Five hundred days

Today is my 500th day of continuous sobriety.

As long as I don’t drink today (and I won’t) I will have completed 500 whole days without one drop of alcohol at midnight tonight.

My sober sister and I were reminiscing  last week about how slow the early days go, how the 19 days between us seemed like such a huge gap at the beginning. How she was amazed when I got to 42 days. Now there is no difference, except in semantics. now, it seems a very short time ago I wrote the 400 days post!

My mother and I had our first senseful conversation about my drinking / sobriety at the weekend. I showed her my pendent and tried to explain what ‘being sober’ meant to me. She doesn’t “get it” (hence the comment “but you could have one glass of wine”) because she has the best off switch ever, but I think she is quite impressed / proud almost of my commitment and resolve. I did explain that the whole problem is that I CANNOT have ‘one glass’ of anything alcoholic, never have been able to ,and that all forms of attempted moderation known to man, failed spectacularly. I think she was still kind of surprised when I said I intend NEVER to drink again.

so where am I.

Its probably a ‘stock taking day.

I’m struggling right now. with anxiety, and with feeling overwhelmed by everything. BUT

  • I’m sober. everything everything stems from that simple fact
  • My ExP has gone. he is no longer in my life in any shape or form. he’s blocked from all contact and every day I think about him less
  • I am no longer miserable inside
  • I have a plan for son~1. Its a bit radical, and its expensive and its a risk. But at least its a plan
  • I have a bones of a plan for son ~2. I have contacted his father. He is not and never will be an ‘adequate’ parent, let alone a useful one, but there are small things he can do, and I will try to get him to do the for son~2’s benefit
  • I have a network of really nice people around me. Some very close, some a little further away. But they are kind, and will support me.
  • I have faced, and named and talked about the domestic abuse in my home. I needed to do that, its taken almost a year to do it, but I have
  • I have committed to the therapy I started, and gained so much from it. I am stronger, my boundaries are better, and it ‘holds’ me when I waver.

If I look back 500 days, I was a mess. A mess in denial, a scared, bullied, intimidated, financially broke, frightened, out of control mess; presenting an acceptable front to the world.

I’m rawer now, I feel more vulnerable, I’m more obviously anxious…. I’m an ‘out there’ problem drinker (dry); problem eater, problem impulsive spender.

But I’m honest. And true to myself and those around me. And i’m sober

Not bad for 500 days. And there is real hope for the next 500 …

A nice day

I wanted to write this yesterday really, but yesterday was just too much again.

On Wednesday I met up with my Sober Sister. We met, as I have previously said over the internet, and she lives about 100 miles from me. It seems ridiculous given how well I feel I know her, and she me, but this was only the third time we had met in person.

We had planned to go to an exhibition, have some lunch, and left the rest of the time fluid. I was early to meet her train, became very very anxious again outside a big train station, rushed to Boots to buy some Kalms tablets and rescue remedy ( I am a scientist, I don’t believe in gentian and valerian, but needs must ! ) I paced and down a bit, practiced some deep breathing and mindfulness techniques but I still felt really anxious.

Eventually her train arrived and I hovered anxiously at the top of the platform. And there she was, beautiful, bright, smiling and lovely. She gave me a huge hug, and our lovely day began. We went for a coffee, and by the time that was over, I was completely less anxious –  back to normal really. Could be Kalms, I think it was the company.

We wandered through London with the aid of Google street map as I have NO sense of direction, we went to the exhibition and mused over art works. We talked and talked and talked. It was almost 4 pm by the time we got around to lunch , which I ATE. and then we wandered some more. talking , all the time

What a blessing that day was. How simple the pleasures, but how profound the reassurance and sense of well being and security.

Thank you xxx

Domestic abuse

I don’t like the term Domestic violence. It implies that unless someone hits you, punches you or pulls your hair, its not “real”.

I prefer the term domestic abuse. It covers the whole variety of horrible things that go on behind closed doors , in families, between people who live together in intimate relationships,  that damage people and ruin lives. I will say here that although the majority of perpetrators of domestic abuse are male, 1 in 6 victims is also male. The statistics for men seeking and receiving support to leave domestically abusive relationships are even more horrifying than for women. When I refer to ‘he’ in my posts, I am referring to my ex husband and my ex partner, both of whom are men, and both of who were (and probably still are) perpetrators of domestic abuse. the table below refers to the behaviour within my most recent relationship. He would deny it, but its true.

Early in my therapy my counsellor mentioned PTSD. I smiled nicely, with no idea what she was talking about. But she did, and she probably saw in me that I had put up with so much for so long I have become traumatised, and thus unable to deal with a situation , to feel normal responses to a situation that others would have found horrifying. I have no doubt now that to some extent I have suffered from PTSD, Now that the wave of emotion is broken over me and the reality of what I put up with, and my kids endured for YEARS is hitting me again and again and again, I’ll come back to this. As an example I explained to a close friend how my ex husband chased me around the little island in our kitchen with a carving knife. Its a long time ago, but I feel NO emotion connected to this. None. I recognise it was horrific and very frightening (and I was scared out of my mind at the time) and that no emotional response is probably a bit weird. Maybe it will come later

A whole raft of uncomfortable, painful and frightening emotions are rolling over me right now. They pass, in time, with breathing and mindfulness and some rescue remedy or Kalms tablets (velerian, gentian and hops! ) but its bloody exhausing.

my lovely doctor is on holiday, so I have decided it would be wise to seek some medical advice and am in the process of getting an appointment with the Physicians Health Programme in London. I saw them before and they were amazing… I don’t really want to be off work, I don’t think I need to be – work gives me structure and sanity, but i am really struggling with fatigue and inertia and ‘just cant do this’

Maybe its because I’m safe? Maybe it is because for the first time in many years my home IS a place of safety and calm. Maybe its because actually I do have too much on my plate… three teenage boys, a demanding FT job, a bonkers puppy, and a home to run. Maybe my ‘standards’ are just too high and its not reasonable to expect anyone to sail through this. I feel like a failure admitting how rubbish  I feel, but I do…..

I’m not incognisant of all that I have achieved in the last 496 days. I have quit alcohol, and stayed dry, I have got rid of an abusive partner , I have supported, nurtured reassured and protected my boys. The house has not fallen down. I have made big inroads into the debt Ex partner left me with. I have set boundaries and insisted they be respected, I have massively improved my relationship with my mother. I have supported as far as I am able my friend K and her poorly husband. I have made plans for son~1 which most people seem to think are sensible and solid. I’m doing ok. or better even than ok. But my god I’m tired. and overwhelmed and I feel like I’m clinging onto my sanity with my finger tips. Because there is no other choice.

Below is the risk assessment tool we were being taught to use to recognise families at high risk, at the educational event I attended 3 weeks ago or so.  My ‘x’s are included. I score a 12. If you score 14 you are referred immediately to a multi agency panel to help safeguard you and your kids. But he never hit me. That’s not domestic violence – ….I’m ashamed, guilty and somewhat disbelieving. I feel so utterly terrible now I cannot imagine how I carried on with him living in my home. I cannot think why, when I was being so thoughtfully cared for last time,  I broke down (by family, friends and professionals) I did not tell one person what the real problem was. Why ?

how am I ever ever going to get away from this, get over this; I cant see a way through.

 

  Yes No Don’t know State source of info if not the victim
  1. Has the current incident resulted in injury? State what and whether this is the first injury.
x      
  1. Are you very frightened?

Comment:

x      
  1. What are you afraid of? Is it further injury or violence? Please give indication of what you think (name of abusers(s)…) might do and to whom, including children.

Comment:

x I think he will harm my children      
  1. Do you feel isolated from family/friends i.e. does (…) try to stop you from seeing friends/family/doctor or others?

Comment:

x      
  1. Are you feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts?
x      
  1. Have you separated or tried to separate from (…) within the past year?
x      
  1. Is there conflict over child contact?
x well over child care      
  1. Does (…) constantly text, call, contact, follow, stalk or harass you? Please expand to identify what and whether you believe that this is done deliberately to intimidate you? Consider the context and behaviour of what is being done.
       
  1. Are you pregnant or have you recently had a baby (within the last 18 months)?
       
  1. Is the abuse happening more often?
x      
  1. Is the abuse getting worse?
x      
  1. Does (…) try to control everything you do and/or are they excessively jealous? In terms of relationships, who you see, being ‘policed at home’, telling you what to wear for example. Consider ‘honour’-based violence and specify behaviour.

Comment:

       
  1. Has (…) ever used weapons or object to hurt you? 
nO but the threw things at me and smashed things up      
  1. Has (…) ever threatened to kill you or someone else and you believed them? If yes, tick who

You  Children  Other  (specify who)

       
  1. Has (…) ever attempted to strangle/ choke / suffocate / drown you?
       
  1. Does (…) do or say things of a sexual nature that make you feel bad or that physically hurt you or someone else? If someone else, specify who
       
  1. Is there any other person who has threatened you or who you are afraid of? If yes, please specify whom and why. Consider extended family if HBV
       
  1. Do you know if (…) has hurt anyone else? Please specify whom including the children, siblings or elderly relatives. Consider HBV

Children  Another family member  Someone from a previous relationship  Other (please specify)

       
  1. Has (…) ever mistreated an animal or the family pet?
x      
  1. Are there any financial issues? For example, are you dependent on (…) for money/ have they recently lost their job / other financial issues?
x      
  1. Has (…) had problems in the past year with drugs (prescription or other), alcohol or mental health leading to problems in leading a normal life? If yes, please specify which and give relevant details if known

Drugs  Alcohol  Mental Health

Comment:

x      
  1. Has (…) ever threatened or attempted suicide?
       
  1. Has (…) ever broken bail/an injunction and/or formal agreement for when they can see you and/or the children? You may wish to consider this in relation to an ex-partner of the perpetrator if relevant

Bail conditions  Non-Molestation/ Occupation Order  Child Contact arrangements  Forced Marriage Protection Order  Other

     

Food

Ok. I’m making a lot of progress. I’ve been in therapy for almost a year and I cannot express strongly enough how much this has helped me; supported me; ‘held’ me when I have been desperate and gently/ kindly reflected my feeling back at me enabling me to question assumptions and beliefs that have been long standing. Interestingly its not the first time I have tried ‘therapy’, but it IS the first time sober and the first time I am fully engaged in the process. These things may be connected !

I have made huge progress in so many areas, I have started a much more productive dialogue with my mother –  by being calm and having self confidence I am able to communicate much better with her. This is good for us both and I have booked a spa day with her at the end of the month for her birthday. Relationships at home with the kids are better. the heightened emotional states that have so often been a feature of our family life are much reduced in frequency and intensity. The kids fight much less, are kinder to each other and we are able to talk together about some complex stuff. This comes from me. From my calmness, and my exterior calmness comes from my inner sense of developing self. Oh yes, big progress.

And of course I am sober. still. 493 days. And 95% of the time I don’t WANT to drink. I actually don’t want clouded judgement, messiness and loss of control.

So, i have made various references to disordered eating in this blog and to my therapist, and last night we actually discussed this.

I’m going to write honestly here; last night with Angela was the first time I had ever really been honest about my weird eating. For the few people who know me and read this please do not panic. last week I ate nothing at a for three straight days. I’ve never said that before. Its true, Angela felt that was quite extreme. Because I’ve never told anyone that I have no idea if its extreme or not. I thought a lot of people might do that?

I have had disordered eating since I was about 17. I don’t know why. My mother has always been overweight (from childhood) and battled with this when I was young. Both my brother and I were brought up on three meals a day and entered adulthood as normal sized people. My brother was actually pretty skinny for a while, and though he like our whole biological family, gains weight easily, he is a normal BMI as a middle aged man.

In the past I have been borderline anorexic (as in counting every single calorie) and dropping to my lowest BMI of about 18 by taking laxatives, and other tablets obtained from ‘slimming clinic’s. I have been bulimic, at my worst binging and vomiting 6 or more times a day. I always felt ugly, disgusting, overweight (even when I was not) I have rarely been able to eat without at least thinking about the calorific content of what I am consuming. Since I have had children my weight has swung between 8 stone ( thats 112 lbs or about 51kg) and 12 stone (168lbs or 76 kg). I am 158 cm tall, the highest weight rendered me in the obese category, the lowest BMI was about 20.5.

So what is it all about? Angela and I talked about this a bit last night. I don’t have any answers really. Right now I ‘cant’ eat; I’m not hungry and the sight of a big plate of food, the thought of it, makes me feel sick, I’m not really worried about this, I’ve had this physical reaction to situations of heightened emotion for 30 years or more. It settles in time.

I have learned to take note of it tho’, as falling BMI is for me a sign that my mental health is not great.

Right now I feel emotionally better than I did two weeks ago, but I still can’t eat (much). I wonder if there is a part of me that is rather pathetically calling out for people to notice I’m struggling… the physical signs of emotional turmoil. (when you eat nothing at all you lose weight quite fast and quite noticeably)  I think there is an element of ‘control’ going on – I can’t control so much, but I bloody can control my weight ( this is subconscious -I’m testing this idea) Is it a partial cross addiction?  I know its not good for me, I need to be fed to cope and function, but that’s on an intellectual level. Emotionally I’m not able to do it. At the moment. I don’t know why.

I would really like it to go away though. I’m 52, when will it stop? Maybe its something about myself I just have to accept, maybe it will smooth out from these extremes as I settle. I don’t know.

I’m going to see my GP next week. I think that’s probably a good pace to start maybe I need to tweak my SSRI or something …

A story

Some time ago – about 7 years ago, I met a man. At the time he seemed like everything I could want. He was handsome, charming, kind, thoughtful, strong emotionally, and interested in my children. He listened to me , was gentle with my emotional state, cooked for me, made me laugh and cherished me. I fell so in love with this man. I felt ‘God’ had smiled on me in my most difficult time and delivered a person who could and would help and support me raise my family. He fell in love with me too, and I provided a home and stability that he had ben missing. And as his career was at a bit of a low point, I also provided funds – for food, for wine entertainment, and soon for everything. 

All I really wanted was someone to love, and to love me and the kids. I thought, at 45 I had found it at last. 

Everything was just dandy really for 18 months… and then, then the cracks started to appear. The first time we argued, he refused to speak to me for 3 days. We went on a holiday of a lifetime touring americas east coast. He got in a mood about the boys and I enjoying a splash in the river on our way to the campsite – and drove off and left us to walk there. It was about 10 miles. Son #3 was just 7. 

After I “forgave” that, the instances of alleged poor behaviour of son #1 started to escalate. He was 14, and not easy. But he was ostracised, picked on, bullied and intermittently forgiven… I became increasingly discomfited by the “Victorian father” behaviour. I noticed more how little his own children were actually in contact, and small things slipped out when we did see them. Quickly I realised that “talking” things through was a non starter as the man would shout at me, throw things at me and refuse to listen to my opinion. About my children, in my house. 

I became increasingly unhappy, stressed and sad. I stopped drinking in an attempt to bring some clarity … and quickly had a nervous breakdown. I was off work for 6 weeks. I told people I was over stressed at work, but it wasn’t true. It was all about home. I felt so trapped. I loved my son, and felt he was being treated badly; I had loved the man, and I couldn’t believe that he was not who I thought. I began to think the only option I had was to jump from a high building. That thought grew, and I knew I was significantly unwell. I sought help, dragged myself back to coping – and started drinking again. 

By now son #2 was well into puberty and becoming another person to bully. Interspersed with these episodes were brief glimpses of the man I once knew, the man I thought I loved. The man who was kind and helpful. The man kept needing money for projects, I kept icing him money. I earn well but found myself in increasing debt, talking to the man about earning for himself resulted in more tantrums and throwing things, I learned not to mention it, to carry the burden alone. 

Until close to a second breakdown I confided in T. T who was a friend of my ex partner but a man I felt safe with and trusted,T who offered no judgement and no solutions but offered me space to cry and start to unravel the tangled horrific mess. 

And then I got sober. 

This story is of course mine, and that of my ex partner. 

So sad, and yet so common. Just a common or garden tale of a vulnerable woman and a man who abused her, and her children. 

So sad, but it’s behind me now. And I will not look back any longer. The rage and anger seems spent. There is nothing left right now, no emotion, no anger, no hurt, just a little sadness and a big dose of relief that it’s over now … 

An absence of misery

My life is ticking along.

I have quite a lot of stressful things. My eldest son, my younger dog ( currently away for residential retraining at astronomical expense) my middle son, finances, my lovely friends J & K still battling with terminal illness, how busy I am etc.

A lot of the time I’m exhausted

A lot of the time I’m fairly unproductive (at weekends I’m just a blob)

My mental health is not great. I’ve lost quite a lot of weight – because I have been unable to eat properly; I had a whopping panic attack in the middle of London for no very good reason, and I’ve had a lot of intense emotions (mostly unpleasant ones like anger and anxiety and gripping deep sorrow) that are wearing in themselves…I can’t sleep well (mostly) I feel fragile and vulnerable. And scared (although I don’t know what Im scared OF)

But. At the centre of my life there is no misery.

My ex partner, in his final email to me, wrote that he ‘hoped I’d find the happiness I craved’ – I wanted to reply that actually it was not ‘happiness’ I was looking for, it was an absence of misery. (I didn’t reply at all)

yes, I have worries, yes there are lots of things to worry about, yes ‘things’ are far from perfect …. BUT… there is no one bullying, criticising, mocking, shouting, taking my money, throwing things at me and generally making my life and that of my kids 20 x harder than it needed to be. I’M making decisions now. Some will be right, some may not be, but there is no huge dissonance between what is happening and what I believe to be right.

There are some nice things to look forward to; a dinner out with a friend, an exhibition to attend, a spa day with my mum… tea with my niece…

I’m 492 days sober … It s taken me a LOT longer than I had expected / hoped…. but slowly, slowly, I think I’m getting there.

Who knew how NICE just NOT BEING MISERABLE could be ?

 

 

 

Tired

It’s been a tough week. 

Ive spend most of this weekend just incapacitated with inertia and fatigue. I’m just tired. 

Last week was very full of heightened emotion. I felt like raw , naked and so so vulnerable. I had a panic attack in central London, struggled hugely to focus on Pretty much anything and just feel exhausted.

I’m just so tired of it all being so hard. 

I know the recognition, naming and acceptance of the domestic abuse in this house has been essential. I know it had to happen. I know that I have to talk to my boys, listen to them and acknowledge what they have been through. I know I have to absorb some anger from them that I failed to stop this earlier. I really really know that if I don’t do that, it will come back to ‘interfere’ in all of our futures. But my goodness it’s tiring.

I know it doesn’t have to happen all at once, and we (well I ) try to set aside a small block of time once a week to talk about “stuff” , but In between I still have to process this. 

And processing is tiring. 

The hyper emotional state seems to have largely passed this weekend, I’m just exhausted. 

But, the younger dog, who’s behaviour was giving such cause for concern , has gone away to be retrained. I miss him, and his unfettered adoration, but it’s less stressful and I’m less worried that he will bite someone. 

Older son goes away for wilderness therapy trip in 4 weeks. Counting the days to be honest. So there is light. And it will be ok, 

Support

I have so much support. I have a mum and brother who love me (and my brothers family): I have some wonderful friends, some longstanding, some new. I have my sober sister and all of my sobersphere friends. I have my kids, I have some amazing work colleagues. I have a reflected empathic but boundaried therapist.  I am blessed. 

But I have struggled to confide in these wonderful people. I have struggled to ask for their help and support in so far as it relates to the domestic abuse that went on, both with my ex husband, and latterly with my ex partner. I told no one. My cleaning lady / housekeeper / helper – she knew, but we did not discuss, and she stayed and supported me anyway. No one else. And there were so many people I could have told. 

Why didn’t I ? 

I don’t know, yet. Guilt, shame, fear,  some stupid belief that somehow this would stop and he would revert to the nice, kind supportive man I knew for the first 18 months of our relationship? All of those play a part. Pride, love (?) fear of being alone .. that somehow it had to get so bad that nothing could be worse? Martyrdom? Co-dependency ? Expectation? 

I don’t know. 

I’m so angry right now I having trouble managing it. But angry with the right person. Not me. Not my kids, not life, not anyone else but HIM. Angry with him that he abused my kindness and generosity and then battered my boundaries down with anger and cruelty. So angry. 

And so bruised. And so vulnerable

You know that stage, when you are newly sober, and you just want to tell EVERYONE. Well some of you will. That’s where I am now with domestic abuse. I feel like I’m wearing a label that says “I’m a woman who’s been abused” , I can’t stop thinking about it, although aspects are almost unbearably distressing. I can’t settle to anything, and I can’t concentrate properly on anything else. I also can’t eat, which one of my more astute friends picked up on earlier this week. I know this is bad, but at times of severe emotional stress it happens every time. Its like I can control nothing else, but I can control my food intake. 

I know it’s mad. And not healthy. But I also know it will pass. All of this , anger, preoccupation, desire for revenge. It will all pass. It’s hard, but it will pass. And I CAN do this now because I can sit with the intensely uncomfortable feelings that I drank away for so many years. 

I will be ok. Not today, or tomorrow, but one day. 

No posts, no alcohol

I’m ok. I think

I can’t catch hold of my feelings long enough to describe and process them let alone write them down

I’m 480 days sober. And i’m 9 months out of a relationship that was domestically abusive. There, I’ve named it.  I’ve said it. I’m trying so hard to ditch the guilt and the shame.

He threw a cup of coffee in my face, he called me “a fat fucking bitch”, he financially abused me and then screamed at me and threw things ( not to hit me –  no, just to terrify me) when I tried to discuss his persistent failure to work;  He abused my eldest son by taunting and repeatedly humiliating and putting him down. he used his size to physically intimidate us all and his  force of personality to gaslight me into thinking I was the one going mad. And that is the tip of the iceberg.

I’m naming it. And I’m going to talk about it because I have done nothing to feel ashamed OF.

I’m angry now, but not always. But I’m free of him. No contact at all, in any sphere and i will never willingly see him again.

oh and i’m sober. And I’m quite proud of that too

Peace: space: contentment 

Tomorrow we will have to leave to return home. It’s probably time, there are things waiting for me there, but I feel a deep sense of contentment here and a reluctance to leave that behind.  

It’s quite hard to know Exactly why I feel so peaceful here. There is something about the general “being on holiday” which applies anywhere when one doesn’t have to go to work; there is something about a different house / place where it’s ultimately not my responsibility to maintain it / keep it clean … . But there is more.. the rhythm of the tide governs life here, the relentless rise and fall dictates the weather, where you can go, what you can do, how easy it is to swim or fish… the tide tables are consulted several times each day to calculate when it will be best to leave the island, which quay the boat can use, when it will be best to swim, paint or paddle. I find this simplicity and predictability soothing, as though something bigger than me is in control. Something I can neither influence nor fight against is going on, shaping my world. 

I have also forgotten about time. It doesn’t really matter here what the actual time is … it matters wheather the tide is high or low, it matters where the sun is, but whether it’s 2 or 4 is largely irrelevant. The days slip by in a lugubrious haze, melding together, as we do what exactly ? Potter about, meet up, eat, shop, walk, swim, paint , sketch and read .. and then it’s the last day, the last evening, the last night in my sea facing bright bedroom, and tomorrow real life pushes and winds tentacles around me again ….

I hope, think, I am renewed .. refreshed and replenished … ready …. 

That’s my second sober holiday negotiated. I did miss the drinking, but I am pleased beyond measure that I didn’t drink….. I wonder if I will ever not miss drinking ? I wonder if I will ever feel that I am completely content with alcohol free beer ? I AM reasonably content with it… it fulfills most of the functions of real beer … just not the “confidence giving” function, which is when I reflect, what I really miss … hey ho .. A clear head every morning is a decided bonus !