Tuesday, November 20, 2007
So, how have I been doing so far these past few months? Well, not brilliantly, because I have had a drink on several occasions, but not terribly badly either. If I find I have a real craving for a drink, I make sure I don't have one, because I know that one is never enough when I feel like that. I know that the night before my period, or the first night, I have such an urge to drink myself into a stupor that I make very sure I'm either out/busy/have no drink in the house. I volunteer to drive all my friends when we go out (which isn't that often!) because I know that will stop me drinking.
I'm sober now, today. I haven't got falling down, throwing up, can't-go-to-work-in-the-morning drunk at all this year, but I have had a drink regularly. I've still beaten last year's total of 100 alcohol free days, but I can't call myself a non-drinker.
I'm still taking it one day at a time. Some days I win, and some I lose, but I still keep fighting.
And I'm going to keep coming back here. I'd forgotten how good it feels to be able to write down how I'm feeling, and how I'm coping. I'm sorry I left it so long.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
First shock was a colleague leaving a message on my mobile on Saturday morning asking if I was free for a chat. She's a colleague, not a friend. She's prickly and stand-offish and I look at her and I see myself 10 years ago. Actually, 5 years ago. Maybe a year ago. Anyway, I was a bit worried about her because she'd been off sick on the Friday so I called her back and she told me the reason she'd been off on Friday was because she'd taken an overdose. She told me some of the things that were bad about her life and I listened and gave names and numbers of counsellors (her own was on holiday) and promised to cover for her at work and offered to come to her house and take away all her pills and booze and hold them for her. After we'd hung up I sat and talked to myself: once upon a time I had been as desperate as she was but never taken an overdose because I'd seen what a suicide attempt could do to a family (my mother attempted it when I was 15 and blamed me - my head told me that it wasn't my fault but my heart broke all the same). Once upon a time I'd been that desperate but no more. I didn't have a drink. I knew it would solve nothing for me, nor help me to help her.
The following morning I had a telephone call from a friend to say that a mutual friend had committed suicide. News of 2 suicides in less than 24 hours? I'm not that strong. Despite prayer, reading, positive affirmation ... oblivion through the bottle was all that was in the back of my mind so I'm afraid I fell off my precarious perch on the wagon and have had a few drinks since then. Not every day, not to excess, but that's not the point. I promised myself I wouldn't drink, and I've gone back on that promise to myself and to God.
I could not have prevented my colleague's suicide attempt. I could not have prevented my friend's suicide. I might have been able to prevent my mother's suicide attempt - after all, my childish act of sticking chewing gum in my little brother's hair was the straw that broke the camel's back - even though the adult in me knows it wasn't my fault. All the same, it's been a difficult week. All the same, that's no excuse for drinking when I made a promise not to.
I'm making that promise again today. I will not drink alcohol.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
So yes, it's THAT TIME, and I'm sober. I wasn't expecting my period on Monday so I just carried on my life but by today (the Eve Of Doom) I was thinking, well, I must have a drink because tomorrow is the day I should have been getting my period. So, let's look at this.
When my period is due I start planning to drink to alleviate the a) physical pain and b) the emotional upheaval.
When I don't realise I'm getting my period I carry on as (sober) normal.
Once upon a time (35 years ago) when I first started my periods, the only solutions were a hot water bottle applied to the belly (not very useful if you had to go anywhere) or a heap of pain-killers (not very helpful if you had to concentrate on anything like school or exams) or a stiff upper lip until you could go somewhere and lie on a bed and drink loads of vodka to kill the pain.
Somewhere in that scenario I plucked out the words VODKA and KILL PAIN.
As a grown up I know now that vodka is not as an effective painkiller as paracetemol or even yoga exercises. But the bottle is still a strong pull at this phase of the moon.
So this period I am doing yoga exercises and drinking water.
It may not help my womb, but it's helping my liver ...
Friday, May 04, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
But how could I delete my entry when it had prompted such kind words of support and encouragement?
I still feel ashamed of myself, although maybe I shouldn't. All I did was lose a fight I was never destined to win.
So it's back to square one for me and that feels like the right place to be.
Thank you so much for your support, I really appreciate it.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Aren't I clever? Aren't I so well-controlled? Haven't I got this alcohol bastard beaten?
I never wanted or intended to give up alcohol forever, I just wanted to CONTROL it (oh, ha ha ha, you can all laugh at me now!)
So I had a few drinks at Christmas and New Year - just a few, nothing like I used to put away.
I had a few drinks at Easter - after the 40-day abstinence of Lent - and then a few to celebrate ... celebrate what? I don't know - by then I didn't care.
My old friends don't want to know me because I don't want to drink with them any more (I know to avoid old bad habitual friends and places) but my internal drinking buddy (ME!) is my best friend, and there is no escape from her/me.
I thought I was clever, I thought I had it conquered. How bloody stupid was I to think that?
I am so sorry that I haven't been there for you, responding to your blogs, your questions, your requests for support. I have no right to ask for your support now, but ... I am ready to say it:
My name is Linda. I am an alcoholic.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The hardest part of not drinking for me was seeing people drink on television. Every time I saw someone drinking spirits I would be able to taste it, and I wanted so badly to pour myself one. Tonight I started to watch The Shawshank Redemption, and in the opening sequence the character Andy Dufesne is drinking a half-bottle of whiskey. I sat and watched and felt nothing as I sipped my no-cal, caffeine-free cola, except the pleasure of seeing again a film that I've always enjoyed. No disappointment that I couldn't drink. No mouth-watering desire to go out and buy a bottle of Bacardi.
It make seem like a really small thing, but it's a sign to me that my desire not to drink is growing stronger than my desire to drink. That can only be a good thing.
Stay strong, everyone.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Well, it took me a while today as I'm not very technically minded, but I am now sitting downstairs, television on, gorgeous cat snuggled up beside me, with my laptop connected to the internet and NO WIRES!
And because I wasn't sleeping off several bacardis or a bottle of wine, I was able to have my niece over so I could help her with her homework, and be able to drive her home safely.
These may be small successes, but the best of all is managing another sober day.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Hard for me to believe how time passes so quickly these days. When I was drinking, it speeded up and slowed down - when it was slow, I drank to speed it up, and then curse myself because I wasted so much time sleeping it off or recovering. I suppose I drank to fill the emptiness, to try and relax, to try and escape, and all I succeeded in doing was waste a precious resource - time.
Now time flies by on its own. Even the long journey to work is gone in the blink of an eye. The first time I look at my watch during the day I'm always astonished to find how late it is - if it weren't for my stomach growling around midday, I'd probably miss lunch and only realise that it was getting late because it was growing dark outside.
I don't need to drink to fill the emptiness any more, because the emptiness has already been filled.
I don't need to drink to try and relax, because I find that I can switch off and unwind without it.
I don't need to drink to try and escape, because there is no escape. Most of the things I was trying to escape are still there and they won't go away so instead of trying to escape them, I'm trying to work on them instead. They aren't big things, it was never the size of the problems that got me down, it was the sheer number of them. Now I'm applying the same one-day-at-a-time approach to problem solving: one at a time. Feeling I had to deal with everything at once was so daunting that I think that's one of the reasons I drank, because it was too scary to contemplate all the things that needed to be done or changed.
One at a time, I can do.
Friday, January 26, 2007
An example - I've had car problems, thought they were fixed and sent a cheque along to the mechanic. Last night the car died and I thought the brakes failed that evening as I came off the motorway and I coasted to a halt on the side of the road. Obviously the problems aren't fixed at all! I got the car going again but have to fill it up with water every 15 miles (or so it seems) even though I had a new radiator fitted on Monday. Normally that kind of experience would have me halfway down a bottle of Bacardi before I'd even got my coat off or fed the cat ... but I was just grateful that I didn't cause an accident, and that it's going back to the garage on Monday.
Another example - Earlier this week my new boss spotted an error in a calculation which impacted on the bonuses being paid to the team. It wasn't my error. I'm there as his PA, not as a finance person, but I went home feeling sick with nerves. The fact that things weren't my fault hasn't stopped previous employers giving me a bollocking. My normal response would be to get drunk, so that the hangover would detract from the dressing down I'd get the following day, but I didn't - didn't get drunk, that is, and didn't get a dressing down. I went into my boss's office, shut the door, and waited for the axe to fall, but it didn't. He knew the error wasn't mine, and he wasn't about to blame me for it. He actually didn't get angry with the person who had made the mistake, just explained where he'd gone wrong and made suggestions about how to avoid similar mistakes in the future, and then he and I set about putting the situation right. What a novel experience! Not to be blamed for something I hadn't done, not to drink out of fear and anxiety, not to come out of my boss's office in tears - something that happened all too often in my last job.
I'm almost afraid to be happy in case things go wrong and I know that's silly, so I'm just going to try and relax and enjoy being who I'm meant to be - someone who enjoys her job and is valued for it, someone who has good colleagues and good friends, someone who looks forward to chatting to God every night and someone who is grateful for being sober.
If this really is my new life, long may it last!
Monday, January 15, 2007
When I was about 14 or 15 I took the role of Grumpy in the church pantomime of Snow White and the 7 Dwarves. As I could be very moody (and what teenager can't be?) the image stuck and my family still seem to think I'm in a bad mood whether I am or not. We live up to expectations or we live down to them. If someone expects you to be grumpy all the time and treats you like a moody so-and-so, you tend to behave like it. Well, I did/sometimes still do.
So on Monday, when I started to write this post, I could have got really grumpy in the car on the way home when I noticed rather a lot of steam coming out from under the bonnet.
I could have got really really grumpy to find that not only was there no oil, there was also no water, and neither of the warning lights had come on.
I topped up the water, and begged some oil from a kind neighbour, and smiled and was cheerful and tried not to be grumpy.
I went to the garage and bought oil for myself, and oil for the neighbour, and then went shopping. Because the neighbourhood isn't brilliant in places, you have to put a coin in the shopping trolley to release it from the rack, otherwise they get stolen, rammed into cars and shop windows, vandalised and dumped. I've long since stopped getting grumpy about never having a £1 coin for the trolley, so I have a handy little token on my car key-ring. I did my shopping, spent too much but was glad I didn't have the added expense of the bi-weekly bottle of rum any more and discovered, when I got back to the car, that the trolley token, mykey-ring, and my car key had disappeared!
Oh, lots of reasons to be grumpy! The assistant I spoke to shrugged and said that no-one had handed any keys in and turned away. I had to ask if she would consider putting my shopping somewhere safe while I looked for the keys and maybe she might like to help me look.
So ... frantic phone calls to a sister-in-law who wasn't there, a long wait outside in the cold, another trip into the store to ask if they could look again, another phone call to the sister-in-law to come and get me, tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat and the thought, 'I can't even have a drink to get over this when I finally get home ...'
And then one of the staff found my keys and all was well, and I went home and didn't drink, and was grateful, not grumpy ...
And the next day, on the way to work, the engine started pouring out steam and I panicked and drove to my friendly mechanic so that he could check if it was safe to drive, and he did a few tests and said yes, but he booked it in for Monday to run more thorough (and more expensive) checks. I got to work almost 3 hours after leaving home - 13 miles away - and I could have been grumpy but my new colleagues had seen me arrive from the window and had gone to get me a cup of coffee before I even got to my desk because they figured I'd need it. And my boss was stuck in traffic so he didn't even know I was late - although I told him when he arrived, and even then he didn't mind.
Had I been in my old job, had this all happened before I admitted I was drinking too much, I would have been grumpy about all the car problems. They would have been the final straw on top of my old crappy job, and I'd have gone home and drunk at least half a bottle of rum.
Financially I cannot afford to have car problems but that doesn't matter at the moment. Right now I am just so grateful that I didn't have an accident, that I have such kind colleagues and that I know a great mechanic who keeps my old heap of a car on the road. I am grateful that God was keeping an eye on me during the terrible wind storms that killed 13 people this week and kept me on the road safely despite all the car problems.
I feel for Grumpy, I really do. I sympathise with him and I have often been him in the past, but right now I ask myself how I can possibly be grumpy about simple mechanic things, like the car, when so much else, so many more important things, are going right?
So, if I could add another dwarf to Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy and Bashful, I'd add Grateful and, much as I love Grumpy and identify with him, I think I'd rather be Grateful than Grumpy.
Whichever dwarf you are, or even if you are Snow White, have a Happy day!
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I guess I'm not used to being happy.
So what's changed?
Basically, three things, in this order :
- I stopped drinking
- I started to pray each evening
- I got a new job
Seems to me that if I carry on doing the first two, and enjoying the third, I can relax and get used to being happy.
That sounds like a good and simple plan for 2007: don't drink: pray, work hard and be happy. Let's see how that works or if I manage to sabotage it somehow. I'm usually so good at sabotage but this time I think I can make it.
Friday, January 05, 2007
And the point of this post? I guess it's that other people's experiences and advice may inform and enlighten me, and point me in the right direction, but I can only really learn from my own mistakes and experiences. I made the mistake of thinking I was in charge of my own life, but once I asked for help and guidance, I received it.
Monday, January 01, 2007
I hope your 2006 went out with a bang and that your 2007 started with one. Wait, I mean bang in the sense of the noise of fireworks, not bang in the American sense of ... oh well, either way, I hope you had a good one!
The end of 2006 was a lot more peaceful - and sober! - than the end of 2005. I had planned to spend New Year's Eve with a very good friend (unfortunately a heavy-drinking friend) with lots and lots of party food and the inevitable glass of champagne, which I knew I'd have difficulty refusing. Luckily for me - but unluckily for my friend - a severe dose of 'flu meant she spent the whole day in bed and I stayed at home, with my favourite television programmes, a glass of diet coke and my knitting! Hurrah! A sober new year!
Setting myself a target of 100 sober days in 2006 really worked for me and I'm pleased to say I made it. I've thought long and hard about what will work for me in 2007 and decided that setting a goal of staying sober just for today isn't enough. It means that if, one day, I have a drink, I'll have to go straight back to counting from day 1, and I'm far too competitive for that, so I've set myself a target of 250 sober days in 2007. 250 days is a minimum - it doesn't mean that I can stay sober until 7 September (250th day of the year!) and then go mad.
I know this is NOT the way most of you approach (not) drinking, but I know myself, and I know that I probably will manage way, way more than 250 days, but having that 'get out' clause without finding myself back at square one is what (I think) will work for me.
I'll let you know how I'm getting on, and in the meantime, I wish you all a very happy, healthy and sober 2007!