One year ago…

brave

One year ago today I had my ‘god moment’ of realisation that alcohol was going to kill me if I didn’t stop drinking.

When I woke up that morning still in my clothes from the night before, confused and battered, I knew something major happened.

I realised that this stuff was playing for keeps. This seemingly innocuous substance that you can buy at the corner shop with your milk and bread, is a deadly poison.

Alcohol knows no class or creed. It doesn’t care if you are prince or pauper. It is the great leveler of men and women. It will strip away your confidence your dignity your moral fiber your values your hopes and dreams and it will damage everyone who you come into contact with.

Alcohol is a liar and a thief, a silver tongue liar that promises to be the answer to all your problems. A thief of time not only a thief of the time that you spend being inebriated but also a thief of the time you need to spend hung over and sick from its effects on the body, mind and soul.

Alcohol is also a great teacher of truth. It promises to make you drunk and it delivers on that promise time and time again. We go back to it expecting different results every damn time and are so baffled as to why we just cant ‘get a grip on this’.

Alcohol is overrated! Being drunk stops being fun when you are addicted you don’t get the same high and so you spend your life chasing it, the only satisfaction you get from drinking is relief of the cravings you had.

Alcohol is dangerous. It’s more dangerous than heroin or crack according to an authoritative study: read more here

The amount of misinformation out there about alcohol is mind fucking baffling! A lot of which is perpetuated by AA! The fact that alcohol is highly addictive for human beings in general and not just a small genetically predisposed percentage of society should be common knowledge but it’s not.

Alcohol is a drug. There is no difference! The fact that society has been conditioned to think of these things separately shows how brainwashed we are.

One year ago today I woke up. I woke up out of my addicted sleep where the denial was keeping me soft and warm. I woke up to the cold hard facts that my addiction and my life had become totally unmanageable.

I would love to say that I stopped drinking after that but I had several lapses since then.
I’m 6 months sober and can honestly say that I am so fucking glad to be rid of it.

I have a lot of work to do, I realise that. I obviously have a lot of anger towards the substance and towards myself for allowing this to continue for so long.

One day I would like to get to point of neutrality where alcohol doesn’t phase me at all. I would also like to fart rainbows and poop glitter, don’t know if those things will ever happen.

It’s just too raw still. I need to just be where I am. I am sober, I am alive and I am so fucking grateful to say those words.

Have a lovely  weekend my gorgeous sober peeps.

xxx

How to deal with stress without alcohol

appendix

OK so my major trigger when comes to booze is stress and overwhelm. Had another incident this weekend where I needed relief from a really stressful situation and my brain was screaming wine! I feel like I need a list to refer to in these moments because when the stress hits, my brain short circuits and my prefrontal cortex (the part of my brain that wants the best for me) basically does a runner.

So here is my handy list of things you could do when you feel like the world is caving in AND are going to explode and all you want is a drink to prevent yourself from spontaneous combustion:

(Kindly note that this list is for me and may not be everyone’s cup of tea, also if a similar list exists I apologise in advance. I promise this came straight out of my head but I don’t live in a vacuum so may have inadvertently picked some ideas up elsewhere. )

  1. Go back to bed and hide under the duvet. I know, this sounds like so grown up! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I’ve used this one a couple of times with great success, it does get tricky if you have kids because they eventually find you and then think you are playing hide and seek.
  2. Go to your room and scream into a pillow, this one also works well but our walls are quite thin so I think the neighbours have heard me a couple if times. Who cares right?
  3. Go for a run or fast-paced walk. This is excellent to burn off all the stress and bad energy. This also has the added bonus of putting some space between you and whatever is causing the upset. Before you get your running shoes on you have to make sure someone is at home to look after the kids (this is probably why I don’t use this one very much;)
  4. Have a dance party. If you are feeling really angry then play Rage against the machine or something similar really loudly and sing along. “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me, fuck you I won’t do what you tell me, Motherfuckkkkkeeeerrrr!” I love this one, but I have scared our postman away on one occasion. He still can’t look me in the eye. Also if you have children best to only use this one when they are in school;)
  5. Get your Eckhart Tolle on. Put on your headphones on and put an audiobook or youtube clip of Tolle on full volume. You can’t stay stressed of angry when you listen to the soothing tones of Eckhart’s voice.
  6. Sniff something. Nope nothing illegal over here, just take a big whiff or diffuse some lavender oil. When you stimulate your other senses you can jolt yourself out of the stress response by bringing yourself back to your sense perceptions.
  7. Write it down. Journal the fuck out of your journal, if you rip the paper and break the pen in the process then so be it. Just get all the negativity out on paper. You will feel so much better and lighter afterwards.
  8. Kickboxing, go do a kickboxing class or dvd. Amazing amount of stress relief in that.
  9. Do the work. (Byron Katie) This one may need to wait till you are calm. Do a worksheet on the person or situation that is causing the upset and set yourself free.
  10. Talk to someone. Your sponsor, a sober friend or family member. Sometimes we need connection in those moments (This is a very difficult one for me to do)

Please add any other suggestions you may have to the list. Bear in mind this needs to be accessible for someone to do when they are VERY REVVED UP and HIGHLY STRESSED.

Am I an alcoholic?

mshanaganLaura Mckowen has written an article that everyone who has ever asked this question needs to read: http://www.lauramckowen.com/blog/2017/4/15/am-i-an-alcoholic

This is one of those pieces where whilst reading it I shout halleluiah, amen and testifyyyyyyy at the the top of my lungs. Yip I am the crazy lady alone in the house shouting at her computer.

Do yourself a favour and read it. I fucking love it.

xxxx

Shame and vulnerability

shame

I visited a friend today, one of the mums that I used to drink with at play-dates. It’s all the rage now, play-dates sozzled in wine. This seems to be socially acceptable… in the circles I moved in at least. Since I got sober I’ve realised that my circles may have been limited to people that like to get plastered all the time, addicts like hanging out with other addicts, who would have thought? We used to crack open the Prosecco after the school run on a Friday and thought nothing of drinking the night away.

This is the friend that inadvertently helped me reach my rock bottom moment so in a way she sort of saved my life. This may sound melodramatic but I wholeheartedly believe it to be true. Our friendship was for the most part based on the mutual love of getting drunk. I knew in my heart of hearts that the dynamic would change and that the friendship would probably just fizzle out on it’s own. The thing is I didn’t want her to feel as though I was rejecting her because she is addicted to booze. I also wanted to keep channels of communication open so that if she ever felt like talking to someone about her problem she can talk to me. I never had anyone to talk to in real life because I don’t know anyone that is in recovery from addiction.

Back to my friend… She asked me to go around for coffee today. The atmosphere was strained and I didn’t really feel like we connected. She kept asking me if I’m STILL not drinking and also seemed quite uninterested in my answers as she kept looking at her phone.

She started telling me about an incident where she got really drunk and was talking about ‘the switch’. I think most folks with a drink problem will instantly know what ‘the switch’ means. That’s where something clicks in your brain and you aren’t there anymore, usually this is where things go south and you black out. I was saying that I had experienced it many times when she replied under her breath…”I know, at least I was never as bad as you. I mean I’ve been bad but never THAT bad.”

And there it was. The shame. I felt like I was punched in the stomach. The blood drained from my face and my heart sank right into my feet. The fucking intense shame that I thought I had dealt with in the last year just morphed into little fire ants scratching and scurrying around my skull. I was gobsmacked, she thought I was worse than her!?

I made an excuse and left very quickly. I cried all the way home.

After I calmed down I realised that she is obviously in really deep denial and is looking to justify herself by calling me out as the delinquent alcoholic.

Brene Brown calls shame the most powerful master emotion; she says it’s down to the fear that we are not good enough.

The shame is what keeps us stuck in our addiction and I recognise that my friend was trying to protect herself by calling me the one with the problem. I was in deep denial too and hated hanging out with people that threatened my lifestyle. People that didn’t drink enough or didn’t drink like I did made me feel shame about how I drank, because my conscience knew I was self-harming with alcohol.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~Brené Brown

Who drank the most is actually irrelevant. There is always someone worse off than us when it comes to alcohol; this is the trouble with the stinky man on park bench alcoholic stereotype. The one who stops is the alcoholic while the one who carries on drinking to oblivion just likes to have a good time…until they are the stinky man on a park bench.

Well, I’m calling bullshit on all of that. I’m also calling bullshit on the shame I felt today, fuck that. I’m not drinking anymore and that is something to be proud of.

As for my friend, my door will be open if she ever wants to talk. I’m going to look after myself and keep clear. Like Byron Katie says “Staying in my own business is a full-time job.”

Save

Happy F!

fword

Thank you for all the lovely messages and support. I am relieved and happy to report that I am still sober!

It was touch and go there for a while I won’t lie. One day after a disagreement with hubs I drove to the shop in a rage. I stormed in and got to the wine aisle and froze. I just stood there for what felt like an eternity when one of the assistants touched my arm and asked if they can help me. I quickly said no thank you and walked to the cashier fully intending to buy a pack of cigarettes and instead walked out the shop with some extra chewing gum. I think Aspartame is the lesser of three evils, no?

I don’t want to drink anymore, it’s a bullshit coping mechanism that threatened to destroy my family. These days I can actually look at myself in mirror without despising what I see and I’ll be damned if I throw that away just because I’ve had a stressful couple of months. In fact, I am much more capable of coping with all of this sober than I ever was when I was drinking.

So onwards and upward sober peeps. Happy sober weekend!!!

 

 

Warning lights

far_side_cartoon

The cravings are coming thick and fast these days. I’m seriously having an uphill battle here. I feel really irritable, tired and want to curl up in sleep in a darkened room. I don’t want to see people, I hate everyone. Most people around me aggravate me and basically humanity as a whole sucks. As you can tell I am a regular ray of sunshine lately and it must be truly amazing to be in my presence. There is no farting glitter or pooping rainbows at casa Hurrah these days, just big, irksome rainclouds that won’t stop raining. My poor family are just patiently suffering through it. We had a meet up with friends yesterday and it just turned out to be ‘another thing to get done’ before I can rest.

I’ve also been feeling very uncomfortable in my own skin recently. I’ve picked up weight and feel like my skin is crawling with all the sugar and excess coffee. I can’t really stand to look in the mirror at all so I run past them like a mad person. During this stressful time of working so much and little sleep I really haven’t been paying attention to my nutrition, exercise or rest. These crucial things have all been on the back burner in favour of surviving because work and money has taken up all my time in the last two months. My word for the year is self-care and yes I stopped smoking and yes I’m not drinking but I am NOT taking good care of myself at all.

As you may or may not know I have been prone to relapse in the past, I’ve seriously lost count of the amount of times I started drinking again after making a solemn vow I’ll never do it again. I could call myself the ‘relapse queen’ but I won’t because I would like to stay stopped this time and don’t fancy being remembered as that.

Basically, I can feel myself slipping, so I’ve done a bit of research about relapses. This is my new thing now, I’m documenting my sober journey like an annoying little detective. (Sorry, but I’m seriously irritating myself to no end)

A relapse doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It just feels like it does, every time I’ve relapsed it felt like waking up out of a dream and not knowing how it happened. Like I had no say in it, it felt like my conscious choice was non-existent and my addicted mind took over my body. It felt very similar to the fight of flight response when your reptile brain is left in charge while your prefrontal cortex is taking a little holiday.

A relapse is a process,  not an event. It can start weeks or months before you actually pick up a drink.

The three stages of relapse:

Emotional relapse
You are not thinking about drinking but your emotions and behaviors are setting you up.
· Anxiety · Intolerance · Anger · Isolation · Not asking for help · Poor eating habits · Poor sleep habits – Not making recovery a daily priority

Mental relapse
You’ve started entertaining the idea of drinking, and the tug of war starts. You glamorise drinking and pine for the ‘good ol’ days’

Physical relapse 
It’s difficult to stop a relapse when it get’s to this point. (not impossible but much harder)

It appears as though there is a substantial amount of time prior to the relapse that gives you the opportunity to turn it around which is great news.

This is one of the reasons why AA’s maxim ‘one day at a time’ works so well. Staying sober is a daily practice of self-care, self-love, self-reflection.

This is not an easy thing for an addict to do. We tend to be all or nothing, go big or go home kinda people so the slow and steady, small steps every day is very foreign to me. I get obsessed so when I work that’s all I do, there is no balance!

I’m off to take a walk and then early to bed.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
— Buddha

Craaaaving

angel
So yesterday I had one of the strongest cravings I’ve had since I quit. I was at my desk working, listening to some music and it just hit me out of nowhere. “Wine! I need wine, I need to drink wine, I need relief, I need to let go!”

I have been going through a really stressful time. Working all the hours God sends, looking after kids on my own while hubs was on hols. Of course, when he came back he admitted that he drank on the trip.

This hamster wheel of sobriety/drinking that we’ve been on in the last 10 years, when he started drinking again I started right back there with him.

Not this time baby! Aint no way I’m going there again.

I didn’t engage with the thought. I didn’t rationalise or even deny.  This is where I usually would start having a conversation in my head that would go like this:

Alcohol voice: I need wine.

Voice of logic: You can’t have wine, you are addicted. This never ends well for you.

Alcohol voice: But I’ve had such a stressful time and I deserve some relief, the ONLY thing that will give me the relief is wine.

Voice of logic: No! You want to be sober, it’s better for you. You love your sober self and your sober life.

Alcohol voice: If hubs is going to get plastered you have the right to get plastered too! He can’t have fun without you. Why does he get to drink and I can’t?

Voice of logic: You really shouldn’t it’s bad for you. You are addicted and you can’t control it.

Alcohol voice: Fuck it! Fuck it all! Life’s short, you deserve a break. This whole thing is in your head, you are totally fine, everyone drinks!

Voice of logic: Now that you put it like that, I have been very stressed and everyone around us drinks. Yes fuck it! Bring ALL THE BOOZE YOU HAVE.

This would trigger a relapse that could last for months or even years.

Instead of having a conversation with the craving I just accepted it, breathed and waited for it to go. The thought got smaller and smaller and disappeared. It took about 15 minutes for it to go away completely.

Still sober baby!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

You can be a good example or a great reminder

meditationBefore you roll your eyes at me with the preachy title, hear me out…

I am working my way through all the shair podcasts. http://theshairpodcast.com/
I love Omar, he such a cool dude. I love the way he structures the show and also how he asks his guests what their sobriety ‘routine’ is. As someone who was a dry drunk for a good few years, I know first hand that if you want to stay stopped for good you need to do way more than just stop drinking.

Stop drinking is a good first step but that’s all it is, a first step. No one on earth can stay sober if that is all there is to recovery. You have to rewire and reprogram your brain, you have to put in the work and do some serious soul searching You have to get honest with yourself and with your loved ones. You basically have to rebuild yourself from the ground up.

The people he interviews are in long time recovery and they all have something in common. Most of them start their day with some form of spiritual practice. This can take the form of prayer, meditation or just gentle stretches and setting intentions for the day. They also touch base with people in recovery regularly, this can be anything from attending meetings, staying in touch with sober peeps or volunteering. (I think blogging counts;)

Another thing they have in common is gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is key to a happy sober life but this is also a practise. Some days you will just feel like rubbish and that’s ok. I have been keeping a gratitude journal, and extract from when I was going through a really rough time recently:

1) I am so grateful this day has come to an end

2) I am really really grateful that I didn’t kill anyone and that everyone is still alive

3) I am so blessed to be able to sleep now.

See, that right there is still being grateful even if you feel like sh*t.

On one of the episodes, a lady was talking about AA and quoted an old timer that gave her good advice.

“ You can be a good example or a great reminder” I belly laughed at that quote, I don’t know why I find it so funny, I just do.

These ‘pearls of wisdom’ can also irritate me to no end. The rebel in me just doesn’t want to deal with it. I never signed up to be an example to anyone! When this becomes a ‘moral’ issue you lose me completely. I’m way to anti-establishment for that. One of the things that most alcoholics have in common is that they are non-conformist and this trait has served me well in some respects.

But something about that quote sticks to me like an old chewed up piece of gum. I think it’s the second part of the sentence that really gets me… I may not have signed up to be an example to anyone but I also didn’t sign up to be a walking reminder of what addiction can do.

I would rather have a happy life:)

My lovely is gone…

One of my blogging friends has recently deleted her blog and disappeared into cyberspace. I am really sad about this, I feel a sense of loss and bewilderment.  I am working day and night so can’t write a proper post about this, I will when I have time. I am so tired. I am functioning on very little sleep. Have to work while the work is here, I am grateful for it but it’s really intense working a full work day, then children and then working at night till 1-2 in morning. Think I need to sleep, I had to rewrite morning 3 times because I couldn’t figure out how to spell it.

Come back Jenna, where have you gone?
xxx

 

Blackout drunk

I had one of those vivid dreams where you wake up in a cold sweat.

In the dream I was driving my car on the highway in a blackout, when I regained consciousness my car was in a ditch and police had surrounded the car. I was very drunk and disoriented and the police kept shouting at me to wake the “f” up!

I got a DUI and they took my licence away. The worst part of the whole dream was the embarrassment of everyone in my neighbourhood and children’s school knowing that I’m an alcoholic.

I woke up drenched in sweat and panic, I checked my breath (in case I’d forgotten that I drank or something) and double-checked my surroundings. It was just a dream thank God! I cannot begin to explain the relief I felt.

I had so many blackouts when I was active in my addiction. I would black out and then be out partying for hours, walking talking doing crazy shit. I looked like I was there but ‘I’ wasn’t there at all. My husband could spot the sign of a blackout after a while, he said my eyes would get this vacant look and he just knew.

Initially, the blackouts were reserved for hectic drinking sessions when a lot of booze was consumed.

The last year of my drinking, ‘the scary year’ I call it, I started blacking way more regularly.

Generally, a blackout is described as a period of unconsciousness or lack of awareness when you are unable to recall what happened or what you did.

It’s the most harrowing thing waking up with no recollection of what you did. It’s like some shadowy creature of the night took possession of you. This imposter who would say and do really dangerous things, left in charge of the only vehicle you have to navigate your life with. It’s just ludicrous!

Those nights are consigned to the void, it’s time lost that I will never get back. What an utterly miserable pastime drinking is…half-consciousness, inebriation and blurry memories with big black holes in them.

I won’t go into all of the things I did or said when I was in blackouts; that would be a very long list indeed.

I will say that alcohol renders the drinker entirely vulnerable. Your faculties are all impaired so if you are out in that state you are a target.

One of the most amazing gifts of sobriety is those two minutes before you are completely awake…those two minutes used to be spent piecing the last night’s events together, desperately trying to remember what I did, said or how I got to bed.

These days I say thank you, thank you for not having drunk the night before, thank you for waking up sober, thank you, thank you, thank you…

Spending the first two minutes of my day in gratitude instead of regret and confusion is absolutely everything to me.