As the main purpose of this blog is to serve me with a reminder of why I have decided to get and finally stay sober, I have started to put together the thoughts and feelings that have gotten me this far. Some of these are extracts from emails to the wonderful sober penpals I have.
When I stopped last year for a decent period of time, it was hard, without any support and with no one really understanding why I was doing it. I was very vague about it, mostly sold it as a health kick.
Eventually, it was the “social outcast” feeling that made me start to drink again. I could cope with my cravings (they became less and less after 60 days). I could cope with stressful situation (alcohol created most of them, so there were far fewer!) Life was good, it was emotional, raw and it was scary to be facing it sober. Never being able to escape out of my own head took and still takes, some getting used to.
But, the constant nagging from people to “just have a drink”, “relax and enjoy”, “let your hair down”, “don’t be a party pooper” that is what got to me. It’s the danger zone for the “high functioning” drinker…. People don’t know how difficult your life became or how you were feeling inside so they don’t understand what the need for such a drastic change was? They want you to be the party girl again. They want their drinking buddy back. Truth is…I wanted her back too. I didn’t know how to be anything else. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about being “different” I don’t have anyone else in my life that doesn’t drink …
I was naïve to think that just removing the booze would fix me. I had never been a grown up without the escapism. Without wine time, when I made my switch from a hardworking, responsible, healthy adult to an irresponsible, carefree, devil may care wine guzzling party girl, I was at a bit lost. I usually bottled up all my worries and woes and then drank them away at 5 o’clock, only to repeat the next day and the day after, never really solving anything but never really caring either. I was never stressed, no problems, no worries, I will just drink them all away later. I never let anything get to me. I thought this was brilliant. I am sooo laid back, look at how I am coping with everything..
So, I realised that I didn’t have ANY coping skills when you took the booze away. I didn’t have any grown up strategies for anything. I didn’t know how to appreciate anything, fine or otherwise without pairing it with the appropriate bottle of wine.
It was going to have to be different this time if it was going to work.
That is where having support comes so importantly into play. I needed advice on everything from the simple things like, how to pass the time, how to occupy my mind to the bigger things like recognising triggers and rewiring my brain. It’s a minefield of stumbling blocks when you have spent so long living your life on automatic pilot when it comes to drinking. There are a lot of pitfalls to be avoided and without support it can seem overwhelming, impossible even.
But if you read or talk to other people about their stories and how they have come so far on their journey, that wisdom can be an awesome addition to your own determination to change.
Asking for help and reaching out for support has been the best thing I have done this time round and that is what has make this time easier, more palatable, exciting even. I have met some amazing people!
I had tried really hard before, but the problem with not totally owning up and showing vulnerability is that you just don’t get any support or empathy when you really need it. No one pats you on the back. No one even asks you how it’s going because for the more part, if you are still surrounding yourself with the same booze enthused “friends”, then your not-drinking just makes them feel uncomfortable about their own habit. While you are getting some sober time under your belt it’s important to surround yourself with likeminded people and engage in sober talk so as not to feel so alone and isolated.
I have also found it necessary to actually spend more time in my own company too, getting to know myself again, learning to love and value myself above others. That is a tough one, but I am working on it.