Super Sparkly Sober Saturday

Super Sparkly Sober Saturday

Pre Soberdom, weekends were for one thing only and that was getting hammered. On Friday nights, the habit was real. There I was, like a bee to a honey pot, hurtling down the wine aisle to check out the offers. In summer, it was white or rose; in winter, heavy red. Two bottles (one was never enough) were slung unceremoniously in my basket followed by brief stop down the ready meal aisle and not forgetting a nice fresh pack of 20 from the cigarette kiosk. Boom, I was ready to launch.

Home. Bags dropped to the floor. Wine poured before anything else and slugged down in three. One fag out the window. Breathe (smoke). Another fag out the window. Glug. And breathe (smoke) once more. Happy weekend.

When I look back at this little ritual, I can still remember the panic. The excitement. The race. All to get home to slurp and smoke.

I attribute it to habit and relief and stress. In my former job, the weeks were long perpetuated by excruciating hangovers, shouty angry customers and a Hitler style management regime. It was a celebration to leave the workhouse each week and get home to safety. It was what I’d always done, rewarded myself for surviving another week on the planet. After all, I deserved it right?

Now, it seems such an alien concept to reward myself with poisons and toxins. In fact, it’s just plain bloody bizarre! Oh I know, I’ve had a hard week at work and I’m really tired, emotional and stressed so I’ll just fill my body up with stuff that generally makes me even more tired, emotional and stressed, resulting in a shit night’s sleep followed by vomming all day on my day off! Yeah, what an incredibly genius idea!

When you stop drinking alcohol, weekends morph from ‘over in the blink of an eye’ to ‘every minute becomes an hour’. It’s almost off putting at the start. One Saturday, I remember waking up, writing, eating, walking, cleaning and it was still 9am. I was thinking ‘how on Earth do I fill my day?’ and rather than being pleased, the prospect of so much sober time, was daunting. There was too much time to think about drinking.

Now, there is never enough time. There is always something to do. I write, I cook, I blog, I walk, I edit. I breathe fresh, clean air. I did none of those things before. Hangovers literally stole my joy. They stole my creativity. They stole my weekends.

If you want to be successful in sobriety, you will have to change your weekend routine and planning is key. Do activities that don’t involve drinking; get outside, go for a long walk, go to the cinema, drive somewhere you’ve never been before.

You have to train your brain to expect different things from a weekend. Your brain will expect to get bladdered if that’s what you’ve always done. You have to show it who’s boss and get it to look forward to something else! Chocolate, exercise, reading, sex. Do whatever it takes!

I’m not sure I’ll ever get over how fantastic Sober Saturday’s are. They are truly one of the best parts of sobriety. To feel alive and full of possibility is a very beautiful thing. Time is precious; don’t waste it.

#day595

Written by Sober Fish 2018

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The Massive Mood – 6 months & beyond

The Massive Mood – 6 months & beyond

Achieving 6 months of sobriety is a weird old time. On the one hand, it’s an ENORMOUS accomplishment; on the other, it’s a no-mans-land of ‘what the actual fuck am I doing?’

I remember 6 months well. One minute, I was ecstatic, jumping for joy and celebratory, and the next, I was miserable, moody and morose. There was no middle ground.

At 6 months, my beautiful temple rewarded me with the biggest mood of my sobriety. Ironically, it happened whilst watching Glastonbury festival on TV. Now this is strange because a. I’ve never been to Glastonbury, b. I’ve never wanted to go to Glastonbury and c. I’ve never watched Glastonbury on TV. In fact, I’d never even given two shiny shites about Glastonbury before. But suddenly, I wanted to go to Glastonbury and get off my miserable face.

I remember sitting on my sofa, Elderflower cordial in one hand and a wodge of Curly Wurlies in the other, balling. If I’d been a child, I would’ve been stamping my feet and wailing ‘but I WANNA’. I was jealous & envious and the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was of epic proportions.

Thoughts were whirring through my brain; ‘is THIS it?’, ‘will I ever drink again?’, ‘is my life resigned to staying in on a Friday night, cartoon crying and binge eating Curly Wurlies ALONE?’, ‘was everyone else is the world having fun apart from ME?’, ‘was this IT?’.

The more the thoughts whirred, the more I cried. I was actually making noises like a 2 year old. I was proper wailing like a 42 year old banshee.

And then I stopped. To breathe mainly. But I stopped. I was exhausted by emotion. And actually it felt quite good to have got it all out. Then, Rational Dawn then came out to play.

Did I really want to go to Glastonbury? No. Did I want to camp? No. Did I want to ever see a festival toilet pit again? No. Did I want to go to a festival sober? No. Did I really give a shit about Glastonbury? No.

What I’ve realised about Sober Massive Moods is that often it’s the old (inner) me having a paddy. The old (inner) me is sad that a choice has been taken away and challenging me to do something about it. Sure, the option to festival sober is there. The reality is I’d bloody hate it.

The Massive Mood made me question what was REALLY going on. Actually, it had fuck all to do with festival antics and more to do with me accepting my relationship with alcohol was finally over.

6 months is a long time and 6 months is not. It’s a limbo between your old life and your new. Your body is free from toxins and you have recalibrated. It’s common to think ‘perhaps I could just have the one’.

Personally, I didn’t think this because moderation is not, and has never been, an option. My belief is that if I could moderate, I would’ve moderated and not got myself into the pickle that led me to 6 months of sobriety. Similarly, if Curly Wurlies were supposed to be eaten one at a time, why sell 5 for a £1? Just my opinion.

Despite the doom & gloom of The Massive Mood, some lovely stuff happened at 6 months. I changed the blog name from ‘Sober for 2017’ to ‘The Sober Fish Story’, cementing my intention of sobriety for life. I started walking everyday, discovered Audio books and booked my ticket to Thailand which was one of the highlights of my sober journey so far.

Life, sober or hanging, will always have it’s ups and downs. It’s how you deal with it that matters. If you need to cry, cry. Why are we so conditioned not to cry for Pete’s sake??! If you need to binge eat Curly Wurlies, bloody binge eat Curly Wurlies. Do WHATEVER it takes because I promise you this, if you get through 6 months sober, you’re on the verge of being invincible.

Never, ever, give up ❤️

Written by Sober Fish 2018

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Mum’s week .. ‘I vow to never drink again’

Mum’s week .. ‘I vow to never drink again’

On 28 October 2016, I became sober.

My decision was finalised after a hideous hen weekend away. My own hen weekend.

I vowed never to drink again.

We went camping on Shell Island. I got so drunk that I fell into the fire pit, smashed up all the tables and completely terrified all the kids, including mine.

I woke up in a shocking state with an awful feeling of dread. I had no memory of what had happened and when I was told of my actions, I felt so ashamed.

At that point, I swore to my partner I would never drink again but he didn’t believe me. After all, he’d heard it all before.

But I knew that this time, my relationship with red wine was well and truly over.

Red wine and I had been friends since I was 15. I’d come from a broken home and had found comfort in both wine and drugs. The pattern of getting off of my face was a weekly thing. Aged 18, I had a well paid job which meant I could party hard on my days off. If I think back to some of the situations I got myself into, it makes me shudder and again, feel very ashamed.

My job eventually led me to work abroad. I worked in nine different countries but every time, I either got sacked or walked out of the job because I was too hungover or coming down from drugs to do my job properly.

In 2000 I moved to a small town, looking for a new start after yet another failed relationship. Every relationship I had failed because I was always so smashed! It was here that I met my husband. Both of us were into drink and drugs and it continued for quite a few years.

In 2005 I snorted my last drug ever. I literally couldn’t take any more come downs however I made sure my friend red wine stayed faithfully by my side.

Aged 36 in 2008, I was totally shocked to learn that I was having a baby. I had never been pregnant before and had always believed I couldn’t have children as I’d damaged my body too much.

I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol for a whole year.

In 2009, my beautiful boy was born but as soon as I got home from hospital, I went to straight the shop for red wine.

And so the cycle started all over again.

Every night I drank wine. It helped me to relax and unwind after a long hard day.

In 2015, I started suffering with a bad neck. I couldn’t sleep at night and even wine or gin didn’t help the pain. I then lost the feeling in my hand and had horrific pains shooting up my arm. It took me 3 weeks to get to the doctors as I was scared I’d had a stroke and that they’d take my boy away from me.

But I had a touch of luck as the doctor put me on really strong painkillers.  Mix these with a bottle of wine and I was flying.  Happy days!

In January 2016, I decided to do sober January despite my neck getting worse and struggling to cope. I managed to stay sober for the whole month but come 1 February, I was straight out to the shop to buy more alcohol.

In March 2016, I was diagnosed with a slipped disc in my neck. The only option was to have surgery but I refused, knowing if I had the surgery, they would stop my painkillers and I wasn’t having any of that.

Lent came, and I gave up again but as soon as it was over, I went straight back to the shop for more.

In June 2016, my now ex husband decided to get married, giving me yet another excuse to get smashed.

When I finally stopped in October 2016, I’m still not sure where my strength came from but I was utterly determined. This time, I was doing it.

I had a sober wedding day 2 weeks after I made my pledge to stop. I got through Xmas and New Year and not a drop passed my lips.

In April 2017, I couldn’t carry on with the pain in my neck as the painkillers weren’t touching it and it was affecting my whole.  I’d taken up running and lots of exercise but I couldn’t carry on.

I had elected surgery in June 2017. Very scary operation as it’s so close to your spine. But I survived and not once did I reach for alcohol to help me out.

I finally stopped taking medication in September 2017.

My journey isn’t over. Every day I think about drinking and I think this will happen for the rest of my life.

But I’ve come too far to give in now. This is my life.

Written by Monique, edited by Sober Fish 2018

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Mum’s Week – ‘CatMother Extraordinaire’

Mum’s Week – ‘CatMother Extraordinaire’

I have been sober for 48 days. Quite the achievement for somebody whose automatic response to any situation was to celebrate (or commiserate) with a beer. Or wine. Or prosecco. Or gin. Good day at work? Have a drink. Bad day at work? Have a drink. Cat fallen out of the bedroom window again? Drink. You finished watching every episode of 13 Reasons Why Season 2 and only cried 8,362 times? Drink.

I have been binge drinking since I was 12 years old. Back then I hated myself. I hated everything about myself and did everything I could to try and be somebody else. The discrepancy between ideal me and actual me was so huge I could never live up to it. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t anxious. There were many factors that contributed to this and whilst I have spent my life trying to resolve these, I have always fallen back to my old friend booze to forget a problem that I could not fix.

But alcohol is the type of friend that ghosts you for months at a time. Or deletes you from social media for no reason. Or invites everyone to the pub except you. It’s not a good friend. But you’ve known each other for so long and sometimes, it’s just so hard to break the bonds of time and habit and parasitic symbiosis that you fall back to them in your weakest moments, unable to remember which one of you is the parasite.

Drinking has always enabled me to lessen the wriggling worms of my anxiety. I know they are still there and they know they are still there, but we’re all drunk and languorous. We can’t be bothered to cause problems. If I could stop there, what a delight that would be.

To have one drink, or two, to take the edge off and enjoy the moment. To stop there, with the gin glow and brighten up the world.

But three starts getting louder and louder and louder and louder.

Four starts slurring and insisting, really loudly, that they are NOT FUCKING DRUNK.

Five wants to take on the fucking world and has forgotten about the Morrisons delivery that’s just turned up at its house.

Six. Well. Six gets so wankered by 4pm on New Years Eve, that it has to have nap and leave its husband to entertain their guests until 10pm when it manages to pull its shit together and join the party.

Then appeareth the morning after the night before. The flashbacks of shameful memories that can’t distinguish between reality or dream. The sticky sweats, the sickness, the shits. The thumping of a thousand tiny plastic swords against the surface of your brain. The lethargy, the hunger, the sickness. The suffocating dryness of your mouth, infused with the taste and smell of stale beer, vomit and cigarettes.

You don’t even smoke.

The inability to keep even a sip of water down. Having to drive home knowing full well that you are not safe to drive. Cancelling plans because no, you can not get out of bed today.

Topped off with the incessant fucking writhing of the wiggling anxiety worms that are now full grown, two metre long snakes and they are beating you to death from the inside. AND NOW THEY’RE IN YOUR BRAIN. The shame spiral that swoops you up in it like a tornado and banishes all logical thought. The texts you think you should send to apologise for being a dickhead but you can’t even write them because to do so is an admittance that you have a problem and your behaviour last night is only the beginning of it. When you say never again, but you mean until the next time, the next party, the next stressful day at work, the next night.

And the cycle begins again.

There was no defining moment this time. No hellscaped hangover to promise never again. No argument with a friend that made me feel like shit. No shame, guilt, humiliation that triggered this decision. Just a butterfly effect that created a change in mindset.

My anxiety has decreased. My capacity to see joy everywhere in the world has increased. My mental health is flourishing. I have so much free time that I have almost got the house in order and started ticking off all the to do list jobs that I have been deliberately ignoring for months!

I have started writing again, with an avid passion. I wrote my first ever short story and submitted it into a local competition where it was one of eight shortlisted out of forty. I didn’t win but putting myself out there has given me feedback from publishers that I can use to develop my work. And for the first time ever, I am blogging regularly about my sobriety journey.

I start reading books and finish them within a month. I meal plan and have time to prepare my lunches for work so I can stick to a healthy regime. I exercise every day. Who knew there was so much you could do instead of being in the pub?!

I had a fear that alcohol was the only thing that made me interesting and yet, having had multiple days and nights out sober and laughing until my throat hurt, I know that this isn’t true. I’m every kind of magnificent and even more hilarious sober. My relationships have improved. I have more patience and time to be supportive, loving and to really listen. Looking after myself means I have more to give to the people I love the most in this world.

All of this motivates me to continue on this overgrown and slightly tumultuous edge of the mountain path I am on. It might not be the right path for everybody, but it’s definitely the right path for me.

Beautifully written by Kia, barely edited by Sober Fish

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Mum’s week – ‘The Healing Junkie’

Mum’s week – ‘The Healing Junkie’

Two years ago, I was a very different person to the one I am today. Back then, I was angry, sad, lost but most of all I was addicted.

I started experimenting with drugs at the age of 13, mostly smoking pot and drinking alcohol until someone gave me a Percocet (combination pain killer). I can still remember the warmness that came over my body as the surge of dopamine flooded my brain. I was hooked. I was in love.

By the time I was 26, full blown addiction taken its hold. My drug of choice was any kind of opiate pill I could get hold of. By day, I was a drug addict; by night, a mum and a wife. I have 2 sons who are 2 years apart in age. Eventually, both of them watched me kick addiction’s ass!!

At first, I did a very good job at hiding my abuse but as the disease progressed, it was harder to conceal. My behaviour clearly began to show something wasn’t right. My husband became suspicious as I fell deeper and deeper into addiction until one night, he finally found my stash. He confronted me and at that very moment, it hit me. I was addicted. I cried and promised I would get help and quit, which I did. I even went back to school to get my diploma and a certification in healthcare. I remained sober for 4 months but sadly gave in and started the cycle all over again.

This time, it was like an out of body experience as I watched my life fall apart from the outside.  I had tasted what a sober life could be like so when I fell back into addiction, it was almost surreal. One morning, as I did a line of drugs from the bathroom counter whilst getting ready for school, I took a long hard look at myself. I was beginning to get blemishes, my nose was red and my eyes were starting to turn dark again. I literally screamed out ‘FUCK THIS’ and at that moment, I decided that I DID NOT WANT this shitty existence any longer!!

I knew quitting was going to be sick mentally and physically so I planned to do it on my last day of class before the summer break started on 27 June 2016.

At 6pm on 27 June 2016, I put the final drug into my body. My husband still had no idea I’d relapsed and thought I was 6 months sober. After 3 days of withdrawal and pretending I had the flu, I finally told him the truth. I had contemplated not telling him, to pretend that the 3 months of active use hadn’t happened but then a saying often used in rehabs and lCA meetings came into my mind ‘Secrets keep you sick’. I was done with being sick and so I picked him up from work and everything just spilled out.

This time I wasn’t messing around. My kids needed a sober mom and I needed to live so I started attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings daily.  I listened to the speakers each night praying that one day I could find the kind of new found love for life they had. In the rooms, the word ‘God’ was used A LOT. It was hard for me as I was raised catholic and my vision of God was a man sitting on a throne, choosing who was worthy of his love. I struggled immensely until one day it hit me that God was whatever I believed it was. To me, God was a universal life force and not some judgey dude picking and choosing who was worthy or not. When I was able to accept that something bigger than me was out there, I was finally able to start my healing journey.

I spent the summer going to meetings every night and found myself a sponsor who helped me dig deep and forgive others and more importantly, myself. I made amends with everything in my life and for the first time, I felt inner peace. I had switched my game from victim to warrior. I began to meditate and do mindful breathing practices. At first, I found it difficult but the more I tried, the easier it became. I wrote gratitude lists starting with maybe one or two things I was grateful for that day. I still write those lists which have now snowballed into thousands of things I could say that I’m grateful for today!! I changed my diet from junk and processed foods to more whole foods which made me feel better physically and mentally. I even quit smoking cigarettes!!

I wish I could say that it was a struggle for me to stay sober but it wasn’t. I was finally done with ruining my body, my life and my family. Don’t get me wrong, not every day is easy but I make a conscious choice to wake up and take the day for what it is. I meditate as often as possible whether that be a guided meditation, a soak in a nice salt bath or five minutes deep breathing in my bedroom. I’ve learned how to let go, how to be compassionate, how to be understanding and most of all, that service to others fills the empty void I had. I graduated high school and obtained my diploma with honours as well as my health care program with an average of 93%.

I’ve started my career and am beginning to branch out and find out what I really love. I am no longer afraid to take risks and I am no longer afraid to be me. The mask that I wore for 30 years has finally fallen off. I love that my kids got to witness their mom fall so hard but also have the courage to stand up and fight. I taught them that you can overcome anything; all it takes is courage. But most of all, I now have this amazing experience to share with the world and hope it makes at least one person realize how much potential we all hold within ❤️

Written by Sarah, The Healing Junkie, Edited by Sober Fish 2018

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Mum’s week – ‘Changing one thing, changed everything’

Mum’s week – ‘Changing one thing, changed everything’

Hi, I’m Charlie and I’m a NON DRINKER. Ohhhh it feels so good to say that!

Although I didn’t drink every day, I was a ‘drink till you drop’ kind of drinker and I couldn’t imagine ever not being one. If you had told me back then that one day, I would write about how sobriety is the best thing I’ve ever done, I would have spat out my wine laughing!

My drinking started out socially. I never kept alcohol in the house. But then I did. By the end of my drinking career, I could easily drink a bottle of wine (or more) in one evening, up to 4 nights a week. The consequences of this were ruining me, piece by piece. Hangovers, disorganisation, struggling through work, cancelling plans, dragging myself along to family activities pretending to feel better than I did, awful pain in my side every morning which scared the crap out of me, not to mention the impact it could potentially have on my children in terms of their own relationship with alcohol as they grew up.

Now that I am sober, I’m proud to be an example to my eldest daughter as she enters turbulent and high pressured teenage years, and to my youngest daughter will never know me as anything but sober.

“Mummy’s little helper” is an expensive lie sold in liquid form. What exactly is helpful about it? Parenting hungover is utterly excruciating. I’d choose labour again any day over that!

Have you ever changed a nappy with a hangover? One of those poonami shit explosion nappies that require a ‘particular set of skills’ (thank you Liam Neeson), in order to prevent your house/kid/face being showered in the offensive substance? I have and I threw up. That was a pretty low moment. Hunched over the toilet bowl, vomiting humiliation and shame, I felt like a pretty pants mum. The previous night , I’d ‘enjoyed’ a bottle or 2 of Rioja with a friend. I’d hurriedly read my daughter’s bedtime story, preoccupied with the voice of the ‘wine witch’ impatiently warning me that the more time I spent upstairs, the longer it would be until I could crack open the bottle. That night, I passed out on the kitchen table.

My life became unmanageable and I drank alcohol to cope with this, not realising it was actually the cause. I shudder when I think back to that now. The hungover mornings, the gaps in my memory and the nervous checking of my phone to try to piece together what had happened. The lack of sleep, poor eating, and general dissatisfaction with my life, and the guilt, oh the guilt! It impacted my relationship with my husband as I used to worry that we didn’t speak very much when we went to the pub. I thought that was a sign that our marriage was heading for trouble however it turned out he just didn’t want to be there whilst I drank, chatted shit to strangers and drank some more. He would always say, “we are only going for one, if you want more, you can stay with your friends but I am going home”. I always assured him, with every intention of doing so, that I would be going home with him but I rarely did.

After about 3 years of a pretty steady decline down a slippery slope, enough was enough. On top of juggling 4 jobs (I had an issue saying no to stuff), and family life, I was also doing a Masters Degree in Transformative Practice, a subject concerned with real, transformational change. I remember my lecturer discussing change during a seminar “change becomes imperative when the alternative is no longer palatable”. That was exactly where I had got to. The alternative was no longer an option.

I threw myself into researching sobriety with as much effort as I had given my drinking habit. I watched, read and listened to anything related to sober living. I found an amazing blog, Hip Sobriety, and took a couple of their fab online video courses.

I read lots of “Quit Lit” and started following sobriety accounts on Instagram. I was inspired by the growing number of women starting to own their sobriety; they made it sound awesome and I wanted what they had.

I started to really embrace sobriety, and eventually became open about it. I didn’t really plan to, but it kinda burst out of me after all, it’s such a huge part of my identity, it’s impossible to hide. And anyway, why the fuck should I hide it? Everything is far better sober. Literally everything. I am present all the time, absolutely love family time, am home most evenings, and am in no rush to read bedtime stories. I have an even better relationship with my kids and my husband and I are super close; we don’t go a day without laughing. I have one job now, a great work/life balance and my priorities are in the right order. I’ve learnt to say no to things. Fuuuuuck no. My daughter recently said to me on a shopping trip, “I much prefer it now you don’t drink at all, Mum. We do things like this and you never stay in bed”.

Becoming sober enabled me to create a life I don’t want to escape from. The only change I consciously made was to stop drinking and by changing one thing, I actually changed everything.

“Getting sober is like breastfeeding. Painful as fuck but well worth the benefits” @nothing_rhymes_with_sober

Written by Charlie, edited by Sober Fish 2018

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