Snake oil

snakeoil

Dopamine is really interesting…its the promise of reward not the actual reward itself that keeps you drinking/drugging/spending/sexing…

A fellow blogger post this video over a year ago. I wanted to share this with you because we are approaching the festive season and everything around us is saying DRINK!

This little guy illustrates the drinking cycle perfectly. I feel so sad for him and I feel such empathy for everyone who is still stuck in this loop. Its just hell. The good news is that there is hope.

Please remember this video when you see the bottles and bottles of alcohol being shoved into your faces during the Christmas period. The stuff in the bottles is called ETHANOL not fucking wine!

Ethanol is used in toiletries, pharmaceuticals, and fuels, and it is used to sterilize hospital instruments.  It’s poison and its addictive. They can dress it up however they like its still the same rubbish.

The pomp and ceremony around the wine and champagne makes me laugh! Parading around the table with a £400 bottle of wine, pretending that its anything other that fermented fucking grapes that gets you drunk is just ludicrous.

At least I was never under the illusion that I drank for the taste, I knew I was drinking  for the effect.

DO NOT FALL FOR THE HYPE, SOBER PEEPS!!! Alcohol, like so many other ‘quick fixes’ is selling a lie. The dopamine lie to be more specific.

So when you are at the office party and a well meaning colleague tries to convince you how bloody marvellous her glass of Bolli tastes and “you simply MUST try one”… you just remember what’s in that glass…

Turn on your heels safe in the knowledge that you haven’t missed out on anything except a bullet.

xxx

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Deck the Halls – Hurrah’s way…

winecoffee

I would like to start off by saying that I really like Christmas.  I do dispair at the amount of alcohol they are pouring over everything though. If you don’t watch your step they will pour mulled wine into your morning coffee at Costa and it’s not even December yet!

This season can be very ‘triggering’ for us sober folks…Let’s try and keep our sense of humour about the insanity shall we?

In an effort to make myself laugh I came up with my own festive ditty…

Deck the halls with bottles of Bolli,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to get off your trolley,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Eat crap till you want to throw up
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Buy lots of crap that will end up on the dump
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing mess before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Get shitfaced and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow us in merry hysterics,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
You may have to call the paramedics
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes.
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Hail the new year, while we fall on our arses
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

I’ll be hangover free in the morn.
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Ready to ride my unicorn…
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

The disappearing social calendar

photo
(photo credit: Bad moms movie)

Since I got sober my social calendar has slowly started to clear, almost as if a little calendar fairy waved her wand and just made all the parties that used to fill up my time disappear. At first it hurt my feelings, I returned to the school playground in my mind where I was the only one not invited to the most popular girl’s birthday party. You can’t help but feeling left out and excluded.

After the initial sting of rejection faded I started questioning if I really wanted to go to any of those events and the truth is I didn’t… but you know…I would still have liked to have been asked.

The fact is that these parties were ALL about the booze and I really didn’t have anything in common with this group of friends apart from the mutual love of getting completely trolleyed off our faces.

The connection between us was paper-thin as is the connection between all drug addicts. You are BEST MATES while you are getting wasted but don’t expect loyalty or love. This is a bond born and fused in addiction and it is false.

It’s foolish to underestimate the power of the tribal mentality we have around booze and drinking to excess. We share stories of how pissed we got and then share stories of how terribly hung over we all feel the next day, a couple of us would proclaim we are never drinking again…until the next time. There is safety in numbers and there is a feeling of being normal when addicts hang out together. We cant be alcoholics, we all drink like fishes! Some are a tiiiiny bit worse than others and secretly everyone is comparing…

I’ve realised that you can party sober and you can have a marvellous time but for that to happen you need to 1) be with people you really like and have things in common with 2) be in a setting that you are comfortable with

I am also making peace with a quieter life, a steady content way of life that is filled with so much richness, love and deep fulfilment.

Drinking promised me all of the things that sobriety delivers. Sure there are fewer social things but that makes time for other pursuits that really interest me, pastimes that feed my soul. I’m making art again; I’m knitting, cooking and doing yoga.

It takes a while to find your sober feet, so to whoever is on this sober path, don’t despair if it feels like your social life is waning…sobriety is making time and space for you to find true joy and happiness.

 

 

 

 

Alcohol thoughts…

monstersImage credit: Calvin and Hobbes –  Monsters under the bed.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been having random thoughts about alcohol. The first one popped up during our weekly Sunday lunch. I went into the kitchen to get some water for the table and the thought popped up out of nowhere…RED WINE! It freaked me out so much I ran back to the table like something was chasing me. Mr Hurrah and the kids just did their usual ‘mommy is being weird’ faces to each other and we continued eating as if nothing happened.

The next random thought was after a long day, mr Hurrah was getting some soft drinks out of the fridge at the back and the thought popped up …BEER! I shook my head as if to shake the thought loose from my skull and went about the rest of the evening but there was a niggling worry at the back of mind the whole time. Why now…am I heading for trouble?

The following weekend, I was on facebook and saw my old ‘drinking mommy’ group on a night out. I found myself thinking wistfully about glamorous cocktails and of the wild abandon of a night out. I’m not friends with that group anymore partly because we had very little in common except the mutual love of gin and also because they stopped inviting me to things. Now before you say anything…I know, facebook sucks and I do have better things to do with my time but I use it for work and also to stay in touch as working from home can be terribly isolating.

Because alcohol thoughts happen so infrequently these days the regularity and intensity of them freaked me right out. My first instinct is to run or walk very fast like I used to when I was a little girl. I always thought monsters were chasing me on the way back from the bathroom in the middle of night. The second thing I want to do is hit the thought on the head with a crucifix screaming ‘DEVIL CHILD, DEVIL CHILD!’ in an effort to exorcise the demon. Remnant tendencies from all the time I spent in my Grandmother’s church no doubt.

As much as hate alcohol, somehow I don’t think fighting with the thought is the answer. I’ve done that before and when you engage in any way, you start negotiating with your addict voice. Mine is called Jack and he can sell atheism to a doorstep Jehovah. As soon as I give Jack any attention, even negative attention he will start convincing me why I miss it and how over dramatic I’ve been about the whole drinking thing. So I sit with the thoughts, without judgement and let them pass.

On reflection the thoughts weren’t so random after all. The first one was just an ‘association craving’. We used to always have red wine with Sunday lunch and my brain just pulled that memory out.

The beer thought was after a long day and I was tired. I used to think alcohol relaxed me so that was an ‘make me feel better – craving’

The cocktail craving is me needing to go out dancing. Mr Hurrah and I haven’t been out dancing since we went to see Guns and Roses and I feel it’s high time. I’ve booked a Halloween party, bought a blue wig and plan on wearing my fake fur leopard print coat and heels. Comfortable heels that I can dance in mind you, I may be wild and free but I’m practical too.

My addiction stole so much from me I’ll be damned if it steals my love of music and dancing just by association. Dancing sober was a massive step for me I never thought I could do it but once I  did I remembered  that dancing one of the greatest pleasures in life. I never needed alcohol to give me confidence, it was all an illusion!

We have to make sure we nurture all aspects of ourselves in sobriety is this is to be a lasting change. Sleep when you are tired and go out dancing till dawn if that is what floats your boat. We have so much to celebrate, being sober is bloody amazing and we should make time to still do the things we love. Sometimes cravings or thoughts about booze can tell us where we need to work harder on nurturing our whole selves.

Surrender – or why does it take what it takes?

rumi

I’ve been ruminating on why some of us relapse and others don’t.

What is it that makes us go back to drinking time and time again even after we swore that this time is the last time? Why do some of us go back to it even after we know we are addicted? Why does it take some of us a million day one’s before we really get it?

I open my eyes, I can’t swallow… my throat is raw. I’m still in last night’s clothes and my one boot is still on. I get a text message through… I’m trying to focus with my one eye but I’m still drunk. “Are you ok lovely?” “You had a couple of fall’s by the school gate”

I’m terrified. I can’t remember anything, last night’s events is a black hole…again. I hobble to the bathroom to assess the damage. There is blood in my hair and my head feels swollen on one side. I have deep bruises on my legs and arms. I try to swallow but I still can’t manage it. I start to cry, gin soaked tears are rolling down my cheeks and the sound I’m making doesn’t sound human. I fall to my knees and start to howl, I am shaking uncontrollably. I can’t fucking do this anymore! I can’t fucking do this anymore! There is nothing left of me. I don’t recognise myself in the mirror, the woman staring back at me has been in a fight, she has been in this fight for years. My face is sweaty red and swollen and my eyes are dead. The woman staring back at me wants to die. I want this fucking pain to end. The kids! …They’ll be better off without you; you’re a fucking disaster. What kind of mother are you? You are a waste of space, a disgusting fucking drunk!

That was the moment.

While I was looking at my reflection and those hateful words were shouting in a furious thunderous voice, somewhere else inside of me there was another voice whispering quietly “This isn’t you…you are SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS”

That was grace.

I’ve had many of those types of moments throughout my drinking career but this one was different. I was finished. I had been fighting with alcohol for decades and I was battle weary, tired to the bone. My soul was screaming out to me…SURRENDER. You don’t have to fight anymore. You don’t have to pretend anymore. Accept! Accept! Accept defeat! Accept that you cannot drink like a normal person.

My story is not a straightforward one, there wasn’t just one singular rock bottom resulting in a trip to recovery land with me riding off into the sunset on my sober horse. I got sober for the first time after I was arrested for public drunkenness, I was 19 . I was a student and I drank the same way my friends did but a bit more greedily. There was neediness to my drinking that my friends didn’t seem to have. I attended one AA meeting at the behest of my mother but there weren’t any young people in there, they were all at the NA meeting next door. The meeting was full of 50 years old men who all looked at me as if I were crazy. They kept on talking about being a ‘true alcoholic’ and they made me feel as if I was too young to be one and as if my antics were expected behaviour from a student. I didn’t go back.

I stayed sober for 5 years, white knuckling it as best as I could. I developed an eating disorder & the bulimia took the place of booze.

I met a man and moved to England where no one knew me and there I started drinking again. I had hoped that I ‘outgrew’ the binge drinking issues and that being older would magically help me to drink moderately. It went ok for a while but the drinking soon got out of hand again.

We started a family, I was sober for the pregnancies but as soon as the stress of motherhood hit, I used it to self medicate. The last 7 years I have been on lengthy sober stretches then relapses. 6 months sober 3 months drinking, 9 months sober…6 months drinking an on and on and on…. until last year when I had my moment of grace.

The reason some of us take longer to get there or go back out there is very simple. It’s a combination of lack of self-love and poor coping skills.

Who in their right mind would allow someone to beat them up over and over? Alcohol is like an abusive partner and the only reason we stay is because we think we are worth nothing. People who respect and honor themselves won’t allow someone to abuse them.

For this first time in my life I am really learning to love myself. Not just the ‘self love’ meme type of thing you see on Instagram (selfie time:)… I mean REALLY love myself. To be able to sit and look at myself with compassion and understanding is the only way I can stay sober.

The link between self-loathing and active addiction is obvious I suppose but I never understood it fully. Its only now with the clarity that sobriety brings that I can truly see that love is the only way.

To love and honor yourself every day. You are a divine being worthy of love. We are all divine beings worthy of love no matter how low this addiction takes us. The light inside of you cannot be touched by anything you ever did under the influence. That light…that is the real you and that is pure love!

 

 

‘I wrote myself back together’

byronkatie

One year ago I was newly sober and dealing with really intense withdrawals and anxiety. I was scared to death. I didn’t know what the fuck to do but I knew I couldn’t carry on drinking.

With quivering fingers I slowly typed in the word alcoholic into Google, happened on some articles and then by a massive stroke of luck stumbled upon Sober Mummy’s blog.

A whole new world opened up. I couldn’t believe there were other women like me having the same issues! These brave women (and men) were candid and open about recovery and were keeping track of their successes and failures.

I was in a total mess at that point. Alcohol had literally brought me to my knees and my self-esteem was in tatters on the floor. I didn’t know how to be sober in this world. I felt naked and exposed… reality was a cold and frightening place to be. My crutch, my medicine was gone and I was utterly bereft. I was petrified to look around my life to really see the devastation the addiction had caused. There is that saying in AA: “If you want to know why you drank, stop drinking and you’ll soon find out.

I decided there and then that this blogosphere was a good place for me to be. It creates accountability and also takes care of step 4 (fearless moral inventory) and step 5 “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

I found a world with honest brave people in recovery that are rocking life on life’s terms. The ultimate bas assery!

I want to borrow a quote by Roxanne Gay that describes my feelings around this far more eloquently that I ever could-

I wrote myself back together. I wrote myself toward a stronger version of myself . . . Through writing and feminism, I also found that if I was a little bit brave, another woman might hear me and see me and recognize that none of us are the nothing the world tries to tell us we are.
–  Roxanne Gay

I am so grateful to this community for being there for me in what could be easily said was the most difficult (and most wonderful) year of my life.

The more I wrote the lighter I felt. It was like unloading bags and bags of heavy rocks that I had been carrying around with me for years! I didn’t realise I was in such deep denial and more time I spend sober the more I realise in what a bad place I was.

I was telling the truth about my addiction for the first time. This was huge! Addiction cannot survive when you tell the truth. It needs secrecy and lies to thrive.

Every comment that said ‘me too!” confirmed to me that I wasn’t alone in this struggle. Every kind word and lovely suggestions meant and still means the world to me.

My perspective has shifted massively in one year. I am no longer apologetic or shy-ish about the fact that I am sober. I think it’s a fucking bad-ass choice and I am proud of it.

I am no longer counting days. I don’t want to do it and no one can make me. I will count 2016 as the year surrendered and got sober.

I am no longer scared of relapses, this is a fear based way of living and I have no interest in it. I am focussing on living in love and staying conscious. I am focussing on accepting the things I cannot change. I am focussing on spiritual growth and staying in my own business. I am learning that I am not in control of everything and that Donald trump and climate change is here to stay whether we like it or not.

Wherever you are on your journey, 2 years in, or battling to string a month together just know that by writing it down you are increasing your chances of beating this thing…addiction cannot survive when you are telling the truth, the truth will…as they say… set you free.

A rainbow scarf & my quest for zen

knitting

I thought I would write a little update on quitting smoking and binge eating sugar at the same time.

I’m off the fags, so that’s a big win. My lungs are starting to clear up and I’m feeling much better. This is week 3…It was hard for the first 5 days and then in the second week cravings seemed to come when stress hit but other than that I felt ok. Cravings are really weird. When you really sit with a craving and let it be there without acting on it or fighting with it, it dissipates in a matter of minutes. When the craving hits and you are busy doing other things and you don’t have time to sit and work through it is where the real challenge lies. You have to learn to remain present in the midst of acitivity and turmoil.

I also haven’t been drowning myself in vats of ice cream to substitute, yay for me. I wish I could say I’ve managed to do this because I have become enlightened and now only need fresh air, kale and water to survive. Alas this is not the case, the way I’ve managed to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat is by knitting. A suggestion given to me by the lovely SoberIsland. Proper knitting, with yarn and needles and everything !

Oh yes, I knit now. Honestly, if you told me two years ago that my future self would be a happily sober, herbal tea drinking, yoga doing, scarf knitting individual I would have laughed in your face and then probably would have slapped you for suggesting such an outrageous thing.

Knitting is the perfect hobby for this obsessive compulsive addict. I love the repetitiveness of it, it makes me feel safe and happy. I knew I was hooked when Friday rolled around and I felt proper panic because I didn’t have enough yarn for the weekend. You know what they say…once an addict… I suppose, strictly speaking I haven’t truly managed to deal with cross addictions because I’ve substituted smoking and eating sugar for knitting. Progress not perfection hey? As far as addictions go I think knitting is pretty innocuous. Never had a knitting hangover, can’t black out from it and I’ve never regretted what I knit the night before.

I finished my first scarf a couple of nights ago. I used rainbow yarn, (the closest I could get to unicorn yarn). I absolutely love it and I felt a great sense of accomplishment when it was finished. The only flaw (if this could be considered a flaw) is that it’s the longest scarf I’ve ever seen. It turns out didn’t know when to stop,  every night I kept telling myself just 3 more rows and before I knew it I had knit 6.

 

Cigarette flavoured ice cream

icecreamSo last week I tried to stop smoking for the gazillionth time. I fared pretty well until Mr Hurrah and I had a massive fight on Sunday.

I was standing outside in the shed where I used to sneak drinks…eating an ice cream and smoking a cigarette at the same time. Yes that is physically possible and no I wouldn’t recommend it. It takes a lot of coordination not to drag on the ice-cream and eat the cigarette.

As I was smoking the cigarette and angry eating the ice cream it occurred to me that this is perhaps not what sobriety looks like. What the hell am I doing? I’m not coping with life I am trying to distract and numb myself out with two things that aren’t even mind altering. I suppose that probably depends on how much ice cream you can consume in one sitting, is a sugar coma even a thing?

So in an effort to be accountable I am going to track my progress here. I’m quitting the fags cold turkey tomorrow and going to try my best not to substitute the fags for food.

Cigarettes are lethal and don’t DO anything. I think part of the reason I’m finding it difficult to quit this time (I quit for 7 years before my kids were born) is because I feel a loss of my rebel identity. I never pegged myself as a non-smoking, non-drinking kale eating yogi. The things is smoking doesn’t make you a rebel it’s just nicotine addiction that makes you sick.

The food thing is harder…when I stop smoking I feel more hungry and I ‘reward’ myself with food. Eating a whole box of ice creams isn’t fun. You feel sick afterwards and sugar is its own little hamster wheel of craving and bingeing.

Being mindful, present and noticing my triggers before it gets to crisis point is the only way this ‘new me’ is going to really recover. Yes, I didn’t drink so that is at least something but part of recovery is learning to deal with life’s ups and downs without clutching at old crutches that aren’t good for you.

I would love to hear what cross addictions y’all are struggling with, if any?

Wish me luck sober peeps, I sure need it. xxx

Sober camping

camping

We’ve just retuned from our annual camping holiday and I’m pleased to report that I managed to do it sober this time around and I actually enjoyed it. I am not a camper as such, Mr Hurrah is the outdoorsy type, I’m much more a self catering cottage kinda gal. On our previous camping trips booze played a really big part. As soon as we put the tent up the beers came out and we would spend our days on a slow alcohol drip between various camping activities.

This year the car was packed so full that the backseat looked like a Tetris puzzle with soft toys, blankets, pillows, 2 grumpy children and a guitar between them. We packed fairy lights, sheepskins, drums and even packed in the bunting so I was convinced that this time camping was going to be marvellous, I am sober after all, what could go wrong?

My daughter was ill the night before and I had high hopes that she just ate something bad and wasn’t actually getting a sick bug. As soon as we pulled onto the highway my hopes were dashed to smithereens when she projectile vomited all over the pillows, the seats and my arm.

FML…I stayed quite calm, as calm as to be expected in such a predicament and as soon as we could do so safely, we pulled over at the services. After we cleaned up, I told Mr Hurrah that I wanted to go home, as I really didn’t fancy spending seven days with children vomiting in their sleeping bags. Hubs, ever the eternal optimist, insisted we stay the course and see what happens.

The drinking me would have had a fit and caused a fight but the sober me considered that it could be 24-hour bug and just maybe if the gods were smiling on us and we were lucky, my son wouldn’t get it.

Onwards we went, car smelling of stale vomit with hope in our hearts.

We unpacked while my poor daughter was draped over the picnic blanket, white as a sheet. She perked up after a while, it turned out to be a 24-hour bug, which was a massive relief. After the gargantuan task of pitching the tent, unfolding and unpacking everything was complete I cracked open a coke zero, didn’t miss the beer at all.

We made a fire and had an amazing barbeque and did the obligatory marshmallows on sticks. My son insisted on doing his own and kept dropping them into the fire.

I loved going to bed in my light blue and pink fluffy unicorn onesie sober. Yes, I have a unicorn onesie and yes, it is every bit as awesome as it sounds. This time, I didn’t have to get up at 4 (still tipsy) and fumble around the bushes with a torch to find the bathroom because I wasn’t drinking wine till the ungodly hours.

The early mornings were wonderful. I got up before the kids, they went to bed later than usual and I went to bed earlier than usual, so most mornings I had an hour to myself. I sat in my unicorn onesie on my camping chair drinking my coffee listening to the birds. It was bliss. No hangover, no wondering what the hell I did the night before, totally well rested.

The next day it rained and just as it started bucketing down I realised that I forgot to pack everyone’s Wellies. No matter, the sober me was cool calm and collected, nothing a debit card cant fix. Wellies bought, we were off to the movies to watch Captain Underpants. I didn’t think it was possible for my children to learn any new ideas on toilet humour however Captain Underpants introduced a whole new level to their already potty-centred vocabulary..

There was massive storm raging when we emerged from the cinema and I suggested we pop back to the campsite to double check that our tent hadn’t blown away. When we got there we were pleased and a little surprised that the tent was still standing. Our poor unfortunate neighbour’s weren’t so lucky, their event shelter had totally collapsed and the stuff underneath was soaked.

We opted for a nice hot meal at the pub as a barbeque was clearly out of the question. There was a point when Mr Hurrah’s red wine arrived that I had a twinge and thought that a glass of red might be nice but then quickly reminded myself what that would lead to. It wouldn’t be just the one glass, it never is. I don’t know if those thoughts ever go away but they are becoming less frequent.

The rest of the holiday we were blessed with good weather so it went off without a hitch. We saw glow worms, snakes, frogs, bunnies and loads of butterflies and birds. We spent lovely family time together, no ipads, no phones.

I felt like a kid this camping holiday, I felt clean and serene. There was stress but I could handle it SO much better sober! So despite the projectile vomiting and the storms, this was by far the best camping trip ever.

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