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.

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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!