Day 10. I’m getting used to the unsettled feelings I get from about 3pm onwards, when I try to talk myself out of the sober plan. What I wasn’t prepared for was the massive trigger I had at 9am when I went to a meeting for the parents at one of my children’s schools. I walked into the classroom a little after the other mums, and there might as well have been 25 bottles of wine sitting there, one in each chair. I’ve got 3 children, and each set of parents has been different: but this particular class are The Party Class, the mums who like to go out for drinks mid-week, or who drink until the early hours at a school event. They are all good fun, and I don’t resent them for wanting to be wild at times, but today I felt the peril hovering over the room. Instead of listening to the teacher, I found myself working out what I was going to say when we next all go out, or how disappointed some of them will be when they find out I’m not drinking again. I know I know I know that I will have to deal with this, and that their opinions don’t matter, but I still found myself worrying about it. And what is worse, I then found myself – at 9am remember! – wishing that I was able to drink.
One of the other bloggers has been writing something similar, so I know these feelings aren’t unusual. I’m putting them here, so that I can examine them. I feel as though I’m beginning to get used to the sober pattern I’m making at home; but going out, being out of this safe-ish place is another story.
And so I head into week two. Nine days doesn’t feel very advanced, and yet it might as well be nine years, my last glass of wine seems so far back in time. The kids are busy back at school so things are starting to get quite hectic in the evenings, and I am conscious that in the old days (10 days ago) I would have gratefully reached for the bottle of white. Tonight, with nothing to hand, I was able to react relatively calmly when several child meltdowns occurred, and this is a new thing for me: a calm reaction.
On the other hand, I would like something nice to drink. Safe, but nice. My tonic, lime and grenadine concoction is delicious, but I’ve got tonic overload and would appreciate any drink ideas which people have found successful around 7pm of an evening.
Primrose described it in her comment as ‘the perfect storm’, and certainly the potential for alcohol catastrophe was there yesterday. But guess what? I got through it, sobriety intact! Husband, kids and I all went to my parents for the birthday supper, and right up until the last moment I had intended to drink there. But I read the comments on yesterday’s post, and these helped me decide to take a bottle of AF fizz with me, and that’s what I drank. I felt bad that I hadn’t warned my Mum, and that she had got a special bottle of champagne ready, but they all drank that (well, not the kids) and I stuck to my stuff.
So here I am, Day 8, having survived my first alcohol free birthday for years. What I’m finding interesting/terrible at the moment, is the way I swing from super-positive pink cloud highs where I’m privately celebrating my sober achievements, to a plunging pit where I wallow in my own anti-sobriety club. And this change can occur in a matter of minutes. It’s exhausting.
But I woke up today, grateful for my blog, and for the community surrounding it. Heartfelt thanks to you all.
So, today I am 44. I’m mid-way through my birthday and I’ve just hit the question: can I have champagne tonight? I asked myself this earlier today, and I said yes! I asked my husband just now and he looked doubtful. ‘You could have just one glass,’ he suggested, ‘but no more.’ But then I’d break my promise, and I’d be back to Day 1 again, and these past 7 days have been the longest ever.
Yesterday’s lunch went well, and everyone had fizzy water. No problems there, and I enjoyed it. But today – this whole birthday thing is making me anxious. Talk about a roller coaster: one minute I’m waking up, so relieved that I’ve reached another day without drinking; the next, I’m planning my Escape from the Blog, from myself.
Or perhaps I should say back from the drink. Wow, yesterday I had a major wobble. Thank you so much to everyone who commented, and I’m sorry I haven’t replied to each of you. Prior to the wobble, I’ve been trying to reply to everyone as I go along, but I think that may not always be feasible. You guys saved me, though.
I was THIS CLOSE to chucking it in and going back to my old ways. I had mentally poured the gin and tonic and could imagine drinking it. Instead, I took the dog out, and read the kind emails and comments encouraging me to stay with it, nobody judging me, everybody just incredibly supportive and understanding. I came home and pushed though the g & t thoughts, making myself a plain tonic and lime instead. I must say, it was very very difficult.
And I had the conversation with my husband! I explained that moderating wasn’t going to work for me at the moment, and that although I realised it looked like a big deal, I was going to try and drink no alcohol at all. I didn’t tell him about the blog. He looked a bit stunned but said ok, let’s give it a go. He said I’d had a mad look in my eyes last weekend when I’d made a fuss about his pouring less in my glass than in our guests’ glasses. So I think he gets where I’m coming from. And he is such a legend, that he said he would try not to drink as well.
I’m off to the celebratory birthday lunch shortly. My actual birthday is tomorrow so I’m now officially entering the Danger Zone. Don’t worry; I won’t go Missing In Action.
It is clear that I am panicking. About an hour ago, I texted the friend who is hosting this birthday lunch for me tomorrow and said that I would be having a glass of wine after all. Her response was that she didn’t want to be responsible for my falling off the wagon, but that there was wine in the fridge.
Then I went out for a walk with the dog. I tried to listen to the end of a Bubble Hour podcast about how you feel in early sobriety – those people are so wonderful. But I couldn’t concentrate and my mind kept wandering; I kept checking my emails as I walked along and I didn’t know where I was going.
I keep having visions of how this celebratory weekend will be with or without drink. I would like to have dinner tomorrow with my husband and have some wine; I would like to celebrate my birthday with some fizz. I don’t want to be saying no all the time.
I feel completely overwhelmed writing about my experiences at the moment. BUT, at the same time, I am blown away by the community out there, and by how caring everybody is.
I am still on Day 5 and I still haven’t had a drink.
I haven’t failed yet. But I don’t think I want to do this anymore.
I know I’m letting lots of people down, and I’m sorry. I wanted to disappear but I don’t want people wondering where I’ve gone, so I thought I should write another post.
I’m feeling so bad about this that I barely know what to write.
I’m always setting myself rules: only drink one glass of every different drink offered; don’t drink during the week; only drink during the week; drink a glass of water in between each glass of wine; never initiate drinking. You know the sort of thing. And I don’t think I have EVER been successful in maintaining these rules. In my attempt to moderate recently, I would pound the park with the dog and come up with the most absurd ideas in order to keep drinking – anything to avoid stopping altogether.
This did not work. By 7pm every night, I’d be tucking into the gin & tonics, opening the wine, guzzling whatever I could find. And long after supper was over and my husband and I had chatted over that sociable bottle or two, I would stay up and search for more. Then I’d hide the empty bottles. And when I thought about this later, I couldn’t rationalise it, but I’d do it anyway.
For the last few evenings, I’ve changed the routine. Once the kids are back from school, and while I get supper ready, I check my blog and read others’ blogs, thereby avoiding that sip sip sip. We all eat together – this is a new venture as I used to feed the kids first so I could drink more with my husband – and they are pleased to see I’m not drinking. Then I wash up straightaway and once I’ve put the kids to bed I pretty much go to bed myself. Clearly this is not exciting stuff, but it’s what I need to do at the moment to stop myself thinking too much about what I’m doing. Because otherwise I’m going to start making those rules again.
At least 20 times today, I have considered writing a post to say goodbye, to give up my blog because I’m so frightened that I won’t be able to sustain it and that I’ll let you all down. But for the moment, I will keep writing and please forgive me if I sound muddled.
I hope I am not putting people off. I’d like to be more upbeat, but here I am on Day 4 and those niggling doubts have started to SHOUT OUT. After the first few days of feeling fired up with the new blog, and the routine of writing, today I have felt fed up. I guess this is to be expected, and I know from past experience that I need to plough through these feelings; in the last few months, I kept trying to restart on Day 1, and I would get to Day 2 or 3 and then give up. I wouldn’t tell anyone I was attempting it, because I didn’t want anyone to stop me if I went back to drinking. This of course is why the blog and the accountability is good, because now if I go back, I will have to explain myself to you, or just disappear. And I definitely don’t want to disappear. Disappearing is bad.
The blog is good. The blog is good.
It’s not that I’m having trouble not drinking. It’s that I’m having trouble with the idea of not drinking. I want to be NORMAL. I want to have wine if I want.
The evenings so far have been fine, and it is so uplifting to see the children pleased that I’m drinking just water at dinner. I haven’t told my husband what I’m doing, so I think he thinks I’m still on that no wine Monday-Thursday plan which we’d made last week, and that come Friday I’ll be waving the wine bottle about. He is a lovely man, but he doesn’t think I need to stop drinking; he thinks I need to have days off during the week, and then drink less when I do drink. And that sounds ideal, doesn’t it! But we all know that those plans never seem to work out.
I’ve stopped shouting now. Even the writing of this post has helped me to feel calmer, and a little bit more sure about what I’m doing.
Because this blog is good.
When I say doldrums, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m really depressed; it’s more that I feel stagnant somehow, waiting for something to happen. I’ve been on Day 3 plenty of times before, and at this stage I usually feel pretty positive, as it’s all still new and fresh. Then – usually – I start to talk myself out of the whole sobriety thing, and I hit Friday night with renewed vigour for my drinking. How is this time going to be different? How can I make it different?
Well, this time I’ve got this blog. I said I was going to write something every day for at least 30 days. So if I don’t, you’ll know I’ve cheated, or can’t face you all. Over the past few months, there have been several people who have stuck by me, even when I told them that I didn’t want to continue being sober and wanted to try moderating. No one judged me; they just gently advised and stood beside me and let me find out for myself. I’ve never met these people in person. Unpickled and Mrs D were crucial to my decision to give sobriety a go, and once I began the 100 day challenge, Belle came into my life. She introduced me to Fernie, my wonderful sober penpal, who continued to email me even through my drinking patch. And Viatoday found me through an old BFB conversation, and contacted me when I was feeling really blue. These voices spoke to me from a lighter place, and helped me to begin again this time. And now that I’ve started this blog, I’ve found myself in touch with other bloggers whose blogs I’ve sometimes commented on, and it feels as though I have more support than ever.
How strange then that my sober support in the ‘real’ world is virtually non-existent. My husband doesn’t even know I’m writing a blog yet. And I can’t bring myself to tell my friends that I’m on this sober path as last time a couple of people said I was boring, and when I started drinking again one of them texted me to say, ‘Phew!’ So I don’t think people liked the non-drinking me.
Last night, I never got round to having that bath. I drank my herbal tea and went to bed, but had unsettling dreams – I seem to remember flashing lights! All quite disturbing. Not sure how the next few nights will go, but am beginning to feel itchy about the weekend, and the various social events I’ve got. I just need to remember my wise online friends and to carry on carrying on.