday

I usually love Fridays. That Friday feeling…well, at the moment, I’m finding it hard. It’s so engrained in me to wind down, relax, celebrate the approaching weekend, with a drink in hand. This is especially the case when my husband and I try to stick to the no drinking in the week rule, so usually when Friday comes round, the temptation is to drink more than ever – another reason why not drinking in the week never works for me.

I’m on Day 12, and today feels difficult. I have continued to cancel and rebook my counselling appointment – it’s supposed to be on Monday, and at the moment the appointment IS in place. I am hopeful that the counsellor is used to people changing their mind about coming, and won’t think I’m mad. I went to a meeting earlier this afternoon. I didn’t want to go, and when I got stuck in traffic en route, I nearly turned round to drive home. I thought of 25 different reasons why I shouldn’t go/didn’t need to go, but I knew they were all rubbish, so I carried on, and I was bang on time.

I haven’t been to many meetings so far, partly because afterwards I often feel triggered – I think because I don’t like the idea of being in the same situation (different stories apart) as the people I meet there. But today, I came home afterwards, and knew that I didn’t want to relapse into the same tired wheel of drinking because it’s Friday, followed by a sluggish Saturday and a Sunday wishing I hadn’t succumbed and all that resolution stuff.

It is not easy. People say I need to put one step in front of the other, and I think that’s very helpful advice. One step in front of the other, one step in front of the other, hour by hour.

Nine days in

My journey – sorry, I always slightly cringe when I talk about a journey, but the longer I am on it, the more journey-like it feels – has been speckled with so many day ones, so many stop/starts, so many determined posts followed by confessions, that I will be amazed if anyone keeps reading. But here I am, on Day 9, and I wanted to write because everything feels totally different. It seems tempting fate to sound too sure about things, so I will try not to do that, but this time I feel more hopeful that I will get there.

Last Friday, when I dabbled with the notion of yet again giving up giving up, buying wine, drinking it…going down that route…well, as I dabbled with that, I felt an overwhelming exhaustion with it all. So many times, I had started in good spirits, done a few days, a few weeks even, but always at the back of my mind was a get-out plan. And what would happen, inevitably, was that as soon as a giant craving hit, or I was tempted at a party (or anywhere in fact), I’d cave. From crave to cave in 30 seconds.

But this time, when I thought about caving again, I looked back at the hundreds of times I’d made and broken this plan, and I realised that unless I gave myself entirely and honestly to the task, I would never ever succeed. I had to decide, then and there, that I would do this, that the life I was leading drinking was never going to be as fulfilling and happy as it could be, and that I needed to stop.

I found it helpful to spend some time thinking about all the occasions on which I’d been drinking – ok, not all of them, because I couldn’t remember all of them (that’s the thing about drinking), but many of them. And the pattern of craving, then drinking, then drinking a lot, then wishing I hadn’t, then repeating this the next day, seemed suddenly so incredibly foolish and ridiculous, that I was stunned. What on earth had I been doing? The picture of Annie drinking one glass then stopping was a mirage, an illusion – it had never been like that, it would never be like that, moderation was never going to work for me.

I expect if I go back through my blog, I will see signs of this thinking, but the mental shift is now more profound.

On a practical level, I am still dealing with the everyday difficulties of not drinking. But I am waking each day and asking for help, silently as I lie there in bed. I am seeing my counsellor in a few days’ time. I am going to meetings. I have told my husband that I am serious about this.  I am trying to stop feeling sad about not drinking, to stop mourning the loss of that drinking me, and to remind myself that the drinking me was not the me I want to be.

I am reading several sober blogs every day, including going back to the early days in some of them. I am building up my days on Belle’s challenge (Belle is so patient with me, thank you Belle), and the day counter on Mrs D’s Living Sober site. I am really trying, with all my strength, to keep sobriety uppermost in my mind and in my actions, living and breathing it every day until it sticks.

On a less positive note, I have an awful headache today, I almost feel sick, and as though I have a hangover. Yuck. What is that? Is this common at 9 days? I don’t remember feeling it like this before. Again, yuck.

Surf the Urge

My children go to school on Saturday (I know…), so I was up early to sort them out, make breakfast and to be cheerful. Thank goodness I didn’t succumb to the strong urge to drink last night. One of the sober friends I texted suggested I ‘surf the urge’, a phrase which is probably well known in sober world, but which I hadn’t heard before. So that’s what I tried to do: I sat and surfed. This involved texting various people I’d met online and in real life at meetings, writing on my blog, emailing some people, and drinking a lot of fizzy water. The feeling passed, and I was so glad.

I am trying to remember what the urge felt like, to examine it a bit so that I am ready for it when it happens again. It is hard to describe. It was like a kind of madness, an inability to sit still, a turning around in my head of all the various scenarios. This was accompanied by a crazed putting of bottles in the fridge and then removing them, as well as emails to the counsellor cancelling and then rebooking my appointment.

This time last year, I hadn’t considered going to meetings; now I try and go a few times a week. I am moving forward, I am getting there.

Really struggling

I’m on Day 5, it’s 5.15pm and I’m really struggling.

I’ve had a good week, working my sobriety in a positive way, taking it easy and trying to be calm and thoughtful about it all. But as Friday approached, I noticed I was starting to question and doubt my intentions. I went to a meeting yesterday, and found it very helpful, but today I didn’t go to the meeting I was planning to go to, instead agreeing to a spontaneous lunch with a friend. On the way to the lunch, I cancelled my appointment with my counsellor, and by the time I met my friend, I felt certain that I didn’t need all this sobriety malarkey.

But an interesting thing happened: I told my friend about what I was doing, about the counsellor, the drinking, the attempts to stop. She emboldened me to carry on with my original plans.

Afterwards, I felt frightened: a fear of sobriety, a fear of not being sober. I feel as though I am on the edge of breaking through this, reaching beyond all the doubts and committing to sobriety properly. But it is so difficult.

I had stopped writing the blog for a bit, but this evening I am reaching out. I have texted some people I met in meetings, I have texted the friend from lunch, and I have made a plan with my husband that I will do the driving this weekend when my daughter needs picking up from a party tomorrow evening – earlier today, I tried to rearrange that plan.

Sometimes, I feel like I am going mad.

Feeling better

I feel better when I’m not drinking: not only in the obvious physical ways of being alert, and not hungover, and not so tired, but I feel better about myself. Increasingly in the past few months, I noticed that every time I drank, I would quickly feel a mixture of extreme fatigue, guilt and as though something just wasn’t right. The ability to relax was no longer obtainable for me via drinking, and any social vivacity had long since gone, as I would quickly become obstreperous and difficult if I drank.

Today is Day 5. I had worried about getting through Day 4, but I got caught up in my children’s first day of school, and the evening passed without too many cravings. For the first time in many years, my 3 children are at the same school, and as they left together yesterday morning, smart and nervous in their new uniforms, I felt a rush of something like emptiness. Fleetingly, the sadness was overwhelming, and as I turned back into the house, I thought about how important it was for me to stay clear-headed, to embrace every moment of this next phase of their lives, not to miss it with my mind in a bottle.

Inevitably, I am focusing on how not to drink, how to fill the spaces previously filled with booze, so thinking about drinking (or not drinking) still takes up many of my waking (and sleeping) hours. It has to be like that. I should also mention that yesterday I emailed the counsellor and cancelled my appointment; then an hour or so later, I emailed him again and asked him to ignore my previous email. I’ve done that several times before: the first time I went to see him, I had cancelled and rebooked the appointment several times – he said he was used to people doing that.

I think what I’m trying to say – and it sounds muddled – is that I’m trying hard, I’m moving forwards slowly. I don’t want to drink, and I’m staying away from drinking, but I also don’t want to be the person who is in this place. I am striving to be the person a few months from now, looking back at these early days knowing I managed to get good sober time under my belt.