My Rockbotteversary

Image result for funny rock bottom quotesRockbotteversary (rock bottom + anniversary, a little play on words that will hopefully catch on:)

Noun:
– To rememeber and to celebrate the date of the rock bottom moment

“Susan celebrated her rockbotteversary by buying that Harley Davidson she always wanted”

Yesterday it was two years ago to the day that I hit my head on that Koi pond. The heavens opened up and hit me right beween the eyes with a big ass wake up call.

The message was clear.

Drinking is going to kill you… one way or another.

You are either going to die from a horrendous drinking accident or your pickled organs are just going to give up…but wait theres more… before it kills you it will destroy EVERYTHING you hold dear. Your sense of self and your family will be totally annihilated by this drug.

I had had many rock bottoms before that fateful day so what made that day any different?

  • I was arrested for public drunkeness when I was a student.
  • I was in several car accidents (I wasn’t driving but the drivers were drunk)
  • I was raped more than once while either passed out or too drunk to know what I was doing.
  • I have caused fights, cried and embarrassed myself more times than I care to count.
  • I fell down stairs, lost wallets, phones jackets.
  • Blackouts were very normal.
  • Towards the end I couldn’t remember putting my children to bed

All of these moments would be enough for any normal person to say …mmmhhh houston I think we have a problem.

Not me… oh no…alcohol was too precious to me, it was part of my DNA!

I dont know what made that day different. All I know is that day I wanted to die rather than carry on living the way I was living. I know we can always go lower but I have no intererst to see how far this elevator can take me. I’ve gone low enough and it scared the shit out of me. There is no happy ending when it comes to alcohol and I wouldn’t wish that end to my worst enemy.

Stopping drinking has been the best decision I have ever made. It hasn’t been easy but once you get through the first gruelling bit… it’s way easier to be sober that to be an addict. Being an active addict fucking hard work I honestly dont know how the hell I got anything done?!

It may be weird to celebrate one’s rock bottom moment. I don’t really know, I feel like its life affirming to remember how low I was because it helps me to see how far I’ve come.

We see life in contrast, we need the dark to really appreciate the light!

Anyway I am grateful to be here, I am grateful to be alive, sober and that I get another shot at this thing called life!

xxx

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I’m 40 and officially old AF!

fabulous

I have been alive on planet earth for 40 years(14600 days). That seems like a really fucking long time! I honestly didn’t think I would live past 27 so I must say it’s a really nice surprise to have made it this far.

Given the amount of abuse I put my body through and the dangerous situations I have been in  I don’t think its an exaggeration to say that it’s a modern miracle that I am still alive.

This birthday seems different. I feel like I am part of the special over 40’s club, which gives me some gravitas. I sort of feel like I need to make a speech about the things I’ve learned or something.   Instead of making a speech I’ll just do a bullet list, saves time and we all know how much I love lists:)

Things I’ve learned in my 40 years on planet earth…

1) Alcohol is shit. Don’t drink it no matter what!
Seriously though, it makes you do stupid things, it makes you hate yourself and it makes you sick. It’s actually mind-boggling why the rest of world are still insisting on drinking the stuff!

2) Being in recovery is bad ass. Once you get over the shame and the guilt and all of the things you start realising that being in recovery is actually something to really be proud of. Its fucking awesome!

3) You are not your addiction or the things you did in active addiction. You are a divine being worthy of love.

4) Love yourself! Life is too short to carry on hating yourself, it hasn’t worked so far so try something different. Work on your feelings of worthiness, love and belonging and EVERYTHING will change.

5) Yoga is awesome  – Get high on your own supply people! Pranayama, Kundalini or a hard core rocket class can get you out of your mind NATURALLY with no side effects:)

6) Don’t take yourself or life too seriously. It’s meant to be a dance!  Try to go with the flow…life will have its’ way…try to laugh more, even through the shit times, it helps!

7) When you buy foil there are little perforated indents in the side of the box, when push them in the roll stays put. Cant believe I only found that out last year. You can thank me later:)

8) Music heals. Listen to music, make music, sing and dance!!! its your god given right and don’t stop doing it just because you are sober.

9) Guard your natural instincts and creativity with a veracity of a tigress! Don’t let the  culture we live in permeate into your subconscious. Make time for being creative and for other nurturing pursuits. Put it on the top of your list.

10) You are enough! Just as you are! Be your own Mark Darcy and remind yourself of this every day. You don’t have to lose that last 5 kilos or achieve massive success at work first! You are enough JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!

Lots of love sober peeps.

xxxx

All of the things!

guideposts

Confession time…

The past month I have been sober from alcohol but I have been my no means been what the experts would call ‘emotionally sober’

I have been back on the fags (on and off), diving into vats of ice cream and refreshing Facebook like an obsessive-compulsive hermit on crack.

February started off pretty well. After I wrote my last post I was completely determined to tackle this year by the horns and do ALL OF THE THINGS!

My word for this year is creativity and I had such BIG plans. I still have some plans but I have decided to scale back, more about that in a minute.

A friend of mine told me about bullet journaling, if you’re not familiar with the phenomena it’s a customizable organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary.

This bullet journal malarkey is right up my street, I love lists and I love drawing and this year of course I am going to do ALL OF THE THINGS so I was sold.

Anything involving the purchase of new stationary causes the same dopamine release my brain as a gram of class A’s or booze. I have absolutely no control in a stationary shop …as I approach my heart pounds faster and when I see the new notebooks, glitter pens and washi tape I literally drool out of the side of my mouth.

I chose a beautiful pink Leuchtturm1917 notebook and stated setting up my pages. It was all very exciting and motivating as things are when you are the ‘new and improved’ version of yourself in the imagined future.

In the front of the journal I pasted in the 10 guideposts for wholehearted living by Brene (we love you Brene) and started decorating the journal with fervour. As I was washi taping and glitter penning I was imagining how organised I was going to be this year. My future self was going to use EVERY minute of EVERY day constructively. No more facebooking memes of cats dancing on rainbows. Ain’t no one got time for that.

This future self was a woman who meditated and did yoga every day, she drank lots of herbal tea and lemon and hot water in the morning to wake up her system. She ‘listened to her body’ and wouldn’t dream of eating anything with sugar in it god forbid! Sugar is poison!

She never went on facebook except to post something about her fabulous life every now and then.

She was on top of all of the kids things and anticipated their every need before they even knew they had them. She never forgot lunch boxes and also never shouted in anger. She was way too ‘evolved’ to ever lash out at her little darlings.

To give you an example of how unrealistic my expectations were , my morning routine for your perusal and amusement:


6:00 wake up

6:00-6-10 –sort breakfast for kids

6:10-6-30 – Meditate

6:30-6:35 get school uniforms ready

6:35 – 7:10 Make school lunches and breakfast for mr Hurrah and myself

7:10- 8:10 Yoga

8:10-8:30 Get myself and kids ready

8:30 take kids to school

9:00 Bullet journal the days tasks and goals

9:10 Start work.


The reality of course was more like this:


6:00 wake up

6:00-6:30 Drag myself out of bed (had less than 6 hours sleep) Drink two gargatuan cups of coffee in quick succession while arguing with my son about what to make for breakfast.

6:30-7:30 Dishes and clearing up while checking Facebook and Instagram in between making lunches and breakfast for mr Hurrah and myself

7:30-8:30 Trying to find clean and ironed uniforms for kids, dealing with lost homework and filling in last minute school forms. Asking children to put their uniforms on 6 million times. Dealing with several ‘friend related’ issues my daughter thinks is pertinent to share with me at this time critical point in the morning

8:30 -8:40 Trying to find hats scarves and gloves and water bottles that are strewn/hidden throughout the house

9:00 Massive cup of coffee and facebook.

9:30 Start work


After a week of trying to stick to this routine I lost motivation and drive. I just reverted back to my old shitty habits. I also just started numbing out all of my unpleasant emotions with sugar, social media, and solitaire. Oh yes I forgot to tell you about my solitaire addiction. It’s a real ‘thing’ I can play that game on my phone for hours in the evening and not look up from my phone once.

I’ve realised that I need to revise this morning routine and also revise my expectations I have of this perfect ‘future self’

It could be something like this:

Get more sleep – My son still wakes up at night and also wakes up really early so I have to go to bed earlier.

Yoga maybe 3 times a week

Try to meditate 10 minutes whenever I can

The irony of course is that I have so many of Brene’s quotes in the journal and I still fell into the old perfectionist trap.

There are so many improvements I can make to my life and myself and being sober wakes you up to the possibilities. But then the perfectionist thing is still a real problem for me and I need to learn to love myself and accept where I am.

My new motto for this year – Have fewer expectations and be realistic!

 

Burn the bridges

bridges

January is a bit of a shit month when you live in England. The softly twinkly Christmas lights and roaring fires have been replaced with cold dark days and broken resolutions.

We spent December in Africa with my family and we had an absolutely glorious time.

Flying with young children as opposed to toddlers/babies is just a dream. They had their own seats, they watched movies and loved the aeroplane food. Contrast this to a flight we were on a couple of years back where my son projectile vomited over me just as we took off. Yes I have another vomit story in my already full arsenal of vomit stories.

I could see he was going to throw up and I had no choice but to turn him towards me and ‘take one for the team’ as it were. I couldn’t very well let him vomit all over the passenger in front of us. Of course like a good perfectionist I took two changes of clothes for the kids but neglected to bring a change of clothes for myself so I spent the entire flight drenched in a sour vomit smell whilst trying to calm down a feverish/ vomity baby.

This time my son seemed to be totally obsessed with the safety instruction pamphlet. He re-read it several times and kept on practicing the brace position and checking for the oxygen masks. I’m not convinced that he completely understood what it all meant; I mean he wasn’t so much worried about a plane crash as much as he loves gadgets and things to play with.

When we arrived it felt like I never left and at the same time felt like I had been away forever. It’s seemed surreal, as South Africa is so remarkably different to England; it’s almost like another planet! I’d been away for two years which is simply too long for me.

My mum had a hard year and had several issues with her health so the reunion was bittersweet. The last trip to South Africa is when I realised that my body wasn’t cooperating anymore and I had terrible shakes every morning. This time I was sober so I feel so incredibly privileged to have been totally conscious and awake for each precious second I could spend with her.

My old friends from school came over one Sunday for a braai. A braai is not a just barbeque. A braai is an occasion, it’s a verb in its own right and it’s a way of life in South Africa. I was very anxious to see my friends, as these are the friends I used to drink with. My anxiety levels were through the roof and I didn’t really know what I was going to tell them.

They asked me why I got sober (again) as you may be aware I’ve done this many times before so should be a dab hand at it. I told them the story and they laughed. This is the kind of situation where only a very old friend can get away with laughing at your darkest story. After that was out of the way they said they always knew I had the alcoholic gene and we left it at that. I was happy to leave it there and didn’t feel the need to argue the ‘alcoholic gene’ point.

After the heavy stuff was out of the way we had so much fun! We reminisced, told stories, and laughed till we cried. I drank my non-alcoholic beer which really helped in that particular situation. I feel that there is a time and a place for the non-alcoholic beverage. At home I don’t need it but in the company of old drinking friends I did, it really helped me feel less conspicuous.

The rest of the holiday I spent my evenings knitting and drinking chai tea with my mum. Although I’m not attending AA meetings I have been working through the steps and the 9th step is making direct amend to the people you’ve harmed (except when to do so would injure them or others.) I made amend to my sister, brother and mum. I haven’t done it with my dad yet, I have some more issues to work through and don’t really know how to approach that.

It felt good to own my side of the story and to apologise for my destructive behaviour. I held myself very gently through this because the only way to get through step 9 is to feel compassion for the person you were and to realise that that person was doing the best they could at that time. I have to approach all of these things with self-love because without that I fall back into self-hatred self-harm and addiction. When I talk about self-love I don’t mean ‘permissive’ – I mean …gently hold yourself accountable, understand why you were they way you were then ‘do better’ in Maya Angelou’s words.

It was exceptionally difficult to leave my family in Africa and come back. It’s always a very emotional farewell, I can’t actually put the feeling of loss into words it’s just too great. It feels immense, like an enormous vice is clamping my heart tightly and I can’t breathe. I have been numbing out my depression with sugar, tv, social media and have had several dinking thoughts come up. I found myself thinking I could just slip back into drinking for a while and drown my depression and anxiety with a bottle of red.

Then I realised that I don’t have that option anymore because most people who know me know I’m in recovery. My family, my children and all of my closest friends all know the deal.

This is why we have to tell our nearest and dearest to be accountable otherwise its way too easy to just disappear into a bottle of whiskey.

We have to burn the bridge between active addiction and our new life so that when the bad days come we look for a way through the pain not around it.

Yes I am sad to be away from my family but I am so grateful and privileged to have been able to be fully present and sober to enjoy every precious moment with them.

Sobriety does deliver on all of the promises alcohol ever made to me but sometimes when life really sucks I still just want to check out. I still feel that thirst for oblivion sometimes.

Stay vigilant I tell myself…the pull towards oblivion can get really strong but for today I’m sober and a happy to be so.

Creativity

Image: Calvin and Hobbes

My word for 2018 is Creativity. I’ve laid the groundwork for a couple of projects that are ready to be born. 

Last year’s word was Self-care. I learned to care for myself like I care for my children. I stopped smoking, I did yoga at least twice a week and Stopped drowning my sorrows in food, particularly sugar. I also made sure I got enough sleep most of the time. It was a massive learning curve and I fell many times but I’m finally learning to listen to my body. To give it the care and respect it deserves. I always rolled my eyes at the ‘your body is your temple’ thing, but we only get one ( in this lifetime at least.) we need to take good care of it. 

I intend to nurture my creativity this coming year in the same way I learned to nurture my body in 2017. My addiction stole so much from me, my productivity in my creative life was mainly limited to my sober periods. When I drank I fantasised about being creative and longed for it but getting drunk was all consuming. It sucked the life and love right out of me and consequently no energy, time or inspiration was left for the things or people I love. 

I am fucking happy and lucky to be sober and can’t wait for 2018. Bring it on. Xxxx❤️💗💛💖💚🧡

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

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.