Guest Blog ‘My Awakening’ by Jackie

Guest Blog ‘My Awakening’ by Jackie

When I was 17 years old, I started my first dream job as a trainee Zoo Keeper. I was shy and uncomfortable around people and had always said I would never drink or smoke because I’d seen how alcohol affected people and didn’t like it.

I’d been invited out by my work mates who all liked a drink and was introduced to cider and baby sham, the ‘in drink’ back then. I liked the taste of it and it went down a treat. Then I had another, then another. It was great, I felt great and I could talk to people now! What a night! I felt amazing!

The next morning however, was a totally different story. I felt strange and confused, like I was hallucinating. I didn’t like the feeling and deep down, I knew this was something I didn’t want to do again; it really wasn’t for me.

On the next night out though, I felt shy and awkward and thought ‘I’ll just have the one to give me a little confidence’. And then had another and then another, and so it went on.

I soon realised I couldn’t have ‘just the one’ but I was young and your younger years were supposed to be spent like that right?

My nights out were amazing. I met so many people and had the best social life. Before long, I was out most nights of the week.

Sometimes, grabbing a quick drink after work turned into being kicked out at closing time, still in my work clothes. In the morning, I would head to work red-eyed and stinking of booze from the night before. My boss would shout ‘Were you out drinking last night again? Look at the state of you’ but I’d just laugh and get on with my work.

During those years, I tried all the drinks; different spirits, beers, wine, etc. I loved vodka but it made me violent. I tried whisky but didn’t like the taste and it gave me severe hangovers.

All of my relationships centred around alcohol and none of them ever lasted very long. I’d attract people who liked a drink as much as I did and gradually saw less of my sensible drinking friends.

When I reached my late 20’s and had another failed relationship, I realised that alcohol had played a big part in this relationship from start to finish. I’d become quite violent to my partner at the time and would feel terrible the following day, staying in bed for as long as possible so that I didn’t have to face the shame of what I’d said or done the night before.

After this realisation, I decided to monitor my drinking habits a bit more. I’d choose drinks that were a bit lower in alcohol content and try to have a glass of water in between drinks. I even decided to work in a bar at weekends so I’d still be socialising but not drinking, but none of it worked. Hell, I just drank more working in the bar spending all my tips on alcohol when I finished!

Every time I tried to moderate my alcohol intake and failed, my drinking would then get worse. It felt like going to a weight management class to lose lots of weight only to then put it all back on again and then some.

In my early 30’s, I knew my drinking was unhealthy but thought ‘I’m not an alcoholic’ as I don’t drink in the mornings, can keep a job and a roof over my head and don’t need to drink every day.

I knew I was a binge drinker but that was ok right? Yeah, I blacked out nearly every time I drank, yeah I’d wake up in strange houses and yeah, I’d been in hospital twice this year due to drink related accidents.

I then decided that what I’d do was just drink at home so I wouldn’t embarrass myself any further. I’d buy a box of red wine (because that’s good for you right?) and I’d have just 1 glass of wine per night, no bingeing and therefore consume less than 14 units a week.

This way, if I did drink more than a glass of wine, nobody will see me making a fool of myself. I wouldn’t dread answering the phone or the door the next day. It was sorted.

So on a Thursday night, I’d buy a box of red wine and sit it in the kitchen. I’d have a glass then convince myself it wasn’t quite a full glass so I’d just have a little more. Then I’d think ‘it’s still early and I feel fine’ and have another .. and then wake up at 5am the next day with a hangover and … you guessed it .. an empty box of wine!

So what do I do now? People keep telling me I’m not an alcoholic as I don’t drink every day but something is clearly not right.

On New Year’s Eve in 2001, I had a fabulous night celebrating in Edinburgh and ended up going to a party afterwards.

In the morning, I woke up half dressed with no idea what happened as I had no memory. Still drunk, I went to my parents for New Year’s Day dinner. As the alcohol started to wear off, the hangover and depression started to kick in with the realisation that something had happened, something I had let happen. I was riddled with guilt and fear and broke down to my mother. I was desperate now and knew I can’t go on like this. I knew that after this event, I could never drink again. Never.

I didn’t drink for the next 2 weeks but I missed it. I convinced myself that I’d had a huge fright and that I’d be ok but would stop drinking when I felt like I was getting drunk.

So, once again, I decided that I’d just drink in the house and bought a small bottle of rum. Oh boy I’d missed this; the taste, the feeling. I felt great, amazing, so happy. After a couple of hours, the bottle was empty and I was in a party mood. I called a taxi to take me to the local pub and decided to meet up with some old drinking buddies then go onto a party. It’d be fine, I convinced myself. I was working in the morning so I wouldn’t stay late.

When I woke up, my head hurt like hell. I couldn’t remember but concluded I must’ve drunk whisky. Then I realised I wasn’t at home. Oh no, I’d blacked out again and I needed to get to work. I quickly went home, got changed and somehow, drove to work. I was so ill, I just couldn’t be there and luckily managed to get away early where I climbed into bed, and stayed for 2 whole days.

I couldn’t go on like this. I couldn’t live with alcohol but I didn’t think I could live without it either. I needed someone or something to help me.

On 28 January 2002, my dad was having a retirement party. I didn’t want to embarrass him or make a fool of myself and knew I needed help.

I decided to go to the doctor but he wasn’t much help, telling me I wasn’t an alcoholic. He prescribed me some pills to help with the side effects of not drinking alcohol and refers me to a community psychiatric nurse, advising I will wait sometime for an appointment.

In the meantime, I tried Alcoholics Anonymous but decided it wasn’t for me. I then found a womens group through the NHS that I attended once a week. I found that talking to other women and being re-educated about alcohol helped me so much. My employer was a great help too by giving me the time off.

My parents were so supportive. I thought nobody understood but if it wasn’t for them, I’m sure I would’ve have failed. I cried and cried when I realised this was it. It felt like the end of a relationship I thought I could never leave, I was bereft.

15 years on, I now own my home, have my own business, have travelled all over the world; New Zealand twice, Australia, Kenya twice. I have volunteered for an HIV orphanage for 3 months, went to Namibia to volunteer with the Endangered Species Trust, visited Singapore and Hong Kong, all on my own. I have discovered a love of cooking and found out how magical and amazing life is. I have 2 dogs and a cat who are my life.

I am 48 and still single and that’s fine because my life is so full. I’d like to meet someone eventually but it’s not the ‘be all and end all’; I’m in no hurry.

Being sober is definitely the best thing I have ever done. It’s been an amazing journey of self discovery.

In a weird way, I’m actually grateful for my experience with alcohol, I reached rock bottom, my rock bottom and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have experienced just how wonderful life can be.

I know if I hadn’t stopped drinking when I did, I’d be dead now.

If I had listened to the people that told me I wasn’t an alcoholic, I’d be dead right now.

Instead, I listened to the inner voice inside me, the one I ignored as a 17 year old. The one I will never ignore again, for that inner voice, is my guide.

Written by Jackie, edited by Sober Fish

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Guest Blog ‘How I traded vodka shots for another shot at life’ by Kelly

Guest Blog ‘How I traded vodka shots for another shot at life’ by Kelly

Hello, my name is Kelly, I’m 25 years old, and every day I’m grateful that I stopped drinking when I was young.

My heavy drinking was between age 19 and 23 and it took until I was at least 6 months sober to realise I’d been trapped in someone else’s mind and body.

There’s sometimes a misconception that you only have to get sober if you’ve been an alcoholic for your whole life but here’s the thing guys … I caught control of my disease when I turned 24.

I didn’t know that I would be done with drinking for good at 24 years old. Maybe it was because I hadn’t got a drink driving conviction yet? Or hadn’t totalled my brand new first car? Or completely lost my mind? Or lost all respect from my family, friends and co-workers?

On 1st March 2017, I went out with a few friends drinking. We started at about noon with mimosas, then scorpion bowls (an alcoholic concoction containing fruit juice multiple types of rum, vodka, gin, and Grenadine) then on to a local city bar. I don’t remember anything from this night except my last pickle back shot (a shot of whiskey chased by a pickle).

Thankfully, I woke up at home the next morning and went downstairs. My car was there, untouched, so I guessed that I must’ve driven it home. My mom then told me exactly what had happened. It turned out that I had tried to drive my car home from the bar. My friend tried in vain to get me out from behind the wheel and we ended up fighting. My parents were then called and had to come to the bar to save me. My mom drove my car home and apparently my dad took me home in his car, where I proceeded to pee myself and found it hysterical.

That night, I lost respect from so many people but guess what? I still didn’t think I had a problem; I just thought I’d had a super rough night once again.

On 2nd March 2017, my mom decided to take me to rehab at Butler Hospital to stay as an inpatient for one week. She told me that if I didn’t go, the locks would be changed to our house and my belongings would be left outside for me to move out.

That morning, I walked over to the liquor store and bought a pint of Jack Daniels. I was on the phone to my friend Kelly, telling her how drunk I was going to be when I arrived at the rehab centre. I told her ‘It’s not like I can’t stop; I just like drinking! I don’t want to stop!’

But as soon as I arrived at the hospital, I sobered up. I realised that this was my last chance to make amends with myself, my parents, my close friends and especially my brother with whom I was once so very close.

The people around me at rehab were so inspiring and helped me transition mentally towards sober living. It wasn’t until I was sitting in group meetings with much older people that I realised how blessed I was to be given this opportunity at such a young age. I was, and still am, completely non-judgmental and so was everyone else. I lowered my guards, opened my ears, stopped defending my actions, and made the decision that I didn’t want to drink anymore.

I finally realised that the pain I was causing to myself and everyone around me wasn’t worth it. Nothing good was going to come out of my life if I didn’t take responsibility for myself. I realized when I was alone in the hospital that people don’t wait around forever, no matter how much they love you and working towards this new goal was extremely empowering. I was excited to work on my journey as a sober young woman, for myself and everyone else.

Dating sober is a different ball game for sure. I didn’t really start dating again until I was about 6 months sober. I had to learn how to date again, without pre-gaming and showing up annihilated. I remember thinking ‘do people actually meet up sober?’ That must be SO awkward. What am I even supposed to talk about if I’m not wasted?

Alcohol was always a great security blanket for me. Dating sober was like learning how to walk again. I definitely had to make sure that I took time to get myself right first. You really can’t love anyone else until you love yourself; I very much understand that in a new perspective.

Now that I have rediscovered myself, I’m able to meet people and tell my story. At first, I felt ashamed and like I had nothing to offer anyone but now I’m so proud and have higher standards for both myself and in someone I’m dating.

My family relationships have been given a chance to rebuild as I lost a lot of respect when I was drinking. My grandparents love to hear my progress stories and look forward to seeing me and hearing about my sober life. I feel much more included than I have in years.

Before I got sober, I would drink a water bottle full of Smirnoff before I faced the stress of a family who hated me because of my drinking problem. Now, I get excited to see my family and talk to everyone freely because I don’t reek like booze. It takes away a large amount of my social anxiety for sure. Not needing to hide everything is such a great feeling!

I cope on my own in a much healthier way now. Instead of buying alcohol to mask my good day, bad day, sad day, work day, I meditate instead. I write, I exercise and I go for hikes. I find the outdoors and fresh air is great in recovery. It might sound silly, but reflecting on all of my days sober so far helps me cope with many things.

I don’t think about drinking again because it would destroy all of my hard work which has got to me where I am today. Writing my story down and looking at pictures also helps me immensely. I’m so grateful to all of my best friends who stuck by my side through many chapters of my life and I’m glad I made it possible for them to see the person I’m capable of being. I love them all more than they’ll ever understand.

I’m so grateful to be alive and to be able to tell my story. I feel like I am finally myself again after being in the dark for so long.

Recovery is so worth it. If my story gets to one person that needs to read it, my work here is complete ❤️

Written by Kelly, edited by Sober Fish

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Guest Blog ‘How I Transformed by Finding True Wellness in Sobriety’ by Karin

Guest Blog ‘How I Transformed by Finding True Wellness in Sobriety’ by Karin

Don’t be scared to walk alone
Don’t be scared to like it
There’s no time that you must be home
So sleep where your darkness falls

John Mayer

The benefits of getting sober while single and childfree are numerous but the most important one is that you have the time and freedom to devote your focus to yourself and your sobriety.

There’s no spouse who refuses to stop keeping vodka in the cabinet or children that won’t sleep through the night. There’s nothing to prevent you from your recovery which means that if getting sober requires three meetings a day or 90 days in treatment like myself, you never have to compromise.

It’s taken me 8 years to find gratitude for my divorced, child-free, sober status because I was stuck and wished I could change the past. I’d assumed I would be a happily married, moderately drinking mother to beautiful children, with a loving husband and a house in the suburbs, but I had to accept that wasn’t and probably will never be my story.

I never drank moderately. My unhealthy marriage ended suddenly when my ex-husband violently kicked me while I was pregnant. I lost the baby; it was my second loss, and first incident of physical violence after less than two years of marriage. I left and never went back, but failed to find the right help, falling deeper and deeper into alcohol abuse to numb the pain.

My drinking seemed normal to most people because I drank alone and it went unnoticed for years. By the end, I didn’t have many friends; the only ones left drank more aggressively than I did and told me rehab was for quitters.

I was overweight, depressed, in debt and in a horrible cycle of dating unhealthy men. There was not much support for my decision to get help except from my management and coworkers who were incredibly kind and compassionate. My friends and family thought I was being dramatic and told me ‘everyone drinks too much occasionally’ but I knew my drinking was dangerous, was getting worse quickly and would one day result in something horrific happening.

I checked myself into Passages Malibu rehabilitation centre after a final written warning woke me up to the truth and made me realize that if I didn’t take dramatic action, I would eventually lose everything like so many of my family members before me. My brother, uncle, cousin and godmother all had drink driving convictions and three of my four grandparents died from alcohol related health issues before I was born.

Rather than wait for the same to happen to me, I took my health into my own hands and transformed my mind, body, and spirit through sobriety.

I looked at rehab as a wellness retreat with a focus on addiction in a broad sense rather than limit the lessons to alcohol. I applied them to multiple areas of my life where addiction was an issue like overspending, binge eating, dating and travelling to escape reality.

Being single and childfree gave me the time and resources to hire a personal trainer, nutritionist, become a yoga teacher, pay off all my debt, get promoted and lose over sixty pounds in a year because without alcohol there are no limits to what is possible. I took my therapists advice and stopped dating and communicating with men and it was the best decision I have made in my entire life.

Getting sober while single gave me the ability to get to know myself again after all the years lost to drinking and helped me remember that I am a beautiful soul worthy of a healthy and happy relationship. I became my own best friend and created a life for myself that I don’t want to escape from and instead crave the calmness of my bathtub over a crowded bar or fancy restaurant.

Sobriety after over twenty years of heavy alcohol abuse is a hard and lonely road whether you are in a relationship or not. It requires more strength than I ever imagined and I am forever grateful for the help I received. For years, I wished the past could be changed and mourned that I never had children or a partner but now I cry tears of gratitude for my freedom.

All too often people jump into relationships because they are scared to be alone but I think being alone forced me to become stronger and more sure of who I am and what I want from my life.

Sobriety requires an examination of the darkest parts of ourselves and forces us to bring them to light to heal. It’s deeply internal work and I am thankful to have had the space and time for this journey without pressure from another person to go faster or recover in a different way that they deemed to be more acceptable. For example some people might require their spouse to attend a certain number of meetings per week or have various other conditions to be met during early sobriety but I have none of those issues.

Sobriety offers the opportunity for a spiritual journey, total transformation and the ability to create an entirely new and different life for yourself. Being single, sober and childfree gives you the freedom to design that new life entirely around your unique preferences and desires. For example I want to purchase a small condo in Sun Valley, Idaho and live there during the summer while teaching yoga internationally in the winter and being single and childfree affords me the freedom to make it happen.

In the beginning it can feel lonely, sad and hard to be doing this work alone but I urge you to look at the situation from a different view to see the freedom and opportunity that lies ahead. If you are struggling please know there is nothing to be ashamed of, treatment does work and you can heal.

I am now nineteen months sober and have accepted that I am likely not going to be invited to certain events where drinking is the main focus and many people will choose not to hang out with me or date me because alcohol plays a big role in their life. This used to make me feel left out but then I found new people to do more interesting things with in my free time. The world is so big and beautiful there is no reason to fear being excluded, you just keep searching and eventually will find the place you belong.

Keep the faith and you will one day look back and laugh at the idea that drinking is fun or glamorous because you have experienced so much more that life has to offer and will see it for the scam it truly is.

Written by Karin, barely edited by Sober Fish

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/thedrydiet

Website – https://www.thedrydiet.com

E-mail – thedrydiet@gmail.com

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If wine were a donut …

If wine were a donut …

I don’t know about you but donuts are not something I buy myself. I don’t crave them. I don’t look at them in a shop and think ‘oooo, I’d love a donut’ or eat my dinner and then think ‘a donut would finish that off nicely’.

In fact, the only time I ever ate donuts or bought donuts, was for birthdays in the large organisations I worked at. Donuts were the ‘go to’ cake because they were cheap and plentiful but they also have an awful reputation; donuts are fattening and donuts are the devil.

Most slimming clubs I’ve attended (and there’s been quite a few) have continued the ‘donuts are bad’ theme. I’ve often heard the consultants say ‘think of it like a donut’ and the trembling dieter, ashamed and a pound heavier, would immediately resort to bingeing lettuce.

When you first start a diet, enthusiasm is high. There you are, measuring out muesli and counting cashews; the ‘dash’ of milk in your tea being considered like your life depended on it. ‘Would you like a biscuit with that Mavis?’ .. ‘oh I couldn’t possibly, Vera, I’ve got weigh in in 5 days time but thank you’.

Until Friday night comes and it’s time for a treat. It’s time to let loose. It’s time to reward yourself for all that counting and measuring. It’s time to splash the syns/points/donuts like you’ve never splashed before.

And so you pop to the shop and you buy yourself a nice bottle of wine, which is the equivalent of approximately 3 donuts.

Let’s pause here for a minute and transform wine into a donut.

So on week 1 of your diet, after measuring anything that goes near your mouth for several days, you pop to the shop and you buy yourself 3 donuts. Imagine.

And if we’re being really honest, you probably not just pick up 3 donuts, it’s probably more like 6. That’s right. You stop and pick up a 6 pack of donuts.

Then, armed with your ‘treat’, you return home and after eating a carefully calculated dinner, you crack open the wine (donuts) and binge with gay abandon, after all you deserve it right?

And let’s be really really honest. The wine (donut) habit is highly unlikely to occur just one time in a week; it’s probably a few times a week. Which means 2 or 3 BAGS of donuts a week. Every week.

And we wonder why we get fat, stay fat, get fatter and become disillusioned with trying to lose weight.

I never ‘counted’ wine. Never. My view was that it was liquid and couldn’t possibly ‘stick’, unlike a donut which would attach itself straight to my already lardy arse. Wine was a treat. Wine was deserved. If I lost weight, I drank a bottle. If I put on weight, I drank 2. ‘There you go stupid body, that’ll learn ya’.

I never saw the correlation that it was possibly the wine (and the hangover food) that was making me fat. I never saw wine as a donut.

Isn’t it strange that while slimming clubs happily destroy the reputation of a donut, they strangely promote drinking alcohol like it’s a necessity to staying alive? You rarely hear ‘save your points/syns for a donut’. Hell no. But save your points/syns for beverage? Of course!

My dream is that slimming clubs stop promoting alcohol as something acceptable on a calorie controlled diet but that’s as likely to happen as me winning the lottery.

And I don’t play the lottery.

Written by Sober Fish

#Day651

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Guest blog ‘Get Sober and Start Living’ by Stephen

Guest blog ‘Get Sober and Start Living’ by Stephen

It’s been 18 years since I had my last drink and sometimes it’s easy to forget how difficult this journey has been for my loved ones and me.

Most of my drinking career involved a conscious effort at ‘mindful drinking’, if that’s what you want to call it. I started drinking from a very young age, let’s say 14, and I drank to get drunk. It was always premeditated, which was a recipe for disaster, and came with lots of consequences.

My life has been a colourful one and although it was lots of fun in the early days, I often put myself and others in unnecessary and sometimes dangerous situations like when I lost my driving license. Let’s just say I was a bit of a nuisance when under the influence.

When I was 20, I was very fortunate to have met Dee Dee, the love of my life. I probably owe my life to her. Despite putting her through hell back, she persevered with me and helped me to become the man I am today. Sober!!!

My first attempts at ‘mindful drinking’ began the day my beautiful son, Joseph, was born. As soon as I held this little bundle of joy in my arms, I knew things would have to change. My wife transformed from my bestie and playmate, to a responsible and loving mother however, when I should’ve become more supportive, I did the complete opposite and went off the rails.

I suppose you could say my mindful era was just me trying to grow up, and without the support of my wife and kids I am pretty certain I would never have achieved sobriety and probably would no longer be on this Earth.

I tried many things to reduce my drinking. For example, I would buy a nice bottle of red wine, which we could enjoy with our food, but a couple of glasses each wouldn’t satisfy me so I started to buy a larger bottles.

Or I would stop drinking dark spirits and stick to a clear spirit like vodka because I was told didn’t have an alcoholic smell. Hmmmm.

We then agreed that I would only drink on holiday, which as you can imagine didn’t end up the best of memories for them or me.

I often found that if I had two drinks (which was never enough), things would be ok. The third drink was always my turning point. The point of no return, when all the bets were off.

I was at my worst and unhappiest from the age of 28 when my gorgeous daughter Imogen was born and age 30, when I finally decided I had had enough. I had pushed my wife and I to the brink and she was on the verge of leaving me. I couldn’t blame her.

So, after many attempts at mindful drinking, abstaining, and falling off the wagon, I finally surrendered. I realised that drinking wasn’t a possibility for me. It was no one else’s suggestion; this was my decision. I checked myself into rehab and have been alcohol free ever since.

What I have learnt on my journey is that mindful drinking is not an option for me. Drinking almost destroyed my whole life.

Alcohol brought me no benefits and since giving up, I face life on life’s terms. I have dealt with a lot of my demons, which I suppose were my triggers, and most importantly am still happily married to my wife.

Recently, I set up my own soft drinks company called Chillio Ltd, which produces Chilli and fruit blended drinks designed to awaken your senses through a natural endorphin release that replaces the need for alcohol. These premium all natural blends have been designed for the non-drinker who still enjoys a quality. I would never have achieved this if I were still drinking.

My one bit of advice I would like to give is this.

If mindful drinking isn’t working for you, get help and stop drinking completely. Get sober and start living your life ❤️

Written by Stephen, edited by Sober Fish

Twitter @StephenLaurie12

Instagram/Facebook @StephenLaurie1970

@ChillioLtd

@Chilliodrinks

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