S’all good man βœŒ

Hello all! Day 444 here!

I’m shamefully aware of how long it’s been since I posted an update on here. But truthfully I’ve not had any BIG FEELINGS or WAVES OF REALISATIONS or any of the shizz that normally tugs at the writing strings. This is not to say that I haven’t been feeling my feelings and exercising the tools in my sobriety toolbox on a daily basis. Cos I have for sure!

Since I last sat down to write for my blog I have been super busy in both good and bad ways.

Good ways include lots of treks with the bearded one and the kids. Completing an Easter fun run with my sister on a beautiful sunny day. Visiting family and friends that I’ve rebuilt relationships with over the last year, relishing the feeling of strengthening the bonds between us. And revisiting the recovery retreat in Turkey that I went to in September. What a wonderful week of relaxation, quiet contemplation, bonding with fellow ‘problem drinkers’, and giggly adventures squished into the back of a taxi flying along the busy roads of Bodrum. Exhilarating stuff!

Bad ways include the constant battle against the housework, and ripping everything out of the upstairs level of the house in a mad spring clean declutter, resulting in about 20 trips to the charity shop and skip. It’s wonderful now that it’s done but it was a real challenge for my hoarder brain (thanks mum!).

A couple of weeks ago my mum broke her arm which has resulted in a lot of my time being prioritised to helping her out, something that my other 3 siblings don’t need to concern themselves with due to the fact they live further away/couldn’t give a shit.

Admittedly I did inwardly groan when the doctor at the fracture clinic informed us (a tad too cheery in my opinion) that it will be at least 6 months before mum will be able to drive again, but with a big reassuring cuddle, I gave mum a big and mostly genuine smile and let her know I’ve got her back.

I’m lucky that I don’t work at the moment and that the kids aren’t having any major issues at school etc. I have the time to spare to give my mum the love and support she needs right now, and that makes me feel good so it’s not true altruism I suppose, but then again, what is?

After yesterday’s shopping trip however, I returned home with a gnawing sensation in my belly that the next 6 months may take its toll on my inner calm that I’ve worked so hard to achieve. My mum is blissfully unaware that she literally seeps negative energy. Whilst I do feel sorry for her bad luck, I can actually feel my mood lowering as she talks. The complaints, the woe is me, the consistent undercurrent of negative emotion in every sentence, little by little, it pricks its way under my skin and poisons my bloodstream.

I hope she never reads this as this would make her feel awful and it is not my intention. She doesn’t realise she does it. She has had untreated mental health problems her entire adult life, for completely understandable reasons. I do find myself having to take deep breaths and remind myself of that every half an hour or so that I’m with her in fear of losing my temper. But I wish with all my heart she would seek help for the pain I know she feels.

My past resistance to ever asking for help was fed by mums total rejection of therapy as a pointless task that could only ever result in judgement and shame. Maybe once upon a time she was right. Now I gently try to explain how her view is misguided by telling her about my own experiences of therapy, and of those people I know who have had positive outcomes from talking to an objective professional.

I can’t force her to get help. But I’m hopeful that in time she will want to for herself. It saddens me that she hurts every day for things she has the power to change if she had the right guidance. And in the same instance I’m relieved I found the power to change what was hurting me for so long, and resolve the thought patterns that were keeping me in misery and the perpetual cycle of alcohol abuse.

I still remember how I used to feel when my brain was tied in a knot and I couldn’t undo it to straighten out my thoughts. This still happens but not very often at all, and when it does I know now how to self sooth and take the time to unpick the knot instead of pouring a depressant drug over it and hoping it’ll sort itself out.

It was a hard process figuring out how to deal with anxiety and life struggles without turning to a chemical to do it for me, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat because it’s brought me to the state of mind I have today. I’m far from ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’ or whatever, but I’m steady, and I’m happy, and that’s how I know that the work I put in to strengthen my sobriety and my mental health every day is working. This was what I wished for myself 15 months ago. That makes me smile. I did it. I sorted my shit out and made the world feel good and bright and warm properly for the first time since I was a kid. There isn’t a glass of wine good enough to make me give up what I’ve worked so hard for.

Bad days are inevitable. I accept we all have them. And I know that they’re temporary as everything is. Life is fluid and ever changing and I like that. Subtle changes from one day to the next shift moods and reassure me that aslong as I keep going then good days are on their way. And so far the universe hasn’t let me down. The bad days fade as better days begin and I feel proud that I worked my way through emotional challenges without succumbing to the anaesthetic blanket of booze.

Some days I feel so in love with life I feel like my chest could actually burst. The old me would have read this cringing with her face in her palm. I really do come out with some hippy sentiments these days and I’m unapologetic for them. I’m too busy feeling all the feelings to worry myself about sounding soft πŸ€Έβ€β™€οΈπŸ˜‚

I am aware that there is a definite chance I have an undiagnosed psychological ‘problem’ due to the euphoric highs often accompanied by high energy bouts of mania and quite often followed by crippling low moods and anxiety attacks. As most people with an undiagnosed mental health problem do, I self medicated with booze and diazepam for years rather than seek any real help and address the cause of the chemical dependency.

A lot of people urged me to seek a diagnosis from a professional but my brain was so saturated by my mums distrust of mental health professionals that I resisted. As my sobriety grew I also realised how unhelpful labels can often be. Yes, I realise that for many people labels are reassuring and can be helpful, but for me a label feels to definitive and generalised.

I also didn’t want to take any form of medication for the first year of sobriety to give my body and brain the best chance at recallibrating unaided by chemicals. Instead I worked hard at opening the trauma boxes in my head that had been locked and gathering dust for years. I surprised myself by how quickly I managed to sort through the boxes, ticking off each pinnacle point in time, realising that the shame and guilt I’d harboured for all these years wasn’t mine, and accepting the world as it is now in order to let go of resentment and anger.

The boxes are back on the shelf now, well dusted and unlocked, easily accessible and within reach for when I need to understand a hostile reaction to a seemingly innocent conversation, or unanticipated flood of tears. Opening the boxes helped me get to know myself better, and so much about how I react to things makes sense in relation to past trauma. Understanding this has helped me to step back and look at my reactions from a healthier viewpoint. It’s given me choice. I can keep my emotions in check enough to be able to make rational decisions instead of merely reacting to feelings.

I’m in control right now which feels great, but I won’t allow myself to become complacent in case I lose the control. It’s good to know that I am able to ask for help should I need it, now that the shame barrier has been dismantled. But for now, I’m doing pretty good, and that’s all I ever wanted for myself β™‘

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The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.

Me and my sister were hard at work digging weeds out from my mum’s garden the other day, working up a good sweat and bonding over our mutual desire to be home instead of experiencing worrying twinges in our ageing backs and arthritic wrists, when the subject came up about me no longer drinking.

I tend to not bring it up unless someone else wants to talk about it these days for two reasons; I hate preachy, gloaty people so I don’t want to become one, and it’s no longer the obsessive purpose of my existence, which is nice.

Anyway, my sister reminisced about a minor falling out we’d had a few years ago which I remember well because of how angry I’d felt at the time. She’d remarked that she couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen me without a glass of wine in my hand. My reaction was classic angry denial in typical smited victim fashion as I slurred my annoyed indignation at her judgement. Her completely spot on judgement.

I remember trying to make the effort at family get togethers after that to not drink, to prove I wasn’t the lush she’d exposed me to be. Alas, I could never resist and so, much like how Thor would reach out his open palm for his hammer to return to it’s rightful place, so too would that bastard glass of wine too easily find it’s place in my greedy outstretched hand.

My sister planted a seed that day with her casual remark. That seed was nourished and grew with the dripping of other remarks and telling looks from other people, each seeping to the roots of my addled brain and forcing me to look at myself from a vantage point I’d been avoiding.

It took years for the seed to grow and push it’s way into my conscience, but once I could see it as the truth that it was, I had no choice but to accept it and change.

It may have pissed me off to begin with, but it inevitably kicked off the process that would eventually set me free.

Thanks sis β™‘

In times of weakness, go to bed.

I nearly drank last night. I stood in the kitchen with the open bottle of toffee vodka in my hand. The bearded one was out and the kids were asleep so I could have just had a bloody good long pull on that bottle and nobody would’ve known. Apart from me.

My jaw was so tight and my head was pounding. I’m on the period from hell which has totally exacerbated the upset of a truly awful day and my hairdresser royally fucking up my hair. Every time I look in the mirror I feel like crying.

The booze didn’t smell good. It made my tummy squirm. I wanted to drink to stop feeling anything but I actually couldn’t bring myself to put that shit in my mouth. I’m now very relieved that I screwed the lid back on and put the booze back in the cupboard. It’s the bearded one’s anyway. He would’ve noticed eventually my now rational brain realises.

I took 2 Kalms and went to bed where my brain happily switched off for a solid 11 hours!!
I had nightmares about losing the kids, frantically running around a zombie swarmed airport trying to find and protect my babies. I think it was my subconscious trying to remind me of what is important and be grateful.

I hate my hair, but it’s just hair. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not worth getting drunk over.

I’m so glad I didn’t drink last night. I still feel low and disappointed. But holy crap, I would be feeling so much worse right now if I’d drank that vodka.

Day 385.

Choosing the path less travelled.

Not gonna lie, totally want a drink this evening, more than I have for a long while. I’m not going to, but I want to and I’m using all the tools I’ve gained to keep me dry today.

This morning I was driving along the fast and busy motorway, feeling elated after a fantastic weekend away with the girls, keen to get to the gym to break the cycle of eating mountains of food, singing along to the radio, fingers drumming the steering wheel, when a tyre decided to blow just as I was turning onto the slip road.

It frightened the life out of me and my body pumped full of adrenaline as I carefully pulled over to the side of the road away from the stream of morning traffic.

In an instant my body had transformed from cool, calm and collected to tense, shaking and poised for action.

I took a few moments to breath and steady myself, then I searched the car for the can of Holts Tyreweld which is basically a spare tyre in a can. New cars generally don’t have spare tyres anymore so the bearded one had got me this and told me how to use it…about 3 years ago! So of course I couldn’t remember.

Through a mix of poor memory and panicked brain I managed to fluff it up good and proper whilst gritting my teeth and getting foam all over my already freezing fingers.

I got back in the car and spent the next 15 minutes frantically phoning the bearded one, leaving messages of dramatized damsel in distress needing a hero.

In true hero fashion he arrived to save me half an hour later. As it turns out, and as he took great pleasure in pointing out to me, I had parked my car literally outside the entrance to a garage. Yep. I’m literally that observant.

My panicked brain had decided to shut out all logic and just go into hibernation, passing all reasonable judgment over to a responsible adult who clearly wasn’t me.

After the bearded one had negotiated a fair price with the mechanic and over saw the job, I gave him a big cuddle and sang a sheepish rendition of The Beach Boys ‘God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You’.

In so many ways I am adulting well, but today has reminded me I still need a bit of looking after from time to time.

Anyway, I have felt anxious and shakey all day in spite of taking time out 3 times to meditate with my Headspace app, and taking it easy all day. I won’t be drinking tonight and I know I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Today is an illustration of how my brain instantly chooses the most trodden path of my past in reaction to stress, even after more than a year of sobriety. That path is now closed and the brambles are growing over the entrance slowly. My brain will stop turning in that direction the more I tread the path of sobriety and choose coping mechanisms that don’t involve numbing out my issues. It’s a longer, harder path, but the reward at the end is worth it. There is no reward at the end of the booze path. Only nausea and regret.

There’s only one thing for it; ice cream and a ridiculous rom com movie πŸ˜‰

Trippin with the girls.

Just got back from a weekend away with the girls celebrating one of their birthdays. We had such a brilliant time. They all drank very moderately while I drank my ginger beer. We played games and explored the beautiful city of York, munched our way through the food market at the Shambles and allowed ourselves to be frightened to the point of involuntary screams at the dungeons and on the ghost tour bus. Then up bright and early this morning still feeling as fresh as when we arrived ready to drive home to the bearded one and my babies β™‘

The hilarity that is Cards Against Humanity.

A quick note for folk who don’t want to quit booze forever! Forever is intimidatingly HUGE!

I was always adamant that I was never going to quit for good. I told everyone it was for 30 days and I meant it. I had an anxiety attack on day 30 and felt horrendous. I wanted to drink but I pushed through it instead to prove to myself I could do it. On day 31 I felt stronger and thought fuck it, I’ll try another 30 days and see if I can. That then led to 100 days and by that point I was in the pink cloud phase and totally in love with sobriety.

I’ve carried on because I know that the way I feel now, even on shit days, is a thousand times better than how I felt when I was drinking. I still have a choice. I can drink if I want to. It’s my body, my life. But when I think about how I’d feel the next day it puts me off, and then I realise I don’t need that shit to make me more fun afterall. I’m better without it by far. And you will be too β™‘β™‘β™‘

I don’t use the word “never”. I prefer to think “not right now”. Day by day, one day at a time.

The first month is the hardest. It definitely gets easier. Focus on what you are gaining. Not on what you are losing. Sobriety is like losing a penny and finding a pound, but our brains like to romanticize the shit out of that lost penny!

Day 374 β™‘

I’m a cheap night out πŸ˜‰

Out partying until the wee hours of the morning with my best friend in all the world. The whole night only cost Β£20 and that was for both of us!!

We danced and laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the live music, lost in the funky ambience of the venue and the people. Then I drove us the half an hour journey home which once upon a time would have cost the earth in a taxi.

Great nights sleep and woke up smiling. I’m so glad I’ve relaxed into sobriety so nicely now.

One of the things that made me so sad in early sobriety was that I wasn’t comfortable going to gigs anymore. Live music has been a huge part of my life since I was a child, growing up in a very musical family where we were all singers and musicians. I quit my band when I had kids but the bearded one still gigs a lot with his band. I went to one of his gigs last summer and white knuckled my way through it. It was awful and I cried when I got home and all day the next day. But it would appear that practice makes perfect and the more I go out and learn new ways to settle into my new sober life the more relaxed fun I’m able to have. It’s so much better now. I reckon by this time next year it’ll be even better than it is now aswell. It all takes time. I’ve learned that over the last year.

Early sobriety nights out were hard and I couldn’t ever imagine actually being able to enjoy going to gigs again. Aslong as the music is good and the vibe feels right there’s absolutely to need for alcohol at all.

Being able to remember the whole nights events, know where all my belongings are and still have my dignity intact is priceless.

Sunday’s are wonderful these days. I still chill out and be lazy, but I don’t feel like crap 😁