Lapses, relapse and does all sober time count?

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I’m feeling really low because after being sober for well over 100 days I drank again last Saturday. The wind is out of my sails. My momentum has fallen flat on its face. My little gorgeous pink cloud has turned into a shitty little rain cloud that is just floating above me and no one else.

All of this counting malarkey is driving me nuts. What’s the deal with the ‘consecutive day’ dogmatic thing? This is making it harder for me and must be for other people too.

I have been drinking most of my adult life. I think with any massive change its to be expected that there will be a couple of bumps in the road. I know alcohol isn’t doing me any favours but it has been my coping mechanism for the best part of 23 odd years.

It’s to be expected that I reached for it in a time of intense turmoil. I learned from last weekend that it doesn’t help and all it does it delays the pain till the following day.

This is one of the things that used to get me back into drinking. I’d get some sober time under my belt then I would lapse. I’d think fuck it, this is too damn hard and besides I was never that bad.

This time around I don’t have the luxury of the second part of the sentence to allow me to continue to drink and make it a full blown relapse. I know I WAS that bad and drinking again is not an option. Besides I don’t want to drink again. I’ve had a couple of fleeting cravings my I think that was the alcohol leaving my system.

Annie Grace has a video on this exact topic and it has helped me not to go down the self loathing path.

Instead I choose to follow the route of percentages!

So, I made the decision to quit on the 27th of May this year.

I had 3 lapses which puts me at a 70% success rate! I think that’s progress and just by writing this I am feeling better already.

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Personal responsibility

So I’m feeling a bit better and I’ve  had time to process last weekend’s events.

It would be easy for me to play the victim here but I have to acknowledge my part in the whole thing, if I am to move past this.

I have an enormous amount of rage in me. It’s a rage that I haven been bottling up for years. It’s a rage that is surfacing now that I’m not anaesthetising myself anymore.

Personal responsibility means I have to be truthful and say that the violence was not one sided and was as much from me as the other the other person.

This is hard for me to acknowledge but necessary.

Why the rage? I don’t really know I’m trying to find that out. I had a very angry and explosive father and the way I learned to deal with that later on in life is by getting angry back. Fight first, ask questions later.

As soon as I became a mother I drank my angry feeling away, I literally swallowed them whole and they obviously festered. The anger is still there it was just hiding underneath the alcohol-induced haze.

Symptomatic anger covers up the pain of our “core hurts” according to dr Steven Stosny

He writes: “Paradoxical as it may seem, anger—even though it destroys any true peace of mind or sense of well-being—can yet help us to soothe ourselves. Our defensive anger still permits us to achieve a certain comfort. After all, we’re not wrong, or bad, or selfish, or inconsiderate; it’s our spouse, our child, our neighbor, our coworker.”

Anger as the Low Road to Self-Empowerment

“A person or situation somehow makes us feel defeated or powerless, and reactively transforming these helpless feelings into anger instantly provides us with a heightened sense of control. As the title of this article suggests, if anger can make us feel powerful, if it’s the “magic elixir” that seemingly is able to address our deepest doubts about ourselves, no wonder it can end up controlling us. In a sense, it’s every bit as much a drug as alcohol or cocaine. And it’s my strong belief that many, many millions of people worldwide are addicted to anger because of its illusorily empowering aspects.”

So I used to drink when I felt powerless, defeated or hurt now I’m using anger to get the same result!

Need to delve deeper into this. No one said this was going to be easy, this being a grown up stuff.

It’s all fun and games till you fall over at the school bingo night

When I woke up it felt like a freight train had hit my head. Something evil had my head in a vice and I couldn’t breathe. My whole body ached and was sore, it felt as if I had been beaten up, my skin was crawling. A message came through on my phone. I couldn’t open both eyes. I read the message: “Hi lovely, just checking that you are ok. you were a little worse for wear last night, a couple of falls at the school gate. Hope you are ok?”

I looked around the room, I was still in my clothes from the night before. Jesus fucking Christ what have I done?

I was desperately trying to piece the night’s events together. Ok, I was at the PTA bingo night, we were all laughing and joking around…and then nothing…a void. Some blurry flashes started coming back…I was on the bathroom floor with my friend. I couldn’t walk. I fell.

I text her back. Fuck!!! Did anyone see me??? All the fucking PTA school mums?

I was in tears, warm alcohol soaked tears that smelt of gin were rolling down my cheeks. Text came back. “No she said, we waited in the bathroom till everyone left.”

It turned out that I was so drunk I couldn’t stand up straight or walk. I fell and knocked my head on the koi pond. I was out cold for 10 minutes while my friend was wondering whether to call an ambulance. Eventually she managed to half carry me to the school shed. She rang another friend to come help carry me over the school gate and put me in a taxi home.

That was it. That was the turning point for me. There is no glossing over that or denying that you have totally lost control over how much you drink when you fall over drunk at your kid’s school.

I’ve had several of those types of moments in my life, and I think it’s true sometimes it takes a couple of rock bottoms to really reach ROCK BOTTOM.

Tonight I went to a quiz night at the school. I really didn’t want to go, but forced myself. I was so nervous, didn’t want to face the memories of that night and I cried all the way there.

As I walked past the koi pond where I fell and knocked my head I saw the lotus flowers in the water.

Something beautiful out of the murky darkness.

104 Days

So, I’m not really into counting days because it’s more of an AA thing, also perhaps because I’ve relapsed so many times it’s actually demotivating in a way:)

All that being said here I am at 104 days. Time to reflect a little…

I am so grateful to be sober. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you so much to the Universe, God and my Guardian angel!!!!!!!!!  I’m so fucking grateful to be able to say these word and truly mean it!

I am deeply thankful to have been given a second chance at life and to have been given a way out of the pit that I was in. The further I get from that dark place the more I realise how low and addicted I was and how close I came to losing everything!

 

 

Obsession

I read something on the ‘immortal alcoholic blog’ that resonated with me a lot.

If you’re not familiar with the blog its a woman who writes about her husband’s struggle with alcohol.

She describes the stages of an alcoholic’s life. I think everyone is different and this might not necessarily  apply to everyone, however Stage 10 caught my eye.

She writes:

“STAGE TEN – I must be selfish because I’m in recovery.

A regiment of 12-step meetings begins and nothing else matters. He’s never available because he must go to a meeting. Tunnel vision develops and 12-step groups become his only focus. He’s just as unavailable as he was during drunkenness. But how can his supporters do anything but support his quest for enlightenment?”

I think I might have become slightly obsessed with my recovery. I’m constantly reading blogs and just immersing myself into the world of recovery. But I think this might be another form of escape from actually dealing with my life. Am I procrastinating and diverting attention here? It feels like I am…

Perhaps it’s a stage but I think that I need to get some balance back. Recovery is about more than just not drinking, reading about staying sober and listening to people’s stories. It’s about rebuilding a life that has fallen by the wayside because of addiction. I need to pay attention to:

  1. Self care. – Getting enough sleep, eating sensibly and moving every day
  2. Attention – My kids need more quality time, way more than I’ve been giving
  3. Rebuilding my career
  4. Being creative again
  5. Spending my time more wisely
  6. Focussing on the now and really savouring each moment
  7. Learning how to deal with emotions in a grown up and balanced way

On that note I’m off to bed, it’s really really late – (not a great start:)

So, how bad did it really get?

I need to fully explore and put this into words so that I can refer back to it when I need to. If my history with alcohol has taught me anything is that after a couple of months of sobriety the rosy glow fades. There will come a time when the voice, lets call him “Jack” pops up and says (In the voice of a sleazy salesman):

“Hey girl! You’ve been so good, been sober for x amount of time and you haven’t slipped up once! You’ve shown that you can control it and besides honey, you were never THAT bad! There are so many people in a worse of state with booze than you, I mean you hardly drank during the week! Everyone drinks! Come on, we all deserve to cut loose sometimes, cut yourself some slack. You’re too much of a perfectionist that’s your problem. Have a glass of wine, GO ON HONEY YOU DESERVE IT!

So, how bad was I?

Its true I allowed myself to drink one night of the working week. So I was sober 3 days. This didn’t apply to holidays of course when I was permanently sloshed. The other 4 days of the week I drank as much as I wanted to which was quite a bit. I would say one and half to two bottles of wine on average and then more on weekend and parties, it really all depended how long the drinking session lasted. One weekend I specifically remember I finished almost 1 liter of Gin on a Saturday! We were just having a barbecue at home, stated drinking at 12 and carried on till the early hours of the morning.

Blackouts started happening very regularly I was blacking out almost every time I drank no matter the amount, this scared the shit out of me. I was losing half of my life to a world of which I have to recollection. It was like leading a double life.

From time to time I would get reddish blotchy skin rashes when I drank like I was allergic to alcohol. Rosacea I think it’s called?

I was really paranoid around people in the morning.

Needed to secretly drink when my father in law was here for Christmas. He’s a teetotal and my husband all of a sudden developed an ability to only have one glass of wine?!
So I had to improvise and drank my wine in the shed in the garden.

At social gatherings when everyone was drinking very little or too slowly I’d sneak into the kitchen and take a couple of swigs from whatever bottle was open.

I drank most of my hangovers away with the exception of the Monday hangover wich was complete and utter hell to get through.

Couldn’t stand people who didn’t drink or that drank very little! I thought they were ‘holier than thou’ boring idiots.

I was in a constant state of stress because I was withdrawing from the last binge so I was dog tired.

I was obsessed with drinking to the detriment of everything and everyone else around me. I was either recovering from my hangover or planning my next session. My life really did revolve around it.

I used to wake up with bruises, didn’t know how I got them.

I’m sure there’s more, I’ll add it as and when I remember it.

Sad/Mad today

I feel really sad today. I was looking through old photos of the kids on Facebook. You know the disingenuous FB posts where it says. “Here at Facebook we care about your memories look at this post from 3 years ago!”

Looking through the photos I was remembering the mother I was. I was SO fucking tired, I didn’t know what I was doing half the time and I was drinking to ease the depression.

I’m so sad for her! I want to give her a hug and tell her that it’s going to be ok and that she will get out of the fucking pit of despair that is alcohol addiction.

As I was scrolling through the posts on Facebook I came across several posts (my own) that made me angry.

Post like these
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These posts help normalise my drinking, made me feel like I didn’t have a problem because I got so many likes, laughs, comments and re-shares.

It occurred to me that I might have quit sooner if I didn’t live in this permissive enviroment where everyone is using alcohol to self medicate.

This culture we live in has a lot to anser for. It’s not fucking normal.

Sorry about the rant. I’m off for a run to recalibrate.

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Effects of alchohol on your appearance

True Activist published a new article today about the effect that alcohol has on your appearance, to read it click here

It begins with: “Drinking alcohol might seem like the normal or ‘hip’ thing to do, but consuming it in excess over time can take a toll on one’s health.”

I am so impressed that they used the words “might seem normal”.

Ok, I know this is ‘True Activist’  an anti media news site that “exposes  the truth one lie at a time” so it’s not exactly mainstream, but the message is getting out there that consuming alcohol at least in excess is not normal.

The before and after photos are very inspirational. Most of them are of young-ish I would say 20-30 somethings that obviously partied too much. The main difference in the before and after photos is their weight and also their skin tone.

This is all very encouraging but that got me thinking about weight. One of the biggest and most coveted benefits of stopping drinking is usually listed as losing weight.

The trouble is that if you have an unhealty relationship with food on top of an alcohol addiction the chances are you won’t lose any weight when you first stop drinking. In fact since I stopped drinking 3 months ago I’ve put on 5 kilograms. The 5kg might have a little something to do with the truckloads of Magnum ice cream I devoured whilst re-watching the desperate housewives boxset (you do what you gotta do during those first months to stay away from booze.)

My many previous attempts to stop drinking had not necessarily hinged on the weight thing but it was a massive motivating factor to stop. If I didn’t lose a stone in the first 3 months my resolve was significantly weakened.

I would tell myself things like: “I’m being so good by not drinking, at least I should have the benefits of looking like on of those bikini clad yoga bunnies on Instagram to make up for the sacrifice, damn it!”
This time I know its different for me. I can pick up another stone in weight and I will still stay stopped.

This time It’s not the weight, or the clear skin or the extra money or even the liver health. This time it’s about self-compassion, self-love and self-respect.

I’ve just realised as i’m typing this that I have been lost in a cycle of self-hatred, self harm and self loathing for the best part of 24 years.

No more. Enough now.