Moderation mountain

Recently a couple of people I know decided to dip their foot into the drinking world again.

On my own journey the very word moderation means hell on earth. It’s that stage where you sort of know you have a problem and alcohol becomes a boa constrictor around your body. It has you in its grip and the more you try to wriggle away (put rules in place) the tighter the snake’s grip gets around you.

If people can moderate their intake of alcohol the more power to them, I just need to clarify that I don’t have an issue with drinkers. I am talking about people that have identified that they may have a problem.

I am a total believer in abstinence based recovery. I tried to moderate for years. I went to a hypnotherapist, I bought moderation management books, I kept drinking diaries, I meditated, I started running,  I did therapy…I would manage to moderate for a while  but eventually the snake tightened its grip even more. The words soul-destroying come to mind. The more I failed the more the snake was squeezing the very life out of me.

So it makes sense that I would want to spare anyone the same pain and just say, skip all that shit. Just abstain, alcohol is a liar and get to the good sober stuff. But it doesn’t work that way. I listened to the bubble hour today and Jean was talking about moderation as a  diagnostic tool. I’ve never thought of it that way. Now I understand now why most people have to go through the hell of trying to moderate and failing, to really see and know for themselves on a visceral level that they are in fact addicted. Sometimes this process can take years. In my case it took many years. I really needed to make sure, just needed to double check that a long break from alcohol doesnt re-set the clock as it were.

The point is to find a place of peace around alcohol. My place of peace is abstaining completely. One drink has never and will never be enough for me.

It reminds me of that part in the Shining where Jack Nicholson sits at the empty bar and says…I’ll sell my soul for a beer. Lloyd appears (the ghostly bartender) Jack immediately orders a bottle of bourbon, a glass and some ice. One beer doesn’t exist for an addict… it never will.

Denial & the power of acceptance

I’ve been thinking about denial and how it keeps us hooked. How does it work? How can a seemingly intelligent articulate human being be duped into this weird shame/denial spiral for years and years and years. Why does it take some people several rock bottom moments and why are some people still completely hopelessly in denial even in the face of liver disease and social services taking their children away?

Factors that contributed to keeping me in denial about my problem:

  1. My peers and husband were mostly heavy drinkers.
  2. Misinformation about how addictive alcohol is and what an ‘alcoholic’ looks like.
  3. The fact that I was highly functioning, working, raising children, running a household and doing it very well (untill the end where it all came apart)
  4. The social Stigma attached to addiction and being labelled an ‘alcoholic’
  5. The mistaken belief that this is a habit  and that you only need willpower to control it. (This one is rife especially among people who love to drink!)
  6. I hadn’t suffered major consequences around my drinking, I hadn’t lost my licence/job/car/house or family.
  7. The idea that once I’ve done therapy and faced my teenage traumas and angst I would somehow be cured and be able to drink like a normal person.

Type A denial is when a person sees, understands, and knows that they have a definite problem. When confronted about the problem they flat-out deny it, knowing that it is true. This type of denial is outright dishonesty or lying.

Type B denial is when a person is either partially or totally blind to a problem that they have. Through a hundred forms of self-deception, rationalization, justification and excuse making, a person can actually believe that they do not have a problem, when everyone around them sees this it is obvious. This type of denial comes from being honestly dishonest or by blindness.

I think most of us know deep down that something is wrong with the way we drink but it looks like alcohol first has to do some real damage before we will even consider that we might have a problem. Isn’t it tragic that we protect the ‘precious substance’ and not ourselves?

Once we accept that this is drug addiction and that there is no going back to ‘normal drinking’ the healing can start and the struggle can cease. I am so glad to be at this point because I have done my share of struggling. It’s a relief to accept reality the way it is. Accept the drug for what it is and accept that your relationship with the drug is what it is. There is so much freedom in that! So much peace.

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Wine glasses

When I went to a Halloween party last weekend I poured my coke zero into a wine glass. I did the same thing in Venice  when my husband and I went out for a fancy dinner.

Big deal, right?

I think it might be a big deal because it’s been troubling me quite a lot. I saw a photo of me holding a wine glass with coke zero in and it just felt wrong!

In Venice I just thought it looked more glamorous to drink out of a wine glass.

At the Halloween party I did it to make everyone else comfortable, or maybe to make myself less conspicuous. I didn’t want everyone asking me if I wanted a drink.

The reason this is bugging me is that by putting my soft drink in a wine glass I am subliminally telling myself I am making a sacrifice. I am reinforcing the idea that I am missing out on something marvelous by choosing not to drink.

I’ve quit drinking, and wine glasses in my world are not JUST glasses.

They are a reminder of my old life. A reminder of an addiction that was destroying me and my family. A reminder of ethanol, an addictive poisonous substance that very nearly cost me my life.

So no more wine glasses, Im chucking them into the bin today!

Need to keep an eye on the brainwashing that booze is cool, fun an glamorous. It creeps in when you’re not looking.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

So yesterday I sat down and wrote out all the horrible things I did while drinking. The things I could remember that is!

I cried, I howled and I breathed through it.

I wrote apologies to my children for being an absent mother and for being aggressively hung over for most of their lives.

Facing it wasnt as bad as I thought it was going to be.

I realise now that yes I did all those things and yes its totally deplorable and awful but that doesn’t define me.

That  was a drunk mess who thought she had no other option.

It’s like that quote from Maya Angelou.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

 

 

Facing the guilt & shame

I have been dreading this.

Woke up this morning a cold sweats. I had a dream that I killed someone and tried to bury the body and it was about to be discovered. (I didn’t actually kill anyone by the way, I’m pretty sure that this dream is a metaphor for my drinking problem)

So I know all my instincts are saying that its time to face the shame and guilt I have around what I did at the height of my drinking. Things I’ve been afraid to admit to myself. Memories that I’ve tried to bury really deep.

I have to write it down and then burn it.

I am so shit scared of going there. I’m scared if I write it down it makes it real and then I’ll just disintegrate into a pile of shameful blubber. The useless pile of crap I think myself to be when I really look at how I was, how much I drank and what a shit mother I was to my gorgeous children.

Fuck it, I can do this, I have to…

 

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!