Burn the bridges

bridges

January is a bit of a shit month when you live in England. The softly twinkly Christmas lights and roaring fires have been replaced with cold dark days and broken resolutions.

We spent December in Africa with my family and we had an absolutely glorious time.

Flying with young children as opposed to toddlers/babies is just a dream. They had their own seats, they watched movies and loved the aeroplane food. Contrast this to a flight we were on a couple of years back where my son projectile vomited over me just as we took off. Yes I have another vomit story in my already full arsenal of vomit stories.

I could see he was going to throw up and I had no choice but to turn him towards me and ‘take one for the team’ as it were. I couldn’t very well let him vomit all over the passenger in front of us. Of course like a good perfectionist I took two changes of clothes for the kids but neglected to bring a change of clothes for myself so I spent the entire flight drenched in a sour vomit smell whilst trying to calm down a feverish/ vomity baby.

This time my son seemed to be totally obsessed with the safety instruction pamphlet. He re-read it several times and kept on practicing the brace position and checking for the oxygen masks. I’m not convinced that he completely understood what it all meant; I mean he wasn’t so much worried about a plane crash as much as he loves gadgets and things to play with.

When we arrived it felt like I never left and at the same time felt like I had been away forever. It’s seemed surreal, as South Africa is so remarkably different to England; it’s almost like another planet! I’d been away for two years which is simply too long for me.

My mum had a hard year and had several issues with her health so the reunion was bittersweet. The last trip to South Africa is when I realised that my body wasn’t cooperating anymore and I had terrible shakes every morning. This time I was sober so I feel so incredibly privileged to have been totally conscious and awake for each precious second I could spend with her.

My old friends from school came over one Sunday for a braai. A braai is not a just barbeque. A braai is an occasion, it’s a verb in its own right and it’s a way of life in South Africa. I was very anxious to see my friends, as these are the friends I used to drink with. My anxiety levels were through the roof and I didn’t really know what I was going to tell them.

They asked me why I got sober (again) as you may be aware I’ve done this many times before so should be a dab hand at it. I told them the story and they laughed. This is the kind of situation where only a very old friend can get away with laughing at your darkest story. After that was out of the way they said they always knew I had the alcoholic gene and we left it at that. I was happy to leave it there and didn’t feel the need to argue the ‘alcoholic gene’ point.

After the heavy stuff was out of the way we had so much fun! We reminisced, told stories, and laughed till we cried. I drank my non-alcoholic beer which really helped in that particular situation. I feel that there is a time and a place for the non-alcoholic beverage. At home I don’t need it but in the company of old drinking friends I did, it really helped me feel less conspicuous.

The rest of the holiday I spent my evenings knitting and drinking chai tea with my mum. Although I’m not attending AA meetings I have been working through the steps and the 9th step is making direct amend to the people you’ve harmed (except when to do so would injure them or others.) I made amend to my sister, brother and mum. I haven’t done it with my dad yet, I have some more issues to work through and don’t really know how to approach that.

It felt good to own my side of the story and to apologise for my destructive behaviour. I held myself very gently through this because the only way to get through step 9 is to feel compassion for the person you were and to realise that that person was doing the best they could at that time. I have to approach all of these things with self-love because without that I fall back into self-hatred self-harm and addiction. When I talk about self-love I don’t mean ‘permissive’ – I mean …gently hold yourself accountable, understand why you were they way you were then ‘do better’ in Maya Angelou’s words.

It was exceptionally difficult to leave my family in Africa and come back. It’s always a very emotional farewell, I can’t actually put the feeling of loss into words it’s just too great. It feels immense, like an enormous vice is clamping my heart tightly and I can’t breathe. I have been numbing out my depression with sugar, tv, social media and have had several dinking thoughts come up. I found myself thinking I could just slip back into drinking for a while and drown my depression and anxiety with a bottle of red.

Then I realised that I don’t have that option anymore because most people who know me know I’m in recovery. My family, my children and all of my closest friends all know the deal.

This is why we have to tell our nearest and dearest to be accountable otherwise its way too easy to just disappear into a bottle of whiskey.

We have to burn the bridge between active addiction and our new life so that when the bad days come we look for a way through the pain not around it.

Yes I am sad to be away from my family but I am so grateful and privileged to have been able to be fully present and sober to enjoy every precious moment with them.

Sobriety does deliver on all of the promises alcohol ever made to me but sometimes when life really sucks I still just want to check out. I still feel that thirst for oblivion sometimes.

Stay vigilant I tell myself…the pull towards oblivion can get really strong but for today I’m sober and a happy to be so.

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

The beginning of the end

I’ve been thinking a lot about last year December. We were in South Africa visiting our  families. The day we landed we went to our high school reunion with old friends. My mom took the kids. It was a wild night of enormous amounts of booze and other things. When I woke up the next morning I heard this voice say. “This is the beginning of the end” I heard it as if it were someone speaking next to my ear as clear as a bell.  Throughout 2015 I heard  that voice say those words many times. It started softly but became louder towards the end. The voice would come when I woke up after a blackout, when I saw bruises I didn’t remember getting and when I did something embarrassing.

When I heard the voice that morning I was shaking. My hands were shaking so much I couldnt hide it anymore! I STRUGGLED to drink my coffee. Every morning I woke up with the shakes. I tried to rationalise it and kept saying to myself, come one you’re on holiday, everyone is drinking! You can’t be shaking because of the booze? I was just mortified, my body didn’t want to cooperate in the farce anymore. It got so bad that I couldn’t drink coffee with my mum one morning for fear of her seeing my hands trembling. I am just astounded that I even continued running in the mornings with these shaky hangovers in the blazing African heat. I almost passed out one day from the exhaustion.

I started my drinking more towards 11 o ‘clock in the mornings that holiday and then napped at 2. Woke up at 4 and got into it again untill I passed out. I wasnt present with my family who I miss so much! I was fucked up all the time and can hardly remember any of it. New years day I had to start drinking at 9 in the morning just to cope. luckily we had a day of outdoor things on where everyone was drinking early.

As I am reading this back I realise how bad it was and how I was holding on to that denial for dear life! I was in a very dark place. I just need to pause and really come to terms with that.

I don’t have any grand plans for 2017. My grandest plan is to stay sober no matter what the hell life throws at me. That’s it. And that is enough for now.

 

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.

Sleep!

Sleep is the magic ingredient. I’ve been running around like a headless chicken, trying to squeeze in full-time hours, children’s school runs and christmas preparations for the in-laws.

I’ve been getting on average 5 hours of sleep a night and yesterday had the first craving in weeks. I heard my husband open a can of coke zero and my brain just went – BEER! Beer will help me! Beer will make me feel better.

Went to bed early. This morning I feel like a new woman!

I need to find a way especially in these early months to avoid ‘overwhelm’ one of the biggest causes of relapse.

That means more sleep and prioritising the $@£^$% out of my to do lists!

 

 

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

Personal responsibility

So I’m feeling a bit better and I’ve  had time to process last weekend’s events.

It would be easy for me to play the victim here but I have to acknowledge my part in the whole thing, if I am to move past this.

I have an enormous amount of rage in me. It’s a rage that I haven been bottling up for years. It’s a rage that is surfacing now that I’m not anaesthetising myself anymore.

Personal responsibility means I have to be truthful and say that the violence was not one sided and was as much from me as the other the other person.

This is hard for me to acknowledge but necessary.

Why the rage? I don’t really know I’m trying to find that out. I had a very angry and explosive father and the way I learned to deal with that later on in life is by getting angry back. Fight first, ask questions later.

As soon as I became a mother I drank my angry feeling away, I literally swallowed them whole and they obviously festered. The anger is still there it was just hiding underneath the alcohol-induced haze.

Symptomatic anger covers up the pain of our “core hurts” according to dr Steven Stosny

He writes: “Paradoxical as it may seem, anger—even though it destroys any true peace of mind or sense of well-being—can yet help us to soothe ourselves. Our defensive anger still permits us to achieve a certain comfort. After all, we’re not wrong, or bad, or selfish, or inconsiderate; it’s our spouse, our child, our neighbor, our coworker.”

Anger as the Low Road to Self-Empowerment

“A person or situation somehow makes us feel defeated or powerless, and reactively transforming these helpless feelings into anger instantly provides us with a heightened sense of control. As the title of this article suggests, if anger can make us feel powerful, if it’s the “magic elixir” that seemingly is able to address our deepest doubts about ourselves, no wonder it can end up controlling us. In a sense, it’s every bit as much a drug as alcohol or cocaine. And it’s my strong belief that many, many millions of people worldwide are addicted to anger because of its illusorily empowering aspects.”

So I used to drink when I felt powerless, defeated or hurt now I’m using anger to get the same result!

Need to delve deeper into this. No one said this was going to be easy, this being a grown up stuff.

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!

 

 

Obsession

I read something on the ‘immortal alcoholic blog’ that resonated with me a lot.

If you’re not familiar with the blog its a woman who writes about her husband’s struggle with alcohol.

She describes the stages of an alcoholic’s life. I think everyone is different and this might not necessarily  apply to everyone, however Stage 10 caught my eye.

She writes:

“STAGE TEN – I must be selfish because I’m in recovery.

A regiment of 12-step meetings begins and nothing else matters. He’s never available because he must go to a meeting. Tunnel vision develops and 12-step groups become his only focus. He’s just as unavailable as he was during drunkenness. But how can his supporters do anything but support his quest for enlightenment?”

I think I might have become slightly obsessed with my recovery. I’m constantly reading blogs and just immersing myself into the world of recovery. But I think this might be another form of escape from actually dealing with my life. Am I procrastinating and diverting attention here? It feels like I am…

Perhaps it’s a stage but I think that I need to get some balance back. Recovery is about more than just not drinking, reading about staying sober and listening to people’s stories. It’s about rebuilding a life that has fallen by the wayside because of addiction. I need to pay attention to:

  1. Self care. – Getting enough sleep, eating sensibly and moving every day
  2. Attention – My kids need more quality time, way more than I’ve been giving
  3. Rebuilding my career
  4. Being creative again
  5. Spending my time more wisely
  6. Focussing on the now and really savouring each moment
  7. Learning how to deal with emotions in a grown up and balanced way

On that note I’m off to bed, it’s really really late – (not a great start:)