Sober camping

camping

We’ve just retuned from our annual camping holiday and I’m pleased to report that I managed to do it sober this time around and I actually enjoyed it. I am not a camper as such, Mr Hurrah is the outdoorsy type, I’m much more a self catering cottage kinda gal. On our previous camping trips booze played a really big part. As soon as we put the tent up the beers came out and we would spend our days on a slow alcohol drip between various camping activities.

This year the car was packed so full that the backseat looked like a Tetris puzzle with soft toys, blankets, pillows, 2 grumpy children and a guitar between them. We packed fairy lights, sheepskins, drums and even packed in the bunting so I was convinced that this time camping was going to be marvellous, I am sober after all, what could go wrong?

My daughter was ill the night before and I had high hopes that she just ate something bad and wasn’t actually getting a sick bug. As soon as we pulled onto the highway my hopes were dashed to smithereens when she projectile vomited all over the pillows, the seats and my arm.

FML…I stayed quite calm, as calm as to be expected in such a predicament and as soon as we could do so safely, we pulled over at the services. After we cleaned up, I told Mr Hurrah that I wanted to go home, as I really didn’t fancy spending seven days with children vomiting in their sleeping bags. Hubs, ever the eternal optimist, insisted we stay the course and see what happens.

The drinking me would have had a fit and caused a fight but the sober me considered that it could be 24-hour bug and just maybe if the gods were smiling on us and we were lucky, my son wouldn’t get it.

Onwards we went, car smelling of stale vomit with hope in our hearts.

We unpacked while my poor daughter was draped over the picnic blanket, white as a sheet. She perked up after a while, it turned out to be a 24-hour bug, which was a massive relief. After the gargantuan task of pitching the tent, unfolding and unpacking everything was complete I cracked open a coke zero, didn’t miss the beer at all.

We made a fire and had an amazing barbeque and did the obligatory marshmallows on sticks. My son insisted on doing his own and kept dropping them into the fire.

I loved going to bed in my light blue and pink fluffy unicorn onesie sober. Yes, I have a unicorn onesie and yes, it is every bit as awesome as it sounds. This time, I didn’t have to get up at 4 (still tipsy) and fumble around the bushes with a torch to find the bathroom because I wasn’t drinking wine till the ungodly hours.

The early mornings were wonderful. I got up before the kids, they went to bed later than usual and I went to bed earlier than usual, so most mornings I had an hour to myself. I sat in my unicorn onesie on my camping chair drinking my coffee listening to the birds. It was bliss. No hangover, no wondering what the hell I did the night before, totally well rested.

The next day it rained and just as it started bucketing down I realised that I forgot to pack everyone’s Wellies. No matter, the sober me was cool calm and collected, nothing a debit card cant fix. Wellies bought, we were off to the movies to watch Captain Underpants. I didn’t think it was possible for my children to learn any new ideas on toilet humour however Captain Underpants introduced a whole new level to their already potty-centred vocabulary..

There was massive storm raging when we emerged from the cinema and I suggested we pop back to the campsite to double check that our tent hadn’t blown away. When we got there we were pleased and a little surprised that the tent was still standing. Our poor unfortunate neighbour’s weren’t so lucky, their event shelter had totally collapsed and the stuff underneath was soaked.

We opted for a nice hot meal at the pub as a barbeque was clearly out of the question. There was a point when Mr Hurrah’s red wine arrived that I had a twinge and thought that a glass of red might be nice but then quickly reminded myself what that would lead to. It wouldn’t be just the one glass, it never is. I don’t know if those thoughts ever go away but they are becoming less frequent.

The rest of the holiday we were blessed with good weather so it went off without a hitch. We saw glow worms, snakes, frogs, bunnies and loads of butterflies and birds. We spent lovely family time together, no ipads, no phones.

I felt like a kid this camping holiday, I felt clean and serene. There was stress but I could handle it SO much better sober! So despite the projectile vomiting and the storms, this was by far the best camping trip ever.

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Being my own Mark Darcy

markdarcy

In the society we live in we are constantly being fed subliminal messages that there is something wrong with us, that there is something missing. We need to be thinner, smarter, richer, better at everything. If we can only attain those things THEN we’ll be happy and content.

In Pema Chodron’s book ‘The wisdom of no escape’ she talks about accepting yourself exactly as you are now.

(If you are getting bored of my excitement with this book then don’t read any further.)

She says that the compulsion we have to constantly ‘improve’ ourselves can be seen as a subtle (sometimes not so subtle) act of aggression towards ourselves. What? An act of aggression? That’s a bit strong, surely wanting to improve myself is an act of kindness? This is a radical concept for me to wrap my head around.

There is so much about myself that I want to improve. I want be thinner, smarter, richer and better at everything!

How can I look at myself in the mirror and say the words “you are enough – JUST AS YOU ARE” and really mean it. Just as I am, with my flabby bits, my short attention span, my short temper, my bank account going into overdraft often. Just the way I am? It seems impossible! She’s basically saying that I need to be my own Mark Darcy who likes Bridget just the way she is… aaaaand I don’t know if I can do it.

It feels wrong to like myself just the way I am. As if my liking and accepting myself just the way I am will somehow mean that I won’t ever improve myself. As if I am accepting my lot in life and nothing will ever get better.

It’s counter intuitive because I was taught to push, and drive myself further. Striving for perfection…ahhh hang on a minute….striving and never arriving!

There is something to this…this is where the self care and compassion thing is going to come from, from a deep love and acceptance of myself just the way I am with all my flaws and rubbish. Enough with the self-punishment already, it hasn’t worked in the 38 (almost39 years) I’ve been on this planet. Maybe it’s time to try something different, something radical?

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Word

newyearsphoto

I don’t know what my word needs to be…Initially I thought of the word ‘alignment’ but I think that’s overshooting a bit. I need to learn to walk before I can run. ‘Self-care’ seems like a sensible word to hold as my intention for the year. Learning to care for myself as I care for my children. Sleep when I’m tired, eat when I’m hungry, soothe myself with nurturing rather than self-destructive addictions. This year I intend to learn to care for myself the way a woman who loves herself would.

That is a big deal because it’s so far removed from what I’ve always done. I’ve always pushed myself to the brink with no mercy and no consideration for my body or my emotional well-being. I’ve always ‘punished’ myself into submission. Self-care is a new concept for me but I need to build a healthy platform from which I can handle all the trials and tribulations that will come my way. Getting sober is the first step but it’s not enough. Tragedy will strike, stress will happen and I need to re-parent myself so that I can handle all of that without reaching for a drink.

Happy new year sober peeps! See you on the other side.xxx

Trump supporters, pudding flops and ‘sexy ladies’

So it’s over! I feel a gargantuan sigh of relief that I managed to get through the blessed day with no alcohol and no scenes. We spent the last 3 days at my husband’s family. His aunt (the hostess) gets really nervous and overwhelmed about hosting so many people so I was working in the kitchen most of the time. That’s okay it kept me busy and out of trouble. I went for a cigarette and when I returned her pudding had flopped and she was hysterical,  running around in circles mumbling to herself. Thankfully we managed to sort it out and cooked and prepped as much as we could before Christmas day.

Woke up Christmas morning with a clear head and rushed downstairs with my two little ones to see if Santa has been. They checked the mince-pie and carrots and shrieked with excitement when they saw that they had been eaten. It was brilliant to be hangover free while they ripped open their presents and to see them beaming with joy. Once we had finished the military operation of cooking, warming everything up and getting everything on the table on time we sat down to lunch. Phew!

I was surrounded by people who have radically different political and ideological views to mine. The conversations centered around Trump and how pathetic liberals are for being in such a state after the news that he won. I am a liberal and I am a feminist so it was tough going for me to sit there and say nothing. Usually I would be downing my wine to drown out the words that were hurting my ears. This time I just sat there and I listened. I excused myself from the table when they stated laughing about a certain female politician whom Trump refers to as ‘Pocahontas’ due to her native american heritage.

I am more balanced when I’m sober because I realise they are just normal people with views different to mine. Tolerance is one of my core values after all, I need to live and let live and I need to learn to practice what I preach. So I managed to hold my tongue and let them be without feeling the need to argue my point.

In the car on the way home my son started singing Gam Gam Style and repeated the words ‘sexy ladieeeees’ over and over. His grandfather was in the car and had one massive bushy raised eye brow at the lyrics. I was in absolute stitches and could not stop laughing for love nor money. It was complete hysterical laughter, I think it was a mixture of relief about Christmas being over and just letting go of everything. I needed to let go.

The glorious everyday

Today I went Christmas food shopping with both kids in tow. (Had no choice all delivery slots were booked up by really organised people who probably buy their Christmas presents throughout the year)

I braved the big Tesco Extra with a sunny disposition and mistakenly thought we’d be quick. Naïve, I know. The shoppers were manic, the energy was tense. People were practically elbowing each other to get the best Turkeys. Of course my kids needed to toilet just as we were almost at the till and had finished an entire packet of chocolate brioches so were hyped on sugar. Rookie mistake feeding them sugar but I just grabbed the first thing I could see to feed their little faces. Most people who has or had small children will understand this.

The poor dears were so relieved to get home they escaped into their rooms for a bit while I unpacked the shopping. When they came down we made gingerbread men, while we were making the dough my daughter and I argued about the measurements and my son was being very helpful by mixing the flour and spilling it all over the floor. When we put the first batch into the oven my son kept on asking “is it ready yet” Over and over and over and over and over, for 15 minutes. The sweet relief when the oven bell rang was short lived because the decorating had to happen NOW. I iced some eyes and buttons on and they ate the sprinkles, which were meant for the buttons. They both wolfed down the cookies and gave me a massive hug. “You’re the best mommy ever!” My heart just melted.

I proceed to clear up and unbeknownst to me my son stole the foil from the cupboard. I just overheard my daughter say the words: “Safety first” when I thought I better go and check what they are up to. When I got to the bottom of the stairs I looked up to see my son wearing a foil hat and boots and the whole foil roll rolled down. “Look it’s a slide!” he screamed with excitement. Before I could say “NOOOOOOOO” has was off sliding on the foil all the way down.

He also got hold of the double-sided tape, which he stuck all over to the kitchen floor when I wasn’t looking. As I was scraping the tape of the floor with a knife it occurred to me how different this day would have been if I were still drinking. I would have lost my temper with them completely and I would have missed the absolute glorious chaos that life can be with two small humans in the house.

I’m just so happy I stopped when I did so that I can really be present, through all of it.  The mess, the arguments and the hugs.

“Life didnt get any easier when I got sober but it got real fucking clear!”

I read a quote on a blog yesterday that perfectly describes early sobriety for me.

“Life didn’t get any easier when I got sober but it got real fucking clear!”

That’s it!

Early sobriety is where you are stuck in purgatory you’re not in heaven yet and you’re not quite in hell anymore. You are in a really weird place in between. All of a sudden it feels like you are waking up to your life & now you have to deal with all of it sober!

Depending on how far down the rabbit hole you’ve gone this can be quite challenging. I was a high functioning ‘alcoholic’ so the life I’m waking up to is more than ok. There by the grace of God go I, right? Thankfully I haven’t lost my house, my job my family. I have a very nice little life, a beautiful family, a career that enables me to work from home and see the children more, a husband whom I adore (even if he drives me nuts)

What I’m waking up to is how ‘small’ I’ve allowed my life to become. Hobbies and creative pursuits were all put on the back burner in favour of drinking. It made me BORING, and made me BORED WITH LIFE. Now all the Dianorphin is leaving my system and my mild depression is kicking in I’m looking around me thinking…”Girl, you gotta get up and go DO something.”(I don’t know why my inner monologue is always a strong southern accent, I’m not even American)

There is a whole world out there, with amazing and interesting things in it. My curiosity hasn’t been truly active since I was a child and I can feel it slowly coming back.

I’m reminded of the poem by By Dr. Seuss

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on y our way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Romantic getaway, sans red vino

Sober firsts.

There are few things to make me feel so exposed and naked as sober first events. It’s like I’m terrified of what I might do to ruin it or that it will prove that life sucks without the boozy haze.

Airports used to be a very boozy affair. We would have our first couple of drinks to celebrate the fact that we managed to pack our suitcases before the taxi even picked us up.

Then tipsy, tipsy through bag check and passport control. We’d manage to get to a restaurant just in time to top up the alcohol level whilst checking the gate information.

On the plane we’d get as much down the hatch as the air hostess would allow, then sleep. We’d buy a bottle of something at duty-free just to make sure we were stocked and onwards drunkety-drunk to our destination.

This time we had a far less chaotic journey. We drove to the airport ourselves, we were early. Had loads of time and everything felt calmer. Except for this exposed feeling, except for all these cues telling us to DRINK. Caviar House, Pubs, Duty-Free temples to alcohol.

I practiced ‘reversing the brainwashing’ as Annie Grace recommends in her book. When I saw people drinking I just reminded myself that they were drinking a poisonous substance called ethanol that almost destroyed my life.

The feeling of deprivation subsided and made way for a feeling of intense gratitude that I get to not drink, I get the second chance at a life fully lived not in the grips of addiction.

The mood lighted and my husband and I started joking around like we usually do, he made me laugh so much I was gasping for air. We were fun without booze we never needed it to be exciting, we were spontaneous and fun without it.

It felt weird and awkward to begin with but I hope that the more we do things sober the easier it will get. It will become the new norm and I’m creating a bank of ‘sober’ memories to replace the alcohol soaked ones.

 

 

Being sick without booze

Been ill with chest infection this weekend.

I used to dose myself up with medicine as well as generous amounts of whiskey if I was feeling like this. That would account for the cravings I felt this weekend. I’m not used to feeling the full extent of illness as I’ve always just drank it away.

It’s weird to feel and be aware of everything. It actually feels quite trippy.

I have never allowed myself to feel uncomfortable or sad or happy or shitty or much of anything because I drank it all away. Never really felt life fully, just a dulled version of it.

So this time I was sick and felt shit without plying myself with alcohol and it wasnt great but I survived it. At least I didn’t have hangovers to contend with and woke up in a good place mentally.

Alcohol was truly medicinal for me. It soothed me if I was sad, it dulled the pain of my despair. It ‘seemed’ to soothe the depression which it was actually causing.

Very insidious and dangerous substance this ethanol stuff!