How not to relapse while grieving in a global pandemic, homeschooling kids and working full time.

Step 1: Don’t drink

The first thing you need to do is …DO NOT consume alcohol or any mind-altering substances…no matter what. (Coffee and sugar don’t count, overdose on those at your own peril)

I can hear the mic drop somewhere in the distance…

It’s really as simple and as complicated as that…Thank you everyone….I’ll be here all night…

So the last couple of months have been really interesting. I can use the word interesting here because I’m not rocking back forth mumbling to myself in the corner of the room, like I was six months ago.

My mother is dead. She has left this earthly plane and gone to party with Ram Dass in the great beyond. So, she is ok…I am not. This is by far the worst loss I’ve ever had to deal with. I’m still not convinced I am dealing with it? I must be though… because here I am telling you how I’m dealing with it ergo….(channeling Descartes over here)…I think I’m dealing with it therefore I am dealing with it.

I digress, back to the steps….

Step 2: Don’t panic

First they told us it was like the flu…THEN I got sucked into a YouTube vortex of hell explaining that this was NOTHING LIKE THE FLU and WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE.

Youtube is a platform that profits from keeping people watching…the way they accomplish this is by promoting content that is is extreme and sensational. Clickbait titles like…”This $8 Trillion Coronavirus Mistake Could Kill 100%” or “Is the end of the world near?” or “Is the Coronavirus mutating to be more deadly?” This brings me to my next point…

Step 3: Stay away from the news and social media

If you constantly expose yourself to the mainstream news and social media you will descend into a pit of despair. News reinforces our negativity bias and keeps us trapped in negative thinking.

When the pandemic first hit I was refreshing the news like an obsessive compulsive hobbit on speed. I later realised (with the help of my therapist) that the reason I was doing this was because I was hoping to find a shred of certainty…hoping to find the one article that would give me an answer or the ‘inside scoop’ somehow shielding me and my loved ones from the new disease.

Facebook does not have ANY inside info…trust me. All you will find on facebook is content that is polarising and divisive… pushing humans further and further into the extremes and away from the middle. Buddhists say the middle is where it’s at and I tend to agree.

Step 4: Cry, Eat ice cream, Colour in, Watch Disney Movies

When you are in shock from losing one of the most important people in your life and then on top of that in fear that you are going to lose all the other important people in your life you need to SLOW RIGHT DOWN.

I retreated into a bubble of colouring books, chocolate ice cream and long naps. I refused to watch anything that wasn’t animated, My children and I watched all the greats from Beauty and the Beast to the Little Mermaid. You may think this sounds like a cop out and escapism and I say FUCK YES. It was either retreat and devolve into child-mode or drown myself in a bottle of whiskey get a a couple grams of coke and wake up under a bridge somewhere. That little joyful scenario brings me to my next point…

Step 4: Get a therapist

I found my therapist as part of a benefit scheme at work…had a couple of free sessions with her and decided to continue when the allocated sessions were up. I have to admit that I’ve scoffed at talk therapy in the past…I had this idea that it was self indulgent and reserved for the bourgeoisie who complain about their middle class lives and first world problems. At least I’m self-aware enough to realise that I fall firmly within the group of ‘first world problem’ brigade 🙂

The therapist really helped me talk through a dark time…I needed to verbalise my terror, my grief my anger. Something about saying these things out loud make them less terrifying. I also found having the regular appointment with her gave me an anchor every week. It helped me feel safe somehow knowing that I had an appointment on a Wednesday while at the peak in the UK over a 1000 people died every day from this new disease.

Step 5: Go to a meeting

Something amazing happened when the pandemic hit. AA meetings went online! There was a 24 hour zoom global AA meeting running 7 days a week and this was a life saver. I joined a couple of meetings and felt such relief to connect with other addicts over video! I’ve attended a couple real life meetings in the past but AA was never a regular thing for me. The first meeting I just listened…then the moderator/facilitator (don’t know what you call the person that runs it/) called on me to share.
I was so nervous but managed to say my name and share a bit about myself. The main thing I got out of it was seeing the newcomers who had 2 days…1 week some of them still drunk …seeing them solidified in my mind how precious sobriety is. One lady was drunk and crying, she was in such a dark place and I just felt it in my bones, I felt that hopeless drunk feeling viscerally . I reached out to her and offered some words of comfort, don’t know if that helped her but she sure helped me that night.

Step 5: Stop sanitising your shopping

It’s crazy and you don’t need to do it. I sanitised all my groceries for months…it was beyond ludicrous, it took over an hour to clean the groceries every time! One day I just stopped.
I decided that if my husband or I were going to die of Covid then so be it but I would be damned if I was going to disinfect one more bloody bag of baby spinach.

Step 6: Keep Homeschooling fun

Who am I kidding?! Homeschooling was a shit-show. My son found a million different ways to weasel his way out of doing any work. My daughter has no faith in my ability to help her with Maths and with good reason …because I suck at it.
To get them to anything…I pleaded, bribed, cajoled, threatened, lectured…cried and eventually just laughed. We settled on a happy middle which meant very, very little…but something educational every day…even if that meant my son researching how to build an explosive device. I mean that’s a skill you can take right to the bank.

Step 7: Cultivate a sense of humour and lighten up, we are literally all going to die.(eventually)

Throughout the last year I have felt the most heart wrenching sadness, terror and frustration BUT I have also belly-laughed, connected in a new found dark-death-humour with my beautiful siblings and have felt at times quite light…maybe its when one of the worst things happen…something lets go a bit more…something eases into the unbearable lightness of being.




5 Things I’ve learned during my last 1095 sober days.

10 Cute Loungewear Sets & Bottoms for Women That Are Available ...

Today marks my third year of sustained sobriety. (In this decade of life, lol)

I think we all know this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve relapsed more often than a tik-tok dance goes viral.

I’m actually not big on the counting thing, I think it places undue pressure and creates this myth that the more days you have the wiser you are somehow. I can unequivocally say that this is not the case because I have attended meetings with people that had loads of time but didn’t seem happy and free at all. It can also create a sense of dread and fear in the addict that is contemplating getting clean & sober, forever is such a very long time.

Without further ado…here follows my list of things I’ve learned:

  1. I can do hard things There have been some gargantuan fuckups and traumas: ‘Detoxing – rehabbing’ myself whilst looking after two children; unemployment and money worries; moving halfway across the country to a place where I knew no-one; illness & death of my mother; epic marital challenges and a global pandemic. I managed to get through all of these things without necking Gin. That’s is no minor miracle, I can tell you that for nothing!
  2. Mornings are fucking awesome  I’ve gone from dreading and loathing mornings loving them. It’s my favourite part of the day. I get up every day without having to piece last night’s events together like a schizophrenic puzzle wondering what my evil twin did while I wasn’t there. 
  3. I love yoga & dare I say… exercise. At the risk of sounding like a cliché ‘sober sparkly’ person on Instagram, I have actually come to look forward to my yoga classes and even some (not all) forms of exercise. It makes me feel better and really is the only antidepressant I know of that actually works.
  4. The middle way is where it’s at The middle way describes the middle ground between attachment and aversion, between being and non-being, between form and emptiness, between free will and determinism. This is where all of the yin & yang business really starts making sense:)
  5. Pajamas and loungewear is the future Life is far too short to spend in uncomfortable underwire, push up bras and clothes that are too tight. Embrace the elasticated waistband and answer the siren call of soft ‘old lady’ velour fabric tracksuits, they are the closest thing to heaven you can get on earth.

I’m grateful for every sober day and grateful for every sober friend I’ve made along the road, you guys are like gold dust. 

Peace out sober peeps.

x

Grieving through a pandemic

death
I hate quiet time because when its quiet I remember my mother is dead and I feel like the silence is going to swallow me up. It’s too damn loud.

It’s a blunt pain. A definite pain. A pain that is here to stay.

So pull up a chair. 

I can’t feel her or hear her. I’m desperate for some sign that she’s watching over me. I am so desperate for this that I’ve started writing notes to myself in her ‘voice’ …things I think she would have said to me. I’m finding small comfort in this.

I have a shrine laden with skull candle holders, incense, some of her trinkets, Lord Ganesha and Buddha among them and her photos in the middle. I light the candles every day.

Some people have said that a shrine isn’t helpful in the grieving process. I say fuck those people. I will have this shrine for as long as I want this shrine.

I’ve been feeling guilty because I have been distracting myself from grieving with work, children and I don’t know if you’ve heard but there is a global fucking pandemic at the moment.

Covid 19 is going to kill us all and we have to stay inside! One of the weirdest sentences I think I’ve ever written. 

So I haven’t made a lot of time for my mother and my pain because I don’t want to fucking feel it its too fucking much and I don’t know if I can really handle all of this.

I am still sober. I am navigating these choppy waters of grieving through a pandemic with phone scrabble and tea biscuits.

That’s all from me for now. I am sorry I’ve been absent, I have missed everyone so much. 

Can’t think of a title for this.

My mother died on the 12th of December 2019. It was the last full moon of the year and decade.

She was sick, there’s no doubt about that but we thought we had more time. She had some heart and lung problems but they were all under control with the meds she was taking.
On Monday the 9th of December she went into hospital with a really bad stomach ache. They did scans and found a ‘mass’ on her pancreas. They did more scans and on the Tuesday they said it was pancreatic cancer that has spread to her liver.

I collapsed when my brother gave me the news. The doctor said she has 24 months left to live. I wept like I’ve never wept before. On the Wednesday her blood pressure dropped and my brother told me to get on a plane. I don’t remember how I even got to Heathrow. I was running on adrenaline, my heart was pounding a hundred miles an hour and I felt like I was going to throw up. The messages my brother was sending about her condition stopped. This frightened me but I remained hopeful. In the early hours somewhere above Africa I had a vision of my mother, I saw her face in my mind’s eye. She was around 40 years old and vibrant and smiling at me.

When I got to the Johannesburg I knew if I just saw one person there to greet me she was still alive so when I saw my dad I was relieved. That must mean that my siblings are with her I thought. My father couldn’t look me in the eye and hardly said hello, he took my bag and walked in front of me, I followed in silence. Around the corner I saw my brother and sister and I let out a visceral cry. ‘No!’ “No” was all I could say. My sister collapsed to the floor holding onto my leg and my brother held me as I shook.

One of my worst fears came true on the 12 of December 2019. I loved my mother more than words can say. She was the strongest person I’ve ever known. She was a mother, a mentor and guide and I am lost at sea without her.

I have been sober throughout 2019. So its been around 2 and a half years in total…it would be three and half if I didn’t have those two slips.

2019 was a difficult year for me. I dealt with lots of personal insecurity, anxiety, depression, money issues, eco anxiety and on and on but nothing compares to the grief I have after having lost her.

I know I haven’t been blogging. The reason is just that I felt inept to cope with life and didn’t think I had anything of value to say about anything really. Yes I’m sober but life is fucking hard. It’s ‘drag your ass out of bed on your hands and knees’ hard.

I flew back to London on my own and had a transit stop over in Amsterdam. I found a smoking section which was conveniently located inside a bar. I went in had my cigarette then walked ever so slowly past the bar and looked at the amber liquid in the whiskey bottles with such longing for oblivion I could hardly breathe. When I realised what was happening I rushed out of there like the devil was chasing me.

My mother would have said this is a right of passage and would have advised me to try to find meaning in the loss. She would say ”Transform the loss to gratitude and find that it can cause a shift in your consciousness where you appreciate each moment you are alive. “

I know this.

It’s too soon for me to ‘positive talk’ myself into gratitude. I feel like I have accepted her death I’m just so fucking sad she’s gone and I miss her. I just miss her.

The guru syndrome

This is a brilliant piece by a very cool blogger:

http://whatmesober.com/2019/05/24/the-guru-syndrome/

I’ve seen this happen and also been there. I’m seeing this more and more on *social media too, the newly sober snapping glamorous pics & dolling out therapy as if they’ve been sober for 20 years. This platform gives us addicts a way to ‘rebrand’ ourselves and its very tempting indeed. No more the hapless alcoholic now new and sparkly sexy and sober… We do need to clasp back any tiny shred of self esteem we can get after being kocked down by addiction so I GET IT.

The issue is just that someone who has been sober for 11 months is still very much in their infancy  in terms of sobriety. The danger of course is ALSO relapse as you are building your recovery on such a public platform and not really focussing on the internal process needed for a deeper understanding of addiction and how to treat it. It troubles me greatly but everyone’s path is different. The only thing worse than a relapse is a public one after you’ve been ’spreading the sober gospel all over instagram’

* (instagram & facebook not our blogging community, this community saved me and I managed to really get amazing help and support here in this space)

 

Happy rockbottomversary to me!

Hellllooo! Still sober everyone, I haven’t disappeared into a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, yay me 👊 So 3 years ago I hit my head on that koi pond. Fucking hell! I can’t actually believe it’s been that long.

Facebook has this really cool way of reminding me of all the shit I got up to with the little pop up windows. 3 years ago today… there it was a photo of mr hurrah and I on a night out the night after I had that horrific accident. That day I started drinking at 10 in the morning just to function. We had to go to a mate’s birthday. I was black and blue thankfully under my clothes so no one could tell.

When I look at that photo I just want to cry and hug myself. I can remember so clearly how I felt. My skin was crawling and I couldn’t even drink the hangover away.

That wasn’t my last drink. But something changed that day. I knew the jig was up. Robin Williams said: “As an alcoholic, you will violate your standards quicker than you can lower them. You will do shit that even the Devil would go “dude…”

Well I’ve explained away and rationalised so many deplorable things but I was DONE. It is such a relief when you stop fighting isn’t it? Like a massive weight is lifted. When you stop trying to pretend you’re ok, when you stop all the moderation tactics and lies.

Anyway, I haven’t been around much and I’ve missed everyone! So many things have happened, dog diarrhoea, pinworms the list goes on. I’ll save all the glamour for my next post.

Hope everyone is well? I’ll be catching up on everyone’s blogs soon.

Lots of love.

Sober Hurrah 💃🤩👊🌈🥳

Ps. Still on and off the fags and eating my body weight in tea biscuits. Keeping it real yo.

Ikea ghosts, poo rivers and ‘keeping my shit together’

coddiwompleI should really be writing 4 separate posts but the new 2019 me is all about maximum efficiency so here goes.

I feel a bit like Bridget Jones because looking back I do start off most of my writing with a report on the fag and sugar front and it’s not entirely lost on me that I am failing miserably at stopping both. I am of course still smoking like a trooper and have ballooned in size due to all the festive gorging. One does not need to eat 3 mince pies for breakfast.

We have officially moved to the coast.  Something I never thought I would say!? Mr Hurrah has wanted to live near the sea since he was little but I always just thought that it was just a pipe dream.

The move was fuck fuck fuckity fucking stressful. I got rid of half of my belongings; it was necessary as the house is slightly smaller than we are used to. Making a million micro decisions ever day is very tiring. I threw away (ahem… recycled) a mountain of kiddie artwork, clothes and random clay things that says mum on them. I am not a hoarder as such however I do have an immense emotional connection to some things. Especially it seems, stuff from when my kids were small. It brought back so many memories some good but some of my relapse periods and it was really hard to hold myself together through it.

The day of the move the moving truck couldn’t fit everything in which was great! I realise that sarcasm is considered the lowest form of wit, yet it comes so naturally to me why fight it? We moved what would fit in the truck and arrived exhausted that afternoon with kids moaning and crying they wanted to go back home. Sorry kids, this IS home.

Moving into a new house is a bit like a cat having to use another cat’s litter box. It’s very weird, primal familiarity of another creature’s intimate abode. I had it cleaned before we moved in but you could still smell other people’s smells or maybe that was all in my head? Anyway I plucked out my trusty Nag Champa Incense and just burned those babies continually until the house started to smell of us.

I took the kids upstairs to get their beds ready and then we heard a great banging noise coming from downstairs accompanied by Mr Hurrah’s grunty sounds he makes when he’s doing something strenuous. I rushed downstairs only to see a scene reminiscent of the Jack Nicholson ‘here’s Johnny’ scene in the Shining. Mr Hurrah was wielding a hammer with a crazed look in his eyes going ape shit at the electric fireplace. You see, the fireplace was in a very awkward spot and we simply could not fit our L shaped Ikea couch in there. He was going berserk at it muttering ‘fucking glorified heater’ to himself over and over again.

Thankfully he managed to dislodge the mantle and fireplace without leaving a massive hole on the side of the house so that was a relief. The stress levels were still high because at this point we could not make the covers fit the couch as we built the L the other way around. Mr Hurrah and I were taking turns wearing the couch covers over our heads like angry Ikea ghosts the other directing and stretching the ends. After what seemed like eternity it came to me that we may need new covers and I was right. That god for small mercies I say.

After all of that I just wanted to take a long shower only to discover that the water was set to boiling so burned the living shit out of me and also that the shower door would not close unless you held it closed with your one hand. I forgot to warn Mr Hurrah so as I was drifting off I just heard the screams of pain and expletives that followed through a haze of tiredness.

The following couple of weeks we managed to unpack and sort out the shower but then I had to prepare for the in laws who were coming to stay for Christmas. As usual all of the organised women of England had booked up all the delivery slots for December so I had to brave the shops to purchase the obligatory Christmas lunch things. I thought I would be super clever and go at 6:30 in the morning naively thinking that the Marks and Spencer’s would be empty. When I arrived it was full of Christmas shoppers who all had the same not so brilliant idea.

I am always amazed at how manic people get around the festive period and they were loading their trolleys as if the food was going to run out. Bumping elbows to get the last Christmas pudding and trolleys were loaded with enough alcohol to kill a small village.

The day before Christmas we decided to get a puppy. I know…rookie mistake. We promised the kids a dog but I was quite apprehensive about the timing as we had guests. We bought a beautiful Cocker Spaniel boy and brought him home on the 24th.

The previous owners we a bit dodgy to say the least so they didn’t give us any puppy food and we didn’t know to ask. When you change a puppy’s diet so suddenly their tummies get very upset so I was dealing with rivers of poo, fleas and worms as well as trying to have a Merry fucking Christmas.

I am pleased to report that Charlie is now flea and worm free and also his poos are more towards to mousse consistency not that you need that level of detail.

I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, we’ve not had a holiday in a year and this December was anything but restful. I had a couple of fleeting alcohol thought and one short fuckit moment where I almost wanted to go into a pub. I think its ok…I didn’t and honestly I don’t want to drink. I’m just tired and need to recharge that’s all.

The kids are totally in love with Charlie and I have a feeling its totally going to be worth it but at this point I think I’ve gotten myself a new baby and I did not like the baby phase with my human children. He is very cute which of course is his saving grace.

My word for the year is going to be ‘keeping my shit together’

Every year I choose these lofty words and I never really seem to stay on course with it so I think ‘keeping my shit together’ is probably also not realistic but seems more achievable than something grander.

Overall I’m in a good place. My life is very full and I am stretched thin but I am so incredibly lucky to have an amazing family, friends and a gorgeous doggie to boot. I am so grateful to be sober through it all and just thank my lucky stars I get to experience this life in all its glory the agony and ecstasy

May you all Coddiwomple with glee into the new year and fill it with lots of new adventures.

 

 

 

 

 

That ol’ familliar feeling…

smoking

I would love to be able to tell you that I have reached the pinnacle of health and virtue. That I am completely smoke free, eating kale for breakfast and pooping rainbows. Alas this is not the case and my breakfast still consists of two gargantuan cups of coffee and a cigarette.

I’m doing ok.

I’m sober, that is something.

Familiarity is interesting, it can breed contempt most certainly especially when friends  get all up in your business. Familiarity can also be very comforting, according to Tony Robbins people are driven by 6 core human needs:

1) Certainty & Variety

2) Significance & Love & Connection

3) Growth & Contribution

Yes…I’ve started listening to Tony Robbins. Now before you go judging me for jumping up and down in my living room asserting my ‘personal power’ let me just say that Tony is not a ‘motivational speaker’ He’s actually a pretty deep dude. He was raised by an alcoholic mother and a lot of what he has to say really resonates with me.

So the need for certainty is a real thing and this need can drive addiction for sure. If I relate this to my on and off smoking this past year or two…The reason I go back to smoking every time is driven by my need for certainty. We will go back to familiar patterns of behaviour even if it’s hurting us just to fulfil that need. This dynamic was at work during my entire drinking career, every single relapse I had was driven by this need for certainty and comfort.

I am still learning to cope with stress…Rome wasn’t built in day ya’ll. All that being said really need to knock this on the head it’s costing me a fortune and 3 sun salutations are making me out of breath.

We may be moving to the coast soon, living the dream yo! During this time of applying for a mortgage and buying a house my need for variety has been met in spades…the thing is I don’t like variety/uncertainty all that much. I am a creature of habit, no big surprise there. I thrive on routine and things staying the same…change is really hard for me.

I am dreading making new friends because in England if you don’t drink you are seen as a weirdo. Mummy wine culture is in full swing here and that is how the mums bond. I’m sure people will be friendly but bonding will be much harder because when you say you don’t drink they look at you as if you have three heads.

It’s going to be fine. Who needs friends anyway, am I right? (**insert crickets chirping**)

So during this time of great change one thing that has remained constant is my sobriety thank fuck for that! I’m drawing again and being creative most days gives me such a boost. Its makes feel great to be alive. Getting sober is by far the best decision I have ever made. Sobriety has given me my life back. Now I just need to iron out the coping with the stress thing and I’m golden.

Peace out sober peeps. xxx

Challenging the culture

winner

So I’ve been following this woman called Erin Shaw, she’s started a community called Tell better Stories.

“Tell Better Stories examines lifestyle media and marketing geared toward women, and the messages we constantly see in our feeds and in our lives: that alcohol is the norm, an essential part of “lifestyle.” We’re not prohibitionists, but rather question how we construct messaging in media (including social) and marketing. Since we’re all creators now, how do we create thoughtfully? Our aim is to create conversation and help develop useable guidelines to help tell better stories about alcohol in lifestyle media.”

Find her website here: https://www.tellbetterstoriesmedia.com/blog/2018/3/10/welcome-to-tell-better-stories

So I really love what she’s doing and I started getting involved by adding a hashtag and my view to a meme she flagged to her followers on instagram. The meme in question is the featured image for my post and was posted by the institution that is Scary Mommy who has 1.1 Million followers.

I was really excited about this new outlet and I felt like I was playing a small part in challenging the status quo…like a sober ninja fighting the good fight.  I could not have prepared myself for the shitstorm that broke out on instagram the following morning.

I will spare you the detailed barrage of comments that were thrown around.  Suffice to say the women who follow scary Mommy on instgram were not impressed.

A couple of highlights:

“If a meme threatens your sobriety better go to back AA”

“SOME people are taking this way to seriously I think they need a drink!”

“Don’t be jealous just because we can have a drink and still be epic parents.”

The most upsetting thing though was one woman who felt that we were shaming them. She thought we were coming from a place of holier than through teetotallers who look down on the women who drink.

This totally knocked the wind out of my sails and I had to take a step back.

My intention was to communicate with a brand that is equating drinking with motherhood and normalising the use of a highly addictive drug. The result was a shit-fight between followers of these two institutions and I honestly don’t think the brand Scary Mommy even noticed and even if they did probably didn’t care.

The culture we live is constantly telling women and mothers to DRINK.

We need to drink to…

feel sexy
be naughty
feel like independent women
deal with motherhood
to have another identity besides just being a mom
feel young
be fun
take care of ourselves
have OUR ME TIME

I am going to rethink how I can help the cause without making other women feel ashamed. I do not judge anyone who drinks. How can I? If you drink moderately more power to you, if you are drinking addictively you are self-medicating as I did for the best part of 20 years probably more (I’m too tired to count)

I am questioning the ‘mommy needs wine culture because it has a lot to answer for. So many women are stuck in addiction and they will remain stuck for many more years because they can hide comfortably behind these memes. I did! I couldn’t believe there were other moms who drank like me! I was so relieved because I thought if they are all doing it must be ok. It’s not fucking ok! We are losing ourselves to this drug.

The indoctrination can be subtle but mostly its pretty much in your face. Here are a couple of examples of memes in case you haven’t seen them:

Adding a hash tag to memes asking the brands posting them to “#tell better stories” may not be the way to go for me. I like what Erin is doing but I feel that the women who are stuck in addiction can look at those comments on social media and feel judged or they will quite rightly feel outraged. Like we are trying to tell them what to do! My beef is not with the drinkers but with the brands and the alcohol companies…

Follow the money because someone is getting very rich and it suits the patriarchy down to the ground to keep women drunk & submissive!

As for the sober ninja…I’ve approached several brands directly by post and email and I think I will keep doing that for now. In some small way my voice is objecting…even if no one is listening. Challening an ‘idea’ like mom wine culture has to be done at the people in power not the people participating in it.