Guest Blog ‘The Story of the Serial Quitter’ by lovely Jan

Guest Blog ‘The Story of the Serial Quitter’ by lovely Jan

I am sitting on the toilet seat in my bathroom, looking at my husband who is crouched down on the floor in front of me. He’s got a tea towel in his hand which he’s holding against the side of my head and he’s talking to somebody on the phone. I think he’s talking about me but I’m struggling to work out what’s going on. Why’s he in here? Who is he talking to? Why does the bath look like a scene from Psycho??!!

Three years ago, after a family Sunday lunch and far too much red wine, I fell over in the bathroom and smashed my head against the tiled wall. I didn’t feel it and couldn’t remember exactly what had happened until two weeks later when it all came back to me in some hideous Hollywood-style flashback.

I felt incredibly ashamed. I work in Emergency Services and am more than aware of the cost of time-wasters (which is exactly how I saw myself). My accident was totally unnecessary, caused by my inability to stop drinking once I’ve started.

I wasn’t always like this. As a teenager, I wasn’t really fussed about alcohol. I never tried to buy a drink underage, partly because I looked like a 12 year old boy until my mid twenties but mostly due to a complete lack of interest!

In my twenties, I would drink from time to time, but my social life revolved mostly around music and I would quite happily drive to gigs. I don’t remember ever needing to drink to be sociable. In my mind, the two things just weren’t really connected. Even though I wasn’t blessed with a great deal of self confidence or self esteem, I never used alcohol as confidence booster……..until I did.

Fast forward to my mid thirties when I met my now husband and we soon moved in together. We used to buy wine from our local shop – three bottles of red for a tenner. These three bottles would last us all week, no problem, and often, we would even have half bottles left over!

My husband has two sons who lived with their mother but spent weekends and holidays with us. My relationship with the boys was good and being a stepmum was generally very rewarding but could be challenging at times. The main issue was that their mother would take every opportunity to try and damage my relationship with them, mostly by rewarding them for behaving badly around me. I never retaliated but at times it was very difficult to cope with.

In the early days of our relationship, we took the boys to Spain for a holiday. We had a good time but the efforts of their mother had made things more difficult than they needed to be which affected the boys’ behaviour and made me feel quite stressed, insecure and at times, very on edge. So, I took the edge off with wine! I didn’t get drunk but would have a drink on and off throughout the day and evening and it just made the whole situation much easier to deal with.

After that holiday my drinking habits changed slowly but surely and soon it became the norm to drink most days. It became apparent that I’d broken my own off switch!

After several years of this habitual drinking, I started to notice that it wasn’t so much fun anymore. There were some incidents and arguments that were entirely down to my level of intoxication and were becoming more frequent. Then came the bathroom accident where it transpired I had split a vein on my head, wasted everyone’s time at A&E and was told by the doctor that if I’d have hit it a centimetre lower I would probably be dead.

So for the next two years I was much more mindful of my drinking. There were occasions I would still have too much and do or say something regrettable but not as frequently as before. I even managed to stay alive! Great! Well done me! BUT it was fucking exhausting! A constant battle to keep it in check.

Last year I became so tired of constantly thinking about drinking that I decided it had to be easier to ditch it altogether. What I was doing wasn’t ‘mindful’; it was a constant mental battle with myself and I’d had enough.

From July through to the end of September I was alcohol free. There were odd moments where I missed it but generally it was easy. I felt better. I looked better and all my relationships seemed easier and calmer. So you know what I did don’t you? I thought I must be cured and so on 1st October I had a drink. Then a week later I had two drinks. Then four days later……I don’t need to tell you, do I? It took about three weeks and I was back to square one. I still massively regret being such a twat and listening to what I now understand to be the voice of addiction, the devious little fucker!

After that I struggled to find the mindset to start again until the 16th June this year, when my wonderful husband said the magic words…. ‘do you fancy doing 100 days alcohol free with me?’ Do I? Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?? YES! YES I DO!!

My husband is mad keen cyclist and is training for a major event, which at the time, was 100 days away. So, on 17th June, we both ditched the poison and we dived straight into life without it. Whatever has come our way, we’ve done it without alcohol. No excuses. And here we are feeling so much better and both of us agree that we will never go back to the way things were before.

My top tip for those of you who, like me, have had successful alcohol free stints but ended up back at square one? Don’t listen to that voice that tells you that you can moderate. It’s a big fat liar. Give it a name. Create a mental image of it and then tell it to fuck right off!!

Beautifully written by Jan and barely edited by Sober Fish

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#club365 – Ariane ‘My Soberversary Story’

#club365 – Ariane ‘My Soberversary Story’

I had my first drink at 13, and my last at 32. For close to two decades, alcohol was an integral part of my life. When I fell pregnant with my first child, I had plenty of time to dry out and think about how unhealthy my relationship with alcohol had become. This would become the biggest catalyst in my journey to living booze-free.

I grew up in the suburbs of a large city, in a safe residential home. Despite having a loving and supportive family, I was a highly sensitive child, and struggled with feelings of low self worth from early on. As a chubby pre-teen, I felt like I stood out, and for all the wrong reasons. I wanted people to see that I was kind, funny and nice; not that I was eating too many chips and chocolate bars. The end of my elementary school years saw me eating my lunch in the bathroom, isolated from the judgement of my peers. Some days, I would throw my lunch in the garbage, ashamed to even be seen with food.

The inner dialogue of not being good enough plagued me.

I often felt sad, lonely and ugly. Unlovable.

In high school, things changed. I found a group of friends that were open and accepting, and slowly, I became more confident in my skin. I enjoyed making people laugh, and soon, my body issues lessened, but didn’t entirely disappear. When I had my first drink at the end of grade 7, I realized that this magic liquid was an effective way of forgetting that I hated myself.

I drank with friends on the weekends; at parks, parties and punk rock shows. I had finally found a formula that worked to relieve my teenage angst and coming of age confusion.

Drinking made me feel more social, prettier, and far more interesting. This was the very beginning of my drinking career, so hangovers weren’t a major issue for my young and capable body. Recovery was quite easy, and the party had just begun.

By the time high school ended, I found myself in the midst of a huge life change. My parents were separating, and I was going to be moving, along with my mom and sister, to the city. Although this was an exciting logistical change, the hurt and sadness of the separation were not easy to deal with. I tried to focus my energies on music, friends and school, but my sensitive nature once again kicked in to overdrive. Not knowing how to deal with my emotional burden, I escaped into the bottle. I dropped out of college unfortunately, as I had been part of a really neat Law & Society program that I loved. During the first three semesters, I was getting straight A’s, and really focusing on advancing my academic career. By the fourth semester, I was drinking of beer in the park during the day, crying over my badly bruised heart. My family had split up and I literally didn’t know how to deal with it.

The drinking continued, as I found myself in one destructive relationship after the next. Fixating on romance became a bit of an obsession. Subconsciously, I was trying to heal the wounds that were left from the demise of my parents’ marriage. Choosing partners that were absent, abusive or struggling with substance abuse issues left me feeling very shaky and ungrounded. I was so desperate for a fairy tale ending, that I sacrificed my mental and physical health, staying in unhealthy relationships for much longer than I should’ve. I accepted poor treatment, all the while believing that I was the flawed one that was unlovable.

In my mid 20’s, I’d had enough of the bad feelings, so I embarked on a journey of self discovery. Reading self-help and personal development books by the dozen, I slowly started to understand why some of these negative patterns had emerged. Little by little, I was uncovering that I was more than just a little bit codependent. Trying to fix other people’s problems took the focus off of my own, and my obsessive tendencies kept me busy enough to get by.

Despite being heavily into the self-help department at the bookstore, I continued to drink. My self-awareness levels were rising, so I obviously knew that I had an unhealthy relationship with drinking, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do about it at that point.

I liked to drink. A lot.

It seemed like booze had almost been weaved into my core self, so much so that I didn’t know who or what I’d be without a drink in my hand.

When I met my husband, I knew that I was on the right path. For once, I had chosen a partner that was present, supportive and kind. We drank a ton together in the early years, but at least the relationship was abuse-free and loving.

It was a step in the right direction.

It was the day after our wedding party, and I was hungover in a hotel room. A pregnancy test confirmed that I was going to be a mom. Not only was I ecstatic at the prospect of having a child, I knew that it was time for some major life changes.

Although I wasn’t totally sure of what would happen after the baby was born, I was soulfully blissed out for 9 months, alcohol free (save a few sips of wine at dinner from time to time) and grateful.

Though I enjoyed my newfound clarity immensely, I hadn’t fully committed to a sober future, and my bad habits quickly returned a month or so after my son was born. I drank with added shame, desperately not wanting to be a boozy mom, but also struggling with giving it up. When I found out I was pregnant again, just three months after giving birth, I knew that the Universe was sending me some major signs. The first child was the eye-opener, and the second was the enforcer.

Mom, you can do this. You have to do this.

On August 11th, 2017, I made a solid commitment that I would not drink again.

Time and experience had proven that alcohol added nothing positive to my life, and so I bravely jumped on the wagon with gusto and pride.

Instead of feeling shame about my past relationship with drinking, I want to share my story to help break down the stigma that surrounds alcohol abuse.

Three years ago I would’ve never imagined that by now I’d have two beautiful babies, a wonderful husband and a book in the works.

Clarity, happiness and gratitude have replaced cheap wine, hangovers and regret.

I am so proud of how far I’ve come.

My evolution into a sober warrior has really just begun, and I am so excited about what the future holds.

Here are my 3 top tips for starting out on sobriety journey!

1 Read and write! When I first started flirting with sobriety, I devoured books in the “quit lit” category. Reading about other people’s journeys helped me to stay focused on my own goals, and also gave me some great information about alcohol abuse.

2 Network. I found a huge online family via Instagram and other public forums. This community helped me when I needed someone to talk to about my struggles. It’s really helpful to find that there are thousands of people who have had similar experiences.

3 Focus on self-care. This is a big one! Quitting drinking will immediately make you realize how much time was spent on drinking, partying and nursing hangovers. Focusing on self-care, and being patient with yourself throughout the process will help immensely. I started to workout more regularly at the gym, and prioritized things that were good for my body, soul and mind. Reading, long baths, baby cuddles and writing have become necessary additions to my week.

My Instagram is @soberstarlet

Blog: www.theshadowandtheshimmer.blogspot.com

Written by Ariane, barely edited by Sober Fish

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#club365 – Sara & John – ‘2 stories for the price of 1 – BOOM!’

#club365 – Sara & John – ‘2 stories for the price of 1 – BOOM!’

SARA

On New Year’s Eve 2016, I decided to give up alcohol for a year to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

At the time it seemed like a wild, slightly audacious goal. Whilst I didn’t drink ‘regularly’, there were definitely occasions of binge drinking.

I’d done Dry January for ten years; doing 12 x Dry January’s in a year which included big birthday parties, three international work trips and a boozy company weekend in Marbella would surely be very different!

However, as the saying goes, ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you’.

I’d just finished reading Johnny Marr’s autobiography detailing a transformation from a rock and roll lifestyle to a teetotal and vegan one. Whilst I wasn’t ready to become a vegan just yet, the challenge of abstaining for 12 months seemed like a good one. Also, as I see myself as a bit of a rebel, it seemed like the perfect ‘rebellious act’ to choose not to drink for a year!

What I didn’t anticipate was that this ‘challenge’ would actually become a new way of life for me especially when my husband decided to follow suit.

My initial challenge would ultimately transform our lives completely.

Two of the most popular questions I was asked during my ‘dry year’ were,

‘So, what drink will you celebrate with on New Years’ Eve 2017?’ and, ‘Will you ever drink again?’

The truth was that, until November 2017, I actually didn’t know the answer. Initially I’d dreamt of huge decadent cocktails in beautiful glasses and champagne on ice as my reward for my achievement but, as Christmas loomed, I realised I had made my final decision.

I was never going back to drinking.

In a year, I’d learned so much about life, alcohol and myself. It had become clear that drinking was not a reward; in fact, the reward was actually not drinking and all that I had achieved in abstaining.

There have been so many positives during this 19 month journey but there have also been challenges in a society where drinking alcohol is the norm.

Challenges

It can be slightly puzzling for people to learn that you no longer drink. One bemused friend asked ‘But how do you have fun?’ as though he had forgotten what it was like to have fun as a child before drink was ever considered!

I had one fleeting moment of regret when sitting in a lovely restaurant on a boiling hot day and watching everyone around me ordering chilled glasses of rose wine. This lasted seconds before I realised that I was actually thirsty and ordered cold sparkling water instead which was perfect.

Positives

– You’re much more like to succeed if you have a good support network. Go online and surround yourself with people who ‘get it’ and cheer you on. Read about other people’s journeys and their daily struggles to make you feel less alone.

– Before I started my challenge, I read Jason Vale’s ‘How to kick the drink easily’

https://amzn.to/2M8SDav

and it was like a lightbulb moment.

– My husband also becoming alcohol free in May 2017 proved to be incredibly supportive.

– When you don’t drink, going out suddenly gets incredibly cheap. I have been shocked by how much money we have saved as a family simply by both of us cutting out alcohol. I have treated myself to braces on my teeth and hope to have a straight smile for my 50th in 2019!

– The best thing about not drinking for me is definitely no more hangovers. My productivity has gone through the roof and there have been no more wasted weekends feeling sluggish.

– People often talk about using alcohol to ‘take the edge off’ a stressful day, yet coming home and heading back out for a walk has allowed me to become more relaxed than I ever did previously.

– Being sober enables you to live life consciously and experience all of its good and bad parts. When drinking, I was sometimes happy and sometimes unhappy. Now, there are now no ups and downs. Cheesy as it may sound, I am just always happy all of the time!

JOHN

So I guess I kind of fell into sobriety.

My wife Sara had started her journey with a view to completing 12 months alcohol free for charity and I decided to offer some moral support. I would drink quite heavily 2-3 nights a week and seeing how much Sara was enjoying her alcohol free life, I became curious and started to think about not drinking a lot! So in May 2017 I also stopped.

As a business owner, I noticed that after a few months, my decision making was growing in strength and I was becoming much more ambitious and confident. We went as far as to set up a business in San Francisco and hopefully this could be absolutely life changing for us.

I noticed that instead of people becoming judgemental and suspicious of why I was not drinking, they seemed, if anything, to be hugely impressed and maybe even a little envious.

Initially, the test was social events. We offer a lot of work incentives to our salespeople and thus spent several days at the races, at business conferences, and work nights out where we were surrounded by alcohol. But seeing people slowly lose the plot on a night out just strengthened my resolve. I now get my buzz remembering EVERY single conversation, waking up clear headed and looking to attack the day. I’m just so uber positive, it could actually be annoying!

Will I drink again? Genuinely I don’t believe so. The Alcohol Free alternatives in the UK are very good and improving all the time. A cool Alcohol Free beer in a bar after work still does it for me. Being 100% happy, positive and running a fantastic company so outweighs the initial thrill of alcohol which quickly evaporates and eventually just brings you down.

Top tips

– Never look back. You messed up from time to time. So what? You are forgiven and that’s behind you.

– Don’t care what people think. Life is tough and complicated and people have actually got their own stuff to worry about.

– Laugh lots. And surround yourself with other non drinkers. They are fun and also clever enough to have stopped!

Written by Sara & John, edited by Sober Fish

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#club365 – Kate – ‘Take One Minute At A Time’

#club365 – Kate – ‘Take One Minute At A Time’

On 23 July 2018, I celebrated 12 whole years of sobriety. My relationship with alcohol, like most relationships, was complex.

Alcoholism runs in my family and was part of my daily life from the day I was born 54 years ago.

In many ways, it was kind of my destiny; everything was already in place. Genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and psychological tendencies; my progressive descent into alcoholism was marked, like signposts, by significant relationships with men throughout my journey.

The groundwork was laid when I met my first love at 16 years old. It was a wonderful relationship. I couldn’t have created a better match for myself if I’d whipped him up in a laboratory.

We were together, on and off, for 15 years. I always knew we’d met too young; there was no way we were going to settle down and marry right out of high school or college. And, like most teens, we ‘experimented’ with drugs and alcohol.

Smoking weed was a regular activity. Weekends were reserved for parties, football games or lying around in parks with wine coolers.

I took to drinking like a fish to water. I loved it and was very good at it. I weighed around 100 pounds through my teens and twenties, but found I could easily ‘out-drink’ almost any guy I knew, no matter his size. I didn’t learn until much later in life that such a high tolerance is not a good thing.

By my mid-twenties, I was drinking fairly regularly and often to the point of blacking out. I lived a carefree lifestyle, always highly functional, but bailing on things like jobs I became bored with or places I lived.

And ultimately, I bailed on my first love, when I met Casey at age 26.

We were together for just under three years, and in that time, I transitioned from ‘problem drinker’ to ‘alcoholic’. Of course I didn’t see that at the time; this disease sneaks up on you. Nor am I laying blame. But he was my tipping point. When you find someone that you click with on several levels; emotionally, sexually, intellectually, but who also shares your propensity for drinking .. well, it was like hitting the jackpot. My relationship with him validated my relationship with alcohol, and normalized it.

Of course, we had other things in common including a wicked sense of humor, the same tastes in music (except he liked country music, which I couldn’t stand, and still can’t hear to this day without thinking of him), we both loved to dance and we both loved to read. Often, he would read aloud to me; I still miss that. Our ‘singing-in-the-car’ skills were unmatched; sometimes he’d turn off the radio and ask me to sing to him. We both loved dogs, and his big black lab, Blue, was like our child. Our being-in-motion and being-at-rest rhythms were miraculously in sync. Our sex life was magical. Whilst not overly demonstrative with his affections, once in a while he’d make a grand gesture that took my breath away. One time, I got out of the bathtub at his house to hear him yelling my name from outside, and looked out of the window to see that he’d stamped ‘I LOVE YOU KATE’ in 10-foot letters in the snow.

But most of all, we LOVED to drink. We took that shit to the next level. We never talked about it, we just did it. It was like we were two aliens who’d somehow found each other in a foreign land and were able to communicate our growing dependency on alcohol without having to verbalize it.

Previous hard-drinking weekends segued into daily drinking. A boring Tuesday became ‘a special occasion’. We’d meet at a bar after work for a Bloody Mary, then have wine with dinner, then an after-dinner drink followed by a couple of six packs of beer at home. There was always vodka at his house for me and rum for him. On weekends he’d wake me with a Mimosa rather than a coffee. Saturdays and Sundays were spent either socializing with other drinking people at some drinking-centric event, or lying around the house and keeping a steady buzz going all day and night, tangled together on the couch watching old movies. Being with someone who so validated my ‘bad habit’ was a kind of vindication; it assured me that my relationship with alcohol was fine.

When our (inevitable) split came, it was swift, ugly and traumatic. I’ve never really gotten over it. I fully embraced drinking as some kind of pacifier, drifting from one one-night stand to another. When I finally met a kind and decent man with whom I somewhat ‘clicked’, I just went ahead and married him. I mean, that’s what you do, right? It was time, I was in my thirties, all my friends and siblings were married and settled. You buy the house and you marry the guy and you have the kids and then you’re happy.

Except that I wasn’t.

And it wasn’t because he was a bad guy because he’s not. It was because by then, I was literally drowning myself every day. Every decision I made, large and small, was made under the influence of alcohol. I remember him saying to me during an argument about my drinking ‘I hope you’re happy now’ and I shot back ‘Oh my God, you think I’m happy?? I haven’t been happy in years’.

I wasn’t speaking specifically about him or even our marriage, I was speaking in general, and my own words shocked the hell out of me.

When I finally got sober, at the age of 42 with an 18-month-old son, things calmed down a bit, and I had a second child.

The longer I was sober, the more I looked around and realized that I’d make huge life-changing decisions while I was either drunk or hungover. There were so many things in my life that could be called a mistake or a life lesson, including my marriage. We are now amicably divorced and my amazing children are now 11 and 13.

Since my divorce, I’ve been on several dates but am largely focused on my children and my career, which has essentially exploded since I became sober.

Exes have approached me looking for a ‘no-strings’ hookup but one of the best things sobriety has taught me is my own worth. There was a time when I’d sleep with anyone, any time; a guy just wanting me was enough of a reason. I don’t give myself away anymore. I don’t have the time or inclination for the inevitable fallout. And while I’m open to various ages/races/persuasions/careers/levels of baggage, I also know my deal breakers. That doesn’t mean I don’t want physical intimacy, or to find someone to love me and to give my love to, to someone who wants it and is in a position to take it; it means I’m judicious about it.

In a nutshell, I don’t have time for or interest in bullshit.

I’ve had men express interest in me who then abandoned that interest when they discovered that I don’t drink and that’s just fine.

I’m 54 years old, and while I don’t feel old, I’m old enough to know what I want and, more importantly, what I don’t. I’ve been in love several times – real, true, good love; I’ve been married, I’ve had children, and I’ve had fun flings with wonderful men who I remember with great affection. I’m healthy, fairly attractive, funny, sexy, and intelligent. I’d love to think (and am fairly optimistic) that there will be someone to love in my life again, and I’m open to it (although Remy Danton really is a fictional character apparently!)

Until then, I have words to write and children to raise. I am open with them about my sobriety and my experiences as an alcoholic, and they only know me as a sober person. I don’t want to tell them what to do. I want to continue to be a living example of it.

MY TOP TIPS TO ACHIEVE LONG TERM SOBRIETY

1. Addiction can be isolating. I’m not an AA fanatic, but I feel like some kind of support group is crucial, particularly in the first year. When everything has hit the skids or imploded and it’s all so scary and horrible and feels insurmountable and impossible to face, there is no substitute for being literally surrounded by people who know EXACTLY what that feels like, people who have done the same shitty things you have – and worse – and who understand the self-loathing and survived it. It props you up when you can’t prop yourself up.

2. Look around you. I used to wonder how I’d fill my days if I didn’t drink. The universe has a way of filling in the blank spaces in ways you can’t begin to imagine. Let it happen.

3. If you can’t get your head around ‘never’, as in ‘I can never drink again’, and even ‘one day at a time’ seems to hard, try one minute.

One.

Minute.

At.

A.

Time.

Reapply as necessary.

Written by Kate, edited by Sober Fish

Facebook: kateconleychadwick

Twitter: @katechadwick616

Instagram: @katec616 and @cape_mayniac

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#club365 – Nic – ‘Life begins’

#club365 – Nic – ‘Life begins’

On 13 April 2017, I woke up from my slumber,feeling like I’d chewed on Ghandi’s sandal for the last few hours and desperate for a break from the pounding in my head.

Thankfully, the house was silent and I was very much alone. I sat up, steadied myself, and headed for the bathroom, bleary eyed and feeling like death.

Thankfully, the kids had been taken to school earlier by my mum, who innocently thought I was suffering with a stomach bug. Only that wasn’t quite true.

When she’d arrived to collect the boys, she hadn’t been allowed to venture as far as the kitchen and was therefore blissfully unaware of the two empty bottles of Pinot Grigio hanging out together like old friends in the recycling basket, ready to join their clan in the maroon haven of the recycle bin.

As I looked at my bloodshot eyes in the mirror, I thought ‘Why the bloody hell do I keep on doing this to myself?’. Someone I didn’t recognise stared back at me. ‘Where have you gone Nic?’ I asked with a lump in my throat.

I trudged downstairs and poured myself a glass of water. Ironically, a copy of Women’s Health magazine lay on my doormat. I scooped it up and headed straight back to bed where I half-heartedly began to flick through before pausing on an article about ‘a sober revolution’.

Giving up alcohol had always been on my fitness agenda. It was the missing piece of the transformation, only it had never quite happened.

I’d had many, many attempts at giving up the vino and received many, many eye rolls from family and friends… ‘Oh, OK Nic, you’re back on the wagon again are you? Let’s see how long it lasts this time’.

I felt they were right. I felt like I was a failure. I couldn’t stay off the sauce and I couldn’t stay on the wagon. I craved its ability to take me away from everything that was wrong and for it to catapult any good news into something far more amazing. I craved its ability to knock me out and make me forget.

Although I didn’t quite know how to describe it, the truth was I had a problem with alcohol. I was ashamed of what I was, of the person I’d become, and I didn’t have a clue how to get my sorry ass out of the tiresome cycle of drinking.

Every day, I’d wake up, get up, feel hungover and get through work feeling like death.

I’d get home, have a wine to take the edge off and reward myself for making it through the day. See to the boys, get them in bed, finish off the bottle, then open a second. Fall asleep on the sofa, wake up in the early hours, feel numb and disorientated. Stagger to bed. Wake up, get up and so the cycle began again.

Weekends were much heavier. I’d drink two to three bottles of wine, have a couple of gins, and to top it off, have a good few arguments. I’d do Jack shit to prepare for the week ahead and could feel the stress building inside.

My life was a train wreck heading for disaster.

The magazine article mentioned Club Soda, which is a mindful drinking movement (https://joinclubsoda.co.uk). The web address glared at me from the page. I signed up immediately and can’t explain the relief to discover I wasn’t alone. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one in the world attempting to shield my drinking habits from the people around me. I wasn’t alone in trying to keep my life together whilst wrecking it at the same time.

I cried.

I actually wasn’t alone.

I wanted to stop drinking. I knew I had a problem and at last I had people to turn to; people just like me.

I’m now 15 months sober. I guess you could say that this attempt at staying on the wagon has been successful so far but I can’t say it’s been easy and there certainly isn’t any room for complacency.

On a positive note, the relationship with my boys has improved so much. I am no longer an embarrassment to them but instead, I’m someone they are proud of. I’m slowly beginning to see my potential and learning to love the real me. I’m setting myself challenges, discovering who I am, meeting wonderful, like-minded people and re-discovering things that once gave me pleasure before the veil of alcohol shrouded me.

25 years of alcohol abuse means I have 25 years of catching up to do.

Today, I turn 40. A few weeks ago, I set myself a list of challenges to fulfil. Nothing like the good old bucket list but a list of things that just nudge me out of my comfort zone  (like climbing Mount Snowdon when you have a fear of falling from slopes- I know right?) or things that re-ignite an old skill or passion. Things that make me feel alive and make me laugh and teach me something new.

For years and years my path has been navigated for me, expectations bestowed upon me and now, I want to be in control of myself. Every single morning, I feel like She-ra the Princess Of Power when I get out of bed!

Here are my three top tips if you are just starting out on your journey ..

1) Make yourself accountable

This could be joining a support group or telling a close friend or family member. Personally, I log onto Club Soda Facebook page every day and write a little message. I honestly think this has helped me stay focussed.

2) Plan for the day

I always make a plan for every possibility. This may seem a tad extreme but having things to combat cravings and trigger situations are crucial for me. This could be something like planning an exit strategy from an event you are attending or taking your own alcohol free drinks to a party.

3) Using alcohol free products

I know some can find these a trigger but they have been my lifesaver on so many occasions. I always have a selection in the fridge.

Now that I’m sober, I feel that my life is moving in the right direction. I have good days and bad days but accept that is part of life. It’s how I deal with the emotion that life brings that is different. The 13th of April will always be the beginning of the end of my slippery slope of destruction. It is the day I began to realise I’m worthy and deserve to be happy.

It’s the day I chose me ❤️

Written by Nic, edited by Sober Fish

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#club365 Week – Andrea – @feravida @saspodcast

#club365 Week – Andrea – @feravida @saspodcast

I want to start by saying that my struggle with alcoholism was the greatest gift I have ever received. It was also the single hardest demon I’ve had to defeat.

My experiences of living with alcoholism and my eventual recovery sent me down a path to a wonderful and perfect purpose for my life. If I had the option to erase it from my past, I’d decline, however, at the same time, I wouldn’t wish this struggle on anyone else in the world.

I started drinking as a teenager like many people do and was about 16 when I first got drunk. It wasn’t love at first sight. The heavy drinking started properly when I turned 21 in May 2010, and I was drinking to excess for more days than not.

I was a full-blown alcoholic before I turned 22.

Alcoholism runs in my dad’s side of the family and he struggled with alcoholism for his entire life. I’d heard that a family history of alcoholism could give one a predisposition for addiction, but on a personal level, I didn’t understand how much more likely I was to get addicted.

Nearly everyone around me drank as often as I did, although in smaller amounts. In some ways, alcohol affected my body differently than the other people I was around at the time. I could drink much more than most people I knew, but near the end of my drinking career, I could easily black-out after only 4 beers on a night despite drinking 24 beers in total.

Anyone who has struggled with alcoholism can tell you what it feels like when you wake up each morning. I woke up in absolute terror every single day for years. I was unable to breathe properly, shook uncontrollably and lived in a perpetual state of panic. I was terrified to look at my phone after a night of drinking which was every morning. I was in so much pain but more than anything, I felt completely and utterly alone. I believed that I was experiencing severe anxiety, which I was, but it was only years later that I made the connection that alcohol was making everything worse.

In the summer of 2012, aged 23, I was living in a city several hours from my hometown with no support system in place. I did have three true friends there who did their best to help me, but I wasn’t getting the message that it was my drinking which was causing me to feel the way I felt and to live the way I was living. It was easier to do what I’ve always done and try to handle things on my own than it was for me to ask for help. That is, until it wasn’t.

I had been on the phone to my mom whilst parked in a grocery store car park about a quarter mile from my apartment. We finished the call and almost immediately, I started shaking worse than I ever had before. I had difficulty breathing and was sweating even though I felt like I was going to freeze to death. Somehow, I drove my car home and although I could barely walk, or see, I made it into my dark apartment and collapsed on the couch.

No one was home and I had no mobile service within the apartment to call anyone but still I tried. My phone screen was so bright in the dark living room but I couldn’t hold it still enough to read it because I was shaking so much. I desperately needed water but couldn’t get up to walk ten feet to the sink to get some. I pulled a blanket over myself and stared into the darkness. The shaking intensified into convulsions, and I had what I now know was my first seizure due to alcohol withdrawal. I don’t remember falling asleep.

Over the next two weeks, I had six more seizures before deciding I needed to go to the hospital. I was experiencing convulsions, auditory and visual hallucinations, severe feelings of temperature change, inability to see, and panic. At the time, I thought I was having panic attacks as didn’t know what the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal were plus I’d never heard of delirium tremens (sometimes known as the DT’s).

One of my best friends took me to the emergency room, where they ran lots of tests, injected me with three entire bags of saline to rehydrate me, wrote me a prescription for 10 Ativan (an anti-anxiety drug) but at no point was I asked about my alcohol consumption.

My first shot at sobriety lasted 14 months. I relapsed the night of my dad’s memorial service in May 2014. For the next year and a half, I fought to stay sober and was sober for much more of the time than I was actively drinking. I continued to relapse because I was not willing to face the pain that I had been trying to mask for so long.

Halloween 2015 wasn’t the worst night of my life, but it was the final straw. I finally stopped relapsing on 1 November 2015.

Today, I have been sober for 2 years, 9 months, and 6 days. To be honest, I don’t count anymore and used an online calculator to get that exact figure.

This time was different because I WAS F***ING DONE. I was READY. I saw clearly and understood for real that if I continued drinking, I would lose everything and everyone I loved and then it would kill me. I became a fighter the same day that I surrendered to these facts.

Fast forward to now, and I am a Certified Sober Life Coach, helping people in recovery rebuild their lives or build new ones from scratch once they get clean or sober. I became the person I needed when I first got sober. Like I said at the very beginning of my story, my alcoholism gave me a purpose for my life. My struggle wasn’t for nothing. My mess is my message and I know that I am here to guide those struggling with the same thing I was able to overcome. I am here to support, teach, and coach those who are just a few paces behind me on the journey of recovery and I’m thankful to have lived through what I did to be who I am today doing what I’m doing for others.

In Love and Service,

Andrea Carr

Sober Life Coach

Host of the Sober and Successful podcast

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Website: https://www.feravida.com

Podcast Website: http://feravida.libsyn.com/website

Written by Andrea, edited by Sober Fish

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