Sunday, 17 May 2015

Looking back...Moving Forwards

This week saw my new book published: 'The Secret to Being Fashionably Sober and Fabulous' which depicts the ups and downs of the (cliched) sober journey in the medium term.

Inevitably it has made me take stock and look back. It is helpful at any stage of sobriety to change your focus, look away from the difficulties that lie ahead and instead examine how far you've come, how much you've achieved, and how much you've changed.

For me this is a paradox of being so much yet so little.
So much has changed, yet so little changed.

As I failed in every way to moderate my drinking I spoke to a healthcare professional in an informal phone call. I was expecting sympathy and agreement about how it was just too hard and despite really trying, I could not go without even a little wine. I remember wailing down the phone 'But I don't know how to stop,'

To which he replied 'Just stop'.

A single, simple, change bringing unbelievable changes one hundred fold.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Doubling the Number of Hours in Your Day

I feel as if it's been ages since I last posted, yet still I have nothing earth shattering to tell you!

Instead I have been busy, busy, busy in all domains of my life, as most of us are.

I have been buzzing around the immediacy of washing, shopping, cooking and homework. I've been  putting in some long hours at my day job as well as trying to make in roads into the medium to long term projects required of every woman: booking a summer holiday, buying clothes and shoes for kids, ensuring presents and cards bought and sent for all upcoming birthdays, and dress purchasing for an upcoming wedding.

All while I'm trying to steal minutes here and there to read the novel I'm engrossed in, renew the house insurance, spend an age calling the wifi provider and attempt to shoe-horn some exercise back into my life. I'm exhausted by the perpetuity of it all at the moment.

My point is not that I'm any busier than anyone else...
My point is how on earth did I have time to drink and be hungover?
Answers below please!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Then and Now: A Sociable Lunch

We had a family day out today visiting my friends and old flatmates from university. 

The three of us lived together for several years, we were bridesmaids to each other and have kept in touch to a greater or lesser degree since. 

We met for lunch and an afternoon of chat in Karen's old house in the country alongwith our 3 husbands and 7 children.
I had not yet told her I no longer drank, there had never been opportunity without making it sound like a huge deal. 

I had told my other friend but I reckon she had forgotten (or never truly believed me in the first place).
As soon as we arrived we were asked who the designated drivers were, the assumption being it would be the boys so we girls could share first the Pimms and lemonade, then the wine with lunch and beyond. 

OH had driven us and when asked what I'd have, I said a cup of tea. Not wanting to make any grand statements of sobriety in front of the large group I added by way of explanation that I'd been working yesterday and was again starting early tomorrow. 

There was surprise, disbelief and exaggerated shock all round. My friends persuaded each other to have a Pimms and the other husbands had a beer each. 

At lunchtime the wine was offered again and there were no takers. None at all. So the wine was not opened. The Pimms and beers were finished and everyone drank water at the table. 
A delicious lunch was rounded off with tea and cake before we retired to the lounge to relax. 

I was pleasantly full, sated and content but I thought how differently I would have felt 2 years ago in these circumstances. 

Excellent, OH driving while we go to see my friends. Take a couple of bottles of wine with us. 
Arrive and meet two very good friends with whom I can be myself and make myself at home. 
Pimms? Well I suppose so if that's what's offered but it's fairly weak and never packs much of a punch for me. 
Wine with lunch? Yes please. I'd take charge: opening 2 bottles to get started ( well there are 6 adults) and pouring nice full glasses.
 I'd have a sneaky look in the fridge to check there were other bottles chilling, usually adding the bottles I'd brought. 
I would have been really disappointed to see that the other drinkers were doing so to such little extent, a token glass of wine almost. 
I'd be frustrated trying to slow down the rate at which I emptied my wine glass. 
I'd be topping up glasses barely touched in order to refill my own to the brim again. 
I'd shrug off any comments: they know this is what I'm like and I wouldn't feel conspicuous for long.
 I would however refrain from opening another bottle if it were only me drinking it. That would look too obvious as would its rapidly declining level. 
I would not have wanted tea or the delicious cake as by then the wine monster would have been truly unleashed and on the rampage. 
My rampage would include eating more including leftovers after our meal, talking too loudly, talking too much, being over excited and generally hyper. 

And then woommfff. 

We would leave the table and the wine behind. The drinking done but leaving me still wanting. Like a coiled spring released from a box, I could not go back in easily. I was out and staying out and wanted to keep going. 
In the absence of continued drinking I'd become sleepy and a bit disinterested, perhaps irritable with the kids and would have fallen asleep in the car on the way home, pleased it was still ony 8 pm, leaving plenty of time to pick up the glass again from where I'd left off. 

Writing this down I'm aware of the number of ups, downs, thoughts, plans, feelings both good and bad that filled the day of the drinking me. 

The 'Now' in comparison was calm, stable, conventional, rational, expected and very very enjoyable. I would have enjoyed it much less had I been preoccupied with the amount I could or could not drink, which is a lovely conclusion with which to end a lovely day. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Three Cheers for Ginger Beer

I was at a friend's 40th birthday party at the weekend. A good friend that I would now be happy to tell the truth about why I no longer drink but, I decided her big party was not the place to do so.
I had planned to drive and leave it at that, should anyone ask.

We had been asked to bring any specific drinks we wanted and were advised there would be cocktails a-plenty.
Pushing the boat out, I decided to have a break from sparkling water and took along some cans of ginger beer.

Ginger beer was one of my first substitute drinks when I first stopped having alcohol. It has a lovely strong flavour, a distinctly spicy aftertaste and feels like a good sturdy drink. A splash of lime cordial to sweeten it doesn't go amiss either.
Despite being called 'beer' or 'ale' it has no alcohol content.
Anyway, although I don't feel the need to have a drink that looks alcoholic, I was surprised to find that mine did!
The host had prepared pitchers of Moscow Mules. Unbeknown to me, these consist of lots of vodka and...wait for it....ginger beer!
The result was that the drinkers' small glasses of cloudy cocktail looked identical to my much larger tumbler full of ginger beer.
 I drank my first drink really quickly and immediately poured myself another, smiling as a guest I did not know remarked 'Gosh you are really going for it tonight aren't you?!'

Can you tell which is which?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Fashionably Sober and Fabulous...The Countdown has Begun

It's now less than 1 month until my new book The Secret to Being Fashionably Sober and Fabulous is released on 20th May 2015. It is currently available to pre-order here at the guaranteed lower price of less than a fiver (UK) or $8 (US), and this is my last mention of it before then on this blog!

However, if you would like to receive the opening chapters for FREE then email me here and I will send you an e-copy. The book illustrates how changes brought about by not drinking, come in stages as the duration of sober time increases. The changes are not black and white, rather they develop and evolve, often in surprising ways, as time passes. And of course there are many 'Then and Now' experiences included for fans of those. Hope you will enjoy. Rx .

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Tuesday Troubles

I've been feeling a bit blue the last few days and have found my mind wandering to alcohol more often. 
I'm not about to dive into a wine cellar or anything drastic like that but alcohol is much more prominent on my radar at present and I'm regularly reminding myself that whatever I'm feeling that's not quite right, will not be helped by drinking wine. 

Wine will provide a short period of standstill before I must re address those same feelings, the difficulty now compounded by a hangover. 

So I'm not going there. 

While sitting with the feelings I'm considering where they have come from and as usual there is never one simple answer. 

My list includes

1. The back to earth bump of returning to work this week. A full inbox and a couple of annoying hassles. 

2. Caroline Knapp's book: the majority of it recounted her love of alcohol and the joy drinking brought her. Much less of the book addressed the tipping point into negativity and beyond in recovery. I found it 'triggering' in that it was so well written I really knew what she meant and wanted to feel that way again. You know, the way it feels good before it feels bad. 

3. Dieting. It is going well and I've lost 10 lbs so far in 7 weeks. I'm really pleased and my clothes fit much better but I'm also feeling a loss of comforts. No tea and biscuits, cake or any other form of comfort eating. I've spent a lot of money at the shops and find the high from that just as temporary as from a kitkat. I can't be bothered to exercise. 

So I'm doing my usual fail safe tricks: reading sober blogs, interacting on sober sites, supporting others and finding strength for them which reminds me of all the benefits I know already that I should be grateful for and not take for granted. I remind myself that me and my family have no ill health. Thigs could be a lot worse. 

And I wait. Treading water for the good times to come back. 

Solving one problem in your life does not make the rest of it an eternal rose garden. The bumps still come so best to get comfy for the duration of the ride. 

Sorry so gloomy peeps.  

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover...

...So says Carolyn Howard Johnson, creator of The New Book Review which is one of the most highly regarded book review websites.

Needless to say she does not show the front cover of any book. Instead she publishes high quality reviews from external reviewers to stand and be judged on their own merit without prejudice from a front cover, good or bad.

Today she has published a review of Sober is the New Black . The review was written by Anna Buttimore B.A. Hons, herself an author and administrator at Law Care, a support service for those in the legal profession struggling with alcohol and addiction.

You can find the review here

Carolyn is keen to increase awareness about her objective book reviews so I ask on her behalf that you share the page within your social network as you feel appropriate. Rx.
Follow @SoberRachel