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

The disappearing social calendar

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(photo credit: Bad moms movie)

Since I got sober my social calendar has slowly started to clear, almost as if a little calendar fairy waved her wand and just made all the parties that used to fill up my time disappear. At first it hurt my feelings, I returned to the school playground in my mind where I was the only one not invited to the most popular girl’s birthday party. You can’t help but feeling left out and excluded.

After the initial sting of rejection faded I started questioning if I really wanted to go to any of those events and the truth is I didn’t… but you know…I would still have liked to have been asked.

The fact is that these parties were ALL about the booze and I really didn’t have anything in common with this group of friends apart from the mutual love of getting completely trolleyed off our faces.

The connection between us was paper-thin as is the connection between all drug addicts. You are BEST MATES while you are getting wasted but don’t expect loyalty or love. This is a bond born and fused in addiction and it is false.

It’s foolish to underestimate the power of the tribal mentality we have around booze and drinking to excess. We share stories of how pissed we got and then share stories of how terribly hung over we all feel the next day, a couple of us would proclaim we are never drinking again…until the next time. There is safety in numbers and there is a feeling of being normal when addicts hang out together. We cant be alcoholics, we all drink like fishes! Some are a tiiiiny bit worse than others and secretly everyone is comparing…

I’ve realised that you can party sober and you can have a marvellous time but for that to happen you need to 1) be with people you really like and have things in common with 2) be in a setting that you are comfortable with

I am also making peace with a quieter life, a steady content way of life that is filled with so much richness, love and deep fulfilment.

Drinking promised me all of the things that sobriety delivers. Sure there are fewer social things but that makes time for other pursuits that really interest me, pastimes that feed my soul. I’m making art again; I’m knitting, cooking and doing yoga.

It takes a while to find your sober feet, so to whoever is on this sober path, don’t despair if it feels like your social life is waning…sobriety is making time and space for you to find true joy and happiness.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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

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.

 

 

 

Music

I’ve noticed that Music is a big trigger for me.

I absolutely love music, love bands, gigs, festivals and I love to dance! In the last couple of months sober I have noticed that music automatically makes me think of drinking. It’s not so much that I’m craving alcohol while listening to the funky soul sounds of James Brown. It’s more a like fond memory of being drunk and enjoying myself to that particular song.

The two memories are so entwined it’s exceedingly difficult to differentiate one from the other.

I listen to music frequently, I listen to it when I run, when I work and when I’m in the car. This means I am being bombarded ever so subtly by ‘happy’ drunk party memories on a daily basis.

Warning signs are going up for me considering I have been very prone to relapsing in the past. If I am to make this a lasting change I need to find a way to reverse these thoughts or reframe them in a new way.

‘This Naked Mind’ by Annie Grace and Allan Car’s the Easyway to control alcohol have provided me with a method I base my recovery on.

The premise for these books is that there is no true pleasure inherent in the consumption of alcohol. The ‘perceived’ pleasure is a combination of a couple of things:

  1. The dopamine lie – Dopamine is released in the brain promising something amazing is on the way and makes you excited to get it.
  2. The relief you feel when you allow yourself to do something you’ve been denying yourself.
  3. The relief of the physical alcohol withdrawal if you’ve reached that point down the rabbit hole.
  4. The social situation you find yourself in when alcohol in being consumed that is truly pleasurable in and of itself, being at a concert with friends, camping at a music festival, dancing and partying the night away with your mates.

Reframing the memories and remembering the event or song itself rather that the drunkenness, perhaps trying to  remebering the outcome of the night which was inevitably chaotic, or recalling the black outs.

I don’t want to unneccesarily obsess and demonise the memories so much that it becomes a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ moral thing in my head because I know for a fact that this leads to relapse for me. My ‘willpower’ eventually runs out and doing the ‘right’ thing very quickly becomes ‘Fuck It!’

Maybe its more about making new memories and having those on tap too.

In the words of Jame Brown:  “Get up offa that thing, and dance ’till you feel better!”