Cleaner

My steam cleaner has arrived. It is wonderful . No blogging from me yesterday as I was too busy blasting the dirt of ages from the grout , and steaming my ancient tiles to new brightness. 

It felt wonderful and satisfying on several levels. Firstly the purely practical – it was quick and effective. Contrary to the impression I may have given here , I am not some clean freak. I don’t like housework – regarding it as at best a necessary evil. It so often seems pointless. Expending a lot of time and energy making something clean when in this house it will be dirty again in 24 hours.  But … To have a machine which tackles grime in a few moments , which I have previously only been able to shift with a toothbrush and a lot of scrubbing (and have therefore not often bothered) is seriously great! 

Secondly, it felt very emotionally satisfying making the floor “like new” again. That probably sounds a bit bonkers, it is a bit bonkers , but that’s how it felt – deeply good, on an emotional level. I wonder if there is something about renewal and rebirth of my dirty kitchen floor that equates with my current journey from slightly grubby stained life that I was ashamed off, to the hope of a bright clean life I can feel proud off. 

That’s probably nonsense, perhaps an analogy too far- but nevertheless i enjoyed cleaning my kitchen floor with my new shiny expensive steam cleaner, and I felt good ; engaged And happy while I was doing it!

And this morning I have overslept- one morning in a whole 9 days off – and therefore missed what I intended to do. And the whole bloody cycle of blame and self criticism and anxiety that I won’t get everything done starts all over again .. 

Gggggggrrrrrrrrrr

Community

It’s 4 am in the morning , and I am NOT asleep. This is completely bonkers and very annoying . Periodically I suffer from insomnia – but this has not happened since I got sober 110 days ago. I’m Pretty annoyed that I’m Lying here wide awake for NO reason . 

In an attempt to soothe myself to sleep I listened to a bubble hour podcast about community and the importance of ‘connection‘ in maintaining sobriety. The podcast failed to send me off to sleep, but it did get me thinking. 

Last night I realised how much I have valued the comments and support I have received on this blog. I mean really REALISED,how  important the input of other recovering people has been. Everyone’s comments , from those  earlier in recovery than me , those faltering and the members of the wonderfully long term, established  sober community, have something to offer me. And more than that, by their posts they cast light over parts of my life that were in shadow, and by allowing me to contribute to their lives they boost my fragile self esteem. 

We use the JoHari window in professional Development, to illustrate the ‘unknown unknown’ areas of learning need, ie those things you don’t know that you don’t know. Unsurprisingly these learning needs are the hardest to uncover and we often use feedback from others to help uncover these needs. 

I see a parallel in my life, my sobriety and my blog. I wrote about what I feel, what moves me and how my decision to stop drinking is impacting on me. That’s all ‘known’ to me. (the known known) There are lots of things that I am aware I don’t know – like how to manage my relationship with my mother (this is a known Unknown – I am aware I don’t know what to do about it) ; there are things that others know about me from my posts – that they can see are unhelpful but about which I was previously either not aware or only dimly so. Lastly there are the nuggets I pick up from others posts that strike a completely unexpected chord with me, that open up a thought process that I had never considered before. These are JoHari’s unknown unknowns and their discovery is a gift.

I get all of this from Interaction anonymously on line. This is my ‘community’ that supports my sobriety. The podcast I listened to talked about the pivotal Moment where one of the presenters discussed sobriety with a REAL LIFE PERSON. She described how this interaction literally changed her future and provided the stepping stone to a full and positive life of interaction with others.

I get that, I really do. But I just don’t feel ready to ‘share’ my sobriety. I have reflected on this and will Return to the theme of isolation in another post. I guess for now it’s enough to say I’m Not ready.

The theme of community and community support and the tension between the intensely personal nature of addiction and sobriety against the isolation caused by shame, and the positive impact of loving support is one I will be returning to. 

And now it’s 4.30 am, I have had one hours sleep so far and I need to get up in 2 hours… Time for some valerian and another attempt at sleep.

Lily🌷

 

Thank you

When I started writing this blog, back in March this year, I was writing for myself. I’d made the decision that I HAD to stop drinking. Somehow, a truth that I had known for at least 19 years, had crystallised in to a decision… NOW. Nor tomorrow, next month or year, but now. 

I had tried sobriety seriously twice before – and not succeeded in maintaining it. I knew this time, I had to be successful. Following advice I had read on another sober site , I decided to write about my journey. Many of the posts I made between March and June are privately published as they are so raw. I had no intention of seeking an audience for my ramblings – and as such just read others blogs quietly.

Then I started leaving messages on a few sites and slowly a few people began to visit my site. I have been so overwhelmed by the wisdom, thoughtfulness, consideration and support I have been shown. I wanted to thank each and every person who has visited my site, shared, liked and commented. You have enriched my life, given me hope and inspiration ( as well as not a few reading suggestions) 

The unexpected seam of love and care I have unearthed means more to me than you can possibly know. I’m still early on in this process, only 109 days. But I now have faith and belief that I can and will succeed in embracing sobriety, and that my life and those of my loved ones will be richer and more authentic for this. 

From the bottom of my heart – thank you

Lily🌷

The dog

Today I have been thinking about things- introspective again.
Sober mummy commented a few days ago that there are three distinct ‘phases’ to getting sober.

The first, that probably lasts for a 100 days or so is the sheer ‘getting through’ it part. When a huge amount of your focus is on just not drinking, managing social occasions without alcohol and just gritting your teeth and riding e roller coaster of emotions and physical / psychological symptoms.

The second, which is where I definitely am now, is a phase of introspection and self analysis. How did I get here? Am I an alcoholic? why am I like this etc etc. In many ways, where I am now is a great deal easier. I definitely think about drinking much less – sometimes a whole hour will go by without the thoughts of “I’m not drinking” , “it’s day X ” etc initially I reckon I thought about alcohol about every 10 seconds.

In my introspection I have been walking our dog quite a bit. I have posted a photo of Lola at the top of this post as she is so important to me and my recovery. Lola is a 2 year old border collie bitch. We have had her from a puppy and she is just the best dog ever. She adores everyone in the house, and no matter what disagreements we humans have, Lola shows no favouritism. She is always delighted to see everyone , even if you have been away for 5 minutes. She us loving, loyal and cuddly and she never tells any secrets.

Watching Lola run this morning I was reminded of childhood, it’s simplicity. All she needs is food, company and exercise – and she is completely and perfectly content. No substances, no artificial highs, she lives in the moment and enjoys everything for what it is.

Today I went on a school trip with number 3 son and his classmates. Their 11 year old enthusiasm, and infectious, irrepressible curiosity about the world around them was really cheering to my rather jaded mind. They too live a simple life.  Listening to their chatter and ideas it seemed sad to me that in the next few years they will become anxious and stressed about the future and that as their world expands from the safety of primary school and home, they will absorb the tribulations and first world concerns that affect adults.

We should all take a tip from Lola’s book of life, and live in the moment, content with what we have.

Halves …

You know that saying “she never does anything by halves” ?

That’s me.

All my life I have been driven and competitive with myself. As a child I liked to win games, not because I wanted t beat others, but because I wanted to do the very best possible. I would run to take messages at school, because it was faster than if i walked; as an adult if I’m running each 5k time has to be better than the last 5 k time… More negatively, when I buy stuff, I never buy the perfectly adequate  middle of the road version – it’s ALWAYS the top of the range model …

This coming week I’ve taken a few days annual leave. Already my time is filled with those things I never get the time to do when I’m working, see the dentist, optician, take the dog to the pooch parlour, doctors appointment, blood test, take dog to the vet, hair cut and colour, school day out with number 3  … And in addition I have decided that it is ESSENTIAL that I spring clean the entire house …(why WHY??? )

Now we don’t live in a mansion, the house is about 200 sq m (that’s 2000 sq feet), but there are 5 people and one collie dog living here as well as assorted friends colleagues and sundry folk through the house …and we have a cleaner, who is great but she just keeps on top of stuff day to day … So, after my mammoth bedroom clean yesterday, today I tackled the utility room.

I took virtually everything out, washed the floor, shelves, woodwork and cupboards. I threw away loads of stuff that we don’t actually need (shhhh don’t tell anyone !)  Then I re populated the shelves / cupboards with stuff we do need, in an ordered and logical way. Then my competitive edge came to the fore again and I decided we need a steam cleaner to lift the dirt-of -ages from the floor – once again , no second rate, middle of the road steam cleaner for me; no I bought the most expensive one in the shop,(maybe this is why I have ongoing financial problems) 

Now you might ask why I feel that I have to clean on top of all the general maintenance things I need to do. With a few precious days off I could rest, read a few books, walk the dog in a leasuirely way, get out my art box and start a new painting (or finish the three that are “almost there”)   Do some baking / cooking to a) eat good food and b) fill up the freezer. It not that I’m short of ways to fill my time ….

It’s not like I don’t believe I deserve a rest. I work FT running a practice with my two partners. I’m a Busy busy GP; I have 3 kids, I have a home to keep, a struggling relationship and friends who need my support … Maybe I feel that the mental stress if I don’t sort the house out, will be worse that the effects of doing it … Alternatively, tomorrow morning I get in the car and disappear somewhere for a few days on my own …. No, I recognise that I do a lot, and that most people would struggle to do what I do and it’s reasonable for me to have “time out” ( at least logical I know this)

But I literally cannot ignore this now, the pull to complete the house cleaning will not let me be … Of course this leaves me vulnerable to the T (ired) part of HALT ; but also the A (ngry) because I feel like no one else In The house is pulling their weight in keeping the place tidy. This leaves me feeling L (only)  … Sigh. 

It’s served me well countless times, this internal drive to succeed; right now I wonder what it would be like to be a middle-of-the-road, good enough, sensible person….

Lily 🌷

Here we go again

Today has been a very productive day. I like days like this, when I’m motivated, have clear things I want / need to achieve, and do them without procrastination. It feels good. So today I was up quite early, went to Pilates, packed the kids off to their dads and CLEANED the bedroom. I don’t do this as often as I should, so today was a very thorough, washing the paintwork, polishing the wooden floor type, clean. I washed everything, hoovered, dusted and threw away loads of rubbish. Very satisfying.

Then the trouble started. Early evening I decided to take the dog for a walk. The kids are all out, things are strained between my partner and I so I head for the park with the dog. It’s a beautiful evening and as I’m walking I start musing about drinking. Generally I allow myself space to do this as its too tiring pushing all the alcohol thoughts away. Generally my thoughts are about how pleased I am that I’m sober, and generally my thoughts are supportive of my decision not to drink. But not today , no, today I find myself missing drinking 

I’m thinking that it would be easier to talk to my partner after a few drinks, that we might manage to communicate better after a bottle glass of wine … Really ?.. And then, almost before I know where my brain is leading I’m thinking that “I’ve done 106 days, I could maybe drink for a week and then give up again ”  and I’m SERIOUSLY thinking that this is a good idea. I’m planning to go home via the supermarket ….. 

Don’t worry. I didn’t.

But it was quite an effort. Possibly the biggest effort I have had to make since the first couple if weeks. And it came from nowhere.  What saved me was the memory that this is exactly what happened last time I was sober – just one day having a drink,  and it took me  21 months to get sober again… 

I was walking the dog FFS. Not at a party, at dinner, not with others who were drinking . Just walking in the park. 

So I’m working through the checklist …. Initially I though none of the HALT emotions could be the cause of this Left field craving for alcohol …

BUT…

I guess I am tired after cleaning – but a ‘good’ tired (physically tired, not emotionally exhausted ) ; although come to think of it ….. It hasn’t been the easiest week…. : not hungry; Angry … Hmmmm well yes, still pretty angry with my partner , and no way to let that out right  now. Lonely : well, yes I guess I do feel quite lonely .

OK, OK ,ok it’s perhaps not so unexpected  … I probably need to be a bit more self aware 

So… Early night, Becks blue, nice shower, movie in bed … Night all 

Lily 🌷

Friday night

Friday night was always my best ‘drinking night’ , it was the end of a tough week (always !) , the start of a weekend , and with my children with their father for the day on Saturday I could get away with a hangover / morning in bed / hair of the dog pretty easily.

I would stop on my way home and lovingly select three bottles of white wine. Usually whatever was on special offer. But sometimes I would treat myself with one of my favourite New Zealand Sauvignons and scuttle home as quick as possible. If I could buy at least one bottle that was cold, so much the better, otherwise I would stash two bottle in the freezer and put up with the first at room temeperature.

opening the wine as soon as I got in was enough of a ritual that one of the kids would invariably offer to pour me a glass of wine. The first, large glass, would disappear extremely quickly , and the rest of the bottle wasn’t far behind. I would have bough three bottles so that my partner and I could share , but as he drinks faster than I, if it didn’t buy the third bottle I couldn’t be sure of getting my share. That whole 750 mls I considered to be my entitlement. Of course once the third bottle was opened I would help myself to just one more glass, just a small one, that more often that not would turn into a further third of a bottle. Staggering off to bed at midnight, not remembering what I had watched, dehydrated, drunk and messy

Tonight has been different. I came home, spent time with my boys talking about the EU referendum, bought the youngest a new pair of football boots, put away a big internet shop, cooked dinner and ate with the boys and then watched TV with my middle son whilst sewing on an enormous number of name tapes. I’m calm, and I have plans for tomorrow that I know I will be able to fulfill.

these are the benefits of sobriety that I need to think about when the wine  witch comes calling – and those days of relentless drinking seem like fun … Actually it was not FUN at all. 

Have a quiet weekend everyone

lily 🌷

 

Brexit

Its not exactly personal and its not exactly addiction related, but today feels like a mark in history for the UK. I was absolutely stunned to wake up this morning and find that the people of the UK had voted to leave the European Union.  Stunned, and not a little apprehensive about the future.

In my view, the leave vote has  a lot to do with the political elite choosing to dismiss the concerns of the ‘ordinary people’ by branding them ‘racist’ and failing therefore to explain WHY immigration is not the problem that it is perceived to be, and why leaving the EU is unlikely to make much difference to the number of people wanting and choosing to make their home in the UK. If I, as an educated and interested member of the general population, was almost as confused yesterday about the merits of the remain campaign as I was 6 weeks ago, what hope for the less well informed and economically privileged who see economic and social migration as the cause of the UK’s problems.

The ‘people’ have spoken; The Prime Minister has announced his resignation in the next couple of months. There will be much picking over the bones of the referendum campaigns and no doubt much mud slinging and blaming of individuals for the outcome. The markets are in turmoil and the whole future of the EU project is in question.

What next ? Honestly I have no idea. A future where we need a visa to cross the channel, a border right across the island of Ireland (as if that country has not had enough division and segregation) the economic chaos and potential mass exodus of European companies currently trading in the UK, the real potential for a further Scottish referendum resulting in the break up of the Union –  its all alarming and uncharted territory.

We must now hope for strong and balanced leadership, clear vision and a willingness to compromise and work hard to make the best of a very uncertain future. Beyond the short term turmoil and financial turbulence I hope we can emerge into a place where there is clarity of vision and direction, I hope that the tolerant, inclusive and diverse country I have been so proud to be part of, can survive this divisive upheaval, and I hope that we can work together to build a strong and thriving society for the future. But I’m very afraid  that’s a lot of mountains to climb and that what we carve out will not be as good as what we have thrown away. When we realise that, it will be too late to go back.

What’s different ?

 

tresco2

I’ve posted the above picture because its soothing to me, at a time when I am seriously in need of some soothing. Its a picture taken in one of my favourite places, where I have spent many many happy days

When I was at the contemplative stage of the change cycle re stopping drinking, one of the things that caught my eye, was the suggestion that to be successful in making a change, you have to ‘do things differently’.

I thought about this for a while and wondered what I could ‘do’ differently. It seemed (and still does) to me that its not STOPPING drinking that’s the problem – rather it’s staying stopped once the initial flush of success wear off, committing successfully to long term sobriety. You may have seen my previous posts about my conviction that its learning to not WANT to drink which is key.

So what can I do differently to help myself along the path to that goal. I can remind myself, should it be necessary, of all the reasons I decided that sobriety was the best option for me. I can read articles, books and blogs about the health effects of excessive drinking, and I can look at the examples in front of me professionally, at what happens to people who do not draw the line and stay sober. But that’s what I did last time, it helped, and it still does but –  its not different.

Reaching out to the wider community of sober people, asking for help and offering it where I can – writing this blog ; that’s a bit different, it helps me to feel connected with others who are on the same path as me. The similarities of experience transcend the differences and the support has been amazing. I now have a whole library of books that thoughtful people have recommended based on my posts.

I’m wondering again about real life support.About maybe trying to make one or two real life sober friends, The friends I have I love dearly, and I certainly don’t expect them to change their drinking habits around me, but I think my self imposed sobriety makes some feel uncomfortable (of those few I have told)- like they have to justify their choices around me. It make ME feel slightly awkward in some situations, and that I really don’t want to get into discussion around why I have made this decision (at the moment) probably doesn’t help.

So I’ve been pondering again on AA. That would certainly be different. On the positive side it seems a good place to find sober people, and a good place to get positive reinforcement. On the negative side I really don’t want to be recognized, I really do NOT want to ‘work the steps’ and I really can’t attend 90 meetings in 90 days, and I don’t want to be set up to fail, and then judged on that failure. sigh. I wish there was an AA ‘lite’ option !

I think I’ve decided yesterdays therapist was not for me. She was nice enough, but I didn’t feel any empathy from her, and although I heard her ‘that must be difficult’ and ‘that sounds very hard’, they felt like stock phrases and not genuine. On the other hand I did come out of the session with a grip on one truth, that I hadn’t really accepted before…

What have been your experiences of AA? Good and bad? Or have you found sober friends elsewhere?

Lily x

 

 

Ashamed

Today I had an initial meeting with a therapist. There is so much other shit in my life that the subject of my drinking didn’t come up in the hour I was in there. Quite ironic really, that this doesn’t seem to be the focus of my problems right now.

What did come through my unstructured narrative was the profound sense of shame that I feel. I think it permeates all aspects of my personal life. Logically I know that if I were looking in from the outside, I would forgive this person that I am. I would comfort her and point out to her the many many good things she has done, and the sense of love and optimism that has driven many of her decisions.

But I can’t do that for myself. As I’m staring down the barrel of yet another failed relationship I just feel overwhelming shame and despair that I am such a shit person that no relationships last, that I keep trying and the same old patterns keep repeating themselves. That I am so crap that even my own mother doesn’t like me. I could cry for all the pain I have brought to my children who deserve none of this, and all I want to do is crawl away to a place where I don’t have to cope, or fight or struggle to make myself heard.

I actually don’t know how I am going to crawl through the next two days at work. Plaster on my professional face and mange the problems of all those who come to see me. Sooth and calm staff ructions, write a business plan for a new service. I’m not fit to do this, but home is no sanctuary either. I feel as though I am at breaking point

I would say “This is so hard sober”, and indeed it is, but I have no doubt it would be much harder drunk. Day 103, and keeping going.