I’m 40 and officially old AF!

fabulous

I have been alive on planet earth for 40 years(14600 days). That seems like a really fucking long time! I honestly didn’t think I would live past 27 so I must say it’s a really nice surprise to have made it this far.

Given the amount of abuse I put my body through and the dangerous situations I have been in  I don’t think its an exaggeration to say that it’s a modern miracle that I am still alive.

This birthday seems different. I feel like I am part of the special over 40’s club, which gives me some gravitas. I sort of feel like I need to make a speech about the things I’ve learned or something.   Instead of making a speech I’ll just do a bullet list, saves time and we all know how much I love lists:)

Things I’ve learned in my 40 years on planet earth…

1) Alcohol is shit. Don’t drink it no matter what!
Seriously though, it makes you do stupid things, it makes you hate yourself and it makes you sick. It’s actually mind-boggling why the rest of world are still insisting on drinking the stuff!

2) Being in recovery is bad ass. Once you get over the shame and the guilt and all of the things you start realising that being in recovery is actually something to really be proud of. Its fucking awesome!

3) You are not your addiction or the things you did in active addiction. You are a divine being worthy of love.

4) Love yourself! Life is too short to carry on hating yourself, it hasn’t worked so far so try something different. Work on your feelings of worthiness, love and belonging and EVERYTHING will change.

5) Yoga is awesome  – Get high on your own supply people! Pranayama, Kundalini or a hard core rocket class can get you out of your mind NATURALLY with no side effects:)

6) Don’t take yourself or life too seriously. It’s meant to be a dance!  Try to go with the flow…life will have its’ way…try to laugh more, even through the shit times, it helps!

7) When you buy foil there are little perforated indents in the side of the box, when push them in the roll stays put. Cant believe I only found that out last year. You can thank me later:)

8) Music heals. Listen to music, make music, sing and dance!!! its your god given right and don’t stop doing it just because you are sober.

9) Guard your natural instincts and creativity with a veracity of a tigress! Don’t let the  culture we live in permeate into your subconscious. Make time for being creative and for other nurturing pursuits. Put it on the top of your list.

10) You are enough! Just as you are! Be your own Mark Darcy and remind yourself of this every day. You don’t have to lose that last 5 kilos or achieve massive success at work first! You are enough JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!

Lots of love sober peeps.

xxxx

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.

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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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.

Be a rebel

Had to share this image. One of the things that used to rope me back into drinking was that I’ve always been a rebel. Sex drugs rock and roll was such a big part of my life. I was the girl who could drink most men under the table. Wild at parties, late nights, drinking tequila till dawn. When I became a mom, this persona needed to go undercover. It is generally frowned upon to be seen downing tequilla slammers and dancing on the tables.(Although mom’s on the lash are not far off there)

So my life made way for a more subdued rebellion, the playdates sozzled with wine. The ‘mummy’ friend sessions where everyone is downing Prossecco as fast as they can. I felt like I lost my ‘rock chick’ forever meanwhile she was just drowning in Sauvignon blanc

So my new act of rebellion is being happily sober and proud of it, I think that’s pretty bad-ass.

rebel

“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!

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.

 

 

Tell me why I don’t like Fridays

I don’t mind Fridays these days it’s just that I don’t have the same amount of anticipation around the day that I used to.

Fridays used to mean ‘drink’. It’s used to signal the end of the week where I managed to abstain from drinking for around 3 days. I usually gave myself permission to drink one day during the week. Those three gruelling  days of abstinence of course were the pivotal differentiation between me, an olympic gold medallist drinker and a down and out alcoholic.

There were other differences. You see an alcoholic is a poor soul on a park bench with a bottle of vodka. Or the person that gets DUI’s and whose children get taken away. Not me. I never drove while drinking. I rarely drank Vodka, certainly never on a park bench! In truth I could have easily slipped into the driving under the influence thing. In South Africa it’s very common as there is no public transport system to speak of. I was forwarded a joke the other day by a friend of mine. ‘In Joburg if you have 5 beers you’re an alcoholic, in Kempton if you have 5 beers you’re the driver.’

Fridays meant I could pour myself an enormous glass of Sauvignon Blanc by 5 sharp. Sometimes 4:30, sometimes 4. I would Skype with my mother in South Africa, then have a dance party with kids. At 7 o’clock we’d go upstairs and bath the kids, by which point I had finished a bottle and was just hitting that sweet spot of tipsy happy drunk.

After we put kids in bed by 8 o’clock the next bottle would be opened. And this is where it all goes fuzzy.

Some Friday nights my husband would be in a foul mood and we just end up fighting.
Some Friday nights we ate together then watched tv separately, carry on drinking till we both passed out.

Sometimes we sat and listened to music together and talked while getting hammered but those evenings were few and far between.

As I’m writing this I am just realising that the lie alcohol tells is of the ‘promise’ of reward. The dopamine lie that is  – ‘something amazing is just around the corner’ if I can just drink enough I’ll be satisfied, happy and content.

The reality is. Tipsy by 8, paralytic by 11, passed out by 12.