One week in

I can’t remember the last time I made a whole week sober. The last couple of days have been tough. So many times, I have felt like drinking a whole bottle of wine, and my poor husband has had to endure hours of my moaning, and my attempts to get round Dry January. The shift in his thinking is part of the deal-breaker; previously, he would have gone with my suggestions. If I’d suggested we drink, he’d have agreed. This time, he has stuck to the plan, and last night when I was begging yet again for us to give up Dry Jan, he said that I could, but that he was going to continue, and the thought of him carefully drinking ginger ale while I poured yet more wine down my throat seemed appalling, and helped keep me on track. I think he has finally seen how incapable I am at drinking moderately, and he wants to help me do something about it.

There’s a blot on the horizon, though. In a few weeks, just before the end of January, he and I are going to Switzerland for a long weekend. I have never achieved this trip without drinking, and we are already discussing it. I am going to have to plan it really carefully…hot chocolates instead of ‘special’ coffees, sparkling water instead of wine…Mummywasasecretdrinker has recently been in the mountains, and she managed – and loved it – but she has many months of sobriety behind her. I won’t worry about this trip yet.

Today is my day off – I know, so soon into the job! I’ve been cagey about what I’m doing on this blog, and I’m not sure why, so I wanted to tell you that I’m an English teacher. Tomorrow is my very first lesson (yesterday were staff meetings), after many years out of the classroom. I am so nervous, I couldn’t sleep at all last night, and feel horrible and tired today. I’m at my orchestra rehearsal this evening, so that will take my mind off it, but I have visions of walking into the classroom tomorrow, feeling old and behind the times, and 20 kids looking at me in horror. It’s obviously not ideal to be embarking on the new job at the same time as trying to deal with sobriety, but I was only asked to do the job a few weeks ago, filling in for someone who is ill. And perhaps there’s never a good time to do these things.

I also wanted to mention that I think I may be isolating myself a bit. A couple of friends asked to see me today, and I said no, I wanted to be on my own.  I’m not sure why I said this; I guess I didn’t want to go over my fears about my job, or tell them about trying to get sober.  But I know that being inside my own head can be a dangerous place, so it’s something I need to watch.

I will do my best, though I feel a bit of a wreck. But at least I am now on Day 7.

Out of my depth

Home after my first day at work, and I feel completely and utterly overwhelmed and exhausted. It’s a long time since I’ve worked, and I feel out of touch and behind the times. And I have a different life now, coming home to a family and three children, so I can’t devote so much time to it. I’m panicking a little.

I got through last night’s awful craving: THANK YOU for your helpful, supportive comments. I clung to the blog, and went to bed with a pounding headache and a troubled mind, but woke grateful that I was on Day 6.

Now, as I near the evening, I’m just so tired and out of kilter, a drink seems far from my mind. Part of me wishes I’d never agreed to the job, but I also know it is good for me to think about something other than drinking, and to push myself more.

But my heart is heavy, for some reason.

Day 5 problems

It’s just past 6pm here, and I’ve got the most terrible craving. My mind is full of doubts and I am desperate for a drink. I’m trying to separate the desire for alcohol from what else I’m feeling, to see if I can think my way out of it. Because I so don’t want to fail on day 5.

Tomorrow, I head to my new job, so I know I’m anxious and nervous about that. I also know that day 5 is pretty early on in this process, so I’m bound to feel angsty round the 6pm slot. The first few days’ (slight) novelty have definitely worn off, and I’m already feeling fed up. I emailed my husband earlier with a supposedly rational list of why it would be fine for me to drink next weekend, not drink in the week, look at how well I’m managing not to drink…that sort of thing, and his reply was: ‘You’re doing brill. Love you.’

He is a great man.

We were with some friends at the weekend, and we were talking about Dry January. I was explaining how difficult I found it not to drink, and one of our friends said, ‘But if you feel like drinking, just drink! What’s the big deal.’

I feel as though I’m constantly creating huge problems and crises out of nothing. Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhh!

Right, now I am going to open an alcohol free beer, and read the newspaper, and wait for my husband to get home before I prepare the supper, because I know that if I chop one onion in the next few minutes, I will place myself bang in the middle of the craving.

I think what I’m trying to say is: I’m finding this really hard. Help!

How to surrender?

I am pleased to have got to Day 5. The days 1,2 and -sometimes – 3 were going round and round and I had been unable (or unwilling) to pull myself out of them.  Doing Dry January with my husband has certainly helped me to kickstart a bit of a sober stretch. I’m still sleeping really badly, but the first thought I had when I woke up this morning was: I’m so glad I’m not drinking.  The kids go back to school this week, and I start my new job on Friday, and feeling hungover and groggy would not be helping.

I’ve been worrying about the last sentence I wrote in yesterday’s post, about surrendering.  Because what has really held me back from getting sober – and I don’t just mean doing Dry January, I mean stopping drinking for good – is that I haven’t surrendered.  When I’ve been to meetings, people’s rock bottom stories can mean that I feel different from them, not so bad, and then I think, ‘I’ve got this, I just need to have some time off drinking and break the habit.’  But after years of trying to sort this out, I have realised that I don’t need to have a rock bottom story in order to stop, I just need to stop.

So, might I not ever surrender? And if I don’t surrender, will it never work?

In the meantime, I’m about to have breakfast on Day 5, and I’m feeling good about that. But I know that there is still a lot of work for me to do.

 

Lighter

Much less vertigo today, thankfully. I’ve still got a foggy feeling in my head, but the extreme dizziness has vanished as suddenly as it arrived. I really think it may be tied in with yesterday’s Day 3, and many of you commented about similar symptoms around that time. It’s frightening, but at the same time reassuring, because I feel that I’m moving through that particular symptom, and will now await the next.

Day 4 and I feel a bit lighter today, more positive, as though I’m settling into things a bit.  It helped that the weekend was the beginning, as Monday now feels more do-able. What strikes me particularly is the feeling of having more time, so I’m not so panicked about my job starting later this week, and feel I’ve got time to prepare.

Sure, I’m still finding it difficult to contemplate not drinking in the future, and am very much having to take this one day at a time; so many times in the past, I have derailed because the idea of being teetotal, of being sober, suddenly can feel overwhelming and impossible. But I am hoping that I will build some sober strength over these January days, and that my mindset will shift. Using AA words, I guess I haven’t surrendered yet.

Vertigo

In the early hours, I woke with vertigo. It’s horrible: your head swims as though you’re drunk, or falling, and it makes you feel sick. I had it before once for a few weeks when I had a virus, and I guess it could be a virus again (my husband has been ill for 3 weeks now), but I also wonder if it’s some sort of alcohol withdrawal? I sat with it today, and managed to get on pretty well, but this evening my head feels foggy and thick, and when I bend down, or tip my head back, the vertigo returns.

Yesterday evening, I made a big old fuss around 5.30pm, stupidly and ridiculously begging my husband to have a drink, and to give up Dry January. He calmly noted that this very begging was a sign that I needed to be doing this. ‘But you used to say that it would be good to aim for moderate drinking, to abstain during the week, and drink at weekends! You used to say I could do that!’ I said. ‘I don’t think that anymore,’ was his reply.  So we opened a bottle of alcohol-free fizz, and some crisps and ‘chewed the fat’ talking about something else.  One of my worries about not drinking is that I will miss this time with my husband, the chatting over a drink time.  But lo and behold, we were still able to talk without alcohol! And an hour later, the craving had passed, and I was fine.

And then this morning, vertigo.  I’m a strong person, generally healthy, and the notion that I have been doing myself harm is alarming.  I need to pay close attention to any symptoms I’m experiencing over the next few days. Day 3 has felt long, and difficult.

 

Aches and pains

I slept fitfully. I kept waking up, worrying about my going back to work (part-time) next week. I haven’t worked since my middle child was born 14 years ago – I know, that sounds slack – and I’m nervous and apprehensive. It’s not the perfect thing to be doing in the midst of early sobriety, but I’m committed to it, and have got to get on with it as best I can.

Day 2, and it’s cold and wet here. I fluctuate between being relieved that I’m doing this, and filled with fear of failure. I’ve tried so many times over the past few years, and always come a-cropper. Not sure how you spell that.

I’ve got this weird thing where the thumb joint on my left hand hurts sporadically, and my lower back on my right side has been aching badly for over a week. Too many searches on Google and I’ve convinced myself I’ve got arthritis, and kidney damage because of the drinking. I’ll see if these aches and pains ease without the ritual poisoning.

I feel that Dry January is going to be a helpful prop in these early days, but the hard work lies ahead, and I need to fit in meetings round my job, as well as looking after my family. As Mrs D once told me, I need to dig deep. I guess I’m feeling quite daunted.

In the Beginning

New Year’s Day feels like the start of a new term at school, pencils sharpened and a sense of hope and promise. I am holding on to this feeling. Today is my brand new Day one, and I felt excited waking up to Dry January, hopeful that I can get more days under my belt and get some serious sober momentum.

I am taking this seriously. Dry January is a great idea for people to have a  month off booze, and get healthy, but for me it’s got to be more than that, a longer-term view to being sober. Over the past few months, I have barely been able to string together more than one or two days without drinking, and the habits and patterns of behaviour were becoming engrained in my daily life. The grip it had was scaring me.

I know it won’t be easy. After the first few days of Dry January novelty, the old voices will still be there, nagging at my intentions. But I’ll work on it hour by hour. Alongside the motivational emails I’m being sent from Alcohol Concern (who are running Dry Jan), and the general air of abstinence which greets the UK over the next few days, I will still be addressing my problems with alcohol – I think what I’m trying to say is that I know it’s not a quick fix, a gimmick. I’ve struggled with this for so long now.

My self-esteem is pretty low at the moment.  My husband – who is kind, and who I love dearly – said I’d put on quite a lot of weight from my drinking. I felt sad to hear it, and to think that he thought it, but it helps me to see that I can’t ignore the health problems I’m developing because of the drinking. And inside, I knew I was getting really out of shape, and as I squeezed into party dresses through December, I felt horrible, kind of ugly inside.

Happy New Year to you all – and thank you for the strength and hope you give me.