Settling / passing / calming….

The last few days gave been hard. This evening I see my therapist and I will try to pick this apart a bit more. Can I find a trigger ? Why are the mood swings still SO extreme ? That kind of stuff…

Today I am much calmer. Thank goodness.

I can think of a couple of reasons for this: but like the ‘reasons’ for irritability and ‘poor mood’ earlier this week , they are very ‘external’…. I’ll come back to this.

First, because it helps me, the calming things:

  • Son 1 made an unexpected call home on Monday evening, all the participants were allowed a call home, and it was wonderful to hear him and how positive he sounded. He said there had been ‘down days’ when he felt homesick, but that he was really enjoying the experience, loved Scotland, loved the wilderness and was finding the therapists helpful. Reflecting on that call has deeply calmed me; a feeling that despite the uncertainty, his initial reluctance, the cost, my gut instinct about what was right for my son seems to have been correct. And that he (has already) and will gain a lot from the experience.
  • I have mentioned a few times that I damaged my right hip during one of the several falls I had from my bike whilst training for an intended charity bike ride. Since November I have had daily pain in my right hip. Not life threatening, not life limiting, but annoying, persistent and at times tiring. My exercise capacity has been significantly limited, I could neither run nor cycle and had to take regular analgesia before walking the dogs. I’ve been through the process of investigation and yesterday saw my Consultant again for the final scan results. The good news was that the hip joint itself has only some extra fluid ( caused by inflammation) and that the problems are /were inflammation in some tendons inserting into the top of the femur and an inflamed bursa. My consultant offered to inject these areas for me with some steroid and lidocaine. I accepted immediately and he did so there and then. This morning I am pain free. I can’t quite believe it, but I can walk without it hurting, even up and down the stairs: like I said, it was not ALWAYS bad, and I was aware it was not “serious” , but it was annoying and it seems to have gone… 😀😀😀😀😀
  • A had a quick 90 mins meet with a friend last night. She lives in France, so we don’t see one another often, but she was over for a few days and came down to see me. She had no idea I had stopped drinking ( had only realised at lunch on Saturday) and asked me about it yesterday. When I said it was almost 18 months since I had taken an alcoholic drink, she was amazed! She also said that In France, many people don’t drink, that it’s a much more socially normal position, and in that simple acceptance, kind of helped me “normalise” my decision. It didn’t feel so weird any longer, she didn’t ask “why” , or if I intended to drink in the future , just accepted it …
  • Tonight my youngest comes home, tomorrow we go to collect the puppy from his training ( he’s almost 1 now) and next week I’m on holiday.

I do feel better, this is undeniable. The horrid twisting anxiety has settled, life feels ” manageable” again; but it concerns me that I am evidently pretty volatile. On the positive side it has been some time since my mood has been quite so low and the alcohol absence quite so hard; but it worries me that there still seems little “internal” stability. That how I am depends quite heavily on how things are going … I will talk to Angela about this today… the other small problem, that I would prefer to ignore but I know I can’t – is that as I got ‘better’ over the last couple of weeks (before this weekend) my appetite returned… and so I gained a little weight. And I hated it. I ate all weekend, well. And gained more weight. And I hated that too. And so I’m back to intentional (this time) calorie restriction ….

And I think this ‘control’ (tipped the scales at 57 kg again this morning- so lost those 5lbs) helps my mood. This is weird, I recognise it, I do not understand it, and I don’t want it. ( or I don’t want to want it, or I’m ashamed of it) But it’s true…. and I cannot, by will power alone, change this behaviour; and I guess only by admitting it and facing it head on , will I make progress….

I hate this

I doing this weird anger cycle again. You would have thought it would have settled down by now.

 

KublerRoller

I’m in the most vile mood. Angry, frustrated, irritable, demotivated, bored (yet have 5000 things to do)

I feel like I’m right back at the beginning of this bloody roller coaster

I want to see people, but I don’t want to. I want to go out, but I want to hide at home. I want to be with my kids, but then they annoy me ( I had the most wonderful phone call from Son1 yesterday from Scotland which was totally unexpected and lifted me hugely as he sounded so happy and positive) I want to declutter and sort the house out, but I cant be bothered. I want to achieve things at work, but its such  struggle.

And all this because i ‘want’ to drink ? normally ? like a normal person does? Because I want back the sad, desperate, messy, deeply unhappy disaster of my life before I stopped drinking? REALLY ?

My lucid mind says ‘Of COURSE’ not . but I’m still angry, and feel crap. and lost and unsure of my direction or even of the POINT of my life any more. If i’m not ME then who am I?

This is self indulgent drivel, but it so real to me right now. My little pendant I had made after about 6 weeks sobriety (God I was naive) has the word ‘serenity’ on the largest disc

img_0306-1

I’m holding on to this bloody pendant right now, alone with two key rings given to me by my sober sister. I’m telling myself to bloody snap out of it…. I’m telling myself that it never ever stops at one (drink, or one day), that all the positives of never ever regretting NOT drinking, never worrying about drink driving, never ever having blackouts is REAL. and this yearning for the familiar messy crap that goes with alcohol is pointless

It should be over by now. I’m angry about that too. GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Right now –

I have managed another weekend without alcohol

This weekend, in contrast with many others has been HARD. I have had to make conscious decisions that I don’t WANT to drink several times a day; I have been more tempted to drink that I can remember for a LONG time.

This has disappointed me. I didn’t drink, and I’m bloody glad I didn’t, but I’ve had a more social time, and therein, I think lies the problem

On Saturday lunchtime I went out with a group of friends to a lovely restaurant. I have known these people for 15 years or so, and I consider them all friends. Many are also ‘friends’ with my ex husband, and indeed I met them through him. Most didn’t know I stopped drinking 521 days ago. Most will remember the BBQ’s and parties we had at my place where there was ALWAYS lots of alcohol and I was (almost) always drunk.

I drove, which was partly because I could then give a lift to J & K as J is not that mobile, but also partly because it added a layer of protection to my ‘alcohol free armour’ and provided an excuse (should I have wanted to use it) as to why I was not drinking. I actually didnt bother, just said ‘I dont drink’. Everybody else was drinking; red, rose and white wine. It looked delicious, intoxicatingly tempting, the looseness of people’s conversations as they imbibed was obvious to the sober one. I hated that,hated feeling left out, hated feeling different, hated the bloody Diet Coke I was stuck with – wanted to drink (a LOT) -… by the end I was pretty desperate to leave despite the lovely food, and the genuine pleasure of the company of people I love who I don’t get to see often enough…

In the evening a friend came to see me. I knew him when I did my GP training in rural Wales; he was married to a friend of mine. I guess I had a bit of a crush on him at one time; but I would never have done anything about it, as I said he was married to a friend. We used to wrangle cheerfully about politics and as virtually the only two English people in a very Welsh community ,  support one another a bit.

We lost touch when I left Wales, although I knew that his marriage had subsequently broken down. Last year he found me through Facebook and we met on Saturday at my house. It’s silly to say people haven’t changed in almost 20 years, but that is how it felt. We slipped easily back into the friendship we had shared and talked and chatted about our subsequent experiences.

He knew me as a heavy drinker. There is not a lot to DO in rural Wales except drink – and we all did. Saying it out loud ” I don’t drink anymore” was hard. I wanted to drink, I wanted to get a bit pissed, drop my guard a bit, I felt safe and comfortable and I wanted to share the wine – for what reason I don’t really know- but I did so want to.

I’ve done 521 days sober. I’m so proud of that, and I’m so pleased that I didn’t blow it, either time at the weekend. But I’m left feeling  little sad.. moderation doesn’t work for me, I know that. I tried every way. The only answer is to be sober. But I felt the loss of my former self this weekend which I have not done in a while. I felt the loss of sharing wine, or being part of a group, of letting go. I felt the stigma of knowing I CANNOT drink. And oddly I felt the weight of responsibility – knowing that I can never again blame ‘being drunk’ for making unwise decisions. That all my decisions are now made sober, they are undoubtedly better decisions, but its somehow a bit bloody boring.

sorry. I AM glad i didn’t crack. I know what I have achieved through my sobriety. I just feel a bit nostalgic for the impulsive, messier me … which makes no sense at ALL !

 

 

 

Just Me

This is quite weird

On Wednesday my therapist remarked to me that that session was perhaps the first time I had just come ‘with myself’. Not with my problems related to my children, or my ex partner, or alcohol or disordered eating or work or anything. And I have been attending pretty much every week for a year.

Just me. Not a mother, a partner, a friend, a sister, aunt, daughter, a work colleague, a doctor, an employer. Just me.

I don’t even know who that is.

If I describe myself, I can do it with  a positive, or a negative slant. (I expect most of us can) I can list things I like to do, I can describe certain values I believe to be important, I can identify aspects of my personality that are generally congenial, and a few that are less so.

But who AM I? without all the other roles to define me? who is this person who lives inside my body? What is she, truly like ?

I don’t think I even know.

I know some things, and more things than I knew a year ago. When I review where I was just 12 months ago, I can see I have come SO far. Tomorrow I am meeting a friend for supper who I have not seen for almost 20 years, we ‘found’ one another on Facebook and I’m looking forward to catching up. We first made contact about a year ago, and I deliberately did not make arrangements to meet up because my friend is a man. My Ex P would not have allowed that. Or liked it, and I would have suffered for it. Its quite liberating to know I can now go out with whomever I choose, whenever I choose.

I feel like I am at a real turning point. There are some real things I need to find out about myself, there is a lot to look forward to – small things like resuming my oil painting classes next month, and bigger things like planning a holiday to Africa with my kids next Summer.

How can one get to 52 without a clear sense of self? Or do others also feel that they are quite defined by their roles? … something to think about

 

To rent or not to rent …

This is a ‘thinking out loud’ post…

My son is going to Nepal soon. He will be away for at least 6 months. I am skint. My room is the converted loft room of an old Victorian house with a small ensuite bathroom, two sets of double doors overlooking the garden ( and suburbia) and a good amount of storage space. Its at the top of the house and has a lockable door.

Son #1 who will be away has the largest room on  the first floor ( the original master bedroom) and shares a bathroom with his brothers.

I COULD move into son 1’s room for the duration of his trip – a pretty big moving exercise- but I could, and rent my room out. For about £650 / pcm for one person or perhaps £725 for a couple. for 6 months.

I had found a ‘perfect’ couple … he was a little older than me, she a little younger. They seemed quiet mature professional and sensible… all good. we met twice, agreed the ground rule, and yesterday they pulled out. Dont know why.

Am torn between irritation , frustration, relief and indecision.

For renting

  • money coming in
  • potentially another adult in the house – not for ‘baby sitting’ but incase of fire etc
  • one might be able to come to an arrangement whereby lower rent = help with dog walking /

Against renting

  • having someone in my house
  • leaving my sanctuary room
  • exposing the kids to another person in their home
  • more mess / other peoples habits / loads of things that I havent thought about

Its not THAT much money. Im tempted to scrap the whole idea ? …

what would you do ?

 

 

Banshee

I’ve written previously about the role of domestic abuse in my family. I’ve written about my ex husband and his paranoid, violent outbursts, and about my ex partner and his undermining cruelty to my two older kids, his physical intimidation and his refusal to support himself.

Now I have outed, named and considered this, it’s time to review my part in the whole dynamic. And this of course is hard, it involves examining and revealing a degree of unattractive behaviour from me, and an honest appraisal of some of my actions. Without wishing to remove responsibility for their behaviour from either of the men I have lived with, domestic discord often has two sides.

The person I am NOW, would not have allowed either situation to continue as it did. The person I am now, 514 days sober (had to check that because I forget) with boundaries (at least some) and a small but developing sense of her own self worth would never ever have let so much of what happened, happen.

I married my husband because I loved him. I had a small child, he accepted that and appeared to want what I did, more children an a stable, normal suburban life. I think he loved me too. All good. Except that he loved cannabis much more than me, my son or either of the two subsequent children we had together. More than his home, more than his role as a father, more than anything or anyone. As I am now I would never have married him. I would have seen the warning signs and known that you cannot change a person. Oh I saw the warning signs, but in my arrogance and in my naivety and my wish for a ‘happy ending’ I believed I could ‘make it right’. It was no good for either of us. My sheer force of character and determination made him feel emasculated; his inertia and lack of ambition frustrated me. Our marriage had its best moments when I was weak, for example in late pregnancy or with a newborn child. When he could feel that he was the stronger.

But thats not me, weak. And I don’t accept things lying down, I try to achieve things I want, and I am ambitions – not so much for ‘things’ but for opportunity, for experience. I believe that commitment and hard work gets things done. He does not.

Quite soon I disliked him, and when his paranoid drug fuelled aggression spilled over into our home life I was both afraid, furiously angry, bitter, resentful and I think I often treated him with contempt. Not nice really. I was not nice really. I tried to talk – we went to 18 months of pointless couples therapy – during which the therapists realised much earlier than I did, that this was not going to work out. … I told myself I was trying, but I could not reconcile myself to his lack of motivation or ambition – could not accept his drug taking. I was not REALLY trying, because what I was being asked to accept in my husband were aspects of his character that I could not respect….And I drank. A lot. Until I saw a way out. and took it.

With Ex P it was different. It took a long time to lose respect for him, he demands respect, By his presence, his voice, his decisions. Instead, when several years in, the frustrations started to grow and I was completely unable to get him to engage with me as an adult, I turned in to a banshee, A shouting, screaming banshee. Like if he wouldn’t listen to me calm, I would MAKE him listen to me loud. Of course he did not. Like the picture at the top of this page, I felt desperate, furious, almost mad with frustration and anger.  But the banshee behaviour spilled out into my interactions with my kids, some days I felt stretched so tight I could have yelled at everyone the minute I walked through the door, And some days I did. Not good. Not consistent, not calm, not supportive, and not constructive. Just an ANGRY drunk middle aged woman so frustrated she didnt even know WHY she was so angry. I struck my middle son across the face – I am so ashamed of that. My temper was so close to the surface, I too was losing control.

Thank God it is no longer so. I am so so much calmer now. I rarely raise my voice at home. I am consistent and measured, I do find it hard sometimes to make clear boundaries and stick with them, but Im working hard on that with my therapist.

I was not a very nice wife, and I was not a very nice girlfriend; but much more importantly I was not always a very nice mother.

Im better now. Much better. And you can see it in the kids. They are much calmer, much less volatile. Less angry, less aggressive.

No more Banshee. Banished because I am no longer angry. I am no longer dealing with the unmanageable inside my own home. Who knew.

 

 

 

 

Why do I never expect this?

Yesterday I went with son #1 to Scotland for him to start this Wilderness therapy programme. I am so pleased I went, although the day was exhausting – left home at 5am, returned at 11pm.

Those who gave read some of my posts about my son will know how difficult the last couple of years have been. In truth I have been counting the days till he went …

But now he is not here – and has no phone / internet access for 3 weeks …. I feel crap. I miss him, I'm afraid for him, I want to give him a hug… I want to know he's ok…

I seem to be finding it hard to let go

I'm grieving. I feel agoraphobic, diminished, small, lonely and scared.

Sigh. I expect this too will pass, but it's really not very nice right now.

Top bottom alcoholic

This is something I have been musing on pretty frequently since my friend posted this

When I stopped drinking I still had a job, a partner a home, an income, my professional position, my health and my friends. I was not an abusive or angry drunk, and had never been in trouble for drinking. I never drank at work, I never knowingly drove over the limit, I never missed work because I was hungover.

But, I drank in excess of 70 units a week. I was not 'there' emotionally for my children, i avoided the unpleasant situation in my home by drinking, I was regularly hung over and struggled to do what was expected of me.

I felt anxious all the time that one little error could bring the whole thing tumbling down. i was terrified that one morning i would have a small car bump, be breathalyzed and be over the limit. i would be disqualified from driving, my regulatory body would suspend me, i would lose my job and  income and the house…

I felt anxious that I was not a good mother because I was not parenting my children as I should, not only settling a terrible example by drinking every night –  but by allowing my ExP to be unkind to them. My kids regularly saw that I was drunk, I put my self in vulnerable situations countless time – the last time, being very rink at Kings Cross station ( for those not in London its not a nice part of town) with no idea what train to get home. I put myself at risk by falling over, by some extraordinary good fortune I never seriously inured myself.

I cried a lot. I cried when I was drunk because it released the pent up anger and desperation inside me.  One Christmas I cried all over my lovely sister in law, who tried to ask me what was wrong. I had no answer, just kept crying. Drunk crying. Desperately unhappy crying, to someone I love, who I know would have supported me, but I was unable to confide in.

Lonliness actually permeating every aspect of my life, all my relationships, because I could not be honest. Alone, with my anxiousness, my worry about drinking, about my children, about my shitty deteriorating relationship. Just alone. And wine as my only solution.

Is this a "top bottom" drunk ?

Last week I saw a patient I know well. I am conscious that although i write under a pseudonym, I must not break confidentiality, so I will change some details and be brief to make my point. My patient (gender unspecified) has multiple addictions. They are younger than I and have been intermittently very engaged with trying to control / stop their habits over the time. Have known them. I have supported as best I can and directed them to fellowship organisations which that have engaged with, again intermittently. About 4 weeks ago my patient hit " rock bottom". The addictions had spiralled out of control, leading to exactly the consequences I had feared might happen to me. Nit for the first time, we had a blunt conversation – the patient sees that I too am an addict , and knew this instinctively because of the way I spoke to them. They are now, I believe in a highly recommended residential rehab unit, which I sincerely hope will provide a good chance of sustained sobriety.

I cannot help but draw parallels. This was a "low bottom drunk" – though it could have been worse. I was one little step away from the same. Not better, not less of an addict, not wiser, not anything, just an addict who grabbed the chance – by luck- sooner.

I used to talk to fellow addicts ( via then internet) about the "train" of addiction. How we are all on the same journey. The terminus is death, on the way are stations "debt" ; broken relationships; lost career; fractured friendships; shame; injury etc …. but you can get off the train at any time – it's a choice; but if you do not- ultimately you will die.

I, with my professional job, my secure home, am no Better ( and no worse) than my patient, or he other patient I care for with end stage liver disease secondary to alcohol abuse. If I get back on that train, I will go there too. I'm just lucky I was able to get off earlier.

I am no less an alcoholic because I did not. Overtly show signs of such. Because no one "knew", I was an alcoholic from the day I was born and certainly from my first encounter with alcohol aged 14 or so ( disgraced myself at a Church Harvest supper by being drunk) I have been LUCKY, though I also live with the shame of many many things I did whilst drunk.

"Top bottom drunk" – the key word is drunk … and that's it …. and I must never forget it,

 

Saying Thanks

This is a copy of a letter I posted to my local Police station. I wanted to thank them for the fantastic way that all the Officers I encountered managed the DA in my home during my marriage. Its quite a long time ago now, but this has been playing on my mind , so I wrote it, as its probably never to late to give praise …

Dear Sir /Madam

I am writing to convey my sincere thanks to all of the police officers who have been involved with my family during incidents of domestic abuse, of which I and my children were victims.

There is often negative portrayal of the Police response to domestic abuse, but my experience was completely different.

The incidents I refer to are now several years ago, but I am sure that the good work continues.

Police officers were called to my home several times between 2003 and 2010, due to incidents of domestic abuse by my ex-husband. On each and every occasion the response was prompt and the officers were extremely kind and supportive to me and my children who were very traumatised at the time. They dealt professionally, clearly and with authority in respect to the situation and removed my ex-husband without escalating the situation.

I was offered follow up support and at a later date when I had to report a further incident at the Police station, although I was tearful and again traumatised, the Officer dealing with me was kind and calm and gave no hint of the time pressure he was under. He took a comprehensive statement from me, taking time to clarify details.

On a further occasion, some years later, when my ex-husband assaulted my then 13 year old son, we once again became involved with the Police. Once again the Officers dealing with my son were gentle, kind and professional. They arranged for him to give evidence by video and were reassuring to him throughout the process. My ex-husband received a caution, which clearly signalled to my son that his father’s behaviour was unacceptable.

I work in the NHS as a general Practitioner, I know how often complaints are received and I wanted to write to you to express my thanks for the extremely quick response to my call for help, serious way the Police Officers viewed the abuse and the kindness, gentleness and support offered to myself and my children

It maybe that all involved have moved on, in which case perhaps you could share this letter with Officers who may currently be called to incidents of domestic abuse. Those abused may be too traumatised o express their gratitude at the time ( as I was ) but I can assure you that those involved will be so reassured and able to feel safe again, given the excellent service the Police offered.

In my work as a GP I do not hesitate to recommend to victims of abuse that they call on the Police for support, as due to my own experiences I am confident they will receive a quick, appropriate and sensitive response.

With Kind regards

Yours faithfully

Lily

What do you think ?

 

 

 

Boundaries

I was reflecting on This post that I wrote some months ago.

And I have been reflecting on what happened when I tried to rekindle my relationship with my exP (in a limited way) back in February /March.

In the latter case, even though, in some ways I really wanted to be with him, and I felt ‘love’ for him, there remained a huge cognitive dissonance in my heart / gut that I was aware of but could not identify. This led to some mood swings on my part, and baffled him. To be honest it rather baffled me. I know now what that was about. It was about my boundaries. I had supported him for 5 years, and run up significant debt doing so. When I begged him for help to sort it out – ie earn his own money; he refused. I can and could never get past that. I tried to stuff it down but it remained in my heart and reminded me – in an oblique way that seeing him, being in any kind of relationship was wrong for ME.

Now i know that is my boundary. he crossed it, and I can never forgive it.

In the post above I refer to I was trying to sort out how to respond to an apology from my ex husband. I was trying to capture my feelings about the apology, and how I could react in an authentic way. I recognised that my former ‘way’ – accept the apology and move on, burying my feelings of hurt, anger and resentment, was not the answer, but I did not know how I could manage my feelings and respond in a constructive but truthful, again authentic way.

I am very aware that my relationships with these two men have many similarities, in that in both cases I was a victim of domestic abuse, and in both cases I tolerated unacceptable behaviour for far too long. The difference is that I have children with my ex husband, and for their sake I cannot completely sever relationships and never communicate with him again. So how to set a boundary.

Now I know.

Now I feel it would have been completely appropriate for me to send him an email, expressing my anger, and to some extent my resentment. It would have been completely acceptable for me to say ‘ I will not tolerate you abusing me in this fashion’. I would not need to be insulting or abusive myself, merely clear about what I will and will not accept from him. I can set a boundary, and expect it ( no demand it) be respected.

This s very interesting to me. Its a huge personal development. I can set MY boundaries, I do not have to just accept what others do or say TO me. I can say that it is not acceptable to me to be called a F*** C*** . Thats it. Clear, and set the consequences.

I have mentioned my eldest son has been aimless and smoking drugs, in the kids den at the end of our garden. I did not mind him having friends to stay, I accept that many of them smoke cigarettes and weed ( although I dislike the latter intensely) The boundaries I set , with each guest – so that they knew the rules were MINE and not on 1’s were

  • No smoking IN the Den. It is a wooden structure and vulnerable to fire. Smoke outside
  • If you smoke drugs, clear UP your detritus before you leave, I have two younger children who also use the Den and I do not want them to see / be exposed to your drug taking.

Two weeks ago, I was in the Den with son no 3 who was having a friend over., There were cigarette butts stubbed out on the floor, rizla papers, tobacco and bags and bags of empty weed packets.

So I  told son 1 that none of his friends were welcome to say again. End of. I gave them my boundary, explicitly. And they disrespected me. So no more. It feels good. He is disgruntled, but cannot complain.

Son 2  ran up a huge bill on his phone ( data roaming) I told him, again explicitly, if it happened again I would take away his phone and give him one with no internet access. Today his bill arrived, again grossly over the 7 GB data he has available. So When he returns on Saturday this is what I will do.

Boundaries. What will I accept and what will I not? I am 100% calm about the whole thing, there is no shouting, no anger, just clarity and consequences. In fact when you ARE very clear, there feels no need for anger.

I am growing up. Growing into myself as an adult woman.

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