Myths and mourning

I haven’t been doing too great with my sobriety attempt (have managed a few days and then cave in) so I’ve been thinking in depth about what is making me fail and fall. First, I would like to clarify that I’m not making excuses here (I know damned well that the main reason I have been failing is my lack of commitment and unwillingness to put myself through a level of discomfort to reach my goal). This makes me question if I do really want my life back (otherwise why aren’t I trying as hard as others in the same situation and making a better go of it) so what is it stopping me?

My first observation is that when I have promised myself that I won’t drink that day (usually after heavy drinking the night before) I remain committed to this until witching hour (around 5-6 pm). By this time, I am usually feeling physically uncomfortable by my hangover (tired, depressed, stomach aching, slight headache etc) and it is not the insistent craving for a drink which drives me to the supermarket to buy a bottle of wine,but the realization that after just one glass I will feel better. I will get that happy buzz, the pain in my stomach disappears, as does the headache. Of course, this is very short lived, because I don’t drink just one glass, but the whole bottle and then head out to the shops (on foot) for a second and thereby the same process repeats.

My second observation is (I think) I actually really do enjoy the taste of white wine and don’t only drink it for the alcoholic effect and feel regret that I will miss its taste. I say this, because I don’t ever crave other alcohol. I can drink a glass of beer slowly and have no inclination to have a second. I just don’t seem to have the same control over wine (but then I don’t like the taste of beer much).

Thirdly, I do seem to have a faulty ‘off’ switch when it comes to sugary things. In saying that, I don’t have a sweet tooth. I don’t like sweet drinks, don’t take sugar in tea and coffee and never crave to eat puddings, cakes and biscuits. My husband can dangle a big bar of chocolate or a pack of cookies under my nose and I won’t be even slightly tempted to take a first bite. However, if I do give in and have just one cookie or piece of chocolate – that’s it, I will literally keep eating until the whole lot has gone (because of this, I rarely eat sweet things).

Another huge hurdle for me is trying not to look too far ahead as I can’t seem to help mourning a future without wine (stupid I know when I have spent the last few years trying to stop drinking it and regretting the affect it has on my life). For example, in a few weeks time, I have to travel to the US and have booked with a colleague to fly Premium Economy. We have both been looking forward to sipping the complementary champagne – and the event we are attending is always a very boozy affair, with lots of networking receptions. Another regret is I was given a Jeroboam of Moet Chandon six months ago and have put it in the back of the cupboard in readiness for the next big celebration (probably my daughter’s engagement) I have been imagining and looking forward to popping open this bottle for so long – and can’t imagine standing by and watching everyone else enjoying it without me.

These aren’t my excuses, but my mental hurdles. I know they are all pointless and wrong, but until I can re-wire my thinking they will remain the challenges which keep popping up. In light of these my plan today is:

  1. To ride out the witching hour – find something to do, go to the gym or walk the dogs. Drinking might make me feel better temporarily, but I will feel doubly worse tomorrow.
  2. There is no such thing as one glass of wine, just as there is no such thing as one cookie or one chocolate bar – so don’t take the first sip or bite.
  3. I might enjoy the taste of white wine, but it’s like poison to me. I love the taste of pineapple too, but I’m allergic and will end up fighting for breath if I eat it – so why do I keep risking drinking wine which has the same potential to kill me!
  4. I don’t need to spend the next three weeks worrying about a trip and how I will feel about not drinking. I will concentrate on today and tomorrow and deal with the future as and when it happens.

I have joined Belle’s 100 days of sobriety (truly grateful to Belle for this opportunity) and hope to remain better focused.

When your support network crashes

Well – the last week has been truly the most frustrating! Having geared myself up and having put all of the tools in place (so I thought!) – this blog, Twitter, I subscribed to numerous sober blogs and also starting joining in the forums on My Way Out – thought I had every base covered…. and then the unthinkable happened. My trusty laptop (which admittedly was 4 years old) crashed! I thought it was just a hitch, so tried to re-boot, but just got a black screen with loads of diagnostics. It was an incredibly hot day and the laptop was really hot – so I popped it in the fridge for an hour – but still nothing – kaput!

I rang my local IT superhero who informed me that my hard drive had died! 😦 despair, not only right on deadline with over a week’s work sitting on my desktop now unattainable! Then IT superhero informs me that he should be able to recover everything for me, but will need to take the laptop away for a few days – this is when the horror hit home! On my desktop I had several ‘alcoholic’ audio downloads. There was a shortcut to my Wearywino email and a bookmark to my blog all with the passwords saved so I didn’t have to keep logging in – oh the shame of it! IT superhero is going to take one look at my hard drive and discover my miserable secret!

Well – fast forward a few days. New laptop purchased and given to IT superhero to set up software and reload the recovered files – not a word said between us (I don’t think I can ever look him in the eye again) – he may even start reading this blog!!!

So, having spent the last four days working late into the evening to try and catch up with the mountain of work that’s been accumulating, today I have finally found the time to try and remember the log in details for all of my online support networks and get back on board.

So – did I slip? The answer is yes (not horrifically, but we had friends round for a BBQ at the weekend and the temptation was just too much!) Now I know that I shouldn’t put all of my eggs in one basket – my entire toolbox was internet based. I need to add some other elements to my plan (maybe keep a diary or notebook). I have never been to AA – don’t think I could pluck up the courage to walk into a room of strangers.

So – to be more focused from today – life is good!

Truly wanting it

Although I can’t exactly claim to be an authority in sobriety (I think it would take a bit more than my four sober days – and of course I could be eating my hat at any time!) but I believe that whatever you are addicted to, you can try, try and try again to give your vice up – but unless you TRULY want to be free of it, it is quite likely to turn back and bite you on the bum.

I do say this with a little experience. Many years ago, in the days when it was acceptable to smoke at your desk, on a bus, in a shop – in fact anywhere you liked, I enjoyed lighting up one cigarette after the other, sometimes burning my way through two packets a day. In my early 20s I tried to give up on lots of occasions, managed a day or two or even a week, but it took just one moment of weakness and there I was back to square one. I even went with some colleagues to have acupuncture once – but just ended up with a very sore pin in my ear which you were supposed to press every time you had an urge to smoke – and which quickly went septic!

I smoked through the first two years of my marriage and then one day I found out I was pregnant and stopped – just like that! There was no way I was going to smoke or drink and harm my unborn baby. I had three babies in quick succession over five years and didn’t smoke during that time. However, as soon as the youngest was toddling, every time I felt a bit stressed or the need to relax, I would sneek into the garage and have a quick puff. I wasn’t smoking in huge amounts, perhaps 10 cigarettes a day – but I was once again a smoker and I hated the fact that I had given in to this addiction once again. The trouble was, I hadn’t given up smoking because I wanted to, or because it was for my own benefit. I had given it up for my children.

When my first marriage went belly up and we sold our house and went our separate ways, I made a pact with myself that I would NEVER smoke in my new house – this was a fresh start, a new me, a non-smoker. That was 14 years ago and I have never touched a cigarette or had an urge to since.

I think the same applies to alcohol. I have tried to give up over and over again. I even had counselling a few years ago and managed a couple of months of sobriety with the help of Antabuse (of course as soon as I stopped taking it the temptation to have another drink was too great). But I wasn’t really wanting it for myself and the whole time I was trying to quit I was filled with resentment to those around me.  I loved the taste of Sauvi and I quite liked the buzz of alcohol every night and the feeling of relaxation – it was everyone else who seemed to have a problem with it and because I loved all of these people so much, I kept trying to quit for them.

So I have discovered that whilst counselling and medication helps hugely if you have the right mindset – neither are a miracle cure if deep down you don’t really want to stop. I know that for hundreds of people it does help massively (it did for me whilst it was all happening), but in the depths of my mixed up mind there will be a little panic button planning my fall the moment it all stops.

I am firm in my belief that if, like giving up smoking, I want sobriety for myself and have the strength and commitment to grasp it because I WANT it then this time I will be successful.

Happy sober returns – 48 today!

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, my gift to myself is my sobriety!!

It might seem a strange decision to decide to give up my very best friend just two days before my birthday, but there is a good reason for this. For the last 15 years or so, each birthday I have lamented the fact that I have wasted yet another year of my life drugged up to my ears every night and living with the regret of my actions (things I have done, things I have said – and even worse not being able to remember!) I knew that if I gave up Sauv on my birthday it would ruin my day – either I would give in to its irresistible lure – or I would have a pity party.

This actually happened to me once before (when I was trying to quit not so much for my own benefit, but for my husband who was at the end of his tether and had threatened to leave me if I didn’t sober up my act). I was about a week into my reluctant quit on my birthday and he treated me to a very expensive medieval banquet in London. Whilst he and everyone around me seemed to be drowning themselves in mead and wine, I sulked and sipped a coke and was very, very bad company indeed.

So why is it different this year? Well – this time, I’m not trying to quit drinking for anyone else. I tried that on numerous occasions and it hasn’t worked. I truly want to quit for ME. I want to regain glowing skin  (and not the miserable blotches and spots I currently have). I want to wake up in the morning refreshed and not worrying about whether I remembered to hide all of the bottles and (shame :() finding half empty glasses hidden in the back of cupboards and behind chairs (all strategically placed so that I could keep drinking all evening without my husband noticing that I was constantly refilling my glass!).

It’s funny, after years and years of arguing about my drinking, about a year ago we seemed to reach a sort of stale mate. My husband stopped nagging me about my drinking and I stopped going out of my way to hide it. I blatantly got on with it under his nose and he quietly ignored it. This seemed to be the turning point for me. Suddenly I was just harming myself – and it was all becoming a very lonely business. That sounds awful and selfish (and perhaps it was). I love my husband and wasn’t deliberately trying to hurt or annoy him, but I had this self righteousness that made me think “it’s my life – how dare you dictate to me!”

Whitney Houston’s song – Learning to Love Yourself, is the Greatest Love of All – is so true. I am giving myself the gift of sobriety for my birthday because I am learning to love myself again (after years and years of self loathing), I am going to love my health, love my well-being and love my self respect.

wine pic

ps. this is a birthday gift from my good friend. I don’t know if she is aware that I have a drink problem, and I haven’t mentioned to her that I’m giving up – but she said she saw this sign and thought of me! That sums my situation up really!

Alcoholics should just get a grip!

I haven’t mentioned to my husband that I am trying to sober up – not because he won’t be delighted (he hates me drinking. It has caused numerous arguments over the years and almost ended our marriage on several occasions), but because he doesn’t understand why I have a problem. As far as he is concerned, I choose to drink excessively because I want to. If I had a pound for every time he told me: “Why don’t you just have two glasses of wine like everyone else?”

‘Normal’ drinkers simply don’t get it. I can’t blame them for that – if you’ve never had a vice (and my husband hasn’t – never smoked, drinks very moderately) then I can’t expect him to understand that I don’t ‘choose’ to drink – but that alcohol has got me in shackles and chains and is dragging me upstream!

The majority of people simply don’t understand addiction. I had a debate with a friend the other day (who doesn’t know I have a drink problem) and was saying that people who drink excessively and end up in hospital should have to pay for their own treatment (here in the UK care is free on the NHS) and that smokers should have to pay for treatment if they get lung cancer – because they deliberately caused their illness. I argued that in that case, people who participate in sports and break bones should also have to pay as they chose to get into a rugby scrum.

I have never taken heroin (or any drugs other than alcohol), yet I have immense empathy with all drug addicts. There were lots of scathing comments about Peaches Geldoff who recently overdosed on Heroin – ‘how irresponsible of her to take drugs’. To me it is a tragedy. I imagine that she struggled to kick the habit and never dreamed that she would actually die from it. I wonder how many times she tried to give it up and planned that ‘next week’ she would stop. Just like millions of us alcoholics around the world keep hoping and dreaming that one day we will get a grip and put the alcoholic fuzz behind us.

I’ve been struggling with the addiction for years now and I know that it has to stop. It really is time for me to get a grip before it’s too late.

Yesterday wasn’t too bad. Day two today might be a little more challenging as I am meeting a friend for lunch, but am driving so won’t need to explain not drinking. My husband announced this morning that he has booked a table in our favourite restaurant tonight – so I need to plan how I’m going to turn down the usual bottle of Sauvignon in favour of a lime and soda!

 

Farewell my friend – hello to my life!

I have been searching the web for the last week reading sober blogs, joining sober forums and drumming up the courage to finally make a commitment to a sober life. I say finally, because I’ve tried this on numerous occasions in the past. Been determined for a day or two and then this little voice in my head tells me that I ‘deserve’ a nice cold glass of Sauvignon – just one. But of course it never is one. In the early days my evenings were filled with two or three glasses, but this slowly crept up to a bottle, a bottle and a half and more recently two bottles every night. I consciously buy two bottles because I know that one will never be enough.

I didn’t always drink like this. I can remember in my 20s, newly married with a baby – I enjoyed the occasional glass of wine with friends. Once, a friend told me that her mother drank a whole bottle of wine almost every night and my reaction was: “Oh my goodness, she must be an alcoholic to drink that much!”

I don’t remember an actual point in my life when I became that friend’s mother. The stress of having three young children close together, a husband who worked away from home all the time was probably what prompted me to take refuge in a ‘grown up’ glass of wine to relax each evening once the children were in bed. Then a messy marriage break up and divorce just gave me more excuses to indulge. But I really don’t have any of those reasons any more. I am happily re-married. My children are grown up and happy – but I am left with the misery, disgust and shame at the ever growing pile of bottles in the recycling bin and a spotty, puffy face.

So today – 21st July 2014 – two days before my 48th birthday, I am finally saying goodbye to Sauvignon. Farewell my friend – it’s time to move on.