So, now my body is a temple, fuelled only by Overnight Oats and Elderflower Presse, it’s got me thinking about my mind, about my emotions.
All my life, I have been described as a drama queen .. over-emotional .. an attention seeker .. the life & soul .. THE party animal .. a crier when drunk. I prefer to think of myself as passionate and fun, only cries on special occasions (!) and tells a good story.
Before soberdom, I used to cry. A lot. It didn’t matter where or when, it was my release. I cried at home, at work, in the car. I cried if I was happy. Or if I was sad. Which was a lot. I cried if I was tired. Or if I was angry. I was the ultimate drunk crier.
I was trying to think when I last cried. I know I did in November. A lot. Before I gave up alcohol, and the relationshit, for good. And I know I did in December when I was so ill with flu that I had to cancel going to Christmas parties (see? drama queen). But I honestly can’t remember crying since then.
As well as being a champion crier, I’m pretty good at arguments. And winning arguments. Mainly because people find it easier and far less time to consuming just to give in. But again, I can’t remember the last argument I had. Or when I last felt like arguing.
Throughout my life, I have taken numerous personality tests. It was always the same result. I was in the red corner, in the dominant box, likened to leaders such as Hitler and Maggie Thatcher. Empathy was always at the bottom of the list, together with sympathy and compassion. I was a tyrant who cried at the drop of a hat.
But now, I don’t feel like I’d be in the red, angry corner. I don’t feel like the dominant tyrant anymore, out to win an argument. I feel a bit more green or yellow. Mellow yellow. Less antsy. More hearts and flowers. I don’t cry anymore. I’m not sad. I’m not drunk.
Someone asked me whether I drank because things were bad or whether things were bad because I drank. The question stumped me. I don’t know the answer. It was an alcohol fuelled viscous circle. Who knows? But what I do know, is that by removing the fuel, there is no fire. My emotions are stable, my eyes are dry. I am rational and in control. I am happy.
One of the most amazing and unexpected things I have gained from my blog is friends. Lots of them. From different walks of life, at different stages, with a varying degree of addiction, but most with the same end goal .. to be free from the clutches of alcohol.
I always knew I was going to go public but for some reason, I hadn’t even anticipated people reacting to me, to my writing, taking inspiration from me and in turn, inspiring me. I didn’t realise what a community my page would become, that people would be so interested and care so much about my fairly insignificant life.
I didn’t really think about how far the blog would go at all. I mean, I thought a handful of people from my local area might feel similar but I didn’t imagine having followers on the other side of the world.
One of my favourite follower stories started on Twitter. I just don’t get Twitter. I never have. I hate all the hashtag malarkey, the thought process, the lack of characters. As you know, I like to talk! But once I realised that people were interested in my story, I was determined to tell it to as many people as possible.
Somehow, I’m not quite sure how, I became in touch with someone in New Zealand. They are anonymous, so for the first few months, I wasn’t even sure if they were male or female. They posted glorious pictures of where they lived and faithfully followed me, always encouraging about my writing and posts. It was strange because I wanted to know more but was scared to ask. The online world is a strange beast .. you feel you know people but do you really? I will name my new friend Kiwi.
This week, Kiwi accidentally posted their name on my blog. I now knew their identity. They were mortified, I was secretly pleased. I promised to maintain anonymity but it felt better for me that I finally knew a bit more about my friend.
We are at similar stages of recovery and Kiwi has started writing too. It’s incredible that exactly the same struggle is going on in the sunshine on the other side of the world. I love the fact that I wake up as Kiwi goes to sleep so we rarely post at the same time but wake up to hear about each other’s day. It’s funny how you start to rely on strangers for support and miss them if they go quiet. It certainly makes me ponder how many people I wouldn’t have met or messaged or forged relationships with, if I hadn’t started this journey. Quite unbelievable.
If you would like to read Kiwi’s blog, here’s the link
Day 92: Dancing in the rain through meditation
Since becoming sober, I have found socialising difficult. It was something I had thought about but not appreciated how hard it was going to be.
Before soberdom, I was a social animal. I never said no. If there was a party, I was there. Until the bitter end. I rarely went out ‘for a couple’. ‘One’ definitely meant a bottle. The truth was it was more like two. I never ‘just went out for dinner’. I’d have pre drinks alone at home, then dinner, then drinks after then go back to someone’s house. The night was always young, even at 3am.
The bits I think I miss about a drinking night out are, having a drink while I get ready, the anticipation of the night building the more pissed I got, the fun of choosing a good wine, cocktails, shots, late nights.
The reality is that alcohol is expensive. I don’t like shots. Shots make me sick. I’m always disappointed by cocktails. Wine goes down far too quickly. Wine makes me sick. I would often forget massive chunks of the evening beyond about 10.30pm as I’d started too early. I’d probably cry at some point. I’d wake up ill with a feeling of dread.
But the one thing I thought alcohol did give me was confidence. I believed that I was better with it. Once I’d started, I felt sexy, worthy. All my insecurities became slowly pickled. I didn’t care I was fat, unhappy, stressed. I was invincible. My cloak of Sauvignon masking the truth.
So without it, I feel a little bare. Raw. I have to deal with the reality of myself. And trust that I am good enough. Which is hard after decades of wearing a protective cloak.
Over the last few months, I have attended large social events but if I’m honest, not really enjoyed them. My preferred evening now is an early dinner and home by 10.00pm. But I don’t want to be like this forever. So I have decided I need to practice socialising sober, to learn how to party with confidence.
The first step in my ‘get confident sober’ plan was to visit my friend in London and go for a night out that we would’ve had drinking. We decided to go for dinner and perhaps a few drinks afterwards. My friend has been completely supportive in my decision to become sober and was up for the challenge.
We went for a cosy meal for two first. There were some lovely mocktails on offer, something I have found lacking where I live, and they had Elderflower. What more does a girl need? And we talked, properly, without slurring and I can remember every word.
There was a cocktail bar opposite the restaurant, that I’d been recommended go to, and as the night went on, it started to fill to capacity. People were rammed on the small platform outside smoking. My desire to go for drinks afterwards started to wane. Perhaps it wasn’t confidence that I was lacking but that these places are just not that great in the sober light of day.
Beneath the restaurant was a bar. At about 11.00pm, they cranked the music up. In my drinking days, it probably would’ve inspired a quick one or five downstairs but instead, it was loud and obnoxious, and made me want to leave. We decided we’d had a lovely evening and it was time to go.
As we left the restaurant, my friend needed the cashpoint. As we joined the queue outside a takeaway chicken place, we noticed paramedics treating a woman lying on the floor inside. A drunk woman in front of us started rambling, saying that the collapsed woman was totally out of it, that she had possibly been spiked, that her friends had left her, that boys had been filming her collapsed on the floor. The whole scene was disturbing & sad.
Inside I started panicking .. I could smell alcohol on the woman telling the story & the man behind us lit a cigarette, the smoke going down my throat. The situation was tense, and very real. If I had been drinking, I just know I would’ve got involved in the drama but sober I wanted to run. It was so surreal.
Eventually, we broke away from the scene, our night slightly dampened. Sober feels like going out with new glasses on; everything is clear and memorable. The vision of the girl collapsed on the floor is not easy to forget. A chilling reminder of the life I’ve left behind.
On the plus side, I went out. Out into the world. Beyond 11.00pm. A breakthrough indeed. They say that ‘practice makes perfect’ and whilst I know I’ll never be perfect, it was a massive step in the right direction to getting social me back.
This morning, I started thinking about all the things that I have deliberately changed, since last summer.
When my relationshit really started fizzling out, I had an overwhelming urge to makeover my flat. Like a deep cleanse. Out with the old and in with the new. I started with a new mattress & bedding, sold all my old furniture and bought all new. I EBay’d my clothes. And splashed out on a sofa.
Whilst this transition was happening, I had also started thinking about going sober. All were mechanisms to ensure that I wouldn’t go back to what broke me; I was a woman on a mission.
Once my makeover was complete, I then received a call out of the blue with a new job opportunity. I had been at my company for 10 years .. I thought I’d be there until I died to be honest .. so when this opportunity came along, it would’ve been silly to refuse.
So, now I had a fresh clean flat and a new job. I was single and free. I was going to become sober. And write about it. It was the metaphorical blank page I needed to succeed.
As you may know, my sober year started earlier than planned .. my current company have only ever known me sober .. and have been more than supportive. To be fair, it would be a bit hard to keep it a secret from them as I bear my soul to the internet!!
Learning a new job has been hard but rewarding. I’m not exactly sure how I would’ve coped binge drinking at weekends and then trying to learn on weekdays. But then I suppose I managed before …
With the change in jobs, my whole routine has changed. My commute is 2 minutes as opposed to 45. I get up later. I spend less time in the car getting wound up. I spend less time in the car full stop. I take lunch. I work mainly alone. The stress I didn’t know was there is gone. All those triggers to reach for the wine removed.
In the evening, I write. And source things to amuse/educate/inspire my followers. All this takes time, time I previously spent necking a bottle of the red stuff.
I realised that, as well as music and smells reminding me of my drinking days, my clothes did too. A dress I bought to wear to a party and got hammered in, or a top I wore on a drunk date I’d rather forget. I EBay’d the lot. Any link to my old life had to go.
I’m not smoking and have no desire to do so. I used to wake up smelling smoke, hating the fact I’d smoked out of my window the night before . I can feel in the difference in my breathing and definitely prefer a life without fags.
I’m eating well and I’m losing weight. Another reason for a new wardrobe. I have more money to treat myself and I no longer have the burden of cleaning at weekends as I pay someone to do it for me out of my ‘not buying wine’ fund!
It is truly amazing how much has changed in 6 small months. It is actually staggering how much alcohol influenced every area of my life and how much better things are now it’s gone.
I am starting to love myself. The self esteem that had been crushed by the relationshit is back with a vengeance. The inspiration to write is back. The desire to drink is gone.
For most of my adult life, I have dieted. I started at about age 17 by joining Weight Watchers and lost about 3.5 stone. For the first time in my life, I was slim. For about a month. And then it started creeping back on again.
I’ve tried everything. Except the cabbage soup diet. That was one step too far. I’ve probably paid tens of thousands of pounds to clubs over the years and the end result is that I’m bigger than ever. Or was.
I’ve tried the exercise route, getting up at stupid o’clock. I’ve tried eating full fat, organic, no sugar, no carbs, high protein, low sugar, the lot. I’ve tried everything. But the end result was the same. Fat.
However. There was something I was doing wrong. That I think a lot of us do wrong. I ignored the alcohol.
It’s so weird that if you put a donut in front of me, it signals pure fat. You can taste the fat. Your face gets covered in badness. Everyone says donuts are bad. Everyone avoids donuts.
But stick a glass of wine of me and I didn’t see badness. I saw no calories, no badness. My rule has always been that if you drink it, it can’t possibly stick as comes straight out the other end! Kill me now.
So for all those years I was getting fatter, there was one enemy staring me straight in the face, mocking me as I paid my fiver a week. For years. Sticking to my insides and making me fat. My lovely glass of vino.
This time is different. Instead of saving my 5-15 syns a day for a crate of wine at the weekend, I barely use them. Ok, I might treat myself to an Elderflower or a chocolate ice cream but in the grand scheme of things, I’m not being that bad at all. And for the first time ever, my fiver a week is worth it. I am consistently losing weight, I’ve lost two dress sizes in as any months and I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything at all.