Happy F!

fword

Thank you for all the lovely messages and support. I am relieved and happy to report that I am still sober!

It was touch and go there for a while I won’t lie. One day after a disagreement with hubs I drove to the shop in a rage. I stormed in and got to the wine aisle and froze. I just stood there for what felt like an eternity when one of the assistants touched my arm and asked if they can help me. I quickly said no thank you and walked to the cashier fully intending to buy a pack of cigarettes and instead walked out the shop with some extra chewing gum. I think Aspartame is the lesser of three evils, no?

I don’t want to drink anymore, it’s a bullshit coping mechanism that threatened to destroy my family. These days I can actually look at myself in mirror without despising what I see and I’ll be damned if I throw that away just because I’ve had a stressful couple of months. In fact, I am much more capable of coping with all of this sober than I ever was when I was drinking.

So onwards and upward sober peeps. Happy sober weekend!!!

 

 

Warning lights

far_side_cartoon

The cravings are coming thick and fast these days. I’m seriously having an uphill battle here. I feel really irritable, tired and want to curl up in sleep in a darkened room. I don’t want to see people, I hate everyone. Most people around me aggravate me and basically humanity as a whole sucks. As you can tell I am a regular ray of sunshine lately and it must be truly amazing to be in my presence. There is no farting glitter or pooping rainbows at casa Hurrah these days, just big, irksome rainclouds that won’t stop raining. My poor family are just patiently suffering through it. We had a meet up with friends yesterday and it just turned out to be ‘another thing to get done’ before I can rest.

I’ve also been feeling very uncomfortable in my own skin recently. I’ve picked up weight and feel like my skin is crawling with all the sugar and excess coffee. I can’t really stand to look in the mirror at all so I run past them like a mad person. During this stressful time of working so much and little sleep I really haven’t been paying attention to my nutrition, exercise or rest. These crucial things have all been on the back burner in favour of surviving because work and money has taken up all my time in the last two months. My word for the year is self-care and yes I stopped smoking and yes I’m not drinking but I am NOT taking good care of myself at all.

As you may or may not know I have been prone to relapse in the past, I’ve seriously lost count of the amount of times I started drinking again after making a solemn vow I’ll never do it again. I could call myself the ‘relapse queen’ but I won’t because I would like to stay stopped this time and don’t fancy being remembered as that.

Basically, I can feel myself slipping, so I’ve done a bit of research about relapses. This is my new thing now, I’m documenting my sober journey like an annoying little detective. (Sorry, but I’m seriously irritating myself to no end)

A relapse doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It just feels like it does, every time I’ve relapsed it felt like waking up out of a dream and not knowing how it happened. Like I had no say in it, it felt like my conscious choice was non-existent and my addicted mind took over my body. It felt very similar to the fight of flight response when your reptile brain is left in charge while your prefrontal cortex is taking a little holiday.

A relapse is a process,  not an event. It can start weeks or months before you actually pick up a drink.

The three stages of relapse:

Emotional relapse
You are not thinking about drinking but your emotions and behaviors are setting you up.
· Anxiety · Intolerance · Anger · Isolation · Not asking for help · Poor eating habits · Poor sleep habits – Not making recovery a daily priority

Mental relapse
You’ve started entertaining the idea of drinking, and the tug of war starts. You glamorise drinking and pine for the ‘good ol’ days’

Physical relapse 
It’s difficult to stop a relapse when it get’s to this point. (not impossible but much harder)

It appears as though there is a substantial amount of time prior to the relapse that gives you the opportunity to turn it around which is great news.

This is one of the reasons why AA’s maxim ‘one day at a time’ works so well. Staying sober is a daily practice of self-care, self-love, self-reflection.

This is not an easy thing for an addict to do. We tend to be all or nothing, go big or go home kinda people so the slow and steady, small steps every day is very foreign to me. I get obsessed so when I work that’s all I do, there is no balance!

I’m off to take a walk and then early to bed.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
— Buddha

Craaaaving

angel
So yesterday I had one of the strongest cravings I’ve had since I quit. I was at my desk working, listening to some music and it just hit me out of nowhere. “Wine! I need wine, I need to drink wine, I need relief, I need to let go!”

I have been going through a really stressful time. Working all the hours God sends, looking after kids on my own while hubs was on hols. Of course, when he came back he admitted that he drank on the trip.

This hamster wheel of sobriety/drinking that we’ve been on in the last 10 years, when he started drinking again I started right back there with him.

Not this time baby! Aint no way I’m going there again.

I didn’t engage with the thought. I didn’t rationalise or even deny.  This is where I usually would start having a conversation in my head that would go like this:

Alcohol voice: I need wine.

Voice of logic: You can’t have wine, you are addicted. This never ends well for you.

Alcohol voice: But I’ve had such a stressful time and I deserve some relief, the ONLY thing that will give me the relief is wine.

Voice of logic: No! You want to be sober, it’s better for you. You love your sober self and your sober life.

Alcohol voice: If hubs is going to get plastered you have the right to get plastered too! He can’t have fun without you. Why does he get to drink and I can’t?

Voice of logic: You really shouldn’t it’s bad for you. You are addicted and you can’t control it.

Alcohol voice: Fuck it! Fuck it all! Life’s short, you deserve a break. This whole thing is in your head, you are totally fine, everyone drinks!

Voice of logic: Now that you put it like that, I have been very stressed and everyone around us drinks. Yes fuck it! Bring ALL THE BOOZE YOU HAVE.

This would trigger a relapse that could last for months or even years.

Instead of having a conversation with the craving I just accepted it, breathed and waited for it to go. The thought got smaller and smaller and disappeared. It took about 15 minutes for it to go away completely.

Still sober baby!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

You can be a good example or a great reminder

meditationBefore you roll your eyes at me with the preachy title, hear me out…

I am working my way through all the shair podcasts. http://theshairpodcast.com/
I love Omar, he such a cool dude. I love the way he structures the show and also how he asks his guests what their sobriety ‘routine’ is. As someone who was a dry drunk for a good few years, I know first hand that if you want to stay stopped for good you need to do way more than just stop drinking.

Stop drinking is a good first step but that’s all it is, a first step. No one on earth can stay sober if that is all there is to recovery. You have to rewire and reprogram your brain, you have to put in the work and do some serious soul searching You have to get honest with yourself and with your loved ones. You basically have to rebuild yourself from the ground up.

The people he interviews are in long time recovery and they all have something in common. Most of them start their day with some form of spiritual practice. This can take the form of prayer, meditation or just gentle stretches and setting intentions for the day. They also touch base with people in recovery regularly, this can be anything from attending meetings, staying in touch with sober peeps or volunteering. (I think blogging counts;)

Another thing they have in common is gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is key to a happy sober life but this is also a practise. Some days you will just feel like rubbish and that’s ok. I have been keeping a gratitude journal, and extract from when I was going through a really rough time recently:

1) I am so grateful this day has come to an end

2) I am really really grateful that I didn’t kill anyone and that everyone is still alive

3) I am so blessed to be able to sleep now.

See, that right there is still being grateful even if you feel like sh*t.

On one of the episodes, a lady was talking about AA and quoted an old timer that gave her good advice.

“ You can be a good example or a great reminder” I belly laughed at that quote, I don’t know why I find it so funny, I just do.

These ‘pearls of wisdom’ can also irritate me to no end. The rebel in me just doesn’t want to deal with it. I never signed up to be an example to anyone! When this becomes a ‘moral’ issue you lose me completely. I’m way to anti-establishment for that. One of the things that most alcoholics have in common is that they are non-conformist and this trait has served me well in some respects.

But something about that quote sticks to me like an old chewed up piece of gum. I think it’s the second part of the sentence that really gets me… I may not have signed up to be an example to anyone but I also didn’t sign up to be a walking reminder of what addiction can do.

I would rather have a happy life:)

My lovely is gone…

One of my blogging friends has recently deleted her blog and disappeared into cyberspace. I am really sad about this, I feel a sense of loss and bewilderment.  I am working day and night so can’t write a proper post about this, I will when I have time. I am so tired. I am functioning on very little sleep. Have to work while the work is here, I am grateful for it but it’s really intense working a full work day, then children and then working at night till 1-2 in morning. Think I need to sleep, I had to rewrite morning 3 times because I couldn’t figure out how to spell it.

Come back Jenna, where have you gone?
xxx

 

Blackout drunk

I had one of those vivid dreams where you wake up in a cold sweat.

In the dream I was driving my car on the highway in a blackout, when I regained consciousness my car was in a ditch and police had surrounded the car. I was very drunk and disoriented and the police kept shouting at me to wake the “f” up!

I got a DUI and they took my licence away. The worst part of the whole dream was the embarrassment of everyone in my neighbourhood and children’s school knowing that I’m an alcoholic.

I woke up drenched in sweat and panic, I checked my breath (in case I’d forgotten that I drank or something) and double-checked my surroundings. It was just a dream thank God! I cannot begin to explain the relief I felt.

I had so many blackouts when I was active in my addiction. I would black out and then be out partying for hours, walking talking doing crazy shit. I looked like I was there but ‘I’ wasn’t there at all. My husband could spot the sign of a blackout after a while, he said my eyes would get this vacant look and he just knew.

Initially, the blackouts were reserved for hectic drinking sessions when a lot of booze was consumed.

The last year of my drinking, ‘the scary year’ I call it, I started blacking way more regularly.

Generally, a blackout is described as a period of unconsciousness or lack of awareness when you are unable to recall what happened or what you did.

It’s the most harrowing thing waking up with no recollection of what you did. It’s like some shadowy creature of the night took possession of you. This imposter who would say and do really dangerous things, left in charge of the only vehicle you have to navigate your life with. It’s just ludicrous!

Those nights are consigned to the void, it’s time lost that I will never get back. What an utterly miserable pastime drinking is…half-consciousness, inebriation and blurry memories with big black holes in them.

I won’t go into all of the things I did or said when I was in blackouts; that would be a very long list indeed.

I will say that alcohol renders the drinker entirely vulnerable. Your faculties are all impaired so if you are out in that state you are a target.

One of the most amazing gifts of sobriety is those two minutes before you are completely awake…those two minutes used to be spent piecing the last night’s events together, desperately trying to remember what I did, said or how I got to bed.

These days I say thank you, thank you for not having drunk the night before, thank you for waking up sober, thank you, thank you, thank you…

Spending the first two minutes of my day in gratitude instead of regret and confusion is absolutely everything to me.

Why should you quit drinking for good? High-bottom girls make the world go round!

bottom

Generally speaking, people are motivated to cut down on their alcohol consumption when drinking has become problematic or when they have suffered some negative consequences from drinking.

Cutting down could include trying to re-set the clock with the 100-day promise or one year no beer and then after having abstained for said amount of time hopefully you can drink again moderately.

This might work for some but it definitely didn’t work for me. Every time I started drinking again I picked up right where I left off. It might have taken me a couple of weeks or even months to return to the volume I was drinking but return I most certainly did.

This got me thinking about drinkers with a high bottom… (not the pert posterior variety I’m referring to, although that would be great to have!)

So what motivates a high bottom drinker to stop and STAY stopped? And does everyone have to reach rock bottom? Also, one person’s rock bottom can look wildly different to the next.

My bottom wasn’t that high, I looked great in hot pants when I was 18, not so much these days. (That’s the last bottom joke, promise)

I had experienced some pretty bad consequences, I was arrested for being drunk and disorderly when I was 20 (spent 2 nights in a holding cell) and suffered severely embarrassing and dangerous/violent moments throughout my drinking career.

On the other hand, I suppose you could consider me a high-bottom drinker because I was successfully freelancing from home, looking after my family, I paid rent and taxes and my marriage was intact. I worked very hard to keep this Norman Rockwell facade going for as long as I could.

Does the decision to quit drinking alcohol have to be motivated by such dire warnings as STOP DRINKING OR YOU WILL DIE?

Does that help or hinder the cause? I’m not disputing the fact that alcohol addiction can most certainly kill you. My last rock bottom moment when I fell and knocked my head on that koi pond I could very well have either died or sustained a life altering injury.

What I’m wondering is if we are framing it in the right way? You see, for me stopping drinking saved my life in 2 ways. The first most obvious are the health aspects, I have less of a worry about diseases and accidents that kill drinkers.

The second most important way it saved my life is that I am actually experiencing life. I have time and my consciousness back! I’m here! I’ve been absent from life for so fucking long.

This is how stopping drinking really saves your life – It gives you the most precious gift that anyone can have and that is time to be alive on earth! To savour each human experience, each nuance and detail, to really experience all of it, the agony and ecstasy. That is why I will never go back. Not the fear of the dire consequences that await me if I do (and I know they are real) it’s the absolute insistence of my soul to be ‘conscious’ for the rest of my life. We have such a short time on the earth why would I want to be dulled/numbed for it? We can’t numb selectively so when we numb, we numb all the beautiful splendour of life as well.

I’m not saying that when life is shit I won’t want to forget or numb the pain, I most probably will but I know that choosing to do that with booze means that I resign myself to a homogenous life in black in white when it could be in technicolour.

To be clear is a gift. Life’s downs are easier to handle sober and life’s ups are spectacular when you are awake to experience them.

So instead of the STOP OR YOU’LL DIE, we could also say: I CHOOSE NOT TO DRINK BECAUSE ALCOHOL STEALS MY TIME, ENERGY AND DULLS MY NATURAL WONDER.That sounds truer for me. Because dying from alcohol addiction can take many years, it really is a slow suicide. Also, that may never happen and you could die from something else…this is exactly the point…Do you want to spend the years you have on this planet dazed and confused or do you want to be free and clear?

Adulting all over the place

adulting

This weekend something happened that triggered me massively. I was in a state of panic fight or flight and just wanted to drink. Instead I went into the shed (the shed where I used to sneak drinks) and I breathed. I sat with my panic. I tried to remember the RAIN acronym (Recognise, allow, investigate, non-identify) but I couldn’t get past ‘allow’, I couldn’t remember past the word ‘allow’ because my prefrontal cortex was on holiday somewhere while my reptile brain was rearing to go.

I sat in the shed for a good 20 minutes and you know what? The feeling didn’t swallow me up and it did pass.

Still sober. Yay for me!. xxx

(PAWS) is it a real thing?

I’ve been feeling very ‘Pawsy’ lately. Been reading my blogging friends that are on a roughly the same day count as I am (91 days today). They all seem to be experiencing similar symptoms. Feeling generally down and anxious (not all the time) but sort of starting to wonder what the point is of being sober if you are going to feel shitty.

This got me thinking about PAWS. Is it a real thing? According to Wikipedia there have been few scientific studies supporting its existence. Because of this, the disorder is not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or major medical associations.

This isn’t enough to persuade me that it doesn’t exist. Alcohol research that is truly impartial and will expose the true extent of harm the drug does and how addictive it is is sparse to say the least. Remember, research needs to be funded by someone and alcohol companies do fund research that will publish studies that are skewed or that tell half truths.

A recent survey by a US website called postacutewithdrawal.org found that ninety per cent of respondents to their online survey reported post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). These results come as a bit of a surprise because it was assumed that only a minority of people who break away from addiction experience symptoms beyond the first few weeks.

Doctors and medical professionals that specialise and deal with drug addiction and withdrawal all know about and have direct experience with patients going through PAWS.

The length of time and severity of PAWS is linked to the amount of years and the volume you drank.

Post-acute withdrawal occurs because your brain chemistry is gradually returning to normal. As your brain improves the levels of your brain chemicals fluctuate as they approach the new equilibrium causing post-acute withdrawal symptoms.

The Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal

The most common post-acute withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Variable energy
  • Low enthusiasm
  • Variable concentration
  • Disturbed sleep

“The brain has tremendous capacity to heal, but it doesn’t heal quickly,” says Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises Treatment Centers and Elements Behavioral Health.
As the body moves toward homeostasis, says Dr. Joseph Lee, Medical Director of the Hazelden Youth Continuum, it has to reach a “new kind of normal” in the process. Some people experience a more prolonged withdrawal, he says, “and it takes a long time to recalibrate.” In fact, instead of feeling better, many addicts in recovery feel worse.

The biggest thing Sack’s seen in his patients is increased anxiety. People are “more nervous, more anxious, less resilient; and that anxiety is experienced as fear, as uncertainty, a greater sensitivity to rejection.” Some of this excessive reactivity is linked to the glutamate neurotransmitter system, as many drugs of abuse block glutamate. In response, the body ups its production of this chemical, even after the drug is taken away. 

“The advice I would give is to be patient with the time it takes to heal and feel better,” Parrish says. “These tough issues weren’t created overnight, and they won’t disappear overnight. I have learned that when I feel particularly “PAWS-y,” that means I’m subconsciously working something out—this makes dealing with the symptoms of feeling a little crazy and not sleeping less exhausting. It won’t last forever.” 

extract from https://www.thefix.com/content/paws

I found this video from Annie Grace and Doctor Dr. Jaffe Ph.D from the Alternatives Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles that explains why it takes a while to feel better.

 

Groundlessness – Hide the whiskey, mama needs to breathe through this shit.

So you know that 12 steppers advise not to make any major changes in the first year of sobriety?

This is sensible advice because getting sober is a full time job without having additional stress going on. Sometimes life just doesn’t work like that and we are forced to make these changes before we are ‘strictly speaking’ ready or strong enough to deal.

My husband recently quit his job and is planning to freelance. I am a freelancer. The thing about freelancing is that there is no guarantee about a paycheck at the end of the month and income varies greatly from month to month.

I was and still am very sure that it’s a good thing he quit BUT the reality of not having the steady income each month is freaking me out. I am getting really bad anxiety and feel generally ON EDGE.

I am future tripping into my bag lady future on an almost hourly basis.

I am feeling very exposed and utterly unsure about everything. Not just the money, just life in general. I can be diagnosed with an awful disease tomorrow one of my kids can get sick. My husband can keel over from a heart attach at any time. The world is such an uncertain place, nothing seems solid to me anymore.

All of these things can happen at any time and how will I cope? This is the groundlessness Pema talks about. This is scaring the shit out of me. This is where we are faced with reality in all its fucking uncertain glory!

There is no escape from the groundlessness of being. This is the nature of life.

We want to cling to something to give us security and hate it when things change but change is the only constant and ultimately the resistance to change creates the suffering.

I want to drown myself in a bottle of whiskey and just curl up and hide from all of this. I don’t have that option anymore. I have to face this, sit with this groundlessness, this exposed insecurity and breathe through it.

Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it.Pema Chödrön