Some milestones

In the last few weeks I have managed some full on drinking situations, without having a drink!

The first of these was a big, huge affair. Two of my friends had a joint 50th Birthday Party. It was at a country park, and they had hired marquees, bands, there was a hog roast, specially made cake, and, of course lots and lots of booze! The effect was that of a festival, really and it was a very exciting and jolly event. I had a great time, and saw people that I had not seen for a long time. I think everyone there was drinking, at least a little. I passed through the whole afternoon and evening and barely even hankered after a drink! There was one point when a gang of former drunken playmates were doing rounds of tequila slammers, along with the salt and lime, to much hilarity and boisterousness, when I had a wistful pang, but apart from that the evening passed very pleasantly, and I left at about half past midnight and drove home. This I was especially pleased about, it being the 30th of September and almost everyone else was camping. The day had been pleasant and sunny, but the evening had seen a definite drop in temperature. Yes, I was extremely pleased to be in tucked up under my goose down duvet at 1.30! I had a few people congratulate me, and appear to look at me with a new respect for the fact I was not drinking, which was nice. Oh, and I did get somewhat irritated by the drunkenness by the end of the evening. A good reminder of what I had once been like (only I was usually much worse, or had passed unconscious by then!)

The second event was in a way more dangerous. Last year, I made several attempts to go sober before I finally succeeded this time. One of the relapses I had was on a night that my close friend came over. He has a drink problem, although he is largely in denial about it. He knows he drinks too much, but he would never call himself ‘addicted’, nor would he consider giving up. Anyway, one of last years relapses was on an evening when this friend came over. Our tradition was to order take away curry, watch some DVD’s and get very drunk together. My friend visited for the first time since that incident, almost exactly a year ago. We ordered take-away curry, and watched some films. He had his stash of beer in my fridge (Special Brew, extra strong beer). I drank tea all evening. And there was not even a moment when I was wistful about our previous drunken evenings, or had a craving to be doing what he was doing. It was, in fact, not until I went to bed with my sleepy time tea that I realised I had not even had an urge to drink all evening! Oh how times have changed!

This is not to say I am home and dry, and I am aware I must stay vigilant, and not become complacent. But these two incidents were certainly minor victories in the ongoing battle of recovery. Well done me :)


Return from AWOL

My goodness, it has been almost a month since I last posted on here! I’m not really sure what happened, after my last post being quite positive and optimistic, I went into a bit of a depression. Maybe it’s the change in season, the nights drawing in and colder evenings that made me get down. Or perhaps it was the fact that I have stalled in my life plans and have been struggling a bit financially and with direction for these past few weeks. I even applied for some jobs doing basically the same as I have been doing, you know, the thing I could not wait to leave, and I was so fired up about new starts and new directions back in the summer…

Anyway, I had two job interview this week, and although I got positive feedback for both, I didn’t get either job. Maybe they sensed my ambivalence about whether I wanted the jobs or not. Whatever, not getting them has helped me to re-focus and begin to remember the plans I had earlier this year for going part-time and trying to strike out on my own. Also, I think I did not mention that I was not accepted onto the PhD I applied for, which was another bit of a blow, but maybe for the best too, as I really need to sit down and think about where I want to go.

I have the writing work that I was accepted for, writing for a website called ‘soberrecovery’ which is due for re-launch this month, and that is an ongoing gig, if anyone wants to check it out ( I am also still waiting to hear about a volunteer therapy role I applied for some weeks ago. After saying in my last post that I was slowing down on waiting for the rewards of sobriety, I realise that I had become a little impatient with the developing direction of my trajectory, and the money was so tight, I rushed in to going in the wrong direction (backwards, in terms of my career!) I just have to sit tight, and remember what I have planned. The mind-map I drew back in May also re-materialised from my moving piles recently, and that helped my to get back on track in terms of what I hope to achieve.

I have to accept that this path is not the easiest, and it certainly going to have it’s ups and downs, I have to think in terms of medium to long term aims, keep my eyes on the prize, to coin a phrase.

I will be back sooner next time!

Is this what recovery feels like?

In my earlier days of recovery, I was desperate to ‘get it’. I wanted the fantastic life, the gifts and rewards of sobriety that I heard others talk about. I rushed frantically and headlong into trying to find it. I had a new found energy (slightly manic) and thought I somehow had to do everything I possibly could to achieve this wonderful state of being that is ‘life in recovery’…

Of course, I wanted it all, there and then. This was the addict part of me wanting the instant gratification that made me turn to booze in the first place. I was applying the same mindset to my recovery, feeling I had to get there ASAP.

Almost ten months on, and I look around and realise that the rewards are coming to me in their own good time! I lowed down on getting to the fantastic life, and just got on with life, as it is. Okay, I made a few changes (like my job and my house!) but they were not the things that brought me to where I am now. Well, they may have contributed, but largely, it is just time that has brought me to where I am now. I look around at my life now, and things are fundamentally, yet subtly, different.

I have an extremely active life now, whereas when I was drinking all I did, pretty much, was go to work, drink, and recover from drinking.

I feel confident and have the respect of my friends and work colleagues now, whereas when I was drinking I felt constantly guilty and bad, a useless and insecure friend, a liability in the workplace with my inconsistency and regular sick time.

I make plans now. The only thing I planned when I was drinking, was when and how to get my next drink.

I can see a future now, before all I could see was a black hole of drink and an untimely death.

The chaos is slowly resolving, and what is more important, I see a way through the chaos, and can apply my problem-solving skills in order to resolve it, rather than just feeling anxious and panicky about it, and drinking more in order to blot it out!

This is at not yet a year in, so who knows what is awaiting me further down the line!

It is only with some quiet reflection time that I have come to see that the rewards of sobriety are different from what I expected, they creep upon you gradually, until one day you(I) realise…so this is what recovery feels like.

The Gratitude Attitude

This week I had the funeral, and I also received word that my house is going to be re-possessed on 15th September. Also, I did not even get an interview for a job that I would have loved. What a crap week!

This week I was accepted as a blog writer for an addiction and recovery web-site, and I also had word that my house sale is going through soon, so I will be able to pay off my mortgage arrears and not have my house re-possessed. Plus, I was told by the manager and two colleagues that they really value my input on the team I have been doing supply work with. On top of this, I woke at eight this morning and was so joyful when I remembered that I used to have a horrible hangover every Saturday morning. I used to barely see the morning, in fact. I often did not wake until well after midday, feeling crap and remorseful, only to know that I would be doing it all again later the same evening. I was trapped, but no longer. This morning, I woke at eight and had breakfast and went to work for ten, no hangover, no remorse, I was ready to face the day.

I posted a few weeks ago that I wanted to remember and respect my friend by living life with more of a sense of wonder and joy. It is in remembering that there is so much to be grateful for, and appreciating the successes and the so many good things that life has to offer that I can live a life of gratitude. There will always be ups and downs, but for some reason we seem to focus on the bad more than the good. It is only by developing the habit of gratitude that we learn that there is always a different way to view our life and circumstances.

A funeral

I’m grief stricken today, having attended the funeral of my friend who I mentioned in a previous post. The service was a beautiful send off, and the wake after was a chance for us all to reminisce over the times we had spent with our friend/partner/dad/son. There was a fair amount of drinking at the wake, as is common at these things. It was the first really big social affair I had been to in sobriety, and I had a few hankerings, but not really, if that makes sense? I felt more a part of the event, more present than if I had been drinking, and am now glad to be at home and able to remember everything about the event, and not be anxiously worrying, (certainly by tomorrow I would be), if I did anything to show myself up, or made any kind of faux pas at the event.

I think I had been worried at a subconscious level about slipping, as I have been having a few drinking dreams in the past few nights,so I’m pleased that I made it through this day without drinking, and it arms me for future events, the knowledge that I can do it without any crutch.

The most notable thing from the day in terms of my recovery is how much I am feeling this loss. I lost my sister and mum four years ago, and although I was understandably upset, I had not realised the extent to which my upset was drowned in booze, and the feelings were not really felt, or explored, or reflected upon. It is only now that I can really appreciate and understand that, having now had a loss in sobriety and noticing every nuance of it, the bitter-sweet tragedy that is my learning from today.

I’m at a loss for anything more to say, so I will sign off for now.

How hard can it be to do nothing?

I’ve been a bit under the weather the past few days, a cold/virus thing. I had to work for the past two days, and felt awful. On the first day I cam home from work thinking I would get an early night, but it didn’t happen! I came home to do housework, do some work on my other gig, and some rearranging of things in my still disorganised house. Yesterday, I was so exhausted and ill that had to let myself stop! I determined that I would sit under a duvet and indulge myself in the newly purchased ‘Breaking Bad’ DVD I had bought. I bought plenty of comfort foods, got into my pj’s and made it onto the sofa. Hurrah!  I managed to carry through on my plan to do nothing…For about an hour and a half. Then I started to get antsy and began thinking about all those jobs I could be doing, the laundry, some more organising, working on my other job…I found I could no longer just sit under my duvet, and went off to potter around. OK, I didn’t do a lot, I put some laundry on to wash, and did a bit of marking for my other job, and also did a little of my decoupage project that I am working on. But the fact is, I could not simply sit and relax. I was a combination of bored and guilty, knowing how many things needed to be done.

This is one of my problems. I find it very difficult to ‘switch off’, to do nothing, and to not feel guilty or anxious if I am doing nothing. If I am in the house, there is always another job to do. I think I have a fantasy in my mind that one day all the jobs will be done, and I can get on with relaxing. We all know this is never going to happen. So why do I find it so hard to let myself take time out, knowing that the jobs will be there when I come back to them?

I am going to make it my mission in the coming months to learn how to do nothing and enjoy it! Even the mindfulness practice I do is part of my daily dog-walking routine, so I am kind of being productive at the same time as trying to relax. I think I am going to start trying to do some mindfulness sitting and breathing exercises, and maybe even go to a meditation class to build up my skills in the art of doing nothing. I feel it is a much needed addition to my repertoire of coping skills, and one that is often overlooked in the journey of recovery.

Can it really be so hard to literally do nothing?

A Sad Day

I had some sad news today. My friend who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in January passed away. He was fifty one years old.

I had the strongest urges to drink of any I have had in the past nine months of sobriety. It is just an automatic, well-trodden path in my mind, a tragedy happens, therefore I must get pissed. I didn’t. Thankfully. But the desire was there, has been there all day.

Really, what I want to make of this day is a renewal of my commitment to the alcohol-free life. There is so much I still want to do, so many things to experience in this short time I have on this planet. Spending, no WASTING any of it drunk is not what I want. I want to make every moment matter. All too often I find myself drifting, just pottering along in life forgetting that it is a privilege to be here, and that there is so much of beauty and wonder in this world. It is easy to forget this with all the death and destruction that goes on worldwide.

So, I will not be ‘raising a glass’ to my friend tonight. No, I will be staying sober and remembering him in a clear-headed and fully feeling way, using his death as a reminder of what is important in life. Good-bye old friend.