Sunday, 31 May 2015

Self Support Structure

My last post on my Sober Infrastructure obviously rang bells with many people due to the number of messages and emails I've received. These have made me continue the contemplation.

In the same way that drinking to excess regularly is a self perpetuating process, I have discovered that staying sober is exactly the same: the longer you don't drink, the harder it is to drink. This is good because it means in weak moments it is increasingly difficult to action any fleeting temptation.

With time we develop an in-built safety mechanism.

My extrapolations of 'What ifs' and 'How would I manage that' have come thick and fast since I first thought of them. So many difficulties and obstacles to drinking now prevail in my life.

How would I explain to my children whom I have reassured I don't drink?
How would I cope with the school disco runs next Friday night?
How would I stay responsible for my son's first weekend away from home? What if I needed to collect him early, meaning late at night?
I would have to restart taxi-ing to and from nights out, at great expense and some inconvenience
Would I lose respect from all those I have oh-so-casually told that I don't drink?
What about my anti-depressants which only work in a booze free body?
What about my daily calorie balance? I'd have to seriously start exercising again, which for some time I have been loathe to do (and have decided it's ok not to bother).
How would I continue to fit all my projects into my life if I devoted any time to drinking?
What if one or once really wasn't enough? What if I was back to square one, adding my advice to that of others who say 'Don't do it, I wish I hadn't'.

Of course I would. All these things would happen to me- I'm no different to anyone else who has tried it and my conclusion would be the same. Rue and regret.

The thought of diverting my life to unravel and undo all that I have changed fills me with dread, embarrassment and a true sense of unmanagability.

I'm glad I have learnt so much from my mind wobble without having to play it out in real life.

I will not be taking that road.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Development of a Sober Infrastructure

Just as drinking wine consumed and infiltrated every aspect of my life, I now find that being sober has done the same.  *Warning: may be trigger-y to some readers*.

On Saturday I contemplated, quite rationally, choosing to step off the wagon. I tried to avoid my black and white, all or nothing thinking and see the reality of having 2/3 of a bottle of wine being just  that and no more. Could I drink wine one day and then continue the next as if nothing had happened?

I checked the fridge and there was a bottle of mediocre white wine languishing at the back that would do. I suppose.

I thought some more about having it, and some more again about the consequences of doing so and found my reasons for not drinking have changed somewhat from those I held firm over the last 2 and a bit years.

I accepted I was a bit down, a bit bored, a bit meh, and that wine would take my focus away from this negativity. I also noticed it was 4.30pm and the wine drinking would be over by 7pm. What would I do for the rest of the night? Drink more? Switch back to tea?

What if?

Would I blog about drinking alcohol? Would I dare? What would you think? Could I credibly continue to write a blog with sobriety at its core? Would I do a good bye post or just change the focus, perhaps to one of moderation? No, I didn't want that feeling of having let myself down and besides, moderation; been there, done that, works for some but not for me.

What about my forthcoming meeting with my sober friend? Would I tell her or would I keep it secret? If I told her could I really sit with a glass or two of wine while she stayed firm in her sobriety, that sobriety that brought us together?

What about my work colleagues to whom I've stated that I no longer drink? We have an overnight trip coming up, how would I explain that I was drinking again? (Ironic since I debated so much about how to tell them I had stopped!)

What about tomorrow? Would I really be able to shake it off and convince myself there was no harm done and no fuss to be made? Or would I begin a downward slide into lethargy, disappointment, despair and self-loathing at my choice?

What about my current diet with its base in high protein, low carbs, even less sugar and NO ALCOHOL? Its success would suffer too. Mmmmmm.

All of a sudden it seemed that my whole life was set up and around not drinking. It just no longer fit in and it was certainly not worth all the effort it would take to shoehorn back in.

 To begin to drink again would be as big a change now, as giving up was then.

All along I knew I didn't really want to drink and that wine would not be a helpful option but I had wanted to explore some of my thinking around this. By the time I had finished my thinking it was 8pm. I was still a bit bored but my mood had perked up after having cake for dessert and I was horrified at the thought that I could have chosen to drink only a couple of hours beforehand.

I removed the wine from the fridge and put it to the back of the cupboard just in case I take leave of my senses again.

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. 
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